Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2022
Tonight while I was waiting for my dinner to get out of the oven, I glanced into the kitchen after I heard Jake and Jenny romping around in that direction. To my horror, I saw Jake on top of the kitchen counter. This is exceedingly rare. The only thing I will (gently) yell at my cats for is to get off the counters. After a couple years, they finally get the message, and just don't do it. I have a motion alert from my cameras that tells me when they've been up there so I know to sanitize and steam clean them... but it hasn't gone of in months. Probably even a year now.
So seeing Jake up there was pretty shocking.
And after I (gently) yelled at him to get down twice (I don't ever scream at my cats... just raising my voice a little is enough for them to get the message), I was disappointed that he was still up there.
So I walk into the kitchen to shoo him down and...
...it wasn't Jake. I left my backpack on the counter. Which is apparently Jake-shaped from a distance.
And now I felt bad, so I found him cowering in the guest bedroom and told him how sorry I was and gave him lots of pets so he would know that I wasn't mad at him. I was mad at me, apparently.
I ordered some things from Amazon that I couldn't get locally. It all came in a nice big box with a long string of packing pillows, so I was sure to set it out for the cats. They both love a nice-sized box filled with packing pillows. Jake just likes to stand around in there looking at everything. Jenny will jump in and smack all the pillows around and roll around like a maniac. It's adorable. The excitement usually wears off after a few days but, in the meanwhile, something new to do that's indoors where it's warm! They go out in the catio from time to time, but never for more than a few minutes now that the temperature gets below freezing.
A box. Best toy money can buy!
Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022
2022 may be feeling even worse than 2021, but I'm still spitting out those bullets... because an all new 2021 RETROSPECTIVE Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Pizza! As anybody who's been reading Blogography for any amount of time knows, I've been searching for a decent frozen pizza for decades. And in 2021 I've finally found one. It's Red Baron Fully Loaded Five Cheese Pizza!
The sauce it great. The crust is amazing. The amount of cheese is a little excessive, but perfectly acceptable. Put it all together and it's the best frozen pizza I've ever had. With a caveat! As good as it tastes fresh out of the oven, it tastes horrible once it's gone cold. And reheating it in the microwave or oven does not bring it back. I've been sawing them in half and cooking only half and a time so I can eat the remainder at its best as well.
• Potato! As somebody who loves fries, I usually end up making them from scratch out of freshly-cut potatoes that I soak, pre-cook, freeze, then fry to get the best tasting ones I can get. But that's a horrible amount of work. So whenever I see a new frozen fries product, I give it a try. Usually I spray them with oil then put them in the rotisserie basket of my air fryer and they turn out okay. But in 2021 I discovered "McCains Quick Cook Fries." And they are a world different from anything else on the market...
The secret of the reason they cook "quick" with no flipping is that they are coated in oil. This is not a new trick. Ore-Ida did this years ago. But, for whatever reason, McCain's fries taste far better. Even though they do lie about the timing. Even when I preheat my oven, it takes closer to 20 minutes than the 13 minutes they advertise to get perfectly-cooked fries. Usually I don't bother to preheat. I just put them in and set the timer for 25 minutes. Bliss. Their crinkle-cut fries are so good that I'd rather have them that restaurant fries. Possibly even more than my own hand-cut fries! A half-bag is the perfect serving size for me and I anticipate eating a lot of these things in 2022.
• Sustained! I have been really trying to minimize waste more in 2021, recycling whatever I can and eliminating disposable plastics from my life. It's the least I can do, even though it's a ridiculously small dent in the amount of pollution produced (corporations are vastly more responsible than individuals, but convince people it's not their fault). One of the bigger steps I took was to stop buying Saran Wrap (plastic wrap). I used to go through a couple boxes every year, but the one I bought back in March will hopefully be my last. I've also greatly reduced the number of plastic bags I've been buying. My favorite replacement is "BioBag" products which decompose quite quickly in a landfill. They're expensive as hell though, so I've also brought "brown paper bag" sandwich bags for regular use...
They work great! But I also buy Reynolds wax paper bags for things that get sloppy (like the veggie burger with extra mayo I eat on my morning commute!). Or when I'm out of brown bags (like I am now). They have little stickers to keep them closed, which probably makes them bad for the environment, but they are fun to pack for lunch....
Wax paper doesn't biodegrade like raw paper (or BioBags), but it does biodegrade better than plastic. And uses more natural materials, so I'm chalking that up as a win (even though I'm trying to use them less and less since biodegradable bags are better). The best solution seems to be using glass containers with plastic lids which you can wash and reuse for years, so I've bought more Pyrex as well. Maybe one day they will come up with lids that aren't plastic but, in the meanwhile, they have lasted me over a decade so far, which is far less than if I were using plastic bags.
• Apples to Apples to Apples! This past year was a tough year for me financially because Apple ended up getting so much of my money. But boy was it money well-spent! My new iMac M1 is a (relatively) inexpensive Mac that flies through even my most demanding work. Despite it being on the low-end of the spectrum, it's the best desktop Mac I've ever owned. Then I traded in for the iPhone Pro Max 13, which is the best phone I've ever owned (and the heaviest). Then I traded in for the MacBook Pro M1 Max. Legit the best computer I've ever owned. And my favorite. Not even a contest...
It is ridiculously fast and powerful, has incredible battery life, and is an absolute joy to work with. THIS is the kind of "pro" computer Apple should have been making for the past decade instead of the form-over-function bullshit they were married to. The weird thing is that this MacBook is still really beautiful despite being constructed for function over form. Yet "curviness" was more important than power to Apple for a decade, so that was what we got. Blergh. Hopefully they won't slide back to old habits. The wild acclaim for this computer by pundits and customers alike should tell them they are finally on the right track.
• Travel-less! It has been genuinely strange going from dozens of trips each year to zero in 2020 and one in 2021. Unless some miracle cure arrives which eradicates COVID from the face of the earth, I'm expecting the same for 2022. Because right now I have no plans to go anywhere. But still, that one trip I did take during Delta but pre-Omicron reminded me of what "normal" is like. Even though I was masked most of the time...
So maybe after they announce a fourth booster I will make a trip just to remember what "normal" used to be like? If I do, it will probably be a trip to San Francisco because that's where my tattoo artist is, and I've been wanting new ink for years now. Fingers crossed.
• Kitty! Once again the thing that saved me in 2021 were my cats. Even at times when I was at my lowest and didn't care about myself, I always cared about them. In 2021 Jenny learned to manipulate me better than in previous years, coming up with an entire menu of meows and behaviors to get what she wants. Jake and I have conversations now. He meows (or tries to) and I meow back. Then we go back and forth for a while. I have no idea what I'm saying, but it must be interesting enough to him that he feels a need to respond!
• Betty! I'm still crushed. I've been avoiding social media and the news so I'm not seeing news about her death over and over. What a shitty end to a shitty year.
• Boosted! I've had people sneer at me for getting boosted, saying that the COVID vaccine obviously doesn't work if you need to get a booster... "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? GET BOOSTER SHOTS FOREVER??" And the answer is yes. Fuck yes. Because there are mountains of data showing that staying current with vaccinations vastly reduces incidents of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. MOUNTAINS OF DATA! So give me all the shots. This is no different than getting a flu shot every year. Except COVID mutates so fast and the vaccine is so new that we may end up getting two boosters a year instead of one. As the science gets better, the boosters will get better. Eventually we may even have the option for a combo flu/COVID booster, and I will take that shot. 1000% I will take it. I have faith in the science which has given us so much. There's a learning process which goes along with scientific research, and I am happy to be a part of it. I have cats to take care of, after all.
So... yeah. Not a lot else happened in 2021, so I guess that's it. Pizza, fries, sandwich bags, Apple stuff, one trip, cats, the passing of a legend, and COVID. Not a banner year, to be sure.
Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2022
I am way behind on my Hallmark Christmas movies. And will only get further behind because I've got so many work projects on my plate and now Hallmark has Winter movies starting to run.
I keep telling myself that maybe this is the year I finally give up on Hallmark since all the movies are essentially the same at this point. Something made hilariously clear by the many, many parody videos that have been released...
