Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2021
Happy 2021 to my blogging family and friends!
My day started with my cats chasing each other around the house, jumping on my bed at 5:10am. Rather than get all salty about not being able to sleep-in on my day off, I got up and set my SourJo bread starter out so I’ll have no excuse to not bake a couple loaves today. I tell you what, there can’t be a better way to start the year than kitties and freshly-baked bread, amiright?
2020 was a tough year. Without the usual nonsense in my life and my travels to distract me, I have been mired in my failures and obsessing over the people in my life that didn’t make it to 2021. Sometimes I wake up with my heart grinding in my chest and find it difficult to breathe because I just want my life The Way It Used To Be instead of what I have left. That’s not on the pandemic though. I think it’s just a part of growing older and being on the back-side of your life here on earth (unless I actually live to be 108. Oh God, please don’t let me live to be 108).
2021 is going to be a year of change for me. Hopefully for the better, but you never know. Absolutely everything is up in the air right now, and what becomes of it is anybody’s guess. For the time being I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, food to put on the table, cats to keep me company, a job to pay for it all, and people in my life I care about. I take nothing for granted because, as I’ve been made painfully aware, nothing lasts forever and life can change on a dime.
I don’t do resolutions, but I hope that I can find it in my heart to be a kinder person... a better person in 2021. I’ve been so beat down by the atrocities that unfold in the news every day that I’ve had to harden my heart and become more cynical to survive it. That’s no way to live, and hate is always more destructive to you than those you’re hating. I’ve tried so very hard not to hate. It’s been the overriding path I’ve attempted to walk since I started studying Buddhism in 1998. But I’m always tested. There’s always tests. And recent years have tested me like no other because there’s just so much awfulness in this world TO hate. But... maybe I can find enough peace in this new year to be more hopeful. To talk less and learn more. To look with wonder instead of being blinded by ignorance. To do more. Care more. Love more.
Don’t get me wrong... I’m still calling out the fucked up shit people do and say which brings harm myself and others. I’m not insane. If you know me at all, you know that NOT speaking out against pieces of shit is something I’m incapable of. If you’re willfully ignorant, I am not having your dumbassery. If you’re persecuting people living their best life at zero cost to anybody else, I am not tolerating your hatred. If you’re being an asshole, I am not embracing your abuse. It’s just that in 2021 I’ll be taking a blowtorch to your fucked up bullshit with 15% more love in my heart. Because I’m a good person that way.
And so... here’s to a new year. Hopefully a better year than the one we’re leaving behind. I’ll be doing my best to make it happen for me and for everybody, because I’ll be taking a blowtorch to my fucked up bullshit where I find it too. But mostly I’ll be watching trash television, scrolling through TikToks, and petting my cats which, let’s face it, probably does more good for the planet than being all shouty on my blog.
Besides, I have bread to take out of the oven...
All my best to you and yours from me and mine for a happy, healthy, and productive 2021!
Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2021
Well today is sure shaping up to be a treat.
I started work very early today because I noticed before going to be last night that I had quite a load of emails piled up which I had been avoiding since last Thursday. I was tired, but I had a Coke Zero to keep me on-point, so it was all good. I fed the cats when Alexa chimed and Jake and Jenny came running into my room at top speed, grabbed an apple for breakfast, then went back upstairs to work while in bed. Because it's warm and comfy up there.
And proceeded to trip on the stairs and twist my ankle because I was trying to avoid a cat toy that I didn't notice on the way down.
It was all downhill from there.
Culminating with the knee on my jeans completely ripping out when I sat down in my car...
I think that there was a small hole there that I could live with. But something happened in the last wash which took things to another level entirely. Oh well. Since I now look so fashion-forward (don't people pay to have their jeans pre-ripped so they look worn?), I went ahead and wore them into the office. And nobody said a thing.
In other news to give you an idea of how my day started...
You know how you wash your hair in the shower but then FORGET that you washed your hair so you wash your hair AGAIN... but since your hair is already clean, it doesn't know what to do with the shampoo and just becomes a mass of foam? — Well, guess what, that also happens when you forget that you've already washed your BODY. Which is what happened to me this morning. Not sure if women get this as badly as many men would... but... BODY WASH FOAM PARTY IN MY SHOWER THIS MORNING! The good news is that I am super-clean today. The bad news is that I am getting old enough that I forget when I've already washed myself.
Oh well. My brain was pretty good to me while it lasted.
Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
Eastern Washington is home to many, many small unincorporated towns which are basically just places which have some kind of historical reason for existing... a stop on a now-abandoned railroad or trail... an important business that used to be there... or maybe a place which intersects land owned by local farmers. And, to many of them, the nearest major city (usually Spokane) is 1 to 2 hours away. They usually don't have stores, shops, or restaurants to speak of (those being anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes away). If they're lucky, there might be some kind of general store with a few edible staples and various sundries amongst the grain and feed, but there's no full-on grocery store. Instead they have to make their own meals from what they can get at the nearest grocery store when they go once or twice a month. That's just how it goes.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
Partly because I am sick to fucking death of seeing political maps of Washington State where the entirety of Eastern Washington is painted red making it look like a gajillion people vote red and it's unfair that "blue Seattle gets to dictate who runs the state." That's a pretty gross exaggeration. Some of these towns which turn counties red have like A DOZEN PEOPLE in them. And land doesn't vote. So Washington State is getting the political representation which is actually representing the majority of the voters in it, regardless of what story a map is presenting.
However... the other side of that coin is the fact that these small towns DO exist. These dozens upon dozens of rural communities and the people in them DO endure. Often times they are the people who farm our land and grow our food and have communities which MEAN SOMETHING. So having them wholesale ignored by our State government is fucked up beyond all reason.
Is what's best for Seattle always going to be what's best for little Benge, Washington with its 50 people? Fuck no. But the rules Benge lives by are the rules major population centers over the Cascades dictate to them. District and County governments are supposed to have power to make sure they get fair representation but, let's face it, their power is severely limited in the grand scheme of things. Ain't nobody with major political power speaking up for the good people of Benge...
Benge, WA as seen from Google Maps, ©Google
The red dot on this map points to where Benge is in Washington State...
Benge, WA as seen in relation to Washington State from Google Maps, ©Google
Now, I've never been to Benge. Odds are I will never step foot in this town.
But a part of me really, really wants to.
I would love to travel to all these small, so-called "nothing" towns that dot my side of the state as a way of acknowledging that they exist. That the people who inhabit them deserve to be recognized for the thankless work they do to grow our food. To remind myself that they are a part of Washington too, and that the lives of their citizens mean something when it comes to the rest of the state.
Even when they get lumped into politics of a city that's four hours away.
I dunno. Benge is 2-1/2 hours from where I live. However, it's an easy 35 minute drive off I-90 on my next trip to Spokane... so maybe one day? I'd like to think that Benge would have a kind word for a stranger passing through town. It's a nice thought to have, isn't it? I'm from a small, rural, Eastern Washington community too, after all.
I just won't mention that there's a grocery store ten minutes from my house. No need to flaunt my big-little-city luxuries like that.
Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021
I'm just going to get this out there... not a fan of JaBiden.
I never wanted Joe Biden as my president. I definitely didn't want ex-prosecutor Kamala Harris as my Vice President. And Hillary Clinton, who is the very model of a garbage politician, was nowhere near my list of desired presidential candidates when she was shoved down our throats last election. But my thinking that she's "garbage" isn't saying much because 98% of our politicians are lobbyist-fed garbage as far as I'm concerned. So long as MONEY is allowed to corrupt our politics and buy off the government, the entire system is garbage.
But my loathing of Biden, Harris, and Clinton pales in comparison to how much I outright despise President Trump. His every single move was made to exclusively benefit himself, corporations, and the über-wealthy wealthy... in that order. Anybody who says otherwise has never actually looked at what he did for his four years in office and asked "Who does this really benefit? He exploited people's ignorance, bigotry, and Faith to screw us all.
So, yeah, I'm saying good riddance to Trump and will be very happy to say good riddance again when JaBiden leaves office.
Good Lord. How in the hell have we gotten here? That Trump and Biden are what we end up with as our leaders is is both inexplicable and sad. It's like the bar is now so low now that nothing will surprise me any more. Big Bird winning the presidential election in 2024? Yeah, sure. Whatever.
But what really gets me is how people become fanatically devoted to politicians in the first place. They're just people... not Jesus... or The Beatles. It makes zero sense... and I'm saying that about both Republicans and Democrats. I was absolutely bewildered by the Cult of Hillary Clinton. What was it about her that had people so consumed? And we don't even need to talk about the Cult of Donald Trump, which is even more bizarre to me. I mean...
Um... well... that's... unique? Is the word I'm looking for? Photo from the European Press Agency
From what can be theorized, anybody this devoted (yet this different in their varying ideology) are just all hating the same thing. Hate is what binds them together. It has nothing to do with loving their country, which was made quite clear when they assaulted the police, stormed the Capitol, tore down the American flag, then raised a Trump flag in its place. I mean, aren't those all the things that anybody who truly loves the USA would say are a bad thing?
What's amusing (for lack of a better word) is the sublime ignorance which is driving all this.
I've heard more than a couple times how people are branding this as a "revolution." I keep hearing things like "This is what had to happen! When we declared our independence in 1776, did we write a letter to the British telling them that we were going to be America? NO!! We went to war and kicked them out!"
Except... um... yeah... not so much.
The entire history of American Independence is well-documented, if anybody should care to investigate it. In actuality we wrote a rather important "letter" and did indeed "send it" to King George of England by publishing its text in colonial newspapers. It's called the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps you've heard of it? From what we know, the letter arrived in Britain via papers in Belfast the month after it was signed. It was all a formal affair, and the British even published a rebuttal to it and everything.
Also? There was massive support for the Revolutionary War. Like everybody in the colonies was behind it. This wasn't a splinter group who wanted to break away from England... absolutely everybody wanted it to happen. So a handful of people buying into completely unfounded election conspiracy theories which have been disproven over and over and over again... and even been disproven by Trump-voting Republicans... does not a revolution make.
I mean, I'm not happy Biden is our president either... but holy shit! SEDITION?!?
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm having another idiopathic angioedema attack. Half of my tongue has swollen so large that I am having difficulty swallowing. Which is a bummer, because that's he only way I can take huge loads of antihistamines in order to stop it from getting so large that it chokes me to death. What I'm having to do is crush them into powder, mix with water, then use a straw shoved way back in my mouth to get them in me. How fun!
My evening will be spent propped up by pillows with an epi-pen in my hand, just in case.
And, assuming there's a country left when I wake up in the morning, I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings for the United States of America.
Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2021
I have passed out exactly once in life, a long time ago. I was in high school. I wasn’t feeling well and had to have my blood drawn at the clinic so they could try to figure out what was going on. My mom and I were standing at the elevator and the next thing I knew I was waking up minutes later with strange people surrounding me and my face being slapped. I don’t remember anything about it and had to be told that I passed out.
Last night at around 10pm, my tongue swelled up on one side. I battled it with the antihistamines I was given for just this purpose... crushing them up so I could use a straw shoved back in my mouth to swallow them. I had my epi-pen ready just in case. I passed out around 7:30am. I remember the alarm going off to feed the cats. I remember coming back up stairs. And then... nothing. I woke up at 11:05, kinda half in bed. My tongue and the floor of my mouth still swollen a bit. Lips a little swollen too, which was new. But there was no pain, which was nice.
Passing out is so weird. One day I’m going to have to read up on the science about it. The thing that bugs me about it is not the losing consciousness, but the memory loss. I don’t remember ANYTHING. So weird!
...I remembered that I had my Apple Watch on, and it had recorded everything.
And the data it had collected is interesting...
As you can see from the above, I nodded off a little after 1:00am. Then I was wide awake (or being still) around 1:30am. I finally drifted off to sleep around 5am when the antihistamines I had been chugging all evening started to work. I was awakened from a deep sleep at 7am when the Alexa alarm went off to feed my cats breakfast.
I only thought that I passed out at 7:30am. What happened is that I passed out again immediately after I got back upstairs to my bedroom. And you can see it. No blue bars where I was drifting off into sleep... just an immediate crash from green to purple when I lost consciousness. Something I've never seen before.
Now, from a health standpoint, this is kinda scary.
But from a technical medical standpoint? How cool is that?!
The rest of the day was rough. I managed to go into the office, but my tongue was still swollen a bit, so it was not a comfortable experience for me. I think I may have even drooled during a Zoom meeting?
It's so hard to tell. Apple Watch doesn't record that information. Yet.
Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2021
I got up early this morning to get some work done before feeding the cats and running into Tourist Town to do some grocery shopping. Early morning shopping is the best shopping because the store is so empty. But also? My cupboards and refrigerator are low on staples, so I was excited about having food in the house again.
The other big draw for my grocery shopping today was a coupon I had which gives me $11 off a total of $110 or more. That's 10% off... on top of the other coupons I have. I love it when opportunities like this comes along, because it's the one time I allow myself to buy stuff that's not on sale. But you have to be careful. One penny under $110 and no discount for you. I kept careful track in my head and got to $120 (actual total $116.88), so way to go, me.
Along with a shiny new iPhone, I changed my service plan with AT&T. My new phone can do 5G, my service plan didn't have 5G, and even though I probably won't see 5G any time sooon where I live, I'd like it available when I travel (assuming I travel again). AT&T had a deal where I could get my two lines for $65 a line (with auto-pay and paperless billing enabled), and I'd actually be saving money in the long run over what I had, so sign me up...
Before (virtually) signing on the dotted line, I went over the details of what I would be charged very, very carefully with the phone rep. I wanted to be darn sure there weren't going to be any hidden fees above what I was already paying. After a very patient person went through everything with me... twice... I changed my plan to the new $65 per line.
My previous bill was a mess. I had no idea what was going on because AT&T jerks you around with pro-rated billing and activation fees and other stupid shit that I had no way of understanding. But then today my current bill with none of the extras arrives. And I looked it over very carefully. And, wouldn't you know it, only ONE of my lines was $65. The other was $75...
