There's hope for 2017, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Love! The reason I managed to get through 2016 was because I have a lot of internet friends holding my virtual hand. People can diminish online friendships all they want, but the people on the other end of the screen matter to me, and the importance of those relationships cannot be understated. There were days that they were all I had, and I'll always be grateful. As we head into 2017, I'm guessing a lot of people are going to be relying on an online community to get through. Here in the US we essentially elected a license to hate and, though hate is nothing new, there are already signs that it is escalating to a frightening degree. Maybe it's because of how you worship. Maybe it's because your skin color. Maybe it's because of your sex. Maybe it's because of who you love. Maybe it's because of where you live. Maybe it's because of how much money you have... or, more likely, don't have. People can be horrible to each other, and choosing to be kind in the face of that is going to mean the world to somebody out there. Keeping that in mind as you interact online in the coming days is vital. I'll be paying it forward by trying my best.
• Help! All that being said, if you're in the US, need help, and can't find the support you need, there are places you can call free of charge...
Get the support you deserve. There are fellow humans wanting to help.
• Inspiration! Here's Simon Sinek on why good leaders make us feel safe...
We can all be good leaders for each other.
• Sleeping! How Jake Sleeps...
Meanwhile... I can be laying in the most comfortable bed on planet earth and still not be able to sleep.
• Roast! The late Carrie Fisher was damn funny on top of being talented, beautiful, and brilliant. This video of her roasting George Lucas has been making the rounds is undeniable proof of all of it...
And here she is on Harrison Ford...
Miss you, Carrie.
• New THRICE! Hey... did you know that the latest issue of THRICE Fiction has been released? And did you know that you can download the issue for FREE? If you didn't, now you do! If you did and didn't believe it, I'm here to tell you it's all true! Head over the ThriceFiction.com and grab it!
• More Simon! I catch shit every time I mention how tough it is to hire from the crop of Millennials that have permeated the work force. Every time I'm told "The generation before us complained about us, the generation before them complained about them... it goes on and on, and dumping on Millennials is just continuing a tradition." Which is probably true... but when it comes to THE ACTUAL WORK... to interacting with people to complete a task... Millennials can pose problems unlike anything else that's come before. Simon Sinek has completely nailed it in this video, which is so worth your valuable time to watch...
What's interesting to me is how NON-Millennials are adopting the habits of Millennials which Sinek is discussing. Particularly when it comes to mobile phones. Nobody will put away their phones for five fucking minutes anymore, no matter what their age, and we're all losing because of it. That goes for performing in the workplace... and double for maintaining healthy friendships. My only resolution for 2017 is to pay more attention to the people in front of me.
And... that's the last of the first bullets of 2017! Be safe and be kind, everybody.
IF YOU READ ONE THING IN MY BLOG THIS YEAR, LET IT BE THIS ENTRY!
A video is making the rounds that you need to see if you have furniture in your home...
Horrible. That kiddo is lucky he didn't end up severely hurt or dead.
Furniture topples like this are a very common problem. It's so common that IKEA has an awareness campaign about it. And it's not just kids getting squashed by unsecured furniture... it's pets and adults as well. When I bought my new IKEA furniture, every dresser and shelf unit came with an anchoring kit and instructions to get others for FREE if you had older IKEA furniture that didn't come with a kit. For any non-IKEA furniture, anchoring kits are available at many hardware stores for a nominal fee.
I took them seriously and secured every unit in my home. I do not want a curious kitty getting squished!
And if you're thinking "Well, yeah... of course cheap, lightweight IKEA crap is going to fall over... I bought real furniture so that won't happen to me!" then you need to know you're wrong. Enough weight in a drawer (like a child!) can tip any unit... because leverage. In fact, heavy furniture is just more weight to land on somebody and cause more damage. And if you live in an earthquake zone, then you should know that your unsecured furniture could be toppled by even mild tremors... regardless of how heavy it is.
So... if you're into New Year resolutions, make one to secure your furniture so this doesn't happen to you... your kid... your pets... or anybody who enters your home!
Be safe, everybody!
Many years ago (I'm thinking 1998), while I was at a Star Trek convention (yes, I know)... they had a roundup of Trek news you had to sit through before William Shatner (or whomever it was) took the stage. The guy that was reading the news was kind of an asshole, but the internet wasn't what it is now*, so this is how you got the TV gossip of the day. Eventually the guy started talking about the upcoming new series... Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He then announced that Michelle Forbes, who played Ensign Ro on Star Trek: The Next Generation, had declined to be a part of DS9. This was kind of shocking to hear, because Ensign Ro was Bajoran and the space station was next to Bajor. Ro was, presumably, the lynchpin of the series.
And that's when the news guy said "Big mistake, Michelle. Big mistake. Deep Space Nine is going to be huge. And you missed out."
I remember sitting in the audience thinking "How the fuck does he know Michelle Forbes was making a mistake? Maybe playing the same character over and over isn't something she wants to do. Maybe she found something she enjoys more than acting? Did you even think to ask Forbes why she decided not to join the show?"
But of course they didn't. Creation (the company behind the conventions) made their bread and butter off of Star Trek, so it was easier to just blindly bash anything that was a threat to their cash cow. Michele Forbes had turned her back on Trek, so Creation was turning their back on her.
At least until she agreed to speak at one of their conventions, I'm assuming.
I was reminded of all this after I fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and ran across this response from an interview with... Michelle Forbes...
"There were all sorts of rumors about why I didn't take [the DS9 role] and that I was quite arrogant about the whole thing. It wasn't that at all. It was, again, about wanting variety in my career. If I'd gone on to do DS9, I might not have had the variety I've been lucky to have in my career. That's not to say I wasn't grateful for the opportunity; I genuinely was. However, I had to make a choice that felt right for me, which was a difficult one, especially as a young actor being offered a steady job."
So... what people saw as a massive mistake doesn't sound like it turned out to be much of a mistake at all.
Sometimes the easy and obvious road isn't always the best journey to take.
Which is quite the important life lesson.
*Yeah, that's putting it mildly. This is what the internet was like in 1998...
Yesterday afternoon we had freezing rain.
Yesterday evening I had water pouring down from my kitchen ceiling.
I knew it most likely wasn't the roof. It's been inspected three times in four years as a part of people moving into the condos. All three times we were told it's in great shape. And so my guess was that the freezing rain was pooling in a valley on my roof, getting trapped behind some ice, then flowing back up under the shingles. These condos are some of those modern-looking structures with complex and idiotic roof designs that encourages this kind of thing... despite the fact that we're living in an area with harsh winters where simple roof designs are far smarter.
This morning I thought I'd head up into the crawlspace and see what the damage was. But, not surprisingly, the complex and idiotic roof design means that it's impossible to get anywhere near my kitchen. There's a construction plane completely blocking it off.
So my only option was to remove the recessed lighting can in my kitchen so I could investigate that way. And while it's not easy trying to access an entire ceiling through little holes, I did manage to clean out the water that had pooled there and find out it wasn't too bad. The only thing I have to worry about is mildew and mold forming, so I've elevated the insulation with slats to help things dry out.
If that doesn't work, I'll have to pull the insulation out.
If that doesn't work, I'll have to hire somebody to cut out my kitchen ceiling and repair things that way.
I'm trying to think of just how much is left that could possibly go wrong with my house where I've lived just under a year. The obvious answer is the HVAC furnace/air conditioning... but something tells me it will be something more subtle than that. I've already had two electrician calls... but maybe third time's a charm? I've already had two plumber calls, so ditto for that. Hot water heater, perhaps? I dunno. Last year I had to come up with $2000 for the HOA's stucco repairs, this year it's $2500 for paint. Next year it will probably be thousands more for a roof.
In the meanwhile I guess I need to buy some heating cables so that I'm not up on a ladder in the middle of the night chipping ice off the roof. On the bright side, at least I was smart enough to buy myself a ladder for just such an occasion.
Welcome to home ownership.
Bring your wallet.
Today was a horrific day for the country in so many ways. I cannot fathom what it's going to be like after four years.
As if that weren't bad enough, I woke up to an idiopathic angioedema attack (which causes random swelling of random places like my tongue, throat, face, hands, or feet). Fortunately, it was just my right foot this time, which is painful and inconvenient... but not life-threatening like other areas can be. I took one of my massive antihistamine pills and hung out until I could put on shoes, then went to work knowing that it wouldn't last. Angioedema fatigue on top of antihistamines is a recipe for falling asleep at your desk.
I expected to head home at noon, but lasted until 2:30. Go me.
After napping for a few hours, I awoke to find that my foot had ballooned back up. So much for some desperately-needed vacuuming.
Which was okay with the cats. Especially Jake, who snuggled up to watch YouTube cat videos for a couple hours...
He can't get enough of those "funniest cats" compilations.
Jake has always been the more affectionate cat... but he's really been ramping it up this past week. He's crawling around my legs whenever I'm standing still. And he's all over me the minute I sit down. I don't know what it's all about, but I don't mind the company. Jenny still likes to sleep next to me on my bed and cry for the occasional cuddle. I guess that's enough for her.
And now... time to take another massive antihistamine pill and hope that something else doesn't decide to go all angioedema on me in the middle of the night. Especially not my tongue or throat... for which I keep an Epi-Pen on my nightstand, just in case.
Though waking up alive in America ain't what it used to be, so who knows if I'll actually bother to reach for it.
I've been thinking a lot about existentialism and the authenticity of self as it defines the dread of existence lately.
Not sure why.
Might have something to do with it being Monday.
Or the fact that a neighbor decided to try and plow the street after last night' snow instead of waiting for the city to take care of it, and now there's a massive pile of snow in the street in front of my house.
That might be it.
What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you on a Tuesday?
Getting your taco fixin's together for Taco Tuesday and finding out that the cats put the taco shell box back into the cupboard EMPTY so you have no idea that you're out of taco shells and Taco Tuesday is CANCELED!
Taco salad it is then.
And so we're in the middle of yet another winter storm warning.
It's strange. I haven't seen this kind of snow in a long time, and yet... it's still not what it used to be. When I was a kid, we could literally tunnel under it from yard to yard. When my mom was a kid, she could jump off the roof into it. And yet... still a lot of snow.
The pile of snow in my yard is massive. Over five feet tall now. Not all of it is from my driveway though. The neighbors apparently think that all the snow on the street should be piled up in my yard as well. Here's what it looked like on Monday...
There's probably been a foot more snow since then. Here's the view out my kitchen window...
The cats love it though.
When it's snowing heavy, they're out in the catio batting at the snowflakes as they fall. When the snow spills in through the fence, Jake likes to lick it like a snowcone.
Tomorrow an ice storm is forecast, which is terrific news for driving on already-hazardous roads.
When I came home from work this evening, the streets in my neighborhood had not been plowed. Which means you have to go slow and work your way through. What you don't want to do is stop, because then you run the risk of getting stuck and not being able to start again.
Usually this is no problem. But when I turned onto the street that leads to my street, a woman was out shoveling with her dogs. Dogs that decided to run in front of my car. Needless to say, I was pissed. Control your fucking animals. I slowed down as much as I dared in an effort to work my way around the idiots, and nearly got stuck twice.
So when I turned onto my street and saw another dog out, I decided I wasn't stopping. I was going slow enough that the fucker could just get out of my way. Except he didn't, which led to me laying on the horn and nearly getting stuck again.
Why in the hell do people get a dog and not fence them up or keep them inside so they don't get hurt?
If this happens again and I end up getting stuck, I'm going to track down the owner and THEY can come shovel my car out of the street. I ain't doing it.
Welcome to my winter wonderland.
One of the benefits of living in a condo that has an HOA is that I don't have to worry about shoveling the driveway. I mean, I have to pay for it with my dues, of course... but there's no actual shoveling involved for me, so it's all good.
But what's even cooler than my shoveled driveway is what's at the end of it... my garage!
I've never had a garage before. I've never even had a carport. I've always been parking out in the elements, which makes for a miserable winter if there's an abundance of snow.
Like this year.
I mean, is there anything worse than getting up to go to work in the morning and having to clean a foot of snow off your car first?
But it's definitely in my top-ten of most hated things.
If only the HOA would come and clean all of the junk out of my garage so I wasn't ramming my car into a pile of crap every day, that would be great.
When my grandmother could no longer live on her own and was moved to the nursing home, I packed up all her photo albums and memorabilia and stashed them in my storage unit. After she died, I put off going through everything because I was in the middle of moving house. Once I was moved, all her stuff went into my garage where it sat for a year.
Every once in a while, I go grab a box and rummage through it. Tonight I decided to tackle one of "the big ones" since I didn't bring any work home with me. The box is a hodgepodge of stuff that ranges from the late 1800's to the early 1900's... all of it interesting.
And if there's one thing I can conclude after sifting through this stuff for five hours, it's that people back then were crazy-weird. I can only guess that it was the non-stop boredom of living in a pre-internet society that drove them to be that way.
And if I open up one more damn envelope filled with hair, I'll be joining them. So gross. I mean, what was the obsession with saving hair? There's hair from babies... hair from birthdays... hair from people who just died... hair, hair, and more hair.
And then there's the letters.
People wrote a lot of letters back then. And they were really creative about it. Take, for example, the letter from my great-great-great-whatever that she wrote from the hospital. It included a kind of poem...
The Horrors of the Bedpan
by Gayle Monroe
I wanted to use the toilet
The nurses don't agree.
They say I use the "bedpan"
That thing's so cold on me.
I ring and ring the buzzer
I say I have to go.
Out comes the old cold bedpan,
I think, again? Oh no!
I sit and strain for hours
and then to my despair,
I think relief is coming,
but tis just a gust of air.
I grunt 'n' groan 'n' suffer
and then with an awful jerk
I let loose with a mighty stream
right over the end I squirt.
I ring again the buzzer
and then with an auful stink,
She wisked away my bedpan
and dumps it down the sink.
And then to my great horror
The job was just a stall
I backfired on a belch, Oh God!
It wasn't a belch at all.
I thought I'd clean it up
with the corner of my gown
That spot? It just got bigger,
A hideous glob of brown.
Most folks have their troubels
As you can by now see
A "slip" can be so treacherous
Just ask my cousin and me.
I mean, crazy-weird, right?
Where did the cousin come from at the end? Had she been there the entire time Gayle was in the hospital?
Maybe one of the other letters will explain it all. But probably not. It's crazier-weirder if it's a mystery.
After winter storms closed down the mountain passes, I honestly didn't know if they would be open for my drive over today. Fortunately, they were not just open... but in beautiful shape... which made for an uneventful journey for me...
Well... not really though. There was this car driving 45 in a 60mph zone, which had a lot of people pissed off. And since the jerk wouldn't pull over, cars were making dangerous passing gambits to get by. At one point the asshole behind me (fifth in line!) tried to pass, but then had to cut in front of me to avoid hitting a car. After slamming on the brakes so I wouldn't plow into him, I laid on the horn for entirely too long.
I can be an asshole too.
I've been getting up early each morning so I can catch up with the work that piled up while I was kicking' it in Disneyland. Even though I am not a "morning person," I seem to be most productive when I just wake up.
This morning I managed to make some huge headway... first while working in bed... then by moving down to the couch in the living room. When I got out of bed, Jake jumped up and took my spot. When I got off the couch to go into the office, he did it again...
Apparently he's taking advantage of my residual body heat, which is nothing new. When it's cold outside and he's been out in the catio, his first stop when he comes back inside is to glom off my body heat by lying across my lap... whether my MacBook laptop is there or not.
