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Resolutionary

Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2016

Dave!Happiest of New Years to you!

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I'm pretty boring because I have the exact same New Year's resolutions every year. The same five goals going on for heaven only knows how long. This year is no different, so here we go...

  • Try a Pop-Tart flavor I've never had before. DONE! Frosted Sugar-Cookie and Brown Sugar Cinnamon (I don't think it's new... but I had never tried it before).
  • Travel somewhere I've never been before. DONE! I was too buried in work to do much personal travel this year, but still made it to Whittier and Prince William Sound in Alaska, a place I've long wanted to visit for glacier-watching.
  • Visit a Hard Rock Cafe I haven't seen before. DONE! Added the new cafe in Memphis, the new casino in Vancouver, the new hotel in Lake Tahoe, and the new cafe in Anchorage to my checklist.
  • Drink a beer I've never drank before. DONE! My favorite new beer I tried last year was Alaskan Brewing Company's Polar White.
  • Get another Apple product. DONE! In addition to a fourth-generation AppleTV, I also got a beautiful iMac 5K Retina Display for work.

I'm not sure what 2016 holds for me. Some pretty big changes are happening in my life, so I may need to focus on things other than Pop Tarts, Travel, Hard Rocks, Beer, and Apple stuff. Or maybe I need to focus more on them? I dunno. New challenges await!

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Things I Bought Week: Part 4

Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2016

Dave! Welcome to the fourth installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!

What did I buy this time? The Hunter 1.2 gal. Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier


Denone AVRS910W

I needed a new humidifier. I wanted one that didn't use heat and had a large water reservoir. I saw this one at Home Depot for a reasonable $30 and bought two of them.

It's a hard-working, easy to maintain product and does a good job of adding moisture to the air. I'd rate it an "A" if not for one thing... IT'S A HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS TO FILL BECAUSE THE THREADS ON THE SCREW FOR THE CAP ON THE RESERVOIR ARE JACKED UP FOR NO GOOD REASON...

Good Screw border=

WHY DO THIS?!? Every other humidifier I've used knows how to thread a screw...

Good Screw border=

Sometime the cap for the Hunter unit goes on easy. Other times it takes try after try after try to get it to screw the cap on. AND IT DRIVES ME FRICKIN' INSANE!!! There's been more than one occasion when I've very nearly grabbed a hammer and beat the shit out of this stupid, stupid design.

If you don't mind having to fight a fucking screw cap every time you fill the damn thing, this could be the humidifier for you. It's cheap and works well.

But I would never purchase another one of these.

RATING: D+ • Currently selling for $30 at Home Depot.

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Leesa

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Dave!Mattress shopping has to be the worst shopping there is.

The last time I bought a mattress was in the late 80's. I visited a showroom, flopped down on every mattress in the place, and still couldn't decide what I wanted. All I knew is that I didn't care how much money the perfect mattress cost me, because getting a good night's sleep is worth just about any price. If $1200 got me a better night's rest than the $400 I had budgeted, then so be it ($400 is $835 in today's dollars, so you can tell I was serious about getting a good mattress).

Ultimately, I decided to get a Spring Air mattress that clocked in at what I think was $650 (around $1350 in today's dollars)... the deciding factor being that a cut-out of Vanna White was endorsing it. Because, hey, if you can't trust Vanna White, who can you trust?

It was a horrible purchase.

Thanks a lot, Vanna."

The mattress was sagging noticeably within a year. After two years, I had to fold an old comforter and prop up the middle of the mattress so I'd have a level sleeping surface. Needless to say, I was beyond perturbed to have blown past my budget for a premium product only to get something that was pretty shitty.

And I suffered with it for 25 years even though I knew mattresses should be replaced after 10 years because the thought of investing another chunk of money in something that's going to fail me was more than I could stand.

But then something changed.

New mattress manufacturers popped up that cut out the middle-man... selling direct to consumers without the heinous markup that is involved when you go to a furniture store or a showroom.

The first one I became aware of was Tuft and Needle. A queen-size mattress out of premium memory foam was just $600, and thee product was getting rave reviews. I was going to order one, but decided to wait until I could see one in person. Since their showroom is in Phoenix, I ended up visiting a friend in Seattle who had one back in 2014. And it was a darn fine mattress. The only issue I had, as a side-sleeper, is that it felt a bit too firm. So I hemmed and hawed, then forgot about it.

Then after Christmas last year, I was so done with my sagging, crappy mattress that I decided to pull the trigger... only to find that a bunch of competition had arrived. In addition to Tuft and Needle, there was Casper, Loom & Leaf, YogaBed, and others... all selling direct at good prices. Another such company was Leesa, which I ended up ordering sight-unseen because review after review said it was softer than a Tuft and Needle, which was my biggest concern...

Leesa Mattress

It's a great mattress, though I don't think it's considerably softer than Tuft and Needle.

That being said, it is very comfortable, and the quality is high. The cover alone is a work of art... it looks like a single piece of fabric, which means there's not a lot of seams to rip open. The mattress is composed of a 2" layer of Avena foam on top to keep you cool (as memory foam tends to retain heat and sleep hot). Under that there's 2" of memory foam followed by 6" of dense foam for support. I don't know if the foam is dense enough to sit on top of a wire-mesh platform bed like mine... so I put a layer of cardboard under it... but it definitely doesn't feel like it's lacking support, so there's that. And I have yet to overheat on the thing, which is everything (I can't sleep when overheated).

After a month of sleeping on Leesa, I don't know that I'm quite used to it yet. When I lay on my back or front, it's absolutely perfect. But when I lay on my side, which is how I usually sleep, I feel like I get "stuck" in positions that are a little uncomfortable... especially on my hips. I don't know if that's because I'm not heavy enough to sink into the mattress as I should or what, but it can be annoying. The good thing is that this is an issue that feels like it's disappearing the more nights I use it. I certainly seem to be able to get more comfortable faster now than at the beginning. Which is probably why Leesa makes you sleep on it for 100 nights before deciding if you want a refund (at which point they have it picked up and donated to a worthy charity). Something tells me that I will be fully transitioned well within the 100 day trial period, so that's a wise move.

Other than this "break-in" bump in the road, I really love the mattress. It's quality from top to bottom, there's no weird smell, it's not so firm that I can't sleep on it, and shipping is included in the (very!) reasonable price.

Which is $890 for a queen.

Except Leesa is having specials going on all the time, often offering $100 off or a gift card or something.

If you can't find a special... or want a better discount than what's offered... you can use the promo code they gave me to get $75 off: http://refer.leesa.com/d8WTt That torpedos the price handily and, if you don't like it after 100 days, you can get your money back. If you're looking for a great mattress at a fair price, Leesa might be worth a try.

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Bullet Sunday 463

Posted on Monday, February 29th, 2016

Dave!FURNITURE, ASSEMBLE! Because a Very Special IKEA Review Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• IKEA! IKEA furniture has a lot of fans. IKEA furniture has a lot of detractors. I'm kinda in the middle. What I love most about IKEA is the prices. And the Swedish Fish. And those Illeana Douglas shorts, of course. But mostly the prices. When I moved into my new place, I needed to buy pretty much everything, as my old furniture was trashed. I couldn't afford real furniture, thus... IKEA. I figure I'll buy IKEA for now and get new furniture as I can afford it. And, mission accomplished... I bought stuff for practically every room in the house for a grand total that was about the cost of just a frickin' dining room table I liked at another furniture store. By Grabthar's hammer... what a savings! Even if I did have to buy it all sight-unseen.

All images stolen from IKEA's website...

   
• LACK SHELVES! The thing about wall shelves is that they are supported by ugly-ass shelving supports. But LACK shelves are different. They're FLOATING shelves. Which means there's no supports. Which also means they look awesome, but you can't put heavy stuff on them...

   

IKEA STUFF!

Installing the shelves is no easy task. Mostly because they don't come with anything to attach the shelf to the wall. I ended up having to go to Home Depot for a combination of "lag bolts" (where I had wall studs) and "drywall anchors" (where I had none). Since I bought 43" shelves, it was easy to find a couple wall studs to bolt them to, but they didn't always end up in places I felt would secure the shelf very well, so sometimes the drywall anchors were added on the ends as well. Installation involves fixing a metal frame to the wall, then sliding the shelf on it, then screwing it in place. Easy. Mostly. Unless you are trying to line up a bunch of shelves like me, because they inexplicably don't always line up... even when you've been very careful to align the frames to each other. Still, they do look very nice and, so long as you're not putting anything heavy on them, work well.
PRICE: $6.99-$19.00 (depending on size) • DAVEKEA SCORE: B

   
• HEMNES BOOKSHELVES AND GLASS DOOR CABINET! Most cheap furniture is made from sawdust that has been mixed with glue then pressed into boards. I hate that crap, so I was happy to learn that IKEA has a line of furniture called HEMNES that's made (mostly) of real wood. Sure it costs a little more, but at least it has a chance of holding together for a while. I needed a couple of bookshelves for my bedroom and a cabinet for my dining room (preferably with drawers for placemats and stuff). Luckily, there are many variations of the HEMNES bookcases when it comes to doors and drawers, so I was able to find exactly what I needed...

