Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2022
I took photos of the lunar eclipse that happened a few weeks back. Nothing terribly interesting came of it. More of a "rust moon" than a "blood moon," my fully-eclipsed images are far less exciting than the stuff other people posted. So I put my camera away and called it good.
This morning I needed to take some photos and went to erase the eclipse files. But then I saw that as the eclipse was ending the photos got kinda cool, culminating with this one...
Maybe I should play around with my camera settings a bit more next time there's a lunar eclipse. Assuming I'm even alive when the next one happens.
UPDATE: Oh wait... November 22 of this year? These things are not as rare as I thought they were! Of course in November the odds of an eclipse being totally eclipsed by clouds are astronomical where I live.
So to speak.
Posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2022
Every morning it happens.
Call after call after call of people I don't know popping up in my notifications. Except my phone doesn't ring through for unidentified callers, so it has zero effect on me. I turned THAT feature on the minute my mom died and I no longer had to wait for doctor calls or emergencies that might have come up.
I don't want to talk to people I know on the phone... but people I don't know? That's a hard pass. If it's critical, they can leave a voicemail...
Interesting to note that they are making several calls at once, because most phones allow you to have multiple calls from the same number break through your unknown caller blocking.
But not me, baby.
Anybody I care about getting through to me is in my contacts.
Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2022
Today was the day that Amazon dropped the first three episodes of The Boys for their third season. As the first episode begins, it shows everybody's favorite sociopath, Homelander, on an apology tour for having dated Stormfront, who ended up being a psychotic white supremacist and literal Nazi in the previous season. It's told in montage, where Homelander is on several different television shows delivering the exact same talking points over... and over... and over... and over again.
Which is exactly how it works in Real Life.
We've seen it many times from disgraced politicians, actors, pastors, and anybody who achieves a bit of fame and then goes on to fuck it up.
At first I was upset at this, because it felt very much as if the show was fighting to get back to the status quo and the same old stories we've seen in the first two seasons. Homelander loves fame and adoration more than anything on earth, and he'll do whatever it takes to keep his hold on the people who love him.
But then we get to the point where Homelander is no longer able to be kept in check by threats to his popularity, and I completely changed my mind. So long as The Boys doesn't try to backtrack their way out of this new development, this could make for a very interesting season.
And if it all falls apart?
Ms. Marvel is dropping on June 8th, so I think I'll survive.
Posted on Saturday, June 4th, 2022
Jake is going through a phase of some kind. He wants all my attention the minute I get home from work... then decides that he's had enough after ten minutes or so... then avoids me until bedtime. He'll literally go out of his way to avoid me. This is strange. But it gets stranger.
He's gone from being obsessed with his toy lion, Mufasa, to being outright hostile twords the thing. He no longer carries it around like it's his baby... but instead throws Mufasa around and pounces on it so he can bite bite bite it.
I don't know how much more poor Mufasa can take of this. I've already has to repair him twice. If he ends up in shreds, I have no idea what will happen. I've tried to find a replacement for years to no avail.
Meanwhile, Jenny is all about setting traps for me.
This may look for an invitation for belly rubs...
But I assure you it is NOT. At least usually it's not. You have to attempt pets in order to find out.
Which is just the way it goes with her now-a-days...
Sassy little minx.
Posted on Sunday, June 5th, 2022
Don't let the pouring rain, thunder, and lightning stop you from today's bullets, since it's not stopping me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Best Trek! I cannot process the fact that there's a Star Trek show that I like better than the original series. It's inconceivable. But holy shit! Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount+ is blowing my mind episode after episode. And Episode 05 is just next-level good. Funny as hell, and incredibly satisfying to watch. How in the heck did they come up with this? And Spock... it's just... Ethan Peck is killing it. He's wonderful.
Now I worry that they're going to take a great show in its first season and flush it down the fucking toilet like they did with whiny, boring Star Trek: Discovery. Hopefully the show-runners think better than that, because I would sure miss Strange New Worlds.
• Marmalade! Okay... this is really great...
Wishing a happy Platinum Jubilee to Her Majesty.
• More Death! HBO has (finally) renewed Our Flag Means Death for a second season...
Probably the best show you haven't watched. Yet.
• TAPS! Pretty much this, yeah (Here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@maxtheverygoodboy Is it working yet?? No?!? #satire #nyc #news #rip #texas #trending ♬ original sound - maxtheverygoodboy
So many of our politicians are useless pieces of crap. It's amazing that people have been conned into accepting it... even defending it.
• Helpless! Used to be that you just held down the sleep/wake button until your iPhone force-restarts. Now if you do that, you end up calling 911. I can never remember the new combo (you up, vol down, THEN hold sleep/wake) so I asked my iPhone. BUT OF COURSE THE FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT IS ZERO HELP...
Jesus Christ, Apple... just fucking give up on Siri already. She can't do shit.
• False Prophets! All these people reaching to find Biblical meaning in shit that is easily Googleable just to fit their idiotic narrative is mind boggling...
@maklelan Responding to @FedUpGear #maklelan836 ♬ original sound - Dan McClellan
Just fuck off with your stupid bullshit already.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled thunderstorm.
Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2022
One of my favorite comic books of all time is Alpha Flight... in particular the Vol. 3 version by Scott Lobdell and Clayton Henry. Their story would be a perfect fit for a really good Disney+ series, so I keep hoping that one day they will show up.
And they really should, because I think Canadians would appreciate seeing their own super-group brought to life...
Another of my favorite comic books... The Sandman has already been developed as a series for Netflix, and it looks very good indeed. The visuals are highly reminiscent of the source material...
Needless to say I'm quite excited about seeing it, and August 5th seems a long time away.
Fortunately, we've got Ms. Marvel coming in two days, Thor: Love and Thunder coming July 8th, and Season 04 of What We Do in The Shadows coming on July 12th to help occupy our time until August...
Also? The sequel to one of my favorite comic book adaptations ever, The Old Guard, starts filming this month... assumably for release in 2023 some time. But before that? She-Hulk: Attorney at Law debuts on August 17th, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever coming November 11th, and Nick Fury's Secret Invasion (assumably) shortly thereafter!