Jenny, on the other hand, seems to actually like chilly weather.
Today after opening the windows for the first time since winter started last year, she was all over it...
Never mind the pet door out to the catio that she's been using all winter... looking out a window is fun stuff!
As is looking down at me while work... silently judging me as cats are won't to do...
None too impressed, is she?
Honestly, I think that's her natural state.
She is a cat, after all.
In case you missed it, I took my cats to the vet for their one-year check-up last month.
Not that I wanted to, mind you, but it is required by Washington State law that your cats have current rabies vaccinations. And it is required by my pet insurance that they get an annual checkup. And I wanted to make sure that they got any other vaccinations that are recommended for cats to have so they stay healthy.
The whole ordeal was a traumatic experience for all three of us.
But mostly for me, and I was thankful that I could wait an entire year before having to go through all that again.
And then I get THIS emailed to me this morning...
After shitting my pants at the prospect of having to take my cats back for another vaccination when I was just at the vet less than a month ago... I called up to find out why in the hell Jenny didn't get this shot already.
Turns out that she did, it's just that the way they have to bill vaccinations sometimes causes erroneous emails to go out. I actually don't have to go back (knock wood) until 2018.
Pants shitting aside, all's well that ends well.
Adopting Jake and Jenny have me contemplating a lot of "What If?" scenarios.
The biggest "What If?" being... What if I hadn't adopted them? What would have happened? I came very close to not getting them because I didn't understand the rules at the Humane Society. If it wasn't me, I'm sure somebody would have adopted the kittens... they were tiny and adorable after all. But they likely would not have been adopted together, and I have a mild panic attack at the thought of Jenny having been separated from her brother at the beginning. Now she would do fine. But, as a kitten, she took a lot longer to come around. The only thing that helped keep her from being terrified for months was that she had her brother to lean on.
Another "What If?" that plagues me is... What if I had gotten to adopt Jake and Jenny's brother? I certainly wanted to once I learned there were three siblings. But somebody had "reserved" the third kitten, which was something I didn't even know was allowed...
The only thing I do know is that his name would have been Roger. The name I wanted to give Jenny before my mom forbid it.
Ultimately, two cats is what I wanted, and I do think that a third would have added some difficulty with my travel. Litter Robot would need to be emptied faster, so I couldn't be gone as long. Feeding would also be more complicated. So... all's well that ends well. At least I hope that's true for Could-Have-Been-Roger.
Jenny has become addicted to television. Every night she waits for me to head upstairs, then runs ahead of me... excited that we get to watch TV in bed. And heaven help me if I don't turn it on fast enough! She will start meowing at the television until I do...
Once it's on, she'll have a seat...
And watch for an hour or more...
She likes shows with people talking the best. The West Wing is a favorite. She does not like action-packed shows very much. The noise and fast camera swaps seems to be a turn-off.
If it's too late... or I am concentrating on work and don't want the TV on... Jenny will sit and stare at me with a disapproving look on her face if I ignore her meowing...
When that doesn't work, she throws herself down and pouts...
Other than TV time in bed, Jenny doesn't hang out with me very often. Could be because Jake has been really clingy lately. He's on me in the morning before I go to work. Taking a nap while Jenny hauls up her morning tributes...
And on me in the evening when I get home from work...
Covered in cats from sunrise to sunset.
There are worse ways to spend a day.
You say it's your birthday?
It's my birthday too!
Ordinarily I'd be celebrating another having survived another year above ground, but things have been going sideways since I got back from Vegas, so now I'm starting to wonder if I'd be better off six feet under.
I'll be there soon enough.
In the meanwhile? Vanilla bean ice cream.
Call me paranoid, but home security is something that I take very seriously. In addition to having electronic door locks, motion sensors, breakage sensors, trip sensors, and three sets of security cameras, I've got a very cool system that ties it all together with a redundant processor and independent power supply.
One set of cameras has battery backup and records to a secure local location. That way, if the power gets cut or the internet is down, I still have recordings of everything that goes on. The other two sets of cameras record to separate locations in "The Cloud" and are far more fun. The NestCams are my favorite, having really good optics and the best-of-class online storage. I pay for the 10-day option... which is more than I need, but the least you can get... which does have the side-benefit of browsing backwards in time.
This morning as I left for work I noticed that the snow had completely melted from my yard, and made a GIF from snapshots of the past ten days...
Pretty amazing given that this shot of my yard was taken on February 8th where the snow was over 6-feet tall and piled out into the street...
Now that the snow has gone, I'm excited to turn my garage into a wood shop once again. In addition to building Catio Phase Two, making my own cat furniture to replace the carpeted monstrosities I have now, and building new kitchen cabinet doors... I also want to rebuild my closet to make use of every bit of available space. I can't believe how inefficient stock closets are. It's like they are built to intentionally waste space and be as inconvenient as possible.
I'm finding a lot of ideas online, but what I really need is a "Pimp My Closet" show on HGTV. Closets are some serious business, yo.
That cat I planted has finally sprouted!
Guess that means Spring is finally here...
Last year was tough. This year looks to be more of the same, but for different reasons.
And more of the same reasons. Of course.
A wise person would probably put some effort into diffusing that which was assaulting them, but I'm too damn tired. Far easier to just try not thinking about it and go on with life...
So here's to life.
Such as it is.
And so I've finally converted my garage to a woodworking shop for the season.
Now it's just a matter of working through the projects on my list for 2017...
How many projects I get through depends on how much time I can scrape together over the summer.
But I'm starting now.
Originally, my guest room was upstairs next to my bedroom. Eventually I decided to move the guest room downstairs so that everybody has a bit more privacy. This left me with an empty room that I decided to turn into an office.
And so I moved a desk and some shelving into the spare room and all was good.
Except the cats decided that they wanted the room. Anything I put in there was immediately thrown on the floor and shredded.
I finally got the message and removed my office stuff. Then I tossed in a litter box, some toys, and a couple cat tunnels. The cats wasted no time taking it over. They have their own play room now and they love it.
And while I usually work from the couch so I can watch television, every once in a while I still need a desk to work at. And so I dug out the laminated slab from my garage that used to be at the head of my stairs... extended it... re-covered it in leftover wood from my floors... then bolted it to the walls.
Voilà... my beautiful new desk...
I then built a roly cart for my laser printer since I didn't have room for it on the desktop.
Needless to say, Jake and Jenny wasted no time taking over my new office space. Just like they have every other space in the house.
Back in the early days of personal computing, the World Wide Web didn't exist. Even after it was invented it took a while before it was in wide use, and even longer before it had the ungodly amount of stuff available as we know it today.
So when you were a computer hobbyist in the 1980's like I was, most of your information about what was new and cool in the world of computers came from hanging out at your local computer shop or, more likely... magazines.
As a computer fanatic, I subscribed to a lot of magazines. I started out as an "Atari" guy, which meant my primary source for news, information, education, and such came from ANALOG and Antic magazines. After a while STart and ST-LOG were added. I also subscribed to more "generic" magazines like COMPUTE!, Creative Computing, and Computer Shopper.
These magazines were also the way that companies advertised their products.
Most of the time there was more information available than what could effectively be presented in an ad, so there was a note at the bottom which said something like "For more information, circle 117 on reader service card."...
You'd then hunt down a postcard in the middle of the magazine with numbers all over it so you could circle all the products you were interested in and fill up your mailbox with even more computer-related crap...
There were days that my family's mailbox was so packed with magazines and literature I had requested that I had to take a box to carry it all. I'd then spend the rest of my day looking through info on all the crap my heart desired... that I could never afford.
Now, of course, most of my computer news comes from computer news websites and product information on anything I could possibly be interested in is just a click away.
Convenient, sure... but not nearly as much fun.
Keeping this in mind, let's revisit that ad scan I posted above...
It's a company advertising a custom printer-driver so that you can access printer features from within Atari Writer (an Atari word processor). If you read the fine print, you'll note that you can't call in an order using a credit card. You have to send a check or money order to them, then they'll send the driver to you. You'll also note that there is no web address where you could go online to purchase and download the driver immediately. The World Wide Web didn't exist to make that possible.
Heck, email didn't even exist back then, so there was no way you could get the driver sent to you directly either. Not that early email systems made it easy to send attachments.
And yet... if you were into computers back in the 1980's, none of this was horrible. Back then, personal computing technology was a daily dose of actual magic, and getting stuff you ordered via the post office was an event on-par with Christmas morning.
Something I'm trying to remind myself now that my MacBook's GPU hardware is trashed, and it will have to be sent in... again... for repairs.
Welcome to 1982.
Which would be awful except my phone has a computer in it. That's today's equivalent of actual magic, and something I take for granted every time I look at it.
Which is pretty sad considering the phone I used as a kid was wired to the wall and came with a rotary dial you had to use to make a call.
The reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is not to buy a bunch of expensive crap.
If a billion dollars were to suddenly drop in my lap, I don't know that I would get a new house. Or even a new car. Living in a palace and driving a Ferrari just don't interest me. Neither does accumulating a lot of expensive crap. So long as I can afford a laptop, a nice camera, and an iPhone... I'm pretty much done.
No, the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is so I don't have to work and can spend the rest of my life traveling the world.
Not that I haven't found a way to travel the world now... but there are experiences that require time and money I will never have that haunt my travel dreams.
Take, for example, Tristan da Cunha
Located in the middle of nowhere in the South Atlantic, this small island is one of the most remote places on earth...
It's so remote that the only way to get there is by ship. Which takes six days.
Luckily, ships are making runs to Tristan da Cunha somewhat monthly out of Cape Town (though the dates of departure/return are not set in stone and can move depending on numerous factors). The return passenger fare is under $700 USD, which is a pretty decent price, all things considered. I would not count on luxury digs, however, as the two ships currently making the run are a fishing ship and a cargo ship.
And there's more!
Space on the two ships is limited. And non-resident tourist passengers have the lowest possible priority. If somebody is sick and needs to get off the island for medical reasons? You get bumped. If somebody on official island business needs to leave at the last minute? You get bumped. If somebody on the island decides they want to holiday in Cape Town? You get bumped. What this means is that you can schedule a trip to arrive at Tristan da Cunha on May 22nd then return to Cape Town on May 28th... and end up leaving on June 2nd and returning August 23rd (or longer!).
So to visit, not only do you need to have the time and money to sit around Cape Town waiting for a ship... you also have to have the time and money to sit around Tristan da Cunha waiting for a ship.
OR... you can try to book a cruise ship.
Apparently there are cruises that sail the South Atlantic from time to time. They run between Ushuaia (South America) and Cape Town (Africa). They last two weeks and cost over ten thousand dollars... so, again... time and money required.
OR... if you're a billionaire?
I'd imagine you could go wherever the hell you want. Charter an entire ship to get to/from Tristan da Cunha if you want to. The world is your oyster.
And that's the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy.
There was a meme going around Facebook a while back where people listed their favorite "stuff"... excluding essentials like food, shelter, eyeglasses, and such... as well as living beings like friends, family, and pets.
The first time I saw the meme, it was supposed to be "stuff" from when you were a kid. This would be an easy list to make, featuring things like comic books, video games, a bicycle, and the like. Then the meme came around again but this time it was for "stuff" as an adult, which seemed little more complex.
But not really. Here are my top ten...
Life is easier when you're not attached to physical stuff.
But everything on that list is stuff I'm glad to have in my life.
Did you know that yet another issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine will be debuting this month (hopefully)?
Well, it's true!
And while I don't want to give any of the awesome stories away, I thought I'd take a minute to share one of the art pieces I put together last night.
My favorite way of creating art to accompany a story is to draw, paint, or photograph something of my very own. But there are times that it's just not possible for what I'm trying to communicate. For one particular story in our next issue, I wanted to create a Bon Appetit magazine-style page. My vision was to have a kind of fried fish/prawn hybrid sitting on a plate in a Japanese restaurant... perhaps with a dollop of wasabi on the side. Being a vegetarian who hates seafood, the idea of putting fish parts in my deep-fat fryer filled me with horror, so I decided the best way to get what I wanted was to buy stock photos and assemble them into what I was envisioning.
And so I searched Adobe Stock for the pieces I needed...
Then downloaded preview images into Photoshop so I could see if they would fit together well...
Then, once I was happy with all the parts and pieces I found, I'd purchase the full-res photos and get to work. I had to combine three pieces of fried fish/prawns into one... add it to a plate with some wasabi and chopsticks... then paint in shadows to bring it all together and make it look "real-ish"...
And voilà! A fish-prawn thing is served!
To find out why it's served... you'll have to download the April issue of Thrice Fiction, coming soon!
I like to think that I am a fairly tolerant and accepting person.
What a shitty day to be me.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
And then I ended up with a flat tire on the way home from running some errands. It's kind of mind-boggling that out of 35 years of driving, this is my first flat tire. I've had to change plenty of tires for other people... but this is the first time for myself.
Fortunately my spare had enough air in it to get me home.
Guess what I get to do in the morning?
Fed the cats.
Took a shower and got dressed.
Drove over the mountains for an appointment.
Went to the appointment.
Had lunch at Qdoba.
Bought a trunk full of groceries at Trader Joes's.
Got distracted by the cats.
Watched television for an hour.
Remembered I had a trunk full of expensive frozen groceries that were melting.
Fed the cats.
Cooked a thawed frozen Trader Joe's pizza for dinner.
Developed an infinitely-scalable model for quantum theory that doesn't require an infinite number of models to be calculated.
Went to bed.
I'm so done with it all.
A while ago, I saw this amazing BuddhaCat statue at Pier One. I wanted it immediately so I could add it to my Buddha statue collection, but it was $40 and I couldn't justify the cost.
Then today I got a 25% Off coupon in a Pier One email and decided to run and get it... even though I still couldn't really afford it. But let's face it, the thing would look great on my new desk.
My desk is just across from a part of my collection, so BuddhaCat is right at home...
He's kind of big, but still fit easily behind the desk pad I got at IKEA on Friday...
The cats wasted absolutely no time investigating their new cat companion...
I must admit that I'll kind of miss having BuddhaCat as my co-pilot though...
So pretty in sunlight.
Okay then... just so long as I don't run into BuddhaKitten somewhere, I should remain financially stable through the end of the month.
Assuming I eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles until then, of course.
Home is a great place to be, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Spring Has Finally Sprung! When I got back yesterday, I noticed that the beautiful dogwood tree that the previous owner planted in the front yard was starting to bloom! I think my irises are also ready to pop, but they're a lot of work to keep pretty. The tree is beautiful from start to finish with no intervention from me...
I was worried that the heavy snow destroyed it because everybody else's trees went into bloom weeks ago. Good boy!
