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Bullet Sunday 488

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Dave!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...

Jake Sleeping in a Very Odd Position

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!

Thrice Fiction Magazine Issue No. 18

   
• 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.

   

SECURE IT, DAMMIT!

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Dave!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!

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Big Mistake, Michelle

Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dave!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." —TV Zone Magazine, January 2005

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.

Thanks, internet!

   

*Yeah, that's putting it mildly. This is what the internet was like in 1998...

   

   

Welcome to Home Ownership

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Dave!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.

Oh well.

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.

Yay.

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.

   

The Cats of YouTube

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Dave!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...

Jake Loves YouTube!

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.

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Monday Lessons in Angst

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017

Dave!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.

Kitty Fountain!

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.

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Tacoless Tuesday

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Dave!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!

Empty Taco Shell Box!

Taco salad it is then.

sigh

   

Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse 2017

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Dave!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...

Dave Mountain!

There's probably been a foot more snow since then. Here's the view out my kitchen window...

Dave Mountain!

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.

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Sunset Garage

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Dave!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?

Probably.

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.

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The Horrors of the Bedpan

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2017

Dave!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.

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Pass Report

Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dave!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...


Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

   
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.

   

Couching

Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017

Dave!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...

Jake on the Couch

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...

Jenny at the Window!

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...

Jenny on the Cat Tower Judging You

None too impressed, is she?

Honestly, I think that's her natural state.

She is a cat, after all.

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Veterinary Email Horrors

Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Dave!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...
   

Jenny Needs a Vet Appointment for her FelV Vaccination!

   
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.

So...

Pants shitting aside, all's well that ends well.

Sometimes, anyway.

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Caturday 18

Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Dave!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...

Baby Kitties

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.

Anyway...

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...

Jenny Watches TV

Once it's on, she'll have a seat...

Jenny Watches TV

And watch for an hour or more...

Jenny Watches TV

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...

Jenny Watches TV

When that doesn't work, she throws herself down and pouts...

Jenny Watches TV

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...

Jake Hanging Out

And on me in the evening when I get home from work...

Jake Hanging Out

Covered in cats from sunrise to sunset.

There are worse ways to spend a day.

   

Snow Lapse

Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017

Dave!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...

Dave Mountain Dissolves!

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...

Dave Mountain!

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.

   

Some Seeds

Posted on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Dave!Oh look!

That cat I planted has finally sprouted!


FakeJake!

   
Guess that means Spring is finally here...

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All Those Yesterdays

Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Dave!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...

Jake Don't Care!

So here's to life.

Such as it is.

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A Good Friday

Posted on Friday, April 14th, 2017

Dave!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...

  • Built-in desk for reading nook (with printer cart).
  • Back patio fence
  • Back patio bird feeder pole.
  • Catio run to sun room extension.
  • Catio grass bed and toy wall.
  • Catio climber/scratcher posts.
  • New farmhouse bed for guest bedroom.
  • Wall bed for  office  cat's play room.
  • Closet shelving and organizer.
  • New kitchen cupboard and drawer facings.
  • Living room kitty condo.
  •  Office  cat's play room kitty condo.
  • Collapsible wall-mount tool bench.
  • Collapsible miter saw and table saw closet.

How many projects I get through depends on how much time I can scrape together over the summer.

But I'm starting now.

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Caturday 21

Posted on Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Dave!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...

Built-In Nook Desk

Built-In Nook 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.

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Welcome to 1982

Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2017

Dave!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."...

Ad with Reader Serice Card Number

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...

Reader Serice Card Number

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...

Ad with Reader Serice Card Number

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.

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Getting Away From It All

Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Dave!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...

Tristan da Cunha Map

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.

   

That Stuff You Like

Posted on Friday, April 21st, 2017

Dave! 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...