So I online-chat with AT&T and explain the problem. After pulling up my account, I'm told this:
I see that you have been charged for monthly service charge. That is why you got high in your bill.
I explain that my bill very clearly shows one of the lines was charged $75. Then I get this:
I see that you have been charged $65 for one account and $65 for another account. But this time they have added $8.33 for one account.
I then have to tell them that I am looking at my bill and it clearly shows one line is $75, so I don't know where they're seeing both are at $65. I don't care what the fees are showing, the amount per line I was quoted (and which is still showing on their website) is NOT being honored.
After a while of them "looking into it" I get this:
Yes you are right. Sorry for that. Let me go ahead a note to change that for you. So it will not reflect in your next billing cycle.
Look, I really want to give AT&T the benefit of doubt here, but I see this shit ALL THE TIME, so it's tough not to be cynical. I signed up for a new plan so I could get 5G at $65 a line (if I use auto-pay and paperless billing, which I do). but I'm charged $75 for one and $65 for the other. And the ENTIRE TIME I'm chatting with customer support, I think back to my grandmother and mother being easily confused by pages of bills that are designed to obscure how much YOU'RE ACTUALLY BEING BILLED FOR, and I know beyond any doubt that they would have just paid the overcharge month after month because they didn't know any better. And if they did call customer support, they undoubtedly would have believed the bullshit about "extra fees" and not pressed the issue any further.
This is rage inducing.
And I cannot help but ask... is AT&T doing this on purpose? Do they make their billing statements confusing and encourage auto-pay and paperless billing so they can rip you off and have less chance of being caught? I am seriously outraged right now. I'd dump these assholes in a second if other carriers were any better... but they're all the same, aren't they? So what good would it do?
If the Democrats in power want to make me happy after they're done sucking off the lobbyists lining up to pay them to betray US citizen interests... FIRST they can put us on permanent Daylight Saving Time so we're not dicking with the clocks twice a year. THEN they can pass an act which forces all these asshole companies to not hide all their charges when you sign up for shit. The price they advertise should be the price you pay... AND IT SHOULD INCLUDE ALL THE FUCKING FEES AND OTHER BULLSHIT THAT **NEVER** ALLOW YOU TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE PAYING BEFORE YOU COMMIT TO A CONTRACT!
But you know what? AT&T probably shovels millions upon millions upon millions to politicians so they can just keep doing exactly what they're doing. Which means nothing is going to change any time soon. Our politicians won't do anything to threaten that sweet, sweet lobbyist payola now would they?
At least not in my State. Senator Patty Murray is OWNED by the medical lobby, and we all know how much they just LOVE to obscure costs in their billing. Major surgery results in pounds of never-ending bills that are intentionally confusing so you just shut up and pay. Which is exactly the kind of behavior our politicians crave... "I'll shut up just so long as you pay."
God bless America.
Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2021
I honestly thought that once I got my Uninterruptible Power Supply that I'd never have a power outage again. That's just how things go for me. A problem comes up again and again and again... spend money to handle the problem for next time... the problem never happens again. I'm sure I'm not alone.
Installed my UPS on November 18th... had a power outage this past Tuesday.
Well I'll be darned!
Must to my delight, the UPS operated exactly as it was supposed to. My home automation, internet router, and NAS drive never lost power and there was no need to spend hours restarting and recovering my data with an "integrity check." Nice. So a big thank you to CyberPower for making a product that actually works. I was beginning to think that such a thing didn't exist any more.
Like my Samsung television. Less than five years old and the backlighting is already starting to screw up. My previous Sony television (now in my bedroom) has lasted over a decade. My television before that (a massive Sony widescreen tube television) lasted over 15 years. At this rate, my next television will last for 1-1/2 years? Holy crap.
Winter has been a massive disappointment this year.
Despite getting plenty cold for snow, it's mostly been rain. Any snow we get turns to rain the next day which leaves us with a mushy mess and icy streets. The day of my power outage two days ago, I found myself waking to at least 6 inches of snow. Then it sprinkled rain. So when I peeked out my window and could see cars sliding and getting stuck, I decided to work at home for a bit and wait for the snowplow. But eventually I needed to go into the office and took a chance. It's a tricky business. You have to drive fast enough so that you don't get stuck... but slow enough that you're not spinning out. I had a few dicey moments, but eventually made it to the main road. Just as I was congratulating myself, the snowplow turned onto my road.
Of course the guys hired to plow my driveway did it before the snowplow arrived, which meant a massive berm of snow was blocking my driveway when I got home. Not wanting to get out and shovel, I decided to accelerate to ramming speed and just bust my way through. Which went fine... but it sure felt like parts were going to be ripped out of my undercarriage.
As the berm has melted and re-froze each day, it's now become more of a ice curb than a snow berm. That cannot be solved by busting through it, so I've kinda created a path for my tires to drive through that gets me into my garage.
Probably should have just shoveled it while I had the chance.
But I know the minute I spend money for a snow shovel to solve the problem next time, it will never happen again, so I'm just going to pretend to be oblivious so I can save a buck.
You should know by now that I never learn.
Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2021
And so now I know what it's like to be wealthy!
I had a coupon for trying out the HelloFresh meal service. And, since their vegetarian options no longer seem to revolve exclusively around mushrooms (which I can't eat) and cauliflower or broccoli (which I won't eat), I took them up on their introductory offer. I signed up, selected vegetarian meals that sounded good, and got excited over trying something new.
My first box was due to arrive next week. For whatever reason, they screwed up and sent it this week. Which wouldn't have bothered me, except they sent meat dishes. I contacted them to explain the problem, they immediately credited me the cost, then told me to dispose of the carnivorous meals as I wished. So I gave all the meat to a neighbor and decided to try to refashion the recipes to be vegetarian with the ingredients which were left over.
The reason I now know what it's like to be wealthy is that my box from Martha and Marley Spoon also arrived this week, which means I had six complete meals in my refrigerator ready to be cooked for dinner with leftovers for the following day's lunch. SCORE! I could never afford to do this on a regular basis, but boy is it awesome knowing that I don't have to think about what to cook or worry about going to the grocery store.
The first meal I wanted to try was "Bulgogi Lime Pork Tenderloin"... without the tenderloin.
It was essentially sweet potato and pepper dices sauteed with scallions, garlic, and Bulgogi sauce mixed with lime. Not much of a meal without the pork, but if I cook some hard rolls with cheese to pair with it, I thought it might be nice.
One of the first things you have to do is zest the lime. "Zesting" is not a new concept for me because Martha Stewart wants you to do it all the time in her recipes... it's just that I've never understood how to do it. When I searched on YouTube I saw that people "zested" by using what looked like a teeny-tiny cheese grater. Something I didn't have.
Except I thought that I did, because when you look inside the handle of my box grater, there looks like what appears to be a small grater. Alas, any time I attempted to use it for zesting, all it did was gum up with lime peel and I never actually got any tiny grated anything out of it. Wanting to know what I was doing wrong, I Facetimed a friend who works in a kitchen restaurant and asked her by holding it up to the camera and asking her how to use it.
The first thing she said was "Well, first thing you have to do is remove it so that the peel doesn't end up in the handle." It was charming that she thought me that dense, but I explained to her that it doesn't come out easily. In order to get it out, I had to use two pair of pliers and nearly busted the thing.
"Wait. Let me look at that again... move it close so I can see."
"I have no idea what that is, but it's not a zester!"
"See how there's no grates? It just looks like pokey spikes!"
"Maybe it's supposed to be a masher or tenderizer of some kind?"
"Yeah, you need to go buy an actual zester. Sorry."
And so I did. And it arrived today. I got one by Oxo Good Grips, which makes my favorite kitchen utensils and gadgets. It was expensive... $12 compared to others costing less than half that... but I knew it would probably be safer, smarter, and last longer, so I invested the money...
Martha Stewart would be so proud.
And so now I can finally zest a lime or a lemon and make all those recipes correctly that call for zesting a lime or a lemon.
Pretty grate, huh? (HA HA HA HA HAAAA! I slay me!)
So wish me luck with my first zesting experience. I'll let you know if I end up with my fingertips missing.
Posted on Monday, January 18th, 2021
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody!
I am fortunate enough to get the day off, but I still ended up working so I could get caught up while not having new work dropped on me. That's almost like a holiday right there!
As is my custom, I started my day by listening to his I Have A Dream speech in its entirety. I also pulled out my copy of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. which I haven't re-read in a while. Last year I re-read Where Do We Go from Here and the year before that Strength to Love, so it's time to be inspired.
Illustration from Doodles by Drea
And now... I should probably clean my house or wash clothes or make dinner or do something productive. Though I've already performed a firmware update on my NAS and backed up my files, so maybe that counts as productivity?
Still need to make dinner and clean my kitchen though.
That's more than enough productivity.
Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
tl;dr... I'm too old for this shit
This is undoubtedly Too Much Information, but I've gone without sex for so long now that I think that I might be over it. As in... I'm done. It's over. Pack up my dick, put it on a shelf, and call it a day. I've managed to survive since August, 2019 without it, so sayonara sexy time. We had a good run.
Because whether you're in a relationship or not, sex always has a cost. And the longer I've gone without, the more I'm beginning to think the cost is too damn high. Not literal "cost"... as in money (though that can certainly be a factor when you're single)... but the cost that comes any time you invest yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically with another person.
In other words, I really am too old for this shit.
I suppose it only stands to reason that this would happen. I have been done with actual relationships for at least a decade. Maybe two. Sure I stumble into them on occasion but, try as I might, it's just not something I'm able to make work long-term. And despite my being brutally up-front about this, there are still women who seem to want to give it a go... I get all goofy and say "okay"... then give it my best shot because relationships are so nice at the beginning that I want it to work... then try to act shocked when it doesn't, even though I knew better.
At least she believes me when we both realize things are not working out and I say "It's not you, it's me"... I said as much at the very beginning.
Is it any wonder that I am so addicted to crappy Hallmark rom-coms? Watching a fantasy world where people fall in love and live happily ever after... all in 90 minutes or less? Well, technically you never SEE a "happily ever after" because the movie ends on their first kiss. For all we know they DON'T live happily ever after. For all we know that kiss was bad. And they've only known each other for a week, after all. I'm sure the bad habits, annoying quirks, and love of banjo music doesn't come out until Week Two (though "Did I happen to mention that I have a meth addiction?" probably doesn't come out until ten years of marriage, three kids, and no teeth). I guess my point is that it's nice to think that they live happily ever after (with or without the meth).
So there you have it. Hallmark movies in lieu of relationships. Porn in lieu of sex. I guess all my bases are covered then?
You tell me. I use blogging in lieu of therapy.
Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2021
Back when I was a kid, my family visited my grandmother in California. While there, I was reading the comics in the newspaper and saw that her paper had Garfield, which I thought was about the funniest thing ever. When I got home, my local paper didn't carry it, so my grandmother would cut them out of her paper and send them to me every couple weeks or so. It was a Big Deal.
Eventally, Garfield books were released. My grandma kept sending them.
Eventually, my local paper had Garfield. My grandma kept sending them.
Eventually, I had mostly outgrown Garfield. My grandma kept sending them.
By the time my grandma died, I had quite a stack of them piled up waiting to be read. One day I sat down and started reading them and realized that the real treasure was never the Garfield comics. Sometimes she would send other comic strips that struck her funny. Sometimes she would send a photo of her pets. Sometimes she would send newsclippings of things happening where she lived. And sometimes she would send a letter.
The letters were the most special because reading them made it feel like she was still alive.
That's when I had the idea to save the remaining letters so I could open one every year on her birthday. Which, as you could probably guess, is today. And when I went to the box with all my remotes where I keep them, I saw that there were only two left...
After shaking off the shock of what I had clearly forgotten last year, I started reading through them all...
And now there's just one envelope remaining.
I have to wonder if I'll be opening it one year from now... or saving it for a time I really need it... or never opening it at all because I like the idea of holding onto it. And to her.
My grandmother called me her "Little Politician" because when I was little I used to talk more than any politician she ever heard. She loved animals, and I'm pretty sure that's where I inherited my love of animals from. She made the best enchiladas I've ever had. And she sent me Garfield strips because I liked to read them.
Happy birthday, grandma.
Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
Even after I had taken a second sleeping pill, I could not get to sleep last night. Then I kept seeing that it was light out and thought that it must be close to time to get up, which screwed me up even more.
But it wasn't time to get up. Here is a photo taken at around 1:00am...
Everything was covered in snow, there was snow falling, and streetlights reflecting between the clouds in the sky and the snow on the ground created an artificial light out my window. My window which used to have blinds on it, but they had to be removed when Jake clawed is way up from the cat perch and nearly choked himself to death on them.
My Apple Watch tells me that I finally fell asleep at 3:15am and was awakened by Alexa telling my cats that it was their breakfast time at 7:00am. Soooo... 3-3/4 hours total sleep then.
Is it any wonder that after I took my shower but before I drank a Coke Zero that I was a little groggy? Since it was all cold and snowy out, I grabbed a nice red flannel shirt to wear. Flannel is nice on a cold Winter day...
I tried to put it on but it wasn't going on. I tried again and it still wouldn't go on. Finally I walked into the light so I could see if it was buttoned up or something... and noticed that the reason I couldn't get my shirt on was because it wasn't a shirt. It was pajama bottoms that my sister gave me for Christmas...
As you can imagine, this was a humdinger of a day.
It didn't help that, on top of being exhausted from lack of sleep, all the problems that missed me on Monday and Tuesday landed on me today.
But I did eventually find a flannel shirt that was actually a flannel shirt, so at least I was comfy during the onslaught.
Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2021
Boy, losing Cloris Leachmen and Cicely Tyson in the same week? That's a sobering way to close out January after closing out the shit year that was 2020.
