Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2021
Happy 2021 to my blogging family and friends!
My day started with my cats chasing each other around the house, jumping on my bed at 5:10am. Rather than get all salty about not being able to sleep-in on my day off, I got up and set my SourJo bread starter out so I’ll have no excuse to not bake a couple loaves today. I tell you what, there can’t be a better way to start the year than kitties and freshly-baked bread, amiright?
2020 was a tough year. Without the usual nonsense in my life and my travels to distract me, I have been mired in my failures and obsessing over the people in my life that didn’t make it to 2021. Sometimes I wake up with my heart grinding in my chest and find it difficult to breathe because I just want my life The Way It Used To Be instead of what I have left. That’s not on the pandemic though. I think it’s just a part of growing older and being on the back-side of your life here on earth (unless I actually live to be 108. Oh God, please don’t let me live to be 108).
2021 is going to be a year of change for me. Hopefully for the better, but you never know. Absolutely everything is up in the air right now, and what becomes of it is anybody’s guess. For the time being I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, food to put on the table, cats to keep me company, a job to pay for it all, and people in my life I care about. I take nothing for granted because, as I’ve been made painfully aware, nothing lasts forever and life can change on a dime.
I don’t do resolutions, but I hope that I can find it in my heart to be a kinder person... a better person in 2021. I’ve been so beat down by the atrocities that unfold in the news every day that I’ve had to harden my heart and become more cynical to survive it. That’s no way to live, and hate is always more destructive to you than those you’re hating. I’ve tried so very hard not to hate. It’s been the overriding path I’ve attempted to walk since I started studying Buddhism in 1998. But I’m always tested. There’s always tests. And recent years have tested me like no other because there’s just so much awfulness in this world TO hate. But... maybe I can find enough peace in this new year to be more hopeful. To talk less and learn more. To look with wonder instead of being blinded by ignorance. To do more. Care more. Love more.
Don’t get me wrong... I’m still calling out the fucked up shit people do and say which brings harm myself and others. I’m not insane. If you know me at all, you know that NOT speaking out against pieces of shit is something I’m incapable of. If you’re willfully ignorant, I am not having your dumbassery. If you’re persecuting people living their best life at zero cost to anybody else, I am not tolerating your hatred. If you’re being an asshole, I am not embracing your abuse. It’s just that in 2021 I’ll be taking a blowtorch to your fucked up bullshit with 15% more love in my heart. Because I’m a good person that way.
And so... here’s to a new year. Hopefully a better year than the one we’re leaving behind. I’ll be doing my best to make it happen for me and for everybody, because I’ll be taking a blowtorch to my fucked up bullshit where I find it too. But mostly I’ll be watching trash television, scrolling through TikToks, and petting my cats which, let’s face it, probably does more good for the planet than being all shouty on my blog.
Besides, I have bread to take out of the oven...
All my best to you and yours from me and mine for a happy, healthy, and productive 2021!
Posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2021
When I got my cats, they were inseparable. They would hide together, play together, sleep under the couch together, sneak out to eat together... there was not a single minute that they spent apart. Part of this came from them being rescues that were scared shitless of anything and everything. Over a long period of time I was eventually able to gain their trust, but I was so worried at the beginning that I actually planned for them never wanting to be apart.
One of the first purchases I bought was a dog bed. I figured that when they eventually grew up that they would outgrown sleeping in the cat bed together. Eventually they were able to spend time apart without problem, and the dog bed sat empty. Jenny occasionally slept in it, but it went largely ignored.
Until this past month.
Jenny started sleeping in it all the time. And, of course, once Jake saw that his sister had something she was enjoying, he just had to have it as well.
So now they take turns crashing in it. Or, if you're Jake, crashing out of it...
Not that Jenny's immune. For some strange reason, she's started sleeping in the thing riiiiiiiiight on the edge of the couch...
AND THEN... I looked up a couple evenings ago and saw this...
Now, finding them sleeping together is not impossible. I was treated to this sight just a couple weeks ago...
But I had never seen them together in the doggy bed. Needless to say I had to get up and investigate further...
Tonight Jake has laid claim to it all by his lonesome again, however. He's watching television with me all comfy-like...
I was a part of a holiday gift exchange. As what has become a tradition, my cats end up getting gifts as well. This year it was these adorable "Baby Yoda" (Grogu) ornaments filled with catnip...
Jenny really goes nuts over the things...
Not surprisingly... Jake, of course, still only has eyes for Mufasa. Other toys come and go, but his stuffed lion is always the favorite.
Posted on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021
The New Year may feel like the Old Year, but there's still something new to be had... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• TikTok! The thing that I love so much about TikTok... besides the fact that the video size is limited which forces content creators to get to the damn point already... is that it's got people constantly playing off of each other. In weird, wonderful ways. Lots of times it's clapbacks and condemnation, sure, but every once in a while you get something absolutely magical like this...
What's cool is that the woman who was (accurately) sumarizing Country music so dead-on in her parody was actually made a collaborator, and is now promoting the song on her TikTok...
#duet with @georgebirgeofficial♬ original sound - George Birge
This is not something that happens on other social media platforms so easily and organically, which is why I am still addicted to TikTok. Plus... lots of adorable animal videos.
• TokTwo! Not to mention moments of absolute happy like this...
Is is any wonder I can blow through an hour on this app and not even realize it?
• Her Name Was Bernice! Not that it's all fun and games...
This amazing woman is a graduate of Liberty College and has some fascinating takes on Christianity that comes from having lived through her past... and living her Faith in the present.
• What's Logic! I mean, damn...
This guy is phenomenally entertaining while addressing some very touchy subjects. I could just sit for an hour and blow through nothing else on TikTok but this guy.
• TokFour! Seriously. I need to come up with a Blogography page of all the TikToks I follow, because if you are looking for some incredible takes on everything from cooking to woodworking to current events to just plain fun... I'm following it all.
• Luke! And just because it's not all TikTok this Sunday... I remember very well standing in line on opening night for The Empire Strikes Back. By the time the movie was released I was already the biggest Star Wars fan on earth, and there was just no way I could wait to see it. I was dropped off with the older brother of a friend who didn't mind having me tag along. Back in 1980, there was no "internet" to speak of, and the movie magazines were always months behind what was being released in the theaters. So when it came to one of the most surprising and shocking moments in cinematic history, I was completely caught off guard. There was simply nothing that could have prepared me. Which is why I just love videos of young kids reacting to the scene when they also have no idea what's coming...
Now-a-days, of course, it would have been spoiled either weeks before... or immediately upon release. Because people are assholes and online publications are competing for pageviews. Fortunately, nobody cares as much "old" movies like this, so there are still surprises to be had. For some of us, anyways.
• Mary Ann! I would be remiss to not mention the passing of Dawn Wells from complications due to COVID this past week. I ALWAYS picked "Mary Ann" over "Ginger" as my Giligan's Island crush...
Rest In Peace, Dawn Wells. You were a huge part of my childhood.
And that's it for the first bullets of 2021.
Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2021
Well today is sure shaping up to be a treat.
I started work very early today because I noticed before going to be last night that I had quite a load of emails piled up which I had been avoiding since last Thursday. I was tired, but I had a Coke Zero to keep me on-point, so it was all good. I fed the cats when Alexa chimed and Jake and Jenny came running into my room at top speed, grabbed an apple for breakfast, then went back upstairs to work while in bed. Because it's warm and comfy up there.
And proceeded to trip on the stairs and twist my ankle because I was trying to avoid a cat toy that I didn't notice on the way down.
It was all downhill from there.
Culminating with the knee on my jeans completely ripping out when I sat down in my car...
I think that there was a small hole there that I could live with. But something happened in the last wash which took things to another level entirely. Oh well. Since I now look so fashion-forward (don't people pay to have their jeans pre-ripped so they look worn?), I went ahead and wore them into the office. And nobody said a thing.
In other news to give you an idea of how my day started...
You know how you wash your hair in the shower but then FORGET that you washed your hair so you wash your hair AGAIN... but since your hair is already clean, it doesn't know what to do with the shampoo and just becomes a mass of foam? — Well, guess what, that also happens when you forget that you've already washed your BODY. Which is what happened to me this morning. Not sure if women get this as badly as many men would... but... BODY WASH FOAM PARTY IN MY SHOWER THIS MORNING! The good news is that I am super-clean today. The bad news is that I am getting old enough that I forget when I've already washed myself.
Oh well. My brain was pretty good to me while it lasted.
Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
Eastern Washington is home to many, many small unincorporated towns which are basically just places which have some kind of historical reason for existing... a stop on a now-abandoned railroad or trail... an important business that used to be there... or maybe a place which intersects land owned by local farmers. And, to many of them, the nearest major city (usually Spokane) is 1 to 2 hours away. They usually don't have stores, shops, or restaurants to speak of (those being anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes away). If they're lucky, there might be some kind of general store with a few edible staples and various sundries amongst the grain and feed, but there's no full-on grocery store. Instead they have to make their own meals from what they can get at the nearest grocery store when they go once or twice a month. That's just how it goes.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
Partly because I am sick to fucking death of seeing political maps of Washington State where the entirety of Eastern Washington is painted red making it look like a gajillion people vote red and it's unfair that "blue Seattle gets to dictate who runs the state." That's a pretty gross exaggeration. Some of these towns which turn counties red have like A DOZEN PEOPLE in them. And land doesn't vote. So Washington State is getting the political representation which is actually representing the majority of the voters in it, regardless of what story a map is presenting.
However... the other side of that coin is the fact that these small towns DO exist. These dozens upon dozens of rural communities and the people in them DO endure. Often times they are the people who farm our land and grow our food and have communities which MEAN SOMETHING. So having them wholesale ignored by our State government is fucked up beyond all reason.
Is what's best for Seattle always going to be what's best for little Benge, Washington with its 50 people? Fuck no. But the rules Benge lives by are the rules major population centers over the Cascades dictate to them. District and County governments are supposed to have power to make sure they get fair representation but, let's face it, their power is severely limited in the grand scheme of things. Ain't nobody with major political power speaking up for the good people of Benge...
Benge, WA as seen from Google Maps, ©Google
The red dot on this map points to where Benge is in Washington State...
Benge, WA as seen in relation to Washington State from Google Maps, ©Google
Now, I've never been to Benge. Odds are I will never step foot in this town.
But a part of me really, really wants to.
I would love to travel to all these small, so-called "nothing" towns that dot my side of the state as a way of acknowledging that they exist. That the people who inhabit them deserve to be recognized for the thankless work they do to grow our food. To remind myself that they are a part of Washington too, and that the lives of their citizens mean something when it comes to the rest of the state.
Even when they get lumped into politics of a city that's four hours away.
I dunno. Benge is 2-1/2 hours from where I live. However, it's an easy 35 minute drive off I-90 on my next trip to Spokane... so maybe one day? I'd like to think that Benge would have a kind word for a stranger passing through town. It's a nice thought to have, isn't it? I'm from a small, rural, Eastern Washington community too, after all.
I just won't mention that there's a grocery store ten minutes from my house. No need to flaunt my big-little-city luxuries like that.
Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021
I'm just going to get this out there... not a fan of JaBiden.
I never wanted Joe Biden as my president. I definitely didn't want ex-prosecutor Kamala Harris as my Vice President. And Hillary Clinton, who is the very model of a garbage politician, was nowhere near my list of desired presidential candidates when she was shoved down our throats last election. But my thinking that she's "garbage" isn't saying much because 98% of our politicians are lobbyist-fed garbage as far as I'm concerned. So long as MONEY is allowed to corrupt our politics and buy off the government, the entire system is garbage.
But my loathing of Biden, Harris, and Clinton pales in comparison to how much I outright despise President Trump. His every single move was made to exclusively benefit himself, corporations, and the über-wealthy wealthy... in that order. Anybody who says otherwise has never actually looked at what he did for his four years in office and asked "Who does this really benefit? He exploited people's ignorance, bigotry, and Faith to screw us all.
So, yeah, I'm saying good riddance to Trump and will be very happy to say good riddance again when JaBiden leaves office.
Good Lord. How in the hell have we gotten here? That Trump and Biden are what we end up with as our leaders is is both inexplicable and sad. It's like the bar is now so low now that nothing will surprise me any more. Big Bird winning the presidential election in 2024? Yeah, sure. Whatever.
But what really gets me is how people become fanatically devoted to politicians in the first place. They're just people... not Jesus... or The Beatles. It makes zero sense... and I'm saying that about both Republicans and Democrats. I was absolutely bewildered by the Cult of Hillary Clinton. What was it about her that had people so consumed? And we don't even need to talk about the Cult of Donald Trump, which is even more bizarre to me. I mean...
Um... well... that's... unique? Is the word I'm looking for? Photo from the European Press Agency
From what can be theorized, anybody this devoted (yet this different in their varying ideology) are just all hating the same thing. Hate is what binds them together. It has nothing to do with loving their country, which was made quite clear when they assaulted the police, stormed the Capitol, tore down the American flag, then raised a Trump flag in its place. I mean, aren't those all the things that anybody who truly loves the USA would say are a bad thing?
What's amusing (for lack of a better word) is the sublime ignorance which is driving all this.
I've heard more than a couple times how people are branding this as a "revolution." I keep hearing things like "This is what had to happen! When we declared our independence in 1776, did we write a letter to the British telling them that we were going to be America? NO!! We went to war and kicked them out!"
Except... um... yeah... not so much.
The entire history of American Independence is well-documented, if anybody should care to investigate it. In actuality we wrote a rather important "letter" and did indeed "send it" to King George of England by publishing its text in colonial newspapers. It's called the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps you've heard of it? From what we know, the letter arrived in Britain via papers in Belfast the month after it was signed. It was all a formal affair, and the British even published a rebuttal to it and everything.
Also? There was massive support for the Revolutionary War. Like everybody in the colonies was behind it. This wasn't a splinter group who wanted to break away from England... absolutely everybody wanted it to happen. So a handful of people buying into completely unfounded election conspiracy theories which have been disproven over and over and over again... and even been disproven by Trump-voting Republicans... does not a revolution make.
I mean, I'm not happy Biden is our president either... but holy shit! SEDITION?!?
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm having another idiopathic angioedema attack. Half of my tongue has swollen so large that I am having difficulty swallowing. Which is a bummer, because that's he only way I can take huge loads of antihistamines in order to stop it from getting so large that it chokes me to death. What I'm having to do is crush them into powder, mix with water, then use a straw shoved way back in my mouth to get them in me. How fun!
My evening will be spent propped up by pillows with an epi-pen in my hand, just in case.
And, assuming there's a country left when I wake up in the morning, I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings for the United States of America.
Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2021
I have passed out exactly once in life, a long time ago. I was in high school. I wasn’t feeling well and had to have my blood drawn at the clinic so they could try to figure out what was going on. My mom and I were standing at the elevator and the next thing I knew I was waking up minutes later with strange people surrounding me and my face being slapped. I don’t remember anything about it and had to be told that I passed out.
Last night at around 10pm, my tongue swelled up on one side. I battled it with the antihistamines I was given for just this purpose... crushing them up so I could use a straw shoved back in my mouth to swallow them. I had my epi-pen ready just in case. I passed out around 7:30am. I remember the alarm going off to feed the cats. I remember coming back up stairs. And then... nothing. I woke up at 11:05, kinda half in bed. My tongue and the floor of my mouth still swollen a bit. Lips a little swollen too, which was new. But there was no pain, which was nice.
Passing out is so weird. One day I’m going to have to read up on the science about it. The thing that bugs me about it is not the losing consciousness, but the memory loss. I don’t remember ANYTHING. So weird!
...I remembered that I had my Apple Watch on, and it had recorded everything.
And the data it had collected is interesting...
As you can see from the above, I nodded off a little after 1:00am. Then I was wide awake (or being still) around 1:30am. I finally drifted off to sleep around 5am when the antihistamines I had been chugging all evening started to work. I was awakened from a deep sleep at 7am when the Alexa alarm went off to feed my cats breakfast.
I only thought that I passed out at 7:30am. What happened is that I passed out again immediately after I got back upstairs to my bedroom. And you can see it. No blue bars where I was drifting off into sleep... just an immediate crash from green to purple when I lost consciousness. Something I've never seen before.
Now, from a health standpoint, this is kinda scary.
But from a technical medical standpoint? How cool is that?!
The rest of the day was rough. I managed to go into the office, but my tongue was still swollen a bit, so it was not a comfortable experience for me. I think I may have even drooled during a Zoom meeting?
It's so hard to tell. Apple Watch doesn't record that information. Yet.
Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2021
I got up early this morning to get some work done before feeding the cats and running into Tourist Town to do some grocery shopping. Early morning shopping is the best shopping because the store is so empty. But also? My cupboards and refrigerator are low on staples, so I was excited about having food in the house again.
The other big draw for my grocery shopping today was a coupon I had which gives me $11 off a total of $110 or more. That's 10% off... on top of the other coupons I have. I love it when opportunities like this comes along, because it's the one time I allow myself to buy stuff that's not on sale. But you have to be careful. One penny under $110 and no discount for you. I kept careful track in my head and got to $120 (actual total $116.88), so way to go, me.
Along with a shiny new iPhone, I changed my service plan with AT&T. My new phone can do 5G, my service plan didn't have 5G, and even though I probably won't see 5G any time sooon where I live, I'd like it available when I travel (assuming I travel again). AT&T had a deal where I could get my two lines for $65 a line (with auto-pay and paperless billing enabled), and I'd actually be saving money in the long run over what I had, so sign me up...
Before (virtually) signing on the dotted line, I went over the details of what I would be charged very, very carefully with the phone rep. I wanted to be darn sure there weren't going to be any hidden fees above what I was already paying. After a very patient person went through everything with me... twice... I changed my plan to the new $65 per line.
My previous bill was a mess. I had no idea what was going on because AT&T jerks you around with pro-rated billing and activation fees and other stupid shit that I had no way of understanding. But then today my current bill with none of the extras arrives. And I looked it over very carefully. And, wouldn't you know it, only ONE of my lines was $65. The other was $75...
So I online-chat with AT&T and explain the problem. After pulling up my account, I'm told this:
I see that you have been charged for monthly service charge. That is why you got high in your bill.
I explain that my bill very clearly shows one of the lines was charged $75. Then I get this:
I see that you have been charged $65 for one account and $65 for another account. But this time they have added $8.33 for one account.
I then have to tell them that I am looking at my bill and it clearly shows one line is $75, so I don't know where they're seeing both are at $65. I don't care what the fees are showing, the amount per line I was quoted (and which is still showing on their website) is NOT being honored.
After a while of them "looking into it" I get this:
Yes you are right. Sorry for that. Let me go ahead a note to change that for you. So it will not reflect in your next billing cycle.
Look, I really want to give AT&T the benefit of doubt here, but I see this shit ALL THE TIME, so it's tough not to be cynical. I signed up for a new plan so I could get 5G at $65 a line (if I use auto-pay and paperless billing, which I do). but I'm charged $75 for one and $65 for the other. And the ENTIRE TIME I'm chatting with customer support, I think back to my grandmother and mother being easily confused by pages of bills that are designed to obscure how much YOU'RE ACTUALLY BEING BILLED FOR, and I know beyond any doubt that they would have just paid the overcharge month after month because they didn't know any better. And if they did call customer support, they undoubtedly would have believed the bullshit about "extra fees" and not pressed the issue any further.
This is rage inducing.
And I cannot help but ask... is AT&T doing this on purpose? Do they make their billing statements confusing and encourage auto-pay and paperless billing so they can rip you off and have less chance of being caught? I am seriously outraged right now. I'd dump these assholes in a second if other carriers were any better... but they're all the same, aren't they? So what good would it do?
If the Democrats in power want to make me happy after they're done sucking off the lobbyists lining up to pay them to betray US citizen interests... FIRST they can put us on permanent Daylight Saving Time so we're not dicking with the clocks twice a year. THEN they can pass an act which forces all these asshole companies to not hide all their charges when you sign up for shit. The price they advertise should be the price you pay... AND IT SHOULD INCLUDE ALL THE FUCKING FEES AND OTHER BULLSHIT THAT **NEVER** ALLOW YOU TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE PAYING BEFORE YOU COMMIT TO A CONTRACT!
But you know what? AT&T probably shovels millions upon millions upon millions to politicians so they can just keep doing exactly what they're doing. Which means nothing is going to change any time soon. Our politicians won't do anything to threaten that sweet, sweet lobbyist payola now would they?
At least not in my State. Senator Patty Murray is OWNED by the medical lobby, and we all know how much they just LOVE to obscure costs in their billing. Major surgery results in pounds of never-ending bills that are intentionally confusing so you just shut up and pay. Which is exactly the kind of behavior our politicians crave... "I'll shut up just so long as you pay."
God bless America.
Posted on Saturday, January 9th, 2021
The holidays being over aren't all that sad for me... I don't celebrate any of them... but I kinda feel bad for my cats. Always something new and exciting for them. Lights hanging outside the windows... Christmas cards they can chew on (which is appropriate considering 5 out of the 8 I received were addressed to them)... and all kinds of other stuff that's new and different...
One thing that I wasn't anticipating was Jake and Jenny shedding like it's the middle of Summer when there are some weeks of Winter left to be had. The fur is literally flying everywhere, and petting them results in handfuls coming off in my hand...
And apparently all that shedding is itchy, because my cats will not leave me alone. They want to be petted and scratched and scrubbed...
From the minute I get home until the minute I fall asleep, they are wanting never-ending scratches.
I'd write more exciting details about my needy cats but, well, my cats are being needy.
Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2021
Free speech has consequences, which is nothing new to bloggers like me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Colosseo! My mom's favorite landmark is the Roman Colosseum. She asked to visit it every trip we made to Rome which, I believe, was four times (it was a cruise stop twice and a trip stop twice). I'd ask her why she loved it so much and she'd say "I don't know... I just do." When I told her that maybe she was a gladiator in a previous life, she thought that was funny and started telling people that when showing this photo...
Because of this, I very much wish she was still alive, because Rome is renovating the Colosseum, and I think the idea of being able to stand on the floor of the Colosseum arena would be so thrilling to her that we would have definitely made a fifth trip once it was completed. This is really, really cool, and I'd love to be able to visit again. But it won't be the same without my mom there to share it.
• LEGO! I have to say... whomever works in LEGO advertising which came up with this ad for a "Make Your Own MiniFig" game apparently doesn't have the same filthy mind that I do, because, well...
Is that a hotdog in your pants, madam, or are you just happy to see me?
• PERFECT! I've watched this TikTok more times that I'd ever admit. It's hilarious because it's true...
Though I'd argue the point that this is how girls make coffee, because I see plenty of guys doing essentially this. And given my distaste for coffee, this would absolutely be me as well.
• Cute Gay Shit! TikTok is so much more than funny coffee memes. There is some genuinely touching stuff on there that gives me hope for all humanity...
And just KNOW that this gentleman gets lumped in with people he’s condemning because of how he looks and talks. You know it. God bless you, sir.
• NEWSFLASH! FORBES: Close To A Worst-Case Scenario—Former CDC Director Issues ‘Horrifying’ Outlook For New Covid Strain. If your balls don't shrivel up after reading this, then you probably don't have balls. But you are alive if you're reading this, balls or no balls, which means you should be horrified that there are still people not taking this shit seriously. Protect yourself. Protect others. This has catastrophe written all over it.
• Specs? Apple is the most ridiculous fucking company. They want to make their products as simple to use as possible by taking all the "tech" out of everything. Which is fine. EXCEPT YOU CAN NEVER MANAGE TO GET ANY FUCKING SPECS FOR ANYTHING THEY SELL. Will this cable work for charging? I dunno. What is the maximum transfer rate for this cable? I dunno. Can I quick-charge with this cable? I dunno. What about the charger? I dunno. Can you at least tell me if it is USB-PD compliant? I dunno. They literally tell you NOTHING in their support docs or on anything in their entire store. — If you want to shield your customers from scary tech-speak, fine. But at least have the fucking information SOMEWHERE for the people who need to know this shit. Their solution for everything is to say "Well, if it doesn't work, you can always return it." Which is an astound attitude to take considering that it wastes my time and their resources, and I'm getting seriously tired of it.
• Apolitical! My existence right now:
REPUBLICANS: You're just a Democrat shill.
DEMOCRATS: You're just a Republican shill.
ME: I AM NEITHER A DEMOCRAT NOR A REPUBLICAN! I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO WORSHIP POLITICIANS AND FALL IN LINE WITH A POLITICAL PARTY RUN BY WEALTHY ASSHOLES THAT ARE PROPPED UP BY WEALTHY CORPORATIONS WHO DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT US! WHY CAN'T I JUST BE A NON-PARTY SHILL?! WHY DOES MY SHILLNESS HAVE TO BE ATTACKED LIKE THIS? I AM A SHILL FOR ALL HUMANITY! AND A SHILL FOR CATS! TOWANDAAAAAAA!!!
Because, like, how could you not be a shill for floofy bellies like dis?
Stay frosty out there, my friends.
Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2021
After nine years, Thrice Fiction magazine (the amazing venue for short-form fiction that I created with RW Spryszak), came to an end with our December 2019 issue (You can still read all 27 issues absolutely FREE on our website).
But we're not dead yet.
RW and I just wanted to be freed from the thrice-yearly schedule that was becoming more and more difficult to keep. We don't get paid, we just do this for the love of it all, so the magazine always has to take a back-seat to Real Life. This kind of scenario is not conducive to a deadline.
And so we've relaunched with Volume 2, which no longer has a schedule. It's also no longer free, but it's as cheap as we can possibly make it (neither of us is getting rich here, we just need something to help cover our costs, which are more than you might think).
Here's our fist issue of the new Thrice Fiction...
For the next two or three entries here at Blogography, I thought I'd go over the design process that went into it.
Starting with the new logo.
My goal with the original Thrice Fiction was to have the design fade away. Elements were intentionally stark, plain, and forgettable. The logo I came up with wasn't so much a "logo" as some of the plainest type I had available stacked up and centered...
I actually had people comment about how "Thrice is pretty in execution, but plain in presentation." And I was like "Well, yeah, that's what it was designed to be!" We had some amazing artists contribute to our covers, and making sure a fancy logo didn't detract from their generously-donated work was all part of the plan.
But since Volume 2 was going to be sold in book stores and such, a different approach needed to be had. Slapping some plain type on it was not going to work, so I made a list of objectives...
The last one, cheap was probably the biggest part of the puzzle. And so when I designed the interior I picked from typefaces which I already owned licenses for. The main typeface then became the base for the logo upon which I could build. The only "design" thing I did here was to rough in an extension for the leg of the "R" so I'd know to leave space for it...
Now comes the part where my ADHD kicks in. I am obsessive about spacing consistency and working to make sure that elements are lined up as much as possible. It just makes for a cleaner logo that way. A lot of work goes into a project like this before I even get to a starting place...
It's not uncommon for me to use dozens... or even hundreds of guides as I am figuring out the placement of all the pieces...
The "T" at the beginning of "Thrice" is problematic, because its width is defined at the very top by the crossbar. This leaves the "F" in "Fiction" looking off-center. I wanted to address this in case the logo ends up in a place where it would be helpful to look more balanced, so I roughed in a swash there so it would add visual width...
Note that at this point I planned on putting the "3" endmark (which signifies the end of each story of the interior) within the "C" because I thought it would look cool. It did look very cool. But it also added clutter and distraction, so it was dropped. Also note that I was planning on hiding a backwards "3" in the swash to be clever. This would also be dropped for clutter.
And here you can see me once again going crazy with the guides so I can line everything up in a mathematically-pleasing manner...
From there it's just endless futzing around.
Making the leg of the R be swoopy and pretty. Adding curls on the R, C, and E to tie them to the curls on the swash across the T and H. Cleaning up the letterforms by narrowing or widening the space they occupy to better line things up. That kind of thing...
This is what I went to print with because I ran out of futzing time. There are still some minor tweaks I need to take care of until I'm happy with our new logo (starting with the swash going too narrow too quickly and looking jerky as it crosses the "T", which really, really bugs me). The work is never truly done until the deadline arrives, and even then it doesn't stop.
That's "design" in a nutshell.
Overall I'm quite happy with the logo because I think it fits my objectives well and looks nice on the shelf. So way to go, me!
If this kind of stuff interests you, tune in tomorrow when I discuss the cover art... then again on Wednesday when I discuss the interior art. Big fun awaits.
Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021
This is part two of a three-part dive into the redesign of Thrice Fiction magazine on the occasion of releasing the first issue of Volume 2. If you missed it, you can read Part One right here.
After the type had been selected and the logo had been designed, I moved to the cover. Our old magazine was graced with a variety of amazing artists contributing their talents but, just like with Volume One, I decided to do the first one myself.
I had many, many ideas.
For the longest time I had it in my head that since this was a relaunch, I was going to have a young boy on a tropical island looking up to the heavens... while a bunch of missiles were ready to launch nearby. I liked that it was implying even paradise can be meanacing. I ultimately abandoned this idea for being too dark but, never fear, I repurposed the idea for a piece on the interior.
The next day I woke up and couldn't remember the name of my favorite restaurant in Prague (maybe I was dreaming about it?), so I went to my blog and searched for it (the name is Lehká Hlava, and it has my highest recommendation). Two images above where I was talking about the restaurant is one of my most favorite photos I've taken of all time...
Now... you may be asking yourself... is that angel drowning a cupid baby angel in a bathtub? Or maybe a chicken? I honestly don't know, but it sure looks that way to me!
Despite the horror element, I always thought she was gorgeous. And the fact that I was blessed with those stormy skies just makes the photo that much more beautiful to me.
And that's when I had a thought... if Thrice Fiction is undergoing a rebirth, of sorts, we're essentially drowning Volume 1 in a bathtub (even though you can still read all 27 issues for FREE on our site). Maybe this is the image I'm going for?
Except this is going to be sold in book stores, and I thought the angsty, brooding, dark imagery has been done to death. Such a cover would fade into the rest of the books. Soooo... what if the angel was drowning the cupid in broad daylight... under bright blue skies? How disturbing would that be? Very. And so... I went through my photo archives to find the original image and see if it was something I could work with.
Bad news. It was cropped too tight and there wasn't enough in the original image to create a cover out of. Oh well. Back to the drawing board. Except... I had visited that cemetery on the day prior when it wasn't rainy and dark. Maybe with better weather I stuck around longer to take more photos? Turns out I did!
The second photo had the same angle I liked from the original photo, but it wasn't the cover I wanted. Too dark. Cropped too tight. It would never work.
Except... maybe it would if I put some work into it? Let's take a look, shall we?
Well, lightening it up a bit showed that there's enough pixel information in the shadows to work with... but how will I fill in the missing information at the bottom? Hmmm... remember that first photo that was kinda boring and flat? How about I cut out of that one and see if I can make use of it...
Oh yeah. That's perfect. I can easily warp it into a base for my murdering angel...
Cool. But there's still a long ways to go before this is the cover I've got in my head. First of all I have to paint in the missing bits and paint out the panels with stock photos so the names of our contributing authors can be easily read. It also needs to be much, much brighter. And maybe I could place a building back behind it to add a little visual interest? I've got tons of photos of Prague, so I could probably find one that works. And, say, what if instead of a bright blue sky I tried a brilliant orange sky in an attempt to tie everything together into a cohesive image?
Blergh. That building is adding nothing but confusion. It needs to go. And while I like the idea of an orange sky, that's a color that doesn't reproduce well in CMYK printing, so I really think it needs to be blue like I originally envisioned...
Now we're getting somewhere.
From here on out it's a lot of painting. There's a "watercolor" filter I use to speed up the process, but you can't just push a button and have all the work done for you. Well, actually you can do that, it's just that the results aren't that great. I go in and repaint features... do the watercolor filter... see what works and what needs to be worked on... undo the watercolor filter... then repeat. FOR HOURS! The face of the angel is practically untouched, and I went very light on the watercolor, because I wanted it to be easily "understood" by the reader. The further I got away from her face, the more radical the repainting becomes. I adjust contrast... add stock photo paint splotches for interest... simplify details to be more impressionistic for the watercolor filter... it's just refine... refine... refine...
Eventually I get to a point where I've gone too far. So I step back to a previous version and I'm done. Thrice Fiction is reborn...
You'll note that the black strip on the left side (a carryover from the original magazine design) was abandoned. There's precious little horizontal space on the smaller book size, and I wanted to devote as much cover area as possible so our artists can fill it up. I also zoomed in on the angel quite a lot because I thought it was more impactful and prettier to look at this way.
Not exactly what I had in my head, but pretty close... murdered cupid and all. You can buy a copy with its glorious 128 pages for just $12 at the Lulu Book Shop.
Tomorrow I'll take a look at the interior of the book and go through all that drama for you. Sounds like fun, no?
Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021
This is part three of a three-part dive into the redesign of Thrice Fiction magazine on the occasion of releasing the first issue of Volume 2. If you missed it, you can read Part One right here and Part Two right here.
With all 27 FREE issues of Volume 1 of Thrice Fiction, I had the luxury of color. It was designed from the very beginning with color in mind. The focus of each issue, the stories, were (out of necessity) black and white for readability. I carried this theme to the contributor photos, which were also black and white. Everything else (i.e. the art) would be in color.
The problem with color is that it's expensive. Very expensive. But you can justify it when you have a small number of pages because the cost doesn't have a chance to accumulate that much. Since the format for Volume 2 was over a hundred pages, it wasn't an option. All interior pages would be black and white so we wouldn't have to charge $50 a copy.
All our artists were in a pandemic for 2020, so I decided to just do all the interior art myself after a few false starts in rounding up contributors. This actually turned out for the best, because I had no idea how our publisher (Lulu) would reproduce greyscale art. Since it's just me, I made a list of different styles to experiment with... line art... photo art... vector art... and so on.
And here's how that went.
Ann Bogle is a remarkable writer and it's always been a thrill to see her work in our pages. Needless to say that when RW informed me that she would be the "featured contributor" for our debut issue, I was thrilled. I read through all her stories a couple times looking for an idea... but I kept coming back to the second paragraph of her very first story, Credenza, where it was Abe Lincoln's 200th birthday. It's just too dang good an image to ignore. So I didn't...
Originally there was no "happy birthday" banner in the background, as the idea was to put a party hat on top of Lincoln's famous stovepipe hat. It proved too clutzy, so I made the change. Also? Abraham Lincoln was originally drawn as a decomposing corpse, because that's the only way I could still have his beard on there. But that was pretty gruesome, so I went with a skeleton head, left the beard, and took all the rotting flesh off his hands. No, it doesn't make sense, but I actually think it's more humorous this way. This was knocked out on my iPad in ProCreate over a couple nights while watching Hallmark movies.
If you read yesterday's entry, you know that I was originally planning on the cover being a little boy looking up to the heavens as missiles stand ready to launch (for our relaunch, get it?). I thought this might be a little dark, but I liked the idea of the image so much that I decided to draw it up and slap it in the interior as a break-point...
I thought this actually turned out better than what was in my head. I also think it probably works better as a block-cut than a color painting. The palms are extracted from a photo I took on the Big Island of Hawaii. The boy, Saturn, and the missiles are stock photos I cut out. It was all assembled in Photoshop, had extraction filters and edge filters run on it, then I imported it to ProCreate on my iPad so I could add texture and linework.
Amantine Brodur's work was a tough challenge to typeset because half of what makes it work is the formatting. Translating the formatting of The Anaphora House from a MS Word document to book pages took a long, long time of goofing around until I was satisfied that I had done the best job I could. Then a couple days later I would look at it again and decide to change half of it. =sigh= There was an abundance of riches to be had when it came time to figuring out what I wanted to do for the art. But once I got to the section titled Empires of Toast I just knew that was going to be where my piece came from...
This is just pure symbolism, "empires" being represented by a chess set. I knew I wanted a toaster ejecting "toast" on the board, but I took it a bit further than that. The "theme" of our "Subject Paper" this issue was discussing "cultural appropriation." I drew a white pawn also ejecting from the toaster, the idea being that it wants to appear black, but couldn't take the heat that comes from being black. Deep, I know.
Eckhard Gerdes packs a lot in the slightly more than four pages of The Babble-Ons. I went from worrying that there wouldn't be enough visual ideas to draw from... to being completely overwhelmed by how much there was to choose from. I abandoned the idea of pulling literal passages and instead combined a rowboat and snails because I thought it would make for a fun image...
Don't ask me how that snail is rowing his boat. This is a half-dozen stock photos which have been reworked and combined into a single image in Adobe Photoshop... then outlined in Adobe Illustrator. I wanted to have an example for future artist contributors so they could see how photos reproduce at Lulu and how contrast has to be heightened to get something other than a mushy grey blob. It took a lot more effort than I was anticipating, and I'm pretty sure I put in just under three hours for an image that would have taken me 20 minutes if it were in color.
Art was never going to be the focus of Volume 2. It was always going to be the written word. But I still wanted some art in there to add breaks between sections and pieces. This was an idea I had years ago that I never did anything with, but kinda liked the thought of dusting it off and retooling it to be a collage overlaid by block-print. Something about the concept of aliens invading and not caring which god you worship reeeeeally stuck with me...
I cannot for the life of me remember where I took the photo of the monk with baby Jesus. I want to say Italy maybe? Columbia? I think it was in a courtyard somewhere. Could even be New Orleans. Since I pulled the photo out of my archives quite a long while ago, I can't remember. Everything else is composed of eight stock photos that I chopped up and combined. Before I started converting, painting, filtering, and drawing on top of it, this is what it looked like...
Had I done this in color, I would have painted over everything to make it "more my own" since all the pieces around the statue were created by somebody else. But it worked really well as a block-cut, so I spent considerable time massaging the pieces in Photoshop so it would work well. Minutes before publishing this issue, I went in and changed baby Jesus's eyes and the cross on the monk's robe to pure white and did a heavier outline around Jesus so they stood out better.
Originally I had created this art for the subject essay Who Do You Think You Are? by Franny Forsman which discusses cultural appropriation. This is a subject which hits at me personally from a number of different directions, and almost everybody has an opinion... from weak ("I don't care and don't see anything wrong with it because it doesn't affect me") to very strong ("This is pillaging my people and my culture and using it in inappropriate ways which I find deeply insulting"). Despite being 100% white boy with a "cultural heritage" that consists of a hodgepodge of other cultures (AKA "no culture to speak of"), I am in the latter category. And it stems from the simple idea of just being fucking decent and kind to people. If somebody tells you that their culture is not a costume and they are offended when people treat it that way... just pick a different Halloween costume. If somebody tells you that your football team has a shitty name and mascot because it is taken from a painful slur celebrating genocide against their people... just pick a different name. This is not rocket science, and you have to be kinda awful to not want to change when it's pointed out to you. And that's what I was trying to say with this piece depicting a butterfly seeing a poster advertising a movie about a butterfly... starring a cockroach...
This is a composite of a bunch of stock photos that I cut into Photoshop (though I think the butterfly image is mine, taken from a butterfly sanctuary in Australia). The butterfly wings on the cockroach were drawn on in Procreate because I wanted them to look like they were badly colored with a crayon. The credits for my fake movie Butterfly are actually taken from the movie poster for White Boy Rick, which seemed appropriate. Ultimately I worried that any art put in front of such a serious subject would be distracting and inappropriate and decided to go with no art at all. But I kinda liked what Cheap Imitation was saying, so I stuck it at the back of the book.
And there you have it... all the art I came up with for the first issue of Volume 2! You can see it all in print by buying a copy with its glorious 128 pages for just $12 at the Lulu Book Shop. A bargain at half the price with some cool stuff to be had!
Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2021
I honestly thought that once I got my Uninterruptible Power Supply that I'd never have a power outage again. That's just how things go for me. A problem comes up again and again and again... spend money to handle the problem for next time... the problem never happens again. I'm sure I'm not alone.
Installed my UPS on November 18th... had a power outage this past Tuesday.
Well I'll be darned!
Must to my delight, the UPS operated exactly as it was supposed to. My home automation, internet router, and NAS drive never lost power and there was no need to spend hours restarting and recovering my data with an "integrity check." Nice. So a big thank you to CyberPower for making a product that actually works. I was beginning to think that such a thing didn't exist any more.
Like my Samsung television. Less than five years old and the backlighting is already starting to screw up. My previous Sony television (now in my bedroom) has lasted over a decade. My television before that (a massive Sony widescreen tube television) lasted over 15 years. At this rate, my next television will last for 1-1/2 years? Holy crap.
Winter has been a massive disappointment this year.
Despite getting plenty cold for snow, it's mostly been rain. Any snow we get turns to rain the next day which leaves us with a mushy mess and icy streets. The day of my power outage two days ago, I found myself waking to at least 6 inches of snow. Then it sprinkled rain. So when I peeked out my window and could see cars sliding and getting stuck, I decided to work at home for a bit and wait for the snowplow. But eventually I needed to go into the office and took a chance. It's a tricky business. You have to drive fast enough so that you don't get stuck... but slow enough that you're not spinning out. I had a few dicey moments, but eventually made it to the main road. Just as I was congratulating myself, the snowplow turned onto my road.
Of course the guys hired to plow my driveway did it before the snowplow arrived, which meant a massive berm of snow was blocking my driveway when I got home. Not wanting to get out and shovel, I decided to accelerate to ramming speed and just bust my way through. Which went fine... but it sure felt like parts were going to be ripped out of my undercarriage.
As the berm has melted and re-froze each day, it's now become more of a ice curb than a snow berm. That cannot be solved by busting through it, so I've kinda created a path for my tires to drive through that gets me into my garage.
Probably should have just shoveled it while I had the chance.
But I know the minute I spend money for a snow shovel to solve the problem next time, it will never happen again, so I'm just going to pretend to be oblivious so I can save a buck.
You should know by now that I never learn.
Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2021
And so now I know what it's like to be wealthy!
I had a coupon for trying out the HelloFresh meal service. And, since their vegetarian options no longer seem to revolve exclusively around mushrooms (which I can't eat) and cauliflower or broccoli (which I won't eat), I took them up on their introductory offer. I signed up, selected vegetarian meals that sounded good, and got excited over trying something new.
My first box was due to arrive next week. For whatever reason, they screwed up and sent it this week. Which wouldn't have bothered me, except they sent meat dishes. I contacted them to explain the problem, they immediately credited me the cost, then told me to dispose of the carnivorous meals as I wished. So I gave all the meat to a neighbor and decided to try to refashion the recipes to be vegetarian with the ingredients which were left over.
The reason I now know what it's like to be wealthy is that my box from Martha and Marley Spoon also arrived this week, which means I had six complete meals in my refrigerator ready to be cooked for dinner with leftovers for the following day's lunch. SCORE! I could never afford to do this on a regular basis, but boy is it awesome knowing that I don't have to think about what to cook or worry about going to the grocery store.
The first meal I wanted to try was "Bulgogi Lime Pork Tenderloin"... without the tenderloin.
It was essentially sweet potato and pepper dices sauteed with scallions, garlic, and Bulgogi sauce mixed with lime. Not much of a meal without the pork, but if I cook some hard rolls with cheese to pair with it, I thought it might be nice.
One of the first things you have to do is zest the lime. "Zesting" is not a new concept for me because Martha Stewart wants you to do it all the time in her recipes... it's just that I've never understood how to do it. When I searched on YouTube I saw that people "zested" by using what looked like a teeny-tiny cheese grater. Something I didn't have.
Except I thought that I did, because when you look inside the handle of my box grater, there looks like what appears to be a small grater. Alas, any time I attempted to use it for zesting, all it did was gum up with lime peel and I never actually got any tiny grated anything out of it. Wanting to know what I was doing wrong, I Facetimed a friend who works in a kitchen restaurant and asked her by holding it up to the camera and asking her how to use it.
The first thing she said was "Well, first thing you have to do is remove it so that the peel doesn't end up in the handle." It was charming that she thought me that dense, but I explained to her that it doesn't come out easily. In order to get it out, I had to use two pair of pliers and nearly busted the thing.
"Wait. Let me look at that again... move it close so I can see."
"I have no idea what that is, but it's not a zester!"
"See how there's no grates? It just looks like pokey spikes!"
"Maybe it's supposed to be a masher or tenderizer of some kind?"
"Yeah, you need to go buy an actual zester. Sorry."
And so I did. And it arrived today. I got one by Oxo Good Grips, which makes my favorite kitchen utensils and gadgets. It was expensive... $12 compared to others costing less than half that... but I knew it would probably be safer, smarter, and last longer, so I invested the money...
Martha Stewart would be so proud.
And so now I can finally zest a lime or a lemon and make all those recipes correctly that call for zesting a lime or a lemon.
Pretty grate, huh? (HA HA HA HA HAAAA! I slay me!)
So wish me luck with my first zesting experience. I'll let you know if I end up with my fingertips missing.
Posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2021
When I first got Jake and Jenny, it was recommended I get a Feliway diffuser which releases pheromones that calm nervous cats. I kept using them even after they had acclimated, because I felt it probably helped when I was away traveling as well. The other night I noticed that the diffuser had ran out, which helped to explain why my cats had been curiously cautious lately. Like when I come home and they book up the stairs and won't come down right away when I call them...
So I replaced it. The next day they were all over each other. When I came home they didn't even come greet me. They were too busy giving each other a bath and couldn't be bothered...
When I looked at the security camera footage I saw they were being sweet to each other all night as well...
In other cat news... Jake came in crying one morning while I was working in bed. I assumed that he couldn't find Mufasa, so I went to look (otherwise I wouldn't be able to get back to work). Mufasa was on top of a pile of toys that Jenny was building, so I grabbed him and went to give him to Jake. He turned his head and would not even look at his favorite toy...
I thought they were friends again when Jake dragged him in the next morning...
But then throughout the day, Mufasa was left on my bed...
I went to bed at midnight, but Jenny woke me up at 2am crying her head off. I had no idea why, so it was back to the security camera footage. Turns out that Jenny was sleeping when Jake came up and woke her up. This made her so upset that she decided to wake ME up. And that's when I noticed that Mufasa was still where Jake had left him...
So is the honeymoon between Jake and Mufasa over?
Keep tuning in to find out!
Posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2021
Don't let the Wintertime blues get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Betty! As somebody who loved Betty White long before it was cool, I am thrilled to wish her a happy 99th birthday today!
Betty's last work was reprising her role as the voice of "Bitey White" from Toy Story 4 in 2019. Wisely, she has quarantined herself against the pandemic so as to stay safe throughout 2020. I sure as heck hope that there's some televised special featuring the legions of stars who she's worked with over the years on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
• It Worked! This is the best thing I found on the internet this past week... and it's from August 2019...
Live your dreams, people. The guy in the photo is Abdul, an astrophotographer with some incredible images on his Twitter feed.
• Public Record? “I believe we will find that there’s going to be a huge hole in the historical record of this president because I think there’s probably been serious noncompliance of the Presidential Records Act.” — Because the first thing a totally innocent person does is destroy evidence, right?
• WandaVision! Last Thursday night I stayed up for the midnight release of WandaVision's first two episodes on Disney+. While they are obviously building towards something, both of them seemed like a waste of time. If I wanted to watch cheesy old black-and-white TV shows, I'd tune in to Nick at Night (or whatever). The first episode was only 20 minutes of actual show (the second was closer to 30), and they STILL felt too long. If the setup is that Wanda is mentally trapped in old TV shows, they could have crammed all that in the first episode and moved on to the ACTUAL show after. As it is, it just seems like senseless padding. So I dunno.
Maybe as they go deeper into the story these episodes will feel worth it. But right now? Not really.
• NEWSFLASH! Footprints Lead to Missing Hikers Lost on California Mountain for 5 Days. I'm just going to put this right here as a reminder... if you go hiking without a LifeStraw... even if it's just supposed to be a simple day hike that you've done a hundred times before... you may very well be risking your life. Anything can happen. You can go a fairly long time without food. You can't last long at all without water. LifeStraw can turn even a muddy puddle into water that won't kill you. Indeed, it could be a puddle that saves your life. Amazon has LifeStraw available for $15 right here.
• Magical? Magic Spoon low-carb, no-grain cereal is practically tasteless... when I first tried it, I thought I had The COVID because I couldn't taste anything. I will not be ordering again. Except the shit was SO expensive, that I've been trying to eat it all so I'm not wasting money. But the biggest issue I have... even more so than the lack of taste? It's their stupid fucking boxes. They sell the cereal direct. There's no need to glue the thin-as-paper box so heavily that there is NO WAY to open them without ripping them to shit. On my fourth box I was even trying to use a knife so I could open it without tearing anything. NOPE! The glue is actually HEAVIER THAN THE DAMN BOX MATERIAL. Why? It's not like it's sitting on a shelf somewhere! They really don't need to use glue on the lid AT ALL since the bags are sealed and it's going direct to consumers! This is the stupidest damn thing, and I just don't get it.
It's almost as if Magic Spoon is saying "FUCK YOU! HA HA HA! JUST TRY TO GET THE FUCKING BOX OPEN IN ONE PIECE!!!" Which is an interesting tact to take when your cereal is this bland. I mean, I never expected it to taste like sugar cereal, but dang. Artifical flavors are cheap. Try adding some.
Have a great rest of your Winter, everybody.
Posted on Monday, January 18th, 2021
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody!
I am fortunate enough to get the day off, but I still ended up working so I could get caught up while not having new work dropped on me. That's almost like a holiday right there!
As is my custom, I started my day by listening to his I Have A Dream speech in its entirety. I also pulled out my copy of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. which I haven't re-read in a while. Last year I re-read Where Do We Go from Here and the year before that Strength to Love, so it's time to be inspired.
Illustration from Doodles by Drea
And now... I should probably clean my house or wash clothes or make dinner or do something productive. Though I've already performed a firmware update on my NAS and backed up my files, so maybe that counts as productivity?
Still need to make dinner and clean my kitchen though.
That's more than enough productivity.
Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
tl;dr... I'm too old for this shit
This is undoubtedly Too Much Information, but I've gone without sex for so long now that I think that I might be over it. As in... I'm done. It's over. Pack up my dick, put it on a shelf, and call it a day. I've managed to survive since August, 2019 without it, so sayonara sexy time. We had a good run.