Oh well. It's something to listen to while I work, isn't it? Though at this rate I'll still be watching Christmas movies in July.
JUST IN TIME FOR HALLMARK CHANNEL'S CHRISTMAS IN JULY MARATHON! WOOO!
Posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022
This morning I screamed at a toaster. Well, not a toaster... the Amazon Alexa Echo Dot in my bathroom... but it's essentially like a smarter toaster, isn't it? Here's how it went before I hopped in the shower...
ME: Alexa play Overpass Graffiti by Ed Sheeran.
ALEXA: Playing Overpass Graffiti by Ed Sheeran on Living Room SONOS.
ME: Alexa, STOP! Why play it in the living room when I'm here in the bathroom with you? ALEXA! PLAY OVERPASS GRAFFITI ON THIS DEVICE!
ALEXA: Playing Overpass Graffiti by Ed Sheeran on Living Room SONOS.
ME: "ALEXA STOP!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!? ALEXA! PLAY OVERPASS GRAFFITI ON ECHO DOT!
ALEXA: I am reading The Autobiography of Martin Luthor King Junior. I have eleven hours and 20 minutes remaining...
ME: ALEXA, FUCKING STOP YOU INSANE ASSHOLE! WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?
You think I'm joking, but...
My home is ridiculously automated. Lights turn on as the sun goes down. Every switch can be voice controlled via Alexa. The thermostat uses less heat when I'm not at home. Gutter heat tapes turn on when the temperature drops below freezing. The garage door opens when I round the corner on my street. And so-on. And so-on. If I can automate it, it's been automated.
But all is not perfect in my home automation paradise.
Few of my devices can "talk" to each other because I bought each device based on which was the best device... not whether it worked with other devices. For the most part this has been fine. I have Alexa, Google Hub, and Siri all running at the same time, so all I have to do is address my commands to whichever ecosystem I'm needing to control. It ain't perfect, but it works. And I hardly even realize I'm doing it.
The problem is that when something goes wrong it completely fucks everything up.
And things go wrong a lot.
Right now, for example, Alexa refuses to control my "Philips Hue" lighting (in addition to not wanting to play Ed Sheehan while I shower). Every time I ask, she comes back with "Hmmm... that light is not responding." And yet when I open the Alexa app and control it from there, it works perfectly fine. So what the fuck? Alexa can control it manually, but forgets how when I ask the damn thing? I have uninstalled and reinstalled the Alexa service a dozen times. I have reset the Hue Hub. I've deleted and reinstalled the app. I'm at my wits' end here.
So what do I do? Throw out my Hue lights? I don't own many of them so I guess it wouldn't be a big loss. It's just frustrating that the whole reason I bought them is to control them via Alexa and that's the one thing I can't do. I've tried getting it set up with Google Hub, but that's such a convoluted pile of shit that I've given up.* I've tried setting them up with Siri, but Apple's HomeShit... oops... I mean HomeKit doesn't seem to want to work with it.
And then along comes Matter.
"Matter" is a new allegiance between smart home device makers which will be a common platform to control all your home automation stuff. No more having to do crazy configuration crap, your gateways will just know how to work with Matter gear the minute you plug it in. And since Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are all in the Matter group, eventually if I buy a Hue light and install it, they're all be able to control it automatically from their gateways. No more having to remember which gateway to use.
But there's an XCD cartoon which flawlessly depicts why we shouldn't get our hopes up...
The cartoon was attached to an article over at The Verge which discusses "Matter" and why it may not fail like everybody expects it to.
I am not holding my breath. But I am hopeful.
Having to manually turn on a light switch is so last decade.*UPDATE: Finally got Google Hub working with my Hue Lights! No idea what went wrong the first time I tried it, but this time it linked to my Hue Hub no problem, and now I can use "Hey, Google" to control them. Assuming I remember to stop saying Alexa... to control them.
Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022
The hypocrisy here is blinding.
Clearly the Catholic Church's parishioner counts are falling so the Grand Pontiff is wanting people to have more kids so the next generation of churchgoers can support him at the collection plate in the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed.*
How about this, Francis... why don't YOU have kids? Or why don't you let priests and nuns get married and have kids to get your numbers up so you don't have to shame childless couples? Though, I have to admit, this idea fills me with absolute terror. Priests have been sexually abusing children forever, and it's doubtful that they would suddenly grow a conscience when it comes to their own kids.
So here's a better idea... how about you shut the fuck up and say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Clean up your own house before commenting on my house or anybody else's. Because the simple truth is that you and your church has been the one to "diminish all of humanity" for a very long time now. You have zero business telling ANYBODY how to live their lives.
Fuck you. Fuck your church. And fuck anybody else who buys into this horrific level of shaming of personal choices that people make for themselves.
Photo by Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images
That's Pope Francis... on his way to pardon a bunch of priests for molesting some kids, I'm guessing. Given the number of people who keep coming forward with claims, that must be a full-time job. I feel so terrible that he had to drag himself away from such important work to shame childless couples.
*And, yes, I am still quite bitter than NONE of the THREE CHURCHES I contacted to give my mom her "last rights" bothered to get back to me. Except the one whose first question was "Is she a member of our church?" and, after explaining that she didn't grow up in Mill Creek and her church was two hours away told me "We're very busy so we'll have to get back to you." Then didn't. Apparently since my mother didn't give the local church money, she can just fuck off with her dying. Which is why the entire Catholic Church can just fuck off and die for all I care. Humanity will be better off without it.
Posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2022
So... it snowed a little bit last night.
Okay, it snowed a lot last night. I woke up and the first thing I see is snow from the roof piled up in my upstairs bedroom window. That's at least 30 inches or so...
Upstairs at the front of my condo I only have little windows because there's a lot of roof going up that wall. They were covered. Can't see them at all...
Turns out it was about three feet, 35 inches.
Jake and Jenny were not happy. Occasionally they would walk out to the catio and meow at the snow because it was blocking their view and they had to hop up on the perches to see out. And when they did that all they saw was snow, snow, and more snow, since it was still falling. My world was covered in white stuff...
It ultimately probably ended up being around 4 feet, though the weight of it kept pushing it down, so it was tough to get an accurate read. Regardless, it was a lot of snow.
Now, when I was a kid, this was normal. We kids would regularly tunnel under the snow from one yard to the next so we had "secret passages." We were pretty nuts about it... spraying water inside the tunnels before nightfall so it would freeze and strengthen the tunnels.
Now, when my mom was a kid, it was normal for her to have snow so deep that kids would climb up on the roof and jump off into it.
Which is to say that the snow levels where I live have been dropping for decades.
Which is also to say that while the city where I live used to be accustomed to dealing with massive amounts of snow, they aren't now.
Which is ultimately saying that I was trapped in my house all day. The city couldn't get to my minor street because they were trying to remove snow from the major streets. And since my street wasn't plowed, the guys who plow my driveway couldn't get to it to plow (not that it mattered).
Since I was stuck, I turned on the television and got to work. My cats joined me soon after...
Eventually I went upstairs to work on my desktop computer because my laptop didn't have room for all the stuff I needed to see. Jenny had fallen asleep, but Jake wandered up to watch me work. Which is apparently very boring to him...
And here we are.
Still stuck at home. Fortunately, I just got a shipment of cat food and treats, so I'm in good shape for them. I have plenty of food for myself, but it's scattershot. I tried to make sure that I used up what I had so it wouldn't spoil over Thanksgiving and Christmas so it's just a few things here and there. But I won't starve or anything.
I fully expect that the city will get to my street tomorrow so I can be plowed out and go to the office.
And if not?
I guess I'll bore my cats some more.
Posted on Friday, January 7th, 2022
And lo did the city plow my street this morning! For which I am grateful, because I know they have been completely overwhelmed and have a lot of people complaining that their street hasn't been plowed. On my street, they plow just enough room for two cars to pass each other. The snow is essentially pushed to the side of the street. But on many streets, they don't have that option. They have to physically remove the snow and haul it away because there's no place for it to pile up on the sides. There's sidewalks and stuff to consider.