• Sense8 Season Two! When Netflix released the first season of Sense8 back in 2015, a collaboration between The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, I was not interested. With the exception of the original Matrix film and possibly
While I ended up liking the second season more than the first, there are serious problems that kept me from loving it. First of all... despite the large cast, they introduced even more characters. Some to disastrous effect. Take for example the trans character Nomi and her partner Amanita, a pair of hackers living in San Francisco. Easily two of the most unique and interesting characters on the show (if not television itself), but this season they are essentially shoved aside in favor of a new character called "Bug" that's not only annoying as fuck, he's also redundantly taking on hacking chores that should have stayed with Nomi and Neets. Like when Nomi had to dress in heels, but fell down and knocked herself unconscious, leaving "Bug" to save the day. Like HA HA HA HA! THE TRANS CHARACTER CAN'T WALK, so let's have a man step in and fix everything. What the actual fuck? But even worse is the mindless way they keep setting up fights and absurd situations so the characters can "mind bond." Sometimes it's what makes the show fantastic (let's face it, I could watch Doona Bae kick ass all day long) but other times it's just so badly manipulative and manufactured as to be laughable (Shades of Babylon 5, Batman!). The mind-bond scenes should be organic and come about naturally... like when Sun finally goes after her brother at the end in one of the best action sequences I've seen this year. But the absolute worst thing about Season 2 is the ending... which has a half-dozen cliffhangers. Everybody must be really confident that Netflix is going to shell out $100 million for season three. Because if they don't, a lot of people are going to be pissed at how pathetic an ending we got.
• Soda Pop! This right here is the idiotic crap that has people fed up with our elected officials: Diet drinks added to Seattle mayor’s soda-tax proposal, upping revenue estimates. And you have to ask yourself... is the dipshit Seattle mayor's plan all about saving us from obesity and (now) fighting white privilege? Or is it designed to distract people from the news that he fucked teen boys? Let's allow the media to decide! And when it comes out that the mayor is also addicted to cocaine? THEN A TAX ON YOUR COOKIES TOO, YOU LOWLIFE PLEEB! All I know is that when you have to start adding a tax to a bottle of Coke in order to raise revenue, you are probably SPENDING TOO MUCH FUCKING MONEY!
• Do It Yourself! Never did I think in my lifetime that my small-town local grocery store would get self-checkout, but here we are. I guess even Redneckistan is tired of dealing with people's shit...
Oh well. I guess it's only a matter of time before we're all replaced by a machine.
• Travel Day! Yeah... you won't convince me that John McCain is some kind of hero for being the lone GOP voice asking for investigation into the president's ties with Russia. Of course I respect his service to this country, but he's a MIA/POW betrayer and a pile of fucking garbage as a senator. He and bipartisan Democratic betrayer John Kerry are BOTH a pile of fucking garbage. So get all wet over McCain if you want to... I'll just be over here reminding myself of his dishonorable treatment of those brave soldiers who couldn't come home like he did because of his actions in preventing it...
Jesus, what an asshole.
• Please Call Me Back! Is it possible for a song to have some of the worst lyrics you've ever heard... and yet you can't get enough of it? This track by the band Rey Pila is unapologetically 80's in tone and construction, which is why I like it. And yet... holy crap are these some awful lyrics. Granted they are out of Mexico, so English probably isn't their first language, but still...
I am hopelessly in a love/hate relationship with their stuff that's been posted to YouTube. Though some of their songs are pure love...
All 80's all the time over at Rey Pila!
And game over. So long, Bullet Sunday...
This morning I woke up craving a Qdoba burrito.
But the nearest Qdoba is 2-1/2 hours away, which means there's no Qdoba for me unless I drive back over the mountains.
Just one of the many detriments of living in a small town.
Luckily I had stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home yesterday (something else we don't have here) but, as delicious as my Black Bean and Jack Cheese Burrito dinner was, it's just not the same.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Or the stomach.
And yet... sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.
When I was in high school I earned money for school clothes and computer games by working at the local dime store. There was a lovely older woman who would shop there from time to time, and I always hoped that she would write a check to pay for her purchases because she had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. Seriously. Tim Girvin has nothing on this woman. Her writing was elegant and flowing and ornate and wholly wonderful in a way that was a joy to look at. And watching her construct her amazing penmanship was a performance that I would have paid money to watch. She started moving her hand in graceful circles as a warm up before she even put pen to paper. She ended each word with a flourish. She signed her name with a series of motions that was tantamount to a dance. It always made my day to see it. Sometimes my week.
Last week I was reminded of this woman, but couldn't remember her name. Then I realized that everybody I could ask about her, including my grandmother, isn't here any more. As I slowly collapsed into a heap of depression, Alexa tells me it's time to go to work, so off I go.
When I get to work I related my tale of woe... only to have one of my coworkers immediately know of her. The woman whose name I was looking for was Abby Brender... a person as lovely as her handwriting.
Sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.
I've officially reached the "GET OFF OF MY LAWN!" period of my life.
And I know exactly the moment it happened. I was in Target looking for a new card game... I turned a corner... and BLAM! Hipster dolls from the "My Generation" collection!
Meet Sia. Sia says... "Science is the art of inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules and having fun doing it." Which is all well and good. But... damn... hipster chic...
Sia has a twin sister named Sabina, who wasn't available at the store I was in... but I looked her up online at the My Generation website. Turns out she's a fucking hipster too. But unlike her twinsie, Sabina is into art...
And while I'm sure this is a step up from the Bratz dolls that look like little whores, My Generation takes it up a notch by having awesome accessories! Including horses, an R.V., a malt shop, and... oh yeah... an ice cream truck...
Well... NOT over it.
All my Six Million Dollar Man doll had was a rocket ship that transformed into a "Bionic Repair Station." I feel so deprived. What I wouldn't have given to have Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman be able to go out for an ice cream cone between missions.
Hell, even The Bionic Woman doll had a "Bionic Beauty Salon" to hang out in. Did anybody ever stop to think if Steve Austin maybe wanted to feel pretty and have a spa day sometimes?
His body may have cost six million dollars to repair... but his feeling weren't worth a buck-oh-five.
This has not been a very good day.
Last weekend I thought I had a kidney stone, but the pain subsided and I counted my lucky stars that it was gone. Turns out it was a temporary reprieve. Last night I started having pain again, and it only got worse as the evening went on. By the time I woke up this morning, the pain was stabbing through my back so badly that it was hard to walk.
But I had to go in to work, so I took some pills, put on my tough-guy pants, then headed out the door.
Only to find that most of my irises, pretty as they are, had all collapsed under their own weight...
What a stupid flower. I guess bees still pollenate them when they're on the ground, because otherwise I'm guessing they would be extinct. I suppose if they are still alive when I'm feeling better, I'll have to tie them up like last year. Still, those plants that manage to stay upright are as pretty as ever...
I anticipated that work would be agony, but it actually managed to take my mind off of things... for a while.
By the time noon rolled around I was D-O-N-E.
And so I went back home, took more pills, then had to spend some quality time with Jenny, who was upset with me for leaving her today in the first place. I'm guessing that shedding her winter coat is an itchy process, because she wants to be scratched all the time... and will start crying if you don't comply...
Eventually I managed to disengage so I could go upstairs where I planned to die in bed. It was a good plan... until Jake decided it was his turn for attention. Or maybe he was playing nurse, it's hard to tell...
I streamed a couple episodes of West Wing off Netflix, then decided to listen to some music in the hopes I would fall asleep. But Apple's streaming services were shit, as usual, and I couldn't never get my music to load on my AppleTV...
I don't understand why Apple doesn't spend some of their billions of dollars solving a problem that none of their competitors seem to have. I can stream to AppleTV without problem every time I try from Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Amazon, Hulu, Youtube, and the like... but Apple's streaming rarely manages to work without some kind of issue. If I can get it to work at all. Maybe Apple needs to hire other people to develop their shit since they seem incapable of doing it themselves. When I pay for stuff in the iTunes Store, I expect to be able to have access to it.
Today the heat got up to 86 degrees here, but I never had to turn on the air conditioner... even though I noticed many of my neighbors had. I'm chalking that up to my having installed a ceiling fan in my bedroom, which worked so fantastic for me last year. Such an energy-saver. I wish I had the fixtures in place so I could put them in every room of my house.
And now? Time for more pills and sleep. Fingers crossed. Really hoping that everything works itself out soon, because I can't keep missing work with all the stuff I have to do there.
Much as my cats would probably hope otherwise.
Even through the pain-medication-induced haze I was mired in, sleep last night was fitful.
Around 4:30am the pain medication wore off, so I reluctantly downed another pill in the hopes that I might get a bit more rest before having to go to work. Unfortunately, my body was not having it. Sleep is pretty much impossible when you can't get comfortable, and I was about as uncomfortable as I could be.
And so I turned on Netflix with the plan of distracting myself to sleep as the medication hit. The first thing I see? Hasan Minhaj has a comedy special out called Homecoming King. I love the guy on The Daily Show... really love the guy for his work at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner... and thought it was worth a shot.
It ended up being one of the best things I've seen...
Seriously. If you are a Netflix subscriber, stop reading this and go watch it. If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then start your free trial and watch it. If you have already burned your free trial, then bite the bullet and pay the $8 to watch. Because Homecoming King is everything you could want in a comedy show... funny, smart, painful, charming, hopeful, devastating, educational, sad, witty, and beautiful.
But mostly funny. Which was the vacation I needed right now.
Because the minute I turned off the TV and checked into The World... I saw coverages of the bombing in Manchester and that Roger Moore had died.
I've run out words when it comes to news of yet another terrorist attack. Except to say that I can't fathom the hatred that fuels somebody to bomb a venue that was filled with kids. It's a horrific act that has me wondering if this planet is quickly getting to a point that it's beyond saving. That any of us... even a terrorist... can do something like this... the case for humanity's continuing existence just gets weaker and weaker.
And then there's 007.
They say that the James Bond you like best is the one you grew up with. For me, that was Roger Moore.
Not that I knew anything about James Bond when I was a kid.
But then come 1977, Star Wars was unleashed on my 11-year-old brain. Needless to say I became completely obsessed, and was so hungry for more sci-fi space opera that I was tuning into anything that even hinted Star Wars. Including the James Bond film Moonraker in 1979. Which sealed my fate as a huge James Bod fan as well...
Yes, yes, I know Moonraker is not rated very highly in the Bond canon, but I loved it. I still do. I loved it so much that when VHS rentals were ushered in with the 1980's, my family would rent that giant VHS player so I could see all the Bond movies I had missed. Which, for me were Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. I never much cared to see the Sean Connery films because Roger Moore was the Bond I knew.
Then we got more Moore with For Your Eyes Only (still one of my favorites!), Octopussy (not one of my favorites), and finally A View to a Kill (with the incomparable Grace Jones and a made-for-Bond-villain Christopher Walken!). And while I eventually grew to love Sean Connery's films... enjoy Pierce Brosnan's films... and rekindle my love of the ultimate spy when James Bond was reimagined for a modern world with Daniel Craig... Roger Moore will always be the James Bond to me. Say what you will about his take on the character, it was always entertaining.
Not that Roger Moore defined himself by the character he played. He spent decades working with UNICEF and other children charities. He also used his celebrity to fight against animal cruelty, and is credited with getting foie gras removed from British store shelves (a food born out of horrendously inhumane treatment of ducks and geese).
Sir Roger Moore, you will be missed.
When I bought my home, I noted how all the heat in the place is constantly rising to the upstairs. Doesn't matter if it's natural heat in July and August... or furnace heat in December and January... it's all the same. Downstairs cool. Upstairs hot.
And since I put my bedroom and office cat's playroom upstairs, those rooms can get uncomfortably warm. So I took a cue from places like New Orleans and Maui and installed ceiling fans...
They. Are. Wonderful.
And since they are controllable from my home automation system, the fans can be controlled remotely. No need to get out of bed to turn them on/off or change the speed. I can do all that from the iPhone on my nightstand. Or by saying "Alexa, set David's fan to medium."
What I really need to do is get a temperature sensor and have everything programmed to happen automatically! The fan speed could be determined by detected temperature ranges. That way air could be circulating as needed, even when I'm not home.
The best thing about ceiling fans is that I don't have to run the air conditioner as often. Especially at night when I'm in bed and the fan is above me. This saves a crazy amount of electricity... and if I were able to install them in the downstairs living room and guest bedroom, I could probably get away with no air conditioning at all. Alas, the recessed lighting cans I need to install from are in all the wrong places, so... no joy there.
A summer project I've been bouncing around in my head is to install a ceiling fan in the stairwell. That way I could have it running in the winter to keep the heat downstairs where it belongs. Or so I'm guessing. Air flow thermodynamics are not something I pretend to understand.
And now for my metaphorical explanation of kidney stones from 2009...
Let's say that you built a new greenhouse where the plants require special water. Highly filtered water, you might say. So you build a nice system where dual filtration units remove all the impurities, then pass the filtered water off into a bucket. The bucket in turn feeds a massive nozzle which you then use to spray your plants...
The key to comprehending this system is understanding just how massive the nozzle is. It's enormous. Firefighters are in awe of just how big it is. You could hose down an entire football field plus a team of cheerleaders in just five minutes (assuming you didn't want to take your time, of course)... because that's how astoundingly large this nozzle is.
Unfortunately, the tubing you bought to feed the system is way too small. It's also very soft, and easily ripped if anything sharp comes near it. It can also be prone to tearing if you force something too wide through it. And no, I don't know why. Maybe you spent all your money on the massive nozzle and didn't have enough left over to buy decent tubes... whatever... it's not important.
What IS important is that the nozzle is just fine. The nozzle works perfectly and can handle just about anything you throw at it. It's the tubing which is totally inadequate to the task here.
Because, oops! Every once in a while the filters let a particle slip through. This causes all kinds of agony, because those little tubes just aren't built to handle it. Eventually, it will most likely make its way through the system, but it's a painful process. The worst, most horrifying part is in the tubes leaving the filters and depositing into the bucket. These are the tubes least able to cope with the damage. You get something going through here and you become so traumatized that all you want to do is burn down the entire greenhouse.
The tube from the bucket to the massive nozzle is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as painful...
Blargh. Having a particle stuck here feels like you have a little razor blade about to run through your nozzle. It also makes you feel like your bucket is full all the time. So you spend your entire day running to the greenhouse even though your bucket is mostly empty. What time you don't spend at the greenhouse is spent in quiet discomfort, just waiting for the particle to finally exit your filtration system so you can get back to a normal gardening experience.
And I would really, really, like to get back to normal so I can start living my life without having to worry about the spikey rock headed down my massive penis nozzle.
Yesterday morning I woke up early. I was too uncomfortable to sleep, so I took Oxycodone to keep my kidney stone pain at bay... then decided cut my hair. In retrospect, that was a terrible decision, because my hair ended up all jacked up. Despite opiates coursing through my system, it hurt too much for me to attempt to fix it, so I just put on a Red Sox hat and let it go.
Probably would have been smarter to wait until I'm feeling better. But I've gotten pretty good at cutting my hair... and my grandfather was a barber... so experience and genetics were on my side.
Until they weren't.
I joked with friends that I look like the insane "Smoke You" neighbor of Korbin Dallas in The Fifth Element...
This morning I attempted to fix my hair. I was in surprisingly little pain, didn't have to take an Oxycodone, and felt in good enough shape to tackle my head.
I think I made things worse.
Apparently touch-ups are a more complicated matter than cutting your hair correctly the first time...
I haven't decided if I'm going to give it another go this weekend. I'm pretty sure I can fix it if I wet my head first next time. And, hey, I always have the option of buzz-cutting it, or coming up with something totally different, so there's that...
I should probably also look into making better life choices.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do a couple lines of cocaine and work on the electrical wiring in my bathroom.
I have a trans friend that I met while working at a job site. She's a kind, caring, hard-working person who just wants to be left to live her life the best she can. Needless to say, it hasn't always been easy for her. She puts up with abuse that would humble the strongest of us, and she endures it most every day... for no other reason than there are people who don't accept who she is and refuse to just let her exist in peace. It's been an incredibly difficult life, but she's managed to get through it all by being true to who she is.