   

IKEA STUFF!

The bookshelves were fairly simple to assemble, even if the top board didn't line up properly on one of them and had to be hammered into place. Surprisingly, they were very easy to level and match up side-by-side thanks to the screw-adjust feet. I did have a quality control problem where one of the backing board pieces had a dinged corner that made an obvious divot in the back of my shelves, but I colored it with some stain and put books in front of it, so you'd never know. They seem fairly sturdy and are currently holding a lot of books without issue, but I admit to hammering nails through the sides to make sure the shelves wouldn't fall off the support knobs once I determined where they should go (recommended, as I hear the shelves can pop out easily). The cabinet version adds glass-panel doors and three drawers to the bookshelf for an additional $230, which doesn't seem like a lot... but really is when you consider the bookshelves alone are just $330. Like all IKEA drawers, these are cheap as hell, and won't support much weight. I will probably end up reinforcing them with another board, eventually, as it seems the sawdust board they use will eventually warp and fall out. I glued everything in place, so hopefully that will buy me some time? The glass-panel doors are cheap and clunky and have weird-ass hinges that were a pain in the ass to install, but boy do they look nice. Actually, both the bookshelves and the cabinet look very nice. They certainly don't look cheap... until you open a drawer or door. HINT:You absolutely want to follow IKEA's advice and affix these to a wall so they don't fall over.
PRICE: $160 (bookshelf) or $330 (cabinet) • DAVEKEA SCORE: B+
UPDATE 5/14/16: DAVEKEA SCORE: F Just as other people have experienced, my shelves collapsed because they're not deep enough and somehow work their way loose from the pegs (which are too short, I guess). Looks like I'll be screwing all the shelves directly to the unit so they're not falling out and scaring the shit out of me in the middle of the night. EPIC FAIL!

   
• HEMNES COFFEE TABLE! There are two different coffee tables in the HEMNES line, and I went for the rectangular one over the square one. It assembled very easily, seems sturdy, and is nice enough to look at...

   

IKEA STUFF!

The only problem is that the table-top finish is uneven. It's dull in some spots, glossy in others (usually over the knots in the wood) and doesn't look that great. Given how cheap it was, it's tough to complain too hard... but it does look like I've spilt something on it or damaged it somehow, which is a bit of a bummer.
PRICE: $140 • DAVEKEA SCORE: C

   
• HEMNES BENCH! My living room is rather modest in size, which means my furniture arrangement has to be fairly rigid to make any use of the space I've got. This meant that the HEMNES end-table was out of the question, and I ended up buying "benches" to use as end-tables. They work perfectly... coming in at the right shape and height...

   

IKEA STUFF!

For all I know, they make great benches as well. Probably the easiest assembly of all the stuff I bought, which was icing on the cake.
PRICE: $80 • DAVEKEA SCORE: A

   
• HEMNES TV UNIT! If there was one thing I regret purchasing, this would be it. The HEMNES TV Unit is complete shit anyway you look at it. It's meant to act as a media center, and yet basic stereo components don't fit in it (my mid-size receiver has to sit on top). It was a complete bitch to assemble (NOTHING lined up properly, the shitty little screw-discs kept breaking, and the first shelf-bay has a shelf that doesn't match the support holes... no matter which of the three shelves I put there)...

   

IKEA STUFF!

This is a complete disaster, and I pretty much hate it. Will probably be the first thing I replace when I can afford it. Helpful hint to IKEA... I dunno if stereo components are smaller in Europe, and I really don't give a crap. If you're selling a media center here in the USA, you'd better make something that our shit can fit into. Having all the shelves fit properly into the holes you drilled would also be a big help.
PRICE: $200 • DAVEKEA SCORE: D

   
• HEMNES DRAWERS! As I mentioned above, IKEA drawers are pretty cheap and, apparently, people have problems with the drawer bottoms warping and falling out all the time. Even so, I needed cheap drawers for my bedrooms, so this is where I landed. I did glue all the drawer parts together in the hopes that will keep them from falling apart. And I'm trying my best not to overload them, so hopefully that will help. But, eventually, if I don't end up replacing these soon, I know I'll have to reinforce the drawer bottoms with some kind of actual wood, which kind of sucks...

   

IKEA STUFF!

For my bedroom, I bought the three-drawer version and a 2-drawer unit to use as a nightstand. For the guest room, I bought the six-drawer version and a couple 2-drawers for nightstands... but the guest room stuff is in "white stain" instead of the brown-black I bought for everything else. Since the wood is a cheap pine, the whitewash effect is less attractive than it would be with a prettier wood, but I guess it's okay. I probably would have stuck with the brown-black if I had seen it first. Ultimately, these drawer units look okay... but they "feel" cheap, were not so easy to assemble, and don't seem built to last.
PRICE: $100 (2-Drawer), $150 (3-Drawer), $200 (6-Drawer) • DAVEKEA SCORE: C

   
• STORNÄS TABLE! Easily my favorite IKEA purchase from the bunch. It's a beautiful, sturdy table that doesn't look or feel cheap at all. Yes, it arrived with a small damage mark in the table-top, but it's still a wonderful purchase at a shockingly low price. I bought the version with one extra leaf, but there's also a version with two extra leaves if you have room for a long table in your dining room...

   

IKEA STUFF!

Assembly was easy as pie and I couldn't be happier with its elegant simplicity. I wish that IKEA made other items in the STORNÄS series, as it's clearly top-of-the line at a bargain cost...

Recommended!
PRICE: $330 • DAVEKEA SCORE: A

   
• KAUSTBY CHAIRS! There were a few options for chairs to go with my STORNÄS table, and I waffled between the KAUSTBY and INGOLF models, as they both looked like they'd accompany it perfectly. Ultimately I thought the KAUSTBY slot-back chairs looked a bit more contemporary, and decided to go that route... even if they were $10 more a piece...

   

IKEA STUFF!

Overall, they are quite nice chairs for the price. Plenty wide. Maybe a little too wide, as the standard cushions I bought don't seem big enough to cover them. Assembly is not overly difficult, but could have been better. For one thing, they don't pre-drill the holes that attach the seat to the frame (with small, cheap, plastic fixtures), so it's up to you to make sure you've got it centered. But the worst part is that the chairs are not perfectly level, and I didn't know how to adjust them so they'd sit flat. Adding FIXA felt floor protectors helped a little bit... and it's by no means a massive problem, as the legs are off by only a small amount... but it is a bit frustrating. Then again, you get what you pay for, and I'm willing to bet this could be a problem with chairs costing a lot more.
PRICE: $50 • DAVEKEA SCORE: B-

   
And there you have it. All in all, I'm happy with my IKEA purchases. Less than $3000 to fill my living room, dining room, bedroom, and guest room is pretty nifty. And shipping was a cheap $165 for the 26 pieces of furniture I bought, which is awesome. What's not awesome is that there's no way to track your order progress, so any updates have to be requested via email to customer service. But, then again, IKEA ended up delivering everything on exactly the day they said they would when I checked out, so I really have no cause to complain. If you're on a budget and looking for furniture... IKEA is worth a look. And I do mean look, as buying sight-unseen like I did is a little crazy.

   

Blinds

Posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Dave!Worked all morning.

Came back to work on my home all day but am already at my limit.

Replaced a GFCI outlet in the kitchen and now both GFCI kitchen outlets work... but neither of the bathrooms are getting power. So... there's still that to sort out.

Then went to hang bedroom blinds. The clips that you hang the blinds on are so badly engineered and idiotic that I want to hunt down the moron who invented them and bitch-slap them so hard their face falls off...

Donald Drumpf Salute

But it gets worse... two of the clips are missing. And neither Home Depot or Lowes carry them. Now I want to shoot myself in the face. Guess I get to search the internet for brackets I hate. Yay.

If anybody knows where I can buy these abominations, please let me know.

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#GreenLightaVet

Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2016

Dave!It's actually not that hard being green. Home Depot has green LED bulbs for sale!