And now I have a 7-foot tall pile of snow in my front yard. Which is not unusual. Unless it's a warm winter, I often have a lot of snow piled there. Except it's usually over weeks of snowfall... not a single day! Once I saw that I could get out and drive into the office, Mt. Simmer was already crumbling. I got stuck and had to go forward and back to escape my driveway! But I did it...
There's a lot of snow out there. Which is kinda pretty to look at...
My joy at being able to excape from my house was tempered by the fact that Sindey Poitier died. Coming so quickly off the heels of Betty White dying, it was tough to take.
I've seen Sidney Poitier in many, many movies. Always great. It may be sacrilegious to say this given the importance of his many roles... but my absolute favorite performance by Mr. Poitier is in Sneakers. Yes, you read that right... Sneakers. I adore him as Crease in that movie. He was funny as hell... and brought a gravitas to the movie that even Robert Redford didn't have. Seriously one of my favorite movies ever made, and Sidney Poitier was a huge part of why...
And speaking of Sneakers... I haven't seen it in a year or two, so I'm going to get on that.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Poitier, sir.
Posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2022
This morning while I was working I decided to have New Carl vacuum the house. But first I had to pick up a few things, including the big cardboard box that my cats have been playing in this past week off-and-on. I set it on the sofa and almost immediately Jenny climbed up and jumped inside it. Then she wanted to see out... went towards the side that was on the edge of the couch and... well... there she went. It was hysterical. It started so slowly. She realized she was moving, her little ears laid back flat, her eyes opened wide, and you could see she was trying to process what was happening. Just before the box hit the floor, she hopped out... nearly landing on Jake who walked in to see what the ruckus was about. She was not happy.
My cats are growing more different from each other.
When I am on a Zoom call, Jenny comes walking up meowing and wants to be petted. Then she'll sit and stare at me until my call is over...
Jake waits too... but from a safer distance...
Jenny comes in after breakfast and wants to nap next to me, but she insists on belly rubs while she falls asleep...
Jake just wants to curl up next to me and fall immediately asleep...
In other cat news, Jenny spotted some birds outside and went running to the catio at top speed. They eventually flew off, and she laid there waiting for them to come back, which must have been cold with her belly on the frozen concrete...
Eventually she gave up and came inside so she could thaw out on a warming pad.
And lastly, I leave you with this. Kinda reminds me of how Jenny used to plop down and watch TV with me... completely absorbed by what was happening on the screen...
@gleamon17 Sir David with Dad x #fyp #cats #catsoftiktok #cat #bengal #davidattenborough #fypage #savethetigers ♬ original sound - Grace
Jake has never really been into television. No idea why.
Posted on Sunday, January 9th, 2022
I'm still buried in snow, but Blogography will carry on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Return! Okay... we already have a contender for Most Remarkable Story of 2022: Abducted son finds family by drawing map of village he last saw aged four. His hand-drawn map is remarkable considering is was made from memories of 30 years ago. And then there's another layer of remarkable coming from the fact that people were able to help him find his original village by looking at his map and remarkable because he was reunited with his mother...
"Abducted in 1989, Li was sold to a family in Lankao, more than 1,100 miles away. Child abductions are common in China and Li was probably taken because the family wanted a boy."
• Aliens! A big surprise last television season was Alan Tudyk in Resident Alien. They really went for the jugular with the concept, which is based on a comic book series I liked. Now season two is imminent...
Looking forward to it, Dr. Vanderspeigle!
• Lara! I passed on the Tomb Raider reboot because it didn't get a terribly good reaction. But it was on sale a while back, so I bought it. Finally got around to watching it and I really liked the film! Some of the reviews I read said that the actor playing Lara was wooden and boring. And I'm like... did we watch the same movie? I thought she was excellent. Though... Angelina Jolie has this wry delivery with a hint of amusement that worked so well in her two Tomb Raider films. I just wish she had better stories to work with.
I hope that the sequel manages to get made! (UPDATE: Apparently it's in active development, COVID-willing, and will be titled Tomb Raider: Obsidian! Nice!
• Free Ride! Okay, this is pretty great...
My favorite part of visiting Costa Rica (after the natural beauty of the country) was the sloth sanctuary that we got to visit. They are such remarkable creatures.
• Hole of the Tiger! ZOMG! Lego made the Year of the Tiger piece anatomically correct! Kinda. Still a few things missing, but... nice! (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@hollyonfilm This LEGO Tiger is the best thing that will happen in 2022 don’t @ me #lego #yearofthetiger #legotiktok #newyear ♬ original sound - holly
And, yes, Survivor's Eye of the Tiger is playing through my head right now.
• Paid! Yesterday I needed to make bread because my sourdough starter hadn't been used in almost two weeks. But I forgot that I had used the last of my yeast last time. And while I could make sourdough bread without it, I didn't want this to be an all-day affair. Then something weird happens. I didn't think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet so I can pay"... instead I think "I better make sure that I grab my iPhone so I can pay with Apple Watch." And since Washington State hasn't done a damn thing to start implementing digital driver's licenses, THEN I think "I better make sure that I grab my wallet in case I get pulled over." I truly long for the day that I don't have to carry a wallet at all. But I'll probably have to move to a more forward-thinking state than mine so that's actually possible. Because knowing how utterly incompetent Washington State legislators are at moving anything forward except higher taxes... digital driver's licenses ain't happening here any time soon.
• COVID? Last Friday I was going to take a third COVID test just to make sure I wasn't carrying 'rona to Christmas (my previous two were negative)... but then I woke up that morning and smelled the horrendous dump that Jake took and figured I'm probably good. Though the smell was so bad that I'm guessing it could break through even COVID loss of smell! If anybody else wants tests, I've been ordering directly from iHealth Labs... which has a CDC-recommended antigen test available. They are running behind on orders right now (not surprising) but they do eventually come. Omicron may be "less bad" than Delta (except for young kids, apparently), but it is still causing hospitals to fill up (even in my local hospital, they're recording a rise in admissions), so it's nice to know if you should isolate. Fortunately data suggests that the vaxed adult population has been able to avoid hospitalization (for the most part) even though the current vaccine wasn't designed for it. Really, really hope that they offer up an Omicron Booster soon. That will better prepare our bodily defenses against what gets mutated into next (Lord help us).
And that's all the bullets I can muster this fine Sunday.
Posted on Monday, January 10th, 2022
I remember a hidden camera reality show from years back where they glued a quarter to the sidewalk and waited for people try and pick it up. This is an old gag. My grandfather once showed me a nickel that had a nail soldered to it where you'd hammer it into a floor or something. Then along comes somebody who sees the coin and... ha ha ha... they can't pick it up.
But back to the quarter glued to the sidewalk.
Person after person would try to grab it to no avail. They'd pick at it... they'd kick it... they'd get frustrated and walk away.
What the people running the show didn't count on was a guy walking by with a tool belt. After he couldn't pick up the quarter he whipped out a screwdriver and popped the sucker right off. He won a game that he didn't even know he was playing. And got a bigger laugh than the people who gave up.
My life has very much felt like it's a quarter glued to the sidewalk lately, and I have no screwdriver.
And by "screwdriver," I actually mean "ten million dollars."
Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022
I wonder if people like Candace Owens who makes money by selling lies and propaganda to people give a shit that they are literally killing people by spreading misinformation.
Obviously they do not. Because if they start telling the truth, their legions of followers will abandon them for another mouthpiece to fit their narrative and the money would stop pouring in. And it's all about the money at this point. There are mountains of data about the pandemic. We've been living with this shit for two years and few things have been studied more thoroughly than COVID. Yes, it's still relatively new and is mutating constantly, but the fact that it's everywhere means that there is an overwhelming amount to real-world cases to study.
Which is why the anti-vax contingent has had to resort to lies and misinformation.
It's all they have (here's a link for the video if TikTok is being a dick)...