Last night I blew all my energy dishing up Jake and Jenny's wet food, leaving me no energy to cook for myself. I had eaten a veggie burger early in the day while running errands, so it wasn't a big deal. I ended up eating some Cheez-It's and drinking a Coke Zero then calling it good.
Which of course meant that I woke up hungry in the middle of the night.
Which resulted in my eating another handful of Cheez-It's, but I digree.
The problem with waking up in the middle of the night is that it also wakes my cats up. They are perfectly happy to let me sleep and rarely bother me when I'm lost in slumberland, but all bets are off if I wake them up. First Jenny wanted pets. Then Jake wanted pets. Then Jenny came back again for more pets. According to my Apple Watch, I finally fell asleep again after 2:30am. Was that handful of Cheez-It's worth it? Probably not.
Four-and-a-half hours later when I was awakened by Alexa so I could feed them breakfast, I noticed that THEY weren't the least bit tired. I guess when you spend the entire day sleeping, you always have surplus energy.
In other news... I stayed up 'til midnight so I could watch the latest episode of WandaVision, where things are finally starting to happen. It only took four episodes, but okay. It wasn't necessarily great, but it does hint that great things are coming. If you've already seen it and are interested in my spoiler-filled thoughts, you can find them in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021
Yesterday was not a particularly great day.
I've been consumed with a project at work, and packed up my files so I could continue working on it at home while watching Groundhog Day. The entire drive home all I could think about was how exhausted I was and how much I wish that I could just go home, climb into bed, then sleep until dawn.
Once I got home I noticed that the bowl I use to bribe Fake Jake away from the garage with treats if he shows up in the morning was missing. It's not easy to spot from the street, but I always scan the area to make sure that Fake Jake won't come running in front of the car as I pull into my garage, so I noticed it immediately.
And I was furious.
Irrationally furious, but that's how I get when I've exhausted.
WHERE IS FAKE JAKE'S BOWL?!? WHO IN THE HELL STOLE FAKE JAKE'S BOWL? I WILL LOOK AT MY SECURITY CAMERA FOOTAGE AND I WILL FIND YOU! THEN I WILL END YOU! I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE A DOG! BLOOD WILL RUN THROUGH THE STREETS! VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!!!
As I stomped into the house I pulled out my phone to check the footage, and...
Oh. Well, I can't even be mad about that. Kinda ironic that if I had actually went after the culprit, I would have literally been hunting down a dog. Luckily, the bowl was still in the street where he dropped it and hadn't been run over or anything.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have been so angry. Absolutely anything could have happened, and it wouldn't have necessarily been theft. I should resolve that in 2021 I will wait until facts are in evidence before becoming irrationally angry.
Which, if I became angry then, would no longer be quite so irrational?
I dunno. Something to shoot for, I suppose. Hindsight may be 20/20 but my rage is eternal.
Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2021
If you beat your head against a wall all day... you're going to end up with a headache.
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
It's not that I'm losing my passion or drive for the things that matter to me, it's just that I've stopped giving a crap about the things that don't. My work, my friends, my causes, my hobbies, my cats... they get 100% of my energy and dedication. Dumbasses who pollute the world with their ignorance and hate, however, now get only the most minimal amount of attention that I am forced to give them. Sure there was a time I'd dedicate myself to trying to understand their position while treating them with compassion and caring, but now they can spontaneously combust for all I care.
I came to this radical (for me) new outlook after watching a woman claim that the reason she acted so horribly towards some retail workers was because she was misled and duped by some bad information. And I was like... wait a minute. The bad information which "misled and duped you" only affected how you viewed the situation. Your being a total fucking asshole is what made you scream and yell at some employees just trying to do their job. You can blame somebody else for what you thought you knew... you can't blame somebody else for how you choose to treat people. That's 100% on you.
Because, seriously, if my excuse for not condeming your shitty behavior is "Well, maybe they've been wealthy their entire life and were never taught how to care about people..." then the problem person in that scenario is me.
And still them, of course. They're the asshole in question, I'm just an asshole by association.
Problem is, even an asshole by association ends up smelling shitty.
Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2021
This morning I woke up with a splitting headache for no good reason.
Or bad reason even. I didn't sleep on my neck wrong... or stay up late drinking... or spraypaint a mailbox in an enclosed space... or bang my head on a wall repeatedly. I just went to bed fine and woke up with my brain in distress. I was going to Google my headache symptoms to see what went wrong, but every time you do that they always tell you that you have cancer or some strange disease, so I decided to skip it.
Hence my self-diagnosis of "headache for no good reason."
I always hesistate to tell people when I have a headache. They either have some home remedy like "You need to spin around three times, put a hot towel on top of your head, drink a bottle of tabasco sauce, then use leeches to drain a quart of blood." Or, even worse, they'll insist that you MUST have done something wrong and then grill you for twenty minutes trying to figure out what it is... "It's like a kick to the balls, you must have done something to deserve it."
By far the most awkward response I've ever received was this one... "Shall we pray on it together?" I got this while on an overnight work trip to Greenville, South Carolina after I asked the concierge where the nearest pharmacy was so I could get some aspirin. Possibly due to my throbbing brain, my stupid self thought that he didn't know where to find one and we were praying for guidance... to a drug store. Except that wasn't what he meant at all. He was asking if I wanted to pray for God to heal my headache. Figuring that The Almighty probably had better things to do on a Tuesday morning, I thanked him for the kind offer and said that I just need an aspirin.
After that I resigned myself to suffer in silence come future headaches.
The only reason I'm telling YOU is because my blog is a safe space for me to suffer in public. That's why I have a blog in the first place. Well, that plus I need a way to keep my fans involved in even the most intimate details of my life, because I'm a raging narcissist like that (as if my calling people who read my daily dose of bullshit "my fans" wasn't a big enough indication already).
Though I'm hoping that by the time anybody reads this my handful of Maxium Strength Headache Relief will have kicked in, and any offers of medical advice or prayer will become moot.
Or I am dead and out of my misery at long last.
In that event you're more than welcome to pray for my immortal soul, such as it is.
Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2021
Today is technically a holiday at work, but I'm going in anyway to clean up a bunch of little things that have been piling up. I have decided to wear sweats to the office for the first time ever because nobody should be there to notice. Except you just know that somebody will end up being there and notice. Oh well. I barely have the energy to go into work... let alone change pants. So sweat pants are a step above no pants, I suppose.
And just as I resigned myself to heading into the office a little early, this happens...
And of course she rubs all over me before planting herself, so now I'm covered in cat hari...
Then, before you know it, she's fast asleep... trapping my arm in the process...
I promised myself that I'd be in the office by 10:00am, so eventually I say "Do you want a treat? Is it treat time? Let's go get a treat!" At which time she's flying off of my and dashing downstairs at top speed.
Now, usually when I have to go into work on a holiday, I treat myself to a snack-run at the mini mart. I buy all the junk foods I normally try to avoid. But the idea of having to deal with anti-mask idiocy and "election fraud" rants was too much to bear, so I microwaved a veggie burger instead. Sometimes the snacks just aren't worth it.
Despite icy roads and nearly getting rear-ended, I made it to my desk at 9:58am. So way to go me, I guess...
What followed was a furious three-hour burst of productivity that stunned me so hard that I didn't end up working an entire half-day. Instead I ditched a half-hour early and came home to veg out in front of the television. My free trial to Apple Arcade hasn't been touched yet and will expire any day now, so I should at least take a look at that.
Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
The microwave in my work's break area is very old. It has aged so much that the white plastic parts are now yellow plastic parts. I don't know much about it, but I believe it's a 10-watt model. At least it seems that way. Something which would cook in 20 seconds in my microwave at home can take 2 full minutes at work. It's wasteful to just toss it out for a newer model since it's still functional, so we just deal with it. If somebody's reheating a bagel (or whatever) when you want to eat lunch, you just come back in ten minutes... no big deal.
Years ago I was reading a vintage magazine where they were predicting that in the future frozen meals would be packed in nuclear-powered packaging. No microwave required. You'd squeeze down on a corner of the aluminium tray and the Uranium-235 embedded inside would activate and cook your TV dinner. This raised all kinds of questions. Such as... what happens to all those food trays? Do they just go in the trash-can and get taken to a landfill? Wouldn't we all be glowing in the dark if the product caught on? What were they thinking?
At least they were still going to use aluminum trays instead of the plastic crap we use now. Not that anybody back then would ever recycle anything. Back then everything went straight into the trash.
I have a certain nostalgia for the TV dinners of old.
The earliest dinners I remember as a kid didn't come with dessert. There were three sections... one for the meat (for me that meant meatloaf, chicken, or salsbury steak), one for the potatoes (usually mashed, but sometimes slices or fries), and one for the vegetables (exclusively consisting of peas, carrots, and corn or a mixture thereof). That's it. That's all you got...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
I didn't like any kind of meat, even when I was very young, so mom sometimes let me have a macaroni & cheese dinner.
Eventually a small and mysterious fourth section was added. This was where the dessert landed. Sometimes it was fancy cobblers, cornbread, muffin, or maybe even a brownie, but my favorite was baked apple slices. Oh boy! There were only about four or five of them, but they were floating in a sea of sugar-cinnamon syrup that was so good I'd try and lick it out of the damn tray...
Photo from a Google Search, so I dunno.
As I got older, Swanson started getting creative. They had "International" versions which steered away from the meat and potato fare that the USA lived on in favor of exotic dishes from Old Mexico or Italy or even the faraway islands of Polynesia! Instead of a mere four sections, they would have five! They also had larger-size dinners which were their HUNGRY-MAN line of bake-and-serve meals. It was a bonanza of non-stop food goodness, fresh from your freezer!
Eventually microwave ovens dictated that aluminum trays be ditched in favor of plastic. And the golden age of TV dinners was over. We never got a nuclear option because microwaves were cheaper, I guess.
But not nearly as much fun, certainly. If Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull taught us anything, it's that.
Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2021
I don't have many of my mom's possessions left. The only thing I really want are the photos from our trips together, and everything else is just... stuff. The majority of her things were donated, given away, or trashed (if they couldn't be donated or given away). I held onto a few things which had sentimental meaning to me, but it's not much else because I'm not a very sentimental person.
A few things I held onto simply because they were useable and it would be wasteful to toss them. Mostly stuff from the kitchen. Some pots, pans, bowls, utensils, and pot holders were saved. One of those potholders was a Bialosky Bear "100% Loyal and True" brand that my mom didn't use for decades, instead hanging it up in her kitchen. Then the last time she moved she wasn't interested in hanging it for some reason and started actualy using it. And since it was in great shape, I started using it too.
This past week I was moving a skillet off of a burner when it sloshed on the potholder, causing me to drop it on the hot-hot burner. The thing was scorched instantly...
I don't know if it's because it finally dawned on me that this was yet another reminder that my mom was gone... or that all the pieces of her left on this earth are disappearing... or what... but it was pretty upsetting. So upsetting that I went hunting for a replacement on eBay, but couldn't find one since it was made in the early 1980's.
So stupid. Had I thought about the possibility of this happening before I started using it and how it might affect me, I could have saved it. Oh well. Not much I can do about it now.
It did mean my having to buy new potholders. This time I went for fancy silicone things that can withstand absurdly hot temperatures up to 600°F!
No worries about staining them, I think. Just toss them in the dishwasher after you're done cooking. Nice. But not the same.
Since I had to order potholders, I went ahead and addressed another thing that's been driving me insane in my kitchen... the fact that the boxes that Reynolds uses for their foils and parchment are COMPLETE AND TOTAL SHIT and fall apart minutes after opening them...
And it happens to their signature foil as well! Rage-inducing. In fact, it was so rage-inducing that the next time I went to the grocery store needing foil I ended up buying a different brand entirely in the hopes that they didn't have boxes which fell apart. And, while I was at it, I could buy the Safeway Signature Select brand and save some money too! It compares to Reynolds foil, because it says so right on the box...
Except... no. It really doesn't.
This "foil" it super-thin, really hard to get ahold of in the box, and it doesn't crumple and conform like Reynolds foil... almost like it has plastic in it or something. It's fucking awful, and in absolutely no way "compares to Reynolds." But on the plus side, the box is built like a damn tank and doesn't look like it's going to fall apart any time soon. Which begs the question... why the fuck can't Reynolds built boxes that are worth a shit if they charge so much more money for their stuff? If a cheap-ass imitation can build a decent box, why can't they?
This lead me to try a more rugged dispenser/cutter that arrived on Friday so I could buy Reynolds stuff, take it out of their shitty boxes, and put it into something that will actually (assumably) stay together...
It's kinda meh. I mean, it works, but it's got some problems. First of all, it relies on your wrap/foil/parchment being wound onto a big cardboard tube. You then stick pieces in the tube on both ends which sit in the dispenser. Except since parchment isn't on a tube and it wound down to a small coil, you can't fit the pieces into it. This makes it more difficult to control the cutting, which is a little frustrating while you're getting used to it. I can manage now, but it's still not ideal. What's really a problem is that it's not a square box which can be stacked. I stack up my wrap/foil/parchment up in my pantry, but this has to go in a drawer somewhere.
So I'm not sure what the solution is. I guess once I get my wood shop set up in my garage I can try building something that goes around the shitty Reynolds boxes to make them tougher?
Food for thought, anyways.
Food which can be cooked up to 600°F thanks to my spiffy new potholders.
Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2021
Last night I finally took some sleeping pills to knock my ass out so I could catch up on some of the sleep I haven't been getting.
I went to bed at 10:00pm, fell asleep by 10:30pm, then woke up ten minutes before the cat breakfast alarm went off at 7:00am. According to my Apple Watch app AutoSleep, that resulted in 8 hours and 18 minutes of beddy-bye sleepy-time...
And it was a huge mistake, because I felt drugged up this entire day. Still managed to get my work done, but was mired in a mental fog that made it tougher to function that days when I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep.
