A quick trip over the mountains today!
Years ago it was common for there to be snow in March. I remember drive over for my birtday in late March when it was near white-out conditions and chains were required. But these years that's becoming more and more rare. There have been times when ski resorts were shutting down in February due to lack of snow.
But this year? Season pass holders are getting a good deal because it looks like there will be plenty of snow through the month...
I dunno. I'm ready for Winter to be over.
When the new company was hired to inspect my HVAC, they guy immediately told me of all the problems which were wrong with my 26-year-old system. This came as quite a surprise, because the previous company always told me that my system was great for an older model. But the new guy had the receipts... he took photos of everything and told me that it wasn't a matter of "if" but "when." Everything could run for another two years. It could fail tomorrow.
The cost to fix it so it wasn't on the verge of failure? $1,200.
There was no way I was going to spend $1.200 on a band-aid, so decided to invest in a new system.
The options presented to me were Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Platinum system was simply beyond my finances to pay for. The Silver and Gold were ultimately the same price once a rebate from the local utility district was considered (they pay you to install a heat pump system to save energy so they can then sell that energy at a bigger profit to businesses or other regions). So Gold it was.
It looks nice next to my new water heater. It also looks like money...
Fortunately I had been sinking money into an "emergency fund" for just such an occasion as replacing a water heater and HVAC system. Once the rebate is considered, I "only" had to come up with $650. Which will, in turn, come out of my tax refund.
Of course now I have no emergency fund left, so hopefully I won't have another emergency any time soon. Knock wood.
So there you have it.
Hot water. Hot air. And (eventually) cold air too.
Ooh! Look at me! I'm on blog vacation for a week!
I am also on a vacation-vacation for a week. Well, I'll never be able to truly escape from work... but I'll do my best.
If I don't end up in prison somewhere, I'll see ya all soon.
For the first four days of vacation, me and my houseguest stayed at my place. This is always an interesting prospect because my feral rescue cats do not react well to strangers and spend most of their time in hiding.
But every once in a while...
Jake, who usually takes 3 or 4 days to make an appearance showed up on Day Two. Even more remarkable? The Dutch Bitch was able to coax him into more than remote glaring...
Jenny even made a brief appearance on Day Three!
The final four days we were in Seattle, so my cats were left to their own devices.
The drive back over the mountains was lovely. And then I arrived home to Jake squawking his head off at me... demanding pets. Jenny couldn't be found, so I went looking. As I was wandering, I went into the guest room and found a MASSACRED BAG OF CAT TREATS!
Which means either my guest wanted a midnight snack and was unfamiliar with how to open a package... or Jake and Jenny decided to help themselves to a treat in my absence.
ROLL THE TAPE! — It was Jake who managed to get the package. But it was Jenny who dragged them into the guest room hours later to shift the blame...
Jakey-Bear is happy to have me home... though you'd never know it from this photo...
Jenny is being a little more cautious and still hasn't graced me with her presence.
We are on the advent of greatness! But before Season 03 arrives, I'm going to run my thoughts about everybody from the first two seasons... because an all new Very Special Ted Lasso Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Roy Kent! Never in the history of television have I been more invested in a character. He is multi-faceted in a way that 99% of TV characters never are. And he's frickin' hilarious. Which is to say that if Jason Sudeikas actually does hang it up after Season 03, the show could easily transition from Ted Lasso to become Roy Kent and pick up where the current show ends. Whether they would be able to maintain such exceptional stories is anybody's guess, but I'd sure like for them to try. In the first season Roy went from team captain and football legend to retirement with no idea what the future holds. In the second season he tried coaching a 9-year-old girls' football team (to hilarious result), sportscasting (to hilarious result), and ultimately ended up where he was destined to be: a coach at AFC Richmond (to hilarious result). And while it looks as though there may be bumps in the road with his relationship with Keeley, that's something that's just too perfect to destroy completely. Because if there's one moment in all the television I've ever watched that crushed me like no other... it's when Keeley sat with Roy after he ruined his knee and lost his career. Whatever the third (and final?) season brings us, for better or worse, it's hard to imagine a more perfect television moment than that.
• Ted Lasso! As mentioned above, Jason Sudeikis has said that the show is three and done. For obvious reasons, I hope this isn't the case. He is the focus of most every show and his presence lingers even when he's not on-screen. Ted is deceptively simple as a character. He's a goofy, naive American from Kansas who's more than a little out of place coaching a British football team. But his innate goodness is contagious, and he has a genuine wisdom which shines through... making him far smarter than what people understand. That was pretty much played out in the first season, which is why they then expanded upon his character by digging deep into his psyche this past season. I don't know what that leads us to in the upcoming season and it's tough for me to picture where they could go next. The obvious endgame is for Ted to reconcile with his wife and move back home. That wouldn't be the worst way to end the series. But it is a bit simplistic given the reality of why they parted in the first place. Ultimately the show is bigger than its lead character. Which is probably why it's so successful. But it's also made things a bit tricky because Ted's ending isn't going to land unless everybody else does too. You can't just have Ted ride off into the sunset and call it good.
• Rebecca Welton! Once Rebecca redeemed herself and set aside wanting to destroy Richmond, you kinda had to wonder where her character would go. She didn't seem to have much purpose left. But then they went and made her even more relevant to the show when she was the villain... by making her the owner that cares for the team in a way that's likely far healthier than owners who buy a team for profit. Then the really stepped things up for her in the second season. On top of a romance with Sam Obisanya, they also delved into your past and her family... and presented her with new challenges. It's a pretty safe assumption that whatever is in store for Rebecca, it's bound to be a big part of the show. Hopefully it's also interesting and fun to watch.