  1. Passport. Traveling the world has been the gift that keeps giving. Of all the "stuff" I have, this is probably the one thing that means the most to me.
  2. iPhone. While being in constant contact with the world is both a blessing and a curse, my life has gotten so much easier... so much better... because of my iPhone. The thing I love most about it is the freedom. So many things, both for work and for my personal life, are possible most everywhere I go. Whether it's being able to login to an FTP server and transfer a file... or being able to call up a map when I'm lost... I can do almost anything when I have an iPhone and a mobile data connection. I try not to take it for granted, but it's so integrated into my life that I inevitably do so. And then there's the camera. So many moments would have never been captured without the awesome (and super-handy) camera in my phone.
  3. MacBook Pro. Even though mine has been giving me fits lately, having a laptop powerful enough to unchain me from a desk is something I'm grateful for almost every day.
  4. Garage. In the winter I love having a garage so I don't have to clean snow off my car every morning. It's also nice to have a place to store stuff. And come summer I can convert the space to a wood shop. I've never had a garage before buying a home, and having to go back to life without one would be tough.
  5. Catio. It was important to me if I got cats that they would be indoor cats because it's so much safer for them given where I live. But because I am gone to work all day and travel a lot, I worried an exclusively indoor life wouldn't offer much stimulation for them... regardless of how many toys I bought. A catio is the ultimate compromise. The cats can be outside, but still stay safe. And they are endlessly entertained by everything going on out there, so they hang out in the catio all day long. Probably one of the best investments I've ever made.
  6. Television. I am a big fan of television shows and watching movies at home. Having a nice big TV makes it more of an event.
  7. Refrigerator with Crushed Ice Maker and Filtered Water Dispenser. I love love love crushed ice in my drinks. Not just in summer... all yer long. But short of putting ice in a bag and bashing it with a hammer... or trying to get it to crush in a blender... or buying a bag of the stuff only to have no freezer space to store it or having the ice all stick together in a giant blob if you do... it's just too much of a pain in the ass. Which is why when I got my new place, the first appliance on my list to buy was a refrigerator/freezer with a crushed ice dispenser. The filtered water dispenser is equally nice. I drink more water now than I ever have. So healthy!
  8. Guest Room. It doesn't get used very often, but boy am I grateful to have a very nice guest room when I need one. Especially for elderly family and friends who would be more comfortable in their own room than crashing on a couch like I would. And now I'm putting a wall-bed in  my office  the cat's play room because there's been a couple times that having a second room for guests would have been handy. I hope whomever ends up in that room doesn't mind sharing (though the cats almost always choose to sleep with me).
  9. Power Tools. I love my drill. I love my miter saw. I love my pneumatic nailer. I love my new router. I even love my favorite jigsaw. I may have only started woodworking last year, but it's quickly become my favorite activity. And having a bunch of awesome tools lets my imagination run wild when working on projects.
  10. Photos. Photos of all my trips. Photos of my friends and family. All those memories that photos bring back.

   
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.

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Compositional Reality

Posted on Monday, April 24th, 2017

Dave!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...

Stock Photos

Then downloaded preview images into Photoshop so I could see if they would fit together well...

Rough Comp

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"...

Rough Comp

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!

   

Understated Gravy

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Dave!   
I like to think that I am a fairly tolerant and accepting person.

   

   

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Gone Flat

Posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Dave!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?

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A Day of Dave

Posted on Friday, April 28th, 2017

Dave!Woke up.

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.

Drove home.

Got distracted by the cats.

Watched television for an hour.

Remembered I had a trunk full of expensive frozen groceries that were melting.

Unloaded groceries.

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.

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Told You

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Dave!   
I'm so done with it all.


Lil' Dave's Mind is Blown

   

   

Everybody Loves BuddhaCat!

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Dave!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.

And so...

BuddhaCat

My desk is just across from a part of my collection, so BuddhaCat is right at home...

BuddhaCat

He's kind of big, but still fit easily behind the desk pad I got at IKEA on Friday...

BuddhaCat

The cats wasted absolutely no time investigating their new cat companion...

BuddhaCat

BuddhaCat

I must admit that I'll kind of miss having BuddhaCat as my co-pilot though...

BuddhaCat

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.

   

Bullet Sunday 506

Posted on Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Dave!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...

My Dogwood Tree is in Bloom!