Thanks to Apple Watch, I think I understand why. It used to be that I looked at the "Quality Sleep" metric... which in this case is 6 hours and 53 minutes. That sounds great. It sounds like a lot. Where I need to be looking is at the "Deep Sleep" metric, because it's on days where I get more deep sleep that I'm feeling my best. Though I slept for over 8 hours, I only got 2-1/4 hours of deep sleep.
That's less deep sleep than I get on a "regular" night where I'm sleeping half as much.
Apparently the drugs are good at knocking myself out, but the sleep I get is restless. I looked back to other nights and see a pattern. 5 hours 42 minutes sleep, 3 hours 6 minutes deep sleep... 4 hours 12 minutes sleep, 2 hours 48 minutes deep sleep... 3 hours 45 minutes sleep, 2 hours deep sleep. Shorter periods of sleep are actually far more productive for me "Deep Sleep-wise," as crazy as that might sound.
And so now I'm going to see what I can do to get better, longer deep sleep.
My guess is that exercise will have something to do with it. Which is fine because the snow is melting so I can start walking to work again. Correlating how much deep sleep I get with how much exercise I get will prove interesting, I'm sure.
In the meanwhile, I guess I'll be happy with 4 hours of sleep knowing that a good chunk of that will be the sleep I need to function properly.
Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2021
It's almost 1:00am. I watched the latest episode of WandaVision (discussed below) then picked up around the house before collapsing in bed to write this blog entry. An entry which won't be posted until morning because I'm sure there are going to be a hundred mistakes that I'm too tired to catch right now.
Yesterday was uneventful. The most interesting thing to happen was when I decided to make a "Barbecue Pineapple Flatbread Pizza" from HelloFresh... then just couldn't do it. I ordered it because meal services often have things that sound disgusting but end up delicious. But when it came time to marinate the pineapple in barbecue sauce so I could slap it on the pizza?
There's no way that could ever be considered "delicious" so I put the ingredients away... slapped some Contadina Pizza Sauce on the flatbreads... added mozzarella, parmesan, and feta... then baked them until I had cheese pizzas. They were fine.
As I was pawing through my stack of drawers to find a pizza cutter, I reached in and ended up slicing my finger on a serrated knife. Took a nice chunk of skin off my finger, but didn't bleed. Lucky me. I can't wait for Spring so I can finish my kitchen remodel, because it's tough living like this. Tough on my fingers, that is.
My thoughts on the latest episode of WandaVision are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, March 1st, 2021
I know that there are people out there who adore February. Maybe it's their birth month. Maybe their wedding anniversary is in February. Maybe they started their dream job in the second month of the year. Heck, Valentine's Day is in February, so I get it. Honestly I do.
But February means something entirely different to me.
And it's not even like Valentine's Day can save it because I'm not in a relationship. And, at this point, don't want to be in a relationship.
Consistently, without fail, all the worst things in my life seem to land within those 28 days. Or, if it's a Leap Year like 2020, 29 days. Heck, February 2020 is where things started going all wrong, am I right? My life of travel for volunteer work ended. The pandemic was blowing up globally. And, just a reminder here, the first death in the USA due to COVID-19 happened on February 29th, 2020.
I do try to make February a better month though.
I moved into my new home on Groundhog Day February 2nd five years ago. Then I also got my adorable kittens Jake and Jenny on February 16th. Two of the best things to ever happen to me. So that's awesome, right? Way to go, February 2016!
Except not really. My mom had to be rushed in for an MRI on the 12th of that same year. She then dropped several plateaus in her health and ended up back in the hospital on, you guessed it, Leap Day February 29th, 2016. It was the beginning of the end and it's all February.
So many deaths, tragedies, disappointments, and setbacks in my life end up in February that now I just brace myself whenever I turn the page on my calendar. At this point it's pretty much self-fulfilling prophecy, but the psychological analytics are tough to parse when I've been conditioned to expect only the worse... from having the worst actually happen to me.
This February was just a continuation of the pandemic horror show, so I didn't need to have anything new and terrible happen, but of course it did. Got my first blog death threat in a while (somebody late to the party over my posting a photo of two men dancing together back in December). Went through a horrific personal ordeal with somebody I thought cared about me. And, of course, had the usual reminders of all my friends and family that died in the worst month of the year.
Fortunately February was only 28 days this time, because Lord only know what new terrors awaited me if today was February 29th instead of March 1st.
I've been ready for March all month. I've been ready for Spring and the promise of something new. I've been waiting for Coming 2 America and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I've also been waiting to get vaccinated... but apparently my group's date has been moved again. I've also been waiting for my potato masher to arrive... AND HERE IT IS!
I've never had one before, but I keep running into recipes where they say "mash to a creamy consistency with a potato masher or fork"... usually for black beans or chickpeas. I've always just used a fork, which is a lot of effort. A potato masher looked like it would be even more effort since a fork had tines that were close together for more efficient mashing, so I never bothered. Then I had a friend laugh at me when I mentioned this, and said I really need to buy one. "And make sure it's dishwasher safe and can be used on non-stick pans!" And that's what I ended up ordering.
It is no small difference. It's a monumental difference. I can mash up a can of chickpeas with minimal effort in a fraction of the time! I can't believe I've been suffering with a stupid fork all this time!
Kinda makes me wonder what other kitchen gadgets I've been avoiding as "superfluous and unnecessary" that are actually critical and brilliant. Thanks, March!
Posted on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
The weather has been really turning a corner these past few days. Gorgeous blue skies and crisp air every afternoon. Which then turns to freezing cold at night, but still... happy to be able to come home from work and be able to open the windows for a while to let some fresh air inside.
Alas, the warmer weather has meant that Jake and Jenny are shedding their winter coats.
With Jenny, this is not an issue because she will happily lay there for hours while I run The Furminator over her to pull out all the hair that's falling out. But Jake? He will let me furminate him... to an extent. He won't let me near his belly with it and 4-5 minutes at a time is his limit.
Which, of course, means that it's Hairball Season for the next month or so.
Most times when I hear that tell-tale sound of him hacking up a hairball, he swallows it. That's good news for me. But every once in a while this time of year he'll puke one up. At which point I am never mad about it. And I always give him some love afterwards to calm him down a bit.
But I gotta say... the last two nights have been a trial.
Jake now sleeps on my bed every night. He'll curl up next to me... then keep pushing my legs away while he "stretches" until I end up on the very edge. A few nights ago he set up shop in the middle of the bed. Which is fine. Still plenty of room for me. But then he keeps snuggling into me harder and harder...
But three hours later after he's pushing and stretching and otherwise pushing me off the bed, I barely have any room left...
Eventually I am able to shift around him when I am ready to go to sleep and everything's fine, so I just deal with it. No problem.
But two nights ago I was awakened at by Jake hacking up a hairball at 2:50am. I know this because my Apple Watch recorded when I had to get up so I could run my blanket down to the clothes washer...
Last night I forget to get my blanket out of the dryer before heading up to bed. It wasn't cold though, so I thought I'd just make do with a sheet. But then... you guessed it... another hairball. This time at 4:35am...
Which meant I had to console Jake, then get him off my sheet... then take the sheeet down to the washer... then remember to grab my blanket before heading back upstairs.
At which point Jake curled up again and fell asleep.
But not before pushing my legs three inches, of course.
Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2021
Happy International Women's Day! Many of my most favorite people in my life have been women, and taking a minute to appreciate the way that women impact our world is important. History is replete with examples of women's contributions being overwritten, dismissed, and forgotten. That ain't right, and I keep hoping that each new day moves us in a better, more positive direction for equality and inclusivity.
I celebrated by watching the movie Hidden Figures, which is a fantastic story of what women have contributed to NASA's Space Program... despite the absurd intrusion of Kevin Costner's "White Male Savior" character into the mix. Did we really need that scene of him taking a crowbar to the "Colored Ladies Room" sign? Especially since IT NEVER HAPPENED?
That kind of crap is exactly why we need International Woman's Day... and Black History Month.
But before sitting down to watch Hidden Figures, I had to find my cats.
When I got home, neither of them came to greet me. This is unusual. Usually at least Jake is there to sniff around me and make sure I smell acceptable enough to enter their house.
They weren't downstairs, so I figured they might be asleep on my bed. Nope. They were on the second guest bed, huddled on a comforter...
Perhaps I was too quick to turn the heat off?
Not wanting to get murdered in my sleep, I turned the heat back on.
Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
Last night I was in no mood for cooking dinner. So I had a pita bread pizza with a side salad and called it good.
The rest of the evening was spent trying to learn a new 3D rendering engine. All the while I had the television on with the movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service... AKA that James Bond movie without Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or or Daniel Craig (it was George Lazenby)... and with Diana Rigg.
It also had Telly Savalas as Blofeld.
The television was meant to be background noise so I could focus on my work, but I couldn't keep my mind on anything except how many actors played Ernst Stavro Blofeld over the years. I could think of four (I had forgotten Charles Gray in Diamonds Are Forever)...
There was, of course, another appearance by Blofeld in the opening pre-credit action sequence of For Your Eyes Only... where Roger Moore drops him down a smokestack in his wheelchair. That Blofeld was played anonymously by John Hollis... who is most famous for having previously played Lando's half-robot servant "Lobot"...
And Klytus's half-robot lacky in Flash Gordon...
The sequence with the missing Blofeld was played to comedic effect, which was an odd tonal shift from him having murdered James Bond's wife Tracy...
So... six Blofeld's total. Which is equal to the number of actors who have played James Bond (excluding David Niven in the original Casino Royale). That's quite a piece of Bond trivia right there.
Exactly the kind of trivia which keeps me up at night... and keeps my brain distracted from getting my work done.
If anybody's curious about which Blofeld is my favorite, it's Donald Pleasence as the first Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. He was deliciously weird, evil, dangerous, and menacing...
Not that Blofeld was the most interesting character in that movie. I was completely 100% in love with Bond Girl Kissy Suzuki...
I was one year old when You Only Live Twice was released. I didn't see the film until the 80's when I rented it on VHS tape. At the time I thought Mie Hama was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
And still is.
Posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2021
You would think that as the snow slowly melts and allergens are being released into the air, I'd have a gradual slide into allergy season. Nose runs a little more each day. Eyes water up a little more frequently. Cough gets more and more persistent.
But that's not how it works at all.
Not for me anyways.
In my case my body just deals with the build-up to allergy season and I'm perfectly normal with no symptoms... until one day I just ain't any more.
That day was today.
I woke up well enough this morning, but the minute I got downstairs to feed the cats I was in hell. Nose running like a faucet. Coughing continuously. Even struggling to breathe. The first thing I did was go around the house and replace the air filters in all four of my air purifiers just to make sure they were operating at peak proficiency. If they're not, then sleeping becomes impossible and I never get a break from the torture I go through each Spring.
Which is still my favorite season. Go figure.
It would be easy to blame it on the cats going in and out of the catio and bringing the allergens in with them, but I honestly think that it has to do more with my leaving the house and getting saturated.
And so, like last year, I will be doping up with Benadryl and sucking on cough drops all day so that everybody at work doesn't think I have COVID. The drugs make it tough to focus and keep me eternally drowsy, but I guess it is what it is. I just save the more technical stuff for the evenings when I am back at home and can cough my fool head off in peace. Jake and Jenny aren't happy about it, but so long as they can go outside and are still getting fed, I think they'll survive.
Me, on the other hand? I give myself a 50/50 shot of surviving.
Posted on Friday, March 12th, 2021
Last night I took a double Benadryl cocktail at 9:30 and went to bed at 10:00 in the hopes that I could get some rest after battling my allergies all day long. I started to read more of a book I started last month (the excellent Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019)... except, according to my Apple Watch... I passed out 15 minutes later.
I slept a total of 7 hours and 56 minutes.
That's a massive amount of sleep for me. And once I saw the sleep report, I was thinking that today would be the best day ever since I was so well-rested. Except... the lingering effects of Benadryl has meant that I spent my morning being mostly drowsy. Oh well. I tried.
When I went to Amazon to look into more replacement filters for my air purifiers, the very first "recommended item" was leggings. For women. And I'm like... "Dude. The last thing I bought was a frickin' vegetable peeler and a case of Cheetos. How in the hell did the leap from Cheetos to leggings happen?" — YOUR ALGORITHM IS DRUNK, AMAZON... GO HOME!
...there are certainly worse things to have show up on your Amazon recommendations.
Even though pink isn't really my color. And no amount of Cheetos will ever make my ass look that good.
And in other, other news. I've discovered Goat TikTok...
And just when you thought your Friday couldn't get any better. You're Welcome!
Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2021
Just when you think things are finally turning around in your life and you're starting to see daylight at the end of a very long tunnel...
...kicked in the nuts again.
Oh well. What's one more thing? After 19 years of having to chew my way through the shit sandwich that has been my life, I should be used to the taste by now, right?
Could... um... somebody pass the ketchup?
Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
Today I had some appointments I couldn't put off any longer. I was supposed to be vaccinated by now so I kept delaying, but Washington State keeps moving the dates, so now I have no idea when I'm getting vaxxed up. With that in mind, I went ahead and got my teeth cleaned and all the rest of the stuff that got pushed back for no reason.
I also picked up my free birthday burger from Red Robin, then went grocery shopping.
Every year (twice a year?) Safeway/Albertsons/Jewel-Osco/Eagle/Whatever has a "Monopoly" game where you collect little stickers that you have to lick and adhere to a game board for Boardwalk, Park Place, Kentucky Avenue, and the rest (not affiliated with the McDonald's game scandal from the documentary McMillion$). They promise prizes like boats and cars and a million dollars and stuff... but those stickers are scattered to the winds and I have no idea if anybody ever wins them. More likely you'll win a box of cookies or $5 shopping certificate or something like that. I think the most I've ever won is $20, but it meant having to waste more money than that with my time to open all the little tickets and organize all those little stickers. So... not worth it. But there's an occasional "instant winner" for things like "Save 50¢ on a Box of Crackers"... so free stuff, I guess.