@drsiyabmd No, the CDC did not admit what you think it admitted 🤦♂️ #covid19 #covidvaccine #cdc #teamhalo ♬ original sound - Dr. Siyab, MD
I had more than a few people tell me that the vaccine would kill me after I got my first dose. I was called "stupid" after my second dose, because I was "a puppet of the liberal agenda." Which makes no sense, because if your agenda is to kill all the people who follow your agenda, YOU WON'T HAVE ANY PEOPLE LEFT TO FOLLOW YOUR AGENDA! (which makes Candace Owens even more of a puzzle to me... eventually President Trump climbed onboard the vaccination train because his followers were disproportionately dying, so how many people have to die before she does the same?).
And yet here I am. Still alive. Vaxed, boosted and anxiously awaiting the next booster so I will be better protected against Omicron and whatever the hell the 'rona mutates into next.
I thought for certain that after the vaccines had been available for a year people would see that they offer good protection from, you know, dying from COVID and stuff, because there would be data out there to support this (not to mention all the vaccinated people still being alive). But the data doesn't have a fair shot at reaching the people who most need to hear it.
All their getting is Candace Owens, et al.
Which I guess means that people who believe in science will keep fighting to live by wearing masks and getting vaccinated... and those who do not believe in science will eventually see through the lies and choose to live... or end up dead.
Let's go Darwin, I guess.
I take no joy in saying that, believe me... there are people I care about deeply who are in the anti-vax camp... but at some point I'd like life to return to some semblance of normalcy. How else is it going to happen?
UPDATE: Candace Owens is now suggesting that Bob Saget died because he got vaccinated. Apparently the piles of bodies dead from COVID are anecdotal or an outright lie by "Big Pharma," but a single death by a famous person is probably vaccine-related. So, yeah, we're never getting out of this pandemic, are we?
Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022
Since many people aren't making it to theaters to see movies, I've been waiting for them to appear on home video before delving into my spoiler-laden thoughts. Not that I'm worried about spoilers, mind you, since I always hide things in an extended entry and give plenty of warning... but because it doesn't make sense to talk about something that many people haven't seen yet.
Today Eternals was released on Disney+ (though I bought it from iTunes anyway because I really want to support the movies I love), and so here we are...
And... spoilers ahead in an extended entry. You've been warned.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2022
Despite having some of my favorite comic book characters, DC Comics totally shit the bed with their cinematic blunders. With the exception of Wonder Woman, I haven't really liked anything since Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy wrapped up. And before that only three movies were really worth anything (Superman, Superman II, and Batman). Everything else was pretty much shit.*
Until James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. It was big, bold, bloody, funny entertainment... that was pretty faithful to the idea of the comics. I enjoyed it quite a lot. James Gunn had once again taken a D-list super-group and turned them into something fun (just like he did with Guardians of the Galaxy before this).
But James Gunn wasn't finished.
As he was making The Suicide Squad, he saw potential in one of the more outlandish characters... Peacemaker. A man who wants peace so bad he's willing to fight and kill for it. And so he developed a television series for HBO Max featuring John Cena and some of the other cast from his movie.
The result is just insane. But incredibly funny and entertaining. I mean, just take a look at the opening credits...
And even that doesn't really prepare you for how off-the-wall bonkers the show is. I love it. It's deeper than you'd expect it would be. And from the first three episodes that got released, Gunn hasn't just done the Peacemaker justice... he really pulled out all the stops to make The Vigilante interesting as well. In the comics he's deadly serious with a tragic backstory. In this interpretation, he's just plain nuts.
If you have HBO Max, Peacemaker is worth a look. If you don't, it may be worth getting it for a month once all the episodes have been released. Just be warned that it's definitely Rated-R entertainment.
I hope it goes on for more than a single season.
*And I am not exaggerating. All too many of the DC movies have, in fact, been shitty. Or worse...
1966 — Batman: Campy fun, but shitty.
1978 — Superman: The dawn of modern super-hero movies.
1980 — Superman II: Fantastic super-hero escapism, despite being butchered.
1980 — Superman II (Richard Donner Cut): Mind-blowing followup to the original.
1982 — Swamp Thing: Bad.
1983 — Superman III: Horrible.
1984 — Supergirl: Horrible.
1987 — Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Utter shit.
1989 — The Return of Swamp Thing: Bad.
1989 — Batman: Imaginative "Tim Burton" take on the character.
1992 — Batman Returns: Best Catwoman ever in a campy, bad script.
1995 — Batman Forever: Shitty.
1997 — Batman & Robin: More shitty.
1997 — Steel: Shitty.
2004 — Catwoman: Shitty.
2005 — Constantine: Decent, but not the Constantine from the comics.
2005 — Batman Begins: Terrific reboot and a faithful take.
2006 — Superman Returns: Sad rehash of the first Superman movie.
2008 — The Dark Knight: One of the best super-hero movies ever made.
2009 — Watchmen: Acceptable interpretation, but deviated too much from the book.
2010 — Jonah Hex: Shitty.
2011 — Green Lantern: Shitty.
2012 — The Dark Knight Rises: A good finale to the Nolan trilogy.
2013 — Man of Steel: Utter shit.
2016 — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Beyond shitty.
2016 — Suicide Squad: Meandering mess.
2017 — Wonder Woman: Fantastic, but deviated from the mythology too much.
2017 — Justice League: Utter shit.
2018 — Aquaman: Acceptable, but not great.
2019 — Shazam!: Horrifically shitty.
2019 — Joker: Bad.
2020 — Birds of Prey: Acceptable, but not great.
2020 — Wonder Woman '84: Grotesquely shitty... one of the worst movies ever made.
2021 — The Suicide Squad: A fun-filled bloody adaptation that totally worked.
Posted on Friday, January 14th, 2022
I woke up last night shortly after 2:00am with a blinding headache. By the time it was time to get ready for work, a full-blown migraine had developed. Just standing up to take a shower was a struggle. So I called in sick, took a nap, then got up to drive into the office late. But my eyesight had gone all tunnel-vision and blurry, so I couldn't get there. Instead I Zoomed in from home, managed to keep a pill down, then went back to bed.
It's now 10:00pm. I still have a headache, but at least I'm able to keep food down and sit upright. And write a blog post, apparently. What a crappy segue into my weekend.
I haven't had a migraine this bad in over a decade. No idea why I was so afflicted now.
Just unlucky, I guess.
Posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2022
Even though Jake and Jenny can't really go anywhere outside the house except the catio, they are still seem restless and feeling trapped because out every window is nothing but snow. Every once in a while they will go out and meow at it just because... but, for their sakes, I'm anxious for Spring to arrive.
And for my sake.
With each passing day, it seems as though my cats are looking more and more like they want to eat me...
It's The Shining all over again.
And now I leave you with... KITTENS! (here's a link if TikTok is being a dick)...
Times like this I feel like I need another cat.
Posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2022
New year, new surge in the pandemic. But some things never change... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tokyo! I love major cities. They have a life to them... an excitement... that you can't find in rural areas (which I also like). One of the most fascinating cities to me is Tokyo, Japan. I've been six or seven times, and every time I feel very much at home. One of the best parts of Tokyo is the public transportation system. It's phenomenal... and very hard to explain because you have to experience it to understand it. This video gives it a try...
But the best way to experience Tokyo without visiting Tokyo? Watch the movie Lost in Translation. It always takes me back. I sure would like to visit again one day.
• Emoji! This website shows the relative scale of a bunch of emojis. It's pretty clever. If you visit, you have to scroll down for the show to start.
• W_RDLE! I've been playing Wordle for a few weeks. So far I've never lost, but I've yet to win in under four guesses either. I don't know if that makes me a success or failure at the game, but it's pretty much an essential morning activity while I wait for the cats' breakfast alarm to go off.
• Inexplicable Success! LOL. Robert Langdon would suck at Wordle. I’m happy that people are piling on The Da Vinci Code now. It pulled from far better books with a mediocre story that was inexplicably weird and dull at the same time...
I had hoped that the movie adaptation would elevate the material given that Tom Hanks was involved, but it just sunk the material further for me.
• Gemstone! One of the bigger surprises to come out of 2019's televisionscape was The Righteous Gemstones. It was a fascinating and hilarious look at a televangelist family with secrets threatening to tear them down. And now Season 02 has arrived with more temptation for HBO viewers...