An exciting time to be a comic book nerd, that's for sure.
Posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2022
When the order was placed for my new Studio Mac and Studio Display for work, the lead time was two weeks for the display, then two months for the computer. But the display never came. Instead it got extended out to the same date as the computer since Apple (wisely) wanted to ship displays for other customers whose computers were available. Which would have been great, except that my computer shipped early, leaving me with two weeks having to use a terrible old monitor that was kicking around the office.
But now the display is finally here, so I'm able to add my thoughts (my comments on the Mac Studio are here).
If I were to summarize it all, I'd probably say something like "A high quality display which comes at a (relatively) good price." And I should probably start off talking about the pricing, because that's the most controversial topic in front of me. The thing is $1,600. Which is darn pricey for a 27-inch display... but a frickin' bargain for the 5K 27-inch display that Apple is selling. Which is to say that if you need 5K resolution, this thing is cheap. If you can get by with 4K, this thing is expensive for your needs. I mostly use my machine for graphic design, so the 5K is a nice thing to have... but not critical. But there are other features you get for the money that makes it a (relatively) good price for my needs.
The thing that you rarely have to worry about when it comes to Apple is how their stuff looks. There are exceptions, of course (the "sunflower" iMac looked stupid and the "trash can" Mac Pro had embarrassingly bad functionality), but most of the time anything you buy is guaranteed to be stunning, functional, and well-engineered. The Studio Display all all of that. It's tooled from aluminum which is both durable and beautiful. The stand design looks simple and elegant (this is where most manufacturers screw things up). The glass is not anti-glare (unless you want to pay $300 to get "nano-textured" glass) but isn't so thick that you're getting weird double-reflections. The base model allows you to tilt the panel towards you or away from you at a fairly large angle of motion (if you want a height-adjustable stand, that's an additional $400). There's no headphone jack to be found, which makes sense considering there's one on the Mac Studio computer (albeit IN THE BACK!). Overall, I'm quite pleased... though I am puzzled by how thick this thing is. It's about double the thickness of my iMac at home, and that has a whole computer inside of it! This is likely what was required for the awesome speaker setup, but it is odd. Though it's also kinda nice because it adds some heft to it so it's less likely to be bouncing around.
There is no denying it. This thing is gorgeous to look at. With its 5K resolution, there are no "jaggies" happening anywhere on anything ever. Then you add it's vivid, flawless color fidelity, and it's just like looking at a hi-res back-lit photograph. As with other Apple Devices, it has the ability to monitor the light in your surroundings an adapt to it using Apple's "TrueTone" color correction. And then there's the brightness, which can be turned up so high that it feels like you're getting a suntan. There's absolutely nothing about the picture quality for me to be critical of. It's perfect as I knew it would be.
AND REGARDING 5K...
Because the pixels are so frickin' dense, you can fit a lot more stuff on the screen and still have it be perfectly crisp and legible. I love this quite a lot... EXCEPT... it can really suck when you have apps which don't allow you to enlarge the GUI elements. All the Adobe apps make this easy. As do a lot of my apps. But Apple's very own Mail app, for example? I can only find a place to make composing emails with a larger font. There's no way to apply a "universal zoom" to all your inbound emails. So most every time I receive something, I have to manually bump up the type so I can read it. It's just a tap or two on the "Command" key plus the "+" key, so it's not a huge deal... but even Apple's Safari browser allows you to set a default zoom for every site you visit. It's cumbersome, but at least you only have to do it once! It would be great if there was an option to set a minimum font size on these apps so it would be handled for me with zero need to do anything.
For whatever reason, Apple decked this thing out with six high-quality speakers that sound frickin' amazing, considering how the small amount of space that they're occupying. Even more impressive is that Apple is up to their "spatial audio" tricks to make you feel as though the sound has enveloped you. It's a pretty nifty trick, though some sound sources work better for this than others. Blade Runner 2049 (my benchmark for checking surround sound quality) sounds glorious. Not that I'll get to hear it much. Obviously I can't blast the sound while at work, so the audio experience will be lost on me because I have to use headphones so as not to disturb my co-workers.
When the Studio Display was first released, it was savaged by people saying that the webcam was horrific. This turned out to be software-related instead of anything to do with the hardware, and it was fixed before my display ever arrived. I find the camera quality to be outstanding (assuming you have a good internet connection). One of the newer features from Apple is "Center Stage" which allows you to walk around the room and have the camera follow you and automatically zoom in on where you're at. This is darn cool, and accomplished by using the wide-angle lens of the camera to soak in a large area... then zoom in to where the focus point is. What's particularly nifty is how it can recognize if there are multiple faces so it can shift the lens to make sure everybody is in-frame. I'm just happy that it's 12 mega-pixel, because apple has historically had awful resolution web-cams that have been embarrassing for far too long.
There may be no headphone jack, but you do get three downstream USB-C ports in addition to the lone upstream thunderbolt port that plugs into your computer. A high-quality Thunderbolt cable is included. Interesting to note that this upstream port also acts like a 96W charger if you're plugging it into a MacBook or something (nice!).
Overall I'm thrilled with the Studio Display. I'm even more thrilled that my work coughed up the $1,600 instead of me. Because if I were buying this for myself I'd have been a little upset that wanted a non-glare screen and a height-adjustable stand weren't included (that monitor is a whopping $2,300!). Even so, $1,600 for a 5K display is still getting you a lot of bang for your buck assuming 5K resolution useful to you (if 4K is good enough, you'd likely be better served by a less-expensive option). I've read that inside this thing is essentially a full A13 Bionic Chip inside which runs a full version of iOS. This is likely so that it can do the Center Stage shenanigans. Which is fine, except it sure seems like dramatic overkill. I would have been just as happy if they would have dropped this and took $100 off the price.
Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2022
Monday was the annual World Wide Developer Conference, and here's my thoughts on what came from that.