So here I am opening up all the little tickets I got while typing this blog post and eating dinner when I see that there are no little stickers inside. Just bar code tickets you have to scan into an app. This was puzzling to me until I realized that people licking stickers in the Age of COVID is probably best avoided.
Which means we're now playing "Monopoly" without a game board.
And if that ain't a metaphor for my life right now, I don't know what is.
Just like Safeway "Monopoly" is not really "Monopoly" any more, my life hasn't been much of a life any more. Which is pretty much like everybody else on the planet right now, I suppose.
And it really gets me thinking about what our new "normal" is going to be going forward.
If history is any example, we will have learned nothing from this past year and just keep making the same mistakes that we've been making. That seems to be our nature. But with the "anti-science movement" gaining momentum like it has been, I'm understandably worried. The same science which cured polio and put a rover on Mars... the same science which paved the way for the technology which drives our modern lifestyles... the same science which has kept us moving forward as things turn to shit... is what people are choosing to hate, ignore, and mock when it comes to saving lives? Anti-maskers, anti-vaxers, anti-science, anti-everything-that-doesn't-fit-a-personal-narrative is apparently going to be the thing that kills us now. Because people bashing out "Science doesn't work! Science is a sham!" in a tweet typed on technology that science makes possible is peak humanity, when you think about it.
So maybe we should be embracing our doom?
Because if hate and willful ignorance is going to be our new normal, that's no fun.
Ooh! Look! I just got a "50¢ OFF One 4-Pack Kleenex Facial Tissues!"
Redemption code blurred so y'all can't steal my winnings!
That might come in handy as I weep for all humanity! It was good while it lasted.
Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2021
I think I may have gone into a coma from my allergies, but that doesn't mean you're being denied your Sunday roundup... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Help is Available. I am so sad to have to be posting this again:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We're committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
Help is a phone call away if you need it. And if you need it, please make that call.
• Newton! Mathematics has always been something I'm fascinated with... but I have never been able to wrap my head around it once things go beyond basic geometry and algebra. I still dabble with the heavier stuff from time to time, but that's mostly via YouTube videos. Like this one, which is superficially about calculating the value of π... but is actually about so much more than that...
I could watch videos like this all day long. It's not like I'm ever going to do anything with the information, but it's cool to see the math behind our universe, isn't it?
• Venmo? I haven't carried cash in years. So I imagine this is how it's going to be from here on out...
Funny... but also... not funny? I guess?
• Noob! BWAH HA HA HAAAA! If you are a Marvel Studios movie fan... and you've seen Avengers: Endgame... you MUST watch this ad for Xbox Live until the very end. I mean the very, VERY end. If you don't recognize the guy that Sam Wilson (The Falcon) is talking to, it's the guy who worked at The Apple Store in Captain America: The Winter Solder. This is so cool...
Noobmaster69 has been revealed! I absolutely love how everything in the MCU is connected so beautifully.
• Men at Work! For any of y’all ladies interested in a peek into a the male mindset, here you go. This is painfully accurate, as any man will verify...
##stitch with @mackandronni I don’t make the rules I just enforce them.♬ original sound - colby guenther
THE TRAUMA IS REAL, PEOPLE!
• Essential Reading. The long history of anti-Asian hate in America, explained.
• Care? I love living in a country where your first thought is... "How do I make sure my insurance covers this and how much will I have to pay for it?" over "I need medical care." But, sure. We have the best healthcare in the entire world. But what good is it if most people can't afford it, don't have access to it, and even with insurance you can potentially go bankrupt? Facts in evidence? Take a look at how many GoFundMe accounts have been set up for medical expenses. Yet another case where Americans are being brainwashed into thinking that something really fucked up is actually a good thing. Thank the medical insurance lobby for buying off our politicians to convince you that we're the best, when we're actually ranked 37th! We pay more for health care, get less for our money, and insurance companies profit. But sure, we're the greatest. Whatever. The conditioning runs so deep that there are people willing to die before admitting that our health care system is extremely broken. And, sadly, they may just die believing it even as the system they believe in so strongly fails them.
And that's the end of that.
Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2021
Today I booked my first flight since November, 2019 for a trip this September. Which means that if nothing derails my plans, I will have gone almost two years without having stepped foot on an airplane. I think the last time I went more than a year without flying was 1992 maybe? So obviously this is a bit weird for me.
This is a trip which was supposed to happen in the Spring of 2020... but... well, you know.
Even with vaccinations happening, travel is still a scary prospect. Though I will most certainly have been vaccinated by September, there's still loads of people not giving a shit about taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the ever-growing number of coronavirus mutations. On the contrary, people are being less cautious than ever and COVID infections are starting to take off again.
So... maybe I end up with an incurable strain of COVID from my trip and that's the end of me. Not the best way to go, but there are certainly worse ways. Hopefully somebody will take care of my cats, because that's all that really matters to me.
It's almost unbelievable that people couldn't be bothered to stay vigilant until vaccinations could become more prevalent and mutations could be curbed... but here we are.
And by "almost unbelievable" I mean "100% totally believable" because you can see evidence of people acting like anti-science morons on a daily basis. TikTok is replenished with new anti-masker nonsense hourly.
Human nature and all that.
Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
"Could you please leave the lights off?" — David Simmer II
It's amazing how once things start to go wrong, they often continue to go wrong until some cataclysmic event occurs where things can't get any worse, and you end up on the upswing again. The last time this happened was the four year period from my mother's diagnosis in 2014 up until her death in 2018 (though it wasn't until half-way through 2019 that I started to feel like I was slowly moving into better days).
And here we are again.
Right now I have movied past "Acceptance" and entered the "Embrace the Horror" stage. Things will continue to get worse, there's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well try not to stress about things as I ride that train off the cliff. The crash will come soon enough.
Which brings us to the novel Dune, as most everything eventually does.
Early in the story, young Paul Atreides is upset about leaving his cushy life on the planet Caladan to relocate to the planet Arrakis. It's a dangerous move to an inhospitable world which will likely result in death and ruin. Pauls father, Duke Leto, knows this, and tells Paul that "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken."
That the Duke ends up getting slaughtered shortly after stepping foot on Arrakis came as no surprise. Especially to the Duke. It's what had to happen in order for Paul to become the cosmic messiah he was destined to be all along, shit happens, and so... yeah... Embrace the Horror.
Last night, in hopes of getting my sleeper to awaken, I started taking stock of the things in my life that will have to change... as well as the things I'll have to leave behind. It was sobering to realize just how much crap I simply do not give a shit about. The only thing I have that matters? My cats. So long as I can take care of Jake and Jenny, does anything else really matter? Apparently not. Not for me anyway. That's a monumentally huge shift from where my head was at five years ago.
So things are not quite as dire as they first appeared. And that's nice, I guess.
Though I've probably got a ways to go before hitting bottom, so there's that.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021
And so today I turn 55 years old.
In some ways it seems impossible to be this ancient. In many other ways it seems as though much more time has gone by. I mean seriously... how many times have I thought that I forgot a bunch of birthdays and surely I must be 80 years old if I'm a day?
A lot. I just feel so... done.
But I've got cats to take care of, so I guess I'll be sticking it out for years yet.
Speaking of which...
IN CAT YEARS I AM 236 YEARS OLD! Which seems a more accurate reflection of my mood. Until I realize that Jake and Jenny are 36 Human Years old, which makes me think that time is blowing by way too fast.
They were just babies a few minutes ago...
I say that, but since they were about 2 months old in this photo, that's 2 YEARS in Human Years. Sheesh.
Welp. I guess it's back to DaveLife, already in progress, for me.
Or whatever you can say about DaveLife in lockdown.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
On this day of Trans Visibility, I think of my good friend who is stronger in who she is than many of us will ever be.
It seems inordinately cruel that yesterday Arkansas became the first state to ban healthcare for trans youth. And, to be quite honest, I have to wonder if lawmakers did any research whatsoever before doing something so horrific. They think of being transgender as some kind of "fad" that kids will grow out of... meanwhile trans kids can end up living a miserable existence, even going so far as to take their own lives. Not only that, but if people would take 5 minutes to read how young kids can just be given puberty blockers that merely delay the effects of puberty until they are older and can make an adult decision, they'd understand that even it it was just a fad, they can stop taking the puberty blockers at any time and go right back to their previous puberty progression.
How much of an absolute monster do you have to be to deny a kid something that may keep them from harming themselves? Regardless of what you believe, it doesn't have to do with you. Believe whatever you want to believe. But your beliefs don't get to dictate how other people live their lives. I'd rather see a happy kid living their best life at no cost to me than to want them damaged or even dead.
In other news...
Washington State opened up my vaccination tier today. I hopped on the computer this morning to make an appointment and couldn't get through, so I was thinking "Yikes, I'll probably be lucky to get an appointment weeks from now." But when I tried later on in the morning, appointments were wide open... including today. Weird.
I booked an appointment for the mass vaccination site in The Big City. It was amazingly well-run. I thought the line would be a mile long, but I drove through the Disneyland-like queue maze with nobody ahead of me. Got right up to the check-in station. Then drove over to the vaccination site. Had two cars before me. I was sure to ask for a vaccine with extra lizard DNA and 5G. Then, before I even realized anything had happened, I had my first dose of Pfeizer vaccine. Didn't even realize it had happened. Didn't feel it. Thought maybe something had gone wrong. But, nope. That was it. A 15-minute wait later and I was on my way. Still don't feel anything. This is nothing compared to the flu shot that had my arm aching for days. So I guess it's the second shot that gets you.
Now I'm wondering if I start turning into a lizard person immediately... or if I have to wait for my second dose? I'm happy to know that Bill Gates can track my location to find out when I take a shit. That’s just a bonus right there! This deuce is for unleashing Windows on us, ya bastard!
Because, yes, my life IS so interesting that Bill Gates wants to know where I'm at at all times.
Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2021
I am glad to see that the number of April Fools jokes online have plummeted. This is just not the time. I wish people would drop it completely, because it's never really the time for me. But I'm no fun like that.
This morning I found some of my old MAD magazines and books when I was looking for a certificate I needed. Boy did that take me back.
One day when I was in Middle School on my way to class, a friend returned a MAD book that they had borrowed. I didn't think anything of it and threw it on top of the books I had under my arm. After taking my seat, the science teacher saw the book and snatched it off the table. I wasn't looking at it... it was just sitting there. Apparently that was offensive enough to him that he was compelled to take it. After class I asked him for it back and he turned all red-faced and said "NO!"
He was always a bit of an asshole, but taking my personal property for no reason? Fuck him.
A month-and-a-half later it was the last day of school. I didn't want to risk asking for my book back and having him refuse, so I had my mom write me a note asking him to return my property. After class was over, I handed it to him. He threw it on his desk and ignored it.
So I asked him to read it now.
And he did.
At which time he was consumed with rage.
"I THOUGHT IT WAS A NICE NOTE THANKING ME FOR BEING A GOOD TEACHER OR SOMETHING... BUT INSTEAD YOU WANT YOUR BOOK BACK?!?" He then pulled open a big drawer on his desk that was filled with confiscated crap. "IS THIS THE BOOK?!?" It wasn't. "WELL HOW ABOUT THIS ONE?!?" Yes. That's my book.
He threw it at my face. I was THIS close to telling him to go fuck himself and the last thing I would do is write a note praising him when he was a bargain-basement teacher at best, but instead I said "Thanks so much! Have a great summer!" because I knew that would piss him off more. And what did I care? I was off to high school.
It was at that moment I wondered if he would fail me or lower my grade. He didn't... probably because he knew I would call him on his bullshit... but I am fairly certain that he wanted to quite badly.
And speaking of people getting mad about nothing...
The beautifully-crafted Lil' Nas X music video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name) is causing quite the uproar. Probably because Lil' Nas X takes a stripper pole down to hell in his Calvin Klein underwear and gives the devil a lap dance...
While I was eating lunch I logged on to Facebook where people are talking about it. One of the posts said "What do you think about all this?" to which I commented "I think that if 'well-meaning Christians' hadn't constantly told Lil' Nas X he was going to hell for being gay, he wouldn't have been compelled to make a video throwing it back in their faces."
From there it went to the inevitable "But this is harmful to children seeing it!" to which I replied "I dunno. I've listened to metal since I was a kid, which can be far more satanic than this, and I turned out okay." I was half-way expecting somebody to reply with "BUT DID YOU THOUGH?!?" except nobody took the bait. Oh well.
It's always something, isn't it?
When I was a kid it was Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeath, Slayer, Venom, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Motley Crüe, and the rest. Today it's Lil' Nas X which, if I'm being honest, is relatively tame by comparison. He gives the devil a lapdance. Whoop-de-doo.
The song is a banger though. Reeeeeally catchy.
But if it offends you, I guess you could always move to North Korea where they censor everything. Pretty sure you won't find Lil' Nas X playing there. For one thing, I don't think the long red braids he wears to hell is one of the 28 approved haircuts you're allowed to have.
Posted on Sunday, April 4th, 2021
You may be tempted to go hunting for eggs, but hold onto that basket a minute... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bunny! Easter was kinda a big deal for my mom. She was 100% all-in on the Easter baskets, decorations, hiding eggs, candy, Easter Bunny, and the whole bit. Because of it, I have a lot of fond Easter memories...
Meanwhile I celebrated the holiday by giving myself a terrible haircut, cleaning a little bit of my horrifically filthy house, and washing my sheets. Now I am eating Chili Cheese Fritos and drinking a Coke Zero (I think Chili-Cheese is my favorite Frito because they contain more MSG than any other snack chip). Jake and Jenny are celebrating by taking a nap. And now I think I'll call it a day. It's 10am, and I'm done. Happy Easter!
• To The Louvre! I did not know that The Louvre had put so much of their collection online. This is amazing. I wish all museums would do this...