Because whether you're in a relationship or not, sex always has a cost. And the longer I've gone without, the more I'm beginning to think the cost is too damn high. Not literal "cost"... as in money (though that can certainly be a factor when you're single)... but the cost that comes any time you invest yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically with another person.
In other words, I really am too old for this shit.
I suppose it only stands to reason that this would happen. I have been done with actual relationships for at least a decade. Maybe two. Sure I stumble into them on occasion but, try as I might, it's just not something I'm able to make work long-term. And despite my being brutally up-front about this, there are still women who seem to want to give it a go... I get all goofy and say "okay"... then give it my best shot because relationships are so nice at the beginning that I want it to work... then try to act shocked when it doesn't, even though I knew better.
At least she believes me when we both realize things are not working out and I say "It's not you, it's me"... I said as much at the very beginning.
Is it any wonder that I am so addicted to crappy Hallmark rom-coms? Watching a fantasy world where people fall in love and live happily ever after... all in 90 minutes or less? Well, technically you never SEE a "happily ever after" because the movie ends on their first kiss. For all we know they DON'T live happily ever after. For all we know that kiss was bad. And they've only known each other for a week, after all. I'm sure the bad habits, annoying quirks, and love of banjo music doesn't come out until Week Two (though "Did I happen to mention that I have a meth addiction?" probably doesn't come out until ten years of marriage, three kids, and no teeth). I guess my point is that it's nice to think that they live happily ever after (with or without the meth).
So there you have it. Hallmark movies in lieu of relationships. Porn in lieu of sex. I guess all my bases are covered then?
You tell me. I use blogging in lieu of therapy.
Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021
This is the drama I inevitably go through whenever I attempt to remember how to spell a word that I don't use very often...
Faroe: ALSO: Faeroe Islands (/ˈfɛəroʊ/; Danish: Færøerne) are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres (200 mi) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland.
No. That's not it.Farrow: María de Lourdes Villiers "Mia" Farrow (/məˈriːə di ˈlʊrdz ˈvɪljərz ˈfæroʊ/; born February 9, 1945) is an American actress, activist, and former fashion model. Farrow has appeared in more than 50 films and won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe Award and three BAFTA Award nominations.
No. That't not it.Farroll: was an admiral in the GalSec troops. She was in charge of an attack on a Wirrn. She was later injured because of a Wirrn. She was infected by the Wirrn to become the new Wirrn Queen. (SEE: British science fiction television programme Doctor Who)
No. That's definitely not it.Farro: Farro refers to the grains of three wheat species, which is sold dried, and cooked in water until soft. It is eaten plain or is often used as an ingredient in salads, soups, and other dishes.
Oh yeah! There it is!
Until recently, I don't know for 100% certain that I've ever had farro before. It certainly never showed up on the dinner table when I was growing up. I have vague-ish memories of probably eating it when I was traveling... like once I think it was served in an airline meal with apricots in it or something like that? I don't know. I'm old and my memory is going.
Suffice to say that farro has not played a big part in my life.
Both Martha Stewart (via Marley Spoon) and HelloFresh have been dropping farro bombs into my life, and I am totes here for it. The stuff is fantastic. Kinda like bulgur or quinoa but not really. I may plow under the grass in my front yard and try to grow it... that's how in love with the stuff I am! Then I'll set up a mill in the back yard so I can process what I grow. Sure it's all gluten, but isn't everything tasty in life? Except cheese, maybe? Cheese and ice cream? Yeah. That sounds about right.
Martha Stewart first dropped farro in my life via "Creamy Farro Fonduta with Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley" that turned out like this...
Except you can't see the cheesy farro fonduta stuff under all that, so here you go...
It's basically farro mixed with cream cheese and fontina. AKA MAGIC ON A FUCKING PLATE!
Then last night my dinner was "Roasted Veggie Farro Bowls with Marinated Cranberries & Salsa Verde Sunflower Pepitas" from HelloFresh...
"But, Dave I thought you hated arugula?" — Well, I do. Arugula is what I imagine sadness and death tastes like. But I examined the recipe carefully and thought "Hmmm. Just maybe the sweet of the sweet potatoes, the tart of the cranberries, the sour of the lemon, and the aroma of the onions will be enough to counteract THE HEINOUS FUCKING BITTERNESS of the arugula? I think I'll try it!" — Then, just to make sure, I wasn't stingy with the salt and pepper AND I threw out 1/3 of the arugula. Worked like a charm! The blending of all the different tastes is incredible. I did end up having to throw out the "veggie stock" that was included (mushroom is a vegetable?) and use my own, but other than that... delicious! HelloFresh "Roasted Veggie Farro Bowls with Marinated Cranberries & Salsa Verde Sunflower Pepitas" FTW!
Boy. Kinda cool that after 54 years on this earth Im still discovering new foods to enjoy!
Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2021
"So... what knife are you using?"
After 30 years of eating crap, I decided I wanted more out of life than frozen food reheated in a microwave so I signed up for Martha Stewart's meal service via Marley Spoon. It changed everything. I don't necessarily enjoy cooking, but I do love what comes from it. I am eating better now than I have in decades, and it would be tough to ever go back. And once I realized this truth, I started buying new stuff for my kitchen to make my cooking experience better. New tools. New cookware. New gadgets. New ingredients. New knives.
Again and again I heard THE ONE THING EVERY COOK NEEDS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IS A GOOD KNIFE! I was told that I could scrimp on a lot of things, but a cook's knife was not one of them. "Spend the $200 it takes to get the very best knife you can afford... it will last a lifetime and be an essential part of every meal you cook!" After I got done changing my underwear at the thought of spending TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS ON ONE FRICKIN' KNIFE I calmed down and scrolled past entire knife sets costing $50, and started researching what the best "fit" for me might be.
I was more accustomed to German-style knives which are total workhorses. They have heft and power to cleave through anything, and I came very close to purchasing a $195 Wüsthof that was most similar to the cheap-ass $18 plastic-handled chef's knife I had been using forever. But then I took another look at Japanese knives. They were harder, thinner, sharper, and seemed more suited to my vegetarian diet. If I wasn't hacking apart cuts of meat, what did I need with a heavier knife?
The rabbit hole you fall into when knife shopping is really, really tough to escape from.
I waffled between various brands for quite a while until I decided on a MAC Professional 8" Chef's Knife. Many, many professionals swore by it, the reviews were stellar, the price wasn't as bad ($150 at discount), and the more I read about it, the more it seemed like it was exactly what I needed.
Then it arrived.
I've always had a knife sharpener which easily and inexpensively keeps my cheap knives at peak sharpness. But it turns out my knives were never sharp at all. Not really. Compared to the MAC Chef's Knife I bought, I might as well have been using a frickin' spoon to slice tomatoes all these years...
I honestly don't know how to adequately describe how sharp this thing it. I really don't. It's razor sharp. It's
This knife scared the shit out of me.
The first thing I did was order a pair of cut-resistant gloves to wear when I cut tough, larger vegetables (like squash). The second thing I did was make a mental note to never use it barefoot. The third thing I did was decide to not toss out my old chef's knife. When I have company cooking with me, the last thing I would want is for them to seriously injure themselves... which is a frightening (but entirely realistic) scenario...
The MAC itself is a work of art.
Yeah, it's ridiculously sharp, but it's also extremely well-balanced. It has some heft, but doesn't get in your way. The bolster is enough to be comfortable, but not too much to keep me from holding it properly. And once I trained myself to cut with such a thin, sharp tool, I felt more in control than I ever did with previous knives. After the fear factor wore off, I grew to love it.
So damn sharp. For softer veggies (like tomatoes) you can just set the knife on it and the thing will practically cut itself. You can shave a sheet of paper with it. After a year of using it, the thing can still scare the shit out of me. Since the steel used can rust easily, you have to clean and dry it immediately after use. No leaving it in the sink until morning. If you're cutting citrus, you have to occasionally rinse it while you're working with it. I learned how to clean knives from a food stylist. You hold the blade edge away from you and wipe from the spine edge only. If you were to foolishly wipe from the blade edge, you'd slice clean through your sponge and your entire hand. That's a doctor visit I definitely do not want, so I am beyond cautious whenever I have this thing in my hands.
To explain just how cautious... I never use it when I've been drinking.
Once you've used a good knife, you kinda get addicted to really great steel. I've since bought a few other quality knives that cost a fortune but are ultimately worth the investment. What I will not be buying is a pointed paring knife. I ended up getting a round-tip paring knife because it seemed safer to me, and that will do just fine, thank you very much!
Unless I actually do need to murder somebody. Seems like the compact size of a paring knife would be a lot easier to conceal than an 8" Chef's Knife!
Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2021
Despite working my ass off all week I didn't accomplish much of anything. After catching up by working on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was behind again by the end of the day today.
I won't even mention the loads of chores that need to be done around my house.
What I need is two more of me. Well, not two more exactly like me... more like two of me that haven't been beaten down by a year of COVID and aren't mired in a quarantine malaise. I need two of me from 2019. Or how about two of me from 2000? Sure I didn't know as much, but I had a lote more energy and enthusiasm for life, that's for sure.
I mean, just look at me back in 2000...
Me on the visitation deck of Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
It's all downhill from there, buddy.
Posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
This biggest news to come out of this past week? I made a major discovery about Jenny, and I have no idea how I failed to realize it before now.
As I've mentioned a couple times, there are nights that Jenny refuses to eat her wet food. It's the same stuff she always gets... mixed with water and mooshed up so she can lick it up... and yet she is 100% uninterested. It drives me crazy, because it's NOT because she's not hungry. That cat is always hungry. So why? Why does she take one sniff and walk away until the dry food is dispensed? Why?
I'll tell you why... odds are I cooked with yellow onions.
There I was having just cooked the filling for some bean and onion flautas. The Alexa alarm rings for dinner time and Jake and Jenny are incredibly excited about it because I'm already in the kitchen. So I dish up the food, mix Jenny's up, microwave for 6 seconds to take the chill off, then set it down. Jake starts wolfing it down immediately. Jenny walks away.
The next evening she's back to normal and laps it right up.
The evening after I am frying up the rest of the onion to use in a tomato sauce. The Alexa alarm rings. I put the food out. And... nothing.
It was as if a light switch turned on in my head.
So I tested my theory three nights later... and yep, there it is. Onion stank is the reason. Apparently if the house has that smell in it she can't smell the wet food enough to think it's "safe to eat" and takes a big ol' pass.
And so I guess any time I am cooking onions I need to start after the cats have been fed and make a late dinner of it. Problem solved.
In other food-related news... last night I had baked potatoes for dinner. Right after taking them out of the oven and getting them dresssed up for consumption, Jake was all over me. He followed me from the kitchen into the living room and stared at me the entire time I was eating...
Look at those owl ears!
I tried multiple times to explain that this was my dinner and he had finished his dinner just ten minutes ago, but he was having none of it.
And in other Jake news... When I came home earlier this week, he didn't come running to the door to meet me like he usually does. When this happens it's 95% likely that the heat is running. And if the heat is running, he climbs the cat tree so it will blow down on him. He loves that. So I take a look and, sure enough, he's up in the cat tree with the heat on. And that's when I notice that this is not the only thing that has happened.
Apparently his lunch did not agree with him, because he projectile vomited it onto the window where it slid down and piled on the window sill...
Since he pukes so rarely, I guess I really don't have cause to complain. It's just that he really knows how to pick his moments, doesn't he?
Oh well. It could always be worse. He could have puked on my bed.
Posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2021
A new era may be dawning, but some things will never change... because an all new Q&A Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Does the stair shelf you built for your cats work?
Yep! No falls since I installed it! Jenny has never been a banister girl, so she just walks along it on occasion. But Jake still lays up there all the time. Especially in the Summer when the sun shines on it. Since the catwalk I built adds a couple inches to the width, he's a lot more comfortable laying on it, and like to prop his head on the ledge to watch me and Jenny on the stairs. This, along with the catio, are two of the best things I've made to keep my cats safe and healthy.
• Which meal service do you like best?
Are you talking between Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon and "Hello Fresh," the two I am currently using? That's actually a very good question! Both of them allow you to skip weeks (which I do often because they are expensive) so when I do order, I have been bouncing back and forth. Comparing them in a face-off is actually a good idea for a post. I'll do that sometime in the coming week!
• Japanese knives RUST... they are NOT stainless steel!
Yes. When I reading up on knives, this was brought up many, many times. I made my purchase with my eyes wide open. I expected for rust to appear. But it was still the best knife for what I would be cooking, and I just made a mental note to be sure and wash the blade after every use. And I've never seen rust. Until one day I did! I went into a Google panic, found out the easiest way to deal with it was a Rust Eraser, ordered one, and then found out it wasn't actually rust before the eraser ever arrived. It was a piece of food that I didn't get wiped off and only looked like rust. Since I first got it a year ago, I've never seen a speck of rust and my Rust Eraser hasn't even been taken out of the wrapper. My MAC Chef's Knife and Bread Knife are from their "Professional" series which is "rust resistant" but will still rust if you don't wash and dry them immediately after use. I also have some "Original" series knives which are supposed to rust more easily but, as I said, I've never seen any rust on them because I keep them clean and dry.
• Are you still playing Animal Crossing?
Sadly, no. I haven't had time. And I'm scared to look and see how many weeds I'll have to pull in order to get my island back. It's a great game and helped a lot when we were first under quarantine, but I was spending 2+ hours a day playing it and had stop because there were other things I need to do with my time. Might pick it back up one day and just force a time limit so it's not consuming me like it was. Now I've got TikTok for that!
• Where's your Bernie meme?
Ummm... right here!
My house is kept fairly cool in the winter in order to save on heating costs, so Bernie judging me for the temperature... along with Jenny (and Jake, who has clearly turned his back on me)... seems appropriate.
• Are you finally happy now that Biden is president?
No. No I am not. As I have said quite a few times now, Biden was never my guy so I'm not "finally happy" that he's president. I am, however, elated that Trump is no longer president. So there's a big difference there. I won't be truly "happy" until all the career politicians and other assholes who exploit their office for personal gain at the expense of the American people are out of office. I will also be happy once all the pieces of shit who have so severely divided this country are out of office. Alas, what this would take is the American people WAKING THE FUCK UP and realizing that they are being majorly played. But that takes thinking for themselves, and we all know that this is not something we seem to be very good at right now. So... here we are.
• Where's the first place you'll go once you can travel again?
Well, odds are I won't be traveling for work or for volunteering again... at least not any time soon... so it will likely be a personal trip. My guess is it will be one I've been planning for over a year with friends to Maui. We have unfinished business there that we need to take care of. Otherwise? Not entirely sure. It will take a while for the world to get back to normal and I have no idea where my life will be by then.
And that's the last of my answers to questions I've been asked.
Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2021
Back when I was a kid, my family visited my grandmother in California. While there, I was reading the comics in the newspaper and saw that her paper had Garfield, which I thought was about the funniest thing ever. When I got home, my local paper didn't carry it, so my grandmother would cut them out of her paper and send them to me every couple weeks or so. It was a Big Deal.
Eventally, Garfield books were released. My grandma kept sending them.
Eventually, my local paper had Garfield. My grandma kept sending them.
Eventually, I had mostly outgrown Garfield. My grandma kept sending them.
By the time my grandma died, I had quite a stack of them piled up waiting to be read. One day I sat down and started reading them and realized that the real treasure was never the Garfield comics. Sometimes she would send other comic strips that struck her funny. Sometimes she would send a photo of her pets. Sometimes she would send newsclippings of things happening where she lived. And sometimes she would send a letter.
The letters were the most special because reading them made it feel like she was still alive.
That's when I had the idea to save the remaining letters so I could open one every year on her birthday. Which, as you could probably guess, is today. And when I went to the box with all my remotes where I keep them, I saw that there were only two left...
After shaking off the shock of what I had clearly forgotten last year, I started reading through them all...
And now there's just one envelope remaining.
I have to wonder if I'll be opening it one year from now... or saving it for a time I really need it... or never opening it at all because I like the idea of holding onto it. And to her.
My grandmother called me her "Little Politician" because when I was little I used to talk more than any politician she ever heard. She loved animals, and I'm pretty sure that's where I inherited my love of animals from. She made the best enchiladas I've ever had. And she sent me Garfield strips because I liked to read them.
Happy birthday, grandma.
Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
I have been trying to wrap my head around the logic behind attacking workers who have to enforce mask mandates. They have literally NO control over it. They don't control what elected officials dictate... they don't control what their county dictates... what their company dictates... what their manager dictates. So screaming at them with your anti-mask tirade when there's nothing they can do just makes you the worst possible kind of asshole.
So congratulations! You made a waiter at a cafe break down in tears. And that wasn't good enough, so you started shouting homophobic slurs at him, because apparently you feel his life isn't hard enough already. So... we get it. You are outraged that you have to wear a mask. And you are grossly intolerant of homosexuality. But making this poor minimum-wage earning kid completely break down doesn't win you any victory points. It just shows people how cruel, heartless, and utterly bankrupt you are as a person. You had the opportunity to reach out with kindness and understanding to a young kid just trying to earn a living during these difficult times, but instead you decided to destroy him for no reason over something he has no control over.
Whatever you're taking that allows you to sleep at night... can I get some? Because I haven't been sleeping so well lately and this sounds like it REALLY must knock you out.
Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
Even after I had taken a second sleeping pill, I could not get to sleep last night. Then I kept seeing that it was light out and thought that it must be close to time to get up, which screwed me up even more.
But it wasn't time to get up. Here is a photo taken at around 1:00am...
Everything was covered in snow, there was snow falling, and streetlights reflecting between the clouds in the sky and the snow on the ground created an artificial light out my window. My window which used to have blinds on it, but they had to be removed when Jake clawed is way up from the cat perch and nearly choked himself to death on them.
My Apple Watch tells me that I finally fell asleep at 3:15am and was awakened by Alexa telling my cats that it was their breakfast time at 7:00am. Soooo... 3-3/4 hours total sleep then.
Is it any wonder that after I took my shower but before I drank a Coke Zero that I was a little groggy? Since it was all cold and snowy out, I grabbed a nice red flannel shirt to wear. Flannel is nice on a cold Winter day...
I tried to put it on but it wasn't going on. I tried again and it still wouldn't go on. Finally I walked into the light so I could see if it was buttoned up or something... and noticed that the reason I couldn't get my shirt on was because it wasn't a shirt. It was pajama bottoms that my sister gave me for Christmas...
As you can imagine, this was a humdinger of a day.
It didn't help that, on top of being exhausted from lack of sleep, all the problems that missed me on Monday and Tuesday landed on me today.
But I did eventually find a flannel shirt that was actually a flannel shirt, so at least I was comfy during the onslaught.
Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2021
You ever notice how when millionaires and billionaires are making money on the stock market... while retirement funds for average American citizens are tanking... that we're told this is "just the way it goes?" I sure noticed when my retirement investments lost over 1/3 their value a while back. But then do you also notice how when millionaires and billionaires are losing money on the stock market... while some average Americans are managing to finally win for once... that all of a sudden everything gets shut down to "protect investors?"
If you haven't noticed, just check a news site.
And to understand what's going on, just watch the movie Trading Places...
We here in the United States of America live in a "free market economy." Except when wealthy people are losing money. Then we suddenly don’t. And our government has been fighting to keep it this way all along. They wouldn’t want to piss of the people who OWN their corrupt asses, now would they? The USA... home to the best government money can buy! That's us.
I used to be outraged by this shit. Now I just shrug it off because it's so unsurprising.
Politicians are constantly touting Dow Jones Index numbers as an indication of how the economy is doing. In truth, it's only an indication as to how wealthy people are doing. And yet we've been conditioned to think that it actually means something to us. "Sure you're working more for less, but just look at those Dow numbers!" It's just like how we've been conditioned to think that market regulations which prevent corruption and exploitation are a bad thing.
This morning I went to see how the $25 investment I made as a goof was faring. I was expecting it to be wiped out. So you can imagine my surprise when I see this...
Boy. Can you imagine if I had invested $10,000 instead of $25? I'd have $146,540. Of course the idea of me having $10,000 laying around to invest is hysterical, but a boy can dream can't he?
I'd gladly take some of my $366.35 and buy some AMC Theater stock or some GameStop stock to help keep their value going up... but the iPhone "Robin Hood" app which holds my portfolio has suspended trading of both AMC and GME "to protect investors." AKA "to protect wealthy people."
I'd be outraged that I'm being prevented from buying something in a so-called "free market"... but I'm just going to shrug it off. Again. That's kinda what you have to do when you're not rich enough to ignore the rules.
I mean, Robin Hood has been hit with a class action lawsuit for this bullshit, but do we really expect that to go anywhere?
Shrug it off. Shrug it off. Shrug it off.
Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2021
Boy, losing Cloris Leachmen and Cicely Tyson in the same week? That's a sobering way to close out January after closing out the shit year that was 2020.
Last night I blew all my energy dishing up Jake and Jenny's wet food, leaving me no energy to cook for myself. I had eaten a veggie burger early in the day while running errands, so it wasn't a big deal. I ended up eating some Cheez-It's and drinking a Coke Zero then calling it good.
Which of course meant that I woke up hungry in the middle of the night.
Which resulted in my eating another handful of Cheez-It's, but I digree.
The problem with waking up in the middle of the night is that it also wakes my cats up. They are perfectly happy to let me sleep and rarely bother me when I'm lost in slumberland, but all bets are off if I wake them up. First Jenny wanted pets. Then Jake wanted pets. Then Jenny came back again for more pets. According to my Apple Watch, I finally fell asleep again after 2:30am. Was that handful of Cheez-It's worth it? Probably not.
Four-and-a-half hours later when I was awakened by Alexa so I could feed them breakfast, I noticed that THEY weren't the least bit tired. I guess when you spend the entire day sleeping, you always have surplus energy.
In other news... I stayed up 'til midnight so I could watch the latest episode of WandaVision, where things are finally starting to happen. It only took four episodes, but okay. It wasn't necessarily great, but it does hint that great things are coming. If you've already seen it and are interested in my spoiler-filled thoughts, you can find them in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, January 30th, 2021
Despite the fact that Jake is the one needing to lose weight, it's Jenny that's always begging for food. And nothing gets her excited faster than seeing me head towards the kitchen, because... for whatever reason... she thinks that means I'm going to feed her. I almost never do that because I don't want her trained to be begging for food.
Last night after their dinner was over, I went to the kitchen to load the dishwasher and clean up. She sees this and immediately runs to sit and stare at me. After 5 or so minutes she gives up and walks away. A few minutes after that I get a glass of water to refill their water fountain. She notices and comes running over at top speed. She watches me fill the fountain. She hops over and looks to see if I put food in her bowl. She then howls... and I mean HOWLS... when she sees that I haven't.
I can only guess that she was screaming NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!
The rest of the evening was pretty awkward, if I'm being honest.
Jake has been doing better, but he's still being awfully clingy, hanging with me every morning...
He's still weird though. A couple nights ago I heard him crying his little lungs out. It sounded serious, so I dropped everything and tracking him to the guest bedroom. He had jumped up on the desk and apparently was afraid to jump down. So I moved a chair over, then put some jeans on it so he had a soft landing spot. He looked at the chair, then jumped BESIDE it rather than ON it...
I mean... it worked... but seriously, Jake?!?
Probably still traumatized since Jenny chased him off the cat tree a while back...
Poor Jake. He conveniently forgets that he was chasing her around the house first.
And in other Jake news... earlier this week I could not access my home file server from the office for some reason, so I had to come home to get the assets I needed. Before settling into work, I grabbed a couple slices of bread and butter to eat. Then proceeded to drop a slice on me, which sent me scrambling to the kitchen for a towel. This is what awaited me when I got back to my computer...
Not a great day to be me, clearly. Oh well. Maybe that butter will help curtail any hairballs he felt like puking up?
Posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2021
I don't mean to alarm anybody, but this is the last Bullet Sunday of the 600's... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Good News, Everyone! After a shitty year of all bad news, it's nice to know that there's a best-case scenario happening right now... People Who've Gotten Both Shots Simply Aren't Getting COVID. And when they do get COVID because it's a mutant strain or whatever... they aren't requiring hospitalization and don't suffer such damaging effects. Nice! Much love to the scientists and researchers who have been working overtime to get us a vaccine.
• Residential! Alan Tudyk is one of my favorite actors, and I was pretty stoked when I randomly happened across his new series... Resident Alien. This is a comic book series I've glanced at, and I had no idea it was being adapted for television. As you'd expect, Tudyk is flawless at playing a quirky alien trapped on earth in disguise as a doctor, and I really loved the first episode...
The premise is pretty darn good, and it will be interesting to see how they play this one out.
• TikTok On The Clock! AMAZING tip for getting more coverage when painting! Thanks, TikTok!
Oh yeah. That's a painting trick I can use!
• Reelection Matters! Still no comment by Patty Murray or Maria Cantwell on Wall Street trying to protect wealthy hedge funds over average Americans? I may die of unshock. Can’t upset their wealthy owners who bankroll their campaigns! Stock manipulation is fine... when rich people do it. Markets are free... until rich people lose money. Wall Street makes the rules to exploit the American people to benefit our wealthiest citizens. And the minute it doesn’t, they change the rules. And Murray and Cantwell are still fighting for that status quo, apparently.
Say... here’s an idea! We know Republicans can’t win against our senators in Blue-Blue Washington State, but what about another Democrat? A Democrat not content to have Washington State sit on the sidelines or take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to stuff going on Right Now?? A Democrat who doesn’t check with their owners before acting? A Democrat that charges into battle for Washingtonians AS SHIT IS HAPPENING. Because hand-wringing after the fact is getting SO tiring. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was going on interviews, posting to social media, and had a live Twitch feed yesterday to address Wall Street protecting wealthy hedge funds over the American people. Where were our Senators? Planning their re-election campaigns, probably.
• Change! This right here is what I love about TikTok in a nutshell...
some things just change #fyp♬ SHIFTOKKERS ONLY - Koko
Cute story and a SpongeBob Squarepants reference? Yeah... sign me up.
• Flyover! Last night my Apple TV went to screen saver while I cleaned up my filthy kitchen (I swear, that onion/poblano Quesadilla filling is lethal). As I was sitting down I saw that the screen saver was flying over Buckingham Palace which is pretty easy to recognize. Then they keep flying over London and I see that so many of these old buildings have amazing car parks inside! I had no clue when I visited the Churchill War Rooms museum that they had this gorgeous rotunda car park within their walls...
Image taken from Google® Maps Satellite View
Isn't this amazing? And the more I explored, the more interior car parks I found. That's pretty cool. I've seen some of these in person, but never knew how prevalent they are.
And that's a wrap on Bullet Sunday No. 699.
Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2021
Last night I was reading an article from 2018 which said that artificial neurons compute faster than the human brain. This, coupled with the fact that we can already build robots which are capable of acting substantially faster than humans and, well, you can see where this could become a problem on down the road.
Skynet is gonna be real, y'all...
But the more I thought about it...
...the more I kinda embraced the idea of creating robots that are smarter and faster than humans. Think Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still...
Gort is from a race of robots which were created to police the galaxy and halt any aggression they run across by immediately terminating the aggressors. To make sure they are able to do this effectively, they have been given absolute power over everything and everybody... possessing horrifying weapons to carry out their task. As if that weren't enough, they are also nigh invulnerable to all harm. Long story shot... you do not fuck around with them. Nor do you risk disrupting the peace because it would be your ass that gets vaporized.
Seriously, how handy would it be to have these robots patrolling the planet? Vaporizing assholes and idiots who make this planet such a miserable place to live.
And so I say "Bring it on."
Heaven only knows that robots wouldn't do a worse job of things than we have. And if we all end up extinguished because we can't curb our violent ways? Well, that's probably for the best.
Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021
Yesterday afternoon while I was at the office I had to run out to my car to grab a file folder I forgot. It was cold out. It was rainy out. It was miserable out. Once I got back to my desk I did something I don't think I've ever done before... I logged into my home thermostat and turned the heat up so it would be toasty warm when I got home.
Something about the idea of arriving home to my chilly-ass home hit me wrong.
And, I gotta tell ya, it was really nice. Not something I can afford to do very often, but nice enough that I may do it more often. Because sometimes it's the little luxuries (like $2 in electricity) that make life a little more enjoyable.
My cats, of course, were totally digging it.
Today I decided to wear an extra sweater when I got home, but I warmed up mentally because it was time for my annual viewing of Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day...
The movie never gets old, and that scene is always hilarious. Chris Elliot really doesn't get enough credit for his part in this classic flick. His part was small, but his delivery of the lines for this scene is about the funniest thing you'll see... and was kinda duplicated hilariously in the movie Paul 18 years later.
I have to wonder how many times I've seen Groundhog Day. The movie was released 28 years ago... So I'm going to say it's likely been minimum 30 times. Once in theaters. Once when the VHS was available. Once when the DVD was available. Once when it was available Digitaly. And at least once a year for the past 28 years it's been released. And sometimes when I just feel like it. So... possibly 36 times? There's not many movies I've watched 36 times.
Now back to enjoying my toasty home.
Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
Yesterday was not a particularly great day.
I've been consumed with a project at work, and packed up my files so I could continue working on it at home while watching Groundhog Day. The entire drive home all I could think about was how exhausted I was and how much I wish that I could just go home, climb into bed, then sleep until dawn.
Once I got home I noticed that the bowl I use to bribe Fake Jake away from the garage with treats if he shows up in the morning was missing. It's not easy to spot from the street, but I always scan the area to make sure that Fake Jake won't come running in front of the car as I pull into my garage, so I noticed it immediately.
And I was furious.
Irrationally furious, but that's how I get when I've exhausted.
WHERE IS FAKE JAKE'S BOWL?!? WHO IN THE HELL STOLE FAKE JAKE'S BOWL? I WILL LOOK AT MY SECURITY CAMERA FOOTAGE AND I WILL FIND YOU! THEN I WILL END YOU! I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE A DOG! BLOOD WILL RUN THROUGH THE STREETS! VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!!!
As I stomped into the house I pulled out my phone to check the footage, and...
Oh. Well, I can't even be mad about that. Kinda ironic that if I had actually went after the culprit, I would have literally been hunting down a dog. Luckily, the bowl was still in the street where he dropped it and hadn't been run over or anything.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have been so angry. Absolutely anything could have happened, and it wouldn't have necessarily been theft. I should resolve that in 2021 I will wait until facts are in evidence before becoming irrationally angry.
Which, if I became angry then, would no longer be quite so irrational?
I dunno. Something to shoot for, I suppose. Hindsight may be 20/20 but my rage is eternal.
Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2021
If you beat your head against a wall all day... you're going to end up with a headache.
Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2021
I've made no bones about my disappointment over the slow burn of Marvel Studio's first series to land on Disney+, WandaVision. It started as a 50's sitcom version of The Dick VanDyke Show, became a 60's episode version of Bewitched, then took a jump into the 70's by looking like something out of The Brady Bunch, and currently they've become an 80's sitcom version of Family Ties or maybe Growing Pains. These are not all the influences of what Wanda has created, but you get the idea...
Along the way we got a peek into what's happening in The Real World in fourth episode. That's when things finally got moving, and we started to understand what's happening.
Now we're at the fifth episode and the implications are huge. Since there's finally something to talk about, I'm doing just that in a spoiler-filled extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, February 6th, 2021
Jenny has me completely wrapped around her paw. And she knows it.
Unlike Jake, who can't meow for some reason, Jenny can... and does... meow when it suits her to do so. When she's upset? Meow. When she wants something? Meow. When she's frustrated? Meow. Last night she hopped up on the dining room table (which mean I had to disinfect it) which is someplace she knows she's not supposed to be. As I was walking by to make dinner, she let out a meow so dramatic that I was compelled to stop and find out what she wanted. Which was to have her head scratched.
Most of the time she just meows to get attention though...
Yesterday morning I got an alert on my phone that I ignored. Then I got more and was compelled to check. VOICES IN MY HOUSE?!?
So I listened in and found that... the cats had turned on the television. Apparently I left the remote out.
And now it's time for my weekly steam-cleaning of the cat feeding station, the cat drinking fountain, and the cat Litter-Robots. When did my weekend start revolving around cat maintenance? Since I first got them five years ago ten days from now, I'd imagine.
Posted on Sunday, February 7th, 2021
You're probably watching sportsball today, but I've got your touchdown right here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• BAT! My new ritual for Sportsball Sunday is to watch the Superb Owl episode of What We Do In The Shadows...
Far more entertaining that football could ever be.
• Make Mine Marvel! Finally. Exactly what I'm looking for in a Marvel Studios Disney+ series...
I'm assuming that they're not going to waste our time with three episode parodying 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Rush Hour before actually getting to the action. And speaking of action... how amazing is it to see Sharon Carter (AKA Agent 13) kicking copious amounts of ass in this trailer?
• Beer! The Superb Owl commercials were mostly a bust this year for me. Except one. This is one of the best straightforward commercials I've seen in a long time...
It bypasses special effects and slick marketing to go with something much more intimate and human. And it works really well, accomplishing what commecials costing boatload more money can't. Bravo, David Fincher.
• Plague! As a long-time fan of Adam Ellis and his illustrated comics and stories, I was 100% unsurprised to learn that somebody made a shot-for-shot film adaptation... without asking for permision... of one of his stories...
I'm unsurprised because this shit happens CONSTANTLY. I've had my works stolen more times than I can count... for everything from business logos and remakes of my DaveToons to outright plagiarism where they erase my copyright and present it as their own work to promote their sites and products. There was a shop in the UK that printed out one of my cartoons to fill AN ENTIRE WINDOW DISPLAY and never responded to my emails once I was made aware of it. And don't even get me started on my photos. Those have been stolen so often that I had to stop putting hi-res images online, which was brought about because some asshole used one of my shots to promote a homophobic message of hate that really hit me hard. 95% of the time when people ASK me to use something, I am happy to say yes with the understanding that it's for non-profit use that doesn't promote hate-speech. But since I don't make any money off of my stuff, if YOU are, then I want to get PAID.
This right here from Adam Ellis is one of the worst and most egregious rip-offs I've ever seen. And the fact that the people who STOLE HIS WORK then asked him to promote it... and even blew him off when he asked them to remove their theft... is abhorrent. I hope he sues because he has a very good chance of winning. SOME of us should actually get justice for having our work stolen. This is rage-inducing. But what's even more rage-inducing? The response from the filmmakers after Adam's post went viral, essentially saying that they tried to contact Adam (right), but when he "didn't respond" they decided to steal his work anyway. Except because they added stuff to the story, they don't consider it to be really stealing. And since the concept of man being created from the earth has been told forever, then they have a right to tell it. Even if it rips off the way Adam interpreted it completely. So by that logic I guess I could rip them off by making a shot-for-shot remake of their film and they would be perfectly fine with that?
• I AM SEEN! And I don't think that I've ever felt more attacked!
Pretty much... me.
• Olive Garden? When it comes to eating out, I'm not the biggest fan of Olive Garden. It's okay... and there are certainly some dishes I like there... but it's not terribly authentic and I would prefer to make my own Italian at home. The exception is their salad and breadsticks. In fact, most every time I go there, it's not for the pasta... it's for that neverending salad and breadsticks. A while ago I found that they started selling their "Signature Italian" salad dressing in the grocery store. I bought a small bottle to try, absolutely loved it, and have been buy the big bottles two at a time so I never run out...
It makes salad become frickin' dessert. And it's made me start experimenting with making my own breadsticks. At first I thought it shouldn't be too difficult. It's just a basic bread slathered with butter and garlic salt. But they're surprisingly tricky to make the same, because th sticks at Olive Garden have a fluffy texture to them. I'm guessing it's because of some kind of dough additive, but I'm not giving up just yet. If Olive Garden ever releases frozen sticks at the grocery store that bake up the same, I may never go to their restaurants ever again.
• Population! I found this fascinating...
At some point mankind will understand that resources are finite and the planet is being destroyed. Then they will either do something about it... or they won't. The universe won't care one way or the other. Humanity, of course, will care quite a lot.
And that's my last touchdown.
Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2021
After spending the entire weekend with the worst case of food poisoning I've ever had... or maybe it was some other kind of reaction to the "plant-based meat" ingredient I ate... the last thing I wanted to do when I got up was go to work. I was still feeling weak, my stomach was still a bit dicey, and Monday's are always challenging even without all that.
But oh well... buckle up, buttercup. Or whatever.
The culprit for my woes? The last meal from my Martha Stewart meal kit... Plant-Based: Meat-Free Soft Tacos with Charred Corn & Guacamole...
Here's the review I left on Martha & Marley Spoon's site:
"This was a nice idea... but who approved this plant protein stuff? I have a cast-iron stomach. I have eaten the gamut of vegetarian meals on all 7 continents (okay, I was dining off the coast of Antarctica, but still)... and after eating these tacos I was the sickest I can remember being in a long while. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, the plant protein had HORRIBLE texture. Like eating pencil erasers. This isn't even a contest. Worst meal I have ever eaten with Marley Spoon or any other meal service. Probably in the top ten of the worst meals I've ever eaten period. On top of that they needed cheese... and the spinach should have been cut up because it kept falling out of the way-too-small shells. The only bright spot is that this was the ONE bag where my tomato wasn't pulverized by a can of beans this week (because there weren't any beans, I'm guessing). Literally gut-wrenchingly awful."
WHAT I DID NOT SAY BUT SHOULD HAVE SAID... this stuff shredded my intestinal tract in ways that I didn't even know were possible. When I'm not eating Imodium like candy and sitting on the toilet, I am doubled over with stabbing cramps. This was horrific. AND ON A SATURDAY NIGHT!!! Not that I have much going on in COVID-times, but oh my gawd. This stuff shouldn't even be legal. I spent an entire evening wanting to die.
So, yeah... not a fun day to me.
But Monday's rarely are.
Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021
Last night I fell into a Google rabbit hole of Trans-Gulf Bird Migration articles that blew my mind so thoroughly that I was in danger of mental collapsed. It started with an article which stated that there's a bird that has a better handle on predicting hurricanes than any meteorologist and spiraled from there.
And, for me at least, even more difficult to grasp than a weather-predicting Veery Bird is how the tiny thing can keep flying long enough to cross the Gulf of Mexico in the first place.
Some migratory birds can remain in flight for months. Months! They eat, sleep, drink, and mate in the air. The only time they spend time on earth is to lay their eggs and raise their young. Then they're right back up there again. This article from Audubon discusses the Common Swift flying for ten months straight.
And don't even get me started on the albatross. Because holy shit.
Along the way some scientist guy smacked down disbelief in these creature's ability to stay aloft for so long with "Do you act this amazed by a fish who spends its entire life swimming? This is what they were made to do." And while I get their point, my brain is still "Well, yeah, but fish are buoyant. They don't flap their fins to stay floating, they only flap to move, don't they?" I mean sure there are wind currents and such that make it so an albatross can stay airborn for 5 to 10 years, but still...
There's so much amazing stuff happening in this world and yet we seldom take the time to look and I'm not sure why. It's probably the internet's fault. Though, in the internet's defense, I only found out about all this stuff because of the internet, so I don't know.
All I do know is that Ill be digging out my bird feeders from storage this weekend. Who knows how far that bird appearing in my front yard has flown to get here. It might could use a bite to eat.
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
It's not that I'm losing my passion or drive for the things that matter to me, it's just that I've stopped giving a crap about the things that don't. My work, my friends, my causes, my hobbies, my cats... they get 100% of my energy and dedication. Dumbasses who pollute the world with their ignorance and hate, however, now get only the most minimal amount of attention that I am forced to give them. Sure there was a time I'd dedicate myself to trying to understand their position while treating them with compassion and caring, but now they can spontaneously combust for all I care.
I came to this radical (for me) new outlook after watching a woman claim that the reason she acted so horribly towards some retail workers was because she was misled and duped by some bad information. And I was like... wait a minute. The bad information which "misled and duped you" only affected how you viewed the situation. Your being a total fucking asshole is what made you scream and yell at some employees just trying to do their job. You can blame somebody else for what you thought you knew... you can't blame somebody else for how you choose to treat people. That's 100% on you.
Because, seriously, if my excuse for not condeming your shitty behavior is "Well, maybe they've been wealthy their entire life and were never taught how to care about people..." then the problem person in that scenario is me.
And still them, of course. They're the asshole in question, I'm just an asshole by association.
Problem is, even an asshole by association ends up smelling shitty.
Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2021
This morning I woke up with a splitting headache for no good reason.
Or bad reason even. I didn't sleep on my neck wrong... or stay up late drinking... or spraypaint a mailbox in an enclosed space... or bang my head on a wall repeatedly. I just went to bed fine and woke up with my brain in distress. I was going to Google my headache symptoms to see what went wrong, but every time you do that they always tell you that you have cancer or some strange disease, so I decided to skip it.
Hence my self-diagnosis of "headache for no good reason."
I always hesistate to tell people when I have a headache. They either have some home remedy like "You need to spin around three times, put a hot towel on top of your head, drink a bottle of tabasco sauce, then use leeches to drain a quart of blood." Or, even worse, they'll insist that you MUST have done something wrong and then grill you for twenty minutes trying to figure out what it is... "It's like a kick to the balls, you must have done something to deserve it."
By far the most awkward response I've ever received was this one... "Shall we pray on it together?" I got this while on an overnight work trip to Greenville, South Carolina after I asked the concierge where the nearest pharmacy was so I could get some aspirin. Possibly due to my throbbing brain, my stupid self thought that he didn't know where to find one and we were praying for guidance... to a drug store. Except that wasn't what he meant at all. He was asking if I wanted to pray for God to heal my headache. Figuring that The Almighty probably had better things to do on a Tuesday morning, I thanked him for the kind offer and said that I just need an aspirin.
After that I resigned myself to suffer in silence come future headaches.
The only reason I'm telling YOU is because my blog is a safe space for me to suffer in public. That's why I have a blog in the first place. Well, that plus I need a way to keep my fans involved in even the most intimate details of my life, because I'm a raging narcissist like that (as if my calling people who read my daily dose of bullshit "my fans" wasn't a big enough indication already).
Though I'm hoping that by the time anybody reads this my handful of Maxium Strength Headache Relief will have kicked in, and any offers of medical advice or prayer will become moot.
Or I am dead and out of my misery at long last.
In that event you're more than welcome to pray for my immortal soul, such as it is.
Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2021
Thanks to the pandemic essentially confining my life to what I can see on my television, I've had a fairly boring blog over the past year. A stronger person than myself would likely have used this as an opportunity to just stop blogging altogether and find a better use for that time... but I think we all know I'm not that strong. The evidence is staring you in the face.
I think this is why I'm alternately fascinated then disappointed with the latest thing to come from Marvel Studios and Disney+: WandaVision. On one hand it's nice to have something new after a full year of rewatching the existing Marvel movies... and the potential for cool things happening is huge with this show. On the other hand, they are really dragging things out... and not in a good way. Wanda's ability (and desire) to rewrite reality is a frighteningly timely concept in these COVID times but it's just not moving fast enough for me. And since there's only three episodes left, I'm beginning to wonder just how good the resolution can be.
After last week's bombshell finale, I thought that this week would finally get us the promise we've been shoveled about the television shows being filled with epic events just like the movies are...
Alas... not so much.
While there's certainly some very cool nods to the comic book source material (seriously, it's been a comic fanboy's dream!), once again not much is happening in the actual show.
But that leads us into spoiler territory, so I'm putting that discussion in an extended entry. Hopefully it all makes sense, because I'm writing this at 1:00am...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, February 13th, 2021
Next Tuesday is Jake & Jenny's adoption day. Which means five years ago is when I rescued them from the local Humane Society so my mom would have a distraction to keep her company while I was at work. As her dementia progressed, it became more and more important to have distractions, and two kittens was a good one.
After my mom was gone, Jake & Jenny were a distraction for me, and they've been doing a perfect job of this. Even when I'm not at home. Because my iPhone has a photo block which pulls photos out of my library. And since 90% of my photos are of my cats, 90% of the time it's a photo of one of them. Usually it's cute photos that I have favorited like this one...
Other times it's photos I would just as soon forget.
Like this one which popped up yesterday morning...
It's from when Jake had a very bad urinary tract infection... just before I was due to fly to Hawaii for a wedding. Which means I had to leave the poor thing at the vet hospital... and leave Jenny home alone... while I was half-way across the Pacific Ocean. And even though I pared my trip down from ten days to three days, I was still a wreck leaving the poor thing behind when he was so confused and upset...
And I was a wreck the entire time.
On the morning of 8th I flew down to the vet's office to visit Jake and see if I could bring him home, which I could, because his urine was finally clear. But that just lead to further trauma, because he smelled like the hospital and Jenny was a hissy ball of hate towards him...
It all worked out eventually and they were back to tolerating each other (at least until Jake fell down the stairwell six months later... the day before I had to fly to L.A. for work).
Oh well. It could have been the photo from when I had to rush him back into the vet a couple weeks later... where I made the huge mistake of letting Jake out of his carrier on the return trip. Sure it looked cute on the surface of it all...
...but it was sensory overload, and the poor thing was even more upset than when I kept him in the carrier the entire time. That's probably the time I felt the most awful, because it was entirely my fault.
I feel extremely fortunate that my cats haven't required many trips to the vet (knock wood). The visits I have are tough enough, which is why my iPhone really shouldn't be surprising me with those photos like that. Isn't waking up in a global pandemic every day torture enough?
Posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2021
It's Valentine's Day, the world's gone crazy, winter storms are striking, and I just drank my last can of Coke Zero, but all is not lost... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Let it Snow! It's snowing! And every time this happens, I think back to this TikTok, which is one of the funniest things I've ever seen...
i was talking about the snow shut up♬ original sound - goofs
It's getting to the point where I'd rather watch TikToks than television.
• Ryan! I swear... if Ryan Reynolds wasn't completely killing it as an actor, he could easily make a mint as a media consulting company. His every ad endeavour has been amazing...
The fact that he did this particular ad on behalf of a charity is just icing on the cake. I guess you can understand the reason my cat's full name is Jake Ryan Reynolds Simmer.
• Munchin'! There’s a woman with a pet duck called “Munchkin” on my TikTok. The duck’s most favorite thing is to go through the drive-thru at Dunkin’s for a cup of ice water. Over the past several weeks she’s been taking Munchkin to different drive-thrus, and today she FINALLY took her to Sonic, which has the most amazing ice ever...
We do not speak of the time that she took Munchkin to Dairy Queen and they refused to give her an ice water. Guess I'm not bothering with their duck-denying asses any more.
• SELECT ITEMS! My morning was ruined this past Tuesday, thanks to Cutlery and More's 20% OFF Sale...
"20% OFF! Wow! How awesome!"
"SELECT ITEMS? Crap! Well... mayyyybeee...."
By manufacturer request? How can a manufacturer keep you from just putting your entire store at 20% off? This blows. The only things I want to buy have been excluded from their sale.
• Norge! Will Ferell had a Superb Owl commercial which promoted General Motors electric cars here in the USA and complain that Norway is currently #1 when it comes to fuel-free automobiles. It was basically a disturbingly funny look at how far the US is behind much of the world, and Will is angry at Norway because of it.
And now Norway responds...
What's so incredible here is how the original commercial typifies American response to most everything. We're #1. We're the best country in the world. No other country is better than us. Except when they are, and then we have to obliterate them. Whereas Norway's response is so typical of them. Smart, playful, educational, and delivering a smackdown in a way that's tough to really debate... yet not so harsh that it alienates Americans entirely. It's absolute insanity to think how stupid, gullible Americans have been conditioned by our wealthy corporate overlords to believe that the horrific state of this country is inconsequential to us being "the best" at everything. Which it is... for our wealthy corporate overlords. We are an incomprehensibly wealthy country, yet the vast majority of that wealth is exclusively in the hands of precious few people. Believing that this makes us the envy of all the world is the height of such laughable hubris that I'm surprised Norway can even deliver their response with any semblance of a straight face.
• Controversial Colors? The stuff I learn on TikTok could fill volumes, thanks to amazing content creators like this...
Weird, cool, and enlightening. That's pretty much TikTok in a nutshell.
• ENTITLEMENT OUTRAGE! Boy, the butthurt is strong on Facebook this past week. I watch six "traditional" television channels... HDTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, Bravo, VH1, and Hallmark (anything else on my TV comes from a custom streaming service like Netflix or Disney+). All of those traditional channels can be had on my $20 Philo subscription, which is SO cheap. I USED to pay $126 per month for satellite that was packed with channels I didn't want and never watched! I am saving over ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS a year by going with a package that fits exactly what I want!
Now some of these channels... namely those under the Discovery umbrella like HGTV... are offering their ENTIRE FUCKING BACK-CATALOG for popular shows... PLUS all-new exclusive content via a streaming service called discovery+. This is like a fucking all-you-can-eat-buffet for somebody like me who loves their programming and could watch them over and over and over again. And now I can. For $5 a month. Glorious!
I just took advantage of a discovery+ promo to get a YEAR of ad-free for $60 (usually the $5/mo. price comes with ads). It's a gift subscription special, so I gifted it to myself! I could not be happier. So imagine my unshock when I look through the comments on the Facebook post advertising the special and see "STOP NICKLE AND DIMING US!" and "NOPE! NOT PAYING YOU ONE CENT MORE!" and "I ALREADY PAY FOR CABLE, YOU'RE BEEING GREEDY!" and "IT'S A PANDEMIC AND YOU'RE SCREWING PEOPLE!" — And I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa. This isn't lifesaving medicine... it's fucking TV shows for Christ's sake. AND, on top of that, Discovery STILL broadcast their regular programming over satellite and cable packages if that's the way you want to go. The only thing you miss out on it the exclusive content. But even that's not a big deal. Wait for all the episodes to air for a show you want to see, spend $5 for a single month to watch them, then cancel before it renews the next month. But NOOOOOO! That requires people to stop being fucking idiots.
I honest to God don't get the entitlement bullshit I see every fucking day. People feel ENTITLED to entertainment TV shows? Seriously? Ironically, half these people are probably just fine with health care costs bankrupting them instead of having Medicare for All be paid out of our taxes... but tell them they have to pay for new episodes of Fixer Upper? TOTAL FUCKING OUTRAGE! I cannot with people on the internet any more. It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse.
• IT'S EVERYWHERE! And lastly, before I go, here's one more TikTok that slayed me this weekend...