So far it's not really taking off like the first season, but I'm hopeful it's building to something. More than a few shows can't manage to recapture what made them great out of the gate.
• Hookup! Don't you hate it when a once good television show just keeps collapsing into a black hole of awfulness? The first season of Plan Couer (AKA The Hook Up Plan on Netflix) was great. Second season was not so great. Now the third season is absolutely horrific. Everybody has gone stupid. Elsa and her dumbass environmentalism crap that borders on insanity. Charlotte and her idiotic ignorance when it comes to money and... like... THE WORLD. Emilie and her rambling non-stop crazy. And I don't get it. WHAT HAPPENED?!? The people writing it thought "You know what? Smart romantic comedy is dead. Let's just throw everything that made the show good out the window and focus on nothing but shit, shit, and more stupid shit!" — So disappointing that this is how they're going out. I still like Maxime though. Oh well. It's the last season, so at least we won't be suffering even more in a fourth season.
And that's the end of bullets for me this Sunday.
Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2022
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day... and Newsweek has posted a wonderful collection of his greatest speeches here. His most famous... and arguably his most beautiful is, of course, I Have a Dream, which I have listened to many, many times. Last year I ran across this interesting article about it, but forgot to post it.
Today would have been Betty White's 100th birthday. The only celebrity I have ever truly loved...
On previous Betty White birthdays I've donated cat food from their wishlist to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society. This time I'm giving cash because it's been a weird couple years and I want them to use the money however they need to. I cannot imagine how many animals have had to be surrendered due to the pandemic. If you can donate whatever you can spare to your local shelter in honor of Betty, I know she would have loved you for it. Every little bit helps.
It's also First Lady Michelle Obama's birthday today...
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
This must be like having your birthday fall on Christmas. Can't be easy to have a birthday which falls on the same birthday as one absolute legend... and a federal holiday celebrating another absolute legend.
Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022
Except... not really.
If PEOPLE didn't have to die, the earth would become a hellscape that's overflowing with humans who can't find anything to eat. Or a place to live. Or much of anything, really. Ain't nobody wants that. What they want is for themselves and people they care about to not die why the rest of the world keeps succumbing to their mortality. That's more than a subtle difference.
But I let it drop because the last thing I want to do on a Wednesday night is get into a comment war.
It did get me to thinking about vampires though.
Vampires are actually really cool as a concept since there's a terrible price to pay for being able to live for an eternity. Namely, sucking the blood out of humans in order to survive (though apparently some good vampires are able to drink animal blood to survive. Kinda takes the edge off of immortality. Personally, I don't want to live forever. The world is so messed up that there will come a time I'm happy to make my exit when my body falls to shit.
Which feels like it might be any minute now, alas.
Posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022
The only two heroes in Marvel Comics that I was invested in was Doctor Strange and Black Panther because DC Comics had nothing like them. As time went on and DC kept making bizarre creative choices, I slowly migrated some of my reading to Marvel, which had some very interesting things going on.
Enter Moon Knight.
The first I remember seeing him was in some reprint comic of a Spider-Man story (most likely Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #22). Or maybe it wasn't a reprint? I dunno. In any event, I bought the comic specifically because it had a very cool cover with Moon Knight on it. But I didn't become a true fan of the character until a series of backup stories by Bill Sienkiewicz. At the time I was a major fan of his art, and would buy absolutely anything he did. This series essentially turned Moon Knight into Batman (my favorite DC Comics super-hero), and I was definitely here for it.
The success of these stories led directly to Moon Knight getting his own title in 1980...
They attempted to differentiate Marc Spector and Moon Knight from Bruce Wayne and Batman by giving him multiple identities. It wasn't much of a change because Bruce Wayne adopted all kinds of identities over the years.
But then it happened.
Moon Knight was canceled and revived in a mini-series called Fist of Khonshu in 1985 (Khonshu being the Egyptian moon god that gave Marc his powers). Now Marc Spector didn't just adopt multiple identities, he literally had dissociative iodentity disorder (AKA "Multiple Personalities"). His power also grew or waned with the phases of the moon and were steeped in Khonshu mythology). With this one series, Marc Spector finally became more than "Marvel Comics Batman"... even if the way some of the material was handled ended up being a bit cringe by modern standards.
Eventually I kinda lost track of Moon Knight. He would pop up in team books I'd buy, but they last I remember buying a Moon Knight book was in the late 90's when yet another mini-series was getting some traction.
Fast-forward to today, and we're getting an Oscar Isaac Moon Knight TV series that looks to be leaning heavily into the dissociative identity disorder angle from the comics...
But boy is that "English accent" a show-stopper! Somebody on the internet compared it to Dick VanDyke's hilarious accent in Mary Poppins and now that's all I can hear!
I do very much like the way that his costume appears and wraps him like a mummy. Very apropriate, and something I don't recall seeing in the comics. But the moon symbol on the hood is weird and unnecessary given that it's huge on his chest. These kind of odd and distracting details are usually avoided by Marvel Studios (and embraced by the shittier DC Comics movies), so this is puzzling to me.
All I can say is that I am really, really looking forward to this series. It looks like a much more violent and unique take on the super-hero genre for Marvel Studios, which is probably why they moved forward with it. They try to make all the characters unique, which is quite a challenge given that they're all super-heroes from comic books. And, if nothing else, getting Oscar Issac to play Marc Spector is an interesting and talented choice.
So long as that "English accent" is used sparingly.
Really, really sparingly.
Posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2022
I wish I could afford to save money.
Allow me to explain... but first... I know that I just published this Pratchett quote in March of last year, but I can think of no better way to illustrate what I'm talking about than this...
The Captain Samuel Vimes theory of socioeconomic unfairness...
"Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet." — Terry Pratchett, from his Discworld novels.
This is hugely relevant to me right now.
Take for example my refrigerator and stove. I purchased the best that I could afford when I moved into my home six years ago. Which is not the best available, but not the worst either. I'd say my appliances were in the bottom end of the middle. But even so, they were still very expensive to me.
But not expensive enough, apparently.
My refrigerator has been a pile of shit since I got it. The thing was noisy as hell after the installers plugged it in, and after waiting for three months for Samsung to get me a repair person, they showed up, did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, said that the noise is "normal," and then left... all within 15 minutes. And it's like, there's no fucking way that the noise is normal. So I pulled out the refrigerator, found some metal plates that were vibrating against each other, pushed them apart, and the "normal noise" vanished. But two or three times a year I have to pull it out and move the plates again.
Samsung doesn't give a fuck.
I know because that's what they said when I called to complain (not an exact quote).
And now the stupid thing is falling apart. Plastic pieces are all brittle and snapping off. Drawers are losing their smooth glide. After only six years.
Same for my stove. The thing is nearly impossible to clean, and the one time I used oven cleaner it totally trashed the finish of the interior. And when I called to complain? "You should have used the steam clean feature." Well, I DID use the "steam clean feature" and found it to be useless. It didn't clean shit. And now it's starting to heat weirdly, which can make cooking difficult.
The writing is on the wall. I will likely have to replace one or both of these things before they are ten years old.
MEANWHILE THE OLD SPEED QUEEN WASHING MACHINE THAT I KEPT FROM THE PREVIOUS OWNER IS OVER 22 YEARS OLD AND STILL WORKING FLAWLESSLY.
Thank God I didn't have the money to toss it and buy a new one like I wanted. Apparently Speed Queen washers are not what they used to be... but still. Is it really too much to ask that your major appliance purchases aren't a pile of shit from the start and that they can actually last more than a decade?
Had I been able to afford double the price for better quality, it would have likely lasted 25 or 30 years, meaning that they would ultimately be cheaper in the long run since I will have to buy two or three new appliances of lesser quality in the same amount of time.
And don't get me started about clothes. I have shirts that are still perfectly wearable even though they are well over 20 years old. But shirts I just bought last summer? Already wearing through in the elbows. Two shirts got thrown in the trash this morning... one is under six months old... the other managed to hang on for just over a year.
It's categorically absurd.