I usually pass on the "color your porch light campaigns," but when I heard about Green Light A Vet, that was one I couldn't help but get behind...


My Green Light!

   
Thank you for your service, veterans!

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Respect

Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Dave!Once I was hanging out at a bar with friends that featured live music. The band, which wasn't bad at all, was being badly heckled by a couple tables. For the first couple of songs, the band ignored the chants of "FREEBIRD!" and "NOW PLAY SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T SUCK!" But eventually the lead singer stopped the show and said something like "Hey, I get it. You don't like our music and that's fine. But, believe it or not, there are people who DO like our music and they've come here tonight so they can listen to us play. And you're ruining that for them. There are plenty of other bands out there and some of them probably play music you will enjoy, and you should probably go see them instead of us. But if you're going to stick around, be quiet and let us play. We'd do the same for you and your band... if you had a band. Which you obviously don't. If you did, you'd know how tough it is to get up in front of a room full of people to perform for them, and show us some fucking respect."

And it worked. One of the tables finished their drinks and left. The other stopped being assholes. And the reason it worked was because the band was able to confront the hecklers face to face. The hecklers couldn't hide from the consequences of their actions.

And then we get to the internet, where most of the people most of the time are hidden from the consequences of their actions. Why should they be quiet and respectful when their online "identity" is "BigLukeThe Exploder?" (or whatever... my apologies to BigLukeTheExploder if you actually exist).

Well, I want in on that.

Removing consequences from my actions sounds like a lot more fun than what I'm doing now.

So the next time you see an anonymous troll being a total fucking asshole on the internet... be kind.

It might be me.

   

Gardening

Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2016

Dave!One of the main reasons I wanted to move to a condo is that the groundskeeping stuff is covered by my monthly HOA fees. That's things like lawnmowing, showshoveling, and such that I DON'T have to be bothered with. But the woman who lived in my condo before me loved flowers, so she had lots... lots... of pots and planters scattered around. I started throwing them all out because the groundskeepers ignore them and, apparently, they're my responsibility to maintain... which I Do. Not. Want. But things started looking pretty stark at my place, and I didn't want my neighbors hating on me, so I put half of them back. But then I had to fill them.

So this past weekend I bought a bunch of flowers and dirt and garden tools and crap. It was way, way, WAY more expensive than I thought it would be. And I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I just picked out things that had colors I like. No clue if they're appropriate to plant together or how big they get or what. So I guess we'll see. I didn't research the proper way to plant stuff, so I just ripped out the dead junk, dug holes, then popped in the new stuff. Fingers crossed. Otherwise? Money down the drain...

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

There were some bulbs planted that I left. I'm a bit concerned that they haven't produced flowers yet when everybody else's bulbs in the neighborhood have...

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

I ran out of money for purchasing actual plants, so I bought some seeds for the larger planters. They're already sprouting!

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

If this goes well, I might factor more plants into my plans for next Spring. Otherwise? A rock garden is still a garden, right?

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Mornings

Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016

Dave!I've never given much thought to being "a morning person." Since I am constantly battling insomnia and am already awake well before it's time to get up, there's nothing much to think about. Would I like to stay in bed all day watching TV and surfing the internet? Sure. Is it sometimes difficult to get motivated to face the day? Of course. But getting up at the ass-crack of dawn is no big deal to me. Which, I'm told, makes me a "morning person."

And I suppose that's even more true now that I have cats.

Kittens are supposed to be fed 3 or 4 times a day so that they have all the food and energy they need to grow up healthy and strong. I settled on 3 times a day out of necessity (I only get one lunch hour!) and that seems to be working just fine because Jake and Jenny are growing up alarmingly fast.

The trick to making a feeding schedule work is to stick to it like glue. Which means feeding the little monsters promptly at 7:00am, 12:30pm, and 6:00pm. Which, for me, is Before Work, Lunch Hour, and After Work.

That first feeding is a routine that the cats are very much accustomed to, and deviating from it is tantamount to The Apocalypse. It goes something like this:

  • 6:50am — iPhone Alarm Goes Off. This is not to wake me up... I've been up since 4:00-4:30... but to remind me that the kitties need to be fed, and I should put away my work and get moving.
  • 6:52am — Bathroom Break. Everybody poops. Even me.
  • 6:57am — Open the Bathroom Door. Once Jake and Jenny hear the toilet flush, they haul their fuzzy little asses up the stairs as fast as they can so they are waiting for me as I open the door. Then I usually get them all hyped up by saying "Who's ready for breakfast? Should we get some breakfast? Come on, let's go get breakfast!" And we'll all go tearing back down the stairs so I can dish out their wet food.
  • 7:00am — Breakfast! Jake devours his bowl. Jenny licks hers... maybe taking a bite or three if she's really hungry. At this point, I usually go back to my bedroom so I can finish up whatever I was working on when the alarm went off.
  • 7:20am — FEED US! Since Jenny doesn't like wet food very much, I always serve her up some dry food a half hour later. Jake, being Jake, will join in eating her dry food and polish off the wet food she didn't eat. Because of that, he's just as excited for 7:30 to come around as she is. Which means they start hanging out on my bed around 7:20 waiting for me to come back down and give them dessert. Many times I've looked up from my computer to see them just laying there staring at me...

Kitties Say FEED US!

Kitties Say FEED US!

  • 7:30am — Crunchy Time! As soon as I notice that 7:30-ish has rolled around, I start getting the cats hyped up... "What time is it? Is it crunchy time? It is! It's crunchy time!" Which has them going out of their minds as they hop around the room and tear downstairs at top speed.

Then I get ready for work and am out the door.

On those rare mornings where I am slow to get out of bed... usually because I'm in the middle of composing an email or something... the cats will come get me if it strays too far past 7:00am. Usually they'll make their food demands known in as passive-aggressive way possible... like flopping themselves on the floor and staring at me...

Kitties Say FEED US!

If that doesn't work, they'll climb up on the bed and start chewing on my toes or something.

Which is fine. I deserve that if I'm getting off schedule.

I'm a morning person after all.

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RoadRAGE

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Dave!Despite complaining about bad drivers like... ALL THE TIME... and getting angry a lot at people who choose to focus on texting or eating or video games or anything except driving when on the road... I'm usually able to let it go.

Not today, baby...

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Drives Angry

So there I was waiting to turn onto the street where my office is at. An old man was making his way across and I was waiting until he got all the way to the sidewalk so as not to scare him. And also... because it's the law! Any guesses as to what happened in this scenario?

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave Drives Angry

   
The fact that I used the "c-word" when I absolutely abhor the "c-word" should be your first clue...

   

Got your guess?

   

THAT'S RIGHT! The asshole decided to not wait until the old man reached the sidewalk... hell, she barely waited for him to clear the lane... instead she gunned it so she could cut in front of me (WHEN I HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY, MIND YOU!), cutting me off and scaring the shit out of the old man.

What a fucking cuntwaffle.

Things like this? Impossible for me to let go.

If I had a gun and didn't believe in non-violence as a precept, I would have run her down and shot her in the face.

IN THE FACE!

And so, yeah... road rage. I get that. And, in this case, totally justifiable on my part, I think.

On a side-note... anybody have any guesses as to why the old man crossed the road?

   

Bloom

Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Dave!The bulbs that were left by the previous owner of my home are finally starting to spring. And they're irises... which are kind of a freaky flower. Freaky in that they can't support the weight of the flowers and most of them end up on the ground.

But they're pretty even so... especially when they're still upright. The berry-colored flowers are my favorite...

Flowers!

Flowers!

Flowers!

There's some peachy-colored stuff too...

Flowers!

Flowers!

Not a huge fan of the yellow color, but they're interesting...

Flowers!

The white flowers are probably going to pop tomorrow...

Flowers!

If I had any kind of ambition whatsoever when it comes to the flowers around my house, I'd probably rip everything out and start over, but... meh... good enough.

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Surgery

Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2016

Dave!Sigh.

Every since I got an infection after an accident in the Costa Rican rainforest, I've been plagued with problems with my eyes. My vision goes blurry. My eyelids develop cysts. I experience shooting pain. They get tired easily. It's just a parade of misery that won't go away. And this past week I developed more cysts that my body couldn't eliminate, so say hello to my fifth surgery on my eyelids.

The surgery itself is fairly simple. They shoot hideously painful drugs into your lid to numb things down. They put a metal clip in your eye. They flip your lid. They slice it open. They cut the offending material out. They stitch you up. They unclamp your eye. They put a patch on you. You drive home.