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 V for Vendetta, The Wachowskis have released nothing but shit. And I can honestly say that I can't recall liking anything Straczynski has ever produced... from his Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comic books to the steaming pile of shit known as Babylon 5. But, after seeing some acclaim for Sense8... I watched it. And actually ended up enjoying the show despite some idiotic story elements and an even more fucking idiotic Wilhelm Scream in the finale. And now here we are with the release of Season Two...

Sense8 Cast!

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...

Check Out Yourself!

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...

   

Burritos on a Monday

Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2017

Dave!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.

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Generation Why

Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Dave!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...

HIPSTER DOLLY!

   
Over it.

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...

HIPSTER DOLLY!

   
Over it.

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...

   
Over it.

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?

Probably not.

His body may have cost six million dollars to repair... but his feeling weren't worth a buck-oh-five.

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As Many Mondays Past

Posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Dave!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...

Stupid Irises on the Ground!

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...

Yellow Irises!

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...

Jenny Wants Pets!

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...

Jake Wants Pets!

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...

Apple iTunes Streaming Sucks Shit Through a Tube!

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.

Anyway...

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.

   

Spy Pain and the Homecoming King

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Dave!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...

James Bond Returns in MOONRAKER!

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.

   

A Massive Nozzle and Ceiling Fans

Posted on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Dave!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...

Silver Ceiling Fan

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...

Filtration System Schematic

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...

Filtration System Schematic with Blockage

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.

   

Shave and a Hair Cut… Two Bits!

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Dave!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.

The Fifth Element!

   
Until they weren't.

I joked with friends that I look like the insane "Smoke You" neighbor of Korbin Dallas in The Fifth Element...

The Fifth Element!

   
LEELOODALLASMULTIPASS!

The Fifth Element!

   
Anyway...

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...

The Fifth Element!

   
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...

The Fifth Element!

   
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.

   

Abandon All Hope for Humanity

Posted on Friday, May 26th, 2017

Dave!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.

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Caturday 25

Posted on Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Dave!Shedding.

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!

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...

Jenny Got Brushed!

Jenny Got Brushed!

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...

Out in the Catio!

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...

Fake Jake Encounter!

Fake Jake Encounter!

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...

Fake Jake Pets!

Fake Jake Pets!

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...

It's Jake!

It's Jake with his Toungue Out!

And... that's about it for cat news this week.

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Nothing, with All That it Entails

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Dave!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...

XXX

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.

   

I Wish I Cared

Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Dave!"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.

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Caturday 26

Posted on Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Dave!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...

Jake and Jenny at the Window Screen

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...

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

I was taking photos of him, so I actually caught the moment when it happened...

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

He was undeterred by my pain and didn't let up on wanting more petting...

Fake Jake Mauling

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...

Jake Hanging on the Bed

He's not so sweet when he's busting the heck out of the last two crackers in the package...

Jake Eating My Crackers

But at least he eats what he kills...

Jake Eating My Crackers

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...

Jenny Hanging Out

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...

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Such a pretty girl.

And, with that, I'm off to make more noise, dust, and stink in my bedroom.

   

Some Ants Love Fats and I’ve Got Moles

Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Dave!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."
"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...

Moles Are Cute... Photo from Adobe Stock!

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...

Mole Holes in my Yard!

I may not have a yard left by Thursday!

I always wondered where "Whack-A-Mole" came from.

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The Full Three Hole Monty

Posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Dave!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?!?

MONTY!!!!

Yard Care Horror!

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.

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One Hundred Sixteen

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Dave!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...

Wonder Woman: The Art of 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.

   

The Great Jake Escape

Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2017

Dave!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?

No.

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.

No Jake.

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...

Jake Outside!

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...

Jake Rescued from Outside!

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:

  1. Jake paces back and forth, pushing on the roof at different spots. It's like he knows he can push through somewhere if he can get the leverage.
  2. I can't see where he drops to the ground. I'm guessing he jumps over to the shrub, and climbs down that way?
  3. Jenny totally watches him escape.
  4. Eventually Jenny pushes through the roof as well, but chooses not to leave. Thank heavens.
  5. The catio is now closed, pending my securing the roof panels.

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...

Jake Watches Jenny!

Jenny Watches Jake!

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...

Jake Safe Inside!