I'm putting this first because it's something that took me completely by surprise in the best possible way. Having to keep track of dipshit passwords in the year 2022 is absurdly stupid, and it's been more than a little shocking that nobody has thought to do anything about it. Sure Apple has made things better by having TouchID and FaceID auto-fill your passwords for you, but it's still stupid. For one thing, there's still a password floating around out there that can be compromised by a company with lax security. Apple wants to ditch passwords in favor of biometric handshaking. Finally. And because they want to get this up-and-running quickly, they're working with Google and Microsoft to make it happen. Can't happen soon enough.
Up until now, CarPlay has been a curious diversion to me. It doesn't really do anything beyond what my iPhone can do when slapped on my car vent holder. Certainly nothing that makes me want to run out and buy a CarPlay stereo or a CarPlay-enabled car. But now? Apple has gone and made CarPlay take over the entire dash, and it's just phenomenally cool...
My complete and total loathing of Apple's Smart Home standard, HomeKit, has not abated since it debuted in 2014 and was actually viable in 2016. It's the most absurdly stupid thing which works with nothing and what it does work with... works badly. I tried to get started with it twice and ended up hating it more after each go. Apple has now started over from scratch, which is about the best thing they could do. The new HomeKit will be built upon the new Matter standard, which is backed by everybody who's anybody in tech, which means that even if Apple shits the bed AGAIN, there will be other options so you're not trapped. I am 1000% looking forward to Matter, which means that I will be a part of HomeKit and not care.
MACBOOK AIR M2
This thing is sexy as hell with its four color options and beautiful design. But that's not even the best part... it's got Apple's shiny new M2 chip inside! If you don't need the power and ports of a MacBook Pro, this is a no-brainer ($1,000 for an M1 chip model, $1,200 for an M2 chip model).
MACBOOK PRO 13 M2
I am beyond confused by this machine. It's $100 more than the Air, has the same chip, a slightly smaller screen... and the only difference I can see is that the screen is OLED on the Pro. Not that it makes any difference to me... I need a 16" model, which this is not.
This update feels mostly cosmetic, allowing you to create custom lock-screens and switch between them like faces on an Apple Watch. The only part of this upgrade which excites me is that you can have "Live Activities" which update on your lock screen in real time, so you don't have to unlock your phone and navigate to the app to track progress on something. Also in this update is improvements to the Photos app (mostly to do with sharing) and the Messages app (you can edit and delete messages, which seems nice on the surface, but could be a nightmare for those being bullied or stalked via text who need evidence) and the Mail app (better search and the ability to undo a send, when supported by the recipient). There's also better dictation abilities (you can use the keyboard while dictating something by voice!) and some intriguing tech which allows hearing-impaired persons to have voices transcribed for them in real-time, which is all kinds of cool (the fact that iOS 16 is finally compatible with Nintendo Switch controllers after waiting for this for years is just icing on the cake).
A lot of what the desktop is getting is the same stuff as what's happening in iOS. But there are a few perks that are unique here. First of all, you can now use handoff with FaceTime calls. So if I've started a FaceTime on my iPhone I can sit down at my Mac and transfer the call there with a click. That's very slick and useful. Likewise, you can use the superior camera on your iPhone as the webcam for your Mac and be able to use it as a Center Stage camera if your monitor doesn't have that ability (see above). And there are MagSafe adapters on the way to affix your iPhone to your Mac, which is a nice touch. Even nicer? An attempt has been made to make managing large numbers of Finder windows easier and for task switching not suck. Something called "Desk View" which allows you to use your iPhone camera to look down at your desk while still having a separate view on your face. This will be incredibly useful to me... it looks like Zoom will adopt the ability, which I truly hope happens since that's where most of my video calls happen. In addition to this stuff... games are faster... there's a lot of minor improvements all over the place, and there's now a shareable online whiteboard for collaboration called Freeform which is cool... but I don't know if it is cross-platform with Windows users? I missed it if this is possible.
iPad OS 16
Ever since iPad broke away from iOS, I keep waiting for this quantum leap change that's going to make it all worthwhile. A pretty big change was multi-tasking for using multiple apps at the same time... but then things kinda just... stalled. Of course iPads are getting all the new stuff from iOS (and the nice app-switcher from macOS Ventura), but all the coolest new stuff is only available for iPads with an M1 chip, which leaves me out. Of course, the thing that I most want from an iPad is a model with a much larger screen for drawing, which hasn't materialized yet.
And that was it. Since none of the OS stuff will be officially released until September (unless you like the idea of playing with the public betas which drop next month).
Until then... I guess I'm good.
Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2022
When it comes to translating their comic book properties to non-comic media, Marvel has done a darn good job when it comes to the compromises which have to be made. The way costumes look... the way powers work... the way continuity has been built... choices have to be made every step of the way, and there has been shockingly little that I've not felt was smart, cool, and appropriate.
Ms. Marvel, based on a highly successful character from the comics, is an American girl of Pakistani Muslim heritage who idolizes Captain Marvel and wants to be a super-hero just like her. Then one day she gets her shot, and her life becomes a balance between being a hero and being a girl trying to fit into her life and school while still holding true to her family's traditions and values.
In the comics, Ms. Marvel is a "polymorph" who has the ability to stretch and embiggen parts of her body. She got her abilities after being exposed to the Terrigen Mists, which is how Marvel's Inhumans characters gain powers (meaning that Ms. Marvel is technically an Inhuman).
In the television series, Ms. Marvel finds a family heirloom (a "bangle") which gives her the ability to make cosmic energy constructs. You can see it on her wrist here...
Now, even though her powers are very, very different in the MCU, she still uses them in a way that harkens back to the comic books. If she wants to catch somebody, she generates a giant hand out of cosmic energy and stretches it out to make the catch. As opposed to making her actual hand grow to giant size and then stretching her actual arm out to make the catch.
I know some fanboys are going to be upset by this change, but I think it's pretty smart. First of all, her powers look kinda ridiculous in the comic books and probably wouldn't translate very well to television and movies. Second of all, part of her powers is basically a copy of Mister Fantastic's stretching abilities, which means that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would have two people with a confusingly-similar gimmick once The Fantastic Four movie arrives.
Which is to say that the MCU Ms. Marvel is more "Green Lantern" than "Mister Fantastic."
I'm not sure if I approve of the whole "cosmic bangle" source of her powers, but the powers she has been given I definitely approve of.
I also approve very much of the show itself.
Ms. Marvel streamlines the comic book narrative into something that works for television very well. The core aspects of her character are very much the same, and that's more important than most anything else because it's those aspects which make her unique.
Visually the show is quite good... using auxiliary graphic elements to give the series a unique flavor and make it fit the youthful vibe of the character.
The cast is phenomenal. Iman Vellani IS Ms. Marvel, and they fill out her family, friends, and acquaintances with equally-capable actors. It seems as if Marvel Studios is simply incapable of making bad casting decisions...
We've only gotten one episode to look at, but the storytelling is on-point and things move at a brisk enough pace that the episode doesn't feel bogged down (as what happens with so many origin stories). But the best surprise of all? MS. MARVEL IS ACTUALLY IN THE SHOW! After the way Moon Knight had practically no actual Moon Knight in it, I was mortified that this might be a new trend. But nope!
I don't know that Ms. Marvel will overtake Hawkeye as my favorite MCU Disney+ series... but maybe it will get there. The pieces are certainly in place to make it a fantastic show, so fingers crossed.
Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2022
Today I had to leave the office early so I could get home and finish up some stuff that I had left on my home computer. But first I decided to make some bread because I ran out.
It's pretty much a science at this point. Take out the SourJo starter and let it warm up for 30 minutes. Mix together the first half of the ingredients and let rise for 45 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it rise for 45 minutes. Deflate it, shape into loaves, then let it rise for 45 minutes. Then bake for a half hour.
At this point you're supposed to let it cool, but I never have that kind of patience...
Yes. It tastes every bit as good as it looks.
And smells even better than that.
I'd bake it daily if it didn't take three hours to make. And I could eat unlimited carbs without consequences.
Posted on Saturday, June 11th, 2022
Jenny is quite the little princess, and expects me to wait on her hand and foot. And she's getting more demanding with each passing day.
This past week I had to get out of bed for my early morning Zoom call and she hissed at me because I stopped petting her! I had to push sheets against her and pet her a bit so she would calm down...
Jake isn't quite so demanding. But, then again, he's been sleeping with his foot in his face lately...
In other Caturday news... my cats are thieves!
This past week I heard shenanigans downstairs after I had already gone to bed. I took a look at the security cameras to see if I needed to intervene and saw that Jake was attempting to steal cat treats up on the counter... WHILE JENNY KEPT WATCH DOWN BELOW! Seriously, she kept looking up the stairs to make sure I wasn't coming!
I didn't bother to go downstairs. I figured that if they managed to get the bag open, they deserved to have the treats...
On Friday night Jake walked up and informed me it's his dinner time. I informed him that it's 15 minutes until dinner time. He did not like this. He proceeded to jump up next to me on the couch and squawk and squawk and squawk. It's times like this I am happy that he can't meow. Usually I feel sorry for him, but I would go bonkers if he was able to meow at me every time he was upset about something.
Eventually Jake's shenanigans caused Jenny to think that it's dinner time so she woke up and came down. When she found out that it wasn't, she sat and stared at me like it's my fault that Jake can't tell time!
And maybe it is. But, in my defense, Jake doesn't really listen when I try to teach him stuff.
Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2022
It's another cold and rainy Sunday, but I'm not letting it get me down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• More Bargains! ZOMFG! Keith, Evan, and Shea are back with more Bargain Block! Easily my favorite home renovation show, I was thrilled that it was renewed for a second season... and would subscribe to discovery+ just to watch this one program!
It will be interesting to see how the concept of the show has to change to meet with rising house prices. The entire show was built around the idea of taking homes so trashed that they could be bought for almost nothing and turning them around. But now even trashed houses cost money.
• RITZOREO? What the-?!?
Why? I'm not going to say it's terrible because I haven't tried it... but this just looks like a complete disaster. Even so, if I see these I will buy them.
• Strange! If the new Thor and Black Panther films weren't being released this year, this would be the movie I most want to see...
There needs to be more science fiction animated films. Let me restate that... there needs to be more good science fiction animated films. Hopefully this is good and performs well so we get more.
• Welp! This is actually kinda scary.
But what isn't scary now-a-days?
• Smart! Hacks fell apart for me in the second season. It just kinda meandered around, and the "life" that the first season excelled at felt more sporadic. But boy oh boy did they stick the landing on the last episode of this season. It really has me hoping that HBO Max picks it up for a third season, because the way it ended felt final... but actually opens up some interesting avenues for all the characters...
Plus... Jean Smart.
• Ouch! As a huge fan of Ben Wishaw, I was compelled to watch his latest series This is Going to Hurt. He plays a London doctor working in the gynecology department in a busy NHS hospital. It has graphic depictions of medical procedures that are tough to watch. The way that women get ripped into for caesarean births is unbelievably rough... almost violent. But even a straightforward birth looks double-tough. From this perspective, it's probably a good idea for men to watch this show and gain a new perspective on what women go through giving birth. It's probably NOT a good idea, however, for expectant mothers to watch this. Because... damn!
I honestly don't know how Ben Wishaw makes his roles look so effortless... even when they are wildly complex like this one is.
• Happy Tenth! This past week marked the tenth anniversary of my first tattoo! I had wanted a cartoon skull and crossbones tattoo forever, and the first drawing I made of it was 26 years before it was actually inked. The only thing I changed from my original drawing was that I made it bolder with much thicker lines because I didn't want it to look like something I could cover up easily. I never once changed my mind about what I wanted in 26 years, so I was committed and didn't want to half-ass it...
One of these days I really need to get back to San Francisco for another tattoo. I have zero regrets on any work I've had done, and my only true regret is that I didn't start getting tattooed earlier so I'd have more ink on me.
And on that happy note... hope your weekend was a good one now that it's almost over.
Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2022
The film I am most looking forward to this year? Thor: Love and Thunder.
What Taika Waititi did with Thor in Ragnarok still boggles my mind. It was completely new and fresh... yet respected Jack Kirby's aesthetic in a retro way that was thrilling to watch. It was also funny in smart way that didn't turn the characters and story into a joke. To accomplish all that requires somebody with massive vision and talent. And now Taika is back with this...
So... yeah. Might be worth risking whatever new COVID variant is out there to see this one in the theater.
Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022
The second episode of “Ms. Marvel” was wonderful from start to finish. AND YES I STAYED UP UNTIL MIDNIGHT SO I COULD WATCH IT! The cast... story... cinematography... all incredible. This is quickly getting to be right up there with Hawkeye as the best Disney+ series for me. It's inconceivable that this is Iman Vellani's first acting job! She plays Kamala Khan so effortlessly and believably. Well, as believably as you can get with a comic book movie...
There have been numerous changes from the comic book to accommodate video media... but there were more than a couple scenes in the second episode that were right out of the source material, which was wonderful to see. The showrunners are absolutely respecting the spirit of the original character in very good ways.
If you're not watching Ms. Marvel, you really should be.
Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022
It's been only 2-1/2 years since I used Command Strips to install photos in my stairwell.
And I didn't just use the tiny strips... I used FOUR of the large strips per frame! Plus I used alcohol to prep the surface, waited a day until it dried, used consistent pressure to stick them on the wall, waited for the adhesive to mount, and everything else the instructions tell you to do.
Today I had a frame fall off the wall. This was surprising, because everything has been holding up so well. The video starts with the footage of a photo falling off the wall with mass-breakage... and ends with my cats' reaction as they were sleeping upstairs. Poor things.
I went to the Command website to see if there was a recall or something... and then see that they are now advising you not to use the strips on textured walls?
Now, my walls are not massively textured. It's a knocked-down bump that was painted just 2 years prior and,as I said, I prepped and made sure that there was good adhesion, so it never even occurred to me that this would be an issue. And I definitely don't remember reading that they're not to be used on textured walls. When I read the instructions for use on how to prep the surface and install and everything, wouldn't I have noticed that?
In any event, I'm more than a little upset. Not because 95% of houses have textured walls (and many of them are probably far more textured than mine!) but because my cats walked through the glass several times before I got home! Jake just barreled down the stairs, avoiding the large piece of glass where he could. But Jenny took the time to put a paw down each step before moving, which was kinda difficult to watch. She was trying to be so careful, but glass was everywhere...
I looked at their paws to make sure they weren't injured or had any glass embedded in them, but I still worry that they might have got glass on their paw and licked it off. Can you imagine the damage to their insides? I'm mortified at the idea of it.
This is pretty awful. Guess one of my next projects is completely replacing all the mounting for my many, many photos. And possibly replacing all the glass with plexiglass as an added precaution.
So... WARNING if you bought into Command Strips as a viable way to hang shit. It really isn't. I don't even know that I would trust them if my wall was completely flat. It's just not worth the risk.
Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2022
I've mentioned many, many times how much I love maps. I'm a sucker for all aspects of maps... from how beautiful they can be to how astoundingly useful they are... but also how they relate to the world at large (and, by extension, the people living on this planet).
I could write posts several times a week discussing maps and all the latest map content I'm consuming, but there are far more talented people devoting themselves to this very topic, so I'm just going to stay in my lane and call out the coolest map-based content from time to time when I happen upon it.
In this case, it's a video by Real Life Lore discussing... Anchorage?!?
Yes, Anchorage. Really.
I've known about its importance when it comes to air freight routes for many years. It's hard not to know about it if you've ever ordered anything from Apple since they switched to Just-In-Time-Manufacturing. You order something. They build it to order in China. Then fly it to the USA... via Anchorage. The reason being that planes can hold either more fuel or more freight, but not both... and since it's far more profitable to move more cargo, freight routes from Asia stop over in Anchorage for fuel.
Interestingly enough... I first visited Anchorage in 2015. But that's not the first time I had been there. One of my earliest flights to Japan in the 80's was via Anchorage.
This kinda stuff is all covered in this video. But the most interesting part is not the air freight story... it's the ocean freight FUTURE that's at the end of the video which makes it worth sharing...
Especially when he's talking about how the importance of Anchorage and The Northwest Passage could lead to heinous levels of conflict in the future. Something I don't doubt one bit. Especially when it comes to Canada being caught in the middle of it all, which is not a great place to be.
So thanks, Climate Change! As if you weren't making the future shitty enough already, in another decade you could be sending us all to war.
Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2022
I wasn't much of a fan of beef jerky even when I ate meat. But it was a treat I became a fan of once I discovered that vegetarian jerk existed. For years I bought my favorite: Nightlife Meatless Smart Jerky, but that got discontinued and my jerky habit ended shortly thereafter. Occasionally I bought other brands... most of which were terrible... but it wasn't a priority in my snacking.
But this past week I had a hankering for it again and decided to see if there was anything new I should be eating. There were three brands I hadn't seen before, so I ordered up some of each. Two of them were awful... inedible awful... but the third one was very good. Beyond Meat's Beyond Jerky...
I was happily mowing through a bag a day... content to have found good jerky again.
I looked at the Nutrition Facts...
HOLY SHIT! One package has SIXTY-TWO PERCENT of the daily amount of sodium you're supposed to have?? 1420mg!! And the added sugars content is a whopping 26% of what you're supposed to eat in a day! On the plus-side, it's high in fiber and protein, so there's that.
And so I guess this will not be a daily thing after all. Maybe once or twice a week. Otherwise, my blood pressure will likely explode all over, which is not a problem I want to deal with.
Why is it everything that tastes good is bad for us?
Posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2022
From the moment I got home yesterday, Jenny was following me around the house. Up to and including when I went to the bathroom.She is, of course, too much of a little lady to actually follow me inside, but she was not at all above waiting outside for me to leave...
Don't worry... she followed me back downstairs.
Posted on Sunday, June 19th, 2022
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! As for me? I don't get to celebrate being a cat-dad... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tokio! I first heard of the German band Tokio Hotel years ago when I was in Italy, I think. They were getting some notice from their debut album Schrei (probably because they were so young when they recorded it). It's a dang good album if you like hard rock. Fast-forward to yesterday and I happened across a new song from them called When We Were Younger which was quite surprising for three reasons. 1) It's in English. 2) It's pure pop. 3) It's actually really good, and I've been playing it on repeat for a day now...
Great, right? But it's the end where they say "Together since 2001" where it kinda gets you. All those photos are of the band as kids... essentially growing up before your eyes...
I love stuff like this.
• Smooth! Welp. Cooper Raiff has 1000% done it again. How he manages to not take the easy or expected route... but still manages to create such satisfying movies is beyond me. All this and he's actually a really good actor on top of of being an exceptional writer and director. The setup for Cha Cha Real Smooth is like films you've seen dozens of times before... and yet the payoff is so much better because it's not like films you've seen dozens of times before. You end up feeling completely different about some characters at the end than you did in the beginning, and that takes true talent to accomplish because most times when this is attempted it just feels so fake and unearned.
In both Shithouse and Cha Cha Real Smooth there's that one scene which really crushes you. And in Cha Cha Real Smooth you never see it coming. Really looking forward to whatever Cooper Raiff does next.
• She's a Beauty! Well, you are (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
You are beautiful❤️ from “Man of the World”♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy
Ukrainian and Czech are close enough to Russian that I got those. I haven't studied Japanese in forever, but that one was easy. I thought I would have had a shot at Chile, Puerto Rico, and Spain... but the only other one I got was USA!
• Raise the Roof! I've never been to The Palace theater in New York City. But I have stayed at The Doubletree hotel that was built around it. I had read a while ago that they were planning on doing something extraordinary... raise The Palace 30 feet in the air so they can build a new hotel and entertainment complex around it. That's now been completed, and how they went about it is fascinating...
I'm not a "Broadway guy" but I admit to wanting to see how this all works out. It all looks pretty darn incredible.
• Oh Jodie! I missed the entire last season of Graham Norton because Philo didn't record it. On the episode I'm watching now, Coldplay is singing "My Universe" (with a cool BTS video background) and it's great. BUT THE BEST PART is that Coldplay super-fan Jodie Whittaker from Doctor Who was on the show, and this happened...
After it was over, they went back to the couch and Jodie mentioned that she has her alarm set for next week so she can try to get tickets for when Coldplay is playing Wembley. Well, needless to say, Jodie now has tickets to go to see ColdPlay. And it will be one of the greatest missed opportunities ever if they don't get her on stage!
• Seriously? BWAH HA HA HA HAAAAA! no.
• This time... There's a very good sleight of hand magician on TikTok named Mat Franco who is constantly having to re-do his tricks because people believe that he's not being honest about what he's doing. Like this one, for example (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@matfrancomagic Reply to @everythingballard ♬ original sound - Mat Franco
And here we go again (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
@matfrancomagic Reply to @dembirdsbedirty ♬ nhạc nền - AK乂Duty
Fortunately, the guy is patient enough to keep humoring everybody. But you'd think that eventually people would just enjoy the show.
• Pixar! I responded to a meme where people were ranking all the Pixar films. My Top 5 hadn't changed in years... until Luca came out, which I loved...
Yeah, not a fan of the Cars films. But even a bad Pixar film is better than most.
And now back to your regularly scheduled Sunday.
Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2022
The fact that time passes so quickly when you're having fun and so slowly when you're not is one of life's most cruel twists. And, yeah, I understand that it only feels that way, but isn't that enough?
I ended up working only a little bit this past weekend, which meant that I had some time to set up my wood shop in my garage and get started on some projects (mostly involving my art studio, which has been gutted so I can build something new that actually functions how I need it to).
On Saturday, it was just past 11:30pm before I realized how late it had gotten. I went to check the clock to make sure it wasn't too late to run my miter saw (I try to never make noise after 9:00pm) and had no idea that I had been happily working away for over nine hours. I honestly expected it to be around 8:00pm when I looked. On Sunday I ended up cleaning house all morning and working until late into the night... losing track of time. Again.
Meanwhile on my Monday I thought my day was near over only to find out that it was only 2:00. And even that seemed as if I had been in the office for an eternity.
It's a darn shame that I need to work to pay for building materials.
And pay for my mortgage and food and stuff, of course.
Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2022
Just mentally preparing for tomorrow
That's when Umbrella Academy Season 03, Ms. Marvel Episode 03, Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 06, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and who knows what else is releasing.
I'd take the day off from work... but, alas...
Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022
Last night I waited until midnight for Ms. Marvel, as usual, then saved everything else for today when I could find time. It was a lot of TV packed into a day...
Umbrella Academy Season 03
While it had some very good moments, this fell short of the first two seasons for me. Not as twisty, smart, and interesting. But there were also some changes that surprised me. In the first two seasons I loathed Vanya and loved Allison. This year that completely reversed... Loved Viktor, outright detested Allison (fucking hated her this season). But my favorite in all seasons is Number Five, even though he had less to do this time around. I can't go much further without delving into spoiler territory, but suffice to say I enjoyed the third season and sincerely hope we get a fourth.
Ms. Marvel Episode 03
Beautiful, joyous, and clever. And boy did they really go there with Kamala using her powers! Really great to see, as I was starting to worry that they were going to pull a Moon Knight and not really do anything interesting with her. I don't know if this quite eclipses how amazing I found Hawkeye to be, but I am already hoping for another season after she appears in The Marvels.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 06
I've enjoyed every episode of this series despite the fact that there really couldn't be any surprises since we know how everything has to turn out. Even the "surprise" at the end wasn't much of a surprise because it was foreshadowed heavily in one of the earlier films. Despite this being a series that was meant to be complete, I would not at all object to seeing what else happened with Obi-Wan before Star Wars happened. Ewan McGregor is just too darn good to let go.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
On second viewing, I actually appreciate this movie more than I initially did... even though I still think that Wanda was done dirty. I enjoyed this flick the first time around, sure, but it just didn't feel that the multiverse was used to great effect. Spider-Man: No Way Home was smarter about it, and this one just felt like an afterthought. That being said, America Chavez managed to fit into the story in a way that felt meaningful, and seeing the Illuminati portrayed so beautifully left me wanting more. A lot more.
And now... it's 1:00am and time for bed. Past time for bed. I'll just have to make up for all the sleep I didn't get tomorrow night.
Posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022
One of my favorite TV shows of all times is Scrubs
Every two or three years I take a run through the entire series just because the writing is so incredibly smart and creative (even though some of the language is less than PC and hasn't aged well). After work I started the series again because I saw Brendan Fraser in something and was reminded how he was in the best three episodes of Scrubs that ever aired...
It's kinda a minor miracle that this show was so good from the very first episode. That doesn't happen very often. Veronica Mars... The Finder... Limitless... Sports Night... and, unlike other TV shows that started amazing with the first episode but then took a nose-dove after a few seasons (Alias, Twin Peaks, and the rest), Scrubs was relatively consistent until the end. And then the very end after the show was canceled and renewed on another network.
Oh crap. Now I want to watch all these other shows for the hundredth time.
Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2022
I've made my stance on abortion very clear. Yes, I personally believe that life begins at conception, but yes, I also believe that my beliefs should not dictate what other people believe in the so-called "Land of the Free," so I am also pro-choice.
Partly because, scientifically, "life" is an abstract construct when we're talking about a stack of cells that cannot survive outside the womb... but mostly because I am a man who will never have to deal with being pregnant, and would prefer to leave what others do with their own body to themselves, their own beliefs, and their doctor. Full stop.
What makes me so angry about the Supreme Court ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade is twofold.
FIRST... wealthy people will always have access to abortion. ALWAYS. The law means nothing to them since they can afford to solve any problem by throwing money at it. Republican politicians can get abortions for their mistresses with relative ease, so once again the law of their state that they fought for will not apply to them. Just like the fine for speeding means absolutely nothing to them. Or any fine, really. No, the Supreme Court ruling is an attack on poor people who will now be forced to keep unwanted pregnancies since they may not be able to afford to go out-of-state. And in some states this means pregnancies which occurred from rape or incest. This is disgusting from every possible angle, and I am positively mortified that this horrific turn of events. If this was truly about the "sanctity of life" then Republican lawmakers who kept advocating for overturning the law would actually give a fuck about babies once they are born. They would make sure that all children had access to health care, food, housing, and a good education, but they do not. Republican lawmakers just care about making new workers for the ruling class that own them.
And do not get me started about the fucking Democrats. The amount of rage I'm feeling only escalates when I start seeing ads from Democrats saying "NOW THAT ROE HAS BEEN OVERTURNED, RE-ELECT ME TO PROTECT A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE!" And it's like... what the fuck? Now you want to do something? Now that the house is on fire you want to install a smoke detector? Fuck you. President Biden has been in office a year-and-a-half and you didn't do fucking jack shit to protect a pregnant person's right to choose! And it's seeing ads like this that lead me to believe that this is exactly what Democrats wanted. They didn't codify Roe because threats of codifying and "packing the court" would force the Supreme Court to overturn and give them a platform to run on in the mid-terms (where they otherwise would have been slaughtered). These political games with people's lives is fucking insane. TERM LIMITS NOW. For all politicians... for justices... for ALL of it. Career politicians don't give a fuck about us. They only care about maintaining their wealth and power. And this... THIS... is the result.
SECOND... even if you don't support abortion, this ruling is a nightmare scenario. This is the slippery slope that everybody has been warning you about. And here it is in black-and-white from "Justice" Thomas... contraception and same-sex marriage are up next. Even if you don't care about any of this, something you DO care about WILL be targeted eventually...
I can't believe I'm about to quote President Clinton on this, but he's spot-on when he says abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare.". But that would involve educating kids about contraception and teaching young men to respect young women when they say "no." And I think we all know that contraception, education, and respect for women are not things that the people behind overturning Roe v. Wade give a fuck about.
Now we sit back and wait for what comes next in our new American hellscape existence.
Posted on Saturday, June 25th, 2022
When Jake wants to be petted, it'd dealer's choice. He flops down next to you and is happy to take whatever he gets. Not so with Jenny.
She is very particular. You can never start anywhere near her head at the beginning. Only her back. She will let you know when you can proceed to the top of her head. Then she will let you know when you can move to the sides of her face. Then under her chin. Then her belly. And the process... which never changes... can take a while. Which is fine when I have time. But not so fine when I don't.
And speaking of Jake flopping down anywhere... he really does. He can sleep anywhere low or high...
Oh how I envy him. I have a tough time sleeping in a comfy bed.
Posted on Sunday, June 26th, 2022
The heat is on and my air conditioning is struggling to keep up... and so am I! But never fear... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SPACE LEGO! LEGO is re-releasing a couple of their most popular sets from days past, but updating them with modern pieces so that they appeal to modern LEGO consumers. The one I am sorely tempted to get is the "Galaxy Explorer"... one of my favorite sets of all time...
It looks so good. Similar to what made the old set so great... but with some very cool changes. But, alas, that's a wad of cash I don't have burning a hole in my pocket!
• Day-Old Goodness! Why is it that baked spaghetti always tastes better the next day? Yesterday I made garlic bread from scratch and put together a nice baked spaghetti to go with it. The stuff was amazing. But today's lunch? Even better!
I cook spaghetti as usual... but make my own sauce so I can use tomato paste instead of thinner tomato purée. Mix it together with the noodles and cheese. Put into an oven-proof container with lid (I use a large skillet), then bake at 325º for a half-hour. That way you get a lovely dry "sauce" that's really concentrated and sticking to the noodles instead of making a wet, sloppy mess everywhere. I top with toasted almond slices, parmesan, diced chives and Italian parsley. Food of the gods!
• A Legend Passes. I forgot to mention last Bullet Sunday how sad I was to learn that legendary comic book artist Tim Sale passed away. The guy was only 66, so this is a tough loss to take. Tim Sale was highly gifted, and worked on some characters and titles that cemented his upper-echelon status with fans. Rest in peace, sir.
• ALEXA, STOP!!! Alexa used to be so good. But then Amazon Alexa added a bunch of shitty bloat that nobody gives a crap about to fuck over the service. She regularly gets simple requests wrong now EVEN WHEN SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT YOU SAID, whereas Google Assistant ACTUALLY WORKS. Embarrassing as fuck for Amazon to just toss it all away like this. Also? Alexa acknowledged the command in my bedroom (where I’m at)... but then played the song in the bathroom down the hall? WTF?!?
At first I thought... "Well, maybe Amazon Music doesn't have the song?" But nope. There it is...
I never had problems like this even two years ago. Now it's almost every day.
• Mr. Bats! I've shared this video before. But this morning I ran across it again and was compelled to share it again because it's one of the most adorable things I've ever seen...
That bat really likes bananas! I've always loved bats, and it's just crazy to me that there are people who don't... especially considering how incredible they are for the environment and controlling pests!
• How Stupid Are We?! Apparently very stupid. We keep ignoring the serious problems facing us. And it's not like there aren't actual solutions out there, it's just that we're not looking into them. Take our disappearing water supply, for example...
God forbid we don't stop building golf courses out in the middle of a dessert and adopt water-saving solutions instead of creating more water-consuming problems.
Enjoy your Summertime Sunday heat without me! I'm stying indoors.
Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022
My internet is out.
This doesn't happen very often. I'm blessed with highly reliable internet service, and this is something I truly feel blessed to have. I know friends who are not so lucky.
Fortunately, I have internet on my phone that I can use as a hotspot. Except I burned through my high-speed data alotment in five minutes, at which time I barely had internet at all...
No big loss... except my smart home is now a stupid home, I can't watch television, and my security cameras are in meltdown.
I'd say that it's time to read a book, but I'd rather just go to bed.
Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022
For the longest time I've been telling people that I haven't traveled for work since September, 2019. And I could have sworn it was true. But it isn't. The last actual work trip I took was the day after Christmas, 2019. Before that I was in New Orleans for work in October, and the work trip before that was to Las Vegas in August. Which is to say I didn't even travel in September of 2019!
I get all confused because, pre-pandemic, I traveled a lot for work. Like a lot a lot. I have no idea why a prime work/travel month like September was a blank slate, but I probably had something personal going on. It happens.
Fast-forward to today, and I have my first work trip in 2-1/2 years. I didn't have to fly, thank heavens, it was just a drive over to Seattle this afternoon where I will be for two nights. I don't think I want to fly now that people don't have to be tested or wear masks and COVID is mutating into some shit that's more serious (which is disappointing, because the new variants were actually getting weaker for a while there).
The weirdest part about this trip is not that I'm actually traveling for work again.
It's that I had forgotten what it's like to be around STUFF again.
Oodles of great restaurants... tons of great stores... loads of great places... and they're all so close! A mall with one of my favorite stores (The Container Store) is a five-minute drive away. A Cheesecake Factory with those frickin' amazing Avocado Eggrolls is a five-minute drive away. Heck, a frickin' Burger King with my beloved Impossible Whopper is just a five-minute drive away! Everything is just so ridiculously close in a big city. Where I live, Burger King is almost a half-hour away.
It's all so... great.
Except I am seriously missing my cats. Leaving them has never been easy, but it's even worse now that I'm with them every day. Poor kitties probably think I've abandoned them.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022
I wish I knew how to abuse my work expense account.
Most people are likely to eat out at expensive restaurants, stay at expensive hotels, and live like they're not paying for it all. Because they're not. But I've never been like that. I stay at reasonably-priced lodging and eat the same food I'd eat if I were paying for it...
BREAKFAST: Egg & Cheese Biscuit and a soda at McDonald's.
LUNCH: Impossible Whopper ($3 for Whopper Wednesday!) and a soda at Burger King.
DINNER: Avocado Eggrolls (an apetizer) and a glass of water at Cheesecake Factory.
I spend a fraction of the money I'm allowed, but it's exactly what I want to be eating. Heck, I'd go so far as to say it's what I'm thrilled to be eating. Which is to say that an expense account is wasted on me. Maybe if I wasn't a vegetarian I'd be loading up of steak, lobster, and caviar, but I sincerely doubt it.
You'd think that I'd at least stay at a hotel with decent WiFi (which this DoubleTree most definitely does not have). This place is as slow as frickin' 300 baud dial-up back in the pre-history of the world. I'd use my phone as a hotspot, but my hi-speed allotment was blown when the internet was down at my house on Monday, so it's also as slow as frickin' 300 baud dial-up back in the pre-history of the world.
Oh well. I did get warm cookies when I checked in (which this DoubleTree most definitely does have). That's not nuthin'.
Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2022
On my way home, I got behind a driver who was driving 5-10 miles per hour under the speed limit and veering off the side of the road from time to time. Frustrated that they were obviously not paying attention to the task at hand, I decided to pass them. But as I was passing, they decided to speed up. Immediately I had gone from having plenty of room to pass... to having a car coming from the other direction approaching fast. I has a decision to make.
So do I...
I picked option 2 and floored it. I managed to get around them with plenty of time, but the car coming from the other direction had veered off the road anyway... and I couldn't really blame them. I would have likely done the same. And
What the fuck?
There was a time I enjoyed driving. That hasn't been the case in years. Other drivers on the road are sadistic assholes who simply don't pay attention. They're texting... or doing their nails... or playing Scrabble... or what-the-fuck-ever. And it's not enough to try not to cause an accident, there are people like this asshole today who are actively trying to cause them!
And the downfall of humanity stays the course...