Not entirely horrible, so far as things go, but irritating. I was completely wiped out when I got home and went straight to bed. Jake, who was apparently glad to see me, gave me mad hugs...

Jake Kitty Hugs

He was a little freaked about the appearance of my eye, however...

Dave Eyes

And the reason I knew this is that I looked up once he changed position and saw him doing this with his eye...

Jake Eye Twitch

And lest you think Jenny wasn't supportive... she took over when I moved to the couch. Like Jake, the freaky appearance of my eye was something she had to investigate...

Jake Eye Twitch

It's nice to have cats to help(?) with the recovery process.

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Flowers

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2016

Dave!The previous owner of my place loved flowers, so I was very lucky to inherit her hard work. I've got planters in the front, irises on the sides, and a pretty flower garden in the back (along with even more planter boxes). This weekend the flowers finally started to bloom, which means my back yard is looking better than the front right now...

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

The planter boxes I over-planted, badly, have completely taken over...

Flower Garden

...hopefully one of these days there will actually be flowers there.

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Deductible

Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Dave!Just got the bill for my first eye surgery.

Thank heavens my insurance deductible is so huge... I was worried I wouldn't find anything to do with these piles of cash I've got laying around.

And to think I was actually considering building my savings account back up! How silly of me!

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Situation

Posted on Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Dave!For all those who wrote me emails or sent me texts or even called me... wondering what the heck happened that I had disappeared off my blog... thanks!

The explanation is both simple and complex. But let's start with what it is not going on...

I'm not sick.
I'm not dead.
I'm not on the lam.
I have not been abducted by aliens.
I have not given up blogging.

Here is what is going on...

As mentioned previously, the security I have on Blogography has been keeping me from posting. I can't disable the security, because I keep getting hacked (apparently having 15 years of Google-indexed entries makes you a desirable target). It has something to do with switching internet when I moved house, but in order to post now I have to log in to my blog, turn off the security, log out of my blog, log back into my blog, restart blogging services, post my entry, log out of my blog, then log back in so I can turn security back on.

It's quite an ordeal, and I really don't have time for it.

So I took to posting a week's worth of entries all at once in an effort to deal with it all.

That worked for five months.

And then it didn't.

No matter how many hoops I ran through, I couldn't get to the point where I could post. Not that this stopped me from writing entries. On the contrary, I was still writing every day like I always do...

A month of entries...

I just couldn't do anything with them because I could never find the time to fix my blog.

Until today.

I finally backed up the database, uninstalled everything, reinstalled everything, then restored everything. And it seems to be working.

Which leaves me in a quandary. Do I just flood post a month's worth of entries as if nothing ever happened? Or do I chalk up the month of June as a loss and start up fresh? Who wants to back-read a whole month of the stupid crap that I post? Is this stuff even relevant after all this time?

I dunno.

My inclination is to summarize my month tomorrow on the 3rd. Then resume posting on the 4th... exactly one month from when I stopped. Then I can swipe some old material I wrote... refresh stuff that's no longer relevant... and get back to all new musings that my legions of Blogography fans demand!

As much as I loathe the idea of there being a month-long chunk of missing entries in over a decade of daily posting, I think this is the best way to move on.

Hope you enjoyed your vacation from me.

   

4th

Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2016

Dave!There is no way I could come up with a Fourth of July post better than the one I came up with last year.

And this year it's more appropriately Murican than ever, so I'm just going to dump it all here again.

Celebrate safely, my fellow Americans!

Dave!

Captain America Suit
Truth! Justice! Captain America!

Wonder Woman
You're a Wonder, Wonder Woman!

REAGAN, DAMMIT!
REAGAN, bitches! Trickle-Down America!

Flag BIKINI
Jessiqa Pace... Land That I Love

Flag Undies
Too... Much... America...

I pledge aliegence to the flags...
I Pledge Allegiance to America...

Pam!
AMERICAN PAM!

Stephen Colbert Defender of American Justice!
'MURICA! from USA News First!

America Challenge!
Fuck the Pepsi Challenge... take The America Challenge!

America Challenge!
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, COMMIES! And God Bless Holly Fisher

America Challenge!
American Jesus (the ONLY Jesus)... Artist Unknown

America Challenge!
America... One Nation Under God by McNaughton

Red Sox Baseball America!!!
BOSTON RED SOX AMERICA!... by Matt West, Boston Herald

America Pie!
AMERICA PIE TASTES LIKE FREEDOM by Max Faulkner, DFW.com

Stephen Colbert Defender of American Justice!
Stephen T. Colbert... The Spirit of America

American Pride with Waffle
"American Pride" (with Waffles the Cat) by Justin Schwab

American Pride with Waffle
Jordan Carver... God Bless America

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey waving US flags.

So. Much. America.

   

TOP FIVE WEEK: Toothpaste!

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Dave!HAPPY TEETH!

If you're like me, once you were out on your own, you just grabbed whichever toothpaste was cheapest and damn the consequences. I continued doing that for years. Until I got a free sample of The Good Stuff and had my life turned around. Then I became a bit of a toothpaste connoisseur and started trying every brand I could find. Here's the results...

Arm & Hammer Advance White

  1. Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda.
    No toothpaste makes my mouth feel this fresh and clean. It's like a trip to the dentist every morning! Don't know that the whitening is as effective as others, but it does the job.
  2. Colgate Optic White Sparkling Mint.
    The second-best whitening toothpaste I've found, but the taste takes a little getting used to. Leaves behind a residue that's not so great, but apparently that's the price you pay for white teeth.
  3. Tom's of Maine Botanically Bright Peppermint.
    There was a point I was trying to "go natural" in my life, and Tom's had the best option for toothpaste I could find in my local supermarket. Overall it was "okay"... and if I ever become obsessed with "natural" again, I'll have no problem going back... but there are better options available if you want a whitening toothpaste.
  4. Aquafresh.
    I became an instant fan of Aquafresh when it first came out in the 70's and it was my brand of choice for decades. I've since grown past it, but end up using it from time to time when it's given away at hotels I stay at. If I went back to Aquafresh, I'd probably go with their "Extreme Clean" version.
  5. Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Vibrant Mint Flavor Whitening Toothpaste.
    Does a miraculous great job of removing a yellow cast from your teeth, but once I found out it contains plastic microbeads which fuck up the environment in absolutely horrifying ways, I stopped using it. I'm adding it to the list because, apparently, Crest is taking the microbeads out of all their products this year. I might give it another try once that happens.

Everybody maintain healthy dental hygiene, now!

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TOP FIVE WEEK: Classic Arcade Games

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Dave!INSERT QUARTER, PLAYER ONE!

When I was in High School I played a stupid amount of video games. Both at home and the arcade. And while they improved greatly from their humble beginnings, when I think of "arcade games" my mind always goes back to that era. Here are the games that make me feel that way...

Kool-Aid!

  1. Donkey Kong.
    When Donkey Kong first came out, it was certainly not the first platformer to hit the arcades. But it sure felt like it. Probably because it was clever enough both conceptually and visually to put other platformers a level below. I can't fathom how many quarters I pumped into my local Donkey Kong tabletop at the local pizza parlor.
  2. Gauntlet II.
    RED WIZARD SHOT THE FOOD! The original Gauntlet was an arcade version of a fun dungeon-crawler that was made all the more special in that you could play it with three of your friends. Then came the sequel, and it was epic for its day.
  3. Q*Bert.
    Despite loving arcade games back in the day, I was never very good at them. With the exception of Q*Bert. For whatever reason, I could find my groove in the game and was able to get high score with alarming regularity. If I were to ever buy an arcade cabinet, it would be this one.
  4. Ms. Pac-Man.
    I always liked Pac-Man, but its repetitive nature was tough to get past. Then along comes Ms. Pac-Man and the repetitiveness somehow became tolerable. The game had a real "zen" about it that made for a great mindless diversion from life's troubles.
  5. Tempest.
    Even though the graphics were simplistic to a radical degree, the fact that they were constructed from gorgeous vectors and had a kinetic energy which put you in the game in a very real way made me play it over and over and over again.

Arcade wishes and 8-Bit dreams!

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TOP FIVE WEEK: Video Game Consoles

Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2016

Dave!GAME ON!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was a huge video game whore when I was a kid. I'm not going to lie... I still am, but only for Nintendo and LEGO. The difference being that when I was a kid I didn't do anything but play video games... whereas now I have things like "responsibilities" that keep getting in the way. Doesn't keep me from loving video games though. Here's a list of consoles that I love most of all...

Kool-Aid!