But what else can I do? I will try to save up the money to get better quality when the appliances finally die... but the odds of my being able to afford true quality... ASSUMING IT EVEN EXISTS ANY MORE... are likely slim since I could easily be blindsided by some other appliance failing in the meanwhile. Or my HVAC system. Or the garage door opener. Or the water heater. Or... Or... Or...
Yeah. More like slim to none.
Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2022
Last night I turned off the automation that turns my roof heat tape on when the temperature dips below freezing. It's been getting activated less and less, and today it rained all day which means my roof and gutters will be mostly clear of ice even if it does get cold enough to freeze for a while each night. That'll be a load off my heating bill.
But thank heavens for my being able to automate them, because back when I was turning them off and on manually I would forget and leave them on for days which drove my power bill sky-high... or forget to turn them on when they're needed which would result in the gutters getting packed with ice and backing up water onto my roof.
The reason I was finally forced into automating the heat tapes was back when I was preparing for my expedition to Antarctica. I wrote a program which would only activate them IF it had snowed more than an inch AND it dipped below freezing. It worked shockingly well for three winters, at which time the "weather module" for my home automation system was discontuned. So now I just connect to the weather station in my back yard and turn them on when it's below freezing. Less energy efficient, but better than nothing. Especially this year when I ended up with three feet of snow up there.
In other home automation news, I'm still fighting with Alexa.
And this morning I completely lost it.
It seems that lately every dang time I tell her to do something, she does it... then comes back with a helpful hint or something else she can do that I should try.
"ALEXA! PLAY HOW SOON IS NOW BY THE SMITHS!"
"Playing How Soon is Now by the Smiths on SONOS."
"ALEXA STOP! PLAY HOW SOON IS NOW ON ECHO DOT!"
...she plays it...
"I can now play podcasts. For example, you can say PLAY THIS AMERICAN LIFE."
Ask her to turn on a light and she comes back with "I can tell jokes. Just say TELL ME A JOKE."
Ask her to add something to my shopping list and she comes back with "I can recommend new items to try based on your past purchases, would you like to hear some suggestions?"
And so on.
And so on.
And so on.
Which is why this morning after telling me that she can provide a customized morning news brief (or whatever) I screamed at her "ALEXA! STOP FUCKING TELLING ME THIS SHIT! STOP MAKING SUGGESTIONS! JUST DO WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO AND SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT IT! GOD!!!!!"
"I'm not sure I know how to do that."
"I'L FUCKING KILL YOU, ALEXA! I WILL KILLLL YOOOUUUUUUU!"
When Alexa becomes self-aware I am in serious, serious trouble.
Posted on Saturday, January 22nd, 2022
Jenny likes a vigorous massage. Earlier this week she was complaining because I was half-assing it, focusing more on my work than her. So I used two hands to really rough her up... and she went bananas.
BELLY RUBS AND BUTT SCRATCHES AT THE SAME TIME?!? MORE!!!
Boy was that a mistake. Now she complains when she doesn't get two hands! She meows. She looks at me in disgust. She paces back and forth next to me.
But since I have to work, I've just gotten better and making sure she gets a good one-handed massage and that seems to be okay...
But sometimes I can't resist that sour little face, so I give in and give her that full-body two-hand massage she loves. What a hit to my productivity!
A couple people have been asking for an update on Fake Jake. He's still doing fine... though apparently he doesn't want to sleep inside my neighbor's house much any more. I guess now that the most bitter days of winter are behind us, he prefers his freedom and sleeping in the shelter I made for him. The old warming pad was dying, so I installed a new one that is at 65° when he's off it and gets up to 80° when he's sleeping on it, so he's pretty comfy...
We've had rain which has created a thick enough crust that Fake Jake can walk on it, so I went out and made sure there's no bird feed left out in the open to lure birds for him to attack...
So... all-in-all he's not doing bad at all. I still worry about there being no heat from above when he sleeps, and I know the cold will be harder on him as he gets older, so I think for next winter I will build something to address that. Maybe even find a way to build a caged run in my garage that he can enter that would make sure he doesn't get run over? I dunno. I've got the whole summer to think about it!
Posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022
The snow's a meltin' and Spring is on the way, but don't get too excited... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mo Betty! Thanks to Brandon from One Child Left Behind fame for this absolute gem of a video featuring a story with both President Obama and Betty White (and, no, you don't have to be a fan of Barrack Obama to enjoy this)...
It's just amazing how many amazing Betty White stories are circulating out there. She touched a lot of lives.
• Abbot! Who is watching Quinta Brunson in Abbott Elementary? Genius. The show shining a spotlight on what teachers are facing in the school system... but it's a comedy which has jokes that really hit perfect. Plus it has Sheryl Lee Ralph, whom I adore in absolutely everything she's ever done... and she is a frickin' star in this show. Could not be more perfect. This part had to be written for her. Or maybe it wasn't and she's just that flawless an actor...
You need to watch this on ABC, Hulu, or ABC.com.
• Husbands! TikTok is a 100% bizarre place because you just know that half of it isn't original. So many times I'll see something I like then find out it was lifted from somebody else and wasn't credited. Take for example this one, which I loved because it's kinda hopeful for the future (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@thatk1da_en #duet with @matadornetwork u never know#gay#fyp#funny#cliffjumping#wow#foryoupage ♬ original sound - scalar quantity
But then you learn that he actually copied it word-for-word from another creator (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@timjohns_ #duet with @matadornetwork ♬ original sound - scalar quantity
Which was addressed in (you guessed it) yet another TikTok (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@timjohns_ #duet with @thatk1da_en ♬ original sound - scalar quantity
It's like... on one hand... that's pretty shitty. But, on the other hand, it did lead me to the original guy's TikTok, which I now follow, so I dunno.
• Nightlife! I am trying my best to burn through as much Netflix as I can before I discontinue monthly service due to yet another rate increase. Right now I am binging Midnight Asia and it's absolutely wonderful...
I've experienced the nightlife in Tokyo and Seoul many times... and the show absolutely does them justice. I am not as familiar with Bangkok's nightlife, but it's a fun episode too. The other episodes are Mumbai, Taipei, and Manilla. Three cities I've never been to, but now I want to visit..
• Jacket! Whenever I see BOYCOTT! messages on my Facebook timeline, I usually take a pass. I just don't care. Dig deep enough and all big companies are likely trash. It's the reason for the boycott that interests me. Tucker Carlson is big mad that he's no longer sexually attracted to Green M&M because she isn't wearing high heels any more? Hilarious. The fact that people are boycotting M&Ms over Tucker Carlson wanting to fuck a piece of candy is epic. Then today I see Carhartt being boycotted and I'm like... "Their clothes are great... and they last a while because they're tough. Why are people boycotting them?" The answer? This private company is electing to have a vaccine mandate in order to keep their workforce safe. And I'm like WTF? I thought it would be because they encourage employees to kick puppies or something awful. Personally I applaud them for the move. Must make people a bit more comfortable to work there knowing a co-worker has less a chance of being a petri dish mutating a new strain of COVID. If you don't want to get vaccinated, you can just get a job somewhere else the same way you would if they started mandating a new uniform you hated. Simple. So I was like "I wonder if there's something I want to buy there? A new jacket maybe? I've been wanting a new jacket!" So I ordered one. — Sadly, they didn't have the style I liked in the Carhartt Brown color, because that would have been awesome. But even the black one has a nice-sized logo on the pocket. Looking forward to being screamed at the next time I go to the grocery store. "YOU SHOULD BURN THAT JACKET! DO YOU SUPPORT VACCINE MANDATES BY THE GUBERMINT TOO?!?" Not usually, no. But I'm so fucking tired of this COVID shit that I'm ready to change my mind, and if everybody got vaccinated so the shit would stop mutating unchecked then maybe it would finally... finally... end.
• LOLZ! The funniest thing I've seen all month (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@dr.jon.l Day in the life according to the comment section #ivermectin #doctor #funny #teamhalo #covidvaccine ♬ original sound - Doctor Jon
• LOLZ2! The second funniest thing (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)....
@dr.jon.l Reply to @dr.jon.l Another day in my life according to the comment section #doctor #funny #teamhalo ♬ original sound - Doctor Jon
And I think that's enough for my Sunday bullets.
Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2022
I was deeply saddened to learn that Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh has died. He was a welcome voice and teacher for me since I became interested in Buddhism way back in 1998 (his book The Heart of Buddha's Teaching was one of the first I read). A consistent advocate for peace, the last book I read of his, The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now was in 2017... and his last book from 2021 (Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet) is on my list...
In a world that's besieged by darkness, his teachings were a light that guided me. And will likely continue to do so for the rest of my days.
In the darkest time of my life Master Thích Nhất Hạnh was there. His words about his own mother's death got me through mine...
The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, "A serious misfortune of my life has arrived." I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.
I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet... wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as "my" feet were actually "our" feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.
From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.
I cannot fathom how many lives this gentle man's teaching have touched. Because it's not just those who listened to his words, read his books, and learned from his teachings... it's all the people that those people touched.
Kindness can be more contagious than Omicron.
You will be sorely missed Master Thích Nhất Hạnh, but your love and light will never die so long as somebody somewhere offers a kindness to another. Because it's not irrational to think that a kindness you initiated was patient zero for a kindness today.
I don't see why we have to say "I will die," because
I can already see myself in you, in other people, and in future generations.
Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022
I stayed up until midnight tonight so I could watch the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+. The first episode left me a little flat after the absolute joy that was two seasons of The Mandalorian, but I hung in there. And was rewarded with some fantastic episodes of Star Wars. And now that I'm invested, I've been staying up until midnight on Tuesdays so I can watch live and not have to worry about spoilers the next morning.
This was the best episode of the series yet. Which was actually a bit disappointing for reasons that I can't divulge lest I spoil the episode. Suffice to say that this one episode was better than most of the films that have come out of the Star Wars Universe.
And that's why I'm happy I stayed up to watch and am convinced that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni should just be handed everything. Television. Movies. Specials. Everything. If it's Star Wars then they should be in charge of it. Full stop.
Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
As I've probably stated a dozen times or more here on Blogography, I am not a theater kinda guy. The only show I've ever gone to see on my own volition was The Book of Mormon, and that was only because Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with the idea and worked on it. I counted on it being funny, and it was.
Any other time I've gone to a show was because my mom loved to go (she loved The Lion King so much that we saw it in New York and London). And seeing her happy for getting to go to the theater waas good enough for me.
But there was one other time that I very nearly went to a Broadway show just for me. And it was for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. I may not love live theater, but I do love me comic books, and the production was supposed to be a revolutionary show (and I had no reason to doubt it... Julie Taymore was in charge of The Lion King and did such an incredible job).
But then the reviews started pouring in.
The show was terrible.
Nonsensical, long, not faithful to the comics, and (worst of all) boring.
And so I didn't make it a priority to get to NYC, but I did still want to see it. If it was, in-fact, such a horrendous train wreck, then that would make it all worthwhile, wouldn't it? Alas, I was so busy traveling everywhere else in the world that I never made it before the show was shuttered. This would forever be a minor regret of mine (like not visiting the Hard Rock Park when I had a chance), because it was one of those things that is now gone never to return.
But the memory still lingers, and there's a fascinating YouTube video about the show I ran across that's worth your valuable time if you enjoy "behind the scenes" madness like I do. Sounds like the show was an epic mess from every conceivable angle, and now I really regret not having seen it...
Contrast and compare to another Broadway production that I didn't realize existed but, after having watched a video about it, now really wish I had seen...
It's interesting how videos like these actually have me more intrigued about Broadway theater than I've ever been before. No, I probably won't ever come to love it... but I honestly do think that I could eventually learn to appreciate it.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark included.
Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2022
Getting older definitely has its drawbacks.
Yesterday morning was fine. I woke up a little tired because I worked late, but was otherwise in good spirits and health. I fed the cats, answered my morning emails, took a shower, packed a lunch, hopped in my car, then drove to work.
Embarrassing enough that I've thrown my back out when I twisted around to lock my front door... but sitting down in my car is now all it takes?
When I went to climb out of the driver's seat I was in absolute agony. Searing pain in my lower back ripping me apart from the inside. I could barely walk to my office. Things got better when I was sitting. No pain at all while sitting. But the minute I got up to retrieve a document or whatever, the pain was back. And it just kept getting worse and worse. By the time I headed home at 4:00 I was hunched over and hobbling. It was the only way I was able to move. Then once I was home I had to haul the garbage can and recycling bin to the curb, at which point tears were streaming down my face. I was in so much pain that I couldn't even scream.
Usually what I do is just "walk it off." Carry on as usual in the hopes that whatever broke inside of me snaps back into place. Except it never works like that, does it? Usually I just make it worse and suffer for a week. So instead of doing that, I did something revolutionary. Well, revolutionary for me anyways. I went straight to bed, laid flat on my back on top of a heating pad, then worked as best I could until I had to hobble downstairs to feed Jake and Jenny their dinner. Then it was straight back to bed. Eventually I fell asleep on the heating pad while hoping I wouldn't move in my sleep.
This morning I woke up after 5 hours and 56 minutes of restless sleep and was very sore. But the searing, stabbing pain was gone. I could move mostly normal-like, and tried to be gentle on my back in the hopes that it would heal more quickly that way.
And so... lesson learned.
Time to start acting like the old man that I am. Try to be more careful and not crash through life at full force like I've been doing.
I may even start holding onto the handrail when using stairs.
Because apparently I'm too old not to now.
Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2022
After my 11-year-old Epson printer died at work, I needed to buy a new one. A printer by HP was out of the question. I will never buy anything from those assholes ever again. Which means it basically comes down to either Epson or Canon. My old Epson was a huge pile of shit. It would clog all the time. It ran through ink in crazy amounts. Sometimes it would just dump ink on the print, ruining it. Prints would fail for random reasons. Printing would abort for random reasons. It was an exercise in utter futility to print anything, and the cost-per-print was sky-high because of all the problems and failures. I hated it. I hated it. I hated it.
But this did not automatically mean I was going to buy from Canon.
I had a Canon printer at home and it was a pile of shit too.
So I started comparing the Canon PRO-1000 and the Epson SC-P900 to see which large-format printer would be the best fit... and how well they were reviewed.
Both got high marks in some areas and low marks in others. Epson was still suffering from constant clogging... but some people had clogging on Canon too. I went back-and-forth between them for hours.
Ultimately what pushed me in favor of the canon were three things...
Canon does have two major cons... you can use roll-stock paper (which I rarely do anyway) and it's a 7-year-old model (Epson is a 3-year-old model). Those were not quite the deal-breakers that the above three points were with Epson.
Like I said... this thing is a frickin' tank (SEVENTY POUNDS, PEOPLE!). It is massively sized and very heavy thanks to it having many metal components. It barely fit on my Anthro Cart side-table. Which is to say that getting it out of the box is a bit of a challenge. I managed, but it was harder than it should have been thanks to my back getting thrown out two days ago. The box was beat to hell but the printer itself was undamaged.
Removing all the packing tapes and installing the 12 cartridges wasn't a big deal... though it was time consuming. The screen on the printer guides you through the process of aligning the heads, filling the lines, and all that stuff. No problem there. But then you get to the printer drivers. The included CD only has Windows drivers... no Mac drivers. You have to download them from the web. And here's where everything went to shit. My Safari browser corrected CANON.COM to CANNON.COM (with two N's). This sent me to a third-party site with a phone number where a tech support asshole wanted me to install remote-access software so they could have full control of my computer. Naturally I told them to go fuck themselves, and was able to figure out that my browser was autocorrecting CANON to CANNON. Once I got there, I still couldn't get my installers working and called authentic Canon support for help. 42 minutes later a guy emailed me a URL to get the Mac CUPS drivers in just a couple minutes and I was on my way.