That's me cleaning up cat vomit the rare times that it's happened. To go through this every day? Yikes.
And now I suppose I should think about cleaning my house. Or not. It's not like I'm having visitors any time soon and my cats just don't care.
Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2021
Today is technically a holiday at work, but I'm going in anyway to clean up a bunch of little things that have been piling up. I have decided to wear sweats to the office for the first time ever because nobody should be there to notice. Except you just know that somebody will end up being there and notice. Oh well. I barely have the energy to go into work... let alone change pants. So sweat pants are a step above no pants, I suppose.
And just as I resigned myself to heading into the office a little early, this happens...
And of course she rubs all over me before planting herself, so now I'm covered in cat hari...
Then, before you know it, she's fast asleep... trapping my arm in the process...
I promised myself that I'd be in the office by 10:00am, so eventually I say "Do you want a treat? Is it treat time? Let's go get a treat!" At which time she's flying off of my and dashing downstairs at top speed.
Now, usually when I have to go into work on a holiday, I treat myself to a snack-run at the mini mart. I buy all the junk foods I normally try to avoid. But the idea of having to deal with anti-mask idiocy and "election fraud" rants was too much to bear, so I microwaved a veggie burger instead. Sometimes the snacks just aren't worth it.
Despite icy roads and nearly getting rear-ended, I made it to my desk at 9:58am. So way to go me, I guess...
What followed was a furious three-hour burst of productivity that stunned me so hard that I didn't end up working an entire half-day. Instead I ditched a half-hour early and came home to veg out in front of the television. My free trial to Apple Arcade hasn't been touched yet and will expire any day now, so I should at least take a look at that.
Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
The microwave in my work's break area is very old. It has aged so much that the white plastic parts are now yellow plastic parts. I don't know much about it, but I believe it's a 10-watt model. At least it seems that way. Something which would cook in 20 seconds in my microwave at home can take 2 full minutes at work. It's wasteful to just toss it out for a newer model since it's still functional, so we just deal with it. If somebody's reheating a bagel (or whatever) when you want to eat lunch, you just come back in ten minutes... no big deal.
Years ago I was reading a vintage magazine where they were predicting that in the future frozen meals would be packed in nuclear-powered packaging. No microwave required. You'd squeeze down on a corner of the aluminium tray and the Uranium-235 embedded inside would activate and cook your TV dinner. This raised all kinds of questions. Such as... what happens to all those food trays? Do they just go in the trash-can and get taken to a landfill? Wouldn't we all be glowing in the dark if the product caught on? What were they thinking?
At least they were still going to use aluminum trays instead of the plastic crap we use now. Not that anybody back then would ever recycle anything. Back then everything went straight into the trash.
I have a certain nostalgia for the TV dinners of old.
The earliest dinners I remember as a kid didn't come with dessert. There were three sections... one for the meat (for me that meant meatloaf, chicken, or salsbury steak), one for the potatoes (usually mashed, but sometimes slices or fries), and one for the vegetables (exclusively consisting of peas, carrots, and corn or a mixture thereof). That's it. That's all you got...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
I didn't like any kind of meat, even when I was very young, so mom sometimes let me have a macaroni & cheese dinner.
Eventually a small and mysterious fourth section was added. This was where the dessert landed. Sometimes it was fancy cobblers, cornbread, muffin, or maybe even a brownie, but my favorite was baked apple slices. Oh boy! There were only about four or five of them, but they were floating in a sea of sugar-cinnamon syrup that was so good I'd try and lick it out of the damn tray...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
As I got older, Swanson started getting creative. They had "International" versions which steered away from the meat and potato fare that the USA lived on in favor of exotic dishes from Old Mexico or Italy or even the faraway islands of Polynesia! Instead of a mere four sections, they would have five! They also had larger-size dinners which were their HUNGRY-MAN line of bake-and-serve meals. It was a bonanza of non-stop food goodness, fresh from your freezer!
Eventually microwave ovens dictated that aluminum trays be ditched in favor of plastic. And the golden age of TV dinners was over. We never got a nuclear option because microwaves were cheaper, I guess.
But not nearly as much fun, certainly. If Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull taught us anything, it's that.
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021
Last night I got a call from a good friend I've known for over a decade. And the way you know that they are a good friend is that I actually picked up. There's only a dozen people that I will interrupt my busy pandemic lifestyle to talk with, and he is one of them.
"I'm starting to worry about you. Your texts and emails have you sounding down."
"More down than usual?"
I assured him that I'm doing just fine despite the pandemic completely changing my life, we shot the shit for a half hour, then said our goodbyes.
And I totally get why he called. COVID is happening, the world has gone to shit, and the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of a freight train. This is a friend who knows first-hand about my struggles, and it's nice to know that there are people who care enough to check in on me like this.
The centerpiece of our conversation was me explaining that there's a difference between wanting to die and being apathetic about dying. I don't want to die, I just don't care if it happens. For the time being I have cats that rely on me, there's some things left I'd like to do with my life (or try to do), and I'm not ready to check out just yet. So I'm good.
The news when I woke up this morning was Trump Plaza being imploded and demolished...
Photo from the Associated Press Newswire
This brought up memories of my first and only trip to Atlantic City back on July 17, 1999. I was working in New York City and ended up with a free day and nothing to do. Ultimately I decided that I would go to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City for lunch so I could check it off my list, then head back to The City. The cheapest way to do this was via Greyhound Bus. Not the best way to travel, but I had survived far worse.
I managed to get a window seat half-way back, then sat there as the bus started filling up. Eventually a woman walked up and asked if she could sit next to me. I said "No problem" and she replied with "Thanks. You look like the person least likely to grab me or assault me." The only thing I could think to say way "Um, thanks. I guess?"
The next three hours were spent talking to my seatmate and new best friend. John F. Kennedy Jr. had died the previous day and she had to get out of The City. He had been the golden boy of NYC, was much beloved there, and things were just too depressing for her. A nine hour distraction was just what she needed. Like me, she had booked the 8am departure (arriving 11am) returning 2pm (or something like that). Along the way she had quite a lot to say. I remember almost none of it. I do remember her talking about how she had moved to a new church and signed up for choir. When she got her robe, she was dismayed to see that it was all white. "So there I am in all my Blackness standing there in the whitest robe I've ever seen..."
I didn't say much after explaining that my trip was just to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.
When we arrived we just kinda gravitated towards hanging out together for our three hours. The first thing I did was ask somebody where the "Trump Hotel" was at. "Which one do you mean? The Taj Mahal or the Plaza? I had no idea, so I just responded with "Um... whichever one has the Hard Rock Cafe in it?" Turns out it was the "Trump Taj Mahal" across from "Steel Pier" which was a 20 minute walk...
The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City was there too...
After eating lunch, we played slots in the casino for a while. I hit a $70 jackpot fairly quickly off a $10 investment, and poured her out a bunch of quarters so we could keep playing the various slot machines before walking back to the bus terminal. We had a great time. I got the Hard Rock Cafe checked off my list and she got her distraction.
And then some.
On the way back a fight broke out on the bus. Some guy leaned his seat back into some other guy and he was not happy about it. The guys were screaming. The wife of one of the guys was screaming. And the bus driver was screaming for them to knock it off or else he would stop the bus and kick them all off of it. Eventually the matter was settled by the husband and wife swapping seats or something. All my seatmate had to say about the situation was "I knew it. I just knew I wasn't going to get through six hours on a bus without something like this happening!" The rest of our trip was made in silence as we headed back to a city in mourning.
The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was one of Donald Trump's many banruptcies and has a rather colorful history... including it being involved in money laundering and being a hot spot for Russian mobsters. Eventually the property was shut down in 2016, then sold to Hard Rock International in 2017. Then in 2018 they reopened it as the "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City."
As for The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino? Also bankrupted. Also a colorful history. It was originally THE place to be in Atlantic City for the rich and famous. But once the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1990, Trump ended up poaching his own customers with the newer, bigger, flashier property. Thus the Plaza bankruptcy in 1992. In 1993 Trump somehow made his way out of bankruptcy (do I even want to know how a casino beloved by Russian mobsters managed that?) and started expanding the property... because doubling down in the face of financial ruin is apparently his thing, I guess. But money wasn't the only thing that Trump lost... he also famously lost an eminent domain case against a woman named Vera Coking. Like the asshole he is, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property so he could buy it and turn it into a limousine parking lot. He failed.
Just as Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione had failed in the 1970's to buy her out of her home. A situation that fans of the Pixar movie, Up, might recognize...
Photo by Jack Boucher for Historic American Buildings Survey, c.1991 (via Wikipedia)
Unironically I also have a photo of the now-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel from my 1999 visit. I took a photo of Planet Hollywood Atlantic City and it was sticking out like an ugly sore thumb in the background...
Trump's rise and fall in Atlantic City is an engaging story, which you can read in this Salon article originally published by InsiderNJ just before the previous presidential election: Atlantic City has a warning for the nation: Donald Trump brings ruin and despair. Salon helpfully added the byline "Trump looted and corrupted New Jersey's gambling mecca and then got out of town. Does that sound familiar?" Why, yes. It sounds very familiar, alas.
It's weird to think of the stuff that's happened in the world during my 54 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days on this planet. From the year I graduated, Trump had Trump Taj Mahal ('84), Trump Plaza ('84), Trump's Castle ('85), Trump's Steel Pier ('88), and Trump's World's Fair ('89) in Atlantic City... and lost them all. His consolation prize being that he was elected President of the United States of America in 2016, the same year Trump Taj Mahal (his last remaining Atlantic City property) was shut down permanently.
Oh well. In addition to my dying (among many, many other subjects) I also hold apathy towards ugly buildings being demolished.
I am kinda glad that I was able to visit Atlantic City during Trump's heydey there in 1999 though. America's prince may have just died in a tragic plane crash... but Donald J. Trump, Democrat, was thinking of running for president on a pro-choice Reform Party ticket with Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.
It was a glorious time to be alive.
Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2021
I wrote about the AIDS crisis that was exploding around me in the 1980's on a blog entry back in 2018. Dredging up the profound sadness of it all is something which haunts me 2-1/2 years later. If you haven't read it, here's your link, but the passage relevant to this entry is this...
"I'm filled with despair trying to wrap my head around what it was like for the gay community. I had friends who told me that they spent years in hospitals. Years. Not because they were sick, but because everybody they knew was sick or dying. I am aghast if I have to attend a funeral once a year. If you were an integral part of a large gay community, you might end up at a funeral every month. — Due to the AIDS epidemic, the 80's and early 90's were a tragic time of sadness and loss for a great many people."
Yes, it was very much a tragic time of sadness and loss for a great many people.
But not everyone.
Rush Limbaugh used to have a segment on his radio show called AIDS Update. He would start playing songs like Looking for Love (In All The Wrong Places) and then enthusiastically talk about all the gay men who were dying from AIDS-related complications, tell AIDS jokes, and have an on-air party because people dying from AIDS. He would read the name of gay men who had died and play horns and whistles in a jubilant celebration of their fate.
I try very hard not to wish people dead or celebrate people dying... but that doesn't mean I'm sad Rush Limbaugh has died.
Far from it.
Rush Limbaugh ruthlessly persecuted, mocked, and exploited entire segments of the population to his fanatical fan base. And LGBTQ+ persons were just the start. He was particularly horrible towards Black Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, the poor, and women... but there was really nobody he wouldn't attack with unbridled glee if he thought that he could turn hate into dollars. He was all the worst things about humanity compacted into a single blob of hate, and his monstrous cruelty is what he was best known for. He told starving children to eat out of dumpsters for Christ's sake.
And he was celebrated for it...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
So, no, I don't give a single fuck that Rush Limbaugh is dead.
Rush Limbaugh was a worthless piece of shit who left this earth worse than he entered it. He woke up every day trying to find new ways to make it worse. His repugnant influence helped create an environment so toxic that it's literally endangered lives. So I'm supposed to be sad about his passing? Fuck that. Burn in hell you lying, disgusting, monstrous gas-bag.
And speaking of burning in hell...
As you are undoubtedly aware, Texas is in serious crisis. Freezing weather has gotten so bad that people have been without electricity or heat for days. Toilets are frozen and you have to boil water to use it, assuming you can find a way to do so. People and animals are dying...
I could literally spend my entire day continuing the hypocritical bullet points showing how Texas has been conned and gerrymandered into voting for people who literally don't give a fuck about them, but I really need to take a shower and get ready for work.
Okay... just one more, because holy shit...
My guess is that Rush Limbaugh is saving a seat for Ted Cruz in hell at the fraudsters and liars table.
Not that there aren't angels still among us...
Never forget that Dolly Parton is one of the first to step up and help when people are in crisis. She even contributed millions of her own money to COVID vaccine research. Now isn't this the type of person we should want running our government? You'd think so... and yet...
Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2021
And so we have another rover on Mars. But give me a minute. I'll get there.
James Cameron is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. As both writer and director, he knows how to craft a story that is imaginative, exciting, and action-packed. If I were to rank his work, it would look something like this...
The movie Strange Days, which is also a favorite of mine, was written by Cameron, but directed by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow. I actually liked it better than Titanic and Avatar.
So, to sum up, my favorite James Cameron is Aliens.
And I think of this movie every single time that I see NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories where all the scientists and technicians are staring at computer monitors as they run the mission. Yesterday I was watching live as the Perseverance rover was landing on Mars, none of these NASA people were watching events unfold live. It takes 11 minutes for a signal to return to earth, so what they're seeing happened 11 minutes ago. Likewise, any commands they send take 11 minutes to be initiated.
So they're flying blind.
Just like the "artificial person" Bishop does when he makes his way to the settlement satelite uplink tower to call a replacement drop-ship down from the Sulaco. He's not getting any feedback, he's playing out what's happening in orbit in his head and issuing commands accordingly...
Actor Lance Henriksen, who plays Bishop, never looks at any display. He is either looking at nothing and staring into space while he concentrates, or looking at the keyboard...
Back when I first saw Aliens I thought this was incredibly cool... and totally baller. And it's a bit what I imagine it's like to work on a rover landing at JPL.
Anyway... back to Mars...
I watched NASA's "live" broadcast of the landing. It's nail-biting stuff. With that 11 minute delay and no way to send last minute course corrections or instructions, all they could do was cross their fingers that everything worked as it was designed to. As we saw with the probe Nozomi things can definitely go terribly wrong. NASA tried to make the wait interesting by having computer renderings of what's going on, which includes the rover targeting its landing zone after being released from the lander...
Good job, buddy!
Throughout the broadcast, there was a guy walking about stuff that was happening...
But I could barely concentrate on him... I was laser-focused on what looks like a Mars 2020 branded jar of peanuts sitting on the desk next to him...
Maybe it's not nuts at all... I dunno. Could be it's some essential prop for discussing the Mars mission that I missed by coming late to the video stream. But it sure looks like nuts.
Of course, just because NASA received notice that the rover had landed successfully doesn't necessarily mean that everything is functioning correctly! We had to wait to get a low-res, black-and-white shot of The Red Planet via one of the Hazard Avoidance Cameras...
Sweet! High res images and more Mars updates will be forthcoming from the NASA Perseverance team at their Mission Update Blog, which you can visit and bookmark here.
And, before I continue, can I just say how fantastic Paul Reiser's performance as the ultimate rat bastard was in Aliens? Easily his best work as an actor, because he really had to sell it...
And when he gets caught on his bullshit and has the most upper-lip-sweat of any human being in the history of the world? Oh yeah. That was a cinematic moment right there.
And then there's tonight's latest episode of WandaVision which will be discussed in a spoiler-filled extended entry below. And you're welcome!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2021
This past week we experienced a bit of a cold snap. Usually when this happens I turn the heat up a bit so it keeps running, because once the temperature drops enough the heat has a tougher time battling its way back. This essentially means the heater is running all the time, which can get expensive. Knowing that the cold was likely temporary, I just left the heat alone. This meant there were times it got fairly cold in my house. The cats have fur coats and are likely warmer than I am, but that doesn't mean they like it. They would much, much rather have a warm house.
An upshot of this temperature change is that Jake and Jenny are often cuddled up together sleeping so they can stay warmer...
Now, to be clear, my cats get along fine. Other than occasional play-fights and nightly incidents of them chasing each other around the house, they mostly just ignore each other. This works out great for me because they take turns seeking attention...
But now that they'd rather spend their non-stop nap-time together, the only way I see them is on the guest room security camera, day and night (except feeding time, of course...
Kind of a bummer, but it beats a $40 increase on my power bill.
I'm confident that in another week or two they'll be back to their normal ignoring each other... and paying more attention to me.
Posted on Sunday, February 21st, 2021
The weather may be hitting hard here in these United States of America, but I will not be deterred... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Ingenuity! I am still in awe of NASA's latest mission to Mars. I have spent hours upon hours pouring over the NASA documentation, briefs, reports, and news about it. One of the things that blows my mind even more than the fact that we can land something on the surface of Mars is how they actually do it. It's actually a sky crane which gently lowers the Perseverance rover to the surface like so...
Artist rendering from NASA/JPL - Caltech
The landing modules that did the heavy lifting... er, landing... sent back a photo of it actually happening...
Photo from NASA/JPL - Caltech
NASA even managed to get an orbital view of it happening...
Photo from NASA/JPL - Caltech
But the big surprise here is that Perseverance didn't land alone. He brought a little buddy with him... the Ingenuity test copter drone!
Photo from NASA/JPL - Caltech
This little helicopter bot is just a test project. It's not really on Mars to do anything except experiment with the concept of using helicopters on the red planet. Not the most mind-boggling thing to happen on this mission, but every journey begins with a single step. What IS a bit mind-boggling is how Ingenuity hitched a ride to the planet's surface. It's snuggled underneath the Perseverance and will be popped off, rotated right-side-up, then placed on the ground as the rover drives away. NASA tested it here on earth, as you can see from this cool video...
The engineering required to make all this happen... and happen under Mars' brutal temperatures and a much thinner atmosphere... is truly a testament to human ingenuity. Oh... wait a second... is that why the little helicopter bot was named Ingenuity? NASA will be holding another press briefing at 2pm P.S.T. tomorrow, and you can bet I'll be watching!
• Help! So much attention is (rightfully) being directed towards the human crisis happening in Texas, and my heart aches for all those who are suffering. But what keeps me up at night are the animals who are caught up in the cold weather danger as well. They are mostly overlooked, and it's gut-wrenching to see the reports coming out of the Lone Star State. A friend has been sharing links where people can donate, and I've done what I can, starting with these three organizations...
Anything you can donate... no matter how small... will be much appreciated.
• Social Media Reporting! United Airlines Flight 328 suffered catastrophic engine failure and was forced to land. And the way I found out about this major news story? It appeared on TikTok as a trending video...
What's even more amazing was the footage of the blown engine from within the cabin...
Planes can fly on one engine and are built to accomodate a blown engine. However... this flight was on its way to Hawaii from Denver. This would have been a very different story if they were 1,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean. I'm just happy it happened so soon after takeoff and that nobody was hurt. The interior video above was shot by Bretty Guy who, ironically ennough, posted this back in 2013...
After having his video viewed millions of times and being picked up by every possible news organization, he probably gets it now. Social media is how we communicate. It's how information (and, disinformation, natch) gets seen.
• NEWSFLASH! Womans Wants Apology After Tom Brady Trophy Toss — Apology? Are you shitting me?!? Because your feelings were hurt over an object you don't own? It wasn't even fucking damaged! It got tossed by somebody WHO TOSSES SHIT FOR A LIVING...
Photo captured from video by WFTS via WCVB.
Good Lord. Nobody... absolutely NOBODY... gives a shit about your stupid-ass feelings over the fucking Lombardi trophy, and absolutely NOBODY owes you shit. Your dad got paid to do a job and he did it. Your ownership... or rather any ownership by your your father... ended the minute the trophy left left Tiffany & Co. — If I bought a Tiffany baby rattle that your dad made and shoved it up my ass, would you be acting this stupid? Oh probably. Because self-important pieces of shit ALWAYS act just this stupid. I am getting so damn tired of the entitlement people feel when it comes to nonsensical bullshit like this. Save your outrage for something that matters... like the current flavor of the month ice cream at Baskin-Robbins or which kitten video is trending on YouTube or some shit like that. If anybody should be dishing out apologies, it should be your pathetic ass for acting like Tom Brady melted the fucker down and took a shit on it while you were holding it. I mean, there's a pandemic going on that's killing people... but Tom Brady tossed a trophy to somebody, so let's all shed tears over that. Jesus Christ.
• Loser! This appeared in my Facebook feed. One of those few times I don't mind seeing an ad because this is hilarious...
If only there was an apropriate place I could wear such a thing. If you do, you can pick one up (in several designs) right here at TeePublic.
• Cheese! There’s a meme going around TikTok which originated with a man going to his refrigerator and asking "Doesn’t everybody have a drawer in their fridge that’s completely dedicated to cheese?" The joke being that he has DVDs stored in his refrigerator...
Since then people have been making their own version of the meme where they have increasingly weird stuff being stored in their refrigerator. — And this whole time I’m like "BOTH DRAWERS IN MY FRIDGE ARE DEVOTED TO CHEESE!!!" And also a third draw which has my snack cheeses in it. My refrigerator is all cheese all the time and it's no laughing matter!
• Va Va Voom! There are two sides to TikTok that I absolutely love and would rather watch than most television shows or movies... Black TikTok and Gay TikTok. Both can be entertaining as hell, and I laugh out loud more often than I'd ever admit. I also end up learning more than I'll ever admit. And while there's some overlap from time to time, they are two very different entities. UNTIL TODAY, THAT IS. I've run into the song Va Va Voom by Nicki Minaj on both sides. It's a song that I've never heard of before. And it ended up being 100% my jam for the weekend...
Banger! Thanks TikTok!
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, bullet fans...
Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2021
I don't have many of my mom's possessions left. The only thing I really want are the photos from our trips together, and everything else is just... stuff. The majority of her things were donated, given away, or trashed (if they couldn't be donated or given away). I held onto a few things which had sentimental meaning to me, but it's not much else because I'm not a very sentimental person.
A few things I held onto simply because they were useable and it would be wasteful to toss them. Mostly stuff from the kitchen. Some pots, pans, bowls, utensils, and pot holders were saved. One of those potholders was a Bialosky Bear "100% Loyal and True" brand that my mom didn't use for decades, instead hanging it up in her kitchen. Then the last time she moved she wasn't interested in hanging it for some reason and started actualy using it. And since it was in great shape, I started using it too.
This past week I was moving a skillet off of a burner when it sloshed on the potholder, causing me to drop it on the hot-hot burner. The thing was scorched instantly...
I don't know if it's because it finally dawned on me that this was yet another reminder that my mom was gone... or that all the pieces of her left on this earth are disappearing... or what... but it was pretty upsetting. So upsetting that I went hunting for a replacement on eBay, but couldn't find one since it was made in the early 1980's.
So stupid. Had I thought about the possibility of this happening before I started using it and how it might affect me, I could have saved it. Oh well. Not much I can do about it now.
It did mean my having to buy new potholders. This time I went for fancy silicone things that can withstand absurdly hot temperatures up to 600°F!
No worries about staining them, I think. Just toss them in the dishwasher after you're done cooking. Nice. But not the same.
Since I had to order potholders, I went ahead and addressed another thing that's been driving me insane in my kitchen... the fact that the boxes that Reynolds uses for their foils and parchment are COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHIT and fall apart minutes after opening them...
And it happens to their signature foil as well! Rage-inducing. In fact, it was so rage-inducing that the next time I went to the grocery store needing foil I ended up buying a different brand entirely in the hopes that they didn't have boxes which fell apart. And, while I was at it, I could buy the Safeway Signature Select brand and save some money too! It compares to Reynolds foil, because it says so right on the box...
Except... no. It really doesn't.
This "foil" it super-thin, really hard to get ahold of in the box, and it doesn't crumple and conform like Reynolds foil... almost like it has plastic in it or something. It's fucking awful, and in absolutely no way "compares to Reynolds." But on the plus side, the box is built like a damn tank and doesn't look like it's going to fall apart any time soon. Which begs the question... why the fuck can't Reynolds built boxes that are worth a shit if they charge so much more money for their stuff? If a cheap-ass imitation can build a decent box, why can't they?
This lead me to try a more rugged dispenser/cutter that arrived on Friday so I could buy Reynolds stuff, take it out of their shitty boxes, and put it into something that will actually (assumably) stay together...
It's kinda meh. I mean, it works, but it's got some problems. First of all, it relies on your wrap/foil/parchment being wound onto a big cardboard tube. You then stick pieces in the tube on both ends which sit in the dispenser. Except since parchment isn't on a tube and it wound down to a small coil, you can't fit the pieces into it. This makes it more difficult to control the cutting, which is a little frustrating while you're getting used to it. I can manage now, but it's still not ideal. What's really a problem is that it's not a square box which can be stacked. I stack up my wrap/foil/parchment up in my pantry, but this has to go in a drawer somewhere.
So I'm not sure what the solution is. I guess once I get my wood shop set up in my garage I can try building something that goes around the shitty Reynolds boxes to make them tougher?
Food for thought, anyways.
Food which can be cooked up to 600°F thanks to my spiffy new potholders.
Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021
In my middle school science class one winter, our teacher had one of us run out and fill a beaker full of snow. Once my fellow student returned with the snow, the teacher started up a flame, crafted a snowball, and asked us what would happen to the snowball if he put it in the flame. Somebody raised their hand and said "IT WILL MELT!" at which point the teacher asked to see a show of hands of how many of us thought that was correct. We all raised our hands.
But the snowball didn't melt.
It did start to slowly disappear though. The science teacher then explained that this was due to SUBLIMATION... where something transitions from a solid directly to a gas. We all thought that was pretty cool.
Fast forward to this week where people in Texas are claiming that the unprecidented snowfall is fake and man-made to... well, I dunno... punish Texans for some bizarre reason...
Now, my first instinct was to think "Well, since they normally don't get snow in Texas like this, their science teacher wasn't able to provide the same demonstration that I had as a kid, so I guess this is understandable. They just don't know how snow works." I chalked it up to ignorance, and felt bad for them that concepts like "sublimation" and "soot" were absent in their thinking.
And then I actually watched the video.
"Thank you Bill Gates for trying to fucking trick us that this is real snow. You'll see it's not melting, and it's going to burn. Snow don't burn. Snow fucking melts. No water no dripping no nothing. If I put this shit in the microwave it's going to start sparking because there's metal mixed in it."
I went from feeling sorry that this woman was lacking basic science principles I learned in middle school... to feeling absolute rage.
I will never forgive Bill Gates for saddling us with the shitty Microsoft Windows computer operating system... but he is one of those rare billionaires WHO ARE ACTUALLY USING THEIR MONEY TO ACTIVELY MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, and I am sick and fucking tired of people making him out to be some kind of evil comic book super-villain because they are idiots who don't possess critical thinking skills.
Bill Gates once said that one the biggest barriers towards having good health care in developing nations was the lack of medical records. And he's right. Because people often get displaced by famine or violence, any records that might have been kept on their medical history are often lost. And how can a doctor provide adequate care without a proper medical history? Gates suggested that perhaps medical records could be put on a tiny chip that could be placed under the skin so that these people would be able to have their critical medical information on them at all times. It was a genius solution by a smart man to solve a very real problem.
Next thing you know this simple concept which can be easily verified via a Google search becomes this sinister plot to microchip everybody so Bill Gates can track your movements. Like he would even give a shit about your boring-ass life. And never mind that everybody has credit cards and mobile phones which make tracking you a piece of cake already, the conspiracy theory bullshit is somehow what people want to believe?
Bill Gates has been using his massive wealth to invest in medical research, medical solutions, and vaccination programs in countries where vaccinations are tough to get. He does all this because he's a genuinely decent human being who wants to leave this world better than he entered it. VACCINES. SAVE. LIVES. PERIOD. and Bill Gates doesn't think that the poorest of humanity should have to go without.
Next thing you know, somebody on the internet decides that vaccines are bad despite history being replete with evidence to the contrary, the anti-vax idiocy movement is started, and Bill Gates is once again painted as a villain who somehow wants to vaccinate everybody so he can get rich or whatever. Never mind that he has so much money that he couldn't spend it in ten lifetimes... never mind that he's done his best to make sure vaccines can be had for free... the conspiracy theory bullshit is somehow what people want to believe?
Bill Gates has been an advocate for combatting climate change. A threat so serious that it is already affecting every living creature on the planet and may one day be our doom. Wanting to divest his investments from contributing factors like fossil fuels, Gates took his money out of oil companies (or whatever) and sunk it into emerging green energy development. He does this because he gives a shit about the world that his kids will be living in.
Next thing you know, somebody who doesn't understand basic fucking science can't melt a snowball with a cigarette lighter, and Bill Gates is trying to control the weather. Ironically, figuring out how to control the weather might be our only option for dealing with climate change if we've reached a tipping point where there's no fixing things. But hey... the conspiracy theory bullshit is somehow what people want to believe?
Being ignorant or uneducated is one thing.
Buying into bullshit anti-science conspiracy theories to vililfy a guy who has invested huge sums of time, effort, and money into helping people live healtheir lives on a healthier planet is another thing entirely.
I am quickly coming to understand how reeducating these people with evidence, facts, research, and logic is a losing battle. They don't give a shit about any of that. They only care about what fits their idiotic narrative regardless of how stupid and absurd. So what to do? If you can't make them see facts or reason, what's left? Tell them to go fuck themselves and move on? Maybe. But too many people are being too stupid for this to be a long-term solution. We've got people who think the earth is flat, for Christ's sake.
In chemistry, SUBLIMATION is the process by which solids (like snow) are converted to a vapor via heat. The vapor can be liquified via condensation, then turned back into a solid via cold.
Outside of chemistry, SUBLIMATION is the act of refining or purifying something to achieve a better, higher state.
I am convinced that Bill Gates has been sublimating into a higher version of humanity due to his amazing generosity and investment into planet earth and the life which inhabits it. He is what wealthy people should aspire to be.
Though why anybody would want to be Bill Gates when some willfully ignorant whack-job who doesn't know how snow works is cursing your name is beyond me. Far easier to just sit on your massive wealth and buy gold-plated toilets for your private jet collection. Sure this just keeps humanity moving ever-closer to its destruction, but at least people don't think you team up with The Joker and Catwoman to battle Batman as you try to loot Gotham City.
Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
If you put yourself out there on the internet, you're going to get hate. Sure you're more likely to get hate if you have an opinion online, but I've seen people get attacked for every reason and no reason at all. Cyber-bullying is our new normal, and given just how bad it's getting, I worry about kids being able to survive it. Because some don't.
I have a blog where I post my opinions, ideas, and thoughts on a daily basis, so I get my share of hate. In the early days of blogging it bothered me a great deal. As I grew accustomed to it (though, honestly, you never really get accustomed to it) I was able to compartmentalize things and not have it ruin my day. All I can do is be as kind as I can be to people and carry on.
Though some people don't really deserve kindness.
They are so awful that any kindness feels as though it's wasted energy.
Take for instance "That Vegan Teacher" on TikTok...
She's a truly vile and repugnant bully, and I blocked her within days of getting addicted to the app. Unfortunately, she can still be "dueted" so she was still popping up on my feed. And I've hated it. I've been a vegetarian for 35 years, and every time I came across her disgusting antics (seriously, she compares Vegans to Jews during The Holocaust and was horrifically racist in her takes) it made me want to run out and eat a steak because she's everywhere...
She's the absolute worst, and it could easily be argued that she did more to promote eating meat than actually convincing people to stop eating meat. In fact, many of the videos I saw were just people eating meat while dueting her bullshit. Including famous people like Chef Gordon Ramsay whom she would attack often...
Now, if she wants to be a bigoted piece of shit who persecutes people for eating meat, harass farmers as if they are murderers, and be a generally terrible person who attacks non-vegans as a matter of course, then fine. I'd argue she could have done far more to promote veganism by not being such a sadistic fucking asshole, but that's who she wants to be then she has that right. Ultimately I feel she doesn't give a fuck about animals and all the shit she does is to exploit social media for money, but who knows? She's demented.
Enter Tommyinnit. A 16-year old kid that she started harassing solely so she could garner attention for her "cause." That was repugnant enough, but she didn't stop there. She started sexualizing Tommy in her videos...
Remember what I said about worrying that kids have a tough time dealing with cyber bullying? You thought I was talking about other kids... and while that's a factor, in this case I was talking about this monsterous adult. And apparently that is what it took for her to FINALLY get her ass booted from TikTok.
And I can't tell you how happy I am that once all the celebrating dies down that I don't have to see her fucked-up shit on TikTok any more.
Look, I'm all for eliminating animal cruelty. I'm all for more sustainable farming. I am all for promoting vegetarianism and veganism to get people to eat less meat or stop eating meat altogether. But this is not a diet for everybody. Some people suffer from anemia and a vegan diet will seriously harm them. Some people simply cannot afford a healthy vegan diet because our government subsidizes meat so heavily (which is why you can get a hamburger on a dollar menu). Some people have beliefs or traditions which include eating meat. There are dozens upon dozens of reasons that veganism is not a one-stop solution for the entire world.
If vegans truly want to do something to help animals... then stop attacking people for eating them and start creating a world where it's easier and more desirable to not eat them.
Lobby the government to cut back on meat subsidies and sink the money into making more affordable fruits and vegetables. Campaign food processors to add more non-meat options to their product lines... then buy them. Help promote more non-meat options like "The Impossible Whopper" at popular restaurant chains. Stop being fucking assholes that want to force people to do what you want, but instead convince them it's a better way to live. Encourage rather than condemn.
And do so in a way that's not harmful... such as making sure they have a doctor to supervise the switch in case a vegan diet is problematic for them.
And you should probably stop attacking and sexualizing kids who have to eat whatever their parents buy for them anyway. I thought this was a given, but... well... here we are.
I guess that's all I have to say. Except FUCK YOU, THAT VEGAN TEACHER, FOR BEING A HORRIFIC PIECE OF SHIT! I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOUR IDIOCY TO GET YOU BOOTED OFF OF MORE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS SO PEOPLE WILL STOP EATING ANIMALS SOLELY TO SPITE YOUR STUPID, ABUSIVE, TOXIC ASS!
Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2021
Last night I finally took some sleeping pills to knock my ass out so I could catch up on some of the sleep I haven't been getting.
I went to bed at 10:00pm, fell asleep by 10:30pm, then woke up ten minutes before the cat breakfast alarm went off at 7:00am. According to my Apple Watch app AutoSleep, that resulted in 8 hours and 18 minutes of beddy-bye sleepy-time...
And it was a huge mistake, because I felt drugged up this entire day. Still managed to get my work done, but was mired in a mental fog that made it tougher to function that days when I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep.
Thanks to Apple Watch, I think I understand why. It used to be that I looked at the "Quality Sleep" metric... which in this case is 6 hours and 53 minutes. That sounds great. It sounds like a lot. Where I need to be looking is at the "Deep Sleep" metric, because it's on days where I get more deep sleep that I'm feeling my best. Though I slept for over 8 hours, I only got 2-1/4 hours of deep sleep.
That's less deep sleep than I get on a "regular" night where I'm sleeping half as much.
Apparently the drugs are good at knocking myself out, but the sleep I get is restless. I looked back to other nights and see a pattern. 5 hours 42 minutes sleep, 3 hours 6 minutes deep sleep... 4 hours 12 minutes sleep, 2 hours 48 minutes deep sleep... 3 hours 45 minutes sleep, 2 hours deep sleep. Shorter periods of sleep are actually far more productive for me "Deep Sleep-wise," as crazy as that might sound.
And so now I'm going to see what I can do to get better, longer deep sleep.
My guess is that exercise will have something to do with it. Which is fine because the snow is melting so I can start walking to work again. Correlating how much deep sleep I get with how much exercise I get will prove interesting, I'm sure.
In the meanwhile, I guess I'll be happy with 4 hours of sleep knowing that a good chunk of that will be the sleep I need to function properly.
Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2021
It's almost 1:00am. I watched the latest episode of WandaVision (discussed below) then picked up around the house before collapsing in bed to write this blog entry. An entry which won't be posted until morning because I'm sure there are going to be a hundred mistakes that I'm too tired to catch right now.
Yesterday was uneventful. The most interesting thing to happen was when I decided to make a "Barbecue Pineapple Flatbread Pizza" from HelloFresh... then just couldn't do it. I ordered it because meal services often have things that sound disgusting but end up delicious. But when it came time to marinate the pineapple in barbecue sauce so I could slap it on the pizza?
There's no way that could ever be considered "delicious" so I put the ingredients away... slapped some Contadina Pizza Sauce on the flatbreads... added mozzarella, parmesan, and feta... then baked them until I had cheese pizzas. They were fine.
As I was pawing through my stack of drawers to find a pizza cutter, I reached in and ended up slicing my finger on a serrated knife. Took a nice chunk of skin off my finger, but didn't bleed. Lucky me. I can't wait for Spring so I can finish my kitchen remodel, because it's tough living like this. Tough on my fingers, that is.
My thoughts on the latest episode of WandaVision are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, February 27th, 2021
I clean the cat feeding station, the auto-feeders, and the water fountain every Caturday. Both filters in the water fountain get changed out every two weeks. It's something I'm fairly religious about because A) I want my cats drinking as much water as possible to reduce risk of urinary problems and they drink three times more water from a fountain than a bowl.... and B) If the water isn't fresh-tasting, they will stop drinking it altogether... and C) the last thing I want is for bacteria to build up and make them sick.
So there I am sitting down to dinner well after the cats have had their dinner and Jenny starts meowing off in the distance. Something she only does when she's very, very upset.
Needless to say I waste no time running over to see what her deal is. Turns out I forgot to pull the fountain out of the dishwasher and get it set up for Little Miss Jenny to have her post-dinner drink! And so I dropped everything and took care of that immediately. And she watched me as I did it the entire time. After which she was happily (and noisily) lapping up her refreshing H2O...
Glad we got that all sorted.
Jake didn't care so much for fresh water as he cared about playig with the back scratcher I left out...
Not that Jake doesn't have his own prima donna moments.
Earlier in the week I had moved the couch so I could vacuum under it. As I was lifting it up, Jake's favorite fuzzy blanket fell off and I had to throw it back up on the couch. Once I sat down after vacuuming, he hopped up and was furious that his blanky was "wrong." He was grunting and fretting and smacking it over and over and over to "fix" it...
The little guy was so agitated that I finally reached over to scratch his head in an effort to calm him down, only to be brutally rebuffed as he tried to dodge my hand...
At this point I was desperate, and ended up tapping on the window so he would think Fake Jake was outside and go running out to the catio...
That worked, and I did my best to put his blanky back exactly how he likes it. Apparently I did a good enough job, because when he came back he did only minimal "biscuit-making" before I flopped down for a nap...
Whew. Crisis averted!
And that's what having cats is all about isn't it? Crisis management?
Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2021
I may be really, really tied of Winter right now, but I'm happy to hold out for Spring... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Boys! I'm just going to start this out with the best thing I've seen all week... and it's why I love TikTok reason #2371 — John Stamos showing Beach Boy Mike Love a young band playing a beautiful rendition of Wouldn’t It Be Nice, a song he co-wrote...
@sittingonstacy I was showing Mike Love Tik Tok and you popped up. He loved you guys! Can’t ##hear us but he was really digging it. Congrats! Stamos♬ original sound - johnstamos
How unbelievably awesome is this?
• Plus! In advance of "CBS All Access" transforming to " Paramount+" there's an awesome deal where you can get a year of commercial-free streaming for half-price (just select an annual plan and use PARAMOUNTPLUS in the coupon code box at check-out). 90% of network shows I watch are on CBS and I love avoiding commercials, so this was an offer I can't refuse. LOVING IT. I love, love, love Queen Latifah at The Equalizer, and revisiting Young Sheldon has been fun. Of course there's also Magnum P.I., one of the best shows on television. Some older shows are not streaming properly yet (I'm guessing that will be fixed after the transition come March 4th) but new shows are working fine. I wanted to try out Clarice but Siri keeps typing "Clarisse" so I had to hand-type it into AppleTV manually... WHY, LORD? WHY DOES LIFE HAVE TO BE THIS HARD? — On the other hand, I am liking Clarice very much. How does CBS do it? Other networks just don't have the track record for great television like this! If you love TV, then check out this amazing 50% off deal before it disappears on March 3rd!
• YAS QWEEN! I get irrationally invested in the lives of people on TikTok. This guy hasn’t updated in two days and I’m probably going to lose sleep wondering if he got the job...
He has exactly two videos posted. This one was enough to get me totally invested. I guess that's what happens when the pandemic hasn't left you with much of a life of your own to live? Best of luck to you, sir, in finding a new job.
• Super New! Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a Superman movie? YES PLEASE! I mean, how many damn times are we going to have to sit through the same old Superman movie? Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill all did great jobs, but I'm ready for something truly different. Like maybe Calvin Ellis Superman?!?
Though I wouldn't be mad if Henry Cavill was given another go. He's actually a great Superman, and it's not his fault that he's had to work from shitty, SHITTY scripts. In any event, I am definitely excited at what might come of this.
• EcoBullshit! This video is absolutely fascinating. A lot to unpack when it comes to the "green" direction that the smartphone market is heading... fortunately Arun Maini has done the work for you, and it's well worth a watch...
The hypocrisy of it all is mind-boggling... but oh so expected.
• Retail Therapy! Well darn. Fry's Electronics had some of the coolest retail stores outside of Disney, and they just shuttered all their stores. They were destination-worthy places, and I traveled to several in California when they were at the height of their popularity. From the NASA-themed store in Anaheim and Egypt-themed store in Campbell... to Alice in Wonderland-themed in Woodland Hills and Old-Timey Sci-Fi-themed in Burbank, Fry's sure made shopping fun! Brick-and-mortar shops were having a tough time staying afloat before the pandemic... I have a feeling that because of COVID this is the fate for many of them.
• Without Telling Me... I don't know why I find this so incredibly sweet... but I really do...
And for anybody thinking that she's being an asshole... it's a joke. And he was obviously in on it...
And that's a wrap on bullets, Sparky... bring on Springtime weather.
Posted on Monday, March 1st, 2021
I know that there are people out there who adore February. Maybe it's their birth month. Maybe their wedding anniversary is in February. Maybe they started their dream job in the second month of the year. Heck, Valentine's Day is in February, so I get it. Honestly I do.
But February means something entirely different to me.
And it's not even like Valentine's Day can save it because I'm not in a relationship. And, at this point, don't want to be in a relationship.
Consistently, without fail, all the worst things in my life seem to land within those 28 days. Or, if it's a Leap Year like 2020, 29 days. Heck, February 2020 is where things started going all wrong, am I right? My life of travel for volunteer work ended. The pandemic was blowing up globally. And, just a reminder here, the first death in the USA due to COVID-19 happened on February 29th, 2020.
I do try to make February a better month though.
I moved into my new home on Groundhog Day February 2nd five years ago. Then I also got my adorable kittens Jake and Jenny on February 16th. Two of the best things to ever happen to me. So that's awesome, right? Way to go, February 2016!
Except not really. My mom had to be rushed in for an MRI on the 12th of that same year. She then dropped several plateaus in her health and ended up back in the hospital on, you guessed it, Leap Day February 29th, 2016. It was the beginning of the end and it's all February.
So many deaths, tragedies, disappointments, and setbacks in my life end up in February that now I just brace myself whenever I turn the page on my calendar. At this point it's pretty much self-fulfilling prophecy, but the psychological analytics are tough to parse when I've been conditioned to expect only the worse... from having the worst actually happen to me.
This February was just a continuation of the pandemic horror show, so I didn't need to have anything new and terrible happen, but of course it did. Got my first blog death threat in a while (somebody late to the party over my posting a photo of two men dancing together back in December). Went through a horrific personal ordeal with somebody I thought cared about me. And, of course, had the usual reminders of all my friends and family that died in the worst month of the year.
Fortunately February was only 28 days this time, because Lord only know what new terrors awaited me if today was February 29th instead of March 1st.
I've been ready for March all month. I've been ready for Spring and the promise of something new. I've been waiting for Coming 2 America and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I've also been waiting to get vaccinated... but apparently my group's date has been moved again. I've also been waiting for my potato masher to arrive... AND HERE IT IS!
I've never had one before, but I keep running into recipes where they say "mash to a creamy consistency with a potato masher or fork"... usually for black beans or chickpeas. I've always just used a fork, which is a lot of effort. A potato masher looked like it would be even more effort since a fork had tines that were close together for more efficient mashing, so I never bothered. Then I had a friend laugh at me when I mentioned this, and said I really need to buy one. "And make sure it's dishwasher safe and can be used on non-stick pans!" And that's what I ended up ordering.
It is no small difference. It's a monumental difference. I can mash up a can of chickpeas with minimal effort in a fraction of the time! I can't believe I've been suffering with a stupid fork all this time!
Kinda makes me wonder what other kitchen gadgets I've been avoiding as "superfluous and unnecessary" that are actually critical and brilliant. Thanks, March!
Posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021
Award shows are a total shitfest of idiocy and and I've never given them much credit for anything. Crap movies can win (and often do). Truly great movies get completely ignored (and often do). It's always been about which movies and TV shows can promote and buy their way into winning shit.
For years I tried to counter this by making my own Oscar picks, but even that seems senseless and stupid since I don't see every movie that ever comes out in a given year and many of the movies I love are never nominated. So I stopped. My annual year-end wrap-up of the favorite stuff I saw is good enough, and I don't give a shit about the Oscars enough to comment any more.
Last week my stance was totally vindicated when wwriter/director Eliza Hittman received an email from an Academy voter which told her that they would not be watching the screener for her film Never Rarely Sometimes Always because "As a Christian, the father of 8 children and 39 grandchildren, AND a pro-life advocate, they have ZERO interest in watching a woman cross state lines so someone can murder her unborn child. 75,000,000 of us recognize abortion for the atrocity it is. There is nothing heroic about a mother working so hard to kill her child. Think about it!" And its like... okay... but then you're not doing your job, asshole. Recuse yourself from voting AT. ALL. if you're not going to see every film in consideration. What's even more infuriating is that Never Rarely Sometimes Always tells the story of a woman WHO WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED trying to get an abortion. It's not like she's getting an abortion for fun and then celebrates it or some stupid shit.
And while I haven't watched the Oscars telecast in nearly a decade, I haven't watched The Golden Globes telecast ever. The closest I get is watching the opening or YouTube highlights when somebody I like is hosting. My position has always been "Who gives a fuck what the Hollywood Foreign Press thinks? Who the fuck ARE the Hollywood Foreign Press anyway?" I never cared enough to Google That Shit, so whatever. Apparently there's few to none Persons of Color in the Hollywood Foreign Press, which means that their voting is skewed, non-representational, and irrelevant anyway.
But I did read that Jason Sudekis won a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical television series for his exceptional work in Ted Lasso.
Except not exactly.
What I actually read was that Jason Sudekis was high and wore a tie-dye hoodie when accpeting his award. Because of course that's what superficial news organizations looking for clicks is going to latch onto...
And my immediate reaction to this news was "Lord, who gives a fuck? If I had to participate in this bullshit in order to promote my work and try to get it seen, I would be high, AND NAKED, AND DRUNK! If anything this just made my opinion of Jason Sudekis jump several stories, because wearing a hoodie instead of a tuxedo reflects exactly the amount of respect these awards deserve.
Ted Lasso was the best show of 2020 or any other year, so I'm glad that these stupid-as-shit award shows with their non-representational voters at least managed to see that much.
Or maybe they didn't bother to watch the show at all, but instead picked him to win because he wasn't Black like Don Cheadle, Jewish like Eugene Levy, Muslim like Ramy Youssef, or joked about being in a gay relationship like Nicholas Hoult. Which seems about white.
Posted on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
The weather has been really turning a corner these past few days. Gorgeous blue skies and crisp air every afternoon. Which then turns to freezing cold at night, but still... happy to be able to come home from work and be able to open the windows for a while to let some fresh air inside.
Alas, the warmer weather has meant that Jake and Jenny are shedding their winter coats.
With Jenny, this is not an issue because she will happily lay there for hours while I run The Furminator over her to pull out all the hair that's falling out. But Jake? He will let me furminate him... to an extent. He won't let me near his belly with it and 4-5 minutes at a time is his limit.
Which, of course, means that it's Hairball Season for the next month or so.
Most times when I hear that tell-tale sound of him hacking up a hairball, he swallows it. That's good news for me. But every once in a while this time of year he'll puke one up. At which point I am never mad about it. And I always give him some love afterwards to calm him down a bit.
But I gotta say... the last two nights have been a trial.
Jake now sleeps on my bed every night. He'll curl up next to me... then keep pushing my legs away while he "stretches" until I end up on the very edge. A few nights ago he set up shop in the middle of the bed. Which is fine. Still plenty of room for me. But then he keeps snuggling into me harder and harder...
But three hours later after he's pushing and stretching and otherwise pushing me off the bed, I barely have any room left...
Eventually I am able to shift around him when I am ready to go to sleep and everything's fine, so I just deal with it. No problem.
But two nights ago I was awakened at by Jake hacking up a hairball at 2:50am. I know this because my Apple Watch recorded when I had to get up so I could run my blanket down to the clothes washer...
Last night I forget to get my blanket out of the dryer before heading up to bed. It wasn't cold though, so I thought I'd just make do with a sheet. But then... you guessed it... another hairball. This time at 4:35am...
Which meant I had to console Jake, then get him off my sheet... then take the sheeet down to the washer... then remember to grab my blanket before heading back upstairs.
At which point Jake curled up again and fell asleep.
But not before pushing my legs three inches, of course.
Posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2021
In case I haven't mentioned it in the past ten minutes, I'm at high risk for COVID complications thanks to issues which ordinarily mean very little in the grand scheme of things...but mean quite a lot if I'm infected with the coronavirus, thanks to the way it attacks the lungs and respiratory system. I get COVID, and I could end up truly fucked.
There was a time that I was thinking "Well, I just need to hang on until I can get vaccinated and the pandemic settles down a bit... and then I can have my life back again." Except that's not really true any more, is it? Thanks to mutations of the virus, new strains are popping up which are more contageous and more deadly than before. Yes, the vaccine will help you better survive the mutated strains, but for somebody like me? I just don't know.