I just found out today that she was assaulted while walking home back in March.
In addition to recovering from having been physically beaten, she has had to work through the psychological trauma that comes from being reminded in a very real way that there are people who want you dead... just because you are different from them. That can't be an easy recovery to make. I hope she can heal. I hope she can find her way back to the person I know. I hope she continues to find strength in herself and those of us who care about her. Because this world needs her. This world is a better place with her in it.
My friend has devoted countless hours to a charity who does nothing but make people's lives better. She has a big heart and she gives what she can of it. And this is how society repays her. What chance is there for humans as a species when this is how we treat the best of us? The most giving of us?
Not much of a chance at all.
I am not quite ready to say "Abandon all hope for humanity"... but whenever something like this happens, I inch closer to believing it.
And when that day comes? We'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.
It's the one part of having cats I could really do without.
Because, let me tell you, Jake and Jenny have really stepped it up a notch when it comes to the amount of cat hair that's blowing through my home. I vacuum and vacuum and dust and dust but there is still loads of the stuff in every possible nook and cranny.
Which is why my most favorite thing ever is now THE FURMINATOR!
It pulls dead hair off a cat like a magnet and, while it doesn't eliminate cat hair in my home completely, it has drastically reduced what I'm having to vacuum up.
At least it was... for Jenny, anyway. She used to love it, but now she's resisting it. I've had to go back to a "regular" cat brush. Not nearly as effective, but it's better than nothing. And she loves it...
You know it's good when she wants her belly brushed.
Every once in a while I will assault her with The Furminator because she so desperately needs it. Hopefully one day soon she'll be back to loving it again.
Maybe if I get her high on catnip before Furminating her? Jake isn't much affected by the stuff, but it makes Jenny go nuts...
If there's good news to be had in the shedding department, my cats spend most of the time out in the catio as of late. They are out there from sun-up to sun-down most days. The sights, sounds, and smells are vastly more entertaining than what they can find inside the house...
By far the most exciting part of their day is when visitors stop by. Sometimes random dogs drop in, which is always exciting. Jenny wants none of it, and come charging in the house. Jake, on the other hand, is unfazed. Jenny doesn't have a problem with other cats though. Even when Fake Jake is being aggressive, she doesn't get to riled up anymore...
And speaking of Fake Jake...
The poor guy just wants some attention. Some days when I get home from work, he's over in the neighbor's driveway just meow... meow... meowing. My heart goes out to him, so I always call him over to get some pets. But no matter how long I spend with him, it's never enough. He always waits at the door wanting more...
This past week Fake Jake came over for some love while I was unloading groceries. After petting him for five minutes or so, I turned around and saw Real Jake glaring at me from the screen door. I was caught red-handed spending time with another cat, and he was pissed.
In proud cat dad news... Jake's diet has been paying off. He's down a pound since I changed to indoor food and started restricting his access to food! He's still a lovable lump of a cat, but somethings never change...
And... that's about it for cat news this week.
Work has been killing me as of late, which means I don't have time for anything but working. Part of it is my fault... I volunteered for a project I really shouldn't have with all I've got going on... but blame doesn't much matter when deadlines are looming.
And so. Work. Nothing else.
Well... nothing except trying to get my year-end vacation arranged.
Last night I built the flight itinerary that gets me to Buenos Aires. It was such a long process with so many pro/con decisions to weigh that I ultimately left it so I could take a look with fresh eyes this morning. When I woke up, I was more confused than ever, so I decided to leave it until lunch. At noon I waded through it all again but still couldn't decide what I wanted to do. The plan was to take another look tonight after dinner, but the thought of looking at it again was filling me with dread. So while I was waiting for my computer to run a backup up this afternoon, I logged in, booked the flight as it was, and will just trust it will all work out. If not, I guess I'm stuck in South America for a while...
8,600 miles of flying. Which is not quite as bad as the 10,600 miles it took to get to Johannesburg on my last big vacation.
But, still... quite a lot of flying.
"It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."
—Peter Gibbons, Office Space
There comes a point where you see just how bad the world has become and you have to decide if you're going to be one of those people who frets over every new horror... or if you're just going to say "fuck it" and not give a shit anymore.
I'm firmly in the latter camp.
It's not that I'm happy about no longer caring... I wish I did care... but it's just no longer practical. Every day it's something new and worse, so I'm going to spend my remaining years on this planet in a blissful state of detachment...
And you know what? I feel better already.
I've been doing some construction in my bedroom, which has been a source of much anguish for my cats. They don't like the smell of the paint. They don't like the dust. They don't like the noise of my power tools. They really don't like the noise of the vacuum cleaner running all the time. I try to keep the door closed so that Jake and Jenny don't walk in paint or get hurt on something, and that's the thing they seem to hate most. They are used to going where they please and telling them they can't is tantamount to tragedy for them.
The thing they do like is that the bedroom windows are open for ventilation. Never mind that they have an entire catio open to the outside world... they like experiencing the outdoors from up high...
It worries me that they might find a way to punch through the screen and escape, so I've been closing the bedroom door every day when I leave. But last week I realized I forgot, and had to rush home to make sure they hadn't escaped. Which they hadn't. Thankfully.
Speaking of the outdoors...
Fake Jake still comes running for petting whenever he sees me. One day this past week he got a little bit more... aggressively affectionate... when I was giving him a rubdown and split my thumb open...
I was taking photos of him, so I actually caught the moment when it happened...
He was undeterred by my pain and didn't let up on wanting more petting...
Such a sweetheart to people... well, he tries to be a sweetheart when he doesn't have you running for antibiotic cream. Not such a sweetheart to other cats though.
Real Jake is as sweet as ever, often laying down with me when I'm in bed watching television or reading...
He's not so sweet when he's busting the heck out of the last two crackers in the package...
But at least he eats what he kills...
Jenny has been really skittish as of late. Unless I walk towards her slowly and talk to her, she'll run off and hide. She hasn't acted like this since she was a kitten, so I'm not sure what's going on. Like Jake, she spends most of her time hanging out in the catio. Though with her it's a little more literal...
Along with being far more skittish, she no longer allows me to pick her up. And any touching has to be on her terms now. Fortunately, she wants a lot of attention, so I'm not deprived...
Such a pretty girl.
And, with that, I'm off to make more noise, dust, and stink in my bedroom.
So there I was, merrily hacking away on my latest project at work when I feel something tickling my hand. I look down and there's an ant crawling on it. "Well hello there, little fellow? Did you get lost?" Then, as I am getting up to take him outside, I notice ants E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. Crawling on the floor. Crawling up my desk. Crawling on my Doritos...
"HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIT! ANNNNNNNNTS!!! I scream.
I then shake off the ant on my hand, run and get the vacuum cleaner, then unleash armageddon upon the ants.
You see, when it's one ant, it's cute. When it's a swarm of ants... not so cute. That's when my Buddhist leanings towards all life being precious and doing no harm get chucked right out the fucking window. DIIIIIIIE! DIE YOU SCUM!!!
After looking around to see if Ant-Man was hiding in a corner somewhere, I went and whined about it to a co-worker. I was upset that there were ants. I was upset I had to Hoover them. I was really upset I had to Hoover my Doritos.
"Ah. They were after the Doritos then."
"What? Why? Ants love sugar. I eat Doritos because they have zero sugar."
"SOME ants like sugar. Other ants love grease."
"Yeah, grease. Fats. Like in your Doritos."
I Google that shit and, sure enough. some ants love fats.
I did not know that.
What I DO know? I've got moles. At least that's what the internet tells me after I shared my security camera footage...
The mole dug along my sidewalk, then popped up in front of my flower bed.
I have lived in this region of Redneckistan most of my life. I've never seen a mole. The only place I've seen a mole hill is not anywhere around here. I've also seen them in cartoons. Figures that the time I finally have a mole experience is when I buy a home and they are tearing up my front yard.
I did Google that shit to find out what I'm dealing with, only to find that moles are kinda cute...
They're also smaller than I thought. Like... tiny. Fit-in-your-hand-tiny. Amazing how they can cause such a ruckus when they're so small.
Anyway... turns out that moles, unlike ants, are aggressively solitary. Which means I probably only have one mole.
The last thing I want to do is kill him so, thanks to the internet, it's been suggested I try ultrasonic spikes to drive him away. I ordered them immediately and they will be here Thursday. And Thursday can't get here fast enough. The little bastard is really going to town. I came home to this...
I may not have a yard left by Thursday!
I always wondered where "Whack-A-Mole" came from.
Today hasn't been the greatest of days. Too much to do and not enough time to do it... despite working day and night. Might as well take a blogging break.
Even though what I should really be doing is cleaning my disaster of a house. Jenny has decided she's an interior decorator, and keeps moving things around. This morning she moved her scratching pad, her brush loop, all the couch pillows, and a box I was using as a garbage bin. As if that weren't enough, it seems that one of the cats got wet paws and then tracked mud(?) though half the downstairs, so that needs to be mopped up as well.
But not tonight.
If you read yesterday's entry, you know that I have a mole in my front yard. I've named him Monty. And now I want him to go away, because he's been busy... there were three additional holes that popped up this morning. Those ultrasonic stakes I ordered cannot get here quick enough, but tomorrow will have to do.
I did have a mole-related scare this afternoon.
I received an alert on my phone from the security system, and rightly assumed it was the yard care team mowing the lawn.
WAIT... mowing the lawn?!?
I don't know that I've ever worried over something that I want gone before, but here we are.
I kept checking the cameras to see if I'd get a glimpse of him digging up my lawn again, but it never happened. When I got home I went looking for any sign of Monty... and there it was. A fresh mole hill in my flowerbed. Assumably, my rodent is still around.
Which is good? I guess?
Hopefully I will feel different as I am planting my ultrasonic mole deflector shields tomorrow.
Thanks to ceiling fans and evening ventilation, I have yet to turn on the air conditioner this year despite having some 90°+ days.
Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. Next to heating, running the air conditioner is the most expensive use of electricity I have. It can easily approach $100 per month if I'm not careful. Like last year when, apparently, I really liked being cool on hot days. This year I can't afford not to be careful, hence my ecstatic nature.
Next week this time I will be in Las Vegas for some meetings and to visit friends. The temperature there has consistently been over 100° with the forecast calling for a high of 116°... that's ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN DEGREES.
Fortunately I am not paying for that air conditioning.
In other news, I finally got my hands on the Wonder Woman: The Art and The Making of the Film book...
I love these kind of movie books... especially for the Marvel super-hero films and the Disney/Pixar films. I usually end up buying all of them, as the "how" is sometimes even more interesting than the movies themselves. This one is no exception. The production values on Wonder Woman were incredible, and seeing all the thought behind some of the decisions made just adds to the experience.
Of particular interest is the design for Themiscyra, home of the Amazons. If you've seen the film, you can just imagine.
And if you've seen the film and like it as much as I do, then checking out this book is a must.
And so I'm dead now.
When I went upstairs to watch Netflix in bed at 9pm last night, Jenny was still out in the catio. When I finally decided to go to sleep at around 11pm, I checked the cameras and saw she was still out there. This is not unusual, as she loves chasing bugs in the catio at night. Jake, I assumed, was off asleep somewhere.
When I woke up at 2am, I checked the cameras and saw that Jenny was still out in the catio. No Jake. I activated all the internal cameras. Still no Jake. I assumed that he was still off sleeping somewhere. So I started scrubbing backwards through the internal cameras so I could figure out where.
Jake was nowhere to be found. The last time he showed up was 7:15pm, when he was climbing down the cat tree.
Holy crap! Did I lock him in the laundry room?
I can't find him anywhere.
No big deal, I grab the cat treats and shake the bag. Jenny comes running in from the catio immediately.
This is unprecedented. For Jake to not show up for kitty snacks is inconceivable. He loves those things. Loves them. The only reason he wouldn't show up is because he's trapped somewhere. Or dead.
And thus begins 20 minutes of total panic as I proceed to tear my house apart.
Still no Jake. He's vanished.
Either he has wedged himself somewhere I haven't thought of or... he got outside somehow?
Total panic becomes a complete meltdown as I start checking outside cameras. And there he is. Wandering around the back yard. At least he was at 1:28am, which was almost an hour previous...
What. The. Hell?
At first I thought it might be Fake Jake, but the more I watch the video, the more I'm convinced it really is Jake, and he managed to escape. Some way. Some how.
I am trying to think if I have ever been at the panic level I was at that moment.
I honestly don't think I have.
And so there I am, out in the catio with the door wide open, shaking a bag of treats. He shows up minutes later...
But... how? How did he get out? He was around when I got home from work, I'm sure of it. Did he escape when I took out the garbage? Did I leave a window open somewhere and he pushed out the screen? Is there a hole in the fencing on the catio?
Back to the cameras. And... turns out he pushed off the roof of the catio (video at 8x speed)...
A couple things to note:
From what I can tell, Jake was never too far away from the catio. He appears on the back porch several times throughout the night (video at 8x speed)...
Though he did circle the entire building once. He appears in the front yard at 11:45pm... goes out of frame at the bottom near midnight... then reappears at the top of the frame exactly 30 minutes later. Heaven only knows what he did along the way (video at 8x speed)...
More than once he tries to find a way back into the catio, and most times his sister is on the other side watching him...
So there you have it... Jake's big adventure.
And my nervous breakdown. Because all I can think about is how this could have happened tomorrow when I'm traveling and Jake would have been stuck outside.
Needless to say, I won't be getting any sleep tonight. If ever.
Maybe if I would stop checking the video cameras every 15 minutes to make sure the cats are still inside and safe...
Cats. What can you do?
UPDATE: Turns out my framing contractor (who also made the roof for the catio) used screws that were way too short. They were barely grabbing into the wood. So when Jake was walking back and forth pushing on the ceiling, the screws were popping out like rivets...
I'm replacing them all with screws that are 2-1/2" times longer.
And... Jake and Jenny can enjoy their catio once again.
And... I can have the peace of mind that the cats can't get out.
Until the next time.
Comixology (an online comic book distributor) has been adding older issues of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to their offerings. When I logged on last night, they happened to be displaying the first book of the series I ever read, issue no. 253 (courtesy of a Whitman Comics poly-bag-three-pack* I found in the local Safeway)...
Looking back, this was a pretty stupid cover. A bunch of costumed people come breaking through the wall of your clubhouse and you think they're there to join? Pretty sure I'd knock on the front door if I wanted to join up. But, this was par for the course back in the day. They always took the thrust of the story and found a way to repackage it in some ridiculous context to sell the book.
It was at this point... with this very issue... that I went from being a casual comic book reader to an obsessive comic book reader. I bought up every issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes I could find, and then started hunting for all the back-issues, all the way back to issue no. 197, which was when Superboy was re-titled Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. No easy feat. And it wasn't cheap either. Especially for somebody who mowed lawns to earn pocket money.
I don't know what it was about the Legion that made it so appealing to me. Perhaps because it was a super-hero book (which I already liked) with the added element of science fiction (something I also like). Superboy would time-travel to the future so he could have adventures with the team in the 30th century. An intriguing concept to be sure.
And then there were the sheer variety of super-heroes in the book. You name it, Legion probably had it at one time or another. The cast of characters is vast...
