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!