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...

Short Screws!

Short Screws!

I'm replacing them all with screws that are 2-1/2" times longer.

Short Screws!

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.

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The Legion of Super-Heroes

Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Dave!Ah memories.

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)...

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 253

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...

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 253

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.

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The Art of Cloning Wednesdayly

Posted on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Dave!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 ...

Dave 2.1 and 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.

   

James Whitcomb Riley

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Dave!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...

The Volumes of James Whitcomb Riley

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.

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Anissa Means-Bacon-Mayhew

Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Dave!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...

Anissa Loves Tacos

Tacos.

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...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3
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.

And then...

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...

Atlanta Blogger Meet
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.

   

Mindlessly Overwhelming

Posted on Friday, July 21st, 2017

Dave!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.

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Howard and The Love You Take

Posted on Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Dave!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...

Daveorado
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...

Jake and Jenny Darth Vader

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...

Take a listen to Postiljonen...

   
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...

Howard and Josh...

   
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 love you, Howard

   
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...

It's Howard!

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.

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Asphyxia Again

Posted on Monday, August 7th, 2017

Dave!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.

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Every Day is Like Sunday

Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Dave!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...

   

When Cameron Was in Egypt’s Land…

Posted on Friday, August 11th, 2017

Dave!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...

   

LIVEBLOG: Total Eclipse of my Fart

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017

Dave!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.

   

11:30am
Annnd... I think I'm out. Until next eclipse, everybody!

Total Eclipse Finale!

11:25am
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...

Total Eclipse Kittehs!

Total Eclipse Kittehs!

Total Eclipse Kittehs!

Total Eclipse Kittehs!

   

11:20am
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...

Total Eclipse Carl!

   

11:15am
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...

Total Eclipse Flowers!

Total Eclipse Flowers!

Total Eclipse Flowers!

Total Eclipse Flowers!

   

11:10am
And... still going...

Total Eclipse. Still!

   

10:50am
Seriously... is this ever going to end?

Total Eclipse. Still!

   

10:45am
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...

Total Eclipse Shadows!

   

10:40am
This eclipse is lasting forever! Cats are so not impressed...

Total Eclipse Cats!

Total Eclipse Cats!

   

10:30am
Never got very dark. Just kind of overcast-looking... but with blue skies and sun. If that makes any sense...

Total Eclipse Scenery!

   

10:22am
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)...

Total Eclipse Uneclipsed Sun Shot!

   

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)...

Total Eclipse Uneclipsed Sun Shot!

   

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...

Total Eclipse Fake Jake!

Total Eclipse Fake Jake!

   

9:00am
This is my setup. My Sony a7R Mark II with the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens (and solar filter) attached...

Total Eclipse Camera!

   

8:25am
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...

Total Eclipse Filter!

Total Eclipse Filter!

The cats decided to inspect my work...

Total Eclipse Filter Cat Inspection!

Total Eclipse Filter Cat Inspection!

   

8:10am
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.

Total Eclipse Catio Cats!

   

8:00am
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.

   

7:20am
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...

Total Eclipse Mapper at TIME!

   

7:00am
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...

Total Eclipse of my Cupcake!

   

Flat Earther Dumbfuckery

Posted on Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017
Dave!When I was at the early stages of planning my trip to Antarctica, I ran across something... strange.

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...

Flat Earth GIF
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...

Eclipse Schedule!

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.

Riiiiiight.

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.

   

Happy Hump Day

Posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Dave!It's been one of those weeks.

Fortunately, it's half over.


Beric Game of Thrones

   
Can't get this coming Sunday's Game of Thrones season finale out of my head.

Something to look forward to, anyway.

   

Do The Right Thing

Posted on Friday, August 25th, 2017

Dave!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.

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Customer-Hostile Packaging

Posted on Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Dave!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."

Barf.

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...

Stupid-Ass Confusing Morningstar Farms Packaging

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)...

Stupid-Ass Confusing Morningstar Farms Packaging

   
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?"

   

Well Hung!

Posted on Friday, September 1st, 2017

Dave!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...

Dave's National Parks Poster 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...

Dave's National Parks Posters!