From the time I started reading the book in 1980, many many changes would occur. The most notorious were the numerous ret-cons** that took place in the early 90's. Since Superboy was phased out of continuity at the time, suddenly the entire foundation of the Legion (which was inspired by Superboy) was no longer available. This left the writers scrambling for stories to keep the book's very existence relevant in the DC Comics Universe. And boy did they dream up some doozies. It was a confusing time, but the stories were still interesting, so I kept reading.
Eventually the huge mess that The Legion of Super-Heroes had become was too unmanageable even for writers with the best imaginations, so the entirety of their universe was completely rebooted in 1994.
The book was never the same.
But still I hung in there.
Ten years later in 2004, the book was completely rebooted again. It was okay, but not the Legion I wanted to read.
But still I hung in there.
Various mini-series and guest appearances would come and go after the last reboot died at issue 50. It was a depressing time for Legion fans because nothing made sense. Appearances would contradict each other and there was no overriding narrative to keep the team going.
But still I hung in there.
Then DC Comics' New 52 "reboot to end all reboots" happened and the Legion was brought back with two new books, neither of which were that great. I think they were canceled inside of two years.
But still I hung in there.
Then DC rebooted everything yet again with their "Rebirth" initiative. The Legion hasn't gotten a new book in the new continuity yet, but I'm sure it's coming. It always does.
And even though it's bound to disappoint compared to the glorious 80's that defined the series for me, I'll undoubtedly hang in there and buy the books.
It's hard not to be a fan for life when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
* Whitman was an imprint of Gold Key Comics. They would commission special print runs of DC Comics with their logo on the cover, bag three books together, then sell them in huge quantities all over the country in all kinds of stores... including the local Safeway grocery store where I got mine.
** The term "ret-con" means "retroactive continuity" and is when story elements established in past stories is changed, contradicted, or ignored in order to make past events have continuity with current storylines. Wikipedia has a fascinating article on the practice.
Today was the day I was supposed to be flying to Orlando.
But I ended up canceling back in May because my calendar was obscenely full here at home. And it turns out that I didn't know the half of it. This week has been so packed that I have been looking into cloning technology.
I need a Dave 2.2 ...
Though... to be honest, cloning me is probably not the best idea. The world can only sustain so much evil, and this would push us over the top.
Way over the top.
I am not much for nostalgia or wishing I could return to bygone days, but I do love me some history. Studying world history is a byproduct of my world religions studies, and it always surprises me just how much I don't know about what's gone on in the world.
Take, for instance, James Whitcomb Riley.
I ran across a book by the guy this morning... The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Volume VII. "Volume SEVEN?" I thought. How is it that a prolific author with seven volumes of works like this could be somebody I never heard of?
I kept digging and ultimately found out there were SIXTEEN TOTAL VOLUMES...
I opened one up, was terribly unimpressed with what I scanned, and decided I would not need to be reading any of his works. But I did note his name on my iPhone so that I could look him up when I got home.
Which is now.
Turns out, I do know of him. I just didn't know I knew.
Ever heard of The Duck Test? — "When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."
TOTALLY THIS GUY!
Ever heard of Little Orphan Annie? It's based on a poem called Little Orphant Annie?
TOTALLY THIS GUY!
According to his Wikipedia page, James Whitcomb Riley was a literary giant back in the 1890's and remained hugely popular until his death in 1916. From Wikipedia:
Although Riley was wealthy from his books, he was able to triple his annual income by touring. He found the lure hard to resist and decided to return to the lecture circuit in 1892. He hired William C. Glass to assist Henry Eitel in managing his affairs. While Eitel handled the finances, Glass worked to organize his lecture tours. Glass worked closely with Riley's publishers to have his tours coincide with the release of new books, and ensured his tours were geographically varied enough to maintain his popularity in all regions of the nation. He was careful not to book busy schedules; Riley only performed four times a week and the tours were short, lasting only three months.
So, essentially, James Whitcomb Riley was a rock star before there were rock stars...
In 1895 Riley made his last tour, making stops in most of the major cities in the United States. Advertised as his final performances, there was incredible demand for tickets and Riley performed before his largest audiences during the tour. He and Sherley continued a show very similar to those that he and Nye had done. Riley often lamented the lack of change in the program, but found when he tried to introduce new material, or left out any of his most popular poems, the crowds would demand encores until he agreed to recite their favorites.
And what, pray-tell, qualifies as one of those favorites? Here ya go...
O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The apples in the orchard, and the pathway through the rye;
The chirrup of the robin, and the whistle of the quail
As he piped across the meadows sweet as any nightingale;
When the bloom was on the clover, and the blue was in the sky,
And my happy heart brimmed over in the days gone by.
In the days gone by, when my naked feet were tripped
By the honey-suckle’s tangles where the water-lilies dipped,
And the ripples of the river lipped the moss along the brink
Where the placid-eyed and lazy-footed cattle came to drink,
And the tilting snipe stood fearless of the truant’s wayward cry
And the splashing of the swimmer, in the days gone by.
O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The music of the laughing lip, the luster of the eye;
The childish faith in fairies, and Aladdin’s magic ring—
The simple, soul-reposing, glad belief in everything,—
When life was like a story, holding neither sob nor sigh,
In the golden olden glory of the days gone by.
Well, he's no Walt Whitman, but okay.
I guess if they didn't have a Nintendo back then, this was as good as it got.
I found out that my long-time blogging friend Anissa died this morning.
Words completely escape me. There's nothing I can say that could encapsulate just how painful this is. And yet... I'm going to give it a try, because powering through life in the face of tragedy is what she was all about.
Anissa is joy to all those who knew her. No matter what she was going through... no matter what hardship she was facing... no matter how much she was struggling... you would never know it because her grace, humor, wit, and spirit always made you feel as though she hadn't a care in the world. Life, such as it is, was her bitch.
The irony of my last interaction with her on Facebook is not lost on me...
And here's where we go back to the start.
Though I had known her online for years prior, the first time I met Anissa in person was at Davelanta 3 in 2009...
Kevin, Beth, Diana, Kim, Val, Mr. & Mrs. Muskrat, Heather, and Anissa... not pictured is Julie, who ditched our sorry asses so she could go to a much better party with a group of much classier people!
I fell in love with her that night.
Which is not at all unusual, because everybody who met Anissa fell in love with her. She's STD-level infectious like that.
I sat next to her at dinner and remember it like it was yesterday. We were at The Cheesecake Factory, and a lot of our discussion revolved around their Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls. We had much to discuss on the topic. Mostly because she was nibbling on my balls the whole time.
Not long after that infamous first meeting, Anissa had a stroke and her whole world changed.
Not that you would know it because, despite being confined to a wheelchair, Anissa herself did not change. She was still the same brilliant, beautiful, snarky, and entirely inappropriate person she had always been. Just slowed down a bit.
We finally met up again at another blogger meet in 2011...
Mr. Muskrat, Tyler, Heather, Adam, Anissa, Anissa's Friend(?), Beth, Kevin, and Mrs. Muskrat!
Seeing how Anissa was struggling was not easy.
Seeing how she was overcoming adversity was truly inspiring.
And she continued to inspire everybody she encountered for almost 6 years to the day I last saw her.
My heart is broken. What's left of it goes out to her husband and three children, all of whom were Anissa's everything. That she had a heart big enough to share with the rest of the world too is everything you need to know about her.
Well, that... and the fact that she really couldn't keep her hands off my balls that night. Not that I can blame her... they were delicious. If there were a Cheesecake Factory anywhere near me, that's where I'd be. With a Long Island ice tea and big ol' plate of deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls in her honor.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. You were loved so much by so many, and your having to leave us hasn't changed that.
What I need...
What I really, really need...
Is an off-switch.
My brain is so overwhelmed with stuff... a lot of it being inconsequential, mindless stuff... that I can't focus. Especially at night when I need to be sleeping.
Oh well. In six hours I have to head over the mountains in a 2-1/2 hour drive. Maybe that will sort things out with my brain.
My long-time friend Howard died today and I am lost.
We first found each other through blogging a decade ago, but our friendship went far beyond that. Last night I was sifting through hours upon hours of texts, messages, emails, and comments, and realized that we have been in near-continuous contact since we first found each other. Our taste in music, movies, anime, and so many things were in perfect sync so there was always something to talk about.
And I guess sometimes you just know, you know?
We met in person a half-dozen times, usually when I was in Denver for work. The first was at my "Daveorado" event back in August of 2009...
Tug, Me, Hot Doctor's Wife, and Howard at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver!
And then there was that time we flew to L.A. so we could catch a rare US appearance by anime god Hayao Miyazaki, truly one of the best moments of my life.
And then there was the time we went to see Duran Duran at Red Rocks.
And then there was the time back in May when I flew to Denver to celebrate Howard's 50th birthday.
But most of our contact was just everyday stuff. Like when I first got Jake and Jenny and he decided to make them into a meme...
He was forever sending me stuff like that.
And forever talking about music. We have text conversations that go on for hours that are nothing but Pet Shop Boys. But it wasn't just our love of 80's tunes that made for good music talk. Every once in a while he'd turn me on to new music too. Most notably Holy Ghost! and Postiljonen. One minute I'm reading an innocent text... the next minute I'm obsessing over a band I'd never heard of before...
Along with music was the movies we loved to talk about. All kinds of movies... but mostly our shared love of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films. Back in February a new one was released, The Red Turtle, and I got more than just his thoughts on the film...
And then this past Monday, Howard and his "understanding guy" got married! I will be forever grateful for Josh bringing light and love into Howard's life these past six months.
Another thing I'll be forever grateful for is that Howard always knew how I felt about him. I loved him dearly, and told him so...
I could write volumes about how much Howard meant to me, but that text probably does a better job of it.
He was a soul mate.
It's as simple as that.
What's not simple is trying to find a way to carry on with life after a chunk of your heart has been ripped out. But I will find a way, because anything less would be an insult to somebody who fought so bravely every day to carry on...
Goodbye, my friend. I will always love you. I will always miss you.
And you don't have to be embarrassed about liking that Katy Perry song in heaven.
The smoke-filled air has become so bad that going outside for even a minute is like painting my lungs with glue. Most days now the haze is so bad that I can't even see the surrounding hillsides. The paper said air conditions would be improving, but that hasn't happened at all.
Which has resulted in my cats being upset at me for limiting their time out in the catio.
I only let them out when I can see through the air... and even then just for an hour. Any more time than that and I worry what might happen to their little lungs.
Needless to say I really worry about the animals (like Fake Jake) that are out in the smoke all day and night. This cannot be good for their health.
Ironucally, my Solar Eclipse viewing glasses and camera lens cover arrived today. Don't know if things will be cleared up enough for that to matter, but here's hoping.
The smoke pouring into the valley since I got back has made breathing increasingly challenging. Even worse, the Flonase that gets shot up my nose so I actually can breath is now causing nosebleeds. As if that weren't enough, all the above is making it impossible to sleep.
Now I'm home from work just laying here... waiting to die...
Come, come, come, nuclear bomb...
I took a sick day today and, thanks to a drug-induced coma, spent the entire day in bed.
I didn't even watch television. I just... slept.
Now that I'm semi-awake, I decided to eat dinner and catch up with Forged in Fire while I wait for the people I hired to come install gutters on the catio.
Your blade... will kill...
And so... The Great Eclipse is upon us!
I've decided to "liveblog" the event, and will be updating this page throughout the morning as I document my triumphs and failures in trying to capture it for posterity.
If you're here late, you'll have to scroll to the bottom and work your way back up to see things in order.
Annnd... I think I'm out. Until next eclipse, everybody!
I have to say... the very best part of staying home for the eclipse has been hanging out with my kittehs. They toughed it out to the very end, and have been incredibly sweet the entire time...
Just noticed that Carl the Robovac has gone silent. I hunt him down and find out that he never made it out of the guest bedroom. The dipshit choked on a rug...
While waiting for the never-ending eclipse to... errr... end... I noticed that I still had flowers in bloom in my back flower bed. I hardly ever go in my back yard, so it was kind of surprising since all my other flowers have long-gone...
And... still going...
Seriously... is this ever going to end?
One of the things I remember most from my first eclipse (which was total here in 1979) is the funky moon shadows that appear in tree leaves. Thankful that I remembered to document the phenomena...
This eclipse is lasting forever! Cats are so not impressed...
Never got very dark. Just kind of overcast-looking... but with blue skies and sun. If that makes any sense...
After futzing around with my camera settings, I finally figured out how to get the best possible shot. Kind of a letdown, but at least I got it. Here's at the peak for my location (92% coverage)...
10:00am The solar filter for my lens is a total bust. It looks exactly the same as the uneclipsed sun... just a bright blurry ball of light. Bummer.
9:35am And, here it is... my first shot of da sun (uneclipsed)...
9:15am Look who decided to visit... FAKE JAKE! He inspected my gear, then decided to visit with the cats. Jenny, who always runs in terror when Fake Jake shows up, was a brave kitty. Maybe because I was standing beside her? Even so, I'm a proud cat-dad right now...
This is my setup. My Sony a7R Mark II with the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens (and solar filter) attached...
Waaayyyyy back before there was an eclipse glasses shortage, I ordered up a "Celestron Eclipse Kit" from B&H Photo that includes a nice pair of "approved" glasses with a solar lens filter. The filter is meant to be held over the lens, but I don't want the distraction as I'm maneuvering for a shot. I decided to cut around the filter, then tape it to my lens...
The cats decided to inspect my work...
I've read various opinions on pets and the eclipse. Some say that my cats will get their eyes burned out and should be kept indoors. Some say that cats don't look at the sun normally, and they won't start now. I was going to take the precaution of locking them out of the catio, but it seems they can't get a full view from there anyway. Will be nice to have some company.
After scrolling through the eclipse-related news of the morning, I decide to take a shower. Nobody wants to have a stinky eclipse! I've decided to wear my artfully "distressed" American Eagle jeans and my favorite short-sleeve Wolverine-brand shirt.
Reading up on eclipse "best practices." I'm taking the morning off work, so there's no hurry. Three hours until eclipse time. TIME magazine has a handy eclipse tool so you can know what to expect (or know what you're missing if your skies are overcast. I'm supposed to get an eclipse at 92% coverage, like this...
I've been awake for hours, of course, but the cat's breakfast finally drags my ass out of bed. In honor of Eclipse Day, I'm having a chocolate cupcake for breakfast. I felt I had to, because there's an astronomical event and Redneckistan actually has CLEAR SKIES, which almost never happens. My cats are celebrating by dumping their breakfast on the floor and chasing dry cat food kibble around the dining room. Carl the RoboVac hums in anticipation...
It was an article talking about how Antarctica is a fraud. It's not a "continent" at all... instead it's just a wall of ice around the edge of a FLAT EARTH DISC to keep the oceans from spilling off the side. The sun and moon are much, much smaller than the earth and rotate above the "disc" like yo...
Image attributed to The Flat Earth Society. Really. It exists.
This is not the first time I had heard of such a thing, but I always thought that stuff like "The Flat Earth Society" was a joke. I mean, how could it be anything except a joke? We have visible, reproducible evidence that the earth is a globe which can be witnessed with our own eyes! Astronauts have been off the planet and have seen the earth is a globe! We have actual science that proves how the earth globe works! We have frickin' satellites orbiting the planet to give us technology magic like GPS and shit!
And yet... it's no joke. An increasing number of people are tossing reason right out the window and actually believe this crap.