  1. Atari 2600.
    The first "real" video game system of my generation, the Atari VCS was revolutionary in just about every way possible for the day. Yeah, the graphics were absolute crap, but the imagination and innovation behind the dozens of games released more than made up for it. The downfall of the system came when the games were churned out just to have them out... even if they weren't worth releasing. The original Pac-Man game was complete shit with only a passing nod to the original game. The E.T. disaster is legendary. The list goes on and on. But, still, before we got to that point there were a lot of great games trailblazing the way for everything that was to come.
  2. Nintendo Wii.
    It would be easy to drop a "modern" powerhouse system in this spot like Xbox One or PlayStation 4... perhaps even Wii U... but when it comes to the console that changed the way people play video games, it's the original Wii that turned the industry on it's head. Thanks to the way-cool controller, games became more interactive and collaborative than ever before. Get a group of friends together for Wii Bowling and good times can't help but ensue. Wii also brought forth the advent of the Mii, which gave gamers an identity they could carry through various games in a fun new way.
  3. Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
    This is probably the favorite gaming system of old, responsible for a slew of games that defined the industry. Taking the massive popularity of the NES one step further, the Super NES gave us gameplay that culminated in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and unleashed some of the best games ever made... including StarFox, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid, Super Mario Kart, and Super Mario World.
  4. Playstation 2.
    The original PlayStation attempted to bring more power to the game of video games, but it was Playstation 2 that actually delivered on that ideal. Powerful enough to allow game designers to run wild with their imaginations, PS2 unleashed games that broke the mold and added new depth to the industry. A lot of terrific game franchises that had promising starts on earlier consoles blew up to new heights. So many fun games passed through here... it's no wonder it's the best-selling console of all time.
  5. Nintendo 64.
    Three Nintendo systems on this list may seem like overkill (especially for Sega fans lamenting that none of their systems ended up here), but this was the console that gave us The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, arguably the greatest of the greatest in video games. We also got the first Paper Mario, which is one of my favorite game franchises. Updates to other franchises... Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong 64, StarFox 64, Kirby 64, etc., also pushed gaming into new territory and solidified Nintendo's track record as having the game designers to beat.

HONORABLE MENTION: ColecoVision.
This is a gaming system that rarely appears on people's lists of favorite game consoles. Yes it was underpowered. Yes it had one of the shittiest controllers ever. But it brought home a lot of great arcade games that Atari or Intellivision couldn't match... including the best home-port of Donkey Kong, my all-time favorite arcade title. I spent a huge chunk of my childhood playing ColecoVision, and am more than a little disappointed that it's forgotten by modern gamers.

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The Horror

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Dave!Halloween is one of those holidays that I've been able to safely ignore for the past two decades. I don't have kids to take trick-or-treating, I haven't attended a Halloween party in years, and the neighborhood I used to live in never had trick-or-treaters stopping by. Sure I'd buy candy just in case... but the only person eating any of it was me.

All that changed when I moved into my new neighborhood. Which actually used to be my old neighborhood.

What's also changed? Kids with restrictive diets. Can't have peanuts. Allergic to gluten. Will die if they consume artificial colors. That kind of thing. So in addition to KitKats and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I also purchased "Yum Earth Fruit Snacks" that were naturally flavored, no synthetic colors, certified organic, gluten-free, fat-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, vegan, no soy, no egg, non-GMO, no dairy, no high fructose corn syrup, and no animal products. I figured that would cover all my bases. Last year I bought toys for kids that couldn't eat candies, but lost them in the move. Thus my Teal Pumpkin Project banner didn't get put out this year. I'll be sure I'm better prepared next Halloween... even though I've never had a single taker. Probably because I never had any trick-or-treaters.

Apple's new not-pro pro MacBook laptop

Anyway, my 2016 Halloween in bullets...

  • Only ended up getting the 50-60 kids I was anticipating instead of the 120-130 I was told would appear in my new (old) neighborhood. More candy for me!
  • Pleasantly surprised that so many of the costumes had some effort put into them. The creativity made for an entertaining night.
  • A fairly young kid showed up as Deadpool... a movie (or comic) he probably should not have seen at his age, but must have? Disconcerting.
  • The cats may not have appreciated the "spooky ghost" ringtone on my Ring doorbell, but the kids sure did! Quite a few of them remarked that it was "cool."
  • Most of the kids... over half... picked the "healthy" treat I got for kids with allergies and stuff. This was unexpected, but not unwelcome. I've got tons of REAL candy left over!
  • At least half of the kids never said "Trick or Treat"... most did say "Thank you," however.
  • Most all of the kids were accompanied by parents. In this day-and-age, you can bet your ass I wouldn't let my kids out alone on Halloween... no matter how old they were.
  • My kitchen is at the front of the house, so to avoid running back and forth between the door and my living room, I decided to stay in the kitchen and clean it. A lot of work, but oh so nice. Still don't know how to clean my glass range-top completely. Even with Soft-Scrub and a Scotch-Brite pad, there are still spots that won't come clean.
  • I had my last microwave for at least 15 years. Built like a tank and a dream to clean. The only reason I got rid of it was because I bought a built-in for my new place. While cleaning it, I was shocked at how cheap it's constructed considering the rather hefty price I paid. The interior is lined with thin metal that bends every time I apply even slight pressure.
  • When I moved here, I just took everything that was under the kitchen sink at my old place and transferred it. Tonight I actually went through everything. Shocked that I ended up tossing out 3/4 of it all that was either expired/dead or completely unneeded.
  • Jenny now gives zero fucks as to what areas of the house I feel she isn't allowed (i.e. the kitchen). While cleaning, she pounced right up on the countertop and came to see what I was doing. Jake will follow her example, I'm sure.
  • Because of this, I am immensely relieved that both cats are still terrified of everybody but me. There was no chance of them running out the door, because every time somebody arrived they were high-tailing it upstairs.
  • I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer, bread maker, Cuisinart, gelato maker, and blender. None of them have been used since I moved here. This needs to change. I used to love making fresh bread and other baked goods.
  • The only thing I didn't clean was the oven interior. It has a really cool "Slow Steam Automated Cleaning" feature, but I can't find the instruction book to know how to use it. Looks like I'll be hunting the manual down this weekend.
  • After not having trick-or-treaters for the past 20 years, the evening wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be!

And now I'll be over here eating Halloween candy and trying not to go into a sugar coma.

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Cat Catchup: Kittens

Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Dave!It's tough coming back from my self-imposed blog sabbatical and know what to talk about. Much of what took me away from blogging is a personal matter and won't be discussed here. Sure, there were other things going on, but it's all become a blur that I'm probably better off not revisiting. There are exceptions, however.

The biggest one being my cats, so let's get caught up on that in PART ONE of a THREE PART SERIES, shall we?

First of all, they're doing great. Jenny has become a pretty, petite young lady...

Jenny!

Jenny!

And Jake... well... Jake is still Jake, just a little more grown up...

Jake!

Jake!

He still spends a lot of time laying spread eagle for some reason...

Jake!

Jake!

The siblings still adore each other...

Jake and Jenny!

And do most everything together...

Jake and Jenny!

Jake and Jenny!

Even more important than that, they have become more and more comfortable hanging out with me. At one time I was afraid they'd never even let me touch them... now they've turned into cuddle buddies that can't get enough petting...

Jake!

Jenny!

Jake!

Jenny!

Jake!

Rescuing two feral kittens has turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. I love them more than I could love just about anything.

Now if I can just keep away from the Humane Society so I avoid adopting ten more of them.

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Cat Catchup: Catio

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Dave!Hey! This is PART TWO of THREE PARTS updating everybody about my cats.

Way back in April, I mentioned that I was planning on building a "catio" (cat patio enclosure) so Jake and Jenny could go outside while still being safe. My original intent was to design and build it myself, but work got so busy that I ended up hiring a contractor to build the exterior part plans I made, then I could build the interior pieces myself as time permitted..

Catio Building

Catio Plans!

Catio Building

After a few days, it was time to unleash the kittehs!

Catio Building

Catio Building

Catio Building

The cat outside is named "Fake Jake." That's because when my brother was cat-sitting, he thought she was Jake and brought her inside. Hilarity ensued. Fake Jake is kind of crazy-aggressive, and likes to terrorize my cats from time to time...

Fake Jake Terror!

Fake Jake Terror!

Fake Jake Terror!

The contractor ended up putting in four window panels instead of the three I had drawn up in my plans for some reason. This meant having to change my concept for the inside shelves, but it all worked out in the end. I made them to have removable panels so I could use heat-trapping rubber-backed mats in winter to keep them warm... and a mesh floor in summer to keep them cool...