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
Image © Musée du Louvre Paris
You can even download low-res images to make your own personal collection! Nice! Even more interesting... they are offering virtual tours since the museum itself is closed because of the pandemic. I really hope they keep this all going when we get back to "normal." Some people will never get to visit The Louvre any other way, and it's not like it will take the place of an actual visit for those who can visit in person. But anyway... you can find it all on their website.
• RICK! Oh thank heavens...
Seriously some of the smartest stuff on television. Cannot wait.
• The Poverty! I think I laughed for five solid minutes after watching this...
Soooo... guess it's a good thing that I got the Pfiezer vaccine! I now have luxury running through my veins!
• Unreal! And speaking of vaccines... I am so fucking sick and tired of stupid...
Nobody gives a shit about reality any more. They just create whatever idiotic bullshit they want to fit their narrative. And people are happy to keep listening to them even when their crap is completely debunked.
• Engineering! If you've ever had one of those paper-box beverage containers, the way they open is rather cool. As you open the lid, it cuts the seal on the container inside. I've always wondered about how it works, but never bothered to cut one open to find out. Now I don't have to...
Pretty nifty stuff!
• Paper! The U.S. measurement standards are SO stupid. Bypassing the metric system is about as idiotic as it gets. This very, very cool video explains just one of the reasons why...
One of these days I'm going to rewatch all of CGP Grey's videos from start to finish. That would be a day well-spent.
And that's all she wrote.
Posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
Well that was a day.
The plan was to work just a half-day since I worked on Good Friday, which was supposed to be a holiday. That way I could tear apart my living room to deep clean all the stuff that's been neglected during the pandemic. Now that I've been half-vaccinated I'm starting to think about the day that people will be able to visit me again, and that's inspired me to clean house. Finally. Which is very Mary Sunshine of me given that COVID infection rates are on the rise again. The vaccine rollout has lured everybody into a false sense of security, so people are doing some crazy-ass shit. Even those who haven't been vaccinated. Especially those who haven't been vaccinated (and are proud to announce it).
Yesterday the Texas Rangers hosted a baseball game with 38,238 in attendance. A lot of them unmasked, of course. Doesn't seem especially smart given that the UK variant is now the dominant strain in the USA. It spreads more easily and has a higher mortality rate than "original COVID." Even worse, now there's "Post COVID Syndrome" where healthy people who recover from COVID end up with serious long-term effects. And the statistics are staggering. 30% of people who had COVID continued to have symptoms up to 9 months later. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. We don't have enough data to know what can happen after that 9 month period. Doctors worry about everything from immune system deficiency to long-term permanent brain damage.
As if COVID killing young healthy people wasn't bad enough?
But anyway... I ended up working a full day (and then some) after which I was too exhausted to clean. Instead I made tacos for Taco Tuesday then plopped on the couch and watched movies for the rest of the night... The Birdcage (81% on Rotten Tomatoes), Kingsman (74% on Rotten Tomatoes), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (51% on Rotten Tomatoes). AKA "Those movies I love and never get tired of watching even though I've seen them a million times." It's the last one that has always puzzled me when it comes to the reviews...
Despite not being the biggest Ben Stiller fan, I love this movie. Really love it. And for oh-so-many reasons right now, I find myself relating to it more than ever. Yet it got mediocre to negative reviews and I honestly don't get it. I found it to be refreshing escapist fun that shows what happens when you start living the life you've always dreamed about. Stiller is incredible in it, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that he directed the film as well. And just look at the supprting cast! Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, and Sean Penn... does it get much better than that?
Oh well. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. It's just a shame that the critical consensus likely kept people from seeing it. But I guess I've watched it enough times for ten people, so there's that.
Say... does anybody remember The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty?
What a great series! I think along with Top Cat this was one of my all-time favorite cartoons as a kid. They don't make 'em like that any more!
And since it's close to midnight now, I guess I'll clean house tomorrow. Maybe.
Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2021
There's a meme going around TikTok asking people to show a scar they have and then tell the story behind it. What's surprising is how many people have scars. I would have thought that this would be a rare event, but everybody seems to have a story.
I have a small scar on my ankle from when I was riding my bike barefoot. But the more interesting scar is on my left thumb...
When I was young I got frostbite in my fingers and never totally recovered. I don't even remember how it happened. Probably just playing outside or something. It got a little better as I grew up, but kinda "stuck" in my twenties. I have a good sense of touch, but my pain receptors are messed up. As an example, I feel heat enough to know when something is "hot" but not enough to know when it's boiling my fingers off.
This can be a problem.
Like when I'm using a hacksaw to cut through a pipe.
Sometime in my teens I was sawing with my right hand and holding the pipe in my left hand. As I got to the end I noticed red on the hacksaw blade. Turns out what I thought was vibrations on my thumb from sawing was actually me slicing through my thumb.
It didn't hurt, but it was an awful mess.
I ran to the bathroom and slowly poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on it to clean things out... then taped it together with Band-Aids and wrapped it. It continued to bleed for days and I probably should have gotten stitches, but it all turned out okay in the end.
And I got a cool scar to remind me that I have to be extra careful with my hands in life or else I'll end up with missing digits.
I also got a story for my blog on a slow news day.
Posted on Monday, April 12th, 2021
Well... this has been... a day. I guess. Stupid Monday.
If I had a better weekend, I would probably have been in better shape to deal with it all but, alas, here we are.
It's kinda sad that I haven't developed better adversity coping skills after all these years, but I guess it's just not where my skillset landed. Which reminded me of this TikTok, which is an excellent metaphor to be had...
##stitch with @mattshaw882♬ original sound - Z
The original video is equally dead-on hilarious...
I mean... holy crap!
This past Saturday as I was trying to distract myself from feeling sick all day, I watched a bunch of television, starting with the Doctor Strange movie. This took me through a Benedict Cumberbatch run that included some episodes of Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness...
When this movie first debuted I was... disappointed?... I guess is the word I'm searching for?
On one hand, the visuals and special effects were jaw-droppingly beautiful and the action intense. The cast, as with the first movie, was flawless. But the film was also a needless remake of the best Star Trek flick of all time: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was like... why?!? There were hundreds of new directions the franchise could head, but they decided to put a new spin on already-great material just because they could. And then there was the worst-kept secret of 2013... Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan Noonien Singh, originally played brilliantly by Ricardo Montalbán.
But on a fresh viewing where I know what to expect and can separate the remake from the original, I was able to appreciate it better. Mostly because it's just so dang stunning to look at. Plus it had a cameo by Leonard Nimoy. Still hate the disaster porn ending... Lord is that a tired trope... but, overall, not the huge disappointment I remembered.
I wonder how many other films would change my mind if watched anew?
And now we return to my butt-puckering day, currently in progress.
Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021
Oh no, I'm sick!
Some kind of stomach bug got me on Sunday and I have been struggling ever since. Yesterday was horrific, I'm not going to lie. I have never in my entire life vomited THAT badly. And I used to drink tequila! It felt like I was being turned inside-out.
I took it easy the rest of the day and was feeling much better this morning. Not wanting to push myself too hard since I wasn't feeling 100%, I had a small handful of dry Honey-Nut Cheerios before heading to work.
I lasted about 15 minutes.
Barely made it home in time to unleash instant breakfast in my toilet bowl. Then went directly to bed to sleep off whatever this is. Which is not easy because I could not get comfortable. Everything hurt. Especially my neck, which meant I couldn't lie down or sit up. Eventually I took sleeping pills and passed out.
And here I am. Half-laying, half-sitting-up, and all miserable. But at least I have TikTok, amiright? I swear... THIS is my new television. The creativity and brilliance in these tiny video snippets are just incredibly good. This one nabbed me immediately, and I spent way too much time going through all the rest of Josh's TikToks...
Fingers crossed I can eat my Cheerios in the morning... because it's the little things, you know?
Posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021
Today I managed to keep down a half a plain bagel for lunch and a small bag of Rold Gold Tiny Twists pretzels for dinner. My salvation, however, has been ginger ale. I haven't even been able to keep down water since Sunday, but ginger ale will stay down if I don't do anything too stressful... like get up and walk while drinking it. Without ginger ale, I'd likely become dehydrated and die or something.
In related news... half-bagels aside, I'm wasting away.
I’ve always said I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight, and it's really happening, people! I was 185 lbs. just last week... now I’m at 177. If things keep going like this I’ll be at 165 in no time!
I'm going to have to start wearing a belt because my jeans are so loose that they are falling off of me...
Interesting to note that in September of 2019 I was at 170. Thanks to quarantine I got up to 193, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been. 23 pounds from where I’m usually at! It has taken a LOT of effort to get the weight back down, which tends to happen as you get older, it would seem. I suppose it’s just more incentive to take it off and keep it off while I still can?
Seven pounds to go, I guess. Twelve if I'm ambitious.
Which, let's face it, I'm probably not.
We're still in quarantine, after all. My ambition has left the building.
Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2021
This morning I finally managed to keep my Honey-Nut Cheerios down. A little nausea after, but nothing terrible. I managed to hang in at the office for three hours, so that was new. By the time I got home I was exhausted but my appetite had come back. Starting small, I had a slice of dry toast. Then a couple shortbread cookies for lunch. No nausea. I'M CURED!
So what's going to be mysterious first real meal since Saturday? What I really, really wanted was a good salad. An awesome salad.
Yes, I was shocked too. I was sure it would be pizza.
Butter Lettuce. White Cheddar Shreds. Italian Croutons. Slivered Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Freshly-Ground Black Pepper. And a good pour of Olive Garden Parmesan Ranch Dressing...
Maybe it was having gone (mostly) without food for 4-1/2 days, but it was a phenomenal dinner. As was the Crystal Light Concord Grape Drink I had with it.
Somehow my amazing meal got my mind running through my favorite green salads, which I will list here before signing off because I have nothing better to do...
Italian. The salad itself at Olive Garden is nothing groundbreaking... iceberg lettuce, Roma tomatoes, purple onion, olives, Italian croutons, pepperoncini peppers, parmesan cheese, and fresh-ground black pepper. No, it's the Olive Garden House Italian Dressing that makes it so fantastic. Thankfully, it's available in stores, which means I can easily make my favorite Italian salad at home any time I want.
Chopped. The Hard Rock Cafe got me hooked on putting dried cranberries on my salads. Over the years I've stolen ideas from many other restaurants to create the perfect chopped salad. Butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, thawed frozen peas, dried cranberries, thinly-sliced green onion, pumpkin seeds, medium cheddar shreds, croutons, hard-boiled egg, and freshly-ground black pepper. The topper is either a very good ranch dressing (Olive Garden's Parmesan Ranch is incredible) or a creamy French, depending on my mood.
Vegetarian Cobb. This is a close cousin to my chopped salad... but using chopped romaine lettuce, faux bacon pieces, avocado dices, hard-boiled egg, chopped hot-house tomatoes, either blue cheese or feta, and thawed frozen corn (in place of the chicken that's on a classic Cobb salad). I usually go for a nice honey-mustard dressing on this one.
Greek. Yeah, it's the feta that makes this a favorite. Chopped Roma tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced avocado, red onion, chickpeas or cous cous, chopped red bell pepper, black olives, feta cheese, pita chips, and freshly-ground black pepper. Sometimes I'll toss in iceberg lettuce to make it more of a meal. The dressing is a toss-up depending on my mood. Sometimes I like a creamy Greek yogurt dressing... other times a classic red wine vinaigrette.
Taco. Always a treat... especially on a hot summer's day with a cold Pacifico beer. Iceberg lettuce, black beans, diced tomato, diced avocado, thawed frozen corn, Beyond Meat Fiesty Crumbles (or cooked quinoa), Mexican cheese blend, diced green onion, and taco chips. Top with a blend of three parts Thousand Islands dressing to one part sour cream and a spinkling of chopped cilantro.
Pear. It's really tough to beat a pear salad during that short window where Bartlett pears are fresh off the tree. Summer salad greens, dried cherries, candied walnuts, and parmesan. Top it off with a good balsamic and you're golden.
Summer Berry. This is almost more of a dessert than a salad, which is okay by me! Summer salad greens, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, toasted walnuts or almonds, thinly-sliced/baked beets, diced shallot, crumbled feta, and sunflower seeds. Best topped with a sweet honey and berry vinaigrette.
Apple. An awesome salad for Fall harvest days. Mixed greens, dried cranberries, candied slivered almonds, mild gorgonzola cheese, diced mild onion, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Top with an apple cider vinaigrette.
Watermelon. Not really green-salad apropriate, I'm still tossing this in here because it's such an amazing salad. Sweet ripe watermelon, scored baby cucumber slices, diced fresh basil, crumbled feta, and a few grinds of black pepper. For a dash of added flavor, I usually drizzle with a mix of light oil, rice wine, and lime zest.
Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2021
Yesterday I had a great salad. It was my first "real" food since Saturday. I managed to keep it down, which gave me the courage to have a slice of pizza toast for dinner before going to bed. After my digestive system got going again, all I wanted to do was eat. The pizza toast was a monumentally huge mistake. I was miserable all night, couldn't sleep at all, and finally gave up fighting it.
I wish I hadn't waited so long, because I felt so much better after I finally gave up on keeping it down.
Alas, that was at 2:30am.
What's funny is that through all my misery and tossing and turning and agonizing... Jake never once left my feet. At one point I was a complete mess while Jake was flopped across one leg while digging his claws into my other leg...
Astounding that one cat can take up so much space. I swear he started out curled up on one small corner of my bed. I honestly think that this was his attempt at making me stop moving. He's trying to hold me down or something.
Today I was back at square one. I went back to dry toast and ginger ale and worked my way up to a cheese sandwich for dinner. And that's the end of it. No late night dinner no matter how hungry I get.
I was surprised to learn that some states OTHER than Washington State book your second COVID vaccination appointment at the same time you get your first dose. Since the time between doses is set and known, it's weird that all states aren't doing it this way. My vaccination card had a reminder of when I was supposed to schedule my appointment, but every time I went to the website it told me that no appointments were available for my date. I was getting more and more anxious every day because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get an appointment for my date.