Then I started seeing flat earth dumbfuckery pop up again for the eclipse yesterday. To some people, the eclipse was seen as "irrefutable proof" that the earth is flat. They don't take time to understand how reality works, so they come up with stuff like "THE SHADOW IS MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!" and "NASA IS TELLING YOU TO WEAR SPECIAL GLASSES SO YOU CAN'T SEE THE TRUTH!" as their "evidence."
What's most fascinating to me is the flat-earther's blinding hatred of NASA.
Over and over and over again I read how NASA is lying to us and everything they produce has been faked and photoshopped. Of course they think the moon landing was a complete hoax. How could they not? The reason they think NASA is faking everything is that they get tons of money from the government to explore stuff in space, and if they told the truth... that there is no stuff in space to explore... they would be defunded and shut down. No explanation as to how NASA manages to keep their thousands of employees on a leash... or why Russia, Japan, China, and other countries are cooperating with the NASA 'lie" when there's no reason for them to. But it's not like reasonable thinking is going to get you anywhere with somebody who thinks the earth is flat.
Aside from the common sense of a globe-shaped earth given all we know, observe, and study, I have yet to figure out how flat-earthers think that eclipses can be predicted by science if they reject all the science that allows eclipses to be predicted. I mean, seriously... how can NASA tell you in advance when and where an eclipse is going to occur if they are faking the science that gives them the information?
Here's a segment of a list maintained by Time and Date that lays out eclipses for all of 2019...
Scientists are able to release stuff like this because our solar system has been modeled. It's not some wild guess that they're making... if you go to the places they say there will be an eclipse at the time they say there will be an eclipse, you will see an eclipse. It's that simple.
I have scoured the internet trying to find an eclipse schedule as released by a flat-earther, but it doesn't look like there is anything. You're just supposed to take their word that the earth is flat even though they can't explain how astronomers are dead-accurate about the science of eclipses... and offer no explanation or "predictions" as to when eclipses on their pancake earth are going to occur.
Oh well. When I set sail towards Antarctica this December, I'll be sure to take photos of the giant ice wall.
And if you never hear from me again, you can assume that the flat-earthers are right and I've fallen off the edge.
It's been one of those weeks.
Fortunately, it's half over.
Can't get this coming Sunday's Game of Thrones season finale out of my head.
Something to look forward to, anyway.
I've gotten to the point where I've given up on expecting people to do the right thing. Far too many times I end up disappointed.
Right now, I'll just settle for people not being evil.
I hate the taste of chicken.
I didn't like eating it before I became a vegetarian, and I'm certainly not going start eating the crap now. Even the veggie stuff that tastes like chicken is a big ol' PASS for me.
So guess what I ended up buying totally by accident at the grocery store yesterday?
Yes "Chik Patties."
I'd like to say that it's my fault, but it's really not. The fault is 100% on Morningstar Farms for having shitty packaging which does nothing to distinguish the various products they make. All of them are green bags with purple stripes. And they dress the photos of different products in the exact same way so it's easy to get them confused...
Especially since the bags are just laying in a pile in the grocery freezer. I grabbed three packages of "Grillers Prime" and had no idea that the store put a "Chik Patties" in there (or, more likely, a shopper looked at it and put it back in the wrong place)...
This is a categorically bad design flaw that any designer worth their salt works very hard to avoid. Well... any designer except the one working for Morningstar Farms.
Helpful hint to not being a total dick to your customers... come up with packaging that uses color and design language to distinguish your products so people can get what they're wanting to buy. Look at your products from six feet away and see if you can tell them apart. Look at your products as they will be displayed and see if you can tell them apart. If you can't in either case, your design is a failure. Go back to the drawing board and come up with something that works.
Otherwise you end up with pissed off customers like me.
Huh. I wonder if my cats will eat "Chik Patties?"
A while back I talked about adding more National Parks Posters to my collection because they were on sale for a price too good to pass up. When they arrived, I took the opportunity to re-frame everything, then relocate them from my storage room to a wall on my stairway.
It was a good plan...
At least it was a good plan until the new frames I ordered showed up.
Re-framing, wiring, and hanging a dozen posters is a lot of work.Too much work. Especially when you have to be precise when wiring and even more precise when hammering in the hangers so that everything will line up once you start hanging. It took days of nights to get it all sorted.
But it ended up being worth it because the end-results are magic.
It's tough to get a shot in my narrow stairwell, but you can get an idea...
I think I can squeeze in two more... but I worry about the frames ending up too close to the handrail. I guess we'll see once I've visited more parks.
Oh... and if you want to grab some of Rob Decker's beautiful National Parks posters for your own home, they're on sale over Labor Day weekend at his site, so now's the time to do it!
And... speaking of hanging... I finally found a print I like for my guest bathroom that fits in with the Robert Lyn Nelson underwater posters I've already got in there...
Kind of nice to have artwork and photos in my home that are by somebody other than me!
I, for once, am not working on Labor Day this year. I've been working nights and weekends so I could get caught up enough to take the day off. Probably not as caught up as I should be... but leaving anyway.
Somebody who is not taking the day off is Carl the RoboVac. I checked in and saw him dutifully vacuuming away... picking up all the cat hair that seems to accumulate constantly...
Only time will tell if he makes it back to his charging station... or he decides to take tomorrow off by getting lost under a dresser somewhere.
Well this sucks.
I think I might be dying. At least the smoke is making me miserable enough that I feel like I'm dying.
Believe it or not, the air quality is better today that it was yesterday... you can actually see the nearby hills. What you cannot see are mountains. The sky is just white when you go looking for them...
To see the full resolution, click photo to embiggen.
You can kinda see hills there... but that's it...
I've been keeping the cats inside to protect their little lungs... no catio for you! They are not pleased. They just sit at the window being mad that I won't let them go outside...
Jake eventually gave up and climbed on my lap for attention...
Though it seems as thought he's finally getting wise to my photographing him...
Here's hoping tomorrow's air quality is better than today. I don't know how much more of this I can take.
The air quality improved enough that I decided to let the cats outside for a little while. When I opened the catio door, they didn't last very long... coming back inside after only a few minutes.
I thought that perhaps the smoke was irritating or scary enough that it would keep them from going outside, but my hopes were soon dashed. After verifying that it wasn't a trick and they really could go outside if they wanted to, they started spending all their time out there, as usual.
This meant having to close off the catio again. The last thing I want is two cats with respiratory problems.
Because me having respiratory problems is more than enough. I've been coughing my head off since the smoke started rolling in, and have had just about enough of the stuff.
Given how my cats have been whining about wanting to go back outside, I'm sure they feel the same way.
Between the wildfires and hurricanes, it's tough to know how to process just how much disaster is happening... and how much more is yet to come. Other than staying glued to the television and hoping for the best, there's not much else to be done. Except donating to the relief efforts, if you can.
Now that the smoke is clearing up in my neck of the woods I can venture outside again. First order of business was to run errands that have been piling up. And, surprise... Halloween is happening...
Every year I run to Home Depot hoping to find Halloween decorations on half-price closeout, but all the cool ones... like light-up skeleton cats... are always long gone.
Maybe it's time to get creative and make my own cool decorations.
Though sadly, as I found out last year, I don't get many trick-or-treaters to see them.
I've been coming to Spokane for work for decades. There are a lot of memories in this city for me.
Most memories are easy to recall here because so much of the city is unchanging. Spokane is a relatively big city that feels like a town. Small businesses in old brick buildings go on for generations. Today I passed by a block of these buildings and remembered that it was where I had my first driving accident. I was coming up to a stoplight when the driver behind didn't stop in time and bumped into me. After we pulled over to survey the damage (surprisingly, there wasn't any) he said "I'm so sorry. I was trying to answer a call on my cell phone." Back then mobile phones were a new technology and I had never even seen one in person. I remember being surprised that Spokane even had cellular service. I was shaken, but sympathetic towards the man's plight because he let me hold his bulky cell phone. It might as well have been magic to me, I was so fascinated by it. I was tempted to ask him if I could make a call, but I knew the pay-per-minute rate of the day was astronomical, so I reluctantly handed it back without comment.
This was not the first time I was rear-ended in Spokane. The second time I was coming up to a stoplight next to Safeway and a woman plowed into me. This time there was damage... albeit minor. I got insurance money to repair my bumper and it looked good as new. The second and third times I was rear-ended, I took the insurance money and went on a trip. Because eventually my priorities shifted. I'd rather travel than have a nice car.
The hotel I stayed at last night is a beautiful restoration property in downtown Spokane. Everything from the public spaces down to the paint on the walls of my room is lovely. Except... holy crap is it noisy.
There is a central atrium where people gather, and everything from quiet conversation to children screaming echoes throughout the entire hotel. And when those children are running around screaming until 2am? Just try sleeping through that. Then... then... there's the air conditioning. Every time the air starts up, there is a loud "snap" followed by a huge "bang." It literally sounds like somebody is trying to break into your room every time it goes off. Especially as you're attempting to drift off to sleep at 3am.
And so I am sleep-deprived and exhausted.
Which made for a fun day at work, I'll tell you whut. I'd best describe my demeanor as "punchy."
C'est la vie.*
Work went exceedingly well and, before I knew it, it was time to grab lunch at David's Pizza (my favorite pizza in the known universe) and head home.
Which was a much better journey than yesterday.
Yesterday's drive across Washington State's Central Basin was long and boring as always... but augmented with the excitement of asshole drivers. The speed limit is 70mph. I drive around 75mph. Occasional I would pass a truck doing 60mph only to have some asshole jam on up to my bumper doing 90mph... who then flips me off when I jet back over to the right-hand lane. Sorry that I interrupted your illegal driving speed, asshole. In what universe do I deserve to be flipped off for that? If I had psychic powers, I would be telekinetically ripping off middle fingers, no lie.
On my way home I stopped at a mini-mart gas station outside of Quincy (home of the best corn in the nation!) to fuel up and grab something to drink. When I went up to the counter to pay, a kindly elderly gentleman leaning on a cane (surely 90+ years old) was in line ahead of me. He was buying a single ice cream sandwich... nothing else... with a credit card. He talked in a whisper, but I could hear him tell the cashier that he couldn't open the package on his ice cream and asked him to do it. They cashier grabbed a pair of scissors and did so, after which the old man said "thanks." He then had to put away his credit card, put his wallet in his pocket, grab his ice cream bar, and shuffle off to destinations unknown. The process took forever but I actually found it fascinating to watch and didn't mind at all. We'll all be there someday, if we're lucky.
Or unlucky, depending on your perspective.
After paying for my Gatorade and a Coke, I pass the old man eating his ice cream sandwich when a thought flashed through my head.
"Holy shit! He's not driving is he?"
I was beyond curious to know if the empty car parked by the mini mart was his, but didn't want to wait ten minutes to see if he drove away in it... or if somebody else was driving... or if he was being picked up... or if he actually walked to the mini mart from somewhere miles away.
After starting up the car, I noticed the MAINTENANCE REQUIRED light had come on. Apparently all those oil change email notices that I had been ignoring had come home to roost. And so I detoured to Jiffy Lube to take care of that, because heaven only knows when I'd ever have time to drive there again. Hey, it was on my way home anyway... so might as well.
As I pulled into Jiffy Lube, I noticed that the air quality in Wenatchee was more smoke-filled than I had seen it all year. This made me very concerned for my cats, so the first thing I did when I got to the waiting room was check my security cameras...
OF COURSE they're both outside. Why wouldn't they be?
And then I noticed movement in the corner of the security camera. What the heck is THAT, I wondered.
Oh... it's just a GIANT FUCKING MURDER SPIDER DISPOSING OF IT'S DEAD LOVER'S BODY!!! I think I actually said "Holy shit! out loud when I zoomed in...
THE HORROR! I mean, come on... she just dumped the dead body into her web and went back to hiding in the door frame...
To say I was in a panic is an understatement.
My cats were outside in the catio WITH A GIANT MURDER SPIDER! And since GIANT MURDER SPIDERS are always poisonous, their fate was in serious doubt. Because there is nothing... nothing they love more than to play with bugs. If either one of them saw the thing... my guess is that I would arrive home to a cat in respiratory failure because it had been bitten and poisoned.
So I wait for an agonizing 20 minutes while my oil was changed.
I drive home through work traffic, which is another 30 minutes of torture.
I get home, tear into the house, lure both kitties in from the catio, close off the catio door so they can't get back out, run and grab the bug spray from the garage, run around the house to the catio door, then soak... soak until dripping... the entire upper corner of the frame.
Eventually a tiny little spider crawled out, fell to the ground, and died.
"Huh. I guess when a little spider is close to the camera lens on a security camera, it only looks like a GIANT MURDER SPIDER.
And then I feel so awful. If I had known it was just a little spider, I would have left it alone. I am not a spider murderer. If I find a spider in my house, I catch it and take it outside. I try to console myself with the fact that she murdered her little spider-boyfriend after mating, then dumped his body without a care, but it didn't work. Then I tried to console myself with the fact that the little spider won't be laying millions of eggs which would hatch and fill up my catio with tiny spider babies. Somehow, I was able to make my peace with being a spider murderer after that.
Of course... there's nothing to say that she didn't lay those millions of eggs before she dumped the body.
Which means millions of spider babies intent on revenge for the death of their mother. That's all I need.
* Will it impress you to know that I can spell "C'est la Vie" without having to Google it? No? Okay.
Can you believe I was supposed to be on vacation this week?
I went into work for a couple hours and ended up being there half the day. The rest of my day was spent running back and forth to Sherwin-Williams for paint samples. By the time all that was over, my day was pretty much done.
If only Glacier National Park wasn't on fire, I could have been living an entirely different life right now... if just for a while. Instead, my mind is all over the place...
And now? Time to put away all my guest room furnishings since my friends didn't have to evacuate their home and crash at my place after all. So grateful. I mean, I love having company over... but not like this.
Stay safe, everybody.
In order to maintain the illusion that I am a kind, friendly neighbor who cares deeply about how others perceive me, I have been putting decorative wreaths on my door like I see other people do 'round the 'hood. But I refuse to hang cheap, ugly wreaths up... and I also refuse to pay big money for nice wreaths. So I shop the closeouts at Pier One. Quality wreaths at a bargain price! Problem is, closeouts only happen after the holiday is over, so I'm always behind. My Winter Wreath stayed up through Christmas. My Christmas Wreath stayed up through Valentine's Day. My Valentine's Day Wreath stayed up through Easter. And my Easter Wreath has been up until... today.
My plan was to run to Pier One this morning and buy a Summer Wreath on closeout. But I was too late. All the Summer stuff had gone to make room for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Since I didn't want to leave an Easter Wreath hanging on my door through the Fall, I did the unthinkable... I bought a Fall Wreath that wasn't on closeout. I did get to take 20% off for some reason though, so I guess that's something.
The benefit of buying decorating crap "in season" is that I didn't have to settle for the lame leftovers. Instead I picked out exactly the wreath I wanted. So now my home looks totally friendly and inviting again!
Not bad! Since I live in "apple country" I liked that this wreath had fake apples scattered throughout the other crap that was crammed in there.
Earlier this year when I was changing out my Valentine wreath, a neighbor walking by said "Hello" and "That's pretty" and "I'm always afraid that somebody will steal it if I bought a nice wreath like that!" Trying my best to be friendly, I replied with "Oh, I've got security cameras everywhere, motion detectors, a door sensor, a doorbell camera, an alarm siren, and a shotgun with a hair-trigger... so I try not to worry about somebody trying to steal it... ha ha ha ha." The neighbor seemed unsure of how to reply and said "Well, I guess you wouldn't," then shuffled off in a cloud of unease.