Catio Building

Catio Building

Catio Building

Going from three panel windows to four meant that I didn't have room for a ramp to the top shelf. Instead I devised a narrow "catwalk" that would allow Jake and Jenny to navigate the upper-level and have a shelf to be able to see out of the narrow end...

Catio Building

Catio Building

The finished shelving...

Catio Building

Pretty nifty, huh? Needless to say... a ton of work. But a good project for a novice woodworker because I learned a lot. I also discovered the joys of owning a pneumatic brad nailer, which is about the handiest thing for light construction projects you can imagine.

But the best part of it all?

The cats love their catio.

They are out there all the time...

Catio Building

Catio Building

In the Spring I'll start PHASE 2 of construction, which includes adding a ramp next to the house... adding a log climber in the narrow end... adding a cat-ladder on the opposite narrow end... putting in a cat grass tray... and tiling the floor.

Something fun to look forward to!

And About Those Cubs...

When the Red Sox finally broke their "curse" in 2004, I was on a cruise ship. I was wearing my Boston jersey the whole time, and kept running into a couple who were also wearing Red Sox jerseys... we'd give a "GO BOSTON" wave whenever we passed. The final game of the series was a "sea day" and I remember sitting in a bar on the starboard side of the ship watching the game. When the Red Sox won, I let out a yell and heard another yell coming from the port side. I ran to the banister to look across, and the couple I kept running into did the same. We were yelling across the ship and waving our arms like crazy people. Heck, we WERE crazy people. It was kind of a special way to celebrate a win that some Red Sox fans had waited 86 years... a lifetime, really... to see. So, if it couldn't be Boston, I'm happy for the Cubbies winning the World Series after waiting 108 years! Congrats to the team and all their fans!

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President Trump and Worry

Posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Dave!There are people I know who were so invested in the Clinton campaign... so certain of victory... that I am more than a little worried about their reaction to last night's election results. As you might guess, I am not so much upset by a Hillary Clinton loss as I am horrified by a Donald Trump victory. She was never my candidate. I never wanted Hillary Clinton as my president. But I was compelled to vote for her to prevent what's happening from happening.

Alas...

So where do we go from here?

President Elect Trump by word or by deed has painted himself to be a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, and an all-around asshole.

That's a huge problem.

Electing Donald Trump sends a number of messages that have me fearful for my country. I honestly believe that some dear friends of mine are less safe now than they were yesterday. My gay friends. My Muslim friends. My poor friends. My Black friends. My Hispanic friends. My women friends. I worry about them. Which in turn makes me worry about all my friends, because we are all interconnected in a very real way.

And I'm worried about myself. I'm not a Christian. Is that going to be a problem for me? I have no illusion that the forthcoming legislation supporting "religious freedom" is a Christians-only club. What is that going to mean? I'm not gay but there are people that think I'm gay. Is that going to be a problem for me? The hatred and violence seen in some Trump supporters makes me wonder. This win for Trump has certainly given strength to the more dangerous elements of our society.

And so I worry.

I'm guessing I'll worry a lot over the coming days.

And I'm a straight, white, male!

That's not even the worst of it. For everything that Trump is and as worried as his presidency might make me... it's the fact that Mike Pence is one heartbeat away from The Oval Office that puts me in a full-blown panic. He is scary on a level that I can't even wrap my head around.

Seriously... Google that shit.

If you pray, pray for the health and safety of President Trump while he's in office.

You might also want to pray that President Trump finds the wisdom, the compassion, the patience, and the sanity to govern us well.

That would be great because I'd really like one less thing to worry about.

   

Ultra Mega Super

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Dave!Last night was Ultra Mega Super Moon night. As usual when celestial events are going on here, it was rainy and overcast. Fortunately, I can still bask in the glory of last year's Regular Super Moon that happened on a rare clear night.

Today was more of the same. I've been buried in work and struggling to see daylight just as I was struggling to see the moon last night.

And speaking of things I long to see... have you seen the trailers for Moana? Some of the most gorgeous computer animation I've ever seen. There have been several clips released already, all of them jaw-droppingly beautiful...

The hair dynamics are beyond amazing...

And THE WATER!!! HOLY CATS!

It doesn't hurt that it looks funny as all getout...

And it's got a chicken in it...

Moana is in theaters on November 23rd.

   

Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om

Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2016

Dave!I love tattoos. LOVE them.

Had I started getting tattoos earlier in life, my arms would already be covered and I'd be starting in on my back and (probably) my legs. We have no choice as to what genetics are going to deal us in the card game of life, but being able to permanently make visual changes with tattooing is a wonderful freedom I'm fully onboard with.

Today I got my seventh, thanks to the unparalleled line-work talent of Michael Dematty at Black & Blue Tattoo in San Francisco. My right arm tattoos are all Buddhism-inspired designs I've drawn up, but I have yet to get an actual Buddha. The problem being that my arm is too skinny to get a classic "Buddha on Lotus with Om" design that will look how I want it to look.

So I took a cue from the culinary world and deconstructed it into separate pieces... which ended up fitting the space perfectly and turned out exactly as I had hoped. Which I knew it would, because that's what you get when you hire somebody as talented as Michael Dematty to ink your work...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

As with all my tattoos, I drew them up in DaveToon black-and-white style. The "om" enlightenment at the top was written in Tamil (one of the oldest languages on earth) so it would look different from the om in my more traditional "om mani padme hum" tattoo that's already on my inner arm...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

Annnnnnd... guess it's time to start thinking about my next tattoo...

   

Thanks for Nothing? Everything?

Posted on Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Dave!The plan was to get up at 7:00am, take care of the cats, get cleaned up, then drive over the mountains to spend Thanksgiving with family.

All of which was scrapped when I checked the weather report for Stevens Pass...

Winter Storm Warning for East Slopes Northern Cascades, WA. Several rounds of snow for the mountains through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Heavy mountain snow will pummel the Cascades today into Friday morning. Snow accumulations will make travel very hazardous or impossible over mountain passes like Stevens Pass on Highway 2 and east towards Plain, Sherman pass on Highway 20, and Blewett pass on Highway 97. Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 AM PST Friday.

If I had four-wheel drive? I probably would have risked it. But I don't. I don't even have snow tires on. Just some all-weather radials with an old set of chains in the trunk.

And so? Thanksgiving ruined.

Though I did try and be thankful for what I did have: A day home from work.

Thanksgiving breakfast was tacos, because that's all I had to eat. I wasn't supposed to be here, so I never went to the store. They were pretty awesome. Thanksgiving dinner was a plate of butter with some microwaved potatoes...

Thanksgiving Dinner.

Jenny and Jake sure liked having me home. They followed me around everywhere all day long. Starting when I took a shower and went to brush my teeth...

Content Jake in the Sink.

Content Jake in the Sink.

Jenny kept running out to the catio, getting cold, running back inside to steal my body heat, then running right back out again...

Content Jenny.

That's something to be thankful for, I suppose. It's nice to be useful.

Hope your Thanksgiving was equally eventful.

   

In Blackest Friday…

Posted on Friday, November 25th, 2016

Dave!There is no amount of savings that would encourage me to shop retail today. None. Even if they were giving shit away for FREE, I'd still be going into work then hiding at home the rest of the day. Buddhism has taught me not to get caught up in "stuff" and focus on more important things, so fighting over a bunch of "stuff" is about the last thing I'm inclined to do.

That does not, however, mean I won't be shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales online.

Every month I put aside $50, which comes out to $600 of funds that I spend on clothes come Black Friday. With careful shopping, you can easily turn that $600 into $1200 (or more!) worth of buying power, and 90% of my clothes for the entire year are bought during this time. I especially love that I can buy pricey brands that I could never afford otherwise.

$100 denim being sold for $40? Yes please.

$80 shirts for $25? I'll take 'em.

All underwear is Buy One Get One Free? Alrighty then.

Jackets half-price? I could use that.

Nothing quite like getting a pile of designer clothes at cheap-ass prices. This is literally the only time I enjoy shopping. This year I actually went overboard... spending closer to $700 than the $600 I had saved... but I lost some weight and ended up needing smaller sizes, so it was still a bargain.

This is the time of year I always take my spare change jar to a CoinStar machine, so I'll probably make up that $100 in no time to stay on budget (last year I had accumulated $136 in coinage!).

Which is good, because I also found Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Wii U on sale for $17 (Regular $39.99)...

Sense Antennae Breakout Box.

Doesn't get much better than that!

Happy Black Friday, everybody!