Then today this message arrived via text and email...
And I'm like why? WHY DIDN'T THEY TELL ME that I would be getting a reservation request so I could make my second appointment and not have to be worried about it? Why couldn't they have told me this and make a stressful situation be not stressful at all? The very least they could do was PUT THIS ON THE WEBSITE!
So now I have my appointment and can dial down the anxiety so I'm not freaking out over the idea of missing my second dose.
Perhaps I'll even be able to get some sleep tonight?
Except... dang wouldn't pizza toast taste great right about now?
Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2021
Originally my "Phase Group" was to be vaccinated in February. Then it was moved to March. Then it was moved to April. Then Washington State surprised me by opening my group on March 31st. I expected that I would have to wait weeks to get an appointment, but managed to get shot on the same day... having no trouble getting an appointment and breezing through the mass-vaccination site with only two-dozen-or-so other cars around.
On April 15th, Washington State opened up vaccination to anybody 16 and older. I was thrilled, but worried over whether or not I could get an appointment for my second shot. Except it was a non-issue, and today was the day of my vaccination part deux.
Thank God they made Washingtonians wait weeks and weeks to get the vaccine! The demand is incredible! Hundreds of cars waiting in line! A complete madhouse — Oh... no... wait a second... I totes misspoke. I WAS LITERALLY THE ONLY ONE THERE!!! No other people getting vaccinated. Just dozens of workers and somebody getting dropped off for work...
The massive maze they built to handle hundreds of cars was laid out like a queue at Disneyland, but completely unnecessary. At least it was when I was there. Not a single other person getting vaccinated. I worked my way through the maze for checkin... I worked my way through the maze for the vaccination line... then rolled right up to the vaccination tent without seeing a single other vehicle. After immediately getting shot, I went to the waiting area where there were six other cars, whose 15 minutes were up right away so they left. And then there was only me. Before I left another car pulled up next to me, but that was it.
I don't understand what's happening. Now that Washington State is open to everybody age 16 and over, I thought that we'd be doing better than this. Maybe it's busier on the coast because nobody in Redneckistan is getting vaccinated?
We're never going to get heard immunity at this rate. A target of 95% is needed, but right now the country is just a little above 50%? Unironically, the people who seem to complain about lockdowns the most are the same people who keep the pandemic going.
Oh well. We tried. Vaccination is open. Literally no waiting.
Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021
For the first dose of my Pfizer vaccine, I had a sore arm the next day that lasted around 7 to 8 hours.
This second time? I woke up feeling fine. My arm was a little sore, but not as much as last time. So instead of laying in bed playing video games all day as I had planned... I went into work. I lasted about 4 hours until I started feeling a little feverish and did a temperature check. Even though I felt fine. Even through it was obviously my immune system ramping up from the vaccine. Even though there was nothing else wrong with me... I ended up going home because my workplace has a zero-tolerance for any COVID symptoms (whether or not they are actually COVID-related). My temperature of 102º was enough to send me packing.
When I got home, I was feeling even hotter. A new temperature check had me at 104º
About a half-hour later my eyeballs started to ache... like they were being boiled out of my skull. A new temperature check had me at 105º. I decided to take a couple sleeping pills and go to bed so my immune system could do its thing while I slept.
When I woke up two hours later, my eyes felt fine and my temperature was down to 99º
And that was it.
By 10:00pm my temperature was normal, I felt perfectly fine, and as I sit here in bed typing this I can't even feel any pain in my arm. It's as if the second dose never happened.
Most people don't have any side-effects. But, for obvious reasons, the people who do have side-effects are the people who get publicized. I had a fever for two hours. Which I slept through. Big deal.
Except the actual side-effect of getting vaccinated... namely not having to die or be hospitalized if I happen to catch COVID... is the real story here.
At least it should be.
Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2021
Last night my web host updated PHP for my blog. Now nothing works. I'm sure it will all get figured out eventually... perhaps I'll just have to reinstall WordPress or something, but I really don't have the time to look into it right now. So I guess I'll keep writing entries and post them when I can figure out what's going wrong.
Wonder how many people will think I died because I got vaccinated? Too many, I'm guessing.
Where yesterday I had a little soreness in my arm, but was otherwise feeling great... today I have no soreness at all. It's as if the vaccinations never happened.
Except they did, which means my immune system will be up to speed to better deal with COVID in two weeks... which is May 5th, I guess. My plan is to go out and eat IN a restaurant. Something I haven't done in what... a year and a half now?
I will, of course, still wear a mask in public. Even though my immune system knows how to attack COVID, there are other people out there whose immune system is not, and I want to keep them safe. It's just a nice thing to do.
In a world where "doing the nice thing" is increasingly rare.
Posted on Monday, April 26th, 2021
Every damn day there's stuff going on that's worse than the day before, and I am exhausted. I just want to crawl under the covers and forget the outside world exists before I even get to my lunch hour because something in the news was the last straw for me.
Flat earthers. Anti-vaxxers. COVID deniers and mask deniers. Q-Anon conspiracy dipshits. Politicians selling us out to their wealthy corporate owners. Asholes making life so much harder for anybody who isn't a billionaire. The list goes on and on, but it generally boils down to mean people and stupid people. And most of the time the worst offenders are both. Those who lack compassion and kindness. Those who are willfully ignorant and not willing to acknowledge truth. It's depressing just how bad things have gotten because these people are intent on fucking it up for all of us.
The good news is that I finally set aside some time to reinstall Wordpress so the PHP update is no longer killing my blog, so there's that.
So I guess there's nothing stopping me from kicking my Monday to the curb a little early and crawling under the covers to play video games for the rest of the day.
Though I'm pretty sure my cats will want dinner come 6:00.
Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2021
Just two days ago I wrote about how utterly awful people are with their stupid shit. And today it all reached a peak that had me wishing an asteroid would nuke the planet. I am so done with awful, ignorant, stupid people. Like really done. Good thing my Buddhist philosophy promotes and existence of non-violence!
The nice thing is that the CDC realeased new guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated which, as I understand it, is two weeks after your second dose (which is May 5th for me). It's quasi-normal stuff...
I was supposed to fly out to New Orleans in June... plans which were made back in December of 2020 when the vaccines were rolling out... but canceled them this morning. That will make my first trip be in September, by which time I will hopefully feel better about crawling on an airplane with people and their nonsense for five-and-a-half hours.
Just my luck there will be a new COVID strain that hits at the end of August which isn't stopped by the vaccines. Then I'll have to wait for a Pfizer booster shot or something.
All because people are selfish dumbasses and, in the absence of reason, those who are fighting the good fight against COVID are facing an uphill battle. Because the pandemic isn't the enemy any more... it's the morons who don't trust science and take COVID seriously that keeps the war going on and on and on.
Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2021
You know what I love more than just about anything else? Somebody who has found something which helps them to live their best life at zero cost to other people. You know what I love even more than that? Those same people giving zero fucks about the haters. This guy on TikTok, Combat Crochet, has my admiration and respect. And the fact that he uses what he knows to help others is just icing on the cake...
It's amazing to me that people actually take time out of their busy days to leave hate comments on people's social media when they are doing NOTHING to hurt anybody. Senseless... and just plain mean.
Which pretty much defines our society now-a-days, but I don't have to like it.
Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2021
Not much happened today... but everything happened. Do you know what I mean?
As I mentioned, my incredibly expensive Samsung television died after 5-1/2 years. I couldn't afford to buy another top-tier television, so I opted for something 1/3 the price, but still highly rated. Because I live in a small city, mail order is pretty much my only option. Last time I bought with Amazon because they offered installation at $119 which I was happy to pay. This time I went with Walmart because they offered installation at $79. Same price on the TV, it's just that Walmart had the total cheaper cost by $40. And I'm all for saving my $40.
The company that was supposed to do the installation dragged things out for a week. My requested appointment was literally ANY day and ANY time, but no installer apparently wanted the job. When I asked "HelloTech" what would happen if nobody took the job, they assured me that they would then contract it out with a local installer, no problem. So I waited and waited. Then this morning they canceled the install. Made me wait a week and two days, then just outright canceled. And of course Walmart didn't bother to back up what they sold. So now my option is to pay a local company $250 plus tax... or get a friend to help me do it for myself. I can only afford Option B.
Then I went to work. Then I had a doctor follow-up. Apparently I'm going to live. For now.
After my appointment I went to pick up a new vaccination record with all the various shots I've had for my travels over the years. While I was there, I went to the pet store to pick up more kitty litter for Jake and Jenny to do their duty in. And it was here... in the parking lot of the pet store... that I noticed a T-Mobile store was on the other side of the parking lot.
And so... I took a slight detour.
20 minutes later, I'm a T-Mobile customer.
Ultimately it feels like T-Mobile wants your business.... AT&T just wants your money. I switched from Verizon to AT&T in 2004 because I had to in order to get service for the brand new iPhone. The customer service was better at Verizon, but AT&T was just fine. At the start. Things steadily declined with AT&T… then went into a complete nosedive after they bought DirecTV. They went from being an okay company to an outright awful company. Always making promises. Always breaking them. Quote you a price, then charge you something different. And somehow it’s all your fault even when you’ve got the receipts. They lost such a huge amount of money with DirecTV (which I eventually canceled because it got so awful after being acquired) that they’ve been trying to make up for the lost money by making the mobile division get less for more. And failing. In the past 3 years I went from being ambivalent about AT&T to outright hating the company, mostly because of the billing problems... but also because of the cellular service.
So now I am gone.
T-Mobile has a $50 flat rate for those 55 years and older, and it's a better plan than I had... WITH taxes and fees included. They waived the bullshit activation fee because I got my iPhone through Apple and they didn’t have to give me $650 to pay it off. So I'm chalking this one up as a win.
There is ONE thing that bothers me about T-Mobile, however. If you have two lines, you get free Netflix SD. If you have one line, you get NOTHING. That’s shitty. I pay more per line than somebody with two lines, but get less? And how does that work? A man and his wife sign up, get Netflix, then the man dies and T-Mobile is all "Sorry your husband is dead, but fuck you… we’re yanking your Netflix!" Is that really how it works? This is gross and highly unfair. I pay more for my one line than somebody with two lines on their plan pays per line, but I don’t get Netflix because I’m single? Do better, T-Mobile!
Then I got my kitty litter.
Then I went to Burger King because they had a "Buy One Impossible Whopper at Regular Price and We'll Give You A Second Impossible Whopper for $1" special going on. And my two meat-free burgers were GLORIOUS! We're at the time of year where lettuce and tomatoes are perfect, onions are tasty, and you're guaranteed a good meal. I was not disappointed.
Then I went back to work when what I really wanted to do was go to bed. That was quite a day I had.
Hey, we're in the middle of a pandemic. Every day you don't end up with COVID and are out of the house is quite a day.
Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2021
My old 65" television weighed 70 pounds (or something like that). I can easily lift 70 pounds, but being able to lift it up a wall and be able to get it attached to the mount without breaking it? Probably not. It's just too big and awkward to see what I'm doing. So after Walmart took my money for installation, then canceled my installation, I assumed I would need help because surely my new 65" television would weigh the same, wouldn't it? Apparently not. When I went to move it out of my living room until I could get somebody to help, I didn't scoot the big box... I tried picking it up by the straps. And it did not weigh no 70 pounds. So I looked up the specs. It only weighed 47-1/2 pounds!
I know the thing is big and awkward, but surely I can manage by myself if it weighs under 50 pounds?
So last night I took down my old TV and my old mount. Installed my new mount. Then gave it a try.
Not going to lie... there was a point that I felt like I might drop it as I tried to hang it on the tiny little centering tab because I couldn't see what the heck I was doing and was trying to feel my way. But after a few minutes I felt a "pop" and there it was. I quickly screwed it in place and I was done!
But not really.
The pricey Sony mount I got which was built specifically for my television didn't allow the cables to come through the middle of the wall like my old one. If I wanted to hide my cables in the wall (and I absolutely did) I would need to cut new holes in my wall off to the side.
Fortunately I already had a punch-cut drywall blade for just such an occasion!
And the nice part about doing it myself is that I give a crap about doing good work. So unlike the "professionally installed" boxes which are all wonky and crooked, I could take the time to do the job right and make sure that my cuts are clean, level, and precise...
I was too tired to run the cables in the wall, so I saved that for this morning.
And then... WAAAAAHHH! My optical cable wasn't long enough! Don't you hate it when your cable comes up short? This has never happened before. I've always had PLENTY of cable to get the job done in the past! But I'm sure this happens to lots of guys and isn't a big deal. Fortunately, in this case, I can just go get a longer cable. Even more fortunate, my local Target actually had one (and only one!) in stock. From there it was pretty easy to run my cables in the wall, hook my soundbar back up, then clean up the mess. Easy peasy...
Surprisingly, everything is working perfectly. Even better than before, actually, because the audio system on the new TV works far, far better with my SONOS home theater... and the picture quality is better too.
But here's the bonus to it all. Sony uses GoogleTV to power their sets. It is a MASSIVE LEAP ahead of the shitty interface on my old busted Samsung. And it has AppleTV as an app, so I don't even have to power on my external AppleTV box! Every streaming service I use is inside my TV as an app now. That's really, really nice. Could not be happier with my new television. Even video games look great! Now all that's left to do is patch the old hole in my wall. And install my bias lighting. But I'll do that next week. I've had enough home improvement for this week.
But who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?
Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
Yeah. Bullets are canceled this Sunday. Things are unreal here today, and I can't get my head in the game. Instead of blogging, I'm going to cook up a veggie burger for a late-night snack and play video games. It's all I got in me.
Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2021
I am at the end of my rope with the pandemic response.