For somebody who has spent most of their life traveling, the idea of not traveling again has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.
And in very strange ways.
Usually it happens when I'm just starting to fall asleep... but sometimes randomly in the middle of the day... some image from my travel past will pop into my head. And then I cannot stop thinking about it until I remember where it was and what I was doing! Sometimes it's easier than others to place it...
Oh! That was at the train station at Kuranda after the Butterfly Sanctuary visit!
That's right! It was with the cat that lives at Peace Cafe in Siem Reap!
Yes! That was outside that awesome gelateria in San Gimignano!
That has got to be from the market with the sesame nuts in Santorini!
And so on.
But then there are those images that pop into my head which I cannot place. They take actual work to track down. Take for instance what happened last night as I was starting to drift off to sleep...
Huh! That's in a hotel... at an elevator bank.
But where? I don't think it's in a foreign country. I think it's in the USA.
Yes. And it's at an airport! But which airport?
It's too familiar... I think it's an airport I've been to a lot.
It's a big hotel... probably a major airport. But not Seattle. Or Chicago.
Definitely not Boston.
Not San Diego, LAX, or SFO either.
Not Orlando... oh wait! It's Atlanta! Gotta be Atlanta!
Yes. Definitely Atlanta. I've flow into ATL many, many times.
Which hotel? It's just West of the airport. Right off of the 85.
Oh crap. I can't remember. Guess I grab my laptop and Google Map it...
Image © Google Maps
Ugh. Southwest or West-West? Maybe in-between.
I think it had that giant triangular atrium that lead out into the parking lot?
Oh yeah! There it is! It's The Westin! OF COURSE!!
Image © Google Maps
How did I not remember that was The Westin? I've stayed there a dozen times!
Okay! Glad that's settled so I can finally get to sleep!
Say! I wonder what trip I would have been on?
Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2021
What is grief, if not love persevering? — The Vision
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Disney+ started streaming the final episode of WandaVision right out of the gate at midnight. The previous two weeks it took me nearly ten minutes to get to the show as Disney+ servers broke with tons of people trying to access them.
All-in-all the series was... not great. Not terrible, but not what I wanting to see from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I understand there are people who are just loving to see Wanda get beat up on while she processes her grief, so more power to them, I guess...
I wrote my thoughts on the final episode (and the series as a whole) immediately after the show, but likely won't post until I have time to read through all this on my lunch break tomorrow. I'm tired, and there's probably a million spelling mistakes.
But anyway... it's all in an extended entry if you care to read it...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, March 6th, 2021
Well would you look at that... the two-hundredth edition of Caturday!
Hard to believe there's still new stuff happening with my cats nearly every week for the past five years to keep this going. Though not really so hard to believe. Since the pandemic started, my cats have lead far more interesting lives than I have.
Though Jenny's life is mostly about wanting to be scratched. She sheds like crazy, and is forever stopping me to get a nice rub-down so I can pull out another massive handful of shedded fur. She'll stop me while doing laundry. She'll stop me while cooking dinner. And she'll stop me while coming out of the bathroom every time!
Jake, on the other hand, is far more interested in staying warm. I turned off the heat on March 1st to save energy because it's been getting warmer and warmer. Alas the nights still get fairly chilly, so Jake has been glomming all over me each night and is still there every morning. I thought this would abate after a week or so, but nope. Still there...
Don't ask me how he is remotely comfortable in the positions I wake up to, because I haven't a clue...
And now I'm off to clean out the catio for Spring. They've been spending a lot of time out there now when the sun is out, so it's probably time. And for anybody wondering if they ever fall asleep out there when it's time to eat... well, have no fear...
They may not hear me when I'm a foot away asking them to stay off the table, but they could hear food dropping from a mile away.
Posted on Sunday, March 7th, 2021
Inconsistent weather has crushed my Sunday plans, but I've still got you, dear reader... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Awwww! And... YOU'RE WELCOME...
You won’t see one of these again. He’s now safe & warm with some hazelnuts. ##endangeredanimals♬ original sound - Add your name
I've read that a dormouse can hibernate for 6 months or longer depending on the weather. That's my dream job. Though I'd settle for being able to get over 6 hours of sleep at night, so there's that.
• Two! I finally got around to watching Coming 2 America, the streaming sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time. It was... rough. The original Coming To America was a hyper-focused story which does exactly what you should be doing if you've got Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall headlining... focus as much precious screen time on them and their story as possible. Unfortunately the sequel doesn't do this. It's chopped up into a half-dozen different ideas, too many of which focus on people who are not Eddie and Arsenio. It's incredibly frustrating given just how easy it would have been to avoid this misstep. But it is what it is, I guess. Though the trailer made it look like it was going to end up better than it was...
While not a terrible movie, it didn't have the greatness that the original had. It didn't have half the greatness that the original had. And that's a serious problem. And I have a hard time trying to decide if something was better than nothing at this point. Probably.
• McDonalds! And now this from the You Don't Disrespect Your Mother No Matter How Tempting That May Be Department...
I think I laughed for five solid minutes when I saw this.
• Home Decorator! This morning I ran across an article about The Evolution of the Oval Office Décor, and it's pretty cool. They've created 3-D cutaway renderings of how the look has changed over the past 100+ years...
Almost makes me wish that there was an Oval Office decorator app where people could go in and design it for themselves. Then order a drone strike. Because apparently that's our thing now.
• Coffee! THIS MAN IS DOING THE LORD'S WORK!!!
This bugs the ever-loving SHIT out of me in movies. Especially in Hallmark movies where it's obscenely obvious THAT THE FUCKING CUPS ARE EMPTY! How hard is it to fill the cups with SOMETHING that makes them act like they aren't empty or defying the law of gravity? Though I'd just as soon have them filled with water or soda so that actors stop forgetting that THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE JUST SWALLOWED SOME COFFEE!
• A Royal Romance! Welp. That Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan was really something. There were absolutely no punches pulled, even though there were some areas that were intentionally not discussed. But what was discussed was brutal. The Royal Family comes off as a bunch of racist assholes, and watching them try and dig their way out of the horrific allegations will be amusing (to say the very least). A part of me hopes that it's being greatly exaggerated, but another part of me knows better.
While watching the interview unfold, it was tough not to think back to the Lifetime movie Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. As a connoisseur or trashy Hallmark movies, I ended up liking it so much that I bought it...
Seriously though... it's a darn good movie (for what it is), and there's a scene where Her Majesty They Queen tells Meghan that The Royal Family was mixed race thanks to Queen Charlotte...
If that scene actually took place, it's tough not to re-contextualize it knowing what we (allegedly) know now. It's all at once incredibly sad... totally infuriating... and yet not totally unexpected.
Have a happy Sunday there, slugger!
Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2021
Happy International Women's Day! Many of my most favorite people in my life have been women, and taking a minute to appreciate the way that women impact our world is important. History is replete with examples of women's contributions being overwritten, dismissed, and forgotten. That ain't right, and I keep hoping that each new day moves us in a better, more positive direction for equality and inclusivity.
I celebrated by watching the movie Hidden Figures, which is a fantastic story of what women have contributed to NASA's Space Program... despite the absurd intrusion of Kevin Costner's "White Male Savior" character into the mix. Did we really need that scene of him taking a crowbar to the "Colored Ladies Room" sign? Especially since IT NEVER HAPPENED?
That kind of crap is exactly why we need International Woman's Day... and Black History Month.
But before sitting down to watch Hidden Figures, I had to find my cats.
When I got home, neither of them came to greet me. This is unusual. Usually at least Jake is there to sniff around me and make sure I smell acceptable enough to enter their house.
They weren't downstairs, so I figured they might be asleep on my bed. Nope. They were on the second guest bed, huddled on a comforter...
Perhaps I was too quick to turn the heat off?
Not wanting to get murdered in my sleep, I turned the heat back on.
Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
Last night I was in no mood for cooking dinner. So I had a pita bread pizza with a side salad and called it good.
The rest of the evening was spent trying to learn a new 3D rendering engine. All the while I had the television on with the movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service... AKA that James Bond movie without Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or or Daniel Craig (it was George Lazenby)... and with Diana Rigg.
It also had Telly Savalas as Blofeld.
The television was meant to be background noise so I could focus on my work, but I couldn't keep my mind on anything except how many actors played Ernst Stavro Blofeld over the years. I could think of four (I had forgotten Charles Gray in Diamonds Are Forever)...
There was, of course, another appearance by Blofeld in the opening pre-credit action sequence of For Your Eyes Only... where Roger Moore drops him down a smokestack in his wheelchair. That Blofeld was played anonymously by John Hollis... who is most famous for having previously played Lando's half-robot servant "Lobot"...
And Klytus's half-robot lacky in Flash Gordon...
The sequence with the missing Blofeld was played to comedic effect, which was an odd tonal shift from him having murdered James Bond's wife Tracy...
So... six Blofeld's total. Which is equal to the number of actors who have played James Bond (excluding David Niven in the original Casino Royale). That's quite a piece of Bond trivia right there.
Exactly the kind of trivia which keeps me up at night... and keeps my brain distracted from getting my work done.
If anybody's curious about which Blofeld is my favorite, it's Donald Pleasence as the first Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. He was deliciously weird, evil, dangerous, and menacing...
Not that Blofeld was the most interesting character in that movie. I was completely 100% in love with Bond Girl Kissy Suzuki...
I was one year old when You Only Live Twice was released. I didn't see the film until the 80's when I rented it on VHS tape. At the time I thought Mie Hama was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
And still is.
Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2021
Yesterday I received a notice that the interest rate on the credit card I use to get a discount at the local tire shop chain has been increased to 29.999%. Holy shit!
Thankfully I only use it every 3 or 4 years when I have to get new all-weather or winter tires... and I pay it off in full immediately after I get the first bill... but this is still crazy outrageous for people who can't pay it off in full right away, isn't it? THIRTY FUCKING PERCENT?!?
And this is how poor people are made even more poor... predatory lenders. You're desperate for new tires so you can drive to work. You can't afford new tires. So you have to open a credit account to get the new tires... THEN PAY OFF A MASSIVE INTEREST RATE, which just makes you even more poor? But it's the avocado toast that's the problem. Okay. Whatever.
I am getting really sick and tired of ignorant assholes saying that people trapped in poverty are lazy or want to be poor or it's their fault. In the vast majority of cases, it's just not true. They are doing the best they can as their circumstances allow, and they don't have access to the money, connections, training, or education which allows them to find a better job and escape.
Which brings us to the Captain Samuel Vimes theory of socioeconomic unfairness...
"Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet." — Terry Pratchett, from his Discworld novels.
Poor people are kept poor because they live in a system which has been designed to keep them that way. Just like it's designed to keep shoveling money to millionaires and billionaires so they can even further game the system in their favor.
Usually by buying politicians so they keep making policy which benefits them exclusively.
But also by buying public opinion to convince us that poor people are lazy and deserve to stay poor.
Posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2021
You would think that as the snow slowly melts and allergens are being released into the air, I'd have a gradual slide into allergy season. Nose runs a little more each day. Eyes water up a little more frequently. Cough gets more and more persistent.
But that's not how it works at all.
Not for me anyways.
In my case my body just deals with the build-up to allergy season and I'm perfectly normal with no symptoms... until one day I just ain't any more.
That day was today.
I woke up well enough this morning, but the minute I got downstairs to feed the cats I was in hell. Nose running like a faucet. Coughing continuously. Even struggling to breathe. The first thing I did was go around the house and replace the air filters in all four of my air purifiers just to make sure they were operating at peak proficiency. If they're not, then sleeping becomes impossible and I never get a break from the torture I go through each Spring.
Which is still my favorite season. Go figure.
It would be easy to blame it on the cats going in and out of the catio and bringing the allergens in with them, but I honestly think that it has to do more with my leaving the house and getting saturated.
And so, like last year, I will be doping up with Benadryl and sucking on cough drops all day so that everybody at work doesn't think I have COVID. The drugs make it tough to focus and keep me eternally drowsy, but I guess it is what it is. I just save the more technical stuff for the evenings when I am back at home and can cough my fool head off in peace. Jake and Jenny aren't happy about it, but so long as they can go outside and are still getting fed, I think they'll survive.
Me, on the other hand? I give myself a 50/50 shot of surviving.
Posted on Friday, March 12th, 2021
Last night I took a double Benadryl cocktail at 9:30 and went to bed at 10:00 in the hopes that I could get some rest after battling my allergies all day long. I started to read more of a book I started last month (the excellent Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019)... except, according to my Apple Watch... I passed out 15 minutes later.
I slept a total of 7 hours and 56 minutes.
That's a massive amount of sleep for me. And once I saw the sleep report, I was thinking that today would be the best day ever since I was so well-rested. Except... the lingering effects of Benadryl has meant that I spent my morning being mostly drowsy. Oh well. I tried.
When I went to Amazon to look into more replacement filters for my air purifiers, the very first "recommended item" was leggings. For women. And I'm like... "Dude. The last thing I bought was a frickin' vegetable peeler and a case of Cheetos. How in the hell did the leap from Cheetos to leggings happen?" — YOUR ALGORITHM IS DRUNK, AMAZON... GO HOME!
...there are certainly worse things to have show up on your Amazon recommendations.
Even though pink isn't really my color. And no amount of Cheetos will ever make my ass look that good.
And in other, other news. I've discovered Goat TikTok...
And just when you thought your Friday couldn't get any better. You're Welcome!
Posted on Saturday, March 13th, 2021
Yay! My blog is broke again! Who knows when I'll find time to fix it.
Jake's favorite spot to sleep used to be next to my feet... but now he's upgraded to between my feet. Once he just kind of found himself there... and now he will force his way in there. Sometimes I will wake up and he'll be there sleeping away...
But kinda pales in comparison to Jenny, as usual. She's so smart and so cunning in getting what she wants. She comes running to the door when I go to the bathroom because she knows I'll stop and pet her when I come out. She runs to the kitchen when I walk in there because she knows that she might be able to guilt me into giving her a treat. And now? NOW?!? She waits for me to get up to get something, then dash to my spot on the couch and sit there because she knows I'll sit and pet her until she's had enough and I can get my spot back...
The worst though? She'll run to the door of the bathroom... wait for me to come out and pet her... then, if I stop before she's had enough, she'll run to my spot on the couch for more!
I have no idea what she'll come up with next. But I'm sure she'll find a way to get her way, that's for certain.
And while I didn't find Jake and Jenny in a dumpster, they were feral rescues...
And I feel the exact same way.
Posted on Sunday, March 14th, 2021
We may be suffering from losing an hour of sleep because of that stupid fucking time change, but I will carry on regardless... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• DST 4EVAR! You just know how much I must hate dicking with the clocks twice a year when you see how I'm willing to go on-record and agree with Marco Rubio on something. Make Daylight Saving Time permanent, split the difference, or get rid of clocks altogether. I just don't fucking care any more. Make the madness stop.
• Pizza? Italians reacting to Americans desecrating their national dishes is what you need today...
Pineapple on pizza? There isn't a cross big enough.
• PSA! And now, a public service announcement: IF YOU HAVE SIDE EFFECTS FROM YOU COVID VACCINATION, THAT'S BECAUSE IT'S WORKING, YOU POTATO! — I am checking daily to see when I can get mine. I will not hesitate. I won't jump in line ahead of anybody, but I will absolutely 100% get it the minute it's available to me.
• Home! =sigh= I miss my mom...
• Quantum Mechanics! Okay, I don't usually post memes that I don't make... but this is totally because of the science nerd in me right here...
I got interested in quantum mechanics because the concepts that come out of it are just so impossibly fascinating. I stay interested in quantum mechanics because the concepts that come out of it are just so impossibly impossible but... at the same time... totally possible.
• Chowder! When a pupper can literally ride a skateboard better than you...
It's not just that he can ride without falling off... IT'S THAT HE CAN MAKE A TURN!
• Swing-And-A-Miss! Well, shit. I had my fingers crossed and everything.
• Savage! This may very well be the most savage thing ever conceived... but also the most deviously genius...
I doff my hat to your evil ways, sir.
And now for a nice post-clock-change nap.
Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2021
Just when you think things are finally turning around in your life and you're starting to see daylight at the end of a very long tunnel...
...kicked in the nuts again.
Oh well. What's one more thing? After 19 years of having to chew my way through the shit sandwich that has been my life, I should be used to the taste by now, right?
Could... um... somebody pass the ketchup?
Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
Today I had some appointments I couldn't put off any longer. I was supposed to be vaccinated by now so I kept delaying, but Washington State keeps moving the dates, so now I have no idea when I'm getting vaxxed up. With that in mind, I went ahead and got my teeth cleaned and all the rest of the stuff that got pushed back for no reason.
I also picked up my free birthday burger from Red Robin, then went grocery shopping.
Every year (twice a year?) Safeway/Albertsons/Jewel-Osco/Eagle/Whatever has a "Monopoly" game where you collect little stickers that you have to lick and adhere to a game board for Boardwalk, Park Place, Kentucky Avenue, and the rest (not affiliated with the McDonald's game scandal from the documentary McMillion$). They promise prizes like boats and cars and a million dollars and stuff... but those stickers are scattered to the winds and I have no idea if anybody ever wins them. More likely you'll win a box of cookies or $5 shopping certificate or something like that. I think the most I've ever won is $20, but it meant having to waste more money than that with my time to open all the little tickets and organize all those little stickers. So... not worth it. But there's an occasional "instant winner" for things like "Save 50¢ on a Box of Crackers"... so free stuff, I guess.
So here I am opening up all the little tickets I got while typing this blog post and eating dinner when I see that there are no little stickers inside. Just bar code tickets you have to scan into an app. This was puzzling to me until I realized that people licking stickers in the Age of COVID is probably best avoided.
Which means we're now playing "Monopoly" without a game board.
And if that ain't a metaphor for my life right now, I don't know what is.
Just like Safeway "Monopoly" is not really "Monopoly" any more, my life hasn't been much of a life any more. Which is pretty much like everybody else on the planet right now, I suppose.
And it really gets me thinking about what our new "normal" is going to be going forward.
If history is any example, we will have learned nothing from this past year and just keep making the same mistakes that we've been making. That seems to be our nature. But with the "anti-science movement" gaining momentum like it has been, I'm understandably worried. The same science which cured polio and put a rover on Mars... the same science which paved the way for the technology which drives our modern lifestyles... the same science which has kept us moving forward as things turn to shit... is what people are choosing to hate, ignore, and mock when it comes to saving lives? Anti-maskers, anti-vaxers, anti-science, anti-everything-that-doesn't-fit-a-personal-narrative is apparently going to be the thing that kills us now. Because people bashing out "Science doesn't work! Science is a sham!" in a tweet typed on technology that science makes possible is peak humanity, when you think about it.
So maybe we should be embracing our doom?
Because if hate and willful ignorance is going to be our new normal, that's no fun.
Ooh! Look! I just got a "50¢ OFF One 4-Pack Kleenex Facial Tissues!"
Redemption code blurred so y'all can't steal my winnings!
That might come in handy as I weep for all humanity! It was good while it lasted.
Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021
I was born into the beginning years of what would eventually be known as
For the most part, I am very happy with being a Gen-X kid. My childhood in suburban small-town America was fairly idyllic and carefree. Both my parents worked, which meant that me and my brother were self-supervised and did whatever the heck we wanted to do from the minute we got home from school to the minute it was time for dinner at 6:00.
We were the first generation to have video games and home computers. We were the first generation to be online and have internet. We were the first generation with mobile phones. It goes on and on. The massive number of personal technological advances that have taken place in our lifetime made for a really interesting adolescence.
But now we're the overlooked generation no longer. We're being called to arms!
On Monday Gillian Turner from FOX "News" said "Cancel culture is spreading like wildfire. There is a call for Generation X to lead the chage to save America from the social media mob. Can they do it?"
Okay, first of all, the question is not "Can they do it"... it's "Do they WANT to do it."
And, second of all, the answer is "FUCK NO."
Stuff I've enjoyed has been canceled my entire fucking life. Dungeons & Dragons, violent video games, regular video games, violent movies, regular movies, comic books, magazines, and a slew of television shows and commercials deemed "inapropriate." And what about the music I listened to? Punk rock, heavy metal, grunge, rap, new wave, and even fucking Britpop was getting canceled... I once had a note sent to my house because a teacher caught me listening to The Smiths on my Walkman! A group of us were sent to the office for listening to 2 Live Crew... IN A CAR IN THE PARKING LOT. Boomers did nothing but engage in "cancel culture" for my entire fucking life just because they didn't like what Gen-X liked.
Gillian Turner is a Millenial. But she's not calling on Gen-X to step up and stop cancel culture for her generation... she's wanting us to step up and stop it for her FOX "News" audience, WHICH ARE BOOMERS?! Yep, that's right... the SAME Boomers who wanted to cancel the fuck out of everything Gen-X enjoyed wants us to go to war to save shit that they enjoyed. Like stupid Mr. Potato Head and crusty old Dr. Suess books and shit.
Which is really stupid to begin with. Mr. Potato Head is still Mr. Potato Head, it's just being put under the umbrella brand of "Potato Head" so that there's a place for "Mrs. Potato Head" and "Potato Dog" or whatever. And the six Dr. Suess books are not being "canceled," the estate and publisher felt that they needed to be "retired" for having racist imagery that society is trying to move past. Which means the two biggest things which have Boomers' panties in a twist right now can't even be defined as "cancel culture" because nobody called for them to be canceled in the first place. The owners are making changes on their own volition.
Hypocritical idiocy like this drives me insane.
I ain't stepping up to save anything from "cancel culture" that has Boomers in an uproar, and it's laughable that I even have to say it.
"Oh dear. Somebody is trying to cancel something you love in the same way you that you tried to cancel the things I loved? And now you want me to do something about it for you? — Ha! Okay, Boomer."
Except, no. Not really.
Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021
While there's a lot to love about my new best friend, TikTok... there's also stuff that manages to piss me off. Last night it was somebody (assumably British) who hit with a video where they're saying "IF YOU ARE AN AMERICA, NAME FIVE COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT AMERICA!"
Now, I get the assumption here. Americans are self-centered, don't know much about the world outside our borders, and it's easy to think that we're all morons who can't name five countries outside of our own.
Usually I would just keep scrolling, but in this case I think the assumption of ignorance is misplaced. Partly because "five countries" is such a low bar (we're attached to two of them), and second of all because the person attempting to shame Americans is not doing it to enlighten us, but to laugh at our circumstance. As if some rural, small-town American who hasn't managed to get a good education and whose finances don't allow a life outside the town where they will grow-up, live, work, and die, somehow deserves to be belittled in this way.
Well they don't.
And a lot of us are likely aware of more countries than you'd think which is entirely independent of our education (or lack thereof).
First of all, not all of us are poorly-traveled. If I were asked to name five countries, can it be five of the fifty-plus countries I've visited in person, or does it have to be from those I haven't visited yet?
And I know fellow Americans who are more well-traveled than I am.
I know fellow Americans who have spent their lives volunteering in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have sons and daughters, moms and dads who have died in foreign countries and am fairly certain they can name them.
I know fellow Americans who have friends and families who immigrated from foreign lands, which is fairly common in a land of immigrants.
I know fellow Americans who have raised money for relief in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have adopted children from foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who have served in foreign countries.
I know fellow Americans who had their service rerouted to administer foreign aid of countries struggling from disaster.
I know fellow Americans who can name foreign countries for a variety of reasons, and it in no way makes them better or worse as people. It's just something they may or may not know.
And if they don't know five countries? Quite possibly it's because the entirety of The United States of America (9,833,000 km²) is only a little smaller than Europe (10,180,000 km²), so Europeans knowing the countries their country borders is more similar to Americans knowing which states border their state...
I'm the last person who will say that Americans are the most educated or globally aware people on earth. Far from it. And while there are some Americans who should know better... starting with our politicians who are making decisions that affect the world yet can't find their own ass with a map... painting all of us with the same brush is kinda ridiculous.
But the world seems to have a lot of that going around lately, so no offense taken, I guess.
Posted on Thursday, March 18th, 2021
There's two new things on my television today. One I've been dying to see ever since I first learned it was coming. The other one I know full well is going to be a steaming pile of shit and dread the idea of watching it, but am going to give it a look anyway because I kinda have to.
Nate Bargatze: Greatest Average American
is exactly what I need right now. Smart, brilliant, comedy which doesn't have to rely on punching down on people or swearing to be funny. I don't think it's funnier than his first special... The Tennessee Kid... but it's still darn entertaining and must-see television.
DAVE RATING: ☆★★★★★★★★★
Zack Snyder's Justice League
I've not been shy with my opinion on Zack Snyder's DC Universe films. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were absolute shit. Horrific perversions of the source material that were full of changes nobody asked for and nobody wanted to see. Justice League was supposed to change all that. But Warner Bros. hated the direction Snyder was going with it... his dark, dour, deadly-serious, joyless take on the material was in stark contrast to the Marvel Studios films which were joyful, hopeful, fun, and faithful to the comics. Also? Marvel was raking in billions of dollars with their superior methods. So when Zack Snyder tragically lost his daughter, Warner Bros. took the opportunity to squeeze him out and bring Joss Whedon onboard to "fix" the film and make it more like The Avengers. To that end, he re-shot a huge amount of the footage to make the movie more jokey and slapsticky. It was awful. Which lead to Snyder fans to relentlessly ask for "The Snyder Cut" to be released. And here we are with the four-hour version that Snyder intended. Except it's still shitty. It's just more consistently shitty than it used to be. My notes on this tragic affair are in an extended entry, if you care to read them.
DAVE RATING (Snyder version): ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆★★
DAVE RATING (Theatrical version): ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆★
Posted on Friday, March 19th, 2021
WandaVision was a disappointment. Instead of Wanda and Vision getting a show of their own, they instead spent most of their time parodying other TV shows... then ended up being nothing more than a prelude to another character's movie. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. The idea of the Marvel shows on Disney+ is that they are feature-film quality projects which have the time to dig deeper into the characters in a way that movies don't have time to do.
Enter The Falcon and The Winter Soldier...
I'm just going to get this out of the way... Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are absolute gold. Ridiculously talented actors who know how to inhabit their roles and sell their characters. There's not a moment that they're on screen that they're not wowing you... whether it's in terrific action sequences or much quieter moments.
The story revolves around the past charting the future, and how Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes let their pasts hold them back while trying to move forward. And there's also the legacy of Captain America to deal with.
I loved it.
And if you want more of my thoughts on the show, I'll put them in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, March 20th, 2021
Another day. Another bit of terrible news to break my heart.
There's a meme going around Facebook and TikTok which says "The last photo in your camera roll is the reason you're alive."
Here's the last photo on my camera roll...
And here's the photo before it...
No surprise there.
And meme accurate.
Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2021
I think I may have gone into a coma from my allergies, but that doesn't mean you're being denied your Sunday roundup... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Help is Available. I am so sad to have to be posting this again:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We're committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
Help is a phone call away if you need it. And if you need it, please make that call.
• Newton! Mathematics has always been something I'm fascinated with... but I have never been able to wrap my head around it once things go beyond basic geometry and algebra. I still dabble with the heavier stuff from time to time, but that's mostly via YouTube videos. Like this one, which is superficially about calculating the value of π... but is actually about so much more than that...
I could watch videos like this all day long. It's not like I'm ever going to do anything with the information, but it's cool to see the math behind our universe, isn't it?
• Venmo? I haven't carried cash in years. So I imagine this is how it's going to be from here on out...
Funny... but also... not funny? I guess?
• Noob! BWAH HA HA HAAAA! If you are a Marvel Studios movie fan... and you've seen Avengers: Endgame... you MUST watch this ad for Xbox Live until the very end. I mean the very, VERY end. If you don't recognize the guy that Sam Wilson (The Falcon) is talking to, it's the guy who worked at The Apple Store in Captain America: The Winter Solder. This is so cool...
Noobmaster69 has been revealed! I absolutely love how everything in the MCU is connected so beautifully.
• Men at Work! For any of y’all ladies interested in a peek into a the male mindset, here you go. This is painfully accurate, as any man will verify...
##stitch with @mackandronni I don’t make the rules I just enforce them.♬ original sound - colby guenther
THE TRAUMA IS REAL, PEOPLE!
• Essential Reading. The long history of anti-Asian hate in America, explained.
• Care? I love living in a country where your first thought is... "How do I make sure my insurance covers this and how much will I have to pay for it?" over "I need medical care." But, sure. We have the best healthcare in the entire world. But what good is it if most people can't afford it, don't have access to it, and even with insurance you can potentially go bankrupt? Facts in evidence? Take a look at how many GoFundMe accounts have been set up for medical expenses. Yet another case where Americans are being brainwashed into thinking that something really fucked up is actually a good thing. Thank the medical insurance lobby for buying off our politicians to convince you that we're the best, when we're actually ranked 37th! We pay more for health care, get less for our money, and insurance companies profit. But sure, we're the greatest. Whatever. The conditioning runs so deep that there are people willing to die before admitting that our health care system is extremely broken. And, sadly, they may just die believing it even as the system they believe in so strongly fails them.
And that's the end of that.
Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2021
Today I booked my first flight since November, 2019 for a trip this September. Which means that if nothing derails my plans, I will have gone almost two years without having stepped foot on an airplane. I think the last time I went more than a year without flying was 1992 maybe? So obviously this is a bit weird for me.
This is a trip which was supposed to happen in the Spring of 2020... but... well, you know.
Even with vaccinations happening, travel is still a scary prospect. Though I will most certainly have been vaccinated by September, there's still loads of people not giving a shit about taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the ever-growing number of coronavirus mutations. On the contrary, people are being less cautious than ever and COVID infections are starting to take off again.
So... maybe I end up with an incurable strain of COVID from my trip and that's the end of me. Not the best way to go, but there are certainly worse ways. Hopefully somebody will take care of my cats, because that's all that really matters to me.
It's almost unbelievable that people couldn't be bothered to stay vigilant until vaccinations could become more prevalent and mutations could be curbed... but here we are.
And by "almost unbelievable" I mean "100% totally believable" because you can see evidence of people acting like anti-science morons on a daily basis. TikTok is replenished with new anti-masker nonsense hourly.
Human nature and all that.
Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
"Could you please leave the lights off?" — David Simmer II
It's amazing how once things start to go wrong, they often continue to go wrong until some cataclysmic event occurs where things can't get any worse, and you end up on the upswing again. The last time this happened was the four year period from my mother's diagnosis in 2014 up until her death in 2018 (though it wasn't until half-way through 2019 that I started to feel like I was slowly moving into better days).
And here we are again.
Right now I have movied past "Acceptance" and entered the "Embrace the Horror" stage. Things will continue to get worse, there's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well try not to stress about things as I ride that train off the cliff. The crash will come soon enough.
Which brings us to the novel Dune, as most everything eventually does.
Early in the story, young Paul Atreides is upset about leaving his cushy life on the planet Caladan to relocate to the planet Arrakis. It's a dangerous move to an inhospitable world which will likely result in death and ruin. Pauls father, Duke Leto, knows this, and tells Paul that "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken."
That the Duke ends up getting slaughtered shortly after stepping foot on Arrakis came as no surprise. Especially to the Duke. It's what had to happen in order for Paul to become the cosmic messiah he was destined to be all along, shit happens, and so... yeah... Embrace the Horror.
Last night, in hopes of getting my sleeper to awaken, I started taking stock of the things in my life that will have to change... as well as the things I'll have to leave behind. It was sobering to realize just how much crap I simply do not give a shit about. The only thing I have that matters? My cats. So long as I can take care of Jake and Jenny, does anything else really matter? Apparently not. Not for me anyway. That's a monumentally huge shift from where my head was at five years ago.
So things are not quite as dire as they first appeared. And that's nice, I guess.
Though I've probably got a ways to go before hitting bottom, so there's that.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021
And so today I turn 55 years old.
In some ways it seems impossible to be this ancient. In many other ways it seems as though much more time has gone by. I mean seriously... how many times have I thought that I forgot a bunch of birthdays and surely I must be 80 years old if I'm a day?
A lot. I just feel so... done.
But I've got cats to take care of, so I guess I'll be sticking it out for years yet.
Speaking of which...
IN CAT YEARS I AM 236 YEARS OLD! Which seems a more accurate reflection of my mood. Until I realize that Jake and Jenny are 36 Human Years old, which makes me think that time is blowing by way too fast.
They were just babies a few minutes ago...
I say that, but since they were about 2 months old in this photo, that's 2 YEARS in Human Years. Sheesh.
Welp. I guess it's back to DaveLife, already in progress, for me.
Or whatever you can say about DaveLife in lockdown.
Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2021
I bounce back and forth between wanting to know absolutely everything that's happening in the world today... and wanting desperately to know nothing about anything anywhere. But I couldn't live with myself if I turned an ignorant eye to all the crap that's happening, so I do my best to stay informed and wade through the sewage forced upon us by the bullshit media with their bullshit agendas.
Right before my birthday happened, the "big news" of the day was Vice President Kamala Harris not saluting the military detail for Air Force 2 as she walked onto her personal jet to go do... something... or whatever. People were beside themselves with rage over her blatant disrespect.
The President of the United States of America salutes our troops out of (relatively) recent tradition because he is COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES. And even then it's not required OR expected. The Vice President isn’t in command of jack-shit when it comes to the military, so she doesn’t salute them. She's just a civilian in public service.
And yet here comes shitloads of people throwing a fit about it.
Which is like being big mad because a grocery store clerk doesn’t salute our troops, but okay.
Every damn day this country gets more ignorant and more idiotic because people are fucking sheep who don’t even know why they’re mad any more. Somebody on TV or the internet tells them to be outraged, so they get outraged. All people care about is whether the outrage fits the narrative they've been programmed with. Facts, evidence, experience, accuracy, and knowledge simply Do Not Matter.
And I don't know what else to say about it except "Well, have at it then. Keep on being that person who can’t help but announce to the world how big of a dumbass they are." — Because what else can I say? There's no changing anybody's mind, and patiently explaining why Vice President Harris didn't salute the guys outside her fancy plane would make zero difference. They would still be outraged.
And can you imagine if she had saluted?
Then the outrage would be SHE'S NOT MILITARY! SHE'S NOT IN THE CHAIN OF COMMAND! HOW DARE SHE THINK SHE IS WORTHY OF SALUTING OUR BRAVE TROOPS! WHAT A DISRESPECTFUL PIECE OF SHIT!!!
Because that's what the outrage machine does. That's all they're good for, apparently.
Which brings me to this bit of genius from comedian Russell Brand, one of the foremost thinkers on the planet (whether you agree with him or not)...
"I mean in England we have a Queen for fuck’s sake. A Queen! We have to call her things like 'Your Majesty!' Like she’s all majestic... like an eagle or a mountain. She’s just a person. A little old lady in a shiny hat — a shiny hat that WE paid for. Or 'Your Highness.' What the fuck is that?! What, she’s high up above us at the top of a class pyramid on a shelf of money with her own face on it? We should be calling her Mrs Windsor. In fact that’s not even her real name, they changed it in the war to distract us from the inconvenient fact that they were as German as the enemy that teenage boys were being encouraged, conscripted actually, to die fighting. Her actual name is Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
All this drama. All this outrage. All this hate. It's all built around mere humans that used to exist to serve us... but now exist to be worshipped by us. If you are a Republican you are required to worship at the altar of President Regan. If you are a Trump-Republican you are required to worship at the altar of President Trump. If you are a Democrat, then President Obama is your god... with President Biden as some kind of god-adjacent deity or something. And once you've been programmed with which god you'll be worshipping, you are expected to be blindly loyal to them... all while hating everybody's else's god... regardless of circumstance.* Which is how we get to "KAMALA HARRIS IS A DEMON IN LEAGUE WITH THE GREAT SATAN JOE BIDEN AND WE NEED TO BE OUTRAGED WHEN SHE DIDN'T SALUTE EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO SALUTE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT OUR GOD DEMANDS OF US! (as handed down from on high by Fox News, restrictions do not apply)"
And, I gotta tell you, I'm exhausted by it all.**
If only we could get back to a place where political leaders are public servants again.***
Though, if I'm being honest, I think we've gone too far down the rabbit hole to ever go back. It's going to be politicians as gods, mandatory blind worship, generated outrage, and hate on top of hate on top of hate, from here on out. Which is both sad and inexplicable, because I think if you sat people down individually and asked them if this is what they really want, their answer would be "no." But nobody has time for that conversation. They have to get back to being mad about somebody over something that somebody told them to be mad about.
*Which, coincidentally enough, is how world religions seem to work, but I digress.
**Not exhausted enough to pick a god, but still... I digress.
***Or, at the very least, aren't able to be bought by lobbyist payola... no more digressing.
Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2021
Jessica Walter died.
Best known for playing Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, I am gutted because she was also the voice of Mallory Archer on Archer, which showcased her talent and genius in a way that you pray for when casting an animated series.
And here's Lucille...
"I don't understand the question and I won't respond to it."
Dang, what a loss.
I am praying that there's enough of her voice work recorded for Archer to last until the show ends... or they can at least get creative enough to salvage old recordings and outtakes to have Mallory appear until the end.
Rest in Peace, Jessica Walter. Nobody delivered a biting line like you did and you will be terribly missed. Say "hello" to Woodhouse for us.
Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2021
A second entry for Friday? Lucky you!
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you undoubtedly are aware of my Disney theme park obsession. Heck, I even designed my own parody theme park DaveLand because my Disney love goes pretty deep...
I collect the map pamphlets from the Disney parks. I have the wall maps. I bought the map book. And every time Disney announces anything new or any kind of expansion, I am compelled to figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to do it.
The lastest news is more announcements for the Disneyland Resort "Westside Expansion" which will turn a bunch of parking lots into an expanded hotel/shopping/dining/entertainment experience...
Now, this concept illustration is not in any way final (indeed, it looks like the previous plans for the "Mickey Mouse Hotel" have been drastically altered or scrapped... and does anybody remember the plans for "Westcot?"). And it's a bit deceptive, which we'll get to in a minute. But you can see that the idea is to add more stuff to snag tourist dollars than they already do. Looks like there's a lazy river tube ride to the left there. The above-mentioned "Mickey Hotel" in the middle. Three entirely new hotels to the far right. A live stage venue just in front of them. And of course more shopping and dining. Disney quite clearly doesn't want you sleeping, shopping, or dining at anything except Disney-owned properties.
As I was saying, the illustration is a bit deceptive though because about 1/3 is already developed with The Disneyland Hotel and Disney Paradise Pier Hotel, which will be surrounded by new construction (which I've shaded in magenta)...
Yellow shading is over Disneyland and California Adventure so you can compare sizing. Suffice to say, this is not a small endeavor... nor will it be cheap. I'm not sure where all that parking will go. Could be it will be constructed underground. Could be they will expand the Pumba lot that's wayyyy off to the East or the Toy Story lot that's wayyyy off to the Southwest (see below) to be a multi-story garages like they did for the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures that are in the upper-left corner of the map.
It's interesting to note that Disneyland is pretty much at its limit here. To the South is the Anaheim Convention Center. To the North and West is suburban sprawl with hundreds of homes that Disney would have to purchase.
But then there's the land to the East.
And here's where my speculation takes a bit of a sinister turn.
Right now, most of the land to the east is occupied by a bunch of hotels, with the exception of the afore-mentioned Pumba Parking lot (outlined in cyan) which I'm guessing is owned by Disney. The red outline is the land I'm talking about...
Unfortunately for Disney, there's a shopping Mall to the South of the Eastern region that's likely there to stay unless Disney acquires it (if they haven't already) in which case they could rebrand it as yet another Disney shopping experience.
But let's think about this for a second.
The Disneyland Resort Westside Expansion has at least four high-capacity hotels planned. That's going to take business away from the hotels which popped up to the East of Disneyland. Which means the price to buy them out may cheapen. After enough lost business, they may consider selling to Disney... something that's inconceivable as things currently stand because their occupancy must (normally) be pretty darn high and very profitable. And once that first hotel domino falls... and Disney re-themes it as a Disney hotel... and people flock to it because Disney dangles enough perks... and more hotels lose more business... well, it's not difficult to see how it might be "bye bye Candy Cane Inn"... followed by the rest of them one-by-one.
This, of course, is all conjecture. It could be that Disney has zero interest in the budget hotel business, or that the existing hotels will continue to be so popular that the selling price would be insane. Or maybe the chain-owned hotels don't care about lost business and just want a Disney-adjacent property in their portfolio. It's hard to say. All I know is that both parks are overcrowded year' round now, so maybe it's worth it to Disney to buy everything up... and simply not provide budget lodging. At least not as it looks right now. A Disney "Budget Hotel" will be cheaper when compared to their other hotels, but still Disney-pricey. Because if there's one thing that Disney knows how to do... it's make money. Lots of it.
And they could, of course, use the land to build a third theme park. Or relocate the structures that are currently to the North of Disneyland so they can expand the park there. Or just shift the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking to the East so another big chunk of land opens up for entertainment and hotels on the Westside.
That's not the end to Disney's (estimated) land holdings. They either own or lease a rather large piece of land to the Southeast which is currently the Toy Story parking lot. Not sure if the parking for the hotels/businesses to the North is Disney-owned (that's outlined in green)... but if Disney does own this, they could build a massivley huge parking structure which could replace all the lost parking for Westside... and absorb parking for any hotels they buy, which could then be expanded or rebuilt... or replaced with more theme park to attract more customers (or maybe spread the crowds out a bit)...
© Google Maps
All I do know is that Disney gobbling up that Eastern parcel... along with the area above the Toy Story parking lot... creates a nicely contiguous chunk of land which would nearly double what they have now.
Not that contiguous land is essential. Just look at Walt Disney World. Build another monorail or an air-tram... or expand the bus system... and that third theme park could end up in the Southwest section. Or anywhere, really. I remember reading how Disney wanted to expand to a beachfront property in L.A. or something. Heaven only knows how much land in the greater L.A. area they own either directly or via shell companies.
What I wouldn't give to work for the team at Disney which gets to plan all this stuff. That's my dream job right there. But since I don't, all I can do is have fun speculating and be excited for what's coming next.
Until then, there's always Daveland.
UPDATE: Well looky what we have here... a site that Disney created to shame Anaheim into rezoning their property for multi-use purposes called Disneyland Forward. It doesn't do anything to curb speculation because it's just Disney tossing out ideas, but it does clarify a few things. First of all is their plans for expanding into the Westside property and Northward...
Note that Disneyland gets an addition to the West, so those weren't hotels, they were attraction buildings. The only hotel expansion looks to be another tower for Paradise Pier?
Which is not to say that Disney couldn't change their mind and drop a bunch of hotels once they get their way so that they can still buy out everything to the East and raze it for a third theme park. And idea which still makes a lot of sense. Though remember that land to the Southeast? Hotel and shopping have been dropped there as an example of what could happen...
Interesting stuff! You can see everything for yourself at Disneyland Forward.
Posted on Saturday, March 27th, 2021
I am sick, sick, sick.
Which means I've spent almost the entirety of my Saturdays in bed. Fortunately(?) my cats have been more than happy to keep me company as I lay here dying while lamenting the fact that all the chores I've been meaning to get to are ignored.
They have provided entertainment, however, as I lay here flat on my back trying not to throw up. Like synchronized butt-licking...
Jake has been doing a lot of undercarriage grooming. So either this is normal and I'm just not seeing it... or he saved it up just for me...
And, yes, as I've mentioned the last couple weeks, Jake is still wedging himself in-between my feet and legs to sleep and groom himself. Any time I wake up now, he's almost guaranteed to be there, which is really strange. I move around a lot when I sleep, but he is not deterred. I mean, look how I woke up this afternoon...
I'm practically off the bed and he just doesn't care. I really had to go to the bathroom here, but when I nudged him by pulling on the sheet? Oh... he just turns around and starts giving himself a bath...
And of course it's too cute so I have no choice but to lay there in an uncomfortable position until he finishes... TEN MINUTES LATER!
In other news... more Mufasa drama last night. Jake will run upstairs to drop off his stuffed lion, then go back downstairs and cry because he can't find Mufasa. So I walk it downstairs and hand it to him... only to have him carry his favorite toy right back upstairs again...
I took it down TWICE, because I'm a sucker like that. But can you blame me? Look at that adorable face!
The third time, which was a while later, I took it downstairs and told him "No more! If you bring it back upstairs, it's staying there!" Not five minutes later, JENNY BRINGS IT UPSTAIRS AND DROPS IT ON THE FLOOR!!
NOOOOOO! She was rather proud of herself...
Now what do I do? Technically, Jake wasn't the one who brought it upstairs. His sister did. So was I obligated to take it down to him? Turns out the answer is no. He came upstairs to go to bed not long after.
And, no, I still have no idea why Mufasa hasn't been ripped to shreds given how Jake treats the thing...
Nobody explained any of this madness to me when I got my cats. They should hand out pamphlets at the Humane Society.
Posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2021
Feeling a little less than heroic today? Then I've got you covered... because a Very Special All-Comic-Book Edition Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Comic-Con? Welp. Comic-Con International just announced that the new date for Comic-Con San Diego is... Thanksgiving Weekend?!? It seems weird to think that a day reserved for giving thanks with your family would be commandeered after a year of pandemic that's kept families apart, but okay. Maybe that's the point though? They new attendance would be down over a holiday, which is what they need to keep crowds low just as everybody is getting vaccinated? I dunno. Still seems a weird... and borderline heartless... thing to do. "Sorry, grandma, we've got Comic-Con that weekend! Hope you can make it until next year!"
• Invincible. Amazon Prime Streaming has just released the first three episodes of their occasionally-violent-and-gory adaptation of the Invincible comic book...
I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't drag everything out so they could have one of the most shocking twists in comic book history saved for the second season. Nope. They've got it right up front.
• The Suicide Squad. It's interesting to see how Zack Snyder was given millions upon millions of dollars to release his "director's cut" of Justice League, but the same courtesy is not being extended to David Ayer for his Suicide Squad film, which was apprently taken far away from his intended story by the studio. Truth to tell, I would rather Ayer have been given the cash, because the stuff he originally shot sounds far more interesting. I mean, sure, his version of the Joker was shit, but a lot of other things were pretty well done. The reason he's probably not being given the opportunity is that DC doesn't want to overshadow the upcoming The Suicide Squad movie by James Gunn (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame). An R-rated trailer, of which, was just released...
Promising! SO many characters from the comics! The whole idea behind the Squad is that members die because the missions they take on are so dangerous. Apparently James Gunn is taking this to heart, because his entire motto for the film is "Don't Get Attached." How can you say no to that?
• New Cap. Steve Rogers, Captain America, has lost his shield! In a new series called The United States of Captain America, he embarks on a road trip across the country to find it... teaming up with other "Captain Americas" from over the years. Along the way he finds other people who have taken up his mantle, including a gay teenager named Aaron Fischer...
So naturally people are losing their fucking minds. Which is just the most bizarre phenomenon to me. It's comic book characters. The original Captain America is still here. Nothing is being taken away. But the idea that a gay American can't be Captain America when so many other Americans have been Captain America over the years is just bonkers. Gay people exist. Representation matters. Get the fuck over it.
• Old Cap. I had written up my thoughts on the second episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but then decided to hold onto them because I worry that anybody who hasn't read the comics driving this story will get the series spoiled for them. I will say that I am absolutely fascinated that they mined Truth: Red, White, and Black for this installment. The story of the actual first "Captain America" was pretty groundbreaking... even though it was published in 2003. It was here that we learned that 300 Black men were used as test subjects for the "Super Soldier Serum" before it was given to Steve Rogers. Of the 300, only Isaiah Bradley survived, and we got to meet him on Friday...
After serving his country with honor, he was imprisoned for his trouble. Now he's trying to live a quiet life of seclusion, as explained by his grandson, Eli Bradley. If you read the comics, Eli ends up being the hero Patriot...
Could it be that we're assembling the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Because the Young Avengers are almost all accounted for now! Eli Bradley as Patriot, Kate Bishop as Hawkeye (from the upcoming Hawkeye series), Billy and Tommy as Wiccan and Speed (from WandaVision), Cassie Lang as Stature (from the Ant-Man movies), and America Chavez as Miss America (from the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). And if they want to toss in Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel (from the upcoming Ms. Marvel series), and Riri Williams as Ironheart (from the upcoming Ironheart series)... PLUS debut Hulkling out of the upcoming Secret Invasion series... well... there you have it. It would seem that Marvel Studios is intent on keeping the current MCU moving forward as opposed to rebooting everything with new actors in the existing roles. Which is pretty smart. Because until the gravy train stops rolling, they might as well, right?
• The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. But back to the second episode... the Captain America comic books are at their best when they are saying something. When they tackle the big issues that face this country. And that's the niche that the source material takes quite often in modern times. It's only right that the Disney+ series spin-off follow suit. So when Sam Wilson was not able to get a bank loan last episode, on the surface it was because Thanos snapped him out of existence for 5 years. But you quickly got the idea that him being a Black man was definitely a factor. Didn't matter that he's one of the most famous people on the planet, no consideration was offered. And then in this episode, an argument with Bucky in public results in the police showing up to ask Bucky "if this man was bothering him"...
So kudos to Marvel Studios for making this series actually try to say something... in-between some great action sequences. It's exactly what Cap would want to see happen.
Stay frosty, True Believer!
Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2021
Evergreen's Ever Given super-hauler container ship which has been stuck in the Suez Canal since Tuesday was finally un-stuck. Naturally I've been reading up on all things Suez Canal this week because that's just the kind of person I am.
What's so interesting to me is that the Suez Canal costs loads of money to take your ship through. LOADS of money. Because of how massive the Ever Given is, I would not be the least bit surprised if the fee is millions of dollars. $5 million+ feels about ballpark because that baby is huge. Smaller ships cost less, of course, but given that 50+ ships are going through the canal every day... Egypt is making serious bank. A reported $14 to $15 million on an average day (though I would not be shocked if that wasn't a conservative estimate).
So while it's probably hundreds of thousands dollars cheaper to go around Africa (extra labor and fuel considered), you're losing precious time. Depending on the starting and ending destination, you could be adding anywhere from five to ten days. That's five to ten days your ships are not able to be transporting more cargo. Which means lost revenue. Hence the reason the Suez Canal is so popular. When they calculated it out, they estimate that $9.6 billion dollars in trade was being held up by the Ever Given before operations resumed.