Something tells me I was the talk of the neighborhood for a while there.
But it's all true. I have the cameras, sensors, detectors, siren... all of it. Well, it's mostly true... my shotgun doesn't have a hair-trigger. I exaggerated a bit to be funny.
Since moving in, I've only been bothered once. Some kid saw my cats in the window and decided to bang on the door to scare them. Or, at least that's what I was able to piece together from all my security camera footage, which culminated with this...
I was in my garage building something but, since I had my iPhone with me, I was alerted the minute the kid step foot on my driveway. I watched him run up to my door, bang on it, then run away. Then I was able to follow him as he ran through my front yard, past the side of my house, and into the field that's in back of me. At first I found it funny that this kid was so stupid as to ignore the security camera sticker I have plastered on my door. Then I was angry that some little punk was messing with my cats. I was going to print out my camera stills and track down the little asshole, but ultimately decided to be the good neighbor and just let it go.
Next time I'm going to grab my shotgun and blow his fucking head off.
Just kidding! I don't even have a shotgun!
I have a Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum revolver with custom grip and a fiber-optic front sight.
Today I was browsing through thousands of typefaces in an attempt to find something that fit the project I was working on. I couldn't find one, so I created my own typeface. Which sounds incredible, because complex work like that can takes weeks... months even... but it's a little less incredible when I mention that I only needed six characters.
They were hard characters though.
I mean, there was a "G" in there!
Still. Four-and-one-half hours of my life gone. That's 45 minutes for each character. Well, 30 minutes for five characters and two hours for that damn G... but... yeah.
Sometimes my life would be so much easier if there weren't any G's in it.
It's funny what you remember as you're looking through old travel photos.
As an example...
I took a Mediterranean cruise that was incredible. Wonderful visits to Barcelona, Tunisia, Malta, the Italian coast... all amazing sights with plenty of amazing memories. But what I also remember? When I was waiting in line at the airport check-in how I overheard a passenger at the adjoining counter say "Sorry"... because the airline agent was trying to pull his suitcase around the podium, but it had a wheel missing and made a loud scrrrrape across the floor. The guy standing behind him said "Jeez, might want to buy some luggage that'll stay in one piece!" He said this while looking up to the ceiling, directing his words to nobody in particular.
Except any idiot could tell who he was talking about.
The man with the broken suitcase turned around and said "It was all I could afford."
I thinks about that moment a lot. And a part of me wonders... Where was the guy with the suitcase going?
Was he on his way to some exotic location for a vacation?
Was he flying for a job interview?
Was somebody in his family sick and he was rushing to be by their side?
I don't know.
All I do know is that he was doing the best he can to get by with his busted-ass suitcase. And if he was having a happy day because he was going on vacation, he didn't deserve to have it ruined by somebody being an asshole. And if he was having a sad day because this trip was to go to a funeral, he didn't deserve to have it made worse by somebody being an asshole.
Which begs the questions... why are people compelled to be assholes to people they don't even know?
If we could answer that question, we might all be able to get along with each other better.
We all have our baggage, after all.
I love my cats... honestly, I do. 99% of the time they are a wonderful addition to my life, and I can't imagine living without them.
This morning I got out of bed and was surprised that neither Jake and Jenny were hanging around trying to convince me that they needed an early breakfast. Even weirder? There was no "tribute" from Jenny waiting for me (she brings me toys each morning... in exchange for my feeding her, I'm guessing). These unprecedented events had me worried that they had broken out of the catio or something, and I would be spending my day tracking them down.
When I turned to go downstairs, I saw them both at the bottom waiting for me.
Then, as I walked into the kitchen to get their breakfast, the pieces of the puzzle started sliding into place. The wild running around this morning was apparently due to a bird in the house. I knew this because there were feathers in front of the cabinet where I keep the cat food...
And so I go rushing back upstairs to check the security cameras and... sure enough...
I start going back through camera footage in an attempt to figure out how long this has been going on. Here's from an hour prior...
It's amazing how stealthy cats are. Jake hopped up and was practically on top of the bird before he flew away...
Here's an hour-and-a-half prior...
Poor bird! This footage (featuring Jenny making a spectacular leap to catch him) was from almost two hours prior...
And here's her leap from from a different angle...
So proud of her... but also horrified.
I scrubbed the cameras from the time I went to bed until the time I saw the bird feathers. I was expecting to see footage of one of the cats coming in from the catio with the hapless bird in its mouth... but I never saw anything of the kind. It's as if the bird just magically appeared around 4:45am out of thin air. I suppose it's possible that the bird flew into the garage while I was cleaning it and followed me in the house when I had the door open... but wouldn't I have noticed that? No idea.
Meanwhile... I have a bird in the house.
I go back downstairs to look for it and, not two minutes later, Jake and Jenny go tearing through the house, chasing the bird upstairs. I go running after them just as the bird goes flying in my bathroom. Poor thing saw the skylight in there and thought he could escape through it. Not knowing what else to do... I close the bathroom door.
And now what?
Do I sneak in the bathroom and try and catch it?
Do I wait for the bird to become exhausted and hope I can scoop it up and take it outside?
My mind is reeling. About the only thing I know for sure is that I won't be hurting it or killing it. So... What about building a tunnel from the bathroom to the cat's bedroom and opening a window? THAT JUST MIGHT WORK!!!
So I start at the bathroom door...
And build it to the cat's bedroom door...
And... here we go. I apologize for shooting vertically (something I never do for video, because WTF?), but it was the only way to get the important information in-frame...
A few notes...
And that was that.
Earlier this month I had posted this on Facebook...
I think that might not be such a great idea after all.
Hmmm... I wrote a long blog entry for today, but think I need to take a minute.
Not the kind of consideration you're used to seeing when it comes to me sharing my opinions on Blogography, but this time I think I need to sleep on it.
Well, I should probably "sleep on it" all the times I get fired up about something. But what fun is that?
Yesterday as I was driving over the mountains I noticed that the snow-line had lowered to an alarming degree.
Winter is indeed coming.
I guess I don't mind so much. But it would be nice if we could at least put off snow at my home until November rolls around.
Last year I was young and foolish and unaware of how expensive home heating was. I turned the thermostat on come October and never looked back.
Until the electric bills started rolling in.
Once I realized how insanely expensive it is to turn the heat on, I tried to be much smarter about it. Having a "smart thermostat" helped, because I could program it to adapt to my schedule and not be wasting energy when I wasn't home. Not that I could just turn the heat off completely... because I've got cats. Sure they have fur coats, but I don't want the poor things freezing.
This year I decided to use my electric blanket so I'm not spending a ton of money heating my home at night, and today was the day it got turned on.
Jenny had absolutely no idea what to make of it.
She walked around poking it and sniffing it... then flopping down on it because it was oh so warm! For the longest time she just kinda laid there in disbelief at what she was experiencing...
Once she understood that it was indeed toasty heat eminating from the blanket, and not just her imagination, much rolling around and purring ensued...
Now she's completely passed out from the joy of it all...
Guess I'm going to have company at night now.
Thanks to some unexpected cash that came into my life last couple months, I was able to pay off a bill, buy new socks, up my monthly donation to Doctors Without Borders, make some donations for animal rescue efforts in hurricane-ravaged Houston... and pay for another batch of old photos to be scanned. The last time I could afford to do this was five years ago, so it was a nice to be able to treat myself to something senselessly expensive and cool like this.
All of the photos I have left for scanning are photo negatives, so I don't really review anything. I just send them in and hope for the best.
This batch ended up being pretty special.
There were photos of my parent's wedding I hadn't seen before. Amazing photos of my mom when she was very young. Fascinating photos of my grandparent's life from a bygone era. And, of course, lots of photos of me and my brother growing up.
Also interesting? A trip to San Francisco by my mom's parents to visit my parents, assumably just before I was born in 1965(?)...
One trend I noticed was oodles and oodles of plaid. My brother and I were drenched in it for half a decade...
Another photo trend was me on vehicles.
How many people can say that their first car WAS A FIRE TRUCK?!? ME! I CAN TOTALLY SAY THAT! Just look at me! All chill as fuck while cruising down the sidewalk in my sweet ride! Acting like I don't care and all the world is my bitch. SO BAD-ASS!
Holy shit! My second car was a Corvette... WITH WORKING HORN!
Here's where things started going downhill. Apparently my third car was a wagon...
There are hundreds more photos waiting for me to look through them, so I'm sure "Throwback Thursday" will be a trend for a while here. Or not. Guess it depends how boring my life is next week.
I pulled my Halloween wreath out of storage tonight only to find it had gotten crushed when a box of books ended up on it somehow.
Buying nice wreaths in-season requires more money than I have spare cash to purchase, so I decided to upgrade my "Fall wreath" with a $3.50 addition. I rather like it...
My quick trip over the mountains revealed that winter is indeed here. More snow than last week to be sure...
So long as the snow stays in the mountains for a while, I'll be okay. I am absolutely not ready to have it start snowing here at home.
And... time to unpack.
The first bedroom I had of my own (meaning it wasn't shared with my brother) was when my family moved into a new house that my parents had built. Personal space was a luxury I hadn't known, which made it even more special to me than I suppose it would have normally have been.
I remember very little about what my room was like in my childhood home. I do know that in later years it was painted a bright blue. I also know that I picked that color to match my Star Wars bedsheets in 1977...
The color looked better on the sheets than my walls, but... Star Wars.
My carpet was a pukey green that could only have come from the 1960's. Other than that? Memories lost in time. Like tears in rain.
Until I found a photo in my latest batch of scans...
Hot Wheels! And the walls are white, which means that this pre-dates 1977 and my Star Wars obsession.
The only thing that looks familiar is the scary clown light on my nightstand. I remember it well. It had a happy-faced clown on one side and a sad-faced clown on the other. My aunt had made it, or else there's no way I would have had a murderous clown in my bedroom. There looks to be some other kind of ceramic creation next to it, but I can't recall what it was. If I had to guess, I'm thinking piggy bank.
So... unless other photos show up in future scans, I'm guessing this is it.
I'm not overly-sentimental when it comes to things like this, but I do regret that I didn't document my first bedroom better than this.
I would have liked to have seen those bright blue walls one more time.
On Saturday I went in to work and was amazed at how beautiful the leaves were as I made my way down the street. I was so enchanted that I pulled over to take a photo... only to find out that my phone was dead. The next day I forgot my phone. Then yesterday I didn't go into the office.
Today I finally remembered... even though it's not nearly as pretty now that half the leaves have fallen off...
Now I am bummed that I didn't charge my phone a bit then immediately go back for a photo on Saturday. A beautiful moment that now only exists in my memories.
Speaking of memories... soon enough, THIS is what the same street will look like...
Painters were hired to paint my home, which has been ongoing for the past week... off and on. When I bought the place it was about ten years overdue, and the paint rubs off if you run your hand over it. So... very happy we managed to find a painter before winter arrived. Not so happy about the $2,550 it costs for my share of the bill, but dems da breaks when you're a homeowner.
My cats spent most of their time observing all the activity from out in their catio.
Until it was time to paint the catio.
In order to not have to pay anything additional for my addition, I ended up spending two days masking off the catio for ten minutes of painting...
Amazingly enough, ripping the masking off wasn't the piece of cake I thought it would be. Since I had to mask both sides at the same time, I had masking tape sticking to masking tape, which is not easy to pull apart. Something I hadn't thought of when I started this.
It's all over. And the catio matches my condo exactly now, which is pretty great for an OCD brain like mine.
My cats don't seem to notice.
Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.
My current home is four doors down from the home I grew up in as a kid. That home was built in 1972 and we moved in immediately after it had been completed. As I mentioned last week, it was the first time I had my own bedroom, so it was my Shangri-La for the dozen years I lived there.
Since the home was brand new, we were starting from scratch on everything. Including the yard. This photo is of my brother "helping" to plant grass in the front of the house...
Interesting to note that the garage walls are unfinished. It's interesting because I don't think we ever bothered to finish them! They looked exactly like this the whole time we were living there.
This, however, is far from the most interesting thing about my old homestead.
That would be the fact that it was built on a Native American burial ground.
This photo of the back yard was taken after at least a year living at our new home. The grass is filling in and (though you can't see it very well) my brother and I are standing next to a tree that has just been planted...
Eventually, my parents decided to add an addition to the back of the house so we'd have a larger living room. In order to build it, they had to dig up the back yard to pour a new foundation. As they were digging they ran across some bones. Then some more bones. Then still more bones.
They were human skeletons and our home turned out to be built on a Native American burial ground.
This was confirmed when archeologists excavated our back yard. We made the local papers and people were flying in to study the graves because they were intact and so well preserved.
Local tribes were consulted to find out what to do, and they requested that we relocate the remains to another part of the property. Which we did. My dad terraced the hillside behind us and we re-buried them there.
Somewhere, I know there are photos of the excavation. Hopefully I will run across them one of these days.
Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.
When I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday by a long shot. My family went all out, and the mountain of presents under the Christmas tree was always one of the highlights of my year.
As an adult, my favorite holiday is Halloween.
Not so much for the dressing up, but because I love the whole atmosphere that goes with it. It's good, wholesome, spooky fun! And sometimes it's fun to dress up too.
In looking through the last batch of photos, I ran across some images of me wearing one of those cheap-ass Collegeville costumes that came in a window box you could pick up for $1.50 back in the day. You'd get a jumper with some kind of print on it that was sewn so poorly it would barely last the night, plus a matching mask made out of plastic so thin that it would crack and split just by breathing in it...
Photo found on Etsy
Saf-T-C eye holes and flame retarded! Doesn't get much better than that!
Still, a lot of those old cheap costumes are a heck of a lot scarier than the ones you can buy today! Take, for example, the skeleton costume I am wearing in these creepy-ass photos...
Though what's truly scary is the bruise I've got on my face underneath the mask!
I'm guessing I got it fighting a bear or something.
Hope you Halloween is extra-ghoulish this year!
As I've mentioned several times, one of my favorite technology purchases of all time has been Carl, my RoboVac. I've had him for almost three months now and I still feel the same. I had anticipated that I would need to "vacuum for reals" once or twice a month to get at the dirt and cat hair that Carl wasn't capable of sucking up... but I was wrong. I haven't had to vacuum once since Carl took over. He does an amazing job, and I continue to be amazed when I open his waste bin each day and see how much crap he manages to find on my floors. Where is it all coming from?!?
Carl is the gift that keeps on giving.
I decided to take the plunge and get a mopping robot too because... well... the idea of not having to mop the bathrooms and kitchen any more was just too appealing. And the iRobot "Braava Jet" was on sale at Amazon for $169, which was almost completely covered by the $150 gift certificate I had burning a hole in my wallet...
Carl the RoboVac was named after the faithful janitor in The Breakfast Club...
So I decided to name my RoboMop after Joy, the woman who invented the Miracle Mop (and was played by Jennifer Lawrence in the movie Joy)...
Now let's cut to the chase... was Joy a worthy purchase? Does she do as good a job as Carl when it comes to cleaning?
Well, it's complicated.
To begin with, Joy is not really a "mopping robot." She's more of a "Swiffer robot." That's because she doesn't slop water around with a mop, rinse the mop off, then repeat that until she's done. Instead she spits plain water on the floor then scrubs it with a disposable pad that has some kind of cleaning agent baked in. The pad is on a vibrating head that rubs your floor and "traps" the filth so you can toss it out when the Braava Jet is done.