Where I live here in Redneckistan, we've made INTERNATIONAL NEWS because there was a super-spreader event in the city of Republic, Washington on April 9 through 11. Now 10% of the population there has been diagnosed with COVID. And that number is sure to climb because the people who got it from the people who were at the event haven't shown their symptoms yet. That will start happening any minute now, because we just passed three weeks out. Their 25-bed hospital has been completely overrun, so patients are being shipped to other counties where they can fill up their hospital beds. Yikes.
And now I steel myself for hater Democrats to say "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!" because that's always their response when something idiotic here makes world news. Except... it's not as simple as that. In the 2020 election held in Ferry County, which is where the city of Republic is located, 1/3 of the people voting there did not vote for President Trump...
Washington State is a blue state. In fact, it's one of the bluest states (if not the bluest state) across all demographics in the entire country. Most of that "blue" is on the West side of the Cascade Mountain Range, it's true, but the blue is spreading. Where I live, the vote was only 53% Trump, 45% Biden, and 2% Other. To which a lot of people across the state were saying "HALF didn't vote Republican?!? Because this would have been absolutely unthinkable even ten years ago. So when people look at idiocy in my region and their immediate response is "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!"... they are thinking of the past, not the here and now.
Though the Republican demographic IS likely responsible for what happened in the small city of Republic.
There's just no sugar-coating it... the data claerly shows that the people more likely to engage in dangerous and reckless pandemic behavior are Conservatives. Though, to be honest, I don't really blame them for being ignorant as to how their actions are dangerous. I blame the "news" organizations which cater to them. When you have Tucker Carlson regularly spreading outright bullshit and lies when it comes to masks, vaccines, and COVID, well... the people who trust him as a "news" source are going to be roped into that kind of thinking. The outlet they choose to keep informed is misinforming them. You tune into a channel called "FOX NEWS" because it's the "news," and it doesn't occur to you that it's not actually reporting facts. FOX "News" lawyers infamously argued that people can't sue them for spreading misinformation because "FOX persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes." But that doesn't get reported on FOX "News." There's no disclaimer at the start of Tucker Carlson's show letting their viewers know that most everything he says is utter bullshit. And so they continue to believe him.
This is backed up by the above-linked article in the Tri-City Herald...
"The county previously had relatively few COVID-19 cases, and many in the conservative, rural community saw mask mandates as infringing on their liberty. Less than one-quarter of the county’s residents have received a vaccine to date, according to the health district, but officials said the outbreak has increased interest in it."
Because apparently it takes hospitals being overrun and people dying to get people to start thinking seriously about COVID? Thank you, Tucker Carlson.
I've lived in Redneckistan for 50 years. I understand that things are not so cut-and-dry when it comes to the people, the attitudes, and the lifestyle here. And it's for that reason that I have always tried my very best to be compassionate when it comes to the conservative school of thought which drives our society. Outsiders judge us without knowing us... or without even trying to understand why things are the way they are here. And while I get frustrated... a lot... because of the horrific level of willful ignorance that goes hand-in-hand with a public that's been duped by FOX "News," OAN, and Newsmax, I try to keep my head and heart on track. I do not wish ill on my fellow Redneckistan residents. They are my friends, family, and community. I choose to live here, so any problems I have are on me... not them.
But it's not always easy.
And it's just going to get worse, because Governor Jay Inslee has no choice but to start phase rollbacks as COVID cases here continue to explode. And, as you can just imagine, the people who have been conditioned to hate masks, hate vaccines, and hate science, REALLY hate our governor, even though he's just responding to a problem that their actions are largely responsible for. Businesses here don't have signs saying "State Mandates Require a Mask Be Worn On These Premises"... instead it says something like "DUE TO GOVERNOR INSLEE DECREE, YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK! DON'T BLAME US, BLAME YOUR DICTATOR!" Which is to say that people are being conditioned to hate Governor Inslee as well.
In all honesty, I've given up trying to convince people. My voice simply cannot compete with "The News" that everybody here believes in.
All I can do is find voices of reason to listen to, try to be understanding, try to be respectful, and carry on as best I can... all while resisting the urge to run around screaming "WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR GOD'S SAKE!"
Mostly because, while all of John Oliver's information is good and the way he presents it entertaining, the condescending snark in the way he presents it would not go over here well at all. And I get it. Last Week Tonight caters to a liberal audience just like FOX "News" caters to a conservative audience.
The "middle ground audience" is grossly underserved.
And so I'll just keep biting my tongue, try to convince people to trust science where I can, and go on living my life.
Such as it is in the middle of a global pandemic that's exploding out my back door.
Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
I make a darn good macaroni & cheese. It's got all the cheddar and parmesan and condensed milk and the seasoning in there... which makes it a delicious heart attack that I don't make too often because it's so brutally unhealthy. Plus it's a tough recipe to cut down, so I always make way too much of it. And frozen mac & cheese is never as good as when it comes right out of the oven, so a good chunk of it always seems to get thrown out before I can eat it all.
But I still want me some mac & cheese from time to time.
I actually like the Kraft Dinner box mix. Yeah it's made from powdered cheese and tastes like plastic... but in a good way...
I can eat an entire box in one sitting, so I don't buy much of the stuff because that's dangerous. BUT THEN I found that Kraft makes "singles" that you just pour water into and microwave...
They are fairly perfect size-wise, even though they are somehow not as good as the boxed stuff that you make on a stovetop (guessing it's the lack of milk and margarine?). I can say that they have better flavor than the Annie's mac & cheese cups, which tasted fairly bland to me (which is weird, because I rather like the Annie's boxed stuff).
Flash forward to my last trip to the grocery store when I saw that Kraft has "Macaroni & Cheese DELUXE." Apparently it's been around for a long time, but I've never seen it until my last trip to the grocery store...
What makes it "DELUXE" is that the noodles are a little bigger and the cheese is not a powder... it's a packet of liquid cheese goo. Once you cook the macaroni and drain it, you just squeeze the goo into the pan and stir it up (instead of having to add the powdered cheese, milk, and margarine liked the "regular" stuff). The cheese goo is tough to get out of the packet completely and I made a little bit of a mess on my fingers trying to get every last drop, but it wasn't a big deal.
And the verdict? Well... it starts off nice. Lots of cheesy flavor that's similar to Kraft Dinner, but weirdly different. BUT THEN it turns on you. There's this bitter, chemical-like hit on the back-end that gets worse the more you eat it. I only got 4 or 5 bites into the bowl before I couldn't take it any more. I tosed everything in the trash and had Totino's Cheese Pizza Rolls instead.
WTF, KRAFT?!? How do you call this "DELUXE" when it's not as good as the original? I could eat original Kraft Dinner morning, noon, and night and never get tired of it. But this "DELUXE" stuff tastes like a toxic waste dump and I couldn't even get through a single bowl!
YOU HAVE SHAKEN MY FAITH IN YOU, KRAFT! HOW DARE YOU CALL THIS "KRAFT MACARONI & CHEESE" WHEN IT IS NOTHING OF THE SORT!!! YOU HAVE OFFENDED ME WITH THIS VILE TRAVESTY, GOOD SIR! Or good madame. Or good them. The president of Kraft-Heinz Company is Steve Cornell, but I don't know how they identify. Or maybe there is a separate president in charge of Kraft Dinner that I don't know about. REGARDLESS, I AM OFFENDED!
And so now I will go back to the original (and best) Kraft Dinner and not be swayed again. Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice AND I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE ON YOU, KRAFT!
Their Kraft Singles Deli Deluxe American Cheese Food Slices (that are not individually-wrapped) are my most favorite fake cheese to make a grilled cheese sandwich. So great. Now there's a "DELLUXE" product that is in every way better than the original! So instead of "revenge" maybe I'd just write a stearnly-phrased letter or something?
I like to keep my options open.
Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
It's been two weeks since my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Which is to say that I am now fully vaccinated. Though with all the mutations that are happening, this could be short-lived. Right now they are saying that the vaccines do very well against the new strains... keeping people out of the hospital and away from death. Tomorrow something new could come along to change all that. In fact I would expect something new to come along and change that. This ain't over, and I can easily see how we'll need an annual booster to handle new strains just like we have with the flu shot.
In the meanwhile though? I am going to eat in a restaurant!
Maybe. I think. The plan was to go to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate my being totalmente vacunado on Cinco de Mayo... but that's looking unlikely now because I've got a list of things to do that's a mile long. But I will be eating at a restaurant that's taking proper precautions one day soon.
Preferably one that makes a mean margarita.
Just me entering Phase One of getting my life back.
Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2021
Am I the only one who sees a person in a photograph then immediately starts to wonder who they are and what their life is like?
I do this all the time. Today I was researching something online and ran across a company advertising their services. There was a photo attached where a bunch of employees were all giving the thumbs-up and grinning madly at the camera.
Except one guy. His thumb was not up and his smile was barely there.
And it's been haunting me all day. I can't help but wonder what's going on with him. What's his name? What's he do for this company? Is he married? Does he have kids? What are his hobbies? Where does he live? What are his friends like? What was his life like growing up? But most of all... what's going on with him in this photo? He looks like he might be sad or upset. What happened?
I will, of course, never know. And so the man in the photograph will continue to haunt me.
Until the next person in a photo comes along.
Posted on Saturday, May 8th, 2021
And so now both cats are sleeping with me at night. Used to be just Jake, but now that he's relegated himself to sleeping at my feet each night, Jenny decided that this left the upper half of the bed to her.
Their nightly routine has become painfully predictable.
It starts out when Jake starts sticking to me like glue on the couch about an hour before bedtime...
Then he follows me upstairs to my bedroom. After complaining that I'm not changing into pajama bottoms fast enough, he'll flop over for belly rubs...
Then, just as he starts to zonk out, he gets up to go fall asleep on or near my feet for some reason...
Then, when Jenny sees that Jake is done getting attention for the night, she hops up for her turn getting belly rubs...
But she falls asleep right next to me, as you can see by this photo of me in the morning...
I still find it odd that they choose to sleep next to me when I move quite a bit. Apparently it doesn't bother them. I just hope that I don't end up squishing a cat in the middle of the night!
In the morning Jake usually wanders off as I'm waking up. But Jenny stays right there because she demands more belly rubs to start out her day!
Such an adorable girl. She just can't help be be adorable though. It's her natural state. Whenever the dryer buzzer goes off, Jenny waits for me to pull the clothes out, then hops on top of them. Because they're warm. Then I have to gently pull a piece out so I can hang it up... at which time Jenny is pawing at the pile because she wants all the warm clothes. The paranoia then gets worse and worse as more clothes disappear off the pile...
Poor girl. I'm stealing her treasure!
And that's my Caturday today. Spoiler Alert: I'm pretty sure Jenny will continue to be adorable in my next Caturday post.
Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2021
My official "Vaccination Complete" date was last Wednesday on Cinco de Mayo. That was two weeks after my second dose. It was my intent to go out for dinner... sitting down in an actual restaurant... but it never ended up happening. I watched television with Jake while drinking margaritas and Pacifico.
But tonight was the night.
Now that my sister and I are on the vaccinated train, she stayed over last night... the first time in a year-and-a-half... and we decided to celebrate by going out to dinner. It was so wonderful. The last time I ate out in a restaurant was probably early December 2019, and I forgot how nice it is to leave the cooking to somebody else and just enjoy being out of the house again.
Afterwards we went to a favorite Redneckistan bar for beer and pulltabs. Oh... and I played video-trivia games! I for 100% certain caught COVID from touching the screen for an hour, but it was worth it because I got high score!
It's a strange feeling having people in my house again. Before the pandemic, my home was a revolving door of houseguests and good times. During the pandemic it was just day after day after day of me and my cats watching television.
Life is not "back to normal" yet. Probably won't be for years. But it was sure nice to get a glimpse of "normal"... if only for one evening.
Posted on Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
No amount of facts or science will convince an anti-masker that they are FULL. OF. SHIT. Even their legal arguments are fucking stupid... just as they are. Believe whatever the hell you want to believe, but businesses have the right to refuse service if you aren’t wearing a mask and they require it, just like they are able to have you arrested for trespassing. Don’t want to wear a mask? Afraid to wear a mask? Order online. Order curbside pickup. Or just stay the fuck home. We just don’t give a shit about your drama...
Legal Dad is so great. His take-downs on absurd bullshit are always worth watching. Like this one about voter fraud nonsense in my home state of Washington...
I mean... I've changed my signature twice. I developed my first signature when I first started having to sign stuff. This is how it looked when I got a checking account, registered for the draft, got a driver's license, and registered to vote...
Eventually I found myself losing my middle initial and changing the "II" after my name to "2"...
And do you know what happened? THE COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE CALLED ME IN TO SIGN A NEW VOTER REGISTRATION CARD SO THAT THEY COULD VERIFY MY BALLOT!
Eventually I changed my signature again so that I could write it faster (I sign my official stuff differently than what you see below... this is how I sign my artwork... but it's kinda-sorta in the same vein as this Mickey-Mouse-looking thing)...
And do you know what happened? THE COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE CALLED ME IN AGAIN TO SIGN ANOTHER NEW VOTER REGISTRATION CARD SO THAT THEY COULD VERIFY MY BALLOT AGAIN!
But I guess all these stupid rumors by hucksters and liars are all anybody cares to listen to anymore, not actual experiences by actual people telling the truth about shit.
Between the anti-maskers, anti-vaxers, COVID-deniers, voter fraud conspiracy theorists, flat earthers, anti-science dumbasses, and all the rest... I am just so fucking tired. Can I go to sleep until Star Trek times happen?
Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
I need more polysorbate 60 in my diet, so I ended up getting some Hostess Ding Dongs. I haven’t eaten them in a long, long, LONG time because they were always made with lard. Now that they switched to palm kernel oil, corn syrup, and soybean oil, I’m golden!
So there I was, anxiously awaiting peeling back that shiny aluminum foil...
ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THEY ARE WRAPPED IN PLASTIC NOW?!? WTF?!? WHEN DID THIS TRAVESTY HAPPEN?!?
=sob!= Still delicious though.