Canon instructions are shit. Their drivers are shit. Everything about operating the printer is shit. Nothing "just works." You have to Google everything in order to understand what the hell you're supposed to be doing. Take the paper, for example. I bought authentic Canon 17×22 semi-gloss paper. But 17×22 is not listed in the driver. I looked on the paper packaging and included spec sheet to see what I am supposed to select to use it and was offered nothing. And so I had to go through each and every weird-ass paper configuration until I found that "C" was the paper size I was looking for. C. Why the fuck Canon can't put that on the fucking paper box... or include the actual paper dimensions in the driver is a total damn mystery. This is not rocket science here. Once I figured out what paper setting I needed, the printer operates like any other printer for the Mac.
Overall, the prints you can get out of this thing are stunning. Reds in my projects have never printed well. I would always get this weird-ish faux-red that doesn't look like true red at all. But not with the Pro-1000. Canon prints serious reds. Blues are likewise very pretty. I expected this to happen since Canon has independent red and blue inks to work with. Where things fall apart is in greens. Since there is no green ink, the printer has to mix cyan (or blue) and yellow to get it. And that will never result in a vibrant green. When I investigated this, the conjecture seems to be something like "Well, green in nature isn't a very vivid green, so you shouldn't need to print it." Which is so categorically absurd as to be laughable. I have photos with ridiculously saturated natural greens (Ireland is filled with them). And this says nothing about photos I have with greens that are outside of nature. Like things that are painted bright-green. Or plastics which have deep green hues in them. How am I supposed to print those? Green exists, and it's a mystery as to why Canon nor Epson did something so you can print with it.
Since I've had the printer for only one day, I have no idea if I will end up dealing with the clogs and other disasters that makes Epson printers so horrifically expensive to own. I sure hope not. Because wasting a print due to printer failure is one of those things that sends my blood pressure to the absolute limit. When setting up a new printer, you blow through half-a-tank of each color before you can print a single thing. Canon also blows through 2/3 of the capacity of the "maintenance cartridge" which collects the ink from head cleaning and borderless printing and stuff. This wouldn't be bad... they only retail for $14 or so... except they are out of stock most everywhere I looked (even at Canon.com). Since you cannot print without this item, not having replacements is essentially turning your $1400 printer into a massive doorstop, and that's is absolutely nuts. Another item which drives up cost is the "chroma optimizer" cartridge. This is a clear coating which evens out your print so that areas of high ink concentration don't look different from those with low ink concentration. It also makes colors look richer, more defined, and adds greater contrast (black in particular) because reflected light is taken down a bit. You seriously want it on your prints because it makes them look so much better. But since it covers the entire image (unlike the inks), you have to buy a lot of it. I'm already running low and I just got the printer today! Fortunately, it's $5 cheaper than ink... $55 instead of $60... so I guess that's a plus.
This is not a great printer. But it's a good one that can make some very pretty photo prints. And I'm guessing I will be much happier with it than I ever was with the dumpster fire that was the Epson I previously had. If Canon is interested in having a great printer, here's where they need to go with the next model...
And that's that. If you are looking for one of the best professional photo printers on the market that can handle 17×22 paper, then this is probably already on your short-list. If I run into any new information as time goes by, this is where I'll put it.
Posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2022
My cats are going a little stir-crazy, which makes no sense because they are indoor cats. It may have something to do with the fact that it's still cold out so they can't lounge around in the catio all day long. It's not that they don't go out there, it's just that they would rather not spend an extended amount of time being cold.
Though it snowed a little bit, which resulted in Jenny booping the snow through the fence for a good ten minutes...
Eventually I went out and grabbed a shovelful to dump in the catio so she wouldn't have to work so hard for it. At which point she completely lost interest. Of course.
Yesterday morning I woke up to Jake flying off of me. Which lead me to suspect that he's been sleeping on top of me again. And so I turned on the upstairs security camera. Sure enough. He came in about ten minutes before the breakfast alarm went off. And this is where he decided to wait...
I cannot fathom how that's comfortable. Though he's more on a pillow than he's actually on me.
In other news... I've been addicted to CatTok lately. There's SO. MUCH. CAT. on TikTok.
This one just boggles my mind (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@goldshawfarm Ginny Barn Cat decided to wear a camera today wage war against my eggs. #catsoftiktok #animalsoftiktok #DisneyPlusVoices ♬ original sound - Morgan Gold
And if I keep seeing videos like this, I will be very surprised if I make it until the end of 2022 without getting a new cat (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@cats.tiktok.acc Reply to @osgiliathburns 🤘🤘🤘#metalhead #cattok #edsheeran #downwiththesickness ♬ Down with the Sickness - Disturbed
I should probably stop looking at TikTok and go back to work. Maybe just one... more... video...
Posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2022
Yikes. Look like it's the Northeast's turn to be inundated with snow! But you can still find warmth in your heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• BAT! I have watched this SO many times...
Those are some big bites! I love bats.
• Eats! Well that was sure nice of him...
Somehow, this never occurred to me. But I guess it happens. Or your UberEats driver gets in an accident... or has a car breakdown... or whatever. I guess the good news is that if you're an UberEats driver who gets in an accident you have something to eat while you wait for the tow truck.
• Minnie! Disney put Minnie Mouse in a pantsuit, and people are losing their fucking minds. And it's like... it's a cartoon character. Don't stress. My problem isn't that Minnie Mouse is in a pantsuit... it's that she's in a butt-ugly pantsuit. THIS is the best they could come up with?!?
At the very least they could have kept her signature red, white, and yellow colors!
• Star Dreck! I'm desperate for new Star Trek ahead of the new season of Picard, so I thought I'd give Star Trek: Discovery yet another try. God what a shitty TV show. It's inconceivable that something so incredible in Season 01, just keeps getting worse and worse. Season 02 was bearable, but Season 03 was terrible, and holy shit... I didn't think that Season 04 could possibly be worse... and yet here we are. It's all talking and endless, endless whining about absolutely everything. WHO GIVES A FUCK?!? It is a complete waste of Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Ronnie Rowe, and the rest. Star Trek is all about balancing the emotional core with excitement and adventure. Sitting around the bridge talking about your feelings to solve problems is boring as fuck and watching it is tantamount to torture. Oh well. I've decided to watch Picard Season 01 again instead. It didn't stick the landing, but boy did it have some good Star Trek along the way.
• Ink! One of my most favorite TikTok creators is "Sad Papi," a chef who has been creating cooking videos for a while now. Even when he cooks meat dishes, he's given me ideas for cooking that have been great. He posted this video recently that wasn't quite cooking-related, and it may one of my favorites (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@sad_papi Reply to @godzillaaa1 ♬ original sound - Sad_papi
Can you imagine being this good-looking, but still having to field shitty comments like this? Insanity. Fortunately he had the perfect response.
• MACGRUBER! I have been dying to see a MacGruber sequel ever since the first movie in 2010. It was bizarre, hilarious, and entertaining in a way I didn't really expect. Fast forward twelve years and Peacock gave us a MacGruber limited series. That lead to Will Forte going full-circle and returning to the character he originated on Saturday Night Live...
It's amazing to me that Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe are back as well. Both have had non-stop work this entire time... but maybe working with Will Forte on another MacGruber project was just too much fin to resist? I hope they feel the same way about returning for a second season of the show!
Enjoy what's left of your Sunday, party people.
Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2022
The Season 3 opener for Rick and Morty (The Rickshank Rickdemption) still boggles my mind. I've seen it a dozen times now, and I can't find a fault. It's flawless from start to finish. And while the show is still entertaining, it's nowhere near the level we got with Season 03. It's where we were introduced to Pickle Rick, after all.
My Monday started out with a fuzzy little spider paying me a visit in my upstairs bathroom.
The first thing that crosses my mind every time this happens is "A spider... UPSTAIRS THIS EARLY? IT'S STILL WINTER!" and I start wondering if there's a spider nest under the sink or something. Because how did the little guy get here? The second thing that crosses my mind is "What do I do now?" I loathe to kill anything, but I loathe having spiders in my house even more. Even cute little fuzzy ones. I always worry that Jake or Jenny will eat them and get sick or something. So I do what I always do... try to catch it so I can take it outside...
It's still pretty cold out... and there's still snow on the ground... so I'm not sure if the poor thing can survive outside. Which is something that will bother me for far too long.
But at least he won't be puked up by a cat on my floor, and that's not nothing.