Much to my surprise, Joy does a pretty darn good job... at least as good a job as my Swiffer.
Her first run was in the upstairs bathroom, which is my primary bathroom. Before she started, I vacuumed everything with a ShopVac, then Swiffered with a wet pad. Not surprisingly, the pad was pretty dirty since I don't have time to mop very often.
After I was done cleaning, I unleashed Joy.
This was the result...
Now, most of that dirt and cat hair you see had to be hiding underneath my sink and linen hutch. Which I was cleaning by blindly shoving a vacuum hose and Swiffer under there. Obviously Joy did a better job than I did... I just didn't realize how good a job she did until I saw this.
Like Carl, Joy kind of drunkenly stumbles around cleaning until she bumps into something, then she changes direction. Unlike Carl, whose path seems completely random, Joy actually tries to clean in a pattern. And because she's smart like that, you can create a "virtual wall" so Joy's cleaning area is confined. My kitchen/entryway is shaped in a big "U." To keep her cleaning where I wanted, I set Joy down with her "no fly zone" behind her when I define the "wall." This is a very cool feature and works exactly as advertised in the manual...
When she's cleaning a bathroom floor, I just close the door and let her go to town. That works too.
Like most RoboVacs, Joy has sensors to keep her from falling down stairs or mopping over something she shouldn't. Like, for example, my heater vents. The raised edge is not that high, but it's enough to deter Joy from running over it...
When Joy stumbles across an obstacle, she carefully navigates around them...
Even better, she doesn't spray water onto furniture or places other than the floor. Instead she backs away and squirts in front of it, which is pretty smart. As if that weren't enough, she is surprisingly small. Her diminutive size means she had no problem artfully cleaning around toilets or under furniture, which is exactly the kind of thing you want in a mopping robot...
Filling the water tank is a bit of a pain because there's a microscreen to prevent stuff from getting in there and clogging Joy's nozzle. The microscreen is so good at its job that it's actually kind of tough to even get water through! You have to fill with a slow dribble to give the water time to settle...
The Braava Jet has four types of cleaning pads available, and can automatically sense which is attached so she knows how to clean and whether or not to spit water out...
I bought some of the reusable pads but, since I can't fill Joy with a cleaning agent, you're pretty much just wet mopping. The fuzzy head does seem like it might clean grout between tiles a little better than a flat pad, but otherwise it doesn't seem like it can break down dirt as well as the disposable pads? Maybe if you pre-sprayed a vinegar/water solution on dirty spots it would be okay. Since I've only used the reusable pads after cleaning with the regular wet-mop pads, I'm not sure.
Right about now you may be saying "All that's well and good, Dave, but how do your cats like Joy?"
I've said many times how much my cats hate Carl the RoboVac. It's so bad that I am convinced that Jenny is conspiring with Clay the Litter-Robot to kill him. But Joy is a different story. Jake and Jenny don't seem to have a problem with her, and can sit and watch her clean for long periods of time...
Heaven only knows how long this friendly relationship will last. My hope is that eventually the cats will just ignore her.
And now the pros and cons of the iRobot Braava Jet...
Overall? I'm quite happy with the Braava Jet RoboMop. For what she is and what she's designed to do, Joy is a great addition to my growing robot collection. She makes me want to investigate buying her bigger brother, the Braava 380t, which is designed for larger rooms. That might be a good solution for mopping my open-concept living/dining room's wood floors. The only thing that gives me pause is that my hideously-expensive wood ended up being total crap that slivers and splinters in spots, which causes Swiffer-type pads to snag. I've already gone around on my hands and knees to try and sand them out, but more are always appearing. Carl doesn't seem to have a problem with it, thankfully, so maybe a Braava isn't in the cards. Manually "spot-mopping" might be the way to go. I'm not too broken up about this because the bathrooms and kitchens are the places most in need of mopping.
If you need an occasional light mopping in your home, then the Braava Jet might be the robot for you. Especially if you have furniture that needs cleaning under. I'm giving Joy my Dave Seal of Approval.
It's Halloween again!
This past week when I was at Home Depot, all their decorations and spooky stuff was on sale for 50% off, which wasn't tempting to me (what a waste of money!)... until I saw two cat skeletons for $9 each. Now that I'm interested in.
Jake and Jenny? Well... not so much. They sniffed around for ten seconds, then went on with their busy lives...
Hopefully my trick-or-treaters will be more intrigued with Dead Jake and Dead Jenny than the live versions were...
And don't forget my awesome wreath addition...
Now that decorating is done, all that's left to do is pass out the candy...
Guess we'll see how many trick-or-treaters I get this year. Last year it didn't top 60.
It's not every day you get to see your colon on TV!
But for me, that day was today because I had a colonoscopy. And, though you're gloriously sedated on The Good Drugs, you can still watch the ass-cam as it plays on a television.
Tonight we're going to look at something most of us take for granted... the colon. What does it look like?
And you get take-home souvenir pictures too!
So that's what it looks like! I gotta say, I have a damn sexy colon!
Colon cancer is one of the few cancers you can prevent if you catch polyps before they go bad. Turns out that I had one small polyp that was easily burned off. No telling if it would have ever became cancerous, but better safe than sorry, I suppose.
Despite the invasiveness of having a camera shoved up your butt, the procedure itself is not a big deal. As I said, you're mildly sedated, so you may even sleep through it.
No... where the problem lays is the preparation for the procedure.
For obvious reasons, you have to clean out your colon so that there's no... errr... "stuff" in the way of the camera. You start off with a no-fiber diet four days before your colonoscopy, then... ZOMFG... the day before your appointment... you have to drink 4 liters of this heinous stuff called "CoLyte" that CLEANS. YOU. OUT. Seriously cleans you out. As in "Stay-By-The-Toilet-Forever-Cleans-You-Out." As in "Turns-Your-Sphincter-To-Hamburger-Cleans-You-Out." It's so awful. But necessary. Because the benefits far outweigh the horrors of the prep.
So... once you turn 50, you should really get a colonoscopy.
Then look forward to your next one every five years...
The gravy stain? — No, that came out.
The colonoscopy prep though? Not so much. Ain't nobody looking forward to that. In the meanwhile, time to watch Real Genius again for the hundredth time.
Checking in on the cats via the security camera system is always a mixed bag.
Most times, they're sleeping or looking out the window. No big deal.
But other times? Not so much...
Okay... let's unpack all that's wrong with what's going on here.
First of all, Joy the RoboMop has violated her "boundary" and has left the kitchen to mop my hardwood... something that's fine, I guess, but not what I wanted her to do.
Second of all... do you see those neatly-stacked, carefully-sorted piles of dirty laundry? Oh... neither do I... my cats tore into it and made one giant mess out of it all. Glad some cats and robots are having fun breaking all the rules today.
Lastly... Where are my frickin' cats? I have checked every camera and haven't seen them! My guess is that there was a loud noise and they're hiding under the couch or under the bed or something. Either that or they've totally escaped, and now I have a new adventure awaiting me after work.
Can you imagine how boring my life would be without cats and robots?
It's going on a year since my last tattoo. Granted, it was a good one... the biggest I've had done yet... but I'm getting antsy for some new ink.
Problem is I don't know what I want. And I'm not sure where I want it.
This is where I'm at now...
My right arm... my Buddhist arm... still has a couple more pieces to go on my forearm, but I'm feeling a little off-balance so I'll probably wait. My left arm... my pop culture arm... has only two pieces. I know I want icons on my inner-upper arm (Batman symbol, Red Sox symbol, Apple symbol, Buckaroo Banzai logo, etc.) and something pirate-themed on my lower outer-upper arm (Bad Monkey fighting a giant octopus keeps popping in my head). If I keep with my arms, it will probably be one of those two things.
I don't think I want anything on my chest or back. At least not right now.
My lower legs are always an option, though I'm not sure what I'd want to do there. I've thought maybe there could be something comic book related or Invader Zim related or, most likely travel related... but it's tough to think of how I might present it in a way that will work with what I've started with.
Oh well. I've got time. I don't like traveling in the winter, so it will probably be Spring before I get back to my artist in San Francisco.
At which time I'll probably just get "LEGEND" tattooed on my forehead.
This entire day has been nothing but shitty from start to finish.
I'd ask for a do-over, but just my luck it would end up worse than the first time around.
What I really need is a drink... a lot of drinks. But it's cold out and I'm too tired to make that happen. So I guess I'm just sitting here watching TV sober and hoping I fall asleep soon so it will all just end.
While unpacking from my vacation, I found a strip of pills given to me by the doctor onboard the Ushuaia for motion sickness. When crossing The Drake Passage I took one the night before hitting rough waters, but didn't find I needed them for the two days of trauma that followed, so I never used them. I thought I gave them all away, but apparently I did not.
I had no luck using the Pill Identifier at Drugs.com (my go-to site for identifying mystery pills), so I typed in what information I could find from the partial package I had... "Janssen" and "ugero" and "75"... which resulted in Stugeron 75 MG Tablet...
Stugeron is a medicine that belongs to the category of antihistaminic medications. It is used to treat problems associated with the inner ear and the brain. This medicine is used to treat dizziness and sickness associated with motion sickness.
Apparently this is a better drug for motion sickness than the Promethazine I had requested from my personal doctor. When the ship's doctor had us bring any medications we were going to use to dinner to show her, she just kind of chuckled and shook her head "no" while handing me the Stugeron. Needless to say, I took her word for it, because I'm guessing somebody serving on a ship would know what works best.
Ah the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals!
Which is a strange thing for me to say given my raging hatred for "Big Pharma" and the way they manipulate doctors into over-prescribing their over-priced crap.
Gabapentin, which I like to refer to as "The Miracle Drug," has been life-changing for me. After being plagued with ever-worsening "restless leg syndrome" for years, I finally got relief (and a good night's sleep) once I consulted Dr. Google and found that people were getting good results with Gabapentin. I begged my doctor to let me try it and, 600mg a night later, my quality of life has improved so profoundly over the last couple months that I am almost moved to tears just thinking about it.
Not all drugs are all bad all the time. Sometimes they are a necessary part of life that you just have to accept and be grateful for.
And I am.
Even though I still wish drugs were cheaper, doctors wouldn't be so quick to throw a bunch of drugs at every problem that walks through the door, and Big Pharma would be forbidden from influencing doctors and politicians with their endless supply of money.
Time for Gabapentin and bed now.
And so... I'm heading over the mountains for a short holiday vacation.
All week I was a little apprehensive because the weather forecast kept changing, but it ended up being a beautiful day with bare roads and pretty scenery. A piece of cake drive to be sure...
Alas, my visor-clip broke apart half-way through, so I missed recording some of the glorious snow-filled wonder.
Catch you after Christmas!
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.
2017 was far from ideal. And yet... compared to the bucket of never-ending suck that was 2016, it was a vast improvement. So I can't really complain.
• Said goodbye to President Obama, a president that I never learned to truly appreciate until the total disaster that's now occupying The White House moved in...
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
• Took my cats to the vet for the first time, something I am definitely not looking forward to doing again in the New Year...
• Went to Disneyland for work, then ranked my all-time favorite Disney attractions.
• Yesterday I listed my favorite albums of 2017. Last March I listed my all-time most hated songs that everybody else seems to love.
• Flew to San Francisco to see one of my favorite new musical artists, Wrabel, with my (literal) rockstar friend Aaron.
• Headed to Las Vegas, where I finally ziplined down Fremont Street, among other things.
• Said goodbye to Lil' Spicey...
• Built a built-in desk... for my cats, apparently.
• Flew to Denver to celebrate my good friend Howard's 50th birthday with the Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2!
• Built new built-ins for my bedroom closet, which turned out amazing...
• Had one of the biggest scares of my life during The Great Jake Escape...
• Back to Vegas again (for work this time).
• Said goodbye to my long-time blogging friend, Anissa.
• Welcomed Carl the RoboVac to my family...
• Flew to Maine for blueberries (and for work).
• Said a painful goodbye to my good friend and long-time blogging buddy, Howard.
• Lived through Raccoonageddon.
• Live-blogged my photographing the eclipse (with my cats).
• Read The Nashville Statement so you don’t have to.
• Lived through another round of wildfires in my neck of the woods.
• Built a tunnel for a bird to escape my home before my cats could murder it...
• Wrote "Second Amendments and Horse Shit" which surprised some people, I'm sure.
• Had some extra money that came my way and wrote about what I did with it... which included getting some old negatives scanned...
• Added Joy the Mopping Robot to Carl the RoboVac and my growing family.
• Got my cats into the Halloween spirit...
• Had a colonoscopy... and posted photos of my beautiful colon (you're welcome!).
• Flew to Maine and finally visited Acadia National Park...
• Visited the Eastern-Most Point in the USA at West Quoddy Head Light on a bad weather day...
• Was first in the USA to see the sun rise at Cadillac Mountain...
• Flew to Buenos Aires and visited Evita at Recoleta Cemetery...
• Took in the view at The End of the World...
• Headed out across The Drake Passage in some of the roughest seas on earth...
• Fulfilled a life-long dream when I finally set foot on Antarctica for the first time...
• Photographed Antarctica icebergs at "night"...
• Explored the lives of penguins...
• Had one of the most amazing days of my life when I stepped foot on the seventh continent...
• Got up-close-and-personal with some whales...
• More penguin photography at Half Moon Island in Antarctica...
• Used Apple's new "iPhone Update Plan" so I could buy an iPhone X and post my thoughts on the astoundingly expensive thing.
And there you have it, the year that was the major events in my 2017.
Well, the ones I shared on my blog, anyway.
Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through the not-so-great times. Though, I have to say, closing out the year with my bucket-list trip to Antarctica certainly had it ending on a high note.
Here's to a good 2018, everybody.
Snow is frickin' dumping down today.
I mean really coming down.
I had to drive to The Big City and back for a dentist appointment and ended up regretting that I didn't cancel it. The roads were plowed earlier in the morning, but conditions worsened since then and there's a pretty big accumulation of snow and slush you have to drive through... even on the highway. Also? People are driving like frickin' morons. One person in a small van thought that they would cruise around us cars driving at a SANE speed for the conditions. I watched as they got sucked into the slush and rammed their vehicle straight into the center barricade. I was laughing my ass off as I passed. Maybe I shouldn't have... perhaps the driver had an emergency... but 99 times out of 100, this kind of thing happens to people who get what they deserve for driving stupid. It's just fortunate they didn't take anybody else down with them.
Oh... and on the way back from the dentist I stopped for lunch. As I was getting out of my car, I heard a guy screaming "OH YEAH! FUCK YOU! DON'T SLOW DOWN, ASSHOLE! I DON'T FUCKING CARE! FUUUUUUCK YOOOOUUUU!" which was subsequently repeated all over again.
Turns out he was shoveling the sidewalk and when cars drove by he was getting totally douched in dirty slush water. He was not happy. Didn't help that he was absolutely not dressed for the job in non-waterproof clothing and was probably soaked down to his tookus. Oh well. Live and learn, buddy. Live and learn.
I honestly don't mind winter weather. I've lived in it since I was 5 years old and learned how to drive in it since I first started driving. No, I don't like having to clean snow off my car, but snow is pretty, and I've grown accustomed to having it around town...
I usually end up hating it from Day One as well as liking it, because people are stupid assholes.
That's true for most things though.