Since the Suez Canal is mainly for freight that travels between Europe and Asia, you'd think that the USA wouldn't be terribly affected. Anything from Europe to the East Coast is a straight shot. Anything from Europe to the West Coast uses the Panama Canal. Then it's vice-versa from Asia to the USA. But global trade doesn't really work like that. The ramifications of the Europe-to-Asia-to-Europe route shutting down will undoubtedly cause all kinds of problems that spill over into the Americas.
As if the world didn't have enough trouble already.
The official cause of all this was chalked up to "wind." In which case there wasn't a lot that the Ever Given could do. At that size, it undoubtedly had a tug or two helping to keep it on course, so you can't even put the blame entirely on Evergreen's captain.
Shit happens y'all.
Just don't be surprised if a roll of toilet paper to wipe it costs more over the next several months.
Posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
One of those YouTube shows that I became immediately addicted to is Hot Ones... where a celebrity guest eats increasingly hotter and hotter sauces on top of chicken wings (or veggie wings, if you're so inclined) to see how hot they can go. In-between they are asked questions and the results are often pretty darn funny. And the stars they manage to get are impressive indeed. Everybody shows up. Everybody from Paul Rudd and Idris Elba to Charlize Theron and Awkwafina. If you haven't seen the show, check it out and find a guest you like. I've seen every episode.
They even did one in LEGO for heaven's sake...
AND THEN... we got a special treat when Saturday Night Live did a parody with Maya Rudolph as Beyoncé. It's about the funniest thing I've seen come out of that show in a long while...
I've watched this through three times now and die every time.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
On this day of Trans Visibility, I think of my good friend who is stronger in who she is than many of us will ever be.
It seems inordinately cruel that yesterday Arkansas became the first state to ban healthcare for trans youth. And, to be quite honest, I have to wonder if lawmakers did any research whatsoever before doing something so horrific. They think of being transgender as some kind of "fad" that kids will grow out of... meanwhile trans kids can end up living a miserable existence, even going so far as to take their own lives. Not only that, but if people would take 5 minutes to read how young kids can just be given puberty blockers that merely delay the effects of puberty until they are older and can make an adult decision, they'd understand that even it it was just a fad, they can stop taking the puberty blockers at any time and go right back to their previous puberty progression.
How much of an absolute monster do you have to be to deny a kid something that may keep them from harming themselves? Regardless of what you believe, it doesn't have to do with you. Believe whatever you want to believe. But your beliefs don't get to dictate how other people live their lives. I'd rather see a happy kid living their best life at no cost to me than to want them damaged or even dead.
In other news...
Washington State opened up my vaccination tier today. I hopped on the computer this morning to make an appointment and couldn't get through, so I was thinking "Yikes, I'll probably be lucky to get an appointment weeks from now." But when I tried later on in the morning, appointments were wide open... including today. Weird.
I booked an appointment for the mass vaccination site in The Big City. It was amazingly well-run. I thought the line would be a mile long, but I drove through the Disneyland-like queue maze with nobody ahead of me. Got right up to the check-in station. Then drove over to the vaccination site. Had two cars before me. I was sure to ask for a vaccine with extra lizard DNA and 5G. Then, before I even realized anything had happened, I had my first dose of Pfeizer vaccine. Didn't even realize it had happened. Didn't feel it. Thought maybe something had gone wrong. But, nope. That was it. A 15-minute wait later and I was on my way. Still don't feel anything. This is nothing compared to the flu shot that had my arm aching for days. So I guess it's the second shot that gets you.
Now I'm wondering if I start turning into a lizard person immediately... or if I have to wait for my second dose? I'm happy to know that Bill Gates can track my location to find out when I take a shit. That’s just a bonus right there! This deuce is for unleashing Windows on us, ya bastard!
Because, yes, my life IS so interesting that Bill Gates wants to know where I'm at at all times.
Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2021
I am glad to see that the number of April Fools jokes online have plummeted. This is just not the time. I wish people would drop it completely, because it's never really the time for me. But I'm no fun like that.
This morning I found some of my old MAD magazines and books when I was looking for a certificate I needed. Boy did that take me back.
One day when I was in Middle School on my way to class, a friend returned a MAD book that they had borrowed. I didn't think anything of it and threw it on top of the books I had under my arm. After taking my seat, the science teacher saw the book and snatched it off the table. I wasn't looking at it... it was just sitting there. Apparently that was offensive enough to him that he was compelled to take it. After class I asked him for it back and he turned all red-faced and said "NO!"
He was always a bit of an asshole, but taking my personal property for no reason? Fuck him.
A month-and-a-half later it was the last day of school. I didn't want to risk asking for my book back and having him refuse, so I had my mom write me a note asking him to return my property. After class was over, I handed it to him. He threw it on his desk and ignored it.
So I asked him to read it now.
And he did.
At which time he was consumed with rage.
"I THOUGHT IT WAS A NICE NOTE THANKING ME FOR BEING A GOOD TEACHER OR SOMETHING... BUT INSTEAD YOU WANT YOUR BOOK BACK?!?" He then pulled open a big drawer on his desk that was filled with confiscated crap. "IS THIS THE BOOK?!?" It wasn't. "WELL HOW ABOUT THIS ONE?!?" Yes. That's my book.
He threw it at my face. I was THIS close to telling him to go fuck himself and the last thing I would do is write a note praising him when he was a bargain-basement teacher at best, but instead I said "Thanks so much! Have a great summer!" because I knew that would piss him off more. And what did I care? I was off to high school.
It was at that moment I wondered if he would fail me or lower my grade. He didn't... probably because he knew I would call him on his bullshit... but I am fairly certain that he wanted to quite badly.
And speaking of people getting mad about nothing...
The beautifully-crafted Lil' Nas X music video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name) is causing quite the uproar. Probably because Lil' Nas X takes a stripper pole down to hell in his Calvin Klein underwear and gives the devil a lap dance...
While I was eating lunch I logged on to Facebook where people are talking about it. One of the posts said "What do you think about all this?" to which I commented "I think that if 'well-meaning Christians' hadn't constantly told Lil' Nas X he was going to hell for being gay, he wouldn't have been compelled to make a video throwing it back in their faces."
From there it went to the inevitable "But this is harmful to children seeing it!" to which I replied "I dunno. I've listened to metal since I was a kid, which can be far more satanic than this, and I turned out okay." I was half-way expecting somebody to reply with "BUT DID YOU THOUGH?!?" except nobody took the bait. Oh well.
It's always something, isn't it?
When I was a kid it was Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeath, Slayer, Venom, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Motley Crüe, and the rest. Today it's Lil' Nas X which, if I'm being honest, is relatively tame by comparison. He gives the devil a lapdance. Whoop-de-doo.
The song is a banger though. Reeeeeally catchy.
But if it offends you, I guess you could always move to North Korea where they censor everything. Pretty sure you won't find Lil' Nas X playing there. For one thing, I don't think the long red braids he wears to hell is one of the 28 approved haircuts you're allowed to have.
Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2021
Most of what I learned about cooking came from my grandmothers. I loved cooking and loved food, and they were happy to help me learn how to do it well.
I remember once when my grandmother was teaching me how to make her famous, award-winning apple pie, I had just help to slice the apples and was ready to make the filling when I asked her how much sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice to add. "Well you have to taste the apples." If they were tart, less lemon juice. If they were sweet, less sugar. If they were fragrant, less cinnamon. And so on. It was a balance that you could only figure out if you knew what you were working with.
And it was the same for the potato salad. "You have to taste the onion to know how to season it." And it's been my habit to do so ever since. Today I was finally recovered enough to make some, and thank heavens I tasted the onion before mixing everything. It was RANK. The taste was putrid and gross. No idea what happened, but it bummed me out because I had just bought it on Friday. Thankfully I had the whites of a green onion to use instead, so everything turned out fantastic...
Dang I make good potato salad.
I keep experimenting every time I cook up a batch and I am discovering new spice combinations to make it a different kind of tasty. This time I used some baharat seasoning, which added an entirely new dimension to such a simple food. Last time I used adobo, and that was amazing too. Before that I think I used a Ukrainian blend that was mind-blowing. I think the reason I eat so much potato salad is because it's never the same flavor twice for me. If it weren't so loaded with carbs, I swear I could eat it every day.
Today is Good Friday.
Which has puzzled me since I was a young Catholic because you'd think that crucifying Jesus would be a bad thing. But apparently it used to be "Holy Friday" and words change over time. All things "holy" were equated to being "good" and so forth.
Though I'm guessing all the people slaughtered during the "Holy Crusades" would beg to differ?
I am a long, long ways from the Catholic I was raised, so I'm probably not the right person to ask. Though it's my guess that the people who got slaughtered during the Roman Catholic crusades were likely not happy about it. Though I could be wrong. Maybe the level of big dick energy it took for a pope to send out an army whose sole purpose was to slaughter heratics was so impressive that they were happy to die underfoot of it. Stranger things have happened.
Like the day that Jesus was crucified being referred to as "Good Friday," regardless of how it came about.
Posted on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021
Jake stares out into the catio from on top of the cat tree across the room. Every once in a while he will spot something going on outside and bolt for the catio door at top speed. When you need to worry is when he bolts from the tree up to the catio door then goes into stealth mode. Most times it's birds outside the catio or a moth on the window or something else he wants to murder. No big deal.
But when I look out the window and see that there's a bird who flew inside the catio? Yikes. I open the window and shout "DO YOU HAVE A DEATH-WISH?!?" which causes the bird to fly off.
No idea how he was able to flap his way through the tiny opening in the fence. Good timing, I guess!
This made Jake very salty indeed...
And I'm like "Hey, be mad all you want... but I'm not having you drag a half-dead bird into the house. Or, worse yet, a live bird that I have to trap and release!"
But then he took things up a notch.
Completely ignores me for messing up his fun. And when I do see him? Let's just say that he's holding a grudge juuuuuust fine...
Now I'm starting to wonder if having him murder a bird is better than him murdering me?
Jenny gets salty, but doesn't seem to hold a grudge for any length of time. Whish is a good thing, because she gets upset with me all the time. Mostly when I "pet her wrong." This gets her very cross indeed, and I never know exactly what I've done wrong. I'm guessing that she doesn't even know. She just knows what she doesn't like. To combat this, I've started moving a knuckle up and down so she can manouver where she wants to be scratched and all is good in the world...
Jake on the other hand? He just flops down and says "Do me." He's happy to get scratched anywhere...
Sometimes he is less receptive to belly rubs than others, so I usually avoid unless he specifically asks for scritches on the belly.
And now we go back to Jake wanting to murder me, already in progress...
Posted on Sunday, April 4th, 2021
You may be tempted to go hunting for eggs, but hold onto that basket a minute... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bunny! Easter was kinda a big deal for my mom. She was 100% all-in on the Easter baskets, decorations, hiding eggs, candy, Easter Bunny, and the whole bit. Because of it, I have a lot of fond Easter memories...
Meanwhile I celebrated the holiday by giving myself a terrible haircut, cleaning a little bit of my horrifically filthy house, and washing my sheets. Now I am eating Chili Cheese Fritos and drinking a Coke Zero (I think Chili-Cheese is my favorite Frito because they contain more MSG than any other snack chip). Jake and Jenny are celebrating by taking a nap. And now I think I'll call it a day. It's 10am, and I'm done. Happy Easter!
• To The Louvre! I did not know that The Louvre had put so much of their collection online. This is amazing. I wish all museums would do this...
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
You can even download low-res images to make your own personal collection! Nice! Even more interesting... they are offering virtual tours since the museum itself is closed because of the pandemic. I really hope they keep this all going when we get back to "normal." Some people will never get to visit The Louvre any other way, and it's not like it will take the place of an actual visit for those who can visit in person. But anyway... you can find it all on their website.
• RICK! Oh thank heavens...
Seriously some of the smartest stuff on television. Cannot wait.
• The Poverty! I think I laughed for five solid minutes after watching this...
Soooo... guess it's a good thing that I got the Pfiezer vaccine! I now have luxury running through my veins!
• Unreal! And speaking of vaccines... I am so fucking sick and tired of stupid...
Nobody gives a shit about reality any more. They just create whatever idiotic bullshit they want to fit their narrative. And people are happy to keep listening to them even when their crap is completely debunked.
• Engineering! If you've ever had one of those paper-box beverage containers, the way they open is rather cool. As you open the lid, it cuts the seal on the container inside. I've always wondered about how it works, but never bothered to cut one open to find out. Now I don't have to...
Pretty nifty stuff!
• Paper! The U.S. measurement standards are SO stupid. Bypassing the metric system is about as idiotic as it gets. This very, very cool video explains just one of the reasons why...
One of these days I'm going to rewatch all of CGP Grey's videos from start to finish. That would be a day well-spent.
And that's all she wrote.
Posted on Monday, April 5th, 2021
Apparently it was New Trailer Day today!
This is both good news (yay! shows I like are coming back!) and bad news (holy crap! I have a list a mile long to watch already!). But I will always make room in my packed viewing schedule for new Marvel Studios!
First there was the trailer for Loki, which looks like a radical departure for the MCU... and that's a very good thing...
Fun! It just amazes me that Marvel Studios is intent on branching out in as many directions as possible to keep things interesting. Really looking forward to that.
They also released a new trailer for Black Widow a couple days ago...
Awesomeness ensues. I will, of course, be paying the $30 to watch it at home the minute it's available on July 9th. Then buying it on digital when it's released there. Because I'd much rather do that than go to a theater. Especially now. But ever again, really.
And then there's the teaser for the second season of Picard...
So it would seem that Q is back. Which could make for an interesting story given that Guinan is also due to return! The first season was fairly good television, even though it had too many moments that dragged and seemed like more of a distraction than something designed to move the plot forward.
We're also getting another season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, which was a really nice surprise last season...
More of the same clever, cool comedy, it would seem.
And, lastly, somehow Discovery is getting a fourth season. I loved the first, was bored by the second, and put into a coma by some crap episodes in the third... so I guess we'll see what the next season brings (besides new costumes)...
It certainly looks action-packed... but that's what I was lead to believe for last season.
No new trailers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Prodigy, alas. But anyway... something to look forward to as we continue to make our way through the muck that 2020 gave us.
Posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
Well that was a day.
The plan was to work just a half-day since I worked on Good Friday, which was supposed to be a holiday. That way I could tear apart my living room to deep clean all the stuff that's been neglected during the pandemic. Now that I've been half-vaccinated I'm starting to think about the day that people will be able to visit me again, and that's inspired me to clean house. Finally. Which is very Mary Sunshine of me given that COVID infection rates are on the rise again. The vaccine rollout has lured everybody into a false sense of security, so people are doing some crazy-ass shit. Even those who haven't been vaccinated. Especially those who haven't been vaccinated (and are proud to announce it).
Yesterday the Texas Rangers hosted a baseball game with 38,238 in attendance. A lot of them unmasked, of course. Doesn't seem especially smart given that the UK variant is now the dominant strain in the USA. It spreads more easily and has a higher mortality rate than "original COVID." Even worse, now there's "Post COVID Syndrome" where healthy people who recover from COVID end up with serious long-term effects. And the statistics are staggering. 30% of people who had COVID continued to have symptoms up to 9 months later. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. We don't have enough data to know what can happen after that 9 month period. Doctors worry about everything from immune system deficiency to long-term permanent brain damage.
As if COVID killing young healthy people wasn't bad enough?
But anyway... I ended up working a full day (and then some) after which I was too exhausted to clean. Instead I made tacos for Taco Tuesday then plopped on the couch and watched movies for the rest of the night... The Birdcage (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), Kingsman (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (51% on Rotten Tomatoes). AKA "Those movies I love and never get tired of watching even though I've seen them a million times." It's the last one that has always puzzled me when it comes to the reviews...
Despite not being the biggest Ben Stiller fan, I love this movie. Really love it. And for oh-so-many reasons right now, I find myself relating to it more than ever. Yet it got mediocre to negative reviews and I honestly don't get it. I found it to be refreshing escapist fun that shows what happens when you start living the life you've always dreamed about. Stiller is incredible in it, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that he directed the film as well. And just look at the supprting cast! Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, and Sean Penn... does it get much better than that?
Oh well. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. It's just a shame that the critical consensus likely kept people from seeing it. But I guess I've watched it enough times for ten people, so there's that.
Say... does anybody remember The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty?
What a great series! I think along with Top Cat this was one of my all-time favorite cartoons as a kid. They don't make 'em like that any more!
And since it's close to midnight now, I guess I'll clean house tomorrow. Maybe.
Posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
The new teaser trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife debuted today! And it's got a cameo from Baskin Robbins for Paul Rudd!
This is a movie I've very much been looking forward to. The 2016 reboot, while not terrible, was far from a great movie despite a hilarious performance by Chris Hemsworth. Which is why I have high hopes for this sequel to the original films.
Yeah. That probably ain't going to work out too well.
Apparently the movie is only in theaters on November 11. Whether the pandemic will have subsided enough that people will actually be going to theaters then is anybody's guess. I may be waiting for home video.
Isn't it weird thinking of possible post-COVID times?
Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2021
There's a meme going around TikTok asking people to show a scar they have and then tell the story behind it. What's surprising is how many people have scars. I would have thought that this would be a rare event, but everybody seems to have a story.
I have a small scar on my ankle from when I was riding my bike barefoot. But the more interesting scar is on my left thumb...
When I was young I got frostbite in my fingers and never totally recovered. I don't even remember how it happened. Probably just playing outside or something. It got a little better as I grew up, but kinda "stuck" in my twenties. I have a good sense of touch, but my pain receptors are messed up. As an example, I feel heat enough to know when something is "hot" but not enough to know when it's boiling my fingers off.
This can be a problem.
Like when I'm using a hacksaw to cut through a pipe.
Sometime in my teens I was sawing with my right hand and holding the pipe in my left hand. As I got to the end I noticed red on the hacksaw blade. Turns out what I thought was vibrations on my thumb from sawing was actually me slicing through my thumb.
It didn't hurt, but it was an awful mess.
I ran to the bathroom and slowly poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on it to clean things out... then taped it together with Band-Aids and wrapped it. It continued to bleed for days and I probably should have gotten stitches, but it all turned out okay in the end.
And I got a cool scar to remind me that I have to be extra careful with my hands in life or else I'll end up with missing digits.
I also got a story for my blog on a slow news day.
Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2021
Last night I stayed up until midnight to watch the latest episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier but ended up going to bed instead. The middle part of a story is usually the lull in the storm before the build-up to the finale, and I figured I'd be better off catching up on my sleep.
This morning I woke up early to watch it and was not shocked by anything in the episode. I was happy with the way that it filled in the blanks as to the philosophical differences between Sam Wilson and John Walker. And I want to reiterate again that Wyatt Russell is absolutely killing it as the "new" Captain America. People have been unloading a lot of hate towards the actor and I just don't get it. As I've said all along, the character of John Walker has a specific purpose in the story. And watching Russell build out that purpose is thrilling to watch. He knows exactly where New Cap needs to go and is taking him there perfectly...
I sure hope that fanboys start to understand this so they stop sending death threats(!) to Wyatt Russell. I mean... holy shit. The guy is a very good actor just doing his damn job.
It's been interesting to see Marvel Studios actually treating the show like they billed the show: as a six-hour movie. Now instead of 30 minutes of build-up and world-building followed by 30 minutes of development followed by a 30 minute race to the finale, we get more time to better flesh-out the story and characters while still having all the action beats of a big-budget film. All the subtleties that make The Falcon and The Winter Soldier such a good television show are the first things that would be cut when making it into a theatrical motion picture.
tl;dr... I like what's happing with this series because it's different. It's not just "made for television movies of the same old things.
But enough about super-hero television.
Back in The Real World, Prince Phillip has died at 99 and DMX has died at 50.
Prince Phillip, husband to the longest ruling monarch to ever exist, was a dutiful public servant who was also highly problematic. His history of saying abusive, misogynistic, racist, and bigoted crap is legendary. But of course the tabloids are already blaming Meghan Markle. Never mind that he was 99 years old and in declining health, it was an interview with Oprah that did him in. I swear... people will find a way to blame Black women for anything, no matter how absurd, because that's the default of a society built on systemic racism and misogyny.
DMX, a celebrated rapper and actor, was a hugely successful and talented musician that was also highly problematic. Some of his music was shockingly homophobic... often violently so. And then there were his lyrics promoting misogyny and rape which were roundly (and rightly) condemned. And yet... some of his tracks were brilliantly honest and raw, changing the course of music history in their wake. I practically wore out my CD for his debut album It's Dark and Hell is Hot when it was unleashed upon the world in 1998. It was a great album to listen to when you were mad at the world and wanted to vicariously unleash through DMX's rage. And I was a mad at the world quite a lot back in those heady pre-politically-correct days. In more recent times, I've been reading story after story of what an incredible human being he was. Stories of kindness towards total strangers. Stories of him just being a decent person to all he met. It's as if the PERSON he strived to be was the best of humanity... while the PERSONA he portrayed in some of his music was the worst of humanity. It makes him difficult to figure out, but also makes me happy to know that he was a genuinely decent guy beneath it all.
And now I'm headed for a nap in the hopes that the raging headache I've been battling all day will give me a break. It's tough to blog when it feels as though your eyeballs are being pushed out of your skull.
Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2021
I have been feeling "off" all day. Sick to my stomach... assorted aches and pains... headache... unable to get comfortable... it all added up to a day of sitting/laying on the couch trying to distract myself with television.
When I finally just called it a day and went to bed, my stomache decided to go into revolt. After a half hour of lying in bed trying to decide whether I should ride it out or go puke out whatever is going on, Jake arrives.
"Jake, I'm not feeling very well... maybe you should sleep somewhere else tonight?"
I then put my feet together so he couldn't sleep between them like he usually does.
The little scrubber forced his way between my shins, then kept twisting and pushing so he'd have his favorite sleeping spot. Eventually I relented because he was not giving up...
After this, my decision was made for me. I will be riding out my nausea until I fell asleep.
But first I have to write this blog post. Because it's Caturday, after all.
Posted on Sunday, April 11th, 2021
Alien hordes about to overwhelm your position? You situation seems hopeless? Not on my watch! So stop your grinnin' and drop your linen... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Matterhorn! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!??
Dude. I'm just... wow. Would I love to experience something beyond amazing like this? Certainly. Would I be crapping my pants, hugging the mountain, and crying for my mommy? Lord, yes.
• Adopted? I have watched this entirely too many times and laugh my fool head off each time...
I swear, I'd rather watch TikToks than television now-a-days. All the most clener and original content is happening there.
• Volcano! I saw these videos of a drone flying over lava and into a crater that's erupting in Iceland but keep forgetting to share them...
Now this is what drones were made for!
• GOAT! GAAAAH! THE CUTENESS!!!
My ambition in life is to have an experience so good that, if I had a tail, it would be wagging like that. A good start is watching all the Goat Daddy's TikToks.
• Avatarland. I used to visit Orlando twice a year for the charity I worked with. It was always a fun time because I have friends in the area and often times my mom would want to go with me because she absolutely loved Walt Disney World. Because of this, it was tough for me when my work in Orlando ended... mostly because they are adding cool new stuff all the time and haven't seen any of it. Star Wars Galaxy's Edge? Nope. Pandora: The World of Avatar? Nope. I'll undoubtedly make it back one of these days but, in the meanwhile, there's YouTuber Jenny Nicholson. She's goes deep, deep into "Pandora" so you can visit without actually visiting...
Interesting stuff. Now I want to return more than ever.
• Oh Shit! As much as I love the idea of living in Australia, there are reasons that will never happen. Like this...
Yeah. Nooooooo thank you.
• Classmates. And let's end this on a feel-good story you need on a Sunday...
And here's the original story...
Best of luck to him.
Alrighty then. Guess it's time to clean my mess of a kitchen so I can start off my week without stressing over the disaster I've got going on there.
Posted on Monday, April 12th, 2021
Well... this has been... a day. I guess. Stupid Monday.
If I had a better weekend, I would probably have been in better shape to deal with it all but, alas, here we are.
It's kinda sad that I haven't developed better adversity coping skills after all these years, but I guess it's just not where my skillset landed. Which reminded me of this TikTok, which is an excellent metaphor to be had...
##stitch with @mattshaw882♬ original sound - Z
The original video is equally dead-on hilarious...
I mean... holy crap!
This past Saturday as I was trying to distract myself from feeling sick all day, I watched a bunch of television, starting with the Doctor Strange movie. This took me through a Benedict Cumberbatch run that included some episodes of Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness...
When this movie first debuted I was... disappointed?... I guess is the word I'm searching for?
On one hand, the visuals and special effects were jaw-droppingly beautiful and the action intense. The cast, as with the first movie, was flawless. But the film was also a needless remake of the best Star Trek flick of all time: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was like... why?!? There were hundreds of new directions the franchise could head, but they decided to put a new spin on already-great material just because they could. And then there was the worst-kept secret of 2013... Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan Noonien Singh, originally played brilliantly by Ricardo Montalbán.
But on a fresh viewing where I know what to expect and can separate the remake from the original, I was able to appreciate it better. Mostly because it's just so dang stunning to look at. Plus it had a cameo by Leonard Nimoy. Still hate the disaster porn ending... Lord is that a tired trope... but, overall, not the huge disappointment I remembered.
I wonder how many other films would change my mind if watched anew?
And now we return to my butt-puckering day, currently in progress.
Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021
Oh no, I'm sick!
Some kind of stomach bug got me on Sunday and I have been struggling ever since. Yesterday was horrific, I'm not going to lie. I have never in my entire life vomited THAT badly. And I used to drink tequila! It felt like I was being turned inside-out.
I took it easy the rest of the day and was feeling much better this morning. Not wanting to push myself too hard since I wasn't feeling 100%, I had a small handful of dry Honey-Nut Cheerios before heading to work.
I lasted about 15 minutes.
Barely made it home in time to unleash instant breakfast in my toilet bowl. Then went directly to bed to sleep off whatever this is. Which is not easy because I could not get comfortable. Everything hurt. Especially my neck, which meant I couldn't lie down or sit up. Eventually I took sleeping pills and passed out.
And here I am. Half-laying, half-sitting-up, and all miserable. But at least I have TikTok, amiright? I swear... THIS is my new television. The creativity and brilliance in these tiny video snippets are just incredibly good. This one nabbed me immediately, and I spent way too much time going through all the rest of Josh's TikToks...
Fingers crossed I can eat my Cheerios in the morning... because it's the little things, you know?
Posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021
Today I managed to keep down a half a plain bagel for lunch and a small bag of Rold Gold Tiny Twists pretzels for dinner. My salvation, however, has been ginger ale. I haven't even been able to keep down water since Sunday, but ginger ale will stay down if I don't do anything too stressful... like get up and walk while drinking it. Without ginger ale, I'd likely become dehydrated and die or something.
In related news... half-bagels aside, I'm wasting away.
I’ve always said I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight, and it's really happening, people! I was 185 lbs. just last week... now I’m at 177. If things keep going like this I’ll be at 165 in no time!
I'm going to have to start wearing a belt because my jeans are so loose that they are falling off of me...
Interesting to note that in September of 2019 I was at 170. Thanks to quarantine I got up to 193, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been. 23 pounds from where I’m usually at! It has taken a LOT of effort to get the weight back down, which tends to happen as you get older, it would seem. I suppose it’s just more incentive to take it off and keep it off while I still can?
Seven pounds to go, I guess. Twelve if I'm ambitious.
Which, let's face it, I'm probably not.
We're still in quarantine, after all. My ambition has left the building.
Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2021
This morning I finally managed to keep my Honey-Nut Cheerios down. A little nausea after, but nothing terrible. I managed to hang in at the office for three hours, so that was new. By the time I got home I was exhausted but my appetite had come back. Starting small, I had a slice of dry toast. Then a couple shortbread cookies for lunch. No nausea. I'M CURED!
So what's going to be mysterious first real meal since Saturday? What I really, really wanted was a good salad. An awesome salad.
Yes, I was shocked too. I was sure it would be pizza.
Butter Lettuce. White Cheddar Shreds. Italian Croutons. Slivered Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Freshly-Ground Black Pepper. And a good pour of Olive Garden Parmesan Ranch Dressing...
Maybe it was having gone (mostly) without food for 4-1/2 days, but it was a phenomenal dinner. As was the Crystal Light Concord Grape Drink I had with it.
Somehow my amazing meal got my mind running through my favorite green salads, which I will list here before signing off because I have nothing better to do...
Italian. The salad itself at Olive Garden is nothing groundbreaking... iceberg lettuce, Roma tomatoes, purple onion, olives, Italian croutons, pepperoncini peppers, parmesan cheese, and fresh-ground black pepper. No, it's the Olive Garden House Italian Dressing that makes it so fantastic. Thankfully, it's available in stores, which means I can easily make my favorite Italian salad at home any time I want.
Chopped. The Hard Rock Cafe got me hooked on putting dried cranberries on my salads. Over the years I've stolen ideas from many other restaurants to create the perfect chopped salad. Butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, thawed frozen peas, dried cranberries, thinly-sliced green onion, pumpkin seeds, medium cheddar shreds, croutons, hard-boiled egg, and freshly-ground black pepper. The topper is either a very good ranch dressing (Olive Garden's Parmesan Ranch is incredible) or a creamy French, depending on my mood.
Vegetarian Cobb. This is a close cousin to my chopped salad... but using chopped romaine lettuce, faux bacon pieces, avocado dices, hard-boiled egg, chopped hot-house tomatoes, either blue cheese or feta, and thawed frozen corn (in place of the chicken that's on a classic Cobb salad). I usually go for a nice honey-mustard dressing on this one.
Greek. Yeah, it's the feta that makes this a favorite. Chopped Roma tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced avocado, red onion, chickpeas or cous cous, chopped red bell pepper, black olives, feta cheese, pita chips, and freshly-ground black pepper. Sometimes I'll toss in iceberg lettuce to make it more of a meal. The dressing is a toss-up depending on my mood. Sometimes I like a creamy Greek yogurt dressing... other times a classic red wine vinaigrette.
Taco. Always a treat... especially on a hot summer's day with a cold Pacifico beer. Iceberg lettuce, black beans, diced tomato, diced avocado, thawed frozen corn, Beyond Meat Fiesty Crumbles (or cooked quinoa), Mexican cheese blend, diced green onion, and taco chips. Top with a blend of three parts Thousand Islands dressing to one part sour cream and a spinkling of chopped cilantro.
Pear. It's really tough to beat a pear salad during that short window where Bartlett pears are fresh off the tree. Summer salad greens, dried cherries, candied walnuts, and parmesan. Top it off with a good balsamic and you're golden.
Summer Berry. This is almost more of a dessert than a salad, which is okay by me! Summer salad greens, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, toasted walnuts or almonds, thinly-sliced/baked beets, diced shallot, crumbled feta, and sunflower seeds. Best topped with a sweet honey and berry vinaigrette.
Apple. An awesome salad for Fall harvest days. Mixed greens, dried cranberries, candied slivered almonds, mild gorgonzola cheese, diced mild onion, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Top with an apple cider vinaigrette.
Watermelon. Not really green-salad apropriate, I'm still tossing this in here because it's such an amazing salad. Sweet ripe watermelon, scored baby cucumber slices, diced fresh basil, crumbled feta, and a few grinds of black pepper. For a dash of added flavor, I usually drizzle with a mix of light oil, rice wine, and lime zest.
Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2021
Yesterday I had a great salad. It was my first "real" food since Saturday. I managed to keep it down, which gave me the courage to have a slice of pizza toast for dinner before going to bed. After my digestive system got going again, all I wanted to do was eat. The pizza toast was a monumentally huge mistake. I was miserable all night, couldn't sleep at all, and finally gave up fighting it.
I wish I hadn't waited so long, because I felt so much better after I finally gave up on keeping it down.
Alas, that was at 2:30am.
What's funny is that through all my misery and tossing and turning and agonizing... Jake never once left my feet. At one point I was a complete mess while Jake was flopped across one leg while digging his claws into my other leg...
Astounding that one cat can take up so much space. I swear he started out curled up on one small corner of my bed. I honestly think that this was his attempt at making me stop moving. He's trying to hold me down or something.
Today I was back at square one. I went back to dry toast and ginger ale and worked my way up to a cheese sandwich for dinner. And that's the end of it. No late night dinner no matter how hungry I get.
I was surprised to learn that some states OTHER than Washington State book your second COVID vaccination appointment at the same time you get your first dose. Since the time between doses is set and known, it's weird that all states aren't doing it this way. My vaccination card had a reminder of when I was supposed to schedule my appointment, but every time I went to the website it told me that no appointments were available for my date. I was getting more and more anxious every day because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get an appointment for my date.
Then today this message arrived via text and email...
And I'm like why? WHY DIDN'T THEY TELL ME that I would be getting a reservation request so I could make my second appointment and not have to be worried about it? Why couldn't they have told me this and make a stressful situation be not stressful at all? The very least they could do was PUT THIS ON THE WEBSITE!
So now I have my appointment and can dial down the anxiety so I'm not freaking out over the idea of missing my second dose.
Perhaps I'll even be able to get some sleep tonight?
Except... dang wouldn't pizza toast taste great right about now?
Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2021
It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it is to dump a bunch of money on your pets.
I've done more than my share. Mostly in the form of toys that Jake and Jenny get tired of quickly... which means it's time to go buy more toys. Fortunately, Jake only really cares about one toy... his stuffed lion Mufasa... but he does like new stuff too, as it keeps his life interesting.
One of the most expensive investments happened before my cats even arrived. I knew I would be getting at least one of them to keep my mom company, and worried that the wall-to-wall hardwood floors would be uncomfortable for a cat to walk on all the time. So I bought a bunch of rugs to put throughout the house. I also bought carpeted stair treads to make it more comfortable for them to go up and down the staircase.
It was money wasted.
I found out very quickly that Jake and Jenny will avoid walking on carpet. They will avoid laying on carpet. They want nothing to do with carpet. I mean, look at this...
Well, fine by me. I didn't want the carpet anyway. Especially that ugly shag monstrosity I bought for my living room. Within six months all the pricey carpets I had purchased were tossed. Except for the carpeted stair treads. I left them because even though both cats avoid wallking on it... they do run on it. When they are chasing each other at top speed, they grip that carpet tread with their claws and shred the things. So... better the carpet than my hardwood, I suppose.
You would think that I had learned my lesson by now on buying stuff my cats will ignore.
I just bought a cew chirpy ball to delight them and annoy me. For a few days anyway. They'll be ignoring it within a week.
Posted on Sunday, April 18th, 2021
I have yet to see any April showers, but you've still got excitement ahead of you this Spring... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Burrito Battle! Black beans, white rice, guacamole, sour cream, corn salsa, and extra cheese... all wrapped in a double-tortilla. Plus a side of chips with queso or guac. That's it. That's what I like in my burrito. But when it comes to where I'd rather get it, I'm torn between Qdoba and Chipotle. At least I am when I travel. When I'm home, the only option is Chipotle, and it's 20 minutes away.
When a Qdoba burrito is made well, it's my favorite. I just like their beans better and their cilantro-lime rice is sublimely tasty. But Qdoba is wildly inconsistent. Sometimes the beans are undercooked or overcooked. Twice the rice has been so salty that I couldn't even eat it. Sometimes the burrito is badly-wrapped and falls apart. Chipotle, on the other hand, is always the same. I've bought burritos in Chipotle restaurants across the country and they taste alike no matter where I'm at. I appreciate the consistency. I enjoy their burritos. So, when I have a choice, I'm always thinking "Do I risk a bad experience for a potentially better burrito, or do I go with something I know is going to be good every time?" I still don't have an answer. I just go for what I feel when a burrito is in my future. Then wonder what other people think. What do you think?
• Renewal! Just a quick note to say Magnum P.I. has been renewed for a fourth season. This is a show that I resisted... then fell in love with... and find myself rewatching quite a lot. So much so that I end up buying every season on iTunes...
They very rarely have a misstep, and 95% of the episodes are great. Which usually means a show will be canceled immediately, so good on CBS for keeping it going!
• Daddy! Good grief. I was interested in buying a "Scrub Daddy" because they are so highly recommended for scrubbing while not scratching. But when I look into it... Scrub Daddy... Sponge Daddy... Scrub Mommy... Scrub Doggy... Scrub Daddy Power Flower... Scrub Mommy Kitty... Eraser Daddy... Screen Daddy... Scour Daddy... Scrub Daddy Scrub Daisy... Scrub Daddy Big Daddy... WHAT THE FUCK DADDY DO I NEED?!? DOES ANYBODY HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH A DADDY?!?
I guess I just start with the original and see where that takes me.
• Justice! THE take on Caron Nazario that every last fucking person in this country had better wrap their head around...
My thoughts♬ original sound - Chris Wells
Yeah. It bothers the fuck out of me.
• Love! ZOMG! If a woman gave me a wheel of cheese I would marry her and love her forever!
I sincerely hope they aren't making fun of this guy, because that's TRUE LOVE right there! I shudder to think how much that much cheese costs. Hundreds of dollars, easy.
• Machine! Tortises aren't just adorable... they're eating machines! I got sucked into a tortise rabbit hole because I just couldn't stop myself, and I think watching them eat is my favorite part...
Luring With Food Always Works! 😅🥬🐢☀️♬ Blue Blood - Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists
There are entirely too many fantastic videos over at The Tortoise Whisperer's TikTok... including BABY TORTOISES!
• Melt! I care about the welfare of animals over the vast majority of people. So I don't think I would be able to resist this...
I mean... just look at that little face. How could anybody resist?
And that's a tortilla wrap for bullets this fine Sunday.
Posted on Monday, April 19th, 2021
If you know even a little bit about me, you'll know that my musical tastes are a bit... um... eclectic. I love pop. I love electronica. I love dance. I love classic rap and hip-hop. I love hard-core rap. I love metal. I love punk. I love grunge. I love dream-pop. The only music I loathe is opera. The only music I avoid (but have listening to more and more lately) is country.
But there is one genre that I love more than any other: 80's Pop.
And it's not just a small segment either... I love everything from the 80's. And, in particular, 80's Euro-Pop. Thompson Twins, New Order, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths... I could listen to it all day every day and never tire of it.
Which is why I was absolutely thrilled at the latest episode of The Simpsons (titled Panic on the Streets of Springfield) because they parodied that genre flawlessly... coming up with a character that typified some of the more angsty artists like Robert Smith and Morrisey. But especially Morrisey. You can see him all over the episode, and the incredible parody song Everyone is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You) which I adored...
I rewound my DVR and played it again and again and again. I loved it.
But boy did somebody running Morrisey's official Facebook account not enjoy it...
Surprising what a “turn for the worst" the writing for The Simpson’s tv show has taken in recent years.
Sadly, The Simpson’s show started out creating great insight into the modern cultural experience, but has since degenerated to trying to capitalize on cheap controversy and expounding on vicious rumors.
Poking fun at subjects is one thing. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire.
But when a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here.
Even worse - calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist.
They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves.
Simpson’s actor Hank Azaria's recent apology to the whole country of India for his role in upholding "structural racism” says it all.
Unlike the character in the Simpson’s “Panic” episode...
Morrissey has never made a “cash grab”, hasn’t sued any people for their attacks, has never stopped performing great shows, and is still a serious vegan and strong supporter for animal rights.
By suggesting all of the above in this episode…the Simpson’s hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all.
Truly they are the only ones who have stopped creating, and have instead turned unapologetically hurtful and racist.
Not surprising... that The Simpsons viewership ratings have gone down so badly over recent years. — Peter Katsis
This is just stupid. When you're in the public eye and phenomenally famous, you're going to get parodied in places like Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. It's just part of the game. And while, yes, it can be painful to see... the simple fact is that it's incredibly flattering that you're somebody famous enough to be parodied in the first place. People understand that this is a frickin' cartoon PARODY, and the fact that his handlers feel that the real-life Morrissey is so different pretty much proves that.
The character of Quilloughby (from "The Snuffs, as played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch) is not Morrisey. If The Simpsons wanted to have ACTUAL Morrisey on an episode, they would have called up Morrisey and asked him to be a guest on the show. They do that all the time. But that's not what the episode called for, so they came up with the stand-in they needed to tell the story they wanted to tell and get the laughs they were trying to get.
And the episode is hilarious to anybody like me who loves the genre. I mean, come on, my parents once got contacted because a teacher noticed that I was listening to Morrissey and The Smiths. The music was considered by some to be "psychologically dark and damaging" and parents were concerned that kids who listen to it would commit suicide. For me it was the complete opposite. On the contrary, knowing that there was music which so adeptly captured what I was feeling made me feel less alone in the world.
So... holy shit... RELAX about it! Morrisey has done some crazy shit over the years (he canceled two of the shows I was supposed to see... then cut his show short when I had to FLY ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SEE HIM because he didn't like the energy of the crowd!). Plenty of crazy shit. So it's not like there was no material for The Simpsons to draw from. With Morrissey, it's a frickin' gold mine.
My love for all things Morrissey has dwindled over the years because he can be such an asshole. But watching Panic on the Streets of Springfield actually made me like him again. But even more surprising? The Simpsons is better than it's been in years this season.
And it goes without saying that I had The Smiths and Morrissey playing all night and all morning after the episode. Dang they had some amazing, amazing music.
Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021
And here's an Apple Event on this fine Spring day.
Billed as "Spring Loaded," Apple was their usual cryptic self with what was being discussed and announced. The only thing that everybody was betting on was the long-delayed "AirTags" tracking devices. A new iPad Pro was also anticipated. Both of them arrived. And then some. As always, I'm posting the thoughts that went through my head as I watched.
And here we go...
Apple Card I ain't gonna lie. I love the way the Apple Card credit card works. It (along with ApplePay) is how these things should work. The app they built around it is genius. It has features that makes controlling your charges a piece of cake. It works hard to show you the consequences of your payments on interest charges so you can better control your finances...
Everything about it is classy. EXCEPT the meager cash-back perk and the fact that it's issued by controversy-embroiled Goldman Sachs. Apple kicked off the event by talking about changes they're making so that cards are more fair. They were hit hard by accusations of unfair, sexist practices, so now they are allowing married persons and domestic partners to use a combined credit history when determining rates and limits. It's about time, and I hope this is just the start in addressing credit inequity in this country, because right now your entire financial future is being determined by something completely out of your control.
Podcasts I don't listen to a lot of Podcasts, but the app for doing so are pretty shitty. Apple is updating things to run better and help people discover content. It's about time.
iPhone 12 Now available in purple! And it is beautiful...
This is the iPhone Prince would have! And released the day before the fifth anniversary of his death.Find My & Air Tags I am embarrassed at how often I have to use location tracking to find my phone, keys, and wallet. Currently I am using Tile, but it's less than an ideal solution even though it works just fine. Now Apple has finally released their long-rumored "Air Tags" which takes location tracking to the next level. It's far, far superior to just playing a sound, which can be vague... it actually guides you to the location...
The only thing not great is the price. $30.00! Or a 4-Pack for $99. Yikes. And while there are cheaper $13 accessories for putting AirTags on keyrings and such, get a load of the Hermès accessories!
BWAH HA HA HA HAAAA! But, hey... if you've got more money than you know what to do with, Apple has definitely got you covered.
TED LASSO! The best television show I have ever seen is coming back for a second season in July!
Now that's something to look forward to!
Apple TV AppleTV is shit. The OS is flakey. The apps are garbage. The remote is the fucking WORST. And yet... it's what I use as my primary streaming device because it's the most convenient. Now Apple is finally addressing some of the offenses with their new AppleTV 4K. Starting with color fidelity, which can be adjusted within AppleTV instead of trying to get your television calibrated. Sweet...
And then there's improvements to the SHITTY FUCKING REMOTE...
It looks better, looks easier to handle, and I like the touch wheel buttons replacing the heinous fucking "touchpad" in the old one. Now if only they'd do something about the shitty AppleTV app, which is absolute garbage. Just TRY to get to the movie you want when you have hundreds. No way to quickly navigate... you have to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll. Apple has always had a phenomenal GUI team, but now they are falling behind. Badly. The fact that they won't put a little effort into updating it from the ground up tells you all you need to know about Apple's dedication to AppleTV. But holy cats the price. $179 and $199?!? In an arena where you can get streaming devices for cheap, the fact that Apple is pushing TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS is sheer lunacy. AND THE REMOTE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A BUILT-IN AIRTAG, WHICH SEEMS LIKE A NO-BRAINER OF THE HIGHEST MAGNITUDE!
iMac M1 In colors! And they are GORGEOUS. Well, they're gorgeous FROM THE BACK. On the front they use a muted shade of the color. So if you love red and buy a red iMac, you're staring at PINK all day. Ugh. It's like Pepto Bismol mixed with milk. That being the case I guess I'd go with blue or yellow or something...
The design on these things is absolutely fantastic. Apple moving to their own custom silicone is the gift that keeps on giving, because it allows them to do amazing stuff. Just look at the profile improvement...
And it looks like Apple is FINALLY realizing that video-conferencing is a critical feature to have (especially now), and is taking a look at their less-than-stellar current camera system to do something better with 1080p and realtime image processing to present the best stream possible...
Apple has brought TouchID to a new color-matched keyboard, which is pretty cool. I love this feature on my MacBook Pro. Though I'd prefer the FaceID that my iPhone has...
And it starts at $1299 and $1499, which seems about right for all you get. It's nice that Apple is still investing in the Mac... heaven only knows that the iPhone and iPad profits make them the focus of the company, so anything moving the Mac forward is a good thing.
M1 iPad Pro Welp. This was the shock of the day for me... iPad Pro now runs on the M1 chip! The iPad has never been "just a bigger iPhone," but now any doubts can be pushed aside. It's a tablet with a desktop class processor...
The addition of a Thunderbolt port opens up mind-boggling array of new applications now that you can attach high-volume storage and large displays...
Apple has customarily put a crap front-facing camera in their products. The new iPad Pro fixes this by going 12MP with a wide-angle lens that allows really cool features, like "Center Stage" which pans the feed to keep you centered in the view even if you're moving around...
But here's the thing. I want a bigger iPad. 12.9-inches is not big enough for somebody who draws and paints on it. I need to see more of what I'm working on to be the most efficient at what I do. I have the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and it's fine. But until Apple goes at least 17-inches, I'm good, thanks.
And that was the end of that. I have to say... the iMac update and iPad Pro revision are pretty exciting stuff. I don't need either of them, but it's encouraging to see where Apple is headed. It's more clear now than ever before that iOS and MacOS platforms will be merging one day
Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2021
Originally my "Phase Group" was to be vaccinated in February. Then it was moved to March. Then it was moved to April. Then Washington State surprised me by opening my group on March 31st. I expected that I would have to wait weeks to get an appointment, but managed to get shot on the same day... having no trouble getting an appointment and breezing through the mass-vaccination site with only two-dozen-or-so other cars around.
On April 15th, Washington State opened up vaccination to anybody 16 and older. I was thrilled, but worried over whether or not I could get an appointment for my second shot. Except it was a non-issue, and today was the day of my vaccination part deux.
Thank God they made Washingtonians wait weeks and weeks to get the vaccine! The demand is incredible! Hundreds of cars waiting in line! A complete madhouse — Oh... no... wait a second... I totes misspoke. I WAS LITERALLY THE ONLY ONE THERE!!! No other people getting vaccinated. Just dozens of workers and somebody getting dropped off for work...
The massive maze they built to handle hundreds of cars was laid out like a queue at Disneyland, but completely unnecessary. At least it was when I was there. Not a single other person getting vaccinated. I worked my way through the maze for checkin... I worked my way through the maze for the vaccination line... then rolled right up to the vaccination tent without seeing a single other vehicle. After immediately getting shot, I went to the waiting area where there were six other cars, whose 15 minutes were up right away so they left. And then there was only me. Before I left another car pulled up next to me, but that was it.
I don't understand what's happening. Now that Washington State is open to everybody age 16 and over, I thought that we'd be doing better than this. Maybe it's busier on the coast because nobody in Redneckistan is getting vaccinated?
We're never going to get heard immunity at this rate. A target of 95% is needed, but right now the country is just a little above 50%? Unironically, the people who seem to complain about lockdowns the most are the same people who keep the pandemic going.
Oh well. We tried. Vaccination is open. Literally no waiting.
Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021
For the first dose of my Pfizer vaccine, I had a sore arm the next day that lasted around 7 to 8 hours.
This second time? I woke up feeling fine. My arm was a little sore, but not as much as last time. So instead of laying in bed playing video games all day as I had planned... I went into work. I lasted about 4 hours until I started feeling a little feverish and did a temperature check. Even though I felt fine. Even through it was obviously my immune system ramping up from the vaccine. Even though there was nothing else wrong with me... I ended up going home because my workplace has a zero-tolerance for any COVID symptoms (whether or not they are actually COVID-related). My temperature of 102º was enough to send me packing.
When I got home, I was feeling even hotter. A new temperature check had me at 104º
About a half-hour later my eyeballs started to ache... like they were being boiled out of my skull. A new temperature check had me at 105º. I decided to take a couple sleeping pills and go to bed so my immune system could do its thing while I slept.
When I woke up two hours later, my eyes felt fine and my temperature was down to 99º
And that was it.
By 10:00pm my temperature was normal, I felt perfectly fine, and as I sit here in bed typing this I can't even feel any pain in my arm. It's as if the second dose never happened.
Most people don't have any side-effects. But, for obvious reasons, the people who do have side-effects are the people who get publicized. I had a fever for two hours. Which I slept through. Big deal.
Except the actual side-effect of getting vaccinated... namely not having to die or be hospitalized if I happen to catch COVID... is the real story here.
At least it should be.
Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2021
Last night my web host updated PHP for my blog. Now nothing works. I'm sure it will all get figured out eventually... perhaps I'll just have to reinstall WordPress or something, but I really don't have the time to look into it right now. So I guess I'll keep writing entries and post them when I can figure out what's going wrong.
Wonder how many people will think I died because I got vaccinated? Too many, I'm guessing.
