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.