Dave's National Parks Posters!

   
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...

Sea Creatures!

Kind of nice to have artwork and photos in my home that are by somebody other than me!

   

Laborious Bot

Posted on Monday, September 4th, 2017

Dave!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...

Carl the RoboVac at Work!

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.

   

Air Quality and You

Posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Dave!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...

Missing Mountains!

Smokey Valley
To see the full resolution, click photo to embiggen.

   
You can kinda see hills there... but that's it...

Smokey Valley

   
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 Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Jake eventually gave up and climbed on my lap for attention...

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Though it seems as thought he's finally getting wise to my photographing him...

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Silly kitty.

Here's hoping tomorrow's air quality is better than today. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

   

Inside Cats

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Dave!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.

   

Natural Disasters

Posted on Friday, September 8th, 2017

Dave!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...

XXX

XXX

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.

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Giant Murder Spiders and Rearend Cellular

Posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Dave!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...

Sleepy Catio Kities

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...

Giant Murder Spider

THE HORROR! I mean, come on... she just dumped the dead body into her web and went back to hiding in the door frame...

Giant Murder Spider

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.

   

I Have Half of Twenty Questions

Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Dave!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...

  1. Does a tablespoon of peanut butter count as "food" when taking a pill that needs to be taken with food? It's all that sounded good.
  2. Have my cats totally figured me out? Whenever Jake see's me walking upstairs now, he dashes up ahead of me and stops half-way because he knows I will always stop to pet him. Jenny knows exactly how to curtail my morning routine in order to get petted. They know exactly what to do to get exactly what they want, and I'm starting to feel programmed!
  3. How does one walk into Home Depot and spend less than $100, even when they don't need anything and just wanted to look at something real quick? Asking for a friend.
  4. I am building new cabinet doors, which requires a pocket screw jig, a concealed hinge jig, and a cabinet hardware jig to do a good job. Am I EVER going to run out of tools to buy? Because every time I start a new project, there's something new I have to get. I honestly thought that my biscuit cutter would be the end of it, but here we are.
  5. Is it just me, or has "Younger" jumped the shark? I really liked the first two seasons... but now I'm only watching because I like Debi Mazar.
  6. I have a web browser shortcut to Facebook which takes me directly to "Most recent stories"... where Facebook ALWAYS gives me a link which says "Back to top stories." Why in the hell is Facebook forever trying to make me look at Top Stories? Do they get more money? What the fuck do they care how I order my stories? Why not let me set Facebook to ALWAYS show "Most recent stories," which is what I want?
  7. And, while we're at it... why the fuck does Facebook put OLD stories in "Most recent stories" just because somebody commented on them? A comment doesn't make an old story "new" again, dumbasses. If I want to look at a new comment on an old story, I'll click on it in the Notifications drop-down.
  8. I loathe Pillsbury canned biscuits... they have an acidic/burnt oil residual taste that grosses me out. But then I bought the Pillsbury frozen biscuits on a whim, and love them. Not only do they taste amazing, but I can bake only as many as I want instead of a whole batch! Will I ever make homemade biscuits again? I honestly don't know... because the frozen biscuits are kinda expensive. But so easy. And yummy.
  9. Why am I fascinated by absolutely everything my cats do? I love watching them do simple stuff like eat, sit, walk, sleep, and give themselves a bath even. I thought it would get old after a year-and-a-half, but it hasn't. I'm as obsessed as I ever was.
  10. How do I fit more hours in the day? Because I've got a stack of new LEGO Dimensions expansion packs sitting on my dresser, and they aren't going to play themselves. With all the work and projects on my plate, I have no idea when I'll ever get to them. IF I'll ever get to them.

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.

   

Wreaths and Hair-Trigger Shotguns

Posted on Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Dave!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!

My New Fall Wreath

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...

Punk Ass Door Knocker

Punk Ass Door Knocker

Punk Ass Door Knocker

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.

This time.

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.

   

Not My Type

Posted on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Dave!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.

And Q's.

Fuck Q's.

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Affordable Courtesy

Posted on Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Dave!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."

Approaching Valletta

   
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.

   

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