Where yesterday I had a little soreness in my arm, but was otherwise feeling great... today I have no soreness at all. It's as if the vaccinations never happened.
Except they did, which means my immune system will be up to speed to better deal with COVID in two weeks... which is May 5th, I guess. My plan is to go out and eat IN a restaurant. Something I haven't done in what... a year and a half now?
I will, of course, still wear a mask in public. Even though my immune system knows how to attack COVID, there are other people out there whose immune system is not, and I want to keep them safe. It's just a nice thing to do.
In a world where "doing the nice thing" is increasingly rare.
Posted on Saturday, April 24th, 2021
Every year around mid-April my Facebook Memories® start showing photos of when Jake and Jenny were finally starting to trust me. Jake was mostly okay with me in mid-March... but Jenny? No way. She would only start letting me pet her instead of running away in terror about mid-April five years ago.
It's kinda emotional seeing what caring and patience can do.
For the first month, I was worried that they may never let me near them. But then... gradually...
My cats factor into just about every major decision I make. How long I travel. Where I travel. If I'm going to move to a new city or not. What job I have. And even minor decisions I make. How I arrange the furniture. Whether I leave the window open. What time I wake up.
They're both such a massively huge part of my life.
And having photo memories like this one pop up on Facebook is why I don't mind at all. This is about the time I wanted then to be a massively huge part of my life.
Posted on Sunday, April 25th, 2021
Life sucks, but don't expect a reprieve from the suckage THIS Sunday... because a Very Special Technology All-Fail Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mojang! The only video game I want to play lately is Minecraft Dungeons. It's a fun dungeon-crawler that's accessible to play because the difficulty is selectable for each level. You can go harder than your character-power if you want a challenge... or easier if you just want something to do that won't stress you out. In lieu of a LEGO dungeon crawler, it's exactly what I need...
EXCEPT... I bought it for Nintendo Switch so I have the option of playing it on my television or taking it with me as a portable. The problem is that Mojang did a shitty job of the Switch conversion, so it's jerky and rough if things get even a little bit intense... especially on a television. This is absurd. FAR more complicated games, like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Diablo III, don't have this problem. Bad enough that Mojang did such a poor job... but to not allow players to decrease resolution and frame-rate settings so they can have a playable game is kinda unforgivable. With the new DLC packs I just bought, it's even more critical that Mojang get off their asses and improve the translation for Switch or, at the very least let us turn the specs down so it plays well.
• Mojang Deux! And while we're at it... why does Minecraft Dungeons crash so often? It happens most when I am playing the Daily Trial, which means all the parameters change when I have to restart and begin the level all over again. That SUCKS. Let me go back to the saved game so I can keep going! But instead it's see a Daily Trial game you like, start to play, crash, then you can't get the same game back. Also... why is the online network capabilities so abysmal? Most times when I resume a game, it wants to go back to the Main Menu so it can connect to the Microsoft Network (again), then gives me an error, then allows me on. It's almost to the point where I wish I could afford an Xbox so I'd have a platform that Mojang/Microsoft gives a shit about. Except I don't think that cross-platform saves are available (even though cross-platform playing is), so that may not even help.
• Apple Watch! Apple Watch is both genius and stupid at the same time. The main reason I bought it was to track my sleep and hopefully get better insight into how I sleep so I can get better rest. Apple Watch doesn't really do much of that, even though it's got all the sensors and crap to do all of that (it can't even keep track of multiple sleep sessions in a 24 hour period!). The Sleep app they give you is complete shit, which is why I bought the fantastic AutoSleep app for $4. It is phenomenal, and what Apple should have included. And, surprise! It will automatically log multiple sleep sessions and doesn't require you to manually set a sleep window. It's just class all the way through...
One thing I'm trying to do is experiment with going to bed earlier. Last night I decided to go to bed at 9:00pm, but Apple Watch kept me awake because the display is on. "Hey Siri, good night." — "Hey Siri, turn off the display." — "Hey Siri, how do I turn off the Apple Watch display?" — And of course none of that works because Siri is a fucking idiot. My blood pressure rising because I can't find a way to put the watch to sleep or tell it's I'm going to bed in the shitty Sleep app, I have to Google that shit on my iPhone and eventually find out that there's a "Theater Mode" that I can turn on. Jesus. For a company that prides itself on making technology easy to use... Apple sure fucked up this part. Might want to look into actually making Siri be useful.
• Ubiquiti! When my old WiFi router died, I wanted to buy a future-proof model with excellent WiFi 6 capability. I landed on the Amplifi Alien because Ubiquiti has such an amazing reputation. It was $380, but I figured it would be worth the insane investment if I could hang onto it for 5 or 6 years...
Turns out that NOPE, it really isn't worth the money. Mostly because the built-in firewall is total shit, and there's no way to do the most simple shit like blacklist IP addresses or block countries or anything. THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS AND YOU CAN'T BLACKLIST AN IP ADDRESS?? Jesus. What a fucking turd of a router. What's worse? You can't add a third-party device like a Firewalla because it's not compatible with the Alien and, of course, the Alien has no configuration options so you can make it compatible. Thinking of buying a new WiFi router? Avoid the Amplifi Alien at all costs. Overpriced trash with minimal configurability and a pathetic feature set.
• Samsung! I am still feeling very raw that my seriously expensive Samsung television died after just five years. And the fact that there are NO repair parts available and I have to go to the secondary market in order to find them... at a highly inflated price, of course... is typical of a manufacturer who counts on their products being disposible. They want them to fail so they can sell you a new one. Well, I may be having to buy a new television, but it sure as fuck ain't going to be from Samsung.
• PARAMOUNT+! When CBS became Paramount+, there was a special offer to go ad-free for the price of ad-enabled if you bought a year. I did it, because there's a lot of stuff on the streaming service I liked. Problem is? A lot of their older stuff WILL NOT STREAM. New shows? Yes. Old shows? Rarely. Sometimes it will work on a laptop, iPad, and iPhone if you have no ad-blocker, allow pop-ups, don't use a VPN, and turn off every conceivable protection to your network. But even then it's a crapshoot. But here's the thing... it NEVER works on my AppleTV. Old episodes of Ink Master or Drag Race or whatever? NOPE! And it's so fucking stupid. I don't have to turn off all my protection shit when I stream from Netflix, Discovery+, AppleTV+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Philo, or any other service I use all the time... only Paramount+. What a bunch of fucking assholes. And OF COURSE when you write to their customer support they have you jump through hoops that don't do shit. If ALL MY OTHER streaming services work, maybe it's YOU. If new shows from your network stream fine, but old shows don't, maybe it's YOU. I will not be resubscribing when my year runs out.
• QNAP! This past week QNAP, the makers of my NAS (Network Attached Storage) had some kind of vulnerability which allowed malware/ransomeware hackers to install a program on everybody's NAS drives which encrypted all their files. The only way to get your files back is to pay $500+ to the hackers and they would give you the encryption key. I didn't pay them shit because I have redundant offline backups of all my data (which is harder than it should be because QNAP has a shitty, SHITTY fucking backup app)...
I just deleted all the encrypted files and replaced them with the original. No big deal. After that, I installed a bunch of new stuff on my NAS (including a firewall) to (hopefully) avoid new problems. But here's my beef... WHY THE FUCK DOESN'T QNAP HELP CUSTOMERS UNDERSTAND HOW TO SECURE THEIR DATA AGAINST THESE ATTACKS BETTER? Everything with them is far more complicated than it needs to be, and their customers are paying the price for it. Looking for a NAS? Thinking of buying QNAP? AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!
And that's it for stuff that sucks on this fine Sunday.
Posted on Monday, April 26th, 2021
Every damn day there's stuff going on that's worse than the day before, and I am exhausted. I just want to crawl under the covers and forget the outside world exists before I even get to my lunch hour because something in the news was the last straw for me.
Flat earthers. Anti-vaxxers. COVID deniers and mask deniers. Q-Anon conspiracy dipshits. Politicians selling us out to their wealthy corporate owners. Asholes making life so much harder for anybody who isn't a billionaire. The list goes on and on, but it generally boils down to mean people and stupid people. And most of the time the worst offenders are both. Those who lack compassion and kindness. Those who are willfully ignorant and not willing to acknowledge truth. It's depressing just how bad things have gotten because these people are intent on fucking it up for all of us.
The good news is that I finally set aside some time to reinstall Wordpress so the PHP update is no longer killing my blog, so there's that.
So I guess there's nothing stopping me from kicking my Monday to the curb a little early and crawling under the covers to play video games for the rest of the day.
Though I'm pretty sure my cats will want dinner come 6:00.
Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2021
I finally stopped writing about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, because everything I wanted to say was based on what I know from reading the comic book source material that was unfolding on screen. No, it's not a perfect translation... I wouldn't want it to be... but there's a lot here that's coming directly from character arcs in the comics, so my speculation was nothing but spoilers.
But the final episode aired Friday, so we good? Can we talk about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier now?
If you don't want to read my spoiler-packed recap and thoughts, you definitely don't want to click through to the extended entry. And, needless to say, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Marvel comic book spoilers abound...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2021
Just two days ago I wrote about how utterly awful people are with their stupid shit. And today it all reached a peak that had me wishing an asteroid would nuke the planet. I am so done with awful, ignorant, stupid people. Like really done. Good thing my Buddhist philosophy promotes and existence of non-violence!
The nice thing is that the CDC realeased new guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated which, as I understand it, is two weeks after your second dose (which is May 5th for me). It's quasi-normal stuff...
I was supposed to fly out to New Orleans in June... plans which were made back in December of 2020 when the vaccines were rolling out... but canceled them this morning. That will make my first trip be in September, by which time I will hopefully feel better about crawling on an airplane with people and their nonsense for five-and-a-half hours.
Just my luck there will be a new COVID strain that hits at the end of August which isn't stopped by the vaccines. Then I'll have to wait for a Pfizer booster shot or something.
All because people are selfish dumbasses and, in the absence of reason, those who are fighting the good fight against COVID are facing an uphill battle. Because the pandemic isn't the enemy any more... it's the morons who don't trust science and take COVID seriously that keeps the war going on and on and on.
Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2021
You know what I love more than just about anything else? Somebody who has found something which helps them to live their best life at zero cost to other people. You know what I love even more than that? Those same people giving zero fucks about the haters. This guy on TikTok, Combat Crochet, has my admiration and respect. And the fact that he uses what he knows to help others is just icing on the cake...
It's amazing to me that people actually take time out of their busy days to leave hate comments on people's social media when they are doing NOTHING to hurt anybody. Senseless... and just plain mean.
Which pretty much defines our society now-a-days, but I don't have to like it.
Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2021
Not much happened today... but everything happened. Do you know what I mean?
As I mentioned, my incredibly expensive Samsung television died after 5-1/2 years. I couldn't afford to buy another top-tier television, so I opted for something 1/3 the price, but still highly rated. Because I live in a small city, mail order is pretty much my only option. Last time I bought with Amazon because they offered installation at $119 which I was happy to pay. This time I went with Walmart because they offered installation at $79. Same price on the TV, it's just that Walmart had the total cheaper cost by $40. And I'm all for saving my $40.
The company that was supposed to do the installation dragged things out for a week. My requested appointment was literally ANY day and ANY time, but no installer apparently wanted the job. When I asked "HelloTech" what would happen if nobody took the job, they assured me that they would then contract it out with a local installer, no problem. So I waited and waited. Then this morning they canceled the install. Made me wait a week and two days, then just outright canceled. And of course Walmart didn't bother to back up what they sold. So now my option is to pay a local company $250 plus tax... or get a friend to help me do it for myself. I can only afford Option B.
Then I went to work. Then I had a doctor follow-up. Apparently I'm going to live. For now.
After my appointment I went to pick up a new vaccination record with all the various shots I've had for my travels over the years. While I was there, I went to the pet store to pick up more kitty litter for Jake and Jenny to do their duty in. And it was here... in the parking lot of the pet store... that I noticed a T-Mobile store was on the other side of the parking lot.
And so... I took a slight detour.
20 minutes later, I'm a T-Mobile customer.
Ultimately it feels like T-Mobile wants your business.... AT&T just wants your money. I switched from Verizon to AT&T in 2004 because I had to in order to get service for the brand new iPhone. The customer service was better at Verizon, but AT&T was just fine. At the start. Things steadily declined with AT&T… then went into a complete nosedive after they bought DirecTV. They went from being an okay company to an outright awful company. Always making promises. Always breaking them. Quote you a price, then charge you something different. And somehow it’s all your fault even when you’ve got the receipts. They lost such a huge amount of money with DirecTV (which I eventually canceled because it got so awful after being acquired) that they’ve been trying to make up for the lost money by making the mobile division get less for more. And failing. In the past 3 years I went from being ambivalent about AT&T to outright hating the company, mostly because of the billing problems... but also because of the cellular service.
So now I am gone.
T-Mobile has a $50 flat rate for those 55 years and older, and it's a better plan than I had... WITH taxes and fees included. They waived the bullshit activation fee because I got my iPhone through Apple and they didn’t have to give me $650 to pay it off. So I'm chalking this one up as a win.
There is ONE thing that bothers me about T-Mobile, however. If you have two lines, you get free Netflix SD. If you have one line, you get NOTHING. That’s shitty. I pay more per line than somebody with two lines, but get less? And how does that work? A man and his wife sign up, get Netflix, then the man dies and T-Mobile is all "Sorry your husband is dead, but fuck you… we’re yanking your Netflix!" Is that really how it works? This is gross and highly unfair. I pay more for my one line than somebody with two lines on their plan pays per line, but I don’t get Netflix because I’m single? Do better, T-Mobile!
Then I got my kitty litter.
Then I went to Burger King because they had a "Buy One Impossible Whopper at Regular Price and We'll Give You A Second Impossible Whopper for $1" special going on. And my two meat-free burgers were GLORIOUS! We're at the time of year where lettuce and tomatoes are perfect, onions are tasty, and you're guaranteed a good meal. I was not disappointed.
Then I went back to work when what I really wanted to do was go to bed. That was quite a day I had.
Hey, we're in the middle of a pandemic. Every day you don't end up with COVID and are out of the house is quite a day.
Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2021
My old 65" television weighed 70 pounds (or something like that). I can easily lift 70 pounds, but being able to lift it up a wall and be able to get it attached to the mount without breaking it? Probably not. It's just too big and awkward to see what I'm doing. So after Walmart took my money for installation, then canceled my installation, I assumed I would need help because surely my new 65" television would weigh the same, wouldn't it? Apparently not. When I went to move it out of my living room until I could get somebody to help, I didn't scoot the big box... I tried picking it up by the straps. And it did not weigh no 70 pounds. So I looked up the specs. It only weighed 47-1/2 pounds!
I know the thing is big and awkward, but surely I can manage by myself if it weighs under 50 pounds?
So last night I took down my old TV and my old mount. Installed my new mount. Then gave it a try.
Not going to lie... there was a point that I felt like I might drop it as I tried to hang it on the tiny little centering tab because I couldn't see what the heck I was doing and was trying to feel my way. But after a few minutes I felt a "pop" and there it was. I quickly screwed it in place and I was done!
But not really.
The pricey Sony mount I got which was built specifically for my television didn't allow the cables to come through the middle of the wall like my old one. If I wanted to hide my cables in the wall (and I absolutely did) I would need to cut new holes in my wall off to the side.
Fortunately I already had a punch-cut drywall blade for just such an occasion!
And the nice part about doing it myself is that I give a crap about doing good work. So unlike the "professionally installed" boxes which are all wonky and crooked, I could take the time to do the job right and make sure that my cuts are clean, level, and precise...
I was too tired to run the cables in the wall, so I saved that for this morning.
And then... WAAAAAHHH! My optical cable wasn't long enough! Don't you hate it when your cable comes up short? This has never happened before. I've always had PLENTY of cable to get the job done in the past! But I'm sure this happens to lots of guys and isn't a big deal. Fortunately, in this case, I can just go get a longer cable. Even more fortunate, my local Target actually had one (and only one!) in stock. From there it was pretty easy to run my cables in the wall, hook my soundbar back up, then clean up the mess. Easy peasy...
Surprisingly, everything is working perfectly. Even better than before, actually, because the audio system on the new TV works far, far better with my SONOS home theater... and the picture quality is better too.
But here's the bonus to it all. Sony uses GoogleTV to power their sets. It is a MASSIVE LEAP ahead of the shitty interface on my old busted Samsung. And it has AppleTV as an app, so I don't even have to power on my external AppleTV box! Every streaming service I use is inside my TV as an app now. That's really, really nice. Could not be happier with my new television. Even video games look great! Now all that's left to do is patch the old hole in my wall. And install my bias lighting. But I'll do that next week. I've had enough home improvement for this week.
But who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?
Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
Yeah. Bullets are canceled this Sunday. Things are unreal here today, and I can't get my head in the game. Instead of blogging, I'm going to cook up a veggie burger for a late-night snack and play video games. It's all I got in me.
Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2021
I am at the end of my rope with the pandemic response.
Where I live here in Redneckistan, we've made INTERNATIONAL NEWS because there was a super-spreader event in the city of Republic, Washington on April 9 through 11. Now 10% of the population there has been diagnosed with COVID. And that number is sure to climb because the people who got it from the people who were at the event haven't shown their symptoms yet. That will start happening any minute now, because we just passed three weeks out. Their 25-bed hospital has been completely overrun, so patients are being shipped to other counties where they can fill up their hospital beds. Yikes.
And now I steel myself for hater Democrats to say "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!" because that's always their response when something idiotic here makes world news. Except... it's not as simple as that. In the 2020 election held in Ferry County, which is where the city of Republic is located, 1/3 of the people voting there did not vote for President Trump...
Washington State is a blue state. In fact, it's one of the bluest states (if not the bluest state) across all demographics in the entire country. Most of that "blue" is on the West side of the Cascade Mountain Range, it's true, but the blue is spreading. Where I live, the vote was only 53% Trump, 45% Biden, and 2% Other. To which a lot of people across the state were saying "HALF didn't vote Republican?!? Because this would have been absolutely unthinkable even ten years ago. So when people look at idiocy in my region and their immediate response is "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!"... they are thinking of the past, not the here and now.
Though the Republican demographic IS likely responsible for what happened in the small city of Republic.
There's just no sugar-coating it... the data claerly shows that the people more likely to engage in dangerous and reckless pandemic behavior are Conservatives. Though, to be honest, I don't really blame them for being ignorant as to how their actions are dangerous. I blame the "news" organizations which cater to them. When you have Tucker Carlson regularly spreading outright bullshit and lies when it comes to masks, vaccines, and COVID, well... the people who trust him as a "news" source are going to be roped into that kind of thinking. The outlet they choose to keep informed is misinforming them. You tune into a channel called "FOX NEWS" because it's the "news," and it doesn't occur to you that it's not actually reporting facts. FOX "News" lawyers infamously argued that people can't sue them for spreading misinformation because "FOX persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes." But that doesn't get reported on FOX "News." There's no disclaimer at the start of Tucker Carlson's show letting their viewers know that most everything he says is utter bullshit. And so they continue to believe him.
This is backed up by the above-linked article in the Tri-City Herald...
"The county previously had relatively few COVID-19 cases, and many in the conservative, rural community saw mask mandates as infringing on their liberty. Less than one-quarter of the county’s residents have received a vaccine to date, according to the health district, but officials said the outbreak has increased interest in it."
Because apparently it takes hospitals being overrun and people dying to get people to start thinking seriously about COVID? Thank you, Tucker Carlson.
I've lived in Redneckistan for 50 years. I understand that things are not so cut-and-dry when it comes to the people, the attitudes, and the lifestyle here. And it's for that reason that I have always tried my very best to be compassionate when it comes to the conservative school of thought which drives our society. Outsiders judge us without knowing us... or without even trying to understand why things are the way they are here. And while I get frustrated... a lot... because of the horrific level of willful ignorance that goes hand-in-hand with a public that's been duped by FOX "News," OAN, and Newsmax, I try to keep my head and heart on track. I do not wish ill on my fellow Redneckistan residents. They are my friends, family, and community. I choose to live here, so any problems I have are on me... not them.
But it's not always easy.
And it's just going to get worse, because Governor Jay Inslee has no choice but to start phase rollbacks as COVID cases here continue to explode. And, as you can just imagine, the people who have been conditioned to hate masks, hate vaccines, and hate science, REALLY hate our governor, even though he's just responding to a problem that their actions are largely responsible for. Businesses here don't have signs saying "State Mandates Require a Mask Be Worn On These Premises"... instead it says something like "DUE TO GOVERNOR INSLEE DECREE, YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK! DON'T BLAME US, BLAME YOUR DICTATOR!" Which is to say that people are being conditioned to hate Governor Inslee as well.
In all honesty, I've given up trying to convince people. My voice simply cannot compete with "The News" that everybody here believes in.
All I can do is find voices of reason to listen to, try to be understanding, try to be respectful, and carry on as best I can... all while resisting the urge to run around screaming "WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR GOD'S SAKE!"
Mostly because, while all of John Oliver's information is good and the way he presents it entertaining, the condescending snark in the way he presents it would not go over here well at all. And I get it. Last Week Tonight caters to a liberal audience just like FOX "News" caters to a conservative audience.
The "middle ground audience" is grossly underserved.
And so I'll just keep biting my tongue, try to convince people to trust science where I can, and go on living my life.
Such as it is in the middle of a global pandemic that's exploding out my back door.
Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
I make a darn good macaroni & cheese. It's got all the cheddar and parmesan and condensed milk and the seasoning in there... which makes it a delicious heart attack that I don't make too often because it's so brutally unhealthy. Plus it's a tough recipe to cut down, so I always make way too much of it. And frozen mac & cheese is never as good as when it comes right out of the oven, so a good chunk of it always seems to get thrown out before I can eat it all.
But I still want me some mac & cheese from time to time.
I actually like the Kraft Dinner box mix. Yeah it's made from powdered cheese and tastes like plastic... but in a good way...
I can eat an entire box in one sitting, so I don't buy much of the stuff because that's dangerous. BUT THEN I found that Kraft makes "singles" that you just pour water into and microwave...
They are fairly perfect size-wise, even though they are somehow not as good as the boxed stuff that you make on a stovetop (guessing it's the lack of milk and margarine?). I can say that they have better flavor than the Annie's mac & cheese cups, which tasted fairly bland to me (which is weird, because I rather like the Annie's boxed stuff).
Flash forward to my last trip to the grocery store when I saw that Kraft has "Macaroni & Cheese DELUXE." Apparently it's been around for a long time, but I've never seen it until my last trip to the grocery store...
What makes it "DELUXE" is that the noodles are a little bigger and the cheese is not a powder... it's a packet of liquid cheese goo. Once you cook the macaroni and drain it, you just squeeze the goo into the pan and stir it up (instead of having to add the powdered cheese, milk, and margarine liked the "regular" stuff). The cheese goo is tough to get out of the packet completely and I made a little bit of a mess on my fingers trying to get every last drop, but it wasn't a big deal.
And the verdict? Well... it starts off nice. Lots of cheesy flavor that's similar to Kraft Dinner, but weirdly different. BUT THEN it turns on you. There's this bitter, chemical-like hit on the back-end that gets worse the more you eat it. I only got 4 or 5 bites into the bowl before I couldn't take it any more. I tosed everything in the trash and had Totino's Cheese Pizza Rolls instead.
WTF, KRAFT?!? How do you call this "DELUXE" when it's not as good as the original? I could eat original Kraft Dinner morning, noon, and night and never get tired of it. But this "DELUXE" stuff tastes like a toxic waste dump and I couldn't even get through a single bowl!
YOU HAVE SHAKEN MY FAITH IN YOU, KRAFT! HOW DARE YOU CALL THIS "KRAFT MACARONI & CHEESE" WHEN IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT!!! YOU HAVE OFFENDED ME WITH THIS VILE TRAVESTY, GOOD SIR! Or good madame. Or good them. The president of Kraft-Heinz Company is Steve Cornell, but I don't know how they identify. Or maybe there is a separate president in charge of Kraft Dinner that I don't know about. REGARDLESS, I AM OFFENDED!
And so now I will go back to the original (and best) Kraft Dinner and not be swayed again. Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice AND I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE ON YOU, KRAFT!
Their Kraft Singles Deli Deluxe American Cheese Food Slices (that are not individually-wrapped) are my most favorite fake cheese to make a grilled cheese sandwich. So great. Now there's a "DELLUXE" product that is in every way better than the original! So instead of "revenge" maybe I'd just write a stearnly-phrased letter or something?
I like to keep my options open.
Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
It's been two weeks since my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Which is to say that I am now fully vaccinated. Though with all the mutations that are happening, this could be short-lived. Right now they are saying that the vaccines do very well against the new strains... keeping people out of the hospital and away from death. Tomorrow something new could come along to change all that. In fact I would expect something new to come along and change that. This ain't over, and I can easily see how we'll need an annual booster to handle new strains just like we have with the flu shot.
In the meanwhile though? I am going to eat in a restaurant!
Maybe. I think. The plan was to go to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate my being totalmente vacunado on Cinco de Mayo... but that's looking unlikely now because I've got a list of things to do that's a mile long. But I will be eating at a restaurant that's taking proper precautions one day soon.
Preferably one that makes a mean margarita.
Just me entering Phase One of getting my life back.
Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2021
Am I the only one who sees a person in a photograph then immediately starts to wonder who they are and what their life is like?
I do this all the time. Today I was researching something online and ran across a company advertising their services. There was a photo attached where a bunch of employees were all giving the thumbs-up and grinning madly at the camera.
Except one guy. His thumb was not up and his smile was barely there.
And it's been haunting me all day. I can't help but wonder what's going on with him. What's his name? What's he do for this company? Is he married? Does he have kids? What are his hobbies? Where does he live? What are his friends like? What was his life like growing up? But most of all... what's going on with him in this photo? He looks like he might be sad or upset. What happened?
I will, of course, never know. And so the man in the photograph will continue to haunt me.
Until the next person in a photo comes along.
Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2021
I am spoiled. Seriously spoiled. And I have Marvel Studios to thank for it.
You see, Marvel Studios has a philosophy when it comes to everything they do. Every movie. Every TV series on Disney+. You put absolutely everything... your best ideas, the coolest stuff, all the things fans want to see... EVERYTHING... in the project you're working on RIGHT NOW. Yes, they've got plans for the future, but they never lose focus on the project at hand. When they made Iron Man they put everything into it. They could have easily stretched out his origin to an entire movie... but they didn't. They got his origin out of the way then let Tony Stark and Iron Man be all that they could be. They gave people exactly the movie they want to see. And people loved them for it.
"The Marvel Cinematic Universe" world-building came as a consequence of a string of amazing movies.
Not the other way around.
Because the other way around never works. Look at the mess of "DC Comics Universe" movies that has failed so badly that they are likely completely rebooting everything with a forthcoming The Flash movie. Justice League was a heinous failure because they saved all the cool stuff for a second movie that never happened. And look at the Universal Monsters Universe, which failed after a single film because The Mummy reboot was too focused on world-building instead of telling a really good story. You can't put the cart before the horse, yet Marvel Studios is the only game in town that actually knows what that means.
Which brings us to the new Netflix series Jupiter's Legacy.
I'm just going to get this out of the way... I both loved and hated the comic book series. Love it because the Mark Millar story is just so damn good. Love it because the Frank Quitely artwork is just so damn good. Hated it because Millar and Quitely were always late getting the issues out. Jupiter's Legacy #1: April 2013. #2: June 2013. #3: August 2013. #4: MARCH 2014!!! #5: JANUARY 2015!!! And things weren't much better with the sequel, Jupiter's Legacy 2. It took a year and a month for them to get out five frickin' issues. Ultimately it was worth the wait... but I'm not falling for that bullshit again. I'm not picking up the latest series (Jupiter's Legacy: Requiem) until the entire series is done and the trade paperback has been released. I am not here for this George-RR-Martin-level bullshit.
The series is about a group of friends who all gained super-powers after visiting a mysterious island... and the next generation of heroes which followed them. Treated like celebrities, this new breed of hero is usually a disappointment to the older generation. And that's a schism which gets exploited in the most unthinkable way.
And, like I said, I loved the story and art. Everything was sublimely clever, and I devoured each and every issue multiple times (I pretty much had to because there was nothing else to do while you waited months and months for the next issue to come out). The ending felt a bit rushed, but I was not disappointed. I've re-read it many times because it's just that entertaining.
Now it's been adapted into a Netflix series.
And, sadly... almost predictably, they put the cart before the horse.
So instead of a really cool series with some mind-blowing stuff going on... we get a really boring series with some mind-numbingly dull stuff going on so they can stretch things out for future series...
Why is Brandon in a super-suit? THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT HE'S NOT THAT GUY!
Adapting Jupiter's Legacy for Netflix should have been a no-brainer. But instead of doing a straight adaptation of one of the most remarkable series to come out of comics, they tore it apart and made it a boring mess. AND WHY?!? FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHY?!? Why bother to make it a series if you're just going to shit on what made the comic so good? Who gives a crap about the Wall Street crash, Sampson's daddy issues, and all these mind-numbingly boring distractions in the past THAT DON'T MATTER? All the coolest stuff in the series is nowhere to be found. The central pin to the entire series, third-generation hero Jason, doesn't even exist. I can only guess they wanted to save it for seasons two through eight... BUT THERE'S NOT GOING TO BE A SECOND SEASON IF THE FIST SEASON IS SHIT AND NOBODY WATCHES IT!
I am so over these awful adaptations.
It's a waste of time and money that could have been put into something much better. Why is Marvel Studios the only people who get it? You don't hold back. You don't save the best material for future projects that may never happen. YOU PUT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE INTO WHAT YOU ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW! And when it's a success... then you put everything you have into the next movie or series. That's how you build a successful franchise. It's not rocket science.
I was so looking forward to "Jupiter's Legacy"... I honestly thought that with Mark Millar overseeing the adaptation his own material that it would be seriously good television. But he fell into the same idiotic trap that everybody else does... planning for seasons 2-8 instead of making season 1 worth watching. All he had to do to knock it out of the park was actually adapt Jupiter's Legacy then move on to Jupiter's Legacy 2 and then move on to Jupiter's Legacy: Requiem Then if he wanted to adapt the prequel series Jupiter's Circle, he could have done that as a separate series just like it was a separate comic book. But instead we get... whatever the fuck this is. A half-baked series with decent casting and passable special effects that misses the mark by a country mile.
Oh well. I am getting accustomed to disappointment. Boring, boring, boring disappointment.
God I wanted to see this fight on-screen in the worst way...
BUT NOPE!!! Saving it for the fifth season or what-the-fuck-ever.
Which is to say that the Netflix series for Jupiter's Legacy is not, in fact, Jupiter's Legacy.
I think of what could have been if somebody gave a shit about honoring the source material and it sends my mind reeling in the best possible way. Then reality rears it's ugly head and I'm back to what we got instead. Good Lord what a waste.
Posted on Saturday, May 8th, 2021
And so now both cats are sleeping with me at night. Used to be just Jake, but now that he's relegated himself to sleeping at my feet each night, Jenny decided that this left the upper half of the bed to her.
Their nightly routine has become painfully predictable.
It starts out when Jake starts sticking to me like glue on the couch about an hour before bedtime...
Then he follows me upstairs to my bedroom. After complaining that I'm not changing into pajama bottoms fast enough, he'll flop over for belly rubs...
Then, just as he starts to zonk out, he gets up to go fall asleep on or near my feet for some reason...
Then, when Jenny sees that Jake is done getting attention for the night, she hops up for her turn getting belly rubs...
But she falls asleep right next to me, as you can see by this photo of me in the morning...
I still find it odd that they choose to sleep next to me when I move quite a bit. Apparently it doesn't bother them. I just hope that I don't end up squishing a cat in the middle of the night!
In the morning Jake usually wanders off as I'm waking up. But Jenny stays right there because she demands more belly rubs to start out her day!
Such an adorable girl. She just can't help be be adorable though. It's her natural state. Whenever the dryer buzzer goes off, Jenny waits for me to pull the clothes out, then hops on top of them. Because they're warm. Then I have to gently pull a piece out so I can hang it up... at which time Jenny is pawing at the pile because she wants all the warm clothes. The paranoia then gets worse and worse as more clothes disappear off the pile...
Poor girl. I'm stealing her treasure!
And that's my Caturday today. Spoiler Alert: I'm pretty sure Jenny will continue to be adorable in my next Caturday post.
Posted on Sunday, May 9th, 2021
We may not be at heard immunity yet (if ever), but life goes marching on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mom! Happiest of Mother's Days to all the moms out there. The more time goes on, the more grateful I am to have had the best mom ever looking after me...
We were best friends from the start and I love her around the world and back.
• Hoth! Anybody seen Star Wars: Biomes on Disney+ ?!? Gorgeous! Just a 12-minute screen saver of various planets from the Star Wars universe...
I am addicted and want more... more... MORE! There are other planets that would be so cool to see! If you have Disney+ tune in and be mesmerized! Then demand another episode! The two ship fly-through videos (for the Millennium Falcon and a Star Destroyer) are also wonderful to look at.
• Vaccinate! The New York Times has a fascinating article on how Pfizer is manufacturing their COVID vaccine, and I encourage everybody to give it a read.
Image from The New York Times
Incredible stuff. mRNA vaccines seem more like magic than science, and future prospects for the technology are bright indeed.
• Honnold! Every New Year's Day, I have a checklist of things I do. On that list is to check and see if Alex Honnold... a free-climbing genius... is still alive. I'm a huge fan, but not always able to keep up on what he's up to. As of a week ago, I know he was alive because he did a video for GQ Magazine where he looks at climbing scenes in movies. It's fantastic and well worth your time to watch...
"He doesn't get tired though because he's Tom Cruise!" And here's the original one I watched...
"Oh my goodness gracious... he just fell to his death!" Alex is entirely too nice for this cruel world!
• Trek! I am rewatching the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie... you know, the one with ALL THE LENS FLARE ALL THE TIME... I just got to the point at the start where Lil' Spock is beating the ever-loving shit out of the Vulcan kid that called him mom a whore. All while his classmates look on in horror. And I realize something. JJ Abrams completely and totally defined Spock in three scenes... something it took a dozen episodes of the original television series to do...
And this follows on the heels of him doing the same for James T. Kirk. Say what you like about the reboot, but Abrams was absolutely brilliant in introducing the Star Trek Universe to people who may have been unfamiliar with it. If you didn't know Kirk, Spock, and McCoy at the beginning of the movie... you certainly did by the end. No easy feat.
• Clark! I was a huge Tom Clancy fan back in the day. Read all the early books he wrote. They were entertaining diversions with increasingly ridiculous stories... reaching peak absurdity when Jack Ryan became president. I stopped reading a couple books after Executive Orders and never got into the books that were added after Clancy died where other authors wrote them. I thought the three movie adaptations with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford were pretty good. The Ben Affleck and Chris Pine movies were forgettable. Though I have (mostly) enjoyed the John Krasinski Jack Ryan series on Amazon. And now we have Without Remorse with Michael B. Jordan as John Clark...
Despite the story starting off with a tiresome and antiquated "fridging" that could have easily been changed, it's a darn good movie. Jordan has the chops to sell the character both emotionally and as an action star, and his path of revenge is glorious. If you like this kind of thing, it's worth a look on Amazon Prime streaming!
• Borders! I absolutely love stories like this: Belgian Farmer Accidentally Moves French Border.
And that's a wrap on my Sunday Bullets. Hope your Mother's Day weekend was a good one!
Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2021
My official "Vaccination Complete" date was last Wednesday on Cinco de Mayo. That was two weeks after my second dose. It was my intent to go out for dinner... sitting down in an actual restaurant... but it never ended up happening. I watched television with Jake while drinking margaritas and Pacifico.
But tonight was the night.
Now that my sister and I are on the vaccinated train, she stayed over last night... the first time in a year-and-a-half... and we decided to celebrate by going out to dinner. It was so wonderful. The last time I ate out in a restaurant was probably early December 2019, and I forgot how nice it is to leave the cooking to somebody else and just enjoy being out of the house again.
Afterwards we went to a favorite Redneckistan bar for beer and pulltabs. Oh... and I played video-trivia games! I for 100% certain caught COVID from touching the screen for an hour, but it was worth it because I got high score!
It's a strange feeling having people in my house again. Before the pandemic, my home was a revolving door of houseguests and good times. During the pandemic it was just day after day after day of me and my cats watching television.
Life is not "back to normal" yet. Probably won't be for years. But it was sure nice to get a glimpse of "normal"... if only for one evening.
Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
No amount of facts or science will convince an anti-masker that they are FULL. OF. SHIT. Even their legal arguments are fucking stupid... just as they are. Believe whatever the hell you want to believe, but businesses have the right to refuse service if you aren’t wearing a mask and they require it, just like they are able to have you arrested for trespassing. Don’t want to wear a mask? Afraid to wear a mask? Order online. Order curbside pickup. Or just stay the fuck home. We just don’t give a shit about your drama...
Legal Dad is so great. His take-downs on absurd bullshit are always worth watching. Like this one about voter fraud nonsense in my home state of Washington...
I mean... I've changed my signature twice. I developed my first signature when I first started having to sign stuff. This is how it looked when I got a checking account, registered for the draft, got a driver's license, and registered to vote...
Eventually I found myself losing my middle initial and changing the "II" after my name to "2"...
And do you know what happened? THE COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE CALLED ME IN TO SIGN A NEW VOTER REGISTRATION CARD SO THAT THEY COULD VERIFY MY BALLOT!
Eventually I changed my signature again so that I could write it faster (I sign my official stuff differently than what you see below... this is how I sign my artwork... but it's kinda-sorta in the same vein as this Mickey-Mouse-looking thing)...
And do you know what happened? THE COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE CALLED ME IN AGAIN TO SIGN ANOTHER NEW VOTER REGISTRATION CARD SO THAT THEY COULD VERIFY MY BALLOT AGAIN!
But I guess all these stupid rumors by hucksters and liars are all anybody cares to listen to anymore, not actual experiences by actual people telling the truth about shit.
Between the anti-maskers, anti-vaxers, COVID-deniers, voter fraud conspiracy theorists, flat earthers, anti-science dumbasses, and all the rest... I am just so fucking tired. Can I go to sleep until Star Trek times happen?
Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
I need more polysorbate 60 in my diet, so I ended up getting some Hostess Ding Dongs. I haven’t eaten them in a long, long, LONG time because they were always made with lard. Now that they switched to palm kernel oil, corn syrup, and soybean oil, I’m golden!
So there I was, anxiously awaiting peeling back that shiny aluminum foil...
ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THEY ARE WRAPPED IN PLASTIC NOW?!? WTF?!? WHEN DID THIS TRAVESTY HAPPEN?!?
=sob!= Still delicious though.
Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2021
And so my set of Apple AirTags arrived today. These small devices can be attached to stuff in your life that you're always losing, then tracked down with your Apple Device (like an iPhone). They use near-field Bluetooth technology, which uses far less power for better battery life than regular Bluetooth, but with a far shorter range.
So let's get to it, shall we?
BUT BEFORE WE BEGIN: No need to comment about privacy concerns, security concerns, tracking concerns, and all the other issues that always get brought up when I talk about "smart" technology... especially smart technology that is designed to track stuff. I am aware. Apple addresses "unwanted tracking" on their site and (hopefully) any initial security problems will be quickly resolved given Apple's "privacy is important to us" mantra. We'll see. In the meanwhile, I want to be able to track my crap. But is Apple AirTag the way to do it?
AirTags cost $29 each, which is middle-to-average for the tracking devices I've seen. Tile "Mate" trackers are $24.99... Tile "Pro" trackers are $34.99. I ordered an AirTag 4-Pack for $99, which makes the cost a more reasonable $24.75 each. Like many Apple items, they offer free engraving for each AirTag. You can choose from an assortment of emojis, numbers, monogram initials, and such. Each AirTag has room for four characters, but I liked the idea of just one big emoji in the middle of each one...
The package is typical Apple minimalist style...
I (foolishly?) ripped it open from the top, which made a mess of the box...
It was then that I saw Apple means for you to open the thing from the bottom of the box where they conveniently have a strip to unseal it so you can easily pull it open. Oops. But, in my defense, how often does somebody want you to open the packaging from the bottom?
Inside were my four AirTags along with safety sheets and instructions on how to activate them...
The AirTags themselves are pure Apple quality. The backs (where you open them to change the battery) are metal. The engraving on the fronts is so nice that it looks like they are screen-printed buttons or something...
If your iPhone is on, you can just bring the tags close to it one-by-one to get them assigned to you and your Apple iCloud account. Or you can open up the Find My app and add them manually...
After you unwrap the AirTag and pull the plastic separating the battery, it immediately becomes active so you can pair it with your account...
There is a list of custom names you can choose from (backpack, keys, wallet, etc.) or you can enter a custom name and choose an emoji to represent it...
When it comes to items I lose most, it's 1) My keys. 2) My wallet. 3) the TV remote. I put the fourth AirTag in my backpack... not because I lose it, but because if it's stolen I'd like to be able to find it.
I ordered a keychain holder for one of my AirTags, but it hasn't arrived yet. I ordered a sticker patch to plaster an AirTag on my TV remote, but it hasn't arrived yet either. So about the only AirTag I can use right out of the gate is the one for my wallet. I had been using a "Slim" Tile Tracker in my wallet, which was 1/3 the height of an AirTag, but Apple hasn't released a thin version yet, so I guess I'll have a bump in my wallet until they do...
I started carrying my wallet in my front pocket years ago for both comfort and safety while traveling, so this isn't a terribly big deal. But still... I hope Apple is coming out with a thin version real soon now (or that Tile makes their slim version compatible with the Apple Find My Network).
And then there's the actual "tracking" part.
Once you've paired your AirTags with your Apple ID, they show up in the Find My app under "Items"...
Clicking on any of them brings up a screen which allows you to tell the AirTag to play a sound so you can hear where it is if it's near... but also track down the item with your Apple device. Since there are no iPhone users in my area, I had to use only the Bluetooth Near Field local scanning...
I read somewhere that the range on AirTags is 100ft. That wasn't even remotely the case for me... after multiple tests I found it to be 20 feet at best. When looking for my wallet, which I left on a chair in another room, the range in connecting to it was about 17 feet...
Because Near Field Bluetooth is directional, your phone can literally point you in the right direction to retrieve your stuff...
Then it's a wandering game until you land right near the device...
And now that brings us to the talking points about Apple AirTags...
• SIZE & DESIGN — Diameter-wise, it's considerably smaller than a Tile Tracker... but a hair taller. The little pucks are very pretty to look at, but less practical than a Tile Tracker because there's no hole to use for attaching it to stuff, which means extra money because you have to buy AirTag accessories (like my keychain holder that's not here yet)...
• GETTING LOST — If you cannot connect to the AirTag locally... you can try to find it on the Apple Find My Network... assuming there are any of the hundreds of millions of Apple Devices nearby to see it. You can also put it in "Lost Mode," where you enter your phone number so you can be contacted if it's found. Or, if it's spotted by the Apple Find My Network, you'll be notified with its location when it shows up. If somebody physically finds it, they can bring it close to their iPhone or Android phone and a webpage with your contact information shows up so they can let you know they found it. It's all pretty slick. But, again, anything outside of 20 feet or so is entirely dependent on other people with Apple iPhones wandering around in order for the Apple Find My Network to grab a location.
• SPY TRACKER — Naturally there is a concern that somebody could drop an AirTag in your pocket so they can track your location. Or maybe they put it in your car or whatever. Regardless, if an AirTag is traveling with you, then you're supposed to get an "AIRTAG FOUND MOVING WITH YOU" alert. Then you can find the AirTag and take out it's battery to disable it so peoaple can't use it to spy on you. There has been reports of people hacking the tracking URL or something, which has been deemed problematic, so I'm guessing Apple will get on a fix for that. Hopefully.
• NOTIFICATIONS — Assumably because of the low power mode of the AirTags themselves, you do not receive notification when they are back in range or spotted by the Apple Find My Network right away. It takes a while. Minutes. This is definitely an issue when speed is of the essence, but I guess it's a trade-off Apple had to make. But it gets worse... when you turn on the "Notify When Found" option, I assumed that a text message would pop up telling me when my phone came back into range. But NOPE! I didn't get any notification at all after walking down the street and activating it then coming back to where my item was. Then, when I went to make sure that I had actually activated it, I saw that the option to turn off the notifications (which never came) was greyed out?!? So I have no clue what in the hell is going on.
UPDATE: Welp, a whole 8 minutes later I did get a notification, but only after I started up the Find My App?!?...
I just... don't get it. And of course Apple is playing coy by not including a manual to actually explain this shit. Typical. Also note that even though you're searching for an ITEM, the alert on my Apple Watch says that I'm searching for a PERSON. How Apple consistently misses the little details like this now-a-days just blows my damn mind. Does Apple even bother to fucking beta test their shit any more?!? "WALLETS ARE PEOPLE, MY FRIEND!"
• ITEM SEPARATION — If you subscribe to Tile Tracker's "premium" program, they activate additional features like "Smart Alerts" which will notify you if you accidentally leave something behind. For example... you could tell your Tile Tracker to let you know if you (or, to be more accurate, your phone) becomes separated from your keys. So if you leave them at the restaurant, your phone would get an alert once you reached the parking lot. From what I can tell, AirTags offer no such feature, which is absolutely bizarre. Why would you enter a market where you're not actually competing feature-wise with what's in the market?
• PHONE SEPARATION — You want to know another thing that my Tile Tracker can do that AirTags cannot? Locate my actual iPhone. Squeeze a Tile and it will make an alarm go off on your iPhone. There is no equivalent with an AirTag which seems just brain-dead. Yes, I can find my phone by grabbing my MacBook and logging onto my iCloud account, but do you know how convenient it is to just squeeze the Tile on my keychain to find it? Another feature that Apple has inexplicably left out.
• FIND MY NETWORK PARTICIPATION — I wanted to make sure that my iPhone was a part of Apple's Find My Network so that if my iPhone stumbles across something that somebody has lost, I'll be assisting them in finding it. So when I saw a link which says "HELP A FRIEND: Open iCloud.com so others can sign in and find their devices from this iPhone" in the Find My app, I assumed that would be the place...
Except when I click the link and sign into iCloud... THERE'S NOTHING FUCKING THERE WHICH ALLOWS ME TO TURN THIS ON! So I'm like "What the hell, Apple?" I have no clue whatsoever whether my iPhone is a part of helping people out in the Find My Network or not. And that's just next-level stupid. I sure hope that this is something that happens automatically, because if Apple is relying on people to turn the feature on... but then doesn't actually give you a way to turn it on... I don't know why the fuck they are even bothering.
UPDATE: I'm guessing the above cryptic message must not be meaning "friend" as "fellow iPhone owners" but instead mean "your literal friends," because I did find a random setting in the "Find My iPhone" section of my iPhone's Settings which says "Find My Network"...
But is that what opts me INTO the Find My Network to help other people? It doesn't say. It's talking all about finding MY shit. And if this is the place where you opt into the network... then why the fuck does Apple send you to iCloud? Jesus Christ what a mess. I found this heinously confusing bullshit WITHIN A HALF HOUR OF RECEIVING MY AIRTAGS... while Apple has been working on this crap for YEARS and didn't notice this might be confusing?!? This is happening with increasing frequency, and I cannot fathom why Tim Cook isn't kicking some asses over it. Steve Jobs sure as fuck would have! God how I miss Steve Jobs!
• CONCLUSION — In my humble opinion? Stick with Tile for now. Sure, the Tile Tracker Network is far, far smaller than Apple's Find My Network (or is it?) and Tiles aren't directionally locatable like AirTags, but since Apple seems to HAVE THEIR HEAD UP THEIR ASSES with the confusing implementation of their tracking offering... and the feature set doesn't compare to what Tile has with their premium service... why run out and replace all your Tiles with AirTags? I mean, come on. This is hilariously absurd and inept. Apple has reportedly had AirTags ready to go since late 2019, but didn't want to release them during a pandemic. Which means they've had OVER A YEAR WHERE THEY DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DOCUMENT USEAGE, SQUASH BUGS, CLARIFY CONFUSING BULLSHIT, AND ADD HANDY FEATURES?!? What kind of stupid shit is that? I'm sure all of this will be worked out in time... but how much more time does Apple fucking need?
Oh well. I own AirTags now, so I guess I'll scour the internet to see if I can find answers while watching television tonight. It's not like I'll be holding my breath waiting for Apple to clarify things and release much-needed information.
Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2021
This October Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary. I know this because I saw an article about it after I woke up this morning. I almost feel obligated to go since I was there for their 25th anniversary. Back in the late Fall of 1997 I was in Orlando for training. My mom asked if she could tag along and so she went too. It was our first time traveling together by ourselves... but wouldn't be our last. Not by a longshot.
I had training for two days. While I was in class, mom would sit by the pool at the Buena Vista Palace and read a book. On the third day we moved to Disney's Wilderness Lodge for the remainder of the week. At the time there were only three parks... Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney MGM Studios (eventualy named "Disney Studios"). Animal Kingdom wouldn't open for another year yet. I had been to Disney World once before, but mom never had, so it was a lot of fun.
The iconic symbol of the entire 25th anniversary celebration was turning Cinderella Castle into a massive, heinous, pink birthday cake (NOTE: All these photos are old scans from a cheap APS camera, so they don't look great... sorry)...
This was supposed to be an APS "tall print" but got printed regular,
so it's chopped off... my mom is still there though!
You could see the ugly thing from afar...
Disney's Wilderness Lodge is my favorite of all the on-property resorts. It's pretty much an attraction unto itself. There was all kinds of things to see and do... including renting tiny little speedboats. Despite being in the Navy, mom was afraid of water since nearly drowning as a kid. Even so, she was a trooper and had a great time as we went buzzing around Bay Lake...
It's definitely the best vantage point to look back at the Wilderness Lodge...
Interesting to note that DisneyQuest... a kind of advanced arcade... was being built at the time I was there, though it wouldn't open until the following Summer. It would close in 2016 once Downtown Disney was transformed into Disney Springs..
The following week was spent driving over to Kennedy Space Center... then onward to Disney's Vero Beach Resort for a couple nights... then driving down the coast to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami... then finishing our trip in Key West...