   

The Rules of Acquisition

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2016

Dave!Unless I am very unlucky, my life is more than half over.

This realization doesn't come cloaked in sadness or despair. Nor does it fill me with depression or fear. If I were to be completely honest, the fact that it's all going to end some day is more... comforting?... than anything else. More and more I am just "done" with life in general, and am ready to move on to whatever is next.

Even if that ends up being nothing.

Not that you need to put me on suicide watch, mind you. I've got cats depending on me and all that. It's just that there's a certain peace that comes from making peace with your life.

And eventual death.

If pressed, I could probably come up with all kinds of regrets, but I've worked very hard not to live with regrets so I can make the best of what is. Because that's all you can really do, isn't it?

Except...

After having moved house earlier this year, I can honestly say that I seriously regret all the senseless crap I seem to have accumulated over the years. Well, senseless now, but it undoubtedly meant a great deal to me at the time I acquired it. Like my massive comic book collection. Sure it's fun to look back through them from time to time, but right now I'd just like to find somebody with a stack of cash to make me an offer and haul it all away. One less thing to worry about. One less thing to burden whomever is going to be stuck disposing of my possessions when I shuffle this mortal coil.

It doesn't end with comic books. I've got a staggering load of DVDs, CDs, albums, books, gadgets, travel souvenirs, and other garbage piled up in my bedroom, office, closets, and garage. And for every box I get rid of, there are dozens upon dozens more to work through.

So... note to Younger Self...

Don't be so obsessed with acquiring crap.

It's just going to hold you down and be a pain in the ass to your Future Self.

And none of it is as important or necessary as you think it is.

None of it.

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The Strategy of Acquisition

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Dave!Yesterday I talked about the regret I have in accumulating so much "stuff" in my life. There's just entirely too much crap piled around my home, and most of it... the majority of it... I really could have done without ever buying in the first place.

And yet there's still stuff I have to buy. Even in the middle of culling my possessions. Which is kind of counterproductive... and a a bummer. But not nearly as big a bummer as having to shop for the stuff. Because I really, really don't like shopping.

Which is why I hold off as much shopping as possibly for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Because the only thing I love more than not shopping is a bargain. And this year I found a lot of bargains. Just ask my credit card. Which probably won't be paid off until February. :-(

Still, it's all stuff I needed. And it was pretty great that I ended up paying half (actually less than half) of what I would have paid any other time of year for the same stuff...

  • Tools. I got an amazing deal on a telescoping ladder ($90 regular $160!). I've never owned a ladder before, having always borrowed them when I needed one. I never intended to buy my own, but it was the "telescoping" feature that made me pull the trigger. I've got a stairwell that I want to hang things in, and I couldn't manage it with a traditional ladder. This one makes it a snap. Plus it's compact when condensed, so it fits easily in my garage. Plus it's easy to move around. Plus I have a ladder whenever I need one now. Probably my favorite purchase. And the most useful.
  • Storage. I loathe to spend money on containers and stuff like that when you can get cardboard boxes for free, but the boxes I've been using to store the crap I'm going to keep are falling apart and I needed something more permanent. Storage bins were on sale for ridiculous prices, so I snapped some up. They're much nicer for keeping things organized. I also bought a second Milwaukee Jobsite Organizer, which I got on sale at Home Depot for $20... the first one I bought has been one of the handiest purchases ever, but it's gotten full.
  • Music/Movies/Games. I buy most everything digitally from the iTunes Music Store, so I leapt at the chance to get some gift cards for 20% off. I also picked up LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens for cheap... and found Guardians of the Galaxy on 3D Blu-Ray for $12! I don't much care for 3D in the theater, but I am really digging it at home for some reason.
  • Tech. Amazon had the Echo Dot on sale for $39 down from $49... and you got a credit for $10 if you ordered through Echo. $29 to extend Alexa upstairs seemed like a heck of a bargain. And so very cool.
  • Luggage. My small carry-on that I use for 1-3 day trips was pretty much shredded, so I took advantage of a 50% off sale at Samsonite to get a new one at a great price. Probably my most-needed purchase.
  • Furniture. I needed a nice chair for my guest room but could never afford it because whenever I found one I liked it was $250... minimum! Finally found one on Black Friday closeout for a crazy $80.
  • Travel. Alaska Airlines always has really good Cyber Monday sales... if you can be flexible in your travel. I managed to get a trip from my small-town airport for less than I usually get the same trip out of Seattle... which is fantastic savings.
  • Clothes. I hate spending money on clothes. Which is why I pretty much shop for them only when they're on sale. Black Friday is the best time for this, and I put aside money all year long just to shop the sales. This year I bought jeans, shirts, hats, and underwear... all at really great prices. I was particularly happy to get some new Boston Red Sox hats from '47 Brand at 30% off. Mine are about worn out.

And there you have it. More crap to clutter my life.

How much of it will I be wanting to throw out five years from now? Probably all of it.

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If You Never Hear From Me Again…

Posted on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Dave!Last night as I was loading my car trunk with some cardboard to recycle, I saw a gallon of milk sitting there. I must have missed it when I was unloading groceries four days ago. Don't ask me how.

I was going to dump it down the drain... but it's been cold out, it's non-fat, and milk is expensive, yo... so I decided to pop it in the refrigerator and give it a shot.

If you never hear from me again, please inform the coroner that it was the milk that did me in.

Now that they've gotten older, I am very fortunate that my cats sleep through the night. They crash downstairs around 7:30-8:00, then follow me up to my room when I retire for the evening. If I turn off the lights to go to sleep, they'll climb on the bed with me. If I leave lights on and work in bed, they'll climb into the kitty beds at the foot of my bed and fall asleep there.

Sounds great, right? Except when I have to get up and pee in the middle of the night. Jake and Jenny think this means I want to play. So when I go back to bed instead of playing with them, they are very, very unhappy I woke them up for nothing.

If you never hear from me again, please notify the police I was eaten by my cats.

Amazon's "Echo" device (called "Alexa") is tied in with my home automation system and controls everything. I can't remember the last time I physically touched a light switch in my home... I just ask Alexa to turn on/off the light I need. At first it was only when I had my hands full. But then... well...

The coolest thing about Alexa is that she can activate "scene" controls and perform numerous functions with a single command. For example... when I say "Alexa, Turn on Night Mode", the following happens:

  • Kitchen lights off.
  • Sink light off, leave porch lights on (all come on automatically at sunset).
  • Dining table lights dimmed to 10% (for the cats)
  • Living room lights dimmed to 25%
  • Thermostat down to 68 degrees.
  • Runner lights on.
  • Cat water fountain turns off.
  • Motion sensors turn on.

That kind of thing.

It's absolutely awesome, and I love having Alexa around. She's become so ingrained in my life that when the internet goes down (which Alexa requires to operate) I kind of forget how everything works. When you never use light switches, your head kind of fogs over what to do when you want the lights on. It takes me a minute. In another couple of years, I probably won't even know where my light switches are.

If you never hear from me again, it's either because I'm trapped in the dark in my house... or trapped on the toilet screaming for Alexa to wipe my ass because she does everything else around here and I've forgotten how. Please call 9-1-1.

The mindsets of foreign countries... particularly those in Asia... are radically different from ours. Relations between nations there can be based on cultural differences few Westerners could possibly understand... or on events that happened hundreds of years before the USA even existed. To not understand these circumstances when building foreign policy is to invite disaster. Even the slightest misstep can set events into motion which could have catastrophic consequences. Because of this, it is beyond critical that our leaders be well-advised by people deep into foreign mindsets before making even the smallest decision.

Unless you are President-Elect Trump. Then you just do whatever the fuck you want, no matter how idiotic or dangerous the consequences.

India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. They are also blood enemies. Keeping them from unleashing mass destruction upon each other is a balancing act that has the entire world on edge. So when Trump has a terrifyingly ill-advised phone call with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as if he's running Pakistan when, in fact, it's the military that is actually in control of the country... you can see how this could cause a frightening shift in the structure of Pakistan, which could ultimately lead to problems with India. You do not want that.

Then you have Trump accepting a call from the president of Taiwan... which is tantamount to the United States officially recognizing Taiwan's independence from China... which is something that will send China through the fucking roof. This one phone call could set into motion events that have China taking military action against Taiwan in order to make it clear they consider Taiwan to be a part of China. Not to mention making The United States an enemy of China. Which, needless to say, is also a nuclear power. All because Trump wants to build a hotel in Taiwan (or whatever), and he has no fucking clue what in the hell he is doing.