• Keeley Jones! What's fascinating about Keeley is how the show is working so hard to have her not be defined by those around her. Whether it's her surprisingly healthy friendship with Rebecca... or her refreshing relationship with her boyfriend Roy... Keeley is her own person first and foremost. They took that to the next level at the end of last season by having her start her own PR firm and decline an invitation to go on vacation with Roy. She is as she has been from the start... fiercely independent. She says and does what she wants while still having a full life with the people she chooses to allow in. It's a bit worrisome that this is all setup for her independence coming back to bite her in the ass next season, which I truly hope doesn't come to pass. It would be really nice if Keeley gets to keep being Keeley while having it all. It's not always necessary to have to strip somebody down in order for them to grow.
• Jamie Tartt! If it weren't for Jamie being a complete ass in the first season, it would have been toothless television. There has to be a note of conflict or else the overly-sweet context will come off as disingenuous. To that end, Phil Dunster had a rather thankless role. And an impossible one. His character had to be likable all the while he was being awful. This is rarely pulled off well, but he managed to get there. But you never really understood how well until the second season where he finally confronted his father, who we were made to understand is directly responsible for Jamie being such an ass. Jamie had finally had enough and decided to stop being the person he was molded to be and become the man his team pushed him to be. But it's after that moment where he punched his dad that you truly knew exactly who Jamie Tartt really was all along. Roy Kent walks up to him and he recoils. He's afraid. He thinks he's going to get attacked because any time he's ever stood up to his father he's been beaten down. But then Roy hugs him and he falls apart because the scared, unloved little boy that's been living inside him all his life is finally given all he's ever wanted. It was a brief blink-and-you'll-miss-it-moment... a point of vulnerability that was expertly portrayed... but it completely turned a corner for the character. And, to be fair, the show as a whole.
• Coach Beard! Nobody... nobody... provides a reaction shot like Brendan Hunt. Many times a joke is sold because of how Coach Beard reacts or, more often than not, doesn't react. On first blush, his cringe-worthy, never-ending, on-again-off-again relationship with Jane defines the character because it's so infinitely relatable. But it's the mystery of the character that actually makes him so compelling. There's many, many hints that Beard's life is full of adventure and intrigue that makes the rest of us seem excessively boring by comparison... even though it's Beard himself who outwardly looks like the boring one. You have to wonder just how much of what Beard claims is fiction and not reality. And then the infamous Season 2 Episode Beard After Hours comes along and we actually get to see the bizarre life he lives. I know that even a lot of die-hard Ted Lasso fans didn't care for the episode, but I absolutely loved it. Truly brilliant TV. And it made me love Coach Beard even more than I already did. As if that weren't enough, you get the feeling that he saw through to what Nate really was, and I appreciated that greatly.
• Leslie Higgins! The one thing that Ted Lasso manages so beautifully is to add surprising depth to what would have been one-note characters in any other show. Higgins is always just there in the beginning. He was the nerdy assistant who bungled his way through life while other more important people pass him by. But slowly all that begins to change. And by the time the incredible Christmas episode drops, you actually know who he is. But, more importantly, why he is. Higgins is deceptively unimportant but, if you really pay attention, he's frequently an important part to what's going on in the background.
• Nathan Shelley! I understand why they took the character from innocent and likable to evil and horrendous. It's the setup for a redemption arc that would put Rebecca's to shame. But is that what we really want for him? I tell you what, I do not. This would be a really good opportunity to show that some people are utterly irredeemable. Doesn't matter how much you supported them and helped them to grow, they can turn on a dime and do everything they can to destroy you. And that's just the way it is. People don't always wrap up in a pretty little bow. And now that they've turned him into an abhorrent asshole, Nate shouldn't be wrapped up that way either. His speech to Ted in the final episode of Season 02 tells you everything you need to know about who he's become. And it shouldn't be easy for him to escape it. And I'd feel better about the show if it weren't even possible. Let him rot in his hate and die there.
• Sam Obisanya! Sam had a very specific role in the first season. He was the new kid that was trying his best to navigate life away from all he knew in Nigeria, and struggling with it. Then in the second season he found his footing and became a standout player. He also found romance with Rebecca. Of all the players, he's the one with the biggest arc as a player, and it's no leap of imagination to see that it will probably continue in the third. If the show is smart about it, this could be an interesting area to explore. He turned down the irresistible offer at the end of last season because he believed he wasn't done at Richmond and his future was there. But what will that future look like? His rise to god-like super-stardom could very well be in the cards, in which case any future stories
• Isaac McAdoo! In the first season, Isaac was the guy who picked on Nate with Colin. He really didn't have anywhere to go as a character. But then he stepped up to become captain of the team when Roy Kent had to step down. And not only did we discover that he had somewhere to go, we found out it was interesting and darn funny. The episode where he rediscovers his love of football was the turning point for where the show was going, and we discovered that if Isaac wasn't a football player, he could have been an amazing hair stylist. The guy is a bit dim, but astoundingly capable. Not just as a player, but as a leader. And I sincerely hope we get to see more of that when the third season gets here. And a look at his private life could be about the funniest thing ever.
• Dani Rojas! It's interesting to note how important that Dani has been to the show. He was brought in as a ringer to knock Jamie down a few pegs in the very first season. Then he was the catalyst for everything that would go on to happen in the opening of the second season. Whether he continues to be this kind of instigator for the the third season, but I at least hope that they end up having something interesting for him to do. Because after his pivotal use at the front end of last season, he was just written off as mild comic relief for the back-end. He was the guy who couldn't wear dress shoes to Rebecca's father's funeral. I sincerely hope that this isn't what we're left with, because that would be a waste.
• Colin Hughes! Colin is one of the background Richmond players who usually ends up being the butt of some joke. From the first season we learn that he is Welsh and advocates for Welsh independence while not being a top-tier player. And not much else. But then... the second season comes along. Nathan rips him to pieces because he's not a great footballer, and you genuinely feel bad for the guy. He's clearly trying to be the best player he can be at a game he loves, but it's just not enough. And he has to live with that every single day. We also get a tease that he might be gay, which could be an important moment for next season. The fact that his fellow players would love and accept him regardless would be an easy win. A more difficult turn would be for him to be cut from AFC Richmond and what the fallout would mean for him. Whichever way they go, I really, really hope that they at least go somewhere. The actor deserves to see Colin through. And the audience does as well.
• Richard Montlaur! Of all the top-tier named background players, the most wasted potential can be dropped squarely on Montlauer's doorstep. He's a skilled player from France who dates super-models. That's about all we know. It's a side to pro footballers that is hinted at on the show all the time. But Montlauer would give us the opportunity to actually see that life. Even if he only ever served that purpose, it would provide some insight that is sorely missing from the show. And if they took that leap, it would also be a huge opportunity for the character if we could see behind it. No idea if he's going to be tossed aside again in Season 3, but one can always hope we get something more.
• Dr. Sharon Fieldstone! When the character first appeared, it seemed as though she was going to be nothing more than a way to dive deeper into the psyche of the various players to get some kind of story beat out of it. We saw that when it came to Dani Rojas on her first day. And she was entertaining enough that you didn't hate her sticking around. But then you slowly came to see just how critical she was to what was happening and how important it was that they got Sarah Niles to play her. Deadpan by trade but introspective in her every look, you always knew there was something going on with her. Then she gets hit by a car and we get a glimpse into what her world is like. But it's all in service of Ted's story, which is fine because that's why she was written in the first place. But finding out she's been confirmed for the third season has me really hoping she ends up being more than that.
• Trent Crimm, no longer from The Independent! A lot of how we looked at Richmond from the viewpoint of Britain was through the eyes of Trent Crimm. His perspective on the team... and Ted Lasso... were important to the show because it was a viewpoint we didn't have of the characters. Because we've always been on the inside. And then Crimm threw out his career by revealing his anonymous source to Ted. Which neatly paves the way for him to write a book about Ted, and that could be a great wrap-up for the character. Maybe even the show. It's been confirmed that he's returning, so there's bound to be a reason for it.
• Will Kitman! Nate's replacement ended up being a highly sympathetic punching bag for... Nate. Now, the show could easily leave it at that. Heck, now that Nate's journey into evil is complete, he doesn't even have to appear again at all. But regardless of where Nathan's journey takes the character, Will is an opportunity to go behind the scenes of somebody who is tangent to the team in a material way. He has a girlfriend. He's nervous and sensitive. He works hard. He does his job well. But what else is there? He will never be a star but is constantly surrounded by them. What's that like at the end of the day? The guy could be anything. He could have come from anywhere. He's pretty much a blank canvas that could fill a role for the show that is critical. Or he could stay nobody. It would be more interesting if it were the former than the latter.
See you for the premiere on the 15th, everybody!
The quantum leaps in graphics rendering technology is all new levels of mind-blowing any way you look at it. Television shows and movies just keep getting more and more spectacular. But where my mind fails on entirely new levels is video game graphics.
They've gotten so good now that what you can do with rendering engines like Unreal Engine can rival cinematic graphics. Indeed, some shows and movies are using video game tools to craft the worlds their characters inhabit.
Then Unreal Engine 5 came along and just upped the ante yet again. Just look at this tech demo which features a walkthrough for The Titanic (to really appreciate it, click through and watch it full screen)...
And look at this...
These aren't just pretty renderings... they are worlds you can walk around in and explore.
Paired with upcoming VR technology... can you just imagine what we'll be doing virtually in the next ten years?
The fact that Sonos can say that their Voice Assistant is a viable means of controlling their speakers with anything approaching a straight face is new levels of laughable.
I hear "Sorry, I Don't Understand! Please use the Sonos app!" so often when attempting to use their bullshit that I feel Sonos should hire somebody to sit in the corner with the Sonos app so I have voice control that will actually work.
Between Sonos Voice Assistant and Apple's HomeKit, I spend a hell of a lot of time being embarrassed for tech companies right now.
When the term "woke" was first being tossed around the internet, I thought it was over-used, but ultimately a good thing. When you are no longer asleep at the wheel while people are suffering around you, that's woke. Keeping your eyes open with compassion and caring for people who are being continuously persecuted by a systemically flawed society is woke. Taking action to make sure that everybody has a seat at the table is woke. And those are... bad things?
It amazes me how people are so quick to weaponize something to distract from their bullshit. But that's the modern world for you, I guess. Every time you turn around people are attacking "wokeness" and "woke mind poisoning" and "woke culture"... almost to an almost hilarious degree. It's like... okay, you want people to go back to sleep and close their eyes to injustice? Maintain the status quo which only works for precious few people? Really?
But what really blows my mind is how everything is how everything that detours from the status quo is considered "woke" now... whether it makes sense or not... whether it has anything to do with actually being woke.
I don't usually share graphics created by other people, but I came across this one and nearly pissed myself laughing, so here you go...
Brilliant creator unknown.
Now-a-days it seems like for every step we take forward as a society, we're taking two steps back. Sure people have always been resistant to change, but now it's fallen below a debate we can have and become a non-stop hate machine from our politicians and the media.
Which isn't terrible surprising, really. History shows that hate is a fantastic tool for manipulation.
Especially when people don't even understand what they're hating.
It's just whatever they've been conditioned to hate.
UPDATE: And then I saw this...
BWAH HA HA HA HAAAAA!
The sad thing about the demise of blogs is that our online communities have been fractured.
Facebook is nice, but you can have friends half-way around the world living in the same city who don't even know that each other exists. Back when blogging was a thing, we'd regularly have meet-ups, and new friendships could be formed since everybody showed up to the same place and got to know each other in a social setting. There are days I miss blogging more than others (even though I'm still doing it)... and today is one of those days.
Wait... what's happening? This week's Caturday is on... Friday?!?
I'm afraid so. Today UPS showed up with a Very Important Package, and I will need my Saturday post to run through that bit of excitement. So kitty drama comes a day early.
The "Broths" food that the cats love best is "Broths with Tuna, Anchovies & Whitefish"... but it's my least favorite because there are WHOLE little fish in there. Which I give to Jake because Jenny only licks them, she doesn't eat them.
And so that Jakey-Bear doesn't get a whole fish stuck in his throat, I always cut the poor little creature into three pieces for him. WHILE FREAKING OUT THE ENTIRE TIME. But my consolation is that there's only ever one little fish in the entire bag. EXCEPT THIS TIME I GOT THREE OF THEM IN THE BAG THAT I HAD TO CUT UP! GAAAAAAAAHHH!
Earlier this week I saw something that kinda blew my mind. Jake jumped down off the cat tree to climb over Jenny, at which point she usually scampers away at top speed. As I was going to film this, Jake decided to stop and sit on her...
Jenny still laid there for a bit before she realized that Jake wasn't going to move on.
I was sure to give her extra belly rubs...
At least I did until Jake decided he wanted to sit on her there too. This time she wasted no time scampering off. Jake took that as an invitation to watch TV with me. So what can you do?
It's tough to be mad at a cat for doing cat things, but I sure wish Jake would let Jenny have her space.
Back in February a friend sent me a photo of a neon sign they had bought and said it would be cool if I were to make a Bad Monkey neon so I could sell them. And he included a link to a company called YellowPop... a company that custom-makes "neon-style" light-up signs out of LED strip-lights and flexible plastic covers.
I went to their site, looked around, and started thinking that, yes, this would be incredibly cool to do.
So I looked at the color of tubing they had available and drew up a couple options that I could send to them to see if it were feasible...
I was assigned a sales team contact and quickly got back a rendering of what they could do...
As much as I liked the idea of Bad Monkey picking his nose, I thought that the overlapping yellows were a bit confusing. So I decided on Bad Monkey flashing a peace-sign... then asked if they could add the lettering below it. I also asked to have it flipped horizontally. Since people "read" from left-to-right here in the USA, I wanted the peace-sign to be the lead instead of the tail. I also wanted them to add the word PEACE at the bottom to make the piece taller. Within hours I got back a revised composition that looked fantastic.
There was some back and forth as I asked for small changes to be made until I was happy (my favorite being "the arms need to be consistent width, like macaroni"). But, to their credit... my sales rep (Hi Kristina!) never once got aggravated or acted the least bit irritated (even though I'm sure they had to be by the time we finished!)...
No idea why it's practically on the floor now.
The sign ended up quite a bit larger than I had imagined (30×42 inches) when I first drew it, but there's only so tight you can bend the plastic tubing, so this was as small as it could get.
Now, one thing I should say right off the bat is that these signs are expensive. Like really expensive. As in ZOMG I WILL BE EATING PEANUT BUTTER FOR MONTHS! expensive. As in $1,200 expensive. I did a little poking around to see if there were shops making them for less money, and there were, but not one of them had the glowing reviews that YellowPop had, and that was worth it to me. What good is saving $300 if the result is crap?
Wiping out the entirety of my Black Sunday savings, I wrote back to my most excellent YellowPop rep to order it.
Fast-forward a couple weeks and my order has shipped. It arrived on Friday.
And, let me tell you... it is GORGEOUS. I had fairly high expectations given how much money I spent, but YellowPop went just... beyond. I unboxed it, plugged it in, and literally gasped when it lit up...
If you look real hard, you can see Jake down there checking it out!
Originally, I was going to hang it in the corner of my living room. But it was so phenomenally good that I just couldn't do it. I cleared out a wall in my dining room so it had plenty of space to breathe and be fully appreciated.
But how to hang it?
The instructions they give you are pretty vague. Essentially "Pop in those drywall anchors, attach the metal pegs, then screw your sign to it! The end!" Problem is that with a sign this big you would need to have two people hold it into position, pencil through the holes in the acrylic backing onto the wall, then install the metal pegs. But I didn't want to have to bother two friends or neighbors on a weekend, so I decided to trace the sign onto the cardboard sheet that came in the shipping box. Then I could cut out the tracing, tape it to the wall, and know where to put the holes all by myself...
Ask for help? I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. I'll do it myself!
The metal mounting pegs are actually very smart, because they set the sign out away from your wall, which makes it look more like glass tubing instead of something that's flat against the surface...
One thing I did to make it easier to hang alone was to move the sign a tiny bit off-center so that the mounting peg at the top was firmly anchored square into a wall stud. Then I could screw in that peg long enough to hold up the sign so I could screw in the rest. If I hadn't put it into a stud, it was heavy enough that it would probably have ripped out from the drywall if I tried this.
And there you have it. My amazing new Monkey Peace sign is up...
LOVE IT!!! ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!
The problem with this photo is that you can't tell just how incredible this looks in person. The "neon" looks all blown out and blurry in photos... whereas in Real Life, it is perfectly defined and has a beautiful glow to it. Looks very much like actual neon from any angle until you get close and see that it's not really glass tubes. Remarkably, the light is diffused enough that it appears solid, not at all looking like a bunch of little LEDs.
UPDATE: When it gets dark, the light is even more impressive. Gorgeous. Photos still don't do it justice though...
One piece of advice... spring for the dimming remote control ($29). The sign is actually more impressive when it's not at full brightness, and it's nice to be able to turn it off and on from across the room...
Yes, as you can see, my cats are clearly unimpressed.
So, yeah... thrilled with the whole experience from start to finish. If you're looking to have custom "neon" of your own, I highly recommend YellowPop for the job! They're expensive, but worth every last penny. I cannot stop staring at it.
I guess now I'll be saving up for my next piece. This turned out too good not to.
A bit of a Summer setback for me today as the weather turned cold as balls, but never fear... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Zipline! Whenever I run across something incredibly cool that has been around a while... but I never heard of... that's gold right there. Take this drone delivery system that's been running for SIX YEARS. And I had no clue. This will be one of the coolest things you see in a bit...
Fantastic. Ingenuity like this gives me hope for the future.
• 1D! I keep running into songs by One Direction that kinda blow my mind. Like this song, which I had never heard before. I was scrambling to Shazam it thinking it was brand new. Nope...
It actually feels like a classic soft rock hit or something.
• Topol! The Flash Gordon movie from 1980 was absolute genius... even if most people didn't see it that way. I've seen it a dozen times or more, and will likely watching it many times more. A big part of what makes the movie work is the over-the-top performances, among them being Chaim Topol's performance of Dr. Hans Markov...
But that's not my favorite role of his. This honor goes to Columbo on the James Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, where he chewed up the scenery unapologetically...
Sadly, Topol passed away a couple weeks ago... but his legacy will live on with his works.
• Hyper-Real! I will never complain about any of my tax dollars going to NASA to explore our solar system and our universe. On the contrary, I wish more of my tax dollars went to NASA. Especially when I see images like this...
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, JPL, SSI, Cassini Imaging Team
You can get a much better view and more information on Saturn's moon Hyperion by going to NASA's website.
• TO INFINITY...! The stuff that you can do with LEGO truly knows no bounds. Take this infinite domino track...
Pretty nifty, isn't it?
• Cunk! Finally got around to watching Cunk on Earth (Netflix)... and it's madness. Absolute madness. Mostly because she sounds like a lot of real-life people...
It's relentless. She doesn't stop unleashing stupid. Ever. It just keeps going. And I am deceased.
• WORF! The first season of Star Trek: Picard was just okay, though the ending was messy. I didn't like the second season because it was a scattered crapfest and tried to shoehorn in characters that should have never been there in the first place. But this THIRD season? Holy crap. Quite probably the best Next Generation show I have ever seen. Cinematic and exciting. It will be very interesting to see if they can wrap it all up in a satisfying manner given that this is the last season we're getting. And ZOMG... WORF! His character has made a radical shift that's absolute genius, and Michael Dorn is playing him with such deft ease...
It makes me wish that this is what we were given from the start. Paramount+... please give Worf his own series ASAP, dammit!
• Flerfer! The thing I will never, ever understand is how there are people thinking that the earth is flat. It makes absolutely zero sense from every possible observable fact. We new about the earth being a sphere thousands of years ago. And yet... ignorance is still here. Which is why I love videos like this....
Of course it makes no difference how many facts you throw at Flerfers. Logic, reason, and common sense has already been thrown right out the window.
And away with you! Begone!
If the first part of this entry is something you'd like to skip, there's a second video at the end that you most definitely should not skip. It's horrifying stuff that should be seen by as many people as possible.
The stuff I wrote about here on Blogography is pretty random.
Not random-random, because there are several subjects I like to write about more than others... still other subjects I enjoy but have no interest in writing about... and still other subjects I have a lot of interest in writing about, but know that precious few people will want to read what I wrote.
This post falls into the latter.
Because while I am absolutely fascinated with mathematics, in general, and the maths of quantum computing, specifically, the people who read my blog for cat photos and pop culture commentary will likely not care.
But every once in a while I run across something so amazing that I find myself hoping that people who might otherwise skip a post might want to take a chance and read it.
One of my favorite YouTube channels, Veritasium takes a look at how quantum computing will make all of our current encryption efforts laughably obsolete. Considering that encryption is what keeps all of our most secret information safe... from account passwords to banking details to text message privacy... this is an astronomically huge deal. And in as little as a decade, it could all be completely worthless.
But how are quantum computers able to crack this security so easily? Glad you asked! And this video is for you. Now, there is some math that gets thrown at you, but you honestly don't have to understand it to get the gist of what's going on. So maybe give it a shot?
And now for that second video I promised.
It's a story on Timeshares from Last Week Tonight that is essential viewing. Especially if you are considering buying into a timeshare or vacation club or whatever...
I'm really glad that I never had the money to invest in these.
When it comes to a list of movies I love and have watched a multitude of times, Amélie would most certainly be on that list. Not only was it beautiful to look at, had an exceedingly smart and clever story, and made me fall in love with Audrey Tautou... but it was just fun. It had a whimsy and joyfulness that most movies... don't.
Plus it has a wonderful life lesson that is a genuine teaching moment to all humanity.
If you haven't seen it, I offer my highest possible recommendation...
And now genius director of the film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, has released a shocking expose on the character 22 years after the film was released!
Well, it's a joke, but it's actually a darn impressive retrofit of the characters true nature. If you haven't seen the original film, this won't mean anything, so go watch Amélie first...
It all makes perfect sense!
Nice to know that Jeunet has a sense of humor about his work. Probably why he's such a freakin' genius.
With all due respect to Peanuts (widely considered the benchmark for comic strip exceptionalism), I think that Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic strip of all time.
Not only was it drawn in a style that flawlessly conveyed the energy of the strip, Bill Watterson created stories that are a master class in economy of words and images. I marvel at what he managed to accomplish within the constraints of a daily strip. His is a skill that has been sorely missed, and I keep hoping that he'll do another strip one day... even if it's limited in scope or duration. Anything Watterson does would be incredibly interesting to see.
I have re-read my The Complete Calvin & Hobbes set cover-to-cover many times, but that doesn't stop me from reading the daily online strips.
Today's strip is this...
Yet another triumph by Watterson.
But getting back to my marveling over his mastery of economy of words and images... look what happens when you get rid of the last panel...
Without the punchline, it is a much more ruthless skewering of today's "I'm Special and Deserve Full Credit for a Lackluster Job!" culture. It is what makes Miss Wormwood's response of drinking Maalox straight out of the bottle so funny.
And then look what happens when we remove the first panel...
Without the setup to soften the impending joke... Calvin objecting to his C-grade... the strip is considerably more vicious in nature. Calvin's demands are more of a direct attack. And if the words weren't accompanied by drawings of a cute kid, I'm note sure they would hit as funny, even though the concept of being recognized as "exceptional" for less-than-exceptional work could be seen as funny in any context.
Which brings us to the meat of the strip, which is this panel right here...
Now, to me, all of a sudden the strip (when stripped down to this single panel) is hilarious. All context has fallen away, so this becomes a scathing comedic commentary on government and industry. Congress excels at demanding exceptional recognition for doing a minimal, mediocre, crappy job. They run their re-elections on it! I look at this one panel so beautifully putting into perspective as to why our culture has been built around "American Exceptionalism," and here we are... it flows from the top. Congress demands exceptional recognition for less-than-exceptional work... people see this... people vote on this... and suddenly we're all about being "the best in the world" at everything, even though we're getting our ass handed to us by other countries in SO many areas.
Education being at the top of the list.
Forever moving the goalposts so we can be the greatest in everything is the real American Way.
It's a lot less work than putting in the actual work.
The TikTok hearing is about as fucking embarrassing as this country gets.
A bunch of bought-and-paid-for ignorant idiots who have zero concept of how technology works have jumped on the bi-partisan bandwagon to distract everybody from the fact that they're a bunch of useless pieces of shit, and American citizens are supposed to be cheering them on?
@otto_aguilera They sure aint old and out of touch… theyre all full of youth and knowledge 🙄🤦🏽♂️ #fyp #tiktok #tiktokban #politics ♬ original sound - Otoniel Rodriguez
And so TikTok will likely be banned, thanks to Facebook paying off politicians to be all angry about it and get rid of their business rival over shit that Facebook does ALL THE TIME!
What's amazing is how these fucking lobbiest taint-lickers ask questions of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, then don't allow him to answer and refuse to listen to anything he has to say. This is what counts as discourse in government?
We have fascists at the wheel deciding what we get to read by burning books. What we get to watch for entertainment by banning drag shows. How we identify by banning trans persons. Whom we get to love by banning same-sex marriage. And what websites and apps we get to use by banning fucking TikTok.
Didn't we fight wars against exactly this kind of bullshit?
And the fact that this is starting to become bi-partisan behavior is not lost on me. It just proves what I've been saying all along... politicians will do and say whatever they fucking have to in order to stay in power... even if it means selling out the country to do it... and it doesn't matter one fucking lick what team they play for.
All while telling us that they're doing it "for our protection."
What we actually need protection from is the fucking government.
Facebook can sell our private data to Chinese companies and Congress doesn't bat an eye. Because they're paid not to. But a Chinese company collects our data and suddenly Congress is outraged. Because they're paid to.
Until money gets pulled out of the equation, this is exactly the kind of stupid shit we vote for.
At this rate, it's only a matter of time before Blogography gets banned to "protect us" from my being critical of the government.
Our fascist distopian future is now.
I swear... I honestly thought I was 55 turning 56 today. I've been telling people that I'm 55 all year long. Turns out I'm 56 turning 57 today.
I'd be thrilled that I'm one year closer to retirement, but given the number of politicians just dying to cut the Social Security I've been paying into my entire working life, I am facing the reality that retirement isn't in the cards.
Happy fucking birthday to me.
I'm not at home today. I'm over the mountains celebrating Birthday Weekend with my friends.
Meanwhile back at the ol' homestead, Jake and Jenny spend most of their time sleeping (whenever they aren't eating or pooping).
I've learned my lesson and now leave my bed all messed up, which is how they like to sleep on it. I think they like to squish into the folds or something. If I make my bed, they will avoid it...
Earlier this past week I noted that Jake and Jenny's entire personality can be summed up by how they sleep...
Jake's a total dude-bro who sleeps spread-eagle and likes to leave it all hanging out.
Jenny's a proper little lady who reveals nothing and is a bit more reserved.
I'm happy that they have such wildly different personalities, because it makes me appreciate them more in their uniqueness.
Is it really Spring? It kinda feels like it might be... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• RIP DPReview! Back when I bought new digital cameras and wasn't using my iPhone camera for 99% of my photos, I was a massively huge fan of DPReview. Their reviews are stellar and they provide information in a way that makes it easy to decide what you should be buying. Unbeknownst to me, Amazon bought out the site in 2007. Knownst to me, Amazon has decided to kill the site. This is sad, but understandable. Like I said, I haven't used it in years (the last time being 2017 when I was buying gear for my Antarctica expedition). Still... sad.
• BEES! Not only are bees cute and smart, they also like to have a good time...
@ianisfun Replying to @the_wizard_e_fod #sciencetok #beetok #minds #consciousness #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen ♬ original sound - Ian Slater
Sad that they're having such a tough time of it.
• Theft! Fuck this shit. The Met should be absolutely mortified at their behavior. I know I am...
@hyperallergic “I prayed for his safe and prompt return to his homeland. I prayed to the four directions and then moved on to the main gallery. About two minutes into my brief dance, a member of the museum’s security team approached me and stated that I wasn’t allowed to dance there without permission.” - Sophiline Cheam-Shaprio #archeology #cambodiandance #cambodianartist #greenscreenvideo ♬ Three Miles to Tallehayo - Fableistic
Bad enough that Cambodia's treasures were stolen from them. But this?!?
• CELSIUS! I'm not a big fan of sparkling/flavored waters. Unsweetened tastes like somebody ate a bunch of fruit, then farted in the can. Sweetened is okay, but very hard to find. Artificially sweetened tastes like somebody ate a bunch of fruit and chemicals and farted in the can. But now I've discovered CELSIUS drinks, and they are ever so dreamy! Natural flavors that taste amazing... a dash of Sucralose for sweetness... and they even have dietary supplements in them! Like green tea! Like ginger! Like vitamins!
My favorite so far is Fuji Apple Pear. Dang that's good stuff! Love it! If you're looking for a sparkling water that doesn't taste like somebody farted in a can... give it a try!
• About Time! NEWSFLASH: “Click-to-cancel” rule would penalize companies that make you cancel by phone. — If you can sign up with a click. You should be able to cancel with a click. Only shitty fucking companies with no confidence in their product force you to call to cancel. It's pathetic and gross and companies like this should be fined. Hard.
• Deflect Deflect Deflect! NEWSFLASH: Florida GOP lawmaker who wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill facing up to 35 years after pleading guilty in COVID fraud case. — All of this shit... all of it... is just people distracting from their heinous shit with attacks on other people who have done nothing to them. Hypocrite fucks.
Now back to our regularly-scheduled blog.
IKEA's furniture is a weird duck. The finish they use on all their classic "brown-black" furniture is not quite a paint... not quite a stain... it seems like a cross between both. There's enough pigment to even out the wood grain, but not enough to be completely opaque.
Pure stain turns out nice, but it doesn't match my other stuff.
So I decided to try paint. The first thing I did was try "Black Mocha" by Behr, which is supposed to be as close as you can get. It didn't seem to match at all. So I started looking all over the internet to see if anybody found something better. The most promising seemed to be this guy, who had a custom formulation matched at Sherwin-Williams. He posted the formula and everything...
I showed this to the guy at Sherwin-Williams and, sure enough, he mixed it right up.
When I applied it, the maroon component was making things look too "berry" to match. But as it dried it started getting closer. Still looks like it needs a touch of brown to be a little warmer, but you can't tell unless you really look at it, so I'm happy. Even if it is a bit too "solid" to ever truly match. Maybe in the future I'll try thinking it down and see if that makes any difference.
Or maybe I'll just repaint everything different colors and not worry about it.
Pixar has been really hit or miss with me lately.
Onward and Soul were disappointing. Luca was glorious. Turning Red and Lightyear were okay, but far from the greatness I expect out of the studio.
Then today we get the first full trailer for their upcoming June release, Elemental...
Other than Catherine O'Hara, I'm not familiar with the rest of the cast, which is a bit odd. When it comes to the movie itself, it looks like a mash-up of Inside Out and Soul, but not in a bad way? I guess? I mean, I'll definitely watch it when it hits Disney+, but it's not having me excited enough to run to the theater.
That's reserved for Adrian Molina's follow-up to Coco which is called Elio. It's coming out a year from now.
Another hump-day on the books.
And all I could think about all day long was this TikTok that greeted me when I woke up this morning (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...
We feel you Elmo♬ original sound - Logan Thielbert
Has there ever been anything more relatable than this?
I have a love/hate relationship with Sonos Home Audio.
On one hand, they are very good speakers. The sound I get from a single Sonos One (the cheapest, smallest speaker in their lineup) is better than I get from the speakers on my pricey Sony television. Sonos speakers are very well balanced to handle just about everything. Music sounds just as good as audiobooks which sounds as good as TV shows and movies.
But on the other hand, Sonos can be incredibly frustrating. When I replaced my Sonos PlayBar with a Sonos Arc, I spent a full hour talking with their support to get everything working. It was supposed to be an easy, no-brainer task, but it sure didn't end up that way for me. And then there's weird networking drop-outs that happen at random and can be a real bitch to resolve considering the only thing I ever get told is "IT'S BECAUSE YOUR WI-FI NETWORK SUCKS!!!" (as if I have some kind of cheap-ass Wi-Fi router buried in the basement instead of dual AmpliFi Alien routers in a mesh network that blankets my home with perfect Wi-Fi).
In the end I am happy enough with Sonos to ignore its shortcomings (no line-in is fucking stupid on a level of fucking stupid that has me reconsidering what I consider to be fucking stupid given how expensive their speakers are... and don't get me started on not being able to use dedicated left and right channels for surround sound). I have quite a few of their products collected from Black Friday sales over the years, and most rooms in my house are covered with Sonos sound. Heck, I even have Sonos in the bathrooms so I don't have to miss what's happening on my television shows when I have to get up and go pee.
And then Sonos decided to get cute and offer a new line of "Era" speakers. The Era 100, which takes the place of their entry-level Sonos One speaker... and the Era 300, which takes the place of their long-abandoned Play 3 speaker.
At first I was going to safely ignore their new offerings because I have neither the money nor the desire to expand upon my speaker collection.
But then I learned that the Era 300 is designed from the bottom up to support Dolby Atmos and I was intrigued. Dolby Atmos allows precise sound placement within a room. This is usually reserved for theaters which can install speakers all the way around the seating area... along with the ceiling... so that the action can move around the room to match what you are seeing. It's a pretty nifty trick. The technology is something that is supposed to be supported by my Sonos Arc soundbar, but the effect is minimal to the point that it might as well not even exist at all.
The Sonos Era 300 has an up-firing speaker that looked substantial enough to actually maybe kinda support actual Atmos sound bouncing down on your from above...
So I used my final two Sonos upgrade credits and all the Black Friday money I had left after buying Neon Bad Monkey and pre-ordered a pair of them.
And now they're here.
And I'm just going to cut to the chase here. They are... pretty good.
Because whether or not you have great Atmos sound largely depends on the audio mix that movie and television studios add to their products. I've tested these speakers for hours with all kinds of movies available in Dolby Atmos, and it's very rare that I find myself going "Whoa!" because some sound playing above me was distinct enough to catch me by surprise. No, for the most part, you're largely just getting a better, fuller surround sound experience. Back-To-Front and Front-To-Back audio is far more distinct with those up-firing speakers because you can feel the "movement" better. Far better than I did with my Sonos Ones as rear speakers. For that reason alone I am quite happy with my purchase. And who knows? Maybe as more and more people have Dolby Atmos available at home, studios will start doing better mixing so that my speakers can take advantage of it.
Now lets get to the Dolby Atmos experience that's truly worth it... Atmos Music!
I tell you what... I had read that Apple was partnering with Sonos so that their spatial audio tracks would play on Sonos hardware... but I wasn't thinking of that when I fired up some music to see if it sounded good from the 300s. A couple tracks played and I was suitably impressed.
Then the song If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know) by The 1975 dropped and I thought I was hallucinating. Lead singer Matt Healy's vocals were IN FRONT OF the music. And acoustical queues were all over the room. If I closed my eyes, it was as if The 1975 were set up in my living room. Then I remembered about the Apple Music Atmos thing and, sure enough...
For many Dolby Atmos music tracks, what you hear is flat-out mind-blowing. The 1975 remixed all their stuff, and (for the most part) it's incredible. Some songs are more experimental than others. Some songs push it too far to the point of distraction. But most of the songs are perfectly rendered in a way that makes the whole experience... maybe not better... but perhaps nicely different.
All of a sudden I was scouring all my favorite tracks to see if they had Atmos mixes available.
And it was like discovering music all over again.
Yes, there are instances where the Atmos is a gimmick that doesn't work. But for others? It runs the gamut. The biggest surprise was Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour. Whomever came up with her mixes just knocked it out of the park (with a couple notable exceptions which are gimmicky as hell). It. Is. Sublime. In Oh, What a World when that banjo hits, I had chills running up my spine. It's a fantastic experience. My favorite Post Malone tracks were wonderfully mixed for spatial audio. The newest Taylor Swift album is beautiful. And some bands you just know were hopping on the bandwagon early with Atmos remixes... like ODESZA. The track they did with Namoi Wild, Higher Ground, feels like her vocals are ON TOP OF the music. Or something. I can't even begin to explain it. But it's fantastic. Of course, it was a great track even before spatial audio...
The highest praise I can offer for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos music is that, when mixed right, the vocals never get lost in the music. They are always distinct and rendered front-and-center. One of the best songs to hear this is with Miley Cyrus's Flowers. There's places that she harmonizes with herself. But when listening to it without Atmos, the voices blend together. With Atmos, however, the harmonizing backing vocals are... like... elsewhere. They don't merge or compete... they're just another part of the music. I don't know quite how to explain it. But once I hear the difference... then go back to regular stereo... I can no longer un-hear it because the Atmos version feels like it's the way you're supposed to be hearing it.
So... probably not returning my pair of 300s... even though there's some bullshit right out of the gate.
First of all, Sonos finally... FINALLY... added bluetooth and line-in to their speakers. But when you configure them to be part of a Dolby Atmos setup... YOU NO LONGER CAN USE THEM FOR EITHER! WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK, SONOS??
When that message popped up, it was all I could do to keep from throwing my phone against the wall. I was more than a little upset... I was fucking pissed.
I'm sure that Sonos will come up with some kind of bullshit excuse to explain it away, but the simple fact is that you could easily... easily... just have the speaker ignore all other input once the line-in is receiving input. This is not fucking rocket science. The fact that I can't just plug into one of my pricey new speakers with a frickin' line-in is so far beyond rage-inducing that I honestly don't know what to do with my anger from it.
But at least there's the option for a line-in... AT ALL.
If I were flush with cash I'd likely buy a single Sonos Era 300 for my bedroom and run a line from my television. That way I could have darn good TV sound along with a kick-ass speaker for music (the stereo separation from a single 300 is surprisingly good).
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Assuming I win the lottery tomorrow, it's not enough to just buy a $450 Sonos Era 300 speaker for my television. YOU ALSO HAVE TO BUY A FUCKING $20 MINI-PLUG DONGLE! It's like... holy shit. There's fleecing your customers, and then there's Sonos fucking gouging their customers. This is pretty disgraceful.
So... to summarize in bullet points...
And there you have it.
If you've got a showroom somewhere near you with Sonos gear, it might be worth a look if you're thinking about investing in new speakers.
After Subway was told that their spokesdouche Jared Fogle was a child predator rapist piece of shit, they decided to ignore it because he sold a lot of their shitty sandwiches. They didn't ditch him until the FBI arrested the asshole in 2015. I never ate at Kidfuckers very often, but decided to stop altogether because I didn't want my hard-earned money going to a repugnant company that placed their profits over getting a child rapist off the streets.
I have eaten there a few times because I was in an unfamiliar city and knew there would be a vegetarian option... but I avoided them whenever I could.
Then today I saw that they were having a Buy One Get One Free on foot-longs. I had skipped breakfast because I was working all morning, and decided to just do it. I ordered two different veggie sandwiches online, picked them up, then went into the office so I could eat one of them.
And was immediately reminded why I never ate there very often in the first place.
Lord their bread is horrific.
It tastes like glue. And the cheese is now cut so thin that it might as well not exist... which is to say that the only thing to distract you from the taste of the bread is whatever toppings you can stomach. Which, for me, doesn't include meats.
So, yeah, I won't be doing that again.
If there's no other option than Subway, I'll just buy a couple of cookies and a bag of Lay's and call it good.
Six years until Subway Jared is released from prison. That's a hundred years too soon.