Sooooo... yeah... that was 1997, 24-some-odd frickin' years ago when I was young, handsome, and had the world at my feet. Not like now where I'm old, grizzled, and have been buried by the weight of the world.
I do have a much better camera now, however, so there's that.
Posted on Saturday, May 15th, 2021
A couple days ago when I got out of the shower, I heard Jenny WAILING out the door. I immediately ran out into the hall naked and soaking wet in order to find out what had gone wrong. And there she was... just sitting there meowing her head off. So I start examining her and feeling around trying to find out if she broke some bones or got cut somehow or was otherwise injured. But... nothing. After getting tired of being man-handled by me and my wet hands, Jenny wandered downstairs... apparently no worse for wear.
So I get dried off, brush my teeth, get dressed, gather my work stuff and head downstairs.
Where Jenny is sitting next to the feeding station wailing her head off. Again.
Turns out all this drama was because she was tired of waiting for her morning treat.
So I'm like "Oh thank heavens" and "Holy crap... are you kidding me, Jenny?" Because I've worked hard to resist the urge to reward bad behavior in my cats, and here's Jenny just not giving a crap about anything I have planned. But I be darned if this doesn't make me love my cranky girl even more than I already did. What an amazing cat...
Jake is a lazy boy. He eats when it's time to eat. He never bothers me for food, but it happy to sit and sniff while I eat my food. Jenny, on the other hand, is constantly wanting to be fed. If I even LOOK like I'm headed to the kitchen, she's off like a rocket to follow me in and ask for a treat. What's worse is that now she's the one to snarf up her brother's food if he doesn't get to it quick enough. It used to be the other way around. Earlier this week I tried to correct her at lunch time so Jake could get to his bowl. And she was NOT having it. I ended up having to grab some food out and add new food back to her bowl so that her brother could get something to eat.
I wonder what that's all about?
And speaking of wondering what's this all about with my cats... here's Jake, snuggled up against me as usual. Except he keeps moving north from my feet. Now he insists on sleeping while snuggled up against my butt...
This would be fine... if not for the fact that Jake has a body temperature of 180°. The guy is on fire. Which is not comfortable after a while. So I gently move away... only to have Jake rearrange himself to be snuggled up against me tighter...
Eventually he's grabbing my leg so I can't escape so easily...
Which would be fine if he didn't have a body temperature of 180° AND HAVE HIS FOOT UP MY ASS...
No exaggeration... I had to pull his little foot out my ass...
But don't worry. Jake just adjusted himself again. How he does this without waking up just amazes me. I finally couldn't take it any more. My legs (and ass) were on fire. So I freed my legs and swung them over him to have some space. And he didn't even flinch...
Nope. He just snuggled up next to the other side!
After moving over yet again, he finally got the hint and snuggled up to himself instead of snuggling up to my leg...
But then I had to get out of bed. When he finally woke up. And was not happy about it...
But no worries. When dinner time came around, all was forgiven.
Fortunately Jenny didn't eat his food.
Posted on Sunday, May 16th, 2021
Feeling lost? Feeling that the internet has let you down? Want to be let down even further? Well have no fear... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• BREAKING NEWS! Holy fucking shit... CANADA DOESN'T EXIST, y'all...
I KNEW IT! THANKS FOR THE LIES, NASA!!! This is Antarctica all over again!
• It's a Dip! I had Wavy Lay’s potato chips and Rold Gold pretzels with my grandma’s dip for breakfast. AND I DON’T NEED YOUR JUDGEMENT! Anyway, here’s the non-recipe for the dip ("non-recipe" because it’s all to taste, and there aren’t measurements I’ve ever used because I start with small amounts and add more as needed by dipping a chip to taste test as I go)...
Mash together with a fork until well-blended (yes, it looks like barf, but it tastes amazing!)...
Now, my grandmother used a splash of Worcestershire Sauce (to taste) instead of the Colby-Jack, but when I became a vegetarian, she made a separate bowl without it because Worcestershire contains anchovies that I don’t eat. It tastes great without, but something was missing. I tried adding a lot of different spices and other stuff to try and replicate the original and was about ready to give up… when my (now-ex) girlfriend said that it would be good with cheese in it. So I tried all kinds of cheeses… but it was Shredded Colby-Jack I liked best. Medium Cheddar is also very good. Yes, yes, I know it looks awful… but this is my most favorite dip ever.
• Hello Victor! I was recently re-introduced to the theme song from Hulu's Love, Victor, the sequel series to Love, Simon...
Such a pretty pop track. A little surprising that it's so short! Two minutes and forty-eight seconds is all you get.
• Arena! Wait... Magic the Gathering: Arena was released for iPhone back in March and nobody told me?
It looks and plays beautifully. And, unlike Magic The Gathering Online, it seems more geared towards casual play. But do I really want to get back into the game that financially wrecked me in the early 90's? Turns out it's actually not that expensive to play... IF you're content to grind your way through games to earn coin. If you just want all the good cards right away, then you'll have to spend real cash. I barely have time to play a game of Minecraft Dungeons each day. But maybe a quick game of Arena before bed is in the cards for me? Guess I'll have to tap my land cards to find out.
• DEER! I constricted the event trigger area for my back yard to just my patio because it was being triggered by raccoons too often, but a neighbor told me that the deer are back, so I extended it. And, sure enough, they wander by every day in the early morning. If you look closely, you can see some out in the field in addition to the one that walks across my back yard...
I don't know where they come from or where they go, but they graze in the field then leave. Really hope they don't get hurt... wherever they go.
• WHAT! Wait... Saturday Night Live is funny again?
Keegan Michael Key was the guest-host, and this disturbing take on The Muppet Show was funnier than it should have been given the violence against a Muppet...
Dang. Poor Statler! Serves him right, I guess?
• FUCK! The fact that people are THIS stupid should not still surprise me. But here we are...
Oh yeah! Because I just LOVE wearing a mask! We all do! Just LOVE it!
The CDC saying that fully-vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors is fucking stupid too. It's supposed to incentivize people to get vaccinated. But all it's actually going to do is cause anti-vax dipshits to lie and say they're vaccinated so they don't have to wear a mask any more... which is something they never wanted to do in the first place. Well, I'm fully-vaccinated. But people who are vaccinated can still get COVID and may not know they have it because their immune system has been programmed to attack it... which means they can still pass it to others. So I'm going to continue wearing my fucking mask inside public places so I'm doing my part to keep COVID deniers out of the fucking hospital. You know, in case I get a heart attack and need to be in the hospital or something. Jesus Christ. The people most pissed off about COVID precautions and restrictions ARE THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING IT LAST SO LONG! Hope you break a dick.
And I am done. No more bullets for you! (which is probably a good thing given my rage level right now).
Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2021
I'm the kind of gardener that's mostly "Eh, just let the plants do what they gonna do."
So when I received the huge surprise that some of my pansies came back from last year... AND that they are growing in weird places (like in a hole in garden barrier fabric!)... I decided to just leave them where they are and plant around everything...
Though apparently I have a green thumb for transplanting, because the irises that I dug up and moved that subsequently died... have somehow come back and are stronger than ever?
They're some really pretty irises, so I'm not mad they survived, but it was a shock because I expected them to die! I maintain that they are an incredibly stupid flower because many of them can't support their own weight and end up flopping over where they get run over by a mower...
My white irises, however, are like a frickin' fence, and stand straight year after year...
But anyway... finished my planting over Saturday & Sunday. Then this morning I went out and looked to see if my everything survived the early-morning irrigation...
Yikes. Those purple flower thingies (which haven't bloomed yet) get bigger every year. They probably need to be broken up or something. They take up almost the entire bed now!
My dogwood in the front yard which flowers for 15 minutes before all the petals drop off, is at its prettiest right now...
Will probably be bare tomorrow.
And that's it for my life in florals. I only have one area left to plant, but it needs a shrub of some kind and I don't know how to do that right. I might see if the landscaping company can do that for me.
Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
I subscribe to (or have access to) several streaming services. This makes for a monotonous slog to open up app after app looking for something good to watch. AppleTV and GoogleTV help to remedy this by curating a mix of new content and content recommendations based on the services you have and what you watch. It's been fantastically helpful, and I love it.
At least I did when it worked.
But now all the streaming services have profiles which fuck up the process. Instead of clicking on the movie or show you want to watch on AppleTV or GoogleTV and have it start playing on the streaming service that it comes from... you instead get cock-blocked by profiles, which look like this...
There are some streaming services which are able to bring up the content you clicked on after you're done dicking around with the profiles bullshit. But many of them do not. Instead you're taken to the streaming service home page and have to hunt down what you clicked on. Assuming you can remember what that is, which I often don't because television is what I watch when I want to turn off my brain. Not when I want to remember stuff.
I hate profiles with the burning fury of a thousand suns, even when I am NOT clicking through from AppleTV or GoogleTV. You get asked when you pull up the app directly too. I live alone. I don't have kids. I don't want to add a new profile. SO FUCK OFF ALREADY! Is it really necessary to flash this crap at me every damn time?!?
And it gets worse.
Netflix is so damn shitty about this crap that I will be watching a show downstairs in my living room, go upstairs to my bedroom to finish watching it, ONLY TO HAVE MY PROFILE FAIL TO LOAD AFTER I FUCKING CLICK ON IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER! Which means I have to create a second profile for my bedroom...
"b" is for bedroom... and I picked the first profile avatar that was available because I just don't give a shit
AND THEN when I watch upstairs, I have to fast-forward to the spot I left off downstairs because the saved point is saved to my downstairs profile. AND THEN since I finished the movie upstairs, the movie will show up in my "Finish Watching..." the next time I open up Netflix downstairs.
Bad enough to have to deal with this shit when you don't want to... but the fact that it fails so fucking badly at doing the one fucking thing that it's supposed to be doing... well... fuck off, Nextflix and your shitty AppleTV app.
Look, I get it. Some families love this feature. Mom has a profile. Dad has a profile. The kids have a profile. But why in the hell is it forced on me? It only causes problems and screws up the enjoyment of the content because I'm immediately angry at having to deal with this bullshit. Just give me a damn preference option to never have profiles show up ever again.
Given the money I and other single people have paid to these streaming service, they owe us at least that much. Especially since it demostrates that we're not sharing our login and password with other people and don't need profiles. You definitely owe us for that.
Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021
I've had many mormon friends over the years that have come to mean a lot to me. And, without exception, they have accepted it when I tell them that I try to live my life according to Buddhist principles and that's enough for me. They've never attempted to "convert" me. They've never condemned me or my beliefs. They've never lied or harmed members of my family. They've never been anything except nice to me. And so I've done my very best to be kind to them in turn.
When I'm traveling and run into Mormon missionaries, I stop and say hello, ask how they're doing, and ask them where they are from to make conversation. Especially when I am in a foreign country, because I know they're probably homesick and lonely. Being nice costs me nothing.
This is not to say that I don't have issues with the Mormon Church. Far from it. I was absolutely infuriated when they, as a tax-exempt entity, decided to support the virulently anti-gay Prop. 8 Campaign. But I feel this way about all the churches that decided to become anti-gay propaganda machines. If you want to be a PAC, then that makes you taxable, and you should lose your exemption. Period.
But anyway... ultimately if you want to be Mormon (or whatever) and aren't using it as a weapon to against people (see Prop. 8 above) then you do you and I'll do me.
And if you want to stop being a Mormon, that's okay with me too.
Which brings us to Mormon Stories.
Mormon Stories Podcast is a series of conversations with John Dehlin which center around Mormonism. It started as a forum where Mormons could discuss all aspects of the religion from varying perspectives. And it's fascinating. I was reminded of this recently when a friend brought up Tyler Glenn (lead singer from Neon Trees). Back when I first got into the band (late... just four years ago or so), I found a 3-part interview he did about his growing up in Mormonism... and what eventually caused him to leave the church. If you don't know of him, he's the guy behind the fantastic theme song for Love, Victor...
I ended up listening to Tyler's episode all over again. I think what makes it so compelling is just how smart, kind, and humble he is when talking about Mormonism. His perspective is part uplifting... part heartbreaking... but all interesting. Even if you're not a fan of Neon Trees I still highly recommend listening to his appearance on Mormon Stories. Yes, it's six hours long, but once you start listening the time flies by. I (re)listened to it while I was working...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's an interview with Jeremy Runnells about his infamous letter questioning Mormonism that's fascinating in a more analytical way. There's an interview with Wayne Sermon from the band Imagine Dragons that's every bit as interesting as Tyler Glenn's story. There's an interview with Noah Rasheta, who teaches Secular Buddhism from the perspective an ex-Mormon. The list goes on and on.
If you're looking for a new podcast series about a subject you may not even be familiar with, give it a listen.
Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2021
This past week I've been planting stuff in my flower beds. I got everything into the ground on Sunday and finished my planter on Tuesday. Surprisingly, I must have learned a thing or two from previous years, as ALL of my flowers survived the process. I took a walk around when I got home from work yesterday and was most pleased.
Then this afternoon the skies opened up and a torrential flood of rain fell out.
At first I thought that it would be a momentary thing that lasted for just a couple minutes. But eventually the rain kept dropping harder and harder and I started to worry about my poor flowers. After 10 minutes I couldn't take it any more and ran home to see what was happening to them...
The answer was... nothing good. So I ran around trying to cover them.
All the irises that hadn't already fallen over from their own weight were pounded flat.
My larger flowers were okay... with minor damage and a few snapped stems that had to be trimmed.
But the smaller flowers, which I thought would be just fine because of their proximity to the ground, were ripped to shreds. Not the alyssum, of course... that shit can survive just about anything... but all the tiny blue, purple, and yellow flowers I liked so much. They had their petals ripped off and their leaves buried in mud. They likely have new blooms yet to come, so I expect that I'll see them come back. But right now there's just little stubs where flowers once grew.
I spent a while digging a small trench to vacate all the water from the beds. I then had to manually scoop the water out of my planters. I left the irises alone, however, because they were going to fall over eventually anyway.
After I finished up, I went inside to take a shower, change clothes, and grab a sandwich.
And the minute I sat down to enjoy that sandwich?
Here comes the torrential flood of rain again.
Posted on Friday, May 21st, 2021
There's a special place in hell for companies who try to fool people into doing business with them by pretending to be authorities of something. Earlier this week I received an "official notice" about a monetary disbursement on my mortgage. Not from my lender... but from "the county office" where I reside. And I'm all like PAY ME THAT MONEY!
It's only at the very bottom of the letter in tiny grey print where they tell you that they are actually not an "official" anything... they are a bank and that this is a refinance offer. So all the government-like official symbols and claims of being "county representatives" are just bullshit to try and fool you into contacting them for "money you are owed."
It's a scam.
Meant to deceive hardworking people. And especially to deceive the elderly, who are more easily roped into believing this kind of bullshit.
And if the ACTUAL AUTHORITIES are not going to do something to put a stop to this, I can only hope that all the liars and assholes responsible for this horrendous shit will spontaneously combust. Though going out in a blaze of glory is too good for them.
Posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021
Whenever I see another cat exploring the great outdoors of my back yard while Jake and Jenny gaze out at them from the catio, I can't help but feel a little bad about it. They're such scaredy-cats that roaming free would probably be traumatic for them (it certainly was for Jake when he escaped!) and even more traumatic for any birds in the area, so I try not to let it bother me too much though.
In an effort to take the guilt away, I bought a "Fresh Patch Cat XL" to drop in the catio so they could at least have some nature to walk on or roll around in or whatever. The stuff is available in different sizes, but I opted for the largest 2' × 4' size to make it more lawn-like. What fun is a miniscule patch? It's grown without dirt and only requires a daily spritzing with water to stay fresh. It's supposed to last three to four weeks, but I'm hoping that it last longer since Jake and Jenny won't be peeing on it and taking dumps on it like a dog would.
The smaller patches come in a waxed-back box. The largest patches do not, so I ordered a tray to go with it. I thought it would be a flimsy thing and was prepared to build a frame for it, but the thing was really tough! The grass itself is okay... though it had sludgey spots and was yellowed already along one side.
After flopping the tray down, all I had to do was roll out the grass and it was ready.
At first, Jake wanted nothing to do with it. But Jenny? she was very curious...
Eventually Jake was onboard though...
I'm not sure if this will be a passing phase like just about every toy they've ever owned... or if they're in it for the long-haul. I'll have to see how things pan out before having to re-order in three or four weeks.
Posted on Sunday, May 23rd, 2021
Feeling lost? Feeling that the internet has let you down? Want to be let down even further? Well have no fear... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dogs! We Rate Dogs is now on TikTok! This is one of the more wonderful things to ever come out of the internet, and I'm happy to see it showing up on The Tok as well. I love that they are taking time to explain one of the best memes to ever exist...
Reply to @bertflemmings ##greenscreen Brant: A Story of Redemption (thanks for being a good sport my friend)♬ original sound - weratedogs
Some things deserve to go mega-viral. This is one of those things.
• Love is a Drug! Watch this. Watch Katie Porter dismantle the outright lies of Big Pharma. This is ASIDE FROM the fact that the US government funnels ADDITIONAL money in the form of government research to these companies. Taxpayers get soaked front-to-back, and NOBODY GIVES A SHIT. This is why lobbyist payola must be removed from politics. And that's a bi-partisan position, because there is trash on both sides of the aisle taking money to stay silent and sell us out. Except not Katie Porter. Thank God...
But will anything come of this? Probably not. Too many politicians in government who are NOT named Katie Porter are too busy fucking us over for money and power. Our system of government is designed that way.
• SQUIRREL! Mark Rober is back. And so are his squirrels...
I don't know what's more remarkable... that Mark keeps building these outlandish things... or that the squirrels somehow manage to get it all figured out in the end.
• Give Blood? And yet here we are...
Sorry monogamous gay men! There's still a three month abstinence waiting period before you can donate blood! And yet I can shoot up with dirty gutter needles and have unprotected at-risk intercourse with crack-addicted sex workers day and night (so long as they're women) and there's -zero- waiting period on my giving blood (so long as I'm not presenting any symptoms). Because that totally makes sense! Except it doesn't... because bigotry never does.
• Don't Fence Me In! And now for a cautionary tale, courtesy of vlogger Johnny Harris...
In all seriousness, is there anything on this planet that humans haven't screwed up?
• Be Best! People who get off on cruelty boggle my mind. What has any trans person ever done to you to deserve this? I’m genuinely curious. People are just doing their best to live their life the best they can with the cards they were dealt. And their reward for trying to carve out a little piece of happiness and live their best life is for you to shit all over them? That’s not the flex you think it is. You’re just showing the world that you’re awful...
Do better to be better.
THE END! NO MORE BULLETS FOR YOU!
Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2021
Marvel Studio's new "teaser" trailer dropped today for Eternals (formerly The Eternals) directed by the visionary Chloé Zhao (her films really haven't been my cup of tea, but they look like absolute works of art). There was no other news today.
It's a long, long wait until November 5th, but this one looks like it will end up being worth it...
I have every confidence that Marvel Studios will end up delivering something fantastic... their track record has been stellar... but it will be interesting to see how they retcon Eternals into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I certainly hope it's more than "Sure aliens are invading earth, but we don't want to interfere" and "Sure Thanos (WHO IS ALSO AN ETERNAL, BY THE WAY!) is wiping out half the universe, but we don't want to interfere"... because that would be some serious bullshit. But what would be even bigger bullshit? Openly stating that the Eternals have been pulling the strings all along, and nothing that happened in the previous Marvel movies was due to the characters starring in those Marvel movies, but instead was always the Eternals.
In the comics, the Celestials (The Collector, The Grandmaster, Ego, etc.) created the Eternals. But it's not entirely clear if that will be the case here. Since the story spans thousands of years, having an appearance by Thanos, at the very least, would seem essential. But I don't know that Marvel wants to unleash a new franchise with that kind of baggage, so I guess we'll have to wait and see who does (and does not) make an appearance.
166 days and counting...
Posted on Tuesday, May 25th, 2021
I don't buy chocolate milk very often. The sugar content is too big a hit, so on the occasion that I happen to have milk in the house and want choccy milk I just use a heaping tablespoon of Nesquik and call it a day.
But last time I was at the grocery store, they had an entire gallon of choccy milk for some ridiculously low price... like $1.69 or something like that. Half the price of a half-gallon. I thought it might be because the expiry date was two days away or something, but it wasn't. I had two whole weeks to get through it!
Because surely I could drink a gallon in two weeks, right?
Yeah. Not so much.
I am barely half-way through it and the expiry date is tomorrow.
Now, I know that you can drink it past the expiry date, and I will probably try and have a glass for the rest of the week so I can get the most for my money... but it will likely not be because I've wanting a glass of choccy milk. And I will likely be dumping out a lot of it.
Oh well. I wish I could say that this was the first time I've been suckered into a "too good to be true" deal that didn't end up being that great. Though since it was cheaper than a half-gallon and I managed to get through half of the jug, I guess it kinda is?
Stuff like this messes with your head. In a day-and-age when groceries are just so darn expensive, I need to remember the chocolate milk fallacy... and that I am a single guy living alone who doesn't eat a lot.
That will save me from crying over spilt milk... as it goes down the drain.
Posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
A part of me is like "Eh. The world be consolidating... it'll be nice to have all that additional content in my Amazon Prime Video library." and moving on. But another part of me is like "Will this be a good thing or a bad thing for the James Bond franchise?" Because this news is naturally all about me, and my only concern is that I don't want James Bond screwed up. I've seen every one of the films many, many times and, while some of them are far from perfect, I like all of them to a certain degree. Especially lately...
James Bond producers are claiming that the James Bond films will all have a theatrical release before going to Amazon Prime streaming, which is wise when you are able to attract talent like direcor Sam Mendes who paints these incredible scenes that are begging to be seen on the Big Screen.
The other consolidation news of the past week? WarnerMedia is merging with Discovery. Worth $43 BILLION DOLLARS.
AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, has fucked up so many times that I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about what this might mean for Discovery (home to oh-so-many television shows that I watch). We are told that the company will be entirely separate from AT&T, but can that ever truly be the case? I guess we'll find out. It would be nice to pay for ONE streaming service rather than two like I am now (HBO Max & Discovery+).
This trend of media giants merging is not going to end any time soon. You kinda knew it was on the way because there's only so many subscriptions out there that people can afford to buy and there are a lot of them out there. I'd really like it if Disney+ would integrate Hulu content because that would be yet another pair of services that I'd rather pay for once instead of twice.
Netflix currently spends $17 BILLION on content. Disney+ is not far behind. Now WarnerMedia/Discovery will likely eclipse them both... assuming they keep their budget at the same levels. Now there's Amazon/MGM who will undoubtedly pony up to these levels to compete. And there's Apple TV+, Paramount+ (CBS/Viacom), and all the Package Streamers (Philo, Fubo, Sling, etc.). Contrast and compare to actual movie studios which can't really compete with that. What becomes of them? Well, if this trend continues, there's more consolidation in our future.
Hopefully that's a good thing.
My favorite movie of 2020 came from Netflix, after all.
Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2021
We've known for a while that there would be a new Wakanda-based series coming to Disney+ from Ryan Coogler. What we haven't known is what it will be about. And we still don't. I was really hoping for an M'Baku series starring Winston Duke that explores the Jabari Tribe because, seriously, how cool would that be? And while I'm still hoping for that series, today we found out that the new Wakanda-based show will feature Danai Gurira, so it will probably revolve around her character of Okoye...
I am not at all mad about this. I absolutely love Okoye, and Danai Gurira is phenomenally talented. They could take her character in a hundred different directions and she would slay it (GIVE US OKOYE IN SPACE!!!). I don't suppose it's too much to ask that Daniel Katuuya make an appearance as W'Kabi. That's Okoye's husband, after all.
And if that M'Baku series and a Dora Milaje series and a Nakia series and an Ayo series also get made? So much the better! There is no end to the Wakanda characters they could build around.
And no end to the number of Wakanda characters I want to see in movies and television.
Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2021
Posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2021
I have loads of photos of my cats. But photo after photo gets boring, so I was looking for something different. I didn't know exactly what that was going to be until I saw one of my long-time blogging friends was painting rocks that she hides for people to find. She paints a lot of cats, so I thought I'd ask about hiring her for a commissioned set for Jake and Jenny. Lucky for me, she accepted. And today they arrived!
There's Kitten Jenny, Adult Jenny, Kitten Jake, and Adult Jake hugging Mufasa. Kim also gave me two Taco Cat rocks to hide.
The only thing I told her is that Jenny needs to have her trademark frowny-face. Everything else... including Mufasa... she came up with entirely on her own! How awesome is that? She captured them perfectly, and I couldn't be happier.
Now I need to build a shadow box to display them.
Posted on Sunday, May 30th, 2021
Try to tell me that you were looking forward to the holiday weekend more than Bullet Sunday! Just try! I won't believe you... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Situational Conjecture! This past Thursday I had to run an errand, so I stopped at the drive-in for some lunch then parked to eat. As I was sitting there, I saw a skinny kid with tattoos on his calves walk by... and instantly I was taken back to something a friend told me. He was leaving a grocery store behind another man. As they exited, a kid comes up and asks if they have a couple bucks to spare so he can get something to eat. The man ahead of my friend said "Maybe if you spent less money on tattoos and drugs, you could afford to eat." My friend, who was mortified that this is how somebody would act towards a hungry person, set down his groceries and got out his wallet. He handed over $5 and said (loudly) "NICE INK! ENJOY YOUR LUNCH." My friend was still raging about it when he told me all this the following week. "Maybe he got the tattoos before he ended up in a situation where he's asking for food money! Maybe a friend is a tattoo artist and did them for free! Maybe he got them in trade for work he did! How the fuck does that asshole think he knows ANYTHING about that kid's situation? And do people with tattoos automatically do drugs? Where did that come from? WHAT THE FUCK, MAN?!? THE KID WAS HUNGRY!" My friend is, of course, absolutely right. About all of it. You just really never know what somebody's situation is or what they are going through. So don't let what you think you know turn you into an asshole. Heaven only knows I try.
• Wholesome Watch! Men with Baby Animals... a bullet in two parts. Starting with Part One...
And, Part Two...
• Welp! This just in from the No Fucking Shit Department... JJ Abrams: Lack of plan in Star Wars’ latest trilogy was a “critical” flaw.
• Sublet! I've mentioned more than a couple times my obsession with actor John Benjamin Hickey (heck, I even wrote a blog entry about him). He is hands-down one of my favorite character actors because he elevates every move he appears in... even when he's just popping up for a small role. — Now today I find that not only does he have a new movie coming out... HE'S THE LEAD! But it gets better... the movie is from director Eytan Fox, who made the amazing film "Yossi & Jagger."
To say I am psyched to see this movie is a massive understatement. It looks really good!
• LiLo Dallas Netflix Pass! Lindsey Lohan is starring in a Hallmark-style Christmas movie for Netflix about a spoiled hotel heiress who gets amnesia and ends up in the care of a blue-collar lodge owner and his daughter. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. It's Paris Hilton meets... um... well... LITERALLY Lindsey Lohan, and I will absolutely be tuning in for that.
• Our National Nightmare. Read this. Read this and tell me that this society isn't a misogynistic pile of shit looking for any excuse to control women, traumatize women, and punish women. Go ahead. Tell me. I'm waiting. Welcome to our dystopian nightmare. And don't be at all surprised when you research this and find that there are women who support it. Some of the most anti-woman people I've met have been women...
Jim Wright — May 26 at 8:24 AM
The Pennsylvania state legislature today voted to advance a bill by Republican state legislator, Frank Ryan, that would essentially fine women who miscarry, force them to apply for a "Fetal Death Certificate" (and pay a filing fee), and then require a formal burial or cremation of the remains (which the woman would also have to pay for) — no matter where in the pregnancy the miscarriage occurs.
If this were to pass, if you miscarry in Pennsylvania, say at six weeks, then by law you would be fined, penalized, and required to hold a burial for handful of non-viable cells that are essentially indistinguishable from menstruation.
Ryan drafted this bill because of "his own experience after losing a child."
He said he was "asking the ladies in the room" to "recognize how men feel."
I'll pause so you can shout the appropriate profanity here.
This isn't the first bill of its kind. And no matter if it passes or not, it won't be the last. Because, this is the inevitable end result of "life begins at conception" and "fetal personhood."
This is where they were ALWAYS going to go with this.
Because even if they outlaw abortion, it won't be enough.
It won't be enough.
If you consider abortion to be murder, if you make that law, then it is inevitable that EVERY miscarriage WILL have to be investigated as a possible case of negligent homicide or manslaughter.
And that's EXACTLY where these religious nuts are going with this.
And if they pass THAT, it still won't be enough.
It won't be enough.
If they get their way, then the moment a woman becomes pregnant, she will legally be considered nothing more than an incubator with no rights or self-determination. Property of the State and of their religion.
That is the ONLY possible end result of this reasoning.
Don't take my word for it, listen to people like Ryan in their own words. Listen to the preachers. Listen to the Right to Life movement.
These evil lunatics need to be removed from every office in the land and their insane religion needs to be marginalized and starved until it dies forever.
Then they can give their miserable god a burial if they like.
No word as to whether fertility clinics which fertilize countless numbers of eggs in order to assist women having difficulty getting pregnant will be affected. But since only wealthy people can afford that kind of science, I think we all know what the answer will be.
• Sponsored?! And lastly today, holy shit...
And I so wanted a Nazi-era fuck blanket.
Dats all I got. I'm going to cut out and enjoy my Sunday. Hoping you do the same!
Posted on Monday, May 31st, 2021
Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor those who died in service of this country. Many having done so far from home. It's difficult for me to not put Memorial Day in this context, having visited American cemeteries in foreign lands (like this one in Tunisia). One I have not been to is the Netherlands American Cemetery (though I have been to nearby Maastricht), which was beautifully captured in this drone footage...
To those soldiers and their family and friends who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we so casually enjoy, thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.
Like many people, I'd imagine, this Memorial Day Weekend is the first time I've gathered with friends and family in a very long time. Thanks to vaccination efforts and a beautiful day outside, the conditions were finally safe enough for a group event, and it meant more to me than I could ever say to have a moment of "normal" after a year of "anything-but-normal." Plus... we had foster puppies to play with!
A day off work doesn't get much better than this.
Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021
Happy Pride Month, everybody!
It would be nice to think that 2021 would keep us moving forward, but there's a frightening amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation that is being introduced... especially on the anti-transgender front. The most troubling of which is targeting transgender kids which, given how vulnerable they already are, is horrific thing to have happen.
I sure hope that voters can find it in their hearts to keep tabs what their representatives are doing and educate themselves on these issues... because, more often than not, I am seeing gross misrepresentation of the facts.
The biggest misrepresentation being that coming out as "something other than straight" is a new trend that's confusing kids and being forced on people like it's some kind of fad.
At which point it may be helpful to look at it in a different context. Because being LGBTQ+ is nothing new... it's just that we're finally getting to the point where people are able to be who they are openly and not have to hide it any more. It used to be that being left-handed was considered evil and left-handed kids were forced to learn to write with their right hand. Naturally, the number of people who claimed to be left-handed during this time period plummeted. But once this nonsense started to fade away, the number of left-handed people increased. Except... they didn't. They had been here all along, it's just that they were not allowed to be who they are. It's the same for LGBTQ+ persons... they've been here all along. It's just that they've been forced to conform to societal "norms" that were forced on them.
It's far past time for that nonsense to stop.
Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021
It's getting to the point that I don't want to drive any more.
Because every time... whether it's five minutes to work or two hours over the mountains... people are driving like psychotic assholes. They are so aggressive and awful that driving has become an overwhelmingly stressful chore.
Take four-way stops, for example. There are two in my small town I use regularly. In increasing frequency, people are not waiting their turns. They roll right through the stop because they don't want to wait for you to come to a complete stop... as you are legally required to do.
A ten-minute drive to the grocery store will easily result in somebody cutting me off. An asshole revving their engine behind me while I wait for somebody to cross the street. Some jerk recklessly racing around me in the parking lot. And an idiot running a stop sign. And this is not some random event that happens every once in a while, it's every damn time!
On the way back from the Seattle-side of the mountains yesterday, there was a car ahead of me bouncing between 45mph and 55mph on a single-lane 60mph highway. As you can imagine, this is frustrating, so the minute there's passing lane, I went to go past him. AT WHICH TIME HE STARTS DRIVING 70MPH!! Then, the minuite the passing lane disappears, he's right back down below the speed limit. Which is to say that he was intentionally not allowing cars to pass him. He got off on the idea that he was blocking people. I waited for a straight-away where passing was permitted but, you guessed it, he sped up the minute I sped up and put on my turn signal to go around him.
Finally I couldn't take it any more. The next time a passing lane opened up, I floored it and did not give a shit. But here's the thing... he didn't move to the right lane. He stayed in the passing lane as cars were trying to pass him. We had to pass on the right! And of course he sped up so that only people willing to temporarily go 75mph could pass him.
Assholes like this should not be allowed to drive.
Hell, they shouldn't be allowed to live! This kind of intentional asshole driving should be punishable by death, because it's people like that who cause fatal accidents with their aggressive, idiotic bullshit.
It's a shame I don't want to drive any more because I've always been such a good driver.
Scratch that. I am an exemplary driver.
Never caused an accident. Have never come close to causing an accident. The one accident I've been in was when I was stopped at a light and a driver trying to escape the police RAN INTO ME. I've driven in 47 states. I've driven in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Austria, Spain, Italy, France, and Mexico without incident. I'VE DRIVEN IN DETROIT AND SURVIVED! I've had only two tickets in 38 years of driving... BOTH OF WHICH WERE BULLSHIT... but that was decades ago.
So naturally I signed up for Progressive Auto Insurance "Snapshot" program so I could save $20 every six months.
I'm sure this device which monitors your driving is great for some places... but not where I live! I am constantly being dinged for stuff that's not an actual thing, and honestly feel that this device encourages bad driving. Where I live, there are stop lights on the highway. So naturally you're going to make hard stops from time to time when a light changes and you're going 60 miles per hour! BEEP BEEP! Come up to a YIELD and don't make a complete stop... A YIELD, NOT A STOP? BEEP BEEP! Actually make a complete stop like you're supposed to? BEEP BEEP! And the beeps I get for hard stops is insane. Apparently anything less than a 2mph deceleration is considered a "hard stop," which means that you are coming up to stops way too slow and backing up traffic where lights are close together. I don't make hard stops. But I also don't make old-person-slow-stops that cause problems and accidents either. Yet... BEEP BEEP!
I kept hoping that the Snapshot device would eventually get smart about the conditions where I live, but on my 44th day of the 45 day trial I just couldn't take it any more and opted out. I don't care if it rates me a "B+" for my driving and tells me I'm doing a good job... I am not going to start driving unsafely just to avoid that fucking BEEP BEEP!
A $20 savings over six months is not worth my sanity.
Posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2021
Marvel Studios dropped a new trailer for Black Widow today. As one would expect, it looks glorious. Since the character doesn't have super-powers or massive custom gear (like a Batmobile) or setting (like a Batcave) it would have been so very easy for the studio to cheap out and give Black Widow a budget movie... but they didn't do that. Wisely, they stuck to formula by investing the money to give her a spectacular action flick that looks every bit as awesome as the movies other Marvel characters have been getting...
And bravo to that, because Black Widow has been carrying other movies all this time without complaint, and she frickin' deserves to have a movie of her own that will measure up.
Fortunately, the film will be available to Disney+ subscribers upon release for a "premium access fee" so I don't have to go to a theater to see it... because I'm not quite ready for that. I will happily pay an early fee to see the movie in the safety of my own home. It would be nice if the early access fee included a digital copy of the movie when it eventually gets released for sale... but that doesn't seem to be the way it works, so I'll undoubtedly be buying it on iTunes as well.
Money well-spent if I watch it even half as many times as I've watched all my other Marvel Studio movies.
The next movie on Marvel's slate is Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings... another flick I'm dying to see (seriously, the cast is to die for). I don't think that this one will have simultaneous releases for home video and theaters like Black Widow. So I guess we'll find out come September 3 if I'm dying enough to go to a movie theater. If not then, maybe for Eternals in November or Spider-Man: No Way Home in December? It's tough to say. Personally, I'd love to never have to step into a movie theater ever again. As I've said many times now, I detest the experience of it all because people are shitty. But I know that movie studios have to recoup their investment somehow. These are not cheap movies to make.
In other Marvel Studio news... genius filmmaker Taika Waititi announced that Thor: Love and Thunder has wrapped filming and will now go into post-production for special effects and stuff. Which apparently takes a minute, because it's not due to be released until May 6, 2022! If any movie is going to get me back in theaters kicking-and-screaming, it would be this one. Thor: Ragnarok is easily in the running to be my favorite Marvel movie, so seeing it immediately regardless or where and how is a no-brainer.
Even if they did miss the opportunity to title it Thor 4: More Thor.
Posted on Friday, June 4th, 2021
Welp... nobody will see this because I've had to put my blog into "static mode" after being hacked (not for content, they just injected code into my installation). Thankfully I have a file-change-plugin going on that let's me know these things. Here's hoping that I can get this figured out tonight. Sorry you can't comment, faithful blog reader!
Posted on Saturday, June 5th, 2021
I honestly don't understand how this stuff happens. Apprently there was a vulnerability somewhere that my protection plugin didn't catch. It only alerted me to the fact that files had changed, and when I look at the source code, I see it there... I just don't know where it's being injected yet.
Reeeeealy hope I don't have to restore from backup.
This will be the look on my face if I have to do a restore from backup...
It's Caturday, after all.
Posted on Sunday, June 6th, 2021
STILL HACKED! I didn't have time to look at my WordPress install last night and this afternoon I've developed quite the headache. But fear not, dear reader, I will hack out my bullets this fine Sunday anyway, and hope that I can post them one of these days... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now soon...
• SHARRRRRRK! Discovery has announced that Shark Week begins July 11th this year! GO SHARKS!
P.S. Did you know that sharks predate trees on planet earth? It's true!
• It Burns! <sarcasm> Color me shocked </sarcasm>... CDC loosened mask guidance to encourage vaccination—it failed spectacularly. So stupid.
• It's Not Hard to Learn If You're Already Doing It! A-fucking-men to that...
Our preferred pronouns are just like remembering an honorific. Like "Doctor" or "Professor" or "Arch-Duke," and it's such a small thing to learn them. We do things to be courteous to others all the time, so why is this such a difficult concept to embrace for some people? You don't have to agree with it... just be fucking polite about it... because it's not your life... it's their life. Ooh! Look! I just did it and I didn't even think about it! So miss me with your bullshit excuses and just be kind to your fellow humans. That's the only way we're all going to make it.
• Fly the Friendly Skies! It's almost as if flight attendants should all be armed with tasers and have a zero-tolerance policy for your bullshit (like with this piece of shit and her bullshit right here). Start spouting off about your "right" to not wear a mask... tasered. Start being a disorderly piece of shit... tasered. Be a pile of garbage towards the cabin crew and try to assault them when they're just trying to do their job... tasered. If potential problems with these assholes were immediately dismissed with a nice tasering, the sky would be a safer, more friendly place for both passengers and crew. Nobody is forcing you to fly, AND THE CABIN CREW DOESN'T SET POLICY... THEY JUST HAVE TO ENFORCE IT! So if you're going to fly then you have to follow the rules in place and not be an abusive dick. Or else... tasered...
• Cancellation Station! Netflix has canceled Jupiter's Legacy and I'm like ORYL?!? I may die of unshock. They took what could have been a fantastic show and took a huge shit on it BY NOT FOLLOWING THE COMIC BOOK IT WAS BASED ON. Had they just used the original comic book series as a script we could have had something epic. BUT NOOOOOOO! What a waste. My thoughts on this turd of a series are here.
• Texas! Look, I'm pro-Second-Ammendment and all, but what happened to the days where the NRA was a gun safety organization? Before I was allowed to shoot a gun, I had to take classes and learn about responsible ownership. Just like owning a car, where you need training and a license, guns can kill people... so that should be the bare minimum, right? Not in Texas. Now they've got this absurd "Constitutional Carry" legislation in play which allows people in the state to buy a gun without license or training. You know... Texas... where a woman tried to shoot a puppy and ended up shooting her kid instead...
God what a dumbfuck asshole. This is just more ammunition for the anti-gun lobby, so great job there, moron. I hope the kid is okay.
And there's all my Sunday Bullets that may never be seen. Stupid hackers.
Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2021
And so the Apple World Wide Developer Conference happened today. Once my migraine was in check, I watched the video replay. And it was jaw-dropping (after you got over the truly heinous opening video, which was groan-inducing awful). There's some very cool technologies being dropped into the upcoming iOS 15 and macOS Monterey builds that I am having a tough time wrapping my head around it. But let's try, shall we?
• Spatial Audio FaceTime! Now when you are in a multi-person FaceTime session, the audio will take advantage of the Spatial Audio feature of some headphone devices (like AirPods Pro) and give you the illusion that different people are in different areas of the room. I think this will be one of those "you have to experience it to get it" things, because right now I don't see how this is all that useful. It's a gimmick that feels like it wouldn't make a FaceTime call any better.
• Voice Isolation! On the other hand, the new "voice isolation" feature feels like it would be highly beneficial. It effectively cancels out ambient noise so you can be heard easier in a noisy environment. No clue how well this will work in the Real World, but it certainly seems like a technology that's worth a shot, given the example they show in the keynote of a woman on a FaceTime call while somebody is using a leaf blower in the background.
• Wide Spectrum Audio! The opposite of Voice Isolation, this mode will pick up as much audio information as it can sense and relay that... like when you are at a piano recital, which is the example they used. I can see this being a welcome technology for people who do stuff like that, but it will likely have very little use for me.
• Grid View! This seems pretty superficial. You're talking to people in a grid? Yeah, that's the way online conversations work. Did Apple suddenly discover Zoom or something?
My guess is that Apple is just trying to compete with the juggernaut which is Zoom.
• Portrait Mode! Turn your iPhone sideways and you'll be FaceTiming in "Portrait Mode" which seems to softens your face and blurs out the background so the people you chat with can focus on you...
This actually looks highly useful, because face-to-face you don't tend to wander like you do when you're online. Nice.
• FaceTime Links! And Facetime is now multi-platform! Android and Windows users (or any device with a compliant web browser) can join into a FaceTime conversation via a link. About damn time. Did Apple really think that iPhone users ONLY talks to other iPhone users? Typical Apple arrogance here. At least they're finally over it. This time.
• SharePlay Music! Maybe I'm misreading this... but I think it only applies if both people in FaceTime will be able to listen to music in sync with each other while on a chat?
I have Amazon Music Unlimited... I wonder if that will be permitted? If different people subscribe to different services, can they all coordinate the same song across services? Music is music, so does it really matter? My guess is that they can't. At least not right now. Maybe eventually everybody will play nice together, but this IS Apple we're talking about.
• SharePlay Video! If there's one thing 2020 taught us, it's that being together while apart is essential. Not just in a pandemic. But here comes SharePlay to make things better! Well, as "better" as it can be given that nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact. But SharePlay is a very cool technology which actually does look like it will help bring people together while apart. Basically, it allows shared video experiences to happen over the internet effortlessly...
Well, depending on the service, that is. Disney+ will reportedly allow a shared experience only if both of you are subscribed to it... which makes sense. Other services may or may not have this requirement. What I want to know is whether or not I can share HOME movies with somebody via SharePlay? I dunno.
• SharePlay API! SharePlay isn't an Apple exclusive feature, it's an API which all developers can integrate into their apps. Apple has demonstrated how you can share your screen while in other apps... and even how you can chat via text instead of voice if you're trying to watch a show together (via Picture-In-Picture)...
Now THIS interests me, because I already do this with friends. If more companies make shared experiences easier, then it's going to be more beneficial to everybody who wants to stay in contact while apart.
• SharePlay AppleTV! Okay... here's where things are getting exciting. Being able to cast the shared video to your television while chatting or texting on your iOS device or macOS device is exactly what I want...
You'll even be able to watch TikTok together!
Please, please, PLEASE let Plex integrate this into their apps! And please, please, PLEASE let Windows and Android integrate it into their products too!
• SharePlay Screen Sharing! I have questions. "ScreenPlay Sharing" allows you to share your video screen, which is not new technology... but Apple sure is making it easier. The issue is refresh rate. Will it stream your screen fast enough to watch videos? I dunno. But one thing's for sure,
It will be interesting to see if Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others work SharePlay into their products so everybody can participate. I guess that's on them.
• Messages! New features being added to Messages is cool, but hardly revolutionary. Oh look... picture sharing is prettier and easier to swipe through!
Wheeeee. The new "Shared With You" feature in Messages, which curates links and such for viewing at a later time, isn't so superficial. And when you pick up on them later (in their respective apps like News, Photos, Music, and such), there's a link back to the message thread so you can continue the conversation. Now that's helpful. As is pinning a text. Thanks, Apple!
• Focus! I get it... your iPhone is a constant distraction... but do we really need to have Apple monitor all of it for us? I just go into Do Not Disturb. Granted, having Apple trying to figure out what's important or not based on your preferences is kinda a game-changer, but allowing people to break through when something is horribly urgent is a definite game-changer. At least it is if I am understanding it correctly. If I can tell iPhone that I always want somebody to break through my Do Not Disturb because they are Just That Important? Yes please!
I never stop working. If I just ignored people while I am working, I'd never hear from anybody. But perhaps Apple trying to prioritized can change that? Worth a shot... just CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS...
No idea if this will work for me. But maybe? It looks highly customizable, so I'd like to think it can!
• Intelligence! I am all for my phone and computer being smarter and helping me more. Apple is doubling down with Artificial Intelligence by giving us... Intelligence? Alrighty then. I was hooked on the idea with Craig's first demo of "LiveText"... YOU CAN SELECT TEXT IN PHOTOS NOW?!? SERIOUSLY?!? ZOMG!!!
And "Intelligence" will allow a lookup of the highlighted text so you can get results on searches for that term. Highlight the name of a restaurant? BOOM! There it is. Holy crap!
Phone numbers are an obvious use... just click on it and choose "dial"...
AND IT RECOGNIZES EIGHT LANGUAGES?!? DOES THIS MEAN TRANSLATION WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH GOOGLE TRANSLATE?!?!?
And it's not just text... "Intelligence" can also recognize objects, like pets, books, flowers, art, and landmarks...
Now THAT'S awesome.
• Spotlight! Apple's answer to search, "Spotlight," always seemed to be a distraction... and now Apple is adding more distractions. Maybe I'm not using it right?
• Photos Memories! Being able to create smart "Memory Albums" seems like a great idea but, once again, requires Apple Music in order to use it to its full potential. I'm with Amazon Music Unlimited, so...
• Wallet! Now, I absolutely love, love, love Apple Wallet. Especially its integration with my Apple Watch. I don't even take my phone out of my pocket when paying for stuff at the store any more. I just double-click my watch and it's done. The fact that Apple is adding even more capabilities to Wallet is perfectly fine by me! Credit cards, transit cards, and park passes... that's great!
Adding keys to wallet would be great... if I had a car that supported it. But now they're adding the ability for other keys... like a house key... to be added as well. My electronic locks are by Schlage, which are utter shit, so I'm guessing they won't support this. They can't even bother to update their damn app so that it's bug-free!
Room keys uploading to your phone before you even arrive so you can just walk to your room is very cool, so long as you're staying in one which supports it...
BUT HERE'S THE INTERESTING ONE... YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE ON YOUR PHONE?!?!
Alas, I live in Washington State which is always slow on the uptake. We still don't have Real ID compliant licenses. And our DOT website still uses phrases like "Disabled Parking" instead of "Accessible Parking" so who knows if I'll ever be able to take advantage of it.
• Weather! Oh look. They made the Apple Weather app prettier.
• Maps! I use Google Maps because I find them more complete and Waze because their traffic routing can't be beat... but Apple Maps is SO pretty that I may try and switch. Again. Just look at the gorgeous new renderings they are adding...
IT EVEN SWITCHES FROM DAY TO NIGHT MODE! GAAAAH!!! So pretty...
Of course, it's only as useful as it's completeness... which I'm guessing is only for the major cities. I hope they really push forward on including ALL cities, because the renderings of lanes, intersection complexities, and overpasses is just too smart...
I dunno. It will be tough to give up Waze, but Apple seems to be really innovating. Like when you're in a city that has its building mapped. You just scan the area and Apple Maps will tell you exactly where you are in Augmented Reality...
Phenomenal. IF you're in London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, or Washington DC.
• Audio! Apple is REALLY making AirPods a compelling purchase. First with spatial audio, and now with focused listening for people with hearing difficulties... and even a way to modify what is being heard to make AirPods better than a hearing aid!
But the news that grabbed my attention? AirPods will now be on Apple's Find My Network service! You can even have them chirp to help you find them...
And the separation alerts, which let you know if you are leaving your AirPods behind is something that should be including on Apple's AirTag products. In other news... currently Apple's killer "Spatial Audio" feature is only available on iOS, but Apple is bringing it to AppleTV, which will be nice since those are the places I mostly watch TV and movies. It's also available to M1 Macs, which leaves me out. Oh well.
• iPadOS! Ever since Apple spun off iPad from iOS, the experience just keeps getting better and better. Now they're adding old iOS features... and adding even more cool iPad exclusive features... very few of which I'll likely remember! I need to use my iPad more often so I can remember this stuff! Craig says that multitasking has been made easier, and the demo by the iPad guy looks like maybe it's more intuitive than it is now? So maybe there's hope for me yet!
• Oh Siri! Apple is kinda an industry leader when it comes to privacy. Though I think they fall short in so any areas, I like that they're at least trying. And their latest iOS 15 innovation is addressing a major concern I have with Alexa... having everything I say go out onto the internet. In the next iOS, Siri will start processing more and more of what you say locally... not on the internet... which makes it more secure and also faster.
• iCloud! Apple's iCloud is somthing I love to hate. Yes, I love how it can sync all my bookmarks and passwords and all that... but the fact that it's not consistent in how it works... or wheter it works is frustrating as hell. Apple is now adding features to their iCloud Service (I pay $2.99 a month, I think?) which may or may not work as advertised. I am dubious. One is a "trusted contact" who won't have access to your account, but can receive a passcode if you're locked out of your phone so you can call them to get it. Nice. Apple is also adding Digital Legacy for when you die. Once dead, you can have a trusted contact access your stuff. I'm not sure how nice this is, but I like the idea of it, so I guess I'll look into it.