Trump's actions are rushing nuclear powers to conflict in a way he'll never comprehend, and he's not even in office yet.

Can you imagine what happens when he's actually president?

Trump doesn't seem to want to listen to anybody. He acts like a petulant child. He doesn't seem to give a shit what the consequences are for his actions. He is willfully ignorant when it comes to foreign relations and is seriously clueless as to how critical it is not to be making the mistakes he's been making. He is very obviously putting his personal interests ahead of this country. He is inflaming foreign nations with nuclear weapons.

We are all fucked.

And I'm not saying that to be funny or dramatic.

If you never hear from earth again, it's because President Trump destroyed the planet. Please tell any alien life with time travel capabilities to go back into the past and abort this abomination before he's even born.

   

Nothing, and All That It Entails

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016

Dave!I don't know that I got sick, per se... but the effects of all day travel just to go through all day work and then cap it off with another bout of all day travel has taken its toll.

This morning when I got to work I had trouble sitting at my desk. It always felt like I was about to fall over. So I caught up as best I could then ran home to sleep. But couldn't actually get to sleep, of course. That would be too easy.

Welcome to my day of doing nothing.

When I've so much to get done that doing nothing is the worst thing I could possibly do.

Great news for the cats though.

Jenny loves playing fetch. She'll grab a toy (her favorite being Pink Mouse) and drop it on me so I'll toss it out. Then she'll go pounce on it with all the fierceness she can muster and bring it right back...

Jenny Fetch

After about 20 minutes I accidentally threw Pink Mouse under the entertainment center where she couldn't get to it. I thought I was too lazy to go get it, but then Jenny started knawing on my wallet...

Jenny Fetch

Message received.

So I drag myself off the couch, move the furniture, retrieve Pink Mouse, put the furniture back, then give the toy back to Jenny...

Jenny Fetch

Who promptly falls asleep...

Jenny Fetch

Which is exactly what I've been wanting to do all along, the pooper.

Huh. Just noticed something.

Jenny spends a lot of time out in the catio where it's cold... and look at how fluffy her coat is getting! Now I just need to train her to fall asleep across my feet at night.

And, my day of nothing continues...

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From Lessons Unlearned

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2016

Dave!This morning I woke up in a coughing fit so severe that something... snapped?... inside of me and now I'm in horrible pain. Probably just pulled a muscle, but it feels as though I've been stabbed. Getting old sure does suck.

Something else that sucks?

A bunch of stupid fucking bigots are looking to pass anti-transgender "bathroom bill" legislation here in Washington State.

Putting aside the horrendous discrimination that's driving this bill, did none of the assholes who dreamt up this shit learn anything from what happened to North Carolina when they passed a similar bill? Apparently not.

Look, I don't know what kind of freaky shit that dumbass Representatives Taylor, Shea, McCaslin, Young, Klippert, Walsh, Haler, Short, Manweller, Hargrove, Pike, Holy, Rodne, and Buys do when they use the bathroom... but the vast majority of us just want to pee or take a shit, then (hopefully) wash our hands and get the fuck out. And the fact that transgender persons will be doing their business BEHIND A CLOSED STALL DOOR means that it doesn't really matter what the hell genitals they have. Unless you're some kind of pervert who will be looking under the stalls while people are using them... THEIR GENITALS DON'T AFFECT YOU! So pull your minds out of the gutter and stop dragging the rest of us into your fucked up shit.

In truth, I know precious few transgender persons. But when it comes the one I know best (and have talked about previously), I can't help but wonder what the hell she's going to do if this horrendous legislation passes. She may have been born with a penis, but you would not know that to look at her. All you see is A WOMAN, because that's who she is. If she were forced to use a men's bathroom, it would be a woman using a men's bathroom. And can you imagine how dangerous that is for her? Coming across some bigoted piece of trash in the wrong bathroom could end up with her beaten to death. All because she needs to pee.

You may not understand transgender people. You may not agree with who they are. But if you feel they need to die because they have to pee, you're a special kind of asshole. Obviously they are going to be using a stall, so you (or whomever you're concerned about) aren't going to be exposed to anything that might disturb your delicate sensibilities. Which means supporting this absurd legislation is nothing more than hating something for no good reason.

Which is not surprising. That's the way this country seems to work now-a-days.

What's doubly disappointing is that Representative Maureen Walsh, whom I've supported over the years because she's a progressive Republican who spoke so eloquently about marriage equality in my state, is one of the dumbasses supporting a bill THAT'S COMPLETE NONSENSE. Apparently she only gives a shit about equality when it affects her lesbian daughter. A pity she doesn't have a transgender child so she can "speak her heart and mind" and empathize what they go through...

Always amazed when state REPRESENTATIVES don't feel they have to REPRESENT all the people in their care.

You can learn more about how your tax dollars are being used to discriminate against your fellow citizens at Washington Won't Discriminate.

   

Dave16

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

I suppose I should preface this year's entry with a disclaimer that 2016 was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. The reasons are personal and I can't go into them here, so you'll just have to trust me. Suffice to say that any other year where I thought I was having a bad year only goes to know that I had no clue what a "bad year" really was.

And now I do.

   


JANUARY

• Had something terrible happen, then went on a blog strike...

Dave On Strike!

   


FEBRUARY

• Had something terrible happen, then adopted my Jake and Jenny (two feral rescue kittens) in an attempt to cheer myself up. Pretty much the only awesome thing to happen all year...

Jenny & Jake

Kittens!

   

• Had something even more terrible happen, but having two amazing kitties to care for kept me from killing myself...

KITTENS!

KITTENS!

KITTENS!

   


MARCH

• Terrible continued to happen, so I bought a new camera and a new lens to distract myself from the shambles my life was quickly becoming...

Sony 90mm MACRO

Sony 90mm MACRO

   

• Had something terrible happen (I turned 50), but was strangely okay with it because: kittens...

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

   


APRIL

• Thought my life was improving, then had something terrible happen, then decided to remodel my guest room so I wouldn't keep dwelling on just how gut-wrenchingly awful things were...

Guest Room Remodel Project

It was a big job, but I had plenty of help...

Guest Room Remodel Project

   


MAY

• Didn't think things could possibly get worse, but then something terrible happened when an eye infection I got years ago in Costa Rica came back to haunt me...

Dave Eyes

Don't worry, I had round-the-clock care...

Jake Kitty Hugs

   

• Things went from terrible to tragic, so I bought another camera lens to distract me from the new level of hell I was consigned to...

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8

   

• Hit rock bottom, but was able to hang on when my kitten's foster parents paid a visit and shared some early photos of my reason for living...

Baby Kitties

The third kitty was a brother who was adopted before I arrived or I would have adopted all three of them.

   


JUNE

• Made it three days into June before my blog broke down. Then something beyond terrible happened and I had to take the rest of the month off from blogging to recover.

   


JULY

• In an effort to escape from my terrible life while I could still function, I went to New Orleans for a concert.

• The trip to New Orleans was nice, but it didn't make my life any better. Something newly terrible happened when I returned and I decided to take a blogging sabbatical because there was nothing left to say.

   


AUGUST

• Still on sabbatical. Continuing to explore new levels of terrible.

   


SEPTEMBER

• Still on sabbatical. What was left of my world fell apart when the worst day of my entire life came and went.

• Found myself longing for the good ol' days when my life was merely "terrible" and spent the second half of September wanting to die.

   


OCTOBER

• Still on sabbatical. Spent the month of October trying to find a new "normal" that I could cling to so I could escape the demons that returned after a 25 year hiatus.

   


NOVEMBER

• Returned to blogging as a way of clawing my way out of The Pit of Despair for the second time in my life.

• Caught everybody up on the past five months. Starting with my cats, who were my reason for living while absolutely everything in my universe was going to shit...

Jake!

Jenny!

   

• Told everybody about building a catio back in September, which allows my kitties to go outside safely...

Catio Building

Catio Building

   

• Started rethinking not killing myself when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America. Ran through the Worst Case Scenario becoming reality.

   

• Took a much needed trip to San Francisco so I could hang out with one of my bestest friends, who happens to be a rock star...

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.

   

• Got Tattoo No. 7...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

   


DECEMBER

We are all fucked.

• No, seriously, we are totally and completely fucked.

Went to Maine for work.

Cold in Portland, Maine

   


And there you have it, the worst year of my life. I still don't know how I survived it (but I'm guessing it was the cats).

I'd say that I'm hopeful for a better 2017, since things couldn't possibly get worse than this... but we elected a total fucking lunatic to run the country, so there's no such guarantee.

Best of luck, everybody.

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