• iCloud+! Since Apple now makes more on the services they offer than the computers they sell, it's only smart of them to offer more services to sell. An upgraded iCloud offering is an obvious way to go. Fortunately for me, the new features are added at no additional cost. And they are compelling...
• Health! Yeah... it's all cool being able to more easily and automatically share your health data with your doctor and receive health information from your doctor electronically... but, again, it's only useful if your health provider will use it! Mine doesn't. So this is all useless to me. Pity.
• Watch! Thanks to the third-party AutoSleep app, my Apple Watch is a favorite piece of tech I own. Once I managed to get used to wearing a watch, I don't know how I managed without it. Paying via ApplePay on my watch is awesome. I don't know about this new "Mindfulness" hippy-dippy crap... because I fond it annoying rather than helpful... but some people might like it.
• HomeShit! I absolutely HATE HomeKit. Apple fucked it up SO bad. It's unreliable. It's made complicated from being overly-simplified. And it doesn't work with most smart home devices, so what they fuck good is it? And since the new features are tied to HomePod... a product I fucking hate with every fiber of my being... I honestly don't give a crap. Maybe one day Apple will understand that OTHER TECH COMPANIES FUCKING EXIST and try harder to work with more of them. Apple says that they are a part of a new tech alliance called "Matter" but forgive me if I'm dubious about that working out. I'll sit here and hold my breath.
• Continuity! Being able to hand-off from your iPhone to your MacBook to your iMac seamlessly is incredible. That Apple knows this and is working to make it even more functional makes me very happy. I mean, check this out... set your iPad next to your Mac... AND THE TOUCHPAD WILL CONNECT AUTOMATICALLY AND ALLOW YOU TO DRAG AND DROP BETWEEN THEM! ZOMFG!
Craig says "How cool is that?" then proceeds to show drag-and-drop between the two and I literally shouted back at my computer "SO FUCKING COOL, CRAIG!!" Because it is. And then because Craig isn't satisfied with me talking back to him like that... HE ADDS AN IMAC TO THE MIX AND IS USING THE MACBOOK TRACKPAD TO CONTROL ALL THREE LIKE A BOSS!!!
Continuity is a technology that Apple undersells... I absolutely love the Mac ecosystem because of exactly stuff like this.
• AirPlay to Mac! I send video from my iPhone to my AppleTV from time to time. Apple's now allowing you to send iPhone and iPad video to your Mac. Nice.
• Shortcuts! Apple's "Automator" scripting language is something profoundly useful if you have the patience to learn how to use it. Apple is making that easier by bringing iPhone "Shortcuts" to the Mac. And it integrates with "Automator" so you lose nothing. SMART AND MUCH APPRECIATED!
• Safari! Oh God. Apple is "simplifying" again... which usually shits all over the user experience. I am still fucking LIVID that Apple "simplified" Mail by taking away your ability to select from different mail servers AS YOU COMPOSE an email. This is a feature I used DAILY and... poof... just like that, Apple complicates something that used to be easy by "simplifying." Well here's an idea Apple, LET THE USER FUCKING CHOOSE IF THEY WANT SOMTHING "CLUTTERING" UP THE INTERFACE! Because what you consider "clutter" may just be the thing that somebody needs, relies on, and will miss badly if you take it the fuck away. God. These are the things I positively loathe about Apple. "Simplification" is just coded Apple-speak for "not pretty" and they need to get the fuck over themselves. New Safari "streamlining" looks prettier... but, again, in looking at it I have to wonder if it's going to force me to switch to Google Chrome because I don't want simple I want useful.
• Programming! I haven't written an app in years. But boy do these new Apple Developer Tools look awesome (Xcode Cloud is about as cool as it gets). I also love that Apple is trying to level the playing field by making programming concepts and practice more accessible to everybody with Swift... and will now allow apps to be developed on iPad! Sweet.
• The End! And that was the end of that. Another WWDC Kenote in the bag. All-in-all, this is some really amazing steps forward that I am looking forward to. Also some maybe great things... but I'll reserve judgement until I have a chance to work with the stuff they announced this Fall.
Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
Honestly, I have tried to work the word "hate" out of my vocabulary. Because I have seen where it leads. So I endeavor to not hate anybody, anyplace, or anything.
And sometimes end up failing miserably.
Like with AT&T.
After being forced into a new plan so I could have access to 5G data, my bills were never right. The amount I verified I was to pay never ended up being on my bill. So I would call AT&T... they would see I was correct... then fix it. Until the next month. All in all it took them SEVEN FUCKING MONTHS to get it straightened out. At which time I was done. I was more than done. I wanted nothing to do with this shitty company that can't figure out how to bill people the amount they promise. So I switched to T-Mobile. Called AT&T and canceled my plan on April 24th. Called for my pay-off amount on May 5th (that's the day after my billing cycle). Provided my credit card. Paid my canceled account off. Then verified that the transaction went through on my bank statement (which it did on May 7th). Fourteen years as a loyal AT&T customer down in flames because they can't figure out a fucking billing statement.
But at least I'm done, right?
NOPE! Nope de nope nope nope.
Because today I received a balance overdue notice. On a canceled account. That I paid in full. To an AT&T representative. Over the phone. Not some random amount I pulled out of my ass... the amount I was told I owe to close out my account.
So I called the fuckers to tell them that I don't owe them a damn thing.
It didn't go as well as you would expect. Even though it's obvious to anybody with a fucking brain in their head that they made a mistake. My bill is always $152 to $157 a month. With the exception of November-December where my brother and I bought new iPhones and had to pay bullshit activation fees even though AT&T doesn't do a fucking thing because it's all automated...
But I digress.
For no reason at all, AT&T decided my final bill was NOT the amount on my closed account that the representative gave me and took my credit card for... I owe them $89.83 more. Even though I was out of contract and there were no cancelation fees or anything. But nobody could explain WHY I owed this additional money. Nor could they explain how my bill jumped extra money AFTER I HAD PAID IT. Nor did they find it strange even though I was on auto-pay until my last bill, so they automatically took the amount out of my checking account. Nope. They just wanted the money. And, depending on whom I talked to, it was either old money owed on my wireless account, old money owed on my Direct TV account (that I canceled three years ago), or just money I owed period and I should shut up and pay it.
After being transferred to FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN FIVE DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OVER TWO HOURS, I finally told the last guy that I wasn't paying them a fucking thing because I don't just throw money away when I don't owe it. They weren't hearing me, so I screamed "EITHER ZERO MY ACCOUNT OR TAKE ME TO COURT BECAUSE I DON'T OWE YOU THIS MONEY AND I'M NOT PAYING IT! WHICH WILL IT BE? So they turned me over to collections, which offered the same party line. After TWO AND A HALF LITERAL HOURS and I'm not making that up because my phone keeps track...
...I decided I'd just try the online chat. Which has mostly been useless, so I stopped using it...
Six minutes later... while I was still on hold with the fucking collections department... Josie, bless her heart, saw that it WAS strange my bill jumped $89.83 for no reason with no explanation, then got a supervisor to zero out the account.
So this is how people become homicidal maniacs.
If nothing else, this only confirms that my absolute hatred of AT&T is entirely justified and I'm more relieved than ever I got the fuck out of that shitty company who doesn't know WHAT the fuck they are doing and doesn't have a billing system that's worth a damn.
Until next month when I'm assuming I'll get a new bill for a canceled account.
Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021
Remember yesterday when I was talking about trying so hard not to hate because I know where it leads? I've failed for two days in a row now.
Before I get to that, I need to pop some keywords up so Google can index this and perhaps help people who went through what I went through...
HavaHart Live Animal Cage Trap Failure — HavaHart Trap Door Won't Stay Closed — HavaHart Handle Falls Off — HavaHart Trap Model #1079 — HavaHart Trap Defective — HavaHart Victor Trap Manufacturing Defect — HavaHart Trap Won't Work
Last night I had to work a few extra hours so that I could make up the time I lost arguing with shitty AT&T over money they wanted to charge me on a closed account. As I was leaving the office, I thought I saw a kitten running in the parking spaces across the street.
Fast forward to this morning and I was outside social-distanced from my uncle so I could give him some papers my mom had left for him... and I saw the kitten again. My uncle also saw it, so this time I knew it wasn't my imagination.
Well, obviously I'm not going to let a scared, hungry kitten suffer on my watch, so I immediately ran home to get my cat carrier and some food. Sure enough... the little guy (or gal) came running out to scarf it down...
He looked like there might be something wrong with one of his eyes, and he doesn't look 100% well. Which may just be the trauma of being out on the streets trying to survive, but I won't know until I manage to grab him. Except he's so skittish that I couldn't get near him...
And so I called local veterinarian offices to see if they had a trap I could borrow. They did not. So I called the Humane Society because surely they have one... left a voicemail, but never heard back. Eventually I went to Home Depot where they had them in stock...
When I got back to the office, I unpacked the trap and followed the instructions to open it. Immediately the "handle" springs off and slashes a nice gash in one of my hand while the trap falls on my other hand to cut it as well...
Ouch. But whatever. I have a cat to catch. Train tracks run right next to where he's been hiding, and I am mortified that he might be run over. So I don't need a handle on the door. I set it up with stinky cat food, then covered it like what was suggested by a local cat rescue to make it seem more "safe" to the kitten...
I checked the trap every hour. On the third hour the door had sprung and I was ecstatic that I had got kitty so easily. But when I ran across the street to collect him, there was no cat inside. Thinking that maybe a gust of wind set it off, I reset it to try again. But the cat was wary of it...
I worked until 10:00pm when it got too dark to see the trap. So I went home and started taking naps between my hourly trap checks. FINALLY at 2:00am my headlights revealed that the trap had sprung. But, once again, not kitten inside. What the hell?
So naturally I went to the internet to see what I was doing wrong. LO AND BEHOLD, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A "HANDLE" WAS, IN FACT, A CRITICAL CLIP NEEDED TO KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! There were videos on YouTube about it from FIVE YEARS AGO and everything...
The kitten had actually been trapped twice, but managed to squeeze out from under the trap door.
I was absolutely enraged.
This company, HavaHart, who never responded to a guy telling them that their product is defective... has ibviously known about this problem FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. Probably longer. How shitty is that? The only way I found out that the "handle" was not actually a handle was because one of the comments on that video explained it. With not a small amount of effort and a pair of wide-grip pliers, I managed to get the trap door clip installed in the slots that hold it...
This is so shitty that I can't even express how angry I am. The kitten is probably so frightened about being trapped twice that they may never go back in now that I've repaired it. My God... all it would take is a simple rivet... or a punch-fasten... or a frickin' dimple... to make it so that this clip... WHICH ALSO ACTS AS A HANDLE PER THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOX... won't come flying out and hurting people when you pull on it to open the door. It would also make their product work as advertised. Rage. Rage. Rage...
I continued to drive back to the office every hour, but the scared, hungry, possibly sick kitten never went back in the trap. And I don't blame them. I can only hope that they get hungry enough that they'll try to eat from the trap one more time so I can rush him to the vet and make sure he's okay. I'll still be checking every hour... even though I'm exhausted from lack of sleep worrying about a scared kitten getting run over by a train.
I don't really want a third cat, but I may not have much choice in the matter. I'm not going to abandon the poor thing. Which I've decided to name "Loki" whether it's a boy or a girl. Because Loki in the Marvel Studios movies is famous for being able to escape a trap... just like this kitten. And speaking of Loki...
The first of six episiodes dropped. And it's glorious. It's Loki doing what Loki does best, but also has some heart in it that's surprisingly touching. So nice to see that Marvel Studios is killing it not just with their movies, but with their Disney+ series as well. Can't wait to see where this one goes!
Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2021
I'm in zombie mode now that I haven't gotten any sleep in two days. One night of worrying about the stray kitten I saw as I walked home from work... one night running back to the office every hour to check on the cat trap... and there's only so long that a person can go on like this.
I've had to accept that the kitten is most likely gone because I haven't seen him since before 2:00am and it's now 1am the following day.
He got trapped twice but, because of the known defect in the trap I bought that I was unaware of, he escaped. Then, undoubtedly terrified of the cage that got him, he moved on.
So now I have a camera of the (repaired) trap on my Google Hub and I only set my alarm every three hours to have a look...
I know that kittens get abandoned every day. I know that this cruel world lets stray cats die of neglect all the time. I know this. And yet here was one kitten I could have saved... but ultimately couldn't. And I don't know how to feel about it so I'm feeling everything.
I'll keep the trap up for a while yet... even though it's undoubtedly futile at this point. Eventually I'll return it to Home Depot for being a defective piece of shit and contact their coporate headquarters to ask that they stop selling this model trap so that others won't go through what I've had to go through. Probably not going to do anything since corporate schenanigans between companies are always going to take precidence over people, but it's worth a shot.
Now back to sleep again until my alarm chimes in another three hours.
Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2021
Compared to other weeks in my life, this has been a fairly difficult one. Everything kept going wrong and the minute I get a crisis handled, two more takes its place. About half-way through my Friday I was wanting to chuck it all and go home to play video games for the rest of the day. I probably should have, because the longer I stayed at work the worse things seemed to get.
And yet... I have a roof over my head, food to put on the table, and two cats that give me reason to get up in the morning, so it seems weird to complain. #blessed
The good news is that I have zero plans to work this weekend, for once, so that's nice. Though I've got a long list of chores that need to be handled here at home, so it's not like I will be sitting around eating chips and watching television.
... how cool would that be?
Posted on Saturday, June 12th, 2021
Still no sign of the kitten I'm trying to rescue. I should probably just accept the fact that he's move on and try to do the same. It's tough though.
Now that Summer is (mostly) here, the cats can't seem to tear themselves away from the catio. More often than not when I come home from work they'll be out there sleeping or keeping watch over their kingdom. Oh... and another thing they do? Chatter at bugs and birds running around on the roof. Usually one of them will run up when they see something interesting to chatter at whatever's going on... then the other one will get FOMO and have to run up and see what's going on...
Sometimes I'll get an alert on the catio security camera only see my cats taking serious chances trying to catch bugs or swat at birds. It's heart-stopping given that I can't really afford a vet bill right now if they fall and hurt themselves...
And speaking of the catio... It really is the gift that keeps on giving. I finally got a good video of one of my cats climbing my massive pole where they're at a good enough angle that you can actually see them...
Go, Jenny! Usually they are climing on the far side of the pole so all you can see is their little paws moving up the pole, but every once in a while they climb up the side. Fortunately I actually though to save it this time!
And now it's time to go change the food in the trap so that assuming the kitten does come back, he's not eating old, crusty junk. Fingers crossed.
Posted on Sunday, June 13th, 2021
The days may be getting longer, but don't worry about finding something to read to occupy your time... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Subliminal! Am I the only one who watches movies and television shows where they eat a certain food... then you crave that food? I just watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Ideal Home (for the hundredth time)... where they're always eating Crunchwraps at Taco Bell. Since my Taco Bell is 20 minutes away, I just decided to make them. Mexican Rice, Nacho Cheese Doritos, plus Shredded Mexican Cheese warmed on a flour tortilla until soft enough to fold without breaking... followed by shredded lettuce and tomatoes... flip and brown... flip and brown... serve with salsa and sour cream...
Delicious! More delicious than I deserve on a Sunday morning.
• Cooking! And speaking of cooking... I made the Walnut Cream Sauce Pasta I love so much that I got from Martha Stewart's meal service. Double batches get consumed in one sitting. Triple batches last me an additional day. So this time I'm going for a quadruple batch...
Assuming I don't eat it for breakfasts, I think I'm good through Tuesday or Wednesday night.
• Victor! The second season of Love, Victor dropped on Hulu. I loved the film that spawned it, Love, Simon and the fact that it is such a great contiuation of the movie... with strong ties to the movie... just makes it work so beautifully. Even if it does stray a little far into teen angst for me from time to time...
The second season is just as good as the first, which is such a welcome surprise. Usually shows like this tank badly after they've exhausted what makes them work. So... yeah... great show. EXCEPT... the amazing theme song, Somebody to Tell Me by Tyler Glenn, is being cut short on the show intros...
WTF?!? HULU, YOU ARE A STREAMING SERVICE... NO NEED TO CUT ANYTHING SHORT BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT ON A BROADCAST SCHEDULE!
• It's Magneto! Watching all these people claiming to be "magnetic" after getting vaccinated having their worldview shattered when their claims are defeated by frickin' baby powder is both hilarious and profoundly sad. OUR BODIES PRODUCE OILS. THAT'S JUST A QUARTER STICKING TO THE OILS ON YOUR SKIN! YOUR FIRST CLUE THAT THIS IS BULLSHIT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THAT MAGNETS DON'T WORK ON QUARTERS! It all reminds me of when The Amazing Randi used to debunk this idiotic crap oh so many years ago...
Interesting to note that not one person was ever able to prove their "powers" and claim his One Million Dollar Challenge. Not one.
• It's NOT Magneto! I am all for poking fun at ignorant people who buy into stupid shit because the refuse to use even the smallest amount of brain power in verifying the crap they see on the internet. Though, like I said above, it's still profoundly sad because truly ignorant people refuse to admit they're wrong, often-times doubling down on their stupidity. But you know where I draw the line? When ignorant people actually attempt to educate themselves and admit when they were wrong. That doesn't deserve ridicule. That deserves admiration and respect...
Reply to @b2daruce♬ original sound - Rob Marrocco
Now see... this gentleman right here was willing to dip his toe in the enlightenment pool by listening to reason, testing his beliefs, drawing a new conclusion based on evidence, admitting he made a mistake, and coming out on the other side better for it. Like rational human beings do. You don't poke fun at that. Mostly because it's something so many of the smartest stupid people will never do. They're just not that brave.
• ADOBE, STOP IT!!! For some stupid fucking reason, Adobe changed the MACINTOSH SYSTEM-WIDE KEYBOARD SHORTCUT TO HIDE THE APPLICATION from ⌘H to ^⌘H. It was a damn stupid decision that no Mac user would ever fucking want. Fortunately you can manually change it back to normal so you don't go insane wondering why the application won't hide when you tell it to. But every once in a while Photoshop will update itself and it will go back to what it was. Shit like this makes me insane. Why in the hell would Adobe change a MACINTOSH SYSTEM-WIDE KEYBOARD SHORTCUT in the first place? Because it seems like Adobe just fucking hate Mac users. Which is pretty shitty when you think about it. It was the Mac that allowed Adobe to build the defacto creative applications they have.
And that's all I have to say about that.
Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2021
I took down the animal trap. I'll return the hunk of shit to Home Depot later this week when I get caught up with work. I remain no less livid that traps with a defect that's been reported for over five years are still being sold to unsuspecting people. I also remain heartbroken for that little kitten that I wasn't able to save. I sure hope he made his way to a place where somebody will watch out for him.
Posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
These 4:00am daybreaks are killing me. Partly because I'm still recovering from all the sleep I lost running down to check the kitten trap every hour... but mostly because the bird activity has been crazy. I think a bird or two is building a nest nearby, because their chatter each morning is deafening. My cats are loving it though. They are running around from window to window... salivating at the prospect of catching a bird or twelve to rip apart. The adorable little murderers.
The more there's talk about life getting "back to normal" (whatever "normal" means), the more I find myself reevaluating absolutely every detail in my life. I've been working really hard at spending less money, eating healthier foods, and making sure that I'm living better in general. Which is tough given that the COVID virus keeps mutating and getting so much worse. Once winter comes and people are spending more time indoors our outlook becomes really scary. Especially considering how many people are unvaccinated and how reckless people are being. Then along comes the Epsilon variant and we're all fucked.
One of the biggest and most drastic changes I've been looking at is my travel.
I cannot even fathom a return to non-stop travel for work. It just seems utterly bizarre to even contemplate it. I may consider a trip here and there for jobs I like or places I like, but my road warrior days are over. If I end up with more than five or six work trips a year I will consider that a failure.
Now if I'm flying somewhere, I want it to be for vacation or visiting a friend or something I enjoy. Having a calendar filled with 12-20 work trips is over for me. Which I was able to reaffirm when I got a call this morning...
"Could you be in Vegas on September 7? It's the day after Labor Day."
"Comeon... you could fly in over the weekend and make a 3-day vacation of it!"
"Any chance you might change your mind between now and then?"
"Oh. Okay. We'd really like for you to sign on with us. You did such an amazing job."
"That's so nice of you to say. But, no."
Don't get me wrong... I consider myself hugely blessed to have been able to travel so much... visit so many places... and see so many things... but that's not where my heart and head are at any more.
For that part of my life, Winter is here already.
Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2021
There's so much going on right now that I'm having trouble slowing my mind enough to get some sleep. My solution? As with so many things now-a-days... it's TikTok.
This guy covers songs a other artists, and what he comes up with is so good. The 1975 is one of my favorite bands, and her nails this. Just nails it. If you’re on TikTok, go be amazed. @maxfrostmusic...
He is able to effortlessly step into different musical styles...
Then it just starts getting unreal...
And into a region that's uncanny to an insane degree...
getting toasty with posty🔥🎄 @postmalone ##alliwantforchristmasisyou♬ original sound - Max Frost
Yeah, this is exactly the kind of thing I need to take my mind off of the world.
Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2021
This morning I woke up wanting strawberry cheesecake. The closest I could get is eating strawberry yogurt alternating with white cheddar popcorn. AT LEAST IT WAS UNTIL I STARTED ALTERNATING WITH KETTLE CORN! ZOMFG! THIS IS STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE FOR LAZY PEOPLE, AND I AM SO HERE FOR IT!
Did I invent a thing? I think I might have invented a thing. You're welcome, world!
Necessity is indeed the Mother of Invention... though sometimes the Invention is the Mother of Neccessity!
Posted on Friday, June 18th, 2021
I am sure that there was a time in my life that I looked forward to Fridays... last day of the standard work week and all that. But now it's always just more of the same. Oh well. Any day you're not six feet below ground is a good one, right?
"Did I know you once in another life?
Are we here just once or a billion times?
Well, I wish I knew, but it doesn't matter.
'Cause you're here right now, and I know what I feel..."
Oh What a World — Kacey Musgraves,
This was a tough week from just about any angle I look at it. I'd like to say that I can stay at home and relax this weekend, but since I have to drive over for my TSA interview to renew my Global Entry card, probably not.
Of course had I known when I sent in my renewal application back in 2019 what I know now, I'd probably have just saved myself the hundred bucks. But oh well. Wouldn't be a day that ends in a "Y" if I didn't have something I'd like to change about my pre-pandemic days.
Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2021
I am not home for today's Caturday... I'm at the airport!
It is very, very strange to be at the SeaTac International after so long. Pre-pandemic I was here twenty times a year... then there was nothing since November 2019! I’m not here to travel, alas, but to go to my TSA interview for renewing my Global Entry card. Really wish I could have done that via Zoom, but every effort to make a Zoom appointment failed. So I had to take a 2-1/2 hour drive over the mountains instead.
In other news... Jake has suddenly realized that the alarm that sounds for breakfast and dinner comes from the Alexa speakers.
I know this because now when he's hungry in the morning and wants his breakfast, he no longer bugs me... he is wanting to bug the magical box where the alarm sounds. Apparently so he can convince Alexa to chime earlier or something...
He's done this three times this past week. Patience is apparently not something Jake feels like dealing with when food is on the line.
In other, other news... bring cats...
Reply to @jaylon__05 Bring Cats @jaylenlipp @tommylee_00 ##ringseries♬ Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
Here's hoping that my cats are having fun without me back home.
Posted on Sunday, June 20th, 2021
I'm back from my quick trip over the mountains, so you know what that means... an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Happy Father's Day! Here's your Sunday Morning Happy. Watch until the end...
And happy Father’s Day to the lucky dad of this adorable baby!
• Blame it on the Rain! Hope your Sunday weather is better than what these poor Guinnea pigs got...
Yeah... there's yet another TikTok rabbit hole I fell down.
• Picard! The first season of Picard wasn't stellar, but good enough that I enjoyed it (despite not being a Next Generation fan). The second season, however? I am very interested in seeing what they do with it, especially since Guinan is returning...
Fascinating to see an 80-year-old Patrick Stewart playing a 98-year-old Picard. Even more fascinating? That an 80-year-old Patrick Stewart would want to. But, thankfully for whatever reason, he does.
• Luca! The sad thing about our pandemic world is that movies get sent to streaming services, which somehow makes them seem "less than" the big movie releases of years past. Like a cheap "straight-to-video" film or something. Take Luca, for example, the latest Pixar film. It is incredible... easily on-par with any other Pixar movie ever made. It's the adorable story about young sea monsters who long for something more on the surface world in 1950's Italy. And it is stunning. It's set in a fictional town, but it easily recognized as a mix of the five fishing villages of Cinque Terre (which you can read about here). And the voice cast has some real surprises that I won't spoil here. Love, love, loved this movie...
Even more amazing? Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this entire film was made from home! Highest possible recommednation. If you have Disney+, it's a no-brain to add to your watch list.
• Citizencide! Holy. Shit. This woman is literally the worst. Her sublime ignorance, stupidity, and complete lack of empathy typifies the horrors of so many of our elected government officials. Unbelievable, yet entirely believable. Even expected...
You can label my political disdain all you want, but this is what has be convinced that our government is actively trying to kill us. And we're voting for them to do it.
• "Today in Christian Love..." And people wonder why Pride Month is important...
• Snap Me! Ending on an LOL-worthy YouTube video seems like the way to go this Bullet Sunday...
THANOS WAS RIGHT!
=sigh= I suppose I really should clean up my house a bit since I was gone all weekend and have to go to work in the morning.
Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2021
The only news that really matters today? The trailer for the second season of the best television show ever to air has debuted!
Looks like Ted Lasso is going to be more of the same greatness come July 26th...
That's a month and five days away! Which seems like an eternity.
And speaking of waiting an eternity for the return of a television show... The first episode of the back-half of the latest season of Rick and Morty finally landed yesterday, and Adult Swim has graciously put the entire episode up on YouTube for free...
I guess if Marvel Studios never brings Prince Namor to the big screen we'll always have... whatever Mister Nimbus is!
Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021
Falafel is easily one of my favorite foods. Alas, the only way to get it around here is to make it myself... and I do... but not as often as I want to eat it due to the fried oil mess it makes. Which means falafel consumption is usually reserved for when I am traveling. Except there hasn't been any of that in a year-and-a-half, so I've been sadly falafel-deficient all this time.
So imagine my surprise when I was at a QFC on the other side of the state and spotted "falafel street wraps" in the frozen foods section from TaDah Foods for $3.99 each! It sounded too good to be true, so I bought the three flavors they had... enjoyed them... then immediately searched for a place locally that sold them (which ended up being Fred Meyer, and they had all four flavors on sale for $3.49). Sweet!
Now, before we get to my reviews, a few things...
And now, on with the reviews...
Sweet Spicy Harissa and Labne. ★★★★☆
Easily my favorite of the four flavors. The harissa (a favorite spice blend of mine) adds just enough heat while still allowing the falafel flavor to shine through. And the creamy labne (similar Greek yogurt, but thicker like cream cheese) was the perfect accompaniment. I could eat these every day, and probably would if I could afford it.
Spicy Brown Sugar Harissa Hummus.★★★☆☆
This should have been my favorite by a country mile because the combination of harissa spice, hummus, and brown sugar is a holy trifecta of flavor. But the harissa is just too much here. I love heat in my food, but the harissa is so overpowering that you barely know you're eating falafel, as it's completely buried. My guess is that they were needing to compensate for the disgusting whole wheat wrap, and just piled on heat to make it go away. Well, they succeeded. Too well. If they would have toned down the spicy a notch, this would be heaven in your microwave oven.
Fresh Lemon-Garlic Hummus. ★★☆☆☆
I am not a huge fan of lemon when it's in something that's not lemonade or lemon cake or lemon cream pie... but it kinda works here. Thankfully they didn't add so much lemon that it completely overwhelms everything else... you still get a nice garlic note and a decent hummus vibe... but this ended up being a bit boring to me. Oh I'll still buy them, that's for sure. A sprinkling of feta on top did wonders. But with two other wraps I enjoy far more, it won't be as often.
Feta Green Pepper Salsa. ★☆☆☆☆
Given my love of feta, I assumed this would be a favorite. It wasn't. First of all, the amount of feta is slight. There's not enough to really register. Second of all, the fibrous nature of the pepper chunks was a weird fit with the falafel patties. I far, far preferred the creamy texture of either the hummus or labne in the other three flavors. This wasn't awful by any means, but I won't be buying it again when there are three others I'd rather have.
And there you have it. I am so very, very happy to have a new easy-to-prepare meal sitting in my freezer that I can heat and enjoy in minutes. For a falafel-loving guy like me, they are as dreamy as frozen gets. No, they aren't ever going to replace a falafel pita sandwich with crispy falafel balls right out if the fryer... but nothing ever could.
If TaDah wanted to make a falafel street wrap that would really push my buttons, here is what I want from their next flavor... FLOUR WRAP... NOT WHOLE WHEAT! ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS! FETA CHEESE! AND A DASH OF HARISSA SPICE. That's it. That would be epic. ★★★★★
Fingers crossed. This combination seems like it would be far more popular with the food-buying public given how roasted red pepper hummus is like ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR FLAVORS OF HUMMUS IN THE USA. So maybe?
P.S. It's the graphic designer in me that notices these things, but... falafel patties must be difficult to photograph, because they Photoshopped in the exact same patty on all four boxes (though the Feta Green Pepper Salsa patty does have a different texture Photoshopped onto it?). Regardless, whomever did the actual compositing work did a darn fine job of it! And I am most impressed with the packaging design too. Fantastic color distinction to separate the flavors on the freezer shelf. Appetizing photography. Fantastic branding for the TaDah! company identity. An all-around great job at a time where packaging design just keeps getting worse and worse. I think the only thing I would change is to make the flavor larger so that it's easier to read from a distance (this would have been easily accomplished by pushing the text a little higher on the box, using a slightly more narrow typeface for the flavor description, and possibly eliminating the word "with" from the front of each flavor, which doesn't really add anything but an extra word).
Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
Posted on Thursday, June 24th, 2021
It's really weird to think that after a year of no new Marvel Studios films, we're making up for lost time by getting four of them in the second half of this year. I just prepaid my Premier Access fee for Black Widow last night so I'm all set for July 9th. I think the other three are all theaters-only, so I guess that's the end of the road for new releases at home.
After some social media posts this morning promising that the first full trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would be released... and here we go...
That cast tho! I honestly didn't know what to think of Simu Liu in the lead since all I knew him from was Kim's Convenience, but it looks like he's going to be the super-hero action type juuuuuust fine. Then, of course, there's Michelle Yeoh, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Fala Chen, and... Awkwafina! This film drops on September 3rd.
Then it's a one-two punch with Eternals on November 5th and Spider-Man: No Way Home on December 17th. On the Disney+ side, we've got What If? and Hawkeye and Miss Marvel also coming up sometime in the back-half of 2021.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe will be going into 2022 without half of its six original Avengers since Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow are all out of play. My guess is that Hawkeye will die or retire in his series, which would leave just Thor and Hulk (plus Nick Fury, of course). Black Panther was tragically lost to us, which leaves Ant-Man & The Wasp, War Machine, Okoye, Shuri, Nakia, Doctor Strange, Wong, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Vison, and The Scarlet Witch remaining from the second wave. Along with Falcon (the new Captain America) and Bucky. And then there's The Guardians of The Galaxy, which may be a very different team after the third movie of the trilogy wraps.
As for the future?
It's confirmed that we're getting (or have already spotted) Shang-Chi, The Eternals, The Black Knight, Lady Thor (Jane Foster), Photon (Monica Rambeau), Miss Marvel, Kate Bishop (Hawkeye II), She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Blade, Ironheart, Stature (Young Avengers—Cassie Lang), Patriot (Young Avengers—Elijah Bradley), Wiccan (Young Avengers—Billy Kaplan/Maximiff), Speed (Young Avengers—Tommy Shepherd/Maximoff), Falcon (Young Avengers—Joaquín Torres)... plus there's a rumor that the Netflix heroes will be integrated (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher)... plus Fantastic Four (and most likely X-Men) as well. Deadpool will be back, but how he'll fit into things is anybody's guess.
That's a lot.
But where's Alpha Flight, Namor, Wonder Man, Nova, Captain Britain, and The Silver Surfer?
Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2021
My big plan for the weekend was to work out in my flower beds to clean things up and tie up the stuff that's falling over. But a look at the weather forecast has me seriously doubting it's going to happen, because I'm not going to do it at 5am or 7pm when things cool off. And then the story just keeps getting worse as the week progresses...
Sequential days with temperatures over 100° are not uncommon here... but usually not until July and August. So reaching 118° in June is a kinda a deal. And it doesn't hurt that they are forecasting 1104° elsewhere in the Columbia Basin in which I dwell. But at least it's a dry heat...
So this is hell. At least I have air conditioning and cats to see me through it all as I cower indoors with my fragile vampire self.
Posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2021
I should really know better.
And yet I never learn, because I keep ordering stuff through Kickstarter. I've only been really burned once where the people took the money and ran, but I was dubious at the start and "only" ended up losing $25 (which is still too much to lose, in my humble opinion, because I'm no Elon Musk). Out of all the projects I've backed, I've only been truly thrilled with about 10% of them. Another 20% were less than stellar. And the remaining 70% were scams or absolute garbage.
But, when it comes to taking care of my cats, I'm a total sucker, and ended up backing the "Kitty Spring" cat fountain an eternity ago. The idea of having multiple fountains around the house while I travel appealed to me, and I thought it was smart to find different approaches to the challenge of keeping my cats hydrated when I'm gone.
Turns out, I should have just stuck with a big bowl of water.
Or bought another ceramic fountain, because both my cats absolutely love that thing.
The first problem I encountered when I finally received my Kitty Spring was the size of the thing. For whatever reason I thought I'd be filling a 2-liter bottle... but it ended up being 1/4 that size. This thing is tiny.
The next problem is that it's just not that great of a design. If you don't have it on a perfectly level surface, then the water won't flow out of it like it's supposed to.
The other problem is that the dish with water in it is SO small and shallow that there's barely enough water in it to let the cats know they should drink from there.
And it's this last problem that ended up being so entertaining that it's almost worth the money I paid for a failed product! Jake was the first to drink from it. As he was drinking for that first time, the bottle made a GLUG! GLUG! GLUG! sound as water refilled the bowl that scared him.
So what did he do?
Jake attacked the thing. And even though it comes with a rubber base to hold it to the ground, the fountain is so small and light that it pops right out and spills water everywhere...
Jenny has taken a few drinks from it, but not enough to make it a source of water for her since she mostly ignores it.
Jake will drink from it sometimes, but also not enough to justify the $44 it cost me (seriously not worth it). He is no longer startled by the GLUG! GLUG! GLUG! sound... but he still beats up on it just for fun, spilling water everywhere.
AT LEAST I THOUGHT THAT'S WHAT WAS HAPPENING!
I was wrong.
The reason he smacks it around is because he's learned that doing so causes more water to come out! And I know this because I actually saw him demonstrate twice this past week. First he'll walk up to it. Then he'll start smacking the bottle around. Then he'll drink from the full dish instead of the meager amount of water that was there.
It's really genius when you stop to think about it.
There are two geniuses in my house. I'm growing increasingly aware that one of them is not me.
Posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2021
Baby it's hot outside, but the hot lead from my bullets are even hotter... and an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Pride! I could do an entire week of posts on the TikToks of ileavebreadcrumbs. He is a man who married a male soldier during the era of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and his stories are just... a lot. I cannot even fathom how straight couples would deal with the same obstacle that gay couples have to endure. Just take for instance their wedding...
The fact that he is willing to put himself out there knowing that homophobic bigots are just waiting to tear him apart in the comments is everything that Pride exists for. Love = Love.
• Pride Again! And it doesn't stop there. His husband is not just "fairly famous"... he's famous-famous." His story has been discussed in many, many places. Including, most famously, on The Daily Show...
He was even a part of The Newsroom...
That's all kind of crazy how they found out they were on a TV show! But... remarkable too.
• More Pride! But the TikTok that destroyed me was this one...
Do yourself a favor and go watch his TikToks. This is why we have a Pride Month.
• At The Car Wash, Yeah! A friend shared this video on Facebook and I must have watched it a hundred times by now. It's just that good...
Somebody filmed him doing it again, but this time we get to see him walk off...
I mean, you can see him just patiently waiting for the brush to come down and then walk directly underneath when it gets low enough. Makes ME want to give this a try!
• Salvage! One of my truly joyful distractions on YouTube is Baumgartner Restoration. Julian is an absolute master of his craft, and his latest project... restoring a van Dijk... is him at the absolute top of his game. If you have time to spare (and I highly recommend making time) this is a remarkable mini-documentary. UPDATE: The second part is even better, so I'm posting it instead (you can still catch the first part here, if you're hungry for the whole story)...
Absolutely incredible. UPDATE: and in this second part, be sure to watch an "end credits scene" that follows the blank black frame at the end (because there are no credit!).
• SHARRRRK! And... I've cleared my calendar for Shark Week starting July 11th. Thank heavens I have Discovery+, because I will absolutely be tuning in for Stranger Sharks!...
Oh, who am I kidding. I'll be tuning in for all of the shows!
• Beer Beer! Truck Truck! You may remember when I mentioned that a guy made a song out of somebody (rightly) critiquing Country music...
Well, it finally came out as an actual song. It's good. But a part of me thinks that something got lost in translation from the demo to the finished song...
The additional twang and polish is a bit distracting from what I was used to in the original track. Even so... that's a song that's going to be popping up on my SONOS rotation! And I'm not even a fan of Country music!
Now, if you'll pardon me, I'll go back to watching my air conditioning electricity bill continue to bankrupt me.
Posted on Monday, June 28th, 2021
DON'T EVER LET YOURSELF BE GASLIT.
Thank you so very, very much to the Progressive Insurance supervisor who pulled my Snapshot cancelation call WHERE I PAID THE $20 DISCOUNT REVERSAL TO THE AGENT BEFORE HANGING UP. I received a bill tonight... the only bill I received since canceling Snapshot. I didn't understand what it was for, so I went online to check. It was that Snapshot deduction reversal plus a $10 late fee. Ugh. I thought all this billing error crap would at least take a break after finally canceling AT&T!
So I contacted Progressive via chat to explain what happened. The chat agent did not give a fuck. Tried to tell me I had received multiple emails with the charge, so she wasn't going to waive the late fee (which I did not get, or I would have called just like I did with the one I received tonight). THEN I told the chat agent to pull my phone call. Told her that it was so memorable to me because the agent almost hung up before taking my payment and I had to stop him to give him my credit card. The chat agent said that pulling the call was not necessary because the payment wasn't made and this was all my fault. Essentially gaslighting me into believing that I imagined paying a bill just last month. I imagined not receiving the emails. Or, more likely, she believed I was lying.
Well screw that. So I called Progressive instead. I made the payment (sans late fee) and then asked to have my original phone call pulled. She transferred me to a supervisor who then pulled the call (apparently since I'm in Washington State they couldn't refuse to pull it even if they wanted to).
AND, YEP, IT ALL HAPPENED EXACTLY LIKE I REMEMBERED. EVERY DETAIL I PROVIDED WAS CORRECT. WE DID TALK ABOUT HIS HOME IN CLEVELAND. I DID HAVE TO REMIND THE GUY HE DIDN'T PROCESS MY PAYMENT. I DID GIVE HIM MY CREDIT CARD.
Yet they didn't believe me. Or didn't give a shit if they did believe me.
This is some huge bullshit right here.
But at least Progressive made it right in the end. They waived the late fee due to THEIR error. They pulled the call. They apologized. They confirmed that I'm not delusional and imagining things. I guess I can't really ask for more than that.
EXCEPT TO SAY... might want to try believing your fucking customers. I know that a lot of people are liars and scammers... but I asked for the call to be pulled. THAT'S how I was trying to prove that I WAS NOT a liar or a scammer. And yet the chat agent wanted none of it. Would rather make me think I'm an insane liar than value my concerns.
DON'T ALLOW THEM TO GASLIGHT YOU.
YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN THAT.
YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.
And it turns out those calls actually ARE recorded for your protection. At least mine was. The protection of my sanity.
UPDATE: And it gets worse.
Today is Tuesday, June 29th. The day after I just had to go through all this crap. I receive an alert on my phone from the Progressive app that I owe $30 AGAIN. I click through to see what the issue is, and this is what I see...
Well, that's interesting. You sent me a bill... IN THE FUTURE?!?
So I call. Again.
I get gaslit. Again.
I explained calmly that I just received a future bill dated July 14th, 2021 on the Progressive app for something I just resolved last night. Only to basically be told that they don't see it. That it was dated yesterday. That no bill exists. I need to read the bill again. So I get upset. I DO HAVE A BILL. IT DOES SAY IT WAS SENT ON JULY 14th, 2021. Then they start telling me to calm down that I don't owe anything. Says I'm yelling at them when I'm definitely not. Then I apologized and tried to explain that the reason I'm upset is because of what I went through last night and I'm being told I'm imagining something... AGAIN! Jesus Christ. The way Progressive treats their customers is just beyond horrible.
DOES THAT SCREENSHOT NOT SAY THAT A BILL WAS SENT ON JULY 14th?!?
"CALM DOWN! WE DIDN'T SEND YOU AN EMAIL! YOU NEED TO READ THE BILL!"
Well, as I said, it wasn't an email. It was an alert on the Progressive app. AND I AM LOOKING AT IT RIGHT NOW!
This is just... beyond abusive at this point. It's AT&T all over again. What is it about these companies that they can't handle their fucking billing? I am going to find a way to record ALL my phone calls with companies. Then I'm going to post the shit on social media because being called a delusional liar OVER SHIT THE COMPANY DID is getting so old.
Calm down? After what you just said to me?
How am I NOT supposed to get upset when your company continues to call me a delusional liar? Even when I have PROOF that I'm not imagining things and NOT a liar? When I have to keep contacting you and getting treated like shit FOR YOUR ERROR? When I have to get a supervisor to pull my call so you'll believe me? Do you honestly expect me to be Miss Mary Sunshine under these conditions? Unreal. Your company is just unreal. But I shouldn't be surprised. This is what companies do now-a-days. I'm just sad to learn that Progressive is the same as all the rest. Flo always seems so nice in those commercials.
Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
As anybody who's been reading this blog for a decade or so already knows, I put money aside each month so I can save up for Black Friday. That's when I buy just about everything, because you can pretty much double your money by taking advantage of sales and such. But last year I started dividing my money between Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day because the sales just keep getting better and better after being pretty crappy for years (I'm convinced that "Prime Day" was quickly becoming a dumping grounds for crappy products that people can't manage to sell any other time of year).
Here's what I blew my luxury savings on.
ROOMBA i6+ SELF-CLEANING VACUUM ROBOT $700 (reg. $1,150)
This was pretty much the only thing on my "MUST-HAVE LIST." Last year it went on sale but I didn't have enough money saved to get it. This year I was prepared. Like my other robo-vacs, I will be naming this one Carl. Old Downstairs Carl died and I had been using Upstairs Carl for both floors, but not very often. The big plus for this New Carl is that he will automatically empty himself. The dirt is sucked out into a storage bin that you only have to empty every month or so (or every day if you have shedding cats like I do, probably). Nice. He also has a few improvements over Old Carl. First of all, he cleans in straight lines instead of bumping around all over the place randomly (well, he still bumps around, but it seems more like finding his way than random). Second of all, he can map out individual rooms and respect "no-go" areas that you can set up (like the cat feeding station I built). I will make an entry about New Carl after a few days once I've had a chance to see him work for a while. Looks promising!
Waterpik Water Flosser in Aquarius Blue $40 (reg. $70)
I've always wanted a Waterpik, but it seemed like such an extravagant expense given how cheap dental floss is. I was still on the fence as to whether the $30 savings was enough to pull the trigger... until I saw it came in blue and not just the sickly white color. Sold! It hasn't arrived yet. I think it's lost. I'll wait a few more days until I cry to Amazon about it.
Blade Runner 2049 - Interlinked, The Art $19 (reg. $29, list $50)
This year Amazon once again had a "Small Business Spotlight" where if you buy $10 or more from their small business partners (yay! new flakey salt!), they'll give you $10 to spend. This companion book to The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049 completes my book collection of one of the most fascinating films I've seen in recent years. Which is to say that I obsess over the movie and can't read enough about it. The original film seemed impossible to follow, but Denis Vileneuve nailed it (which makes me more than anxious for his Dune reboot). This book takes a look at the concept art that was created for the movie and it's glorious. I was poring over every page with wonder and amazement at just how much thought went into the world that was created/expanded. It fits right in on my shelf of other movie art books, and doesn't overlap much with The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049, which is nice. I really hope that they stop releasing books about this movie, because I would absolutely buy them! I'm running out of room on my bookshelf though!
The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge $18 (reg. $28, list $50)
In addition to the small business credit I used for the book above, I also got a promotional credit of $10 for reloading my Amazon Gift Card balance with $40 (talk about a no-brainer!), which I used on this art book which goes behind the scenes of "Star Wars Land" at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I am a huge, huge fan of both Disney and Star Wars, so seeing not only how they designed Galaxy's Edge... but also how they designed the rides you'll find there... is pretty great, as I knew it would be. Especially when it came to designing Coca-Cola that exists in a galaxy far, far away!
Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season One $18 (reg. $28, list $40)
This was yet another $10 credit I racked up... but I don't remember where. But anyways... I was so excited for new Star Wars that I pre-ordered the art-book for The Force Awakens before watching it and finding out that it wasn't great new Star Wars, but instead a watered-down rehashed remake of the original. Fortunately, The Mandalorian brought Star Wars home and was actually great new Star Wars. The art book is, as you would expect, absolutely amazing. The concepts on how they got to where they ended up is every bit as fascinating and entertaining as the actual show. I keep hoping for a book covering the second season, but one hasn't appeared yet.
Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker $14 (reg. $28, list $40)
I detest the prequel trilogy. I really didn't care for the sequel trilogy. So why am I buying this book? Because it's $14. And the concept art that went into the making of the movie is undoubtedly going to be as mind-blowing as all the other Star Wars movies.
Simply Cheetos Variety Pack 36-Count $12 (reg. $18)
I have been addicted to Simply Cheetos Puffs in White Cheddar, and ordered several cases of them so I can have a snack at work. Then, for whatever reason, the price for a case jumped from $18 to $38 and I couldn't afford to order them any more. During Prime Day they had the Puffs/Crunchy combo case on sale for $12, so I decided to grab it. I hadn't had the Crunchy version, but I figured it would be okay. Turns out it was more than okay... just not as good as the Puffs I love so much. The only problem is that the Crunchy Cheetos expire next month and the Puffs Cheetos expire in September. So now I have to eat all Crunchy Cheetos first since they're the least-fresh. Hopefully the price will drop on that case so I can order exactly what I want again.
PopCorners 6-Flavor Variety Pack $19 (reg. $24)
I love PopCorners... but don't love the absurdly high price. Instead of 36 bags like you get with the Cheeto cases, you only get 20 here, and I wasn't paying $1.20 each for a tiny little bag. The Prime Day price brought it down to 95¢ a bag, which is still way too high... but affordable enough that I decided to grab the offer. The item hasn't shipped yet. No idea when it will arrive. Hopefully I have a decent expiry date on them.
Taco Holders 4 Pack $12.50 (reg. $16)
This was an impulse buy that popped up when I saw it. Seems like a great way of propping up shells while you fill your tacos and an easier way to grab them without spilling so much out of them. I like that they are metal instead of plastic, and that was the deciding factor (along with being dishwasher-safe). The reviews are good, so hopefully they hold up as well as you'd think over time. Like other items, this one appears to be lost in transit. Fingers crossed!
And there you have it. $852.50 worth of crap that I couldn't live without. Fortunately the money in my Black Friday savings covered it once I used up a couple gift cards, special offer redemptions, and my Amazon Prime Credit Card reward points. But still... now I'm poor! But totes worth it since my life will be sooooo much better with this junk.
It will be better, won't it?
Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021
I've said many, many times that I am a massive, unapologetic Miley Cyrus fan. It started with Hannah Montana and has carried all the way through her music career. Her voice just hits me right every time. I held off watching her Stand By You concert until this last day of Pride because it seemed a great way to close out the month.
It was fantastic.
Miley is a ride-or-die LGBTQ+ ally, and she uses every possible opportunity to back that up in this show. If you haven't seen it, it's on Peacock. If you don't have Peacock, it's worth getting the free trial just to watch it.
Here's my live commentary as I watched, just in case you can't live without my thoughts...
I tell you what... I would have given just about anything to be at this concert. What a fun night with some great performances!
Posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2021
And... just like that... the year is half over.
And on a frickin' Thursday of all days. After having 2020 pass so slowly thanks to a COVID-mandated hallscape, we're back to time flying by again, I guess?
Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2021
Today I heard somebody say "Thank God it's Friday" and it struck me weird because I haven't heard anybody use that phrase in like... forever.
And then it suddenly occurred to me why I haven't heard it.
It died around the time that ABC Television used it to promote their Friday night programming block from 1998-2000...
Constant exposure on ABC TV played it out, so people stopped saying it. But don't tell that to ABC, because they brought it back to promote their programming block... twice... once in 2003-2005 and again in 2018-2019.
Id' say "Thank God that's over," but I think we know ABC will be bringing it back again. Apparently they just can't help themselves.
Posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2021
When I first bought my cat grass, it started turning brown almost immediately. So instead of spraying it with a little water as instructed, I started dumping water on it by the gallons. That stopped the brown from getting worse... but had the side-effect of causing the grass to grow quite long. The cats didn't seem to mind. They'd happily lay in it and roll around in it. Which is exactly what I bought it for in the first place...
Now that it's too hot out and the cats don't like to go out, I should probably just let the grass die... but I'm genuinely curious to know how long I can keep it alive. Then, when it starts getting cooler at the end of August maybe I can order more and better know how to take care of it this time around?
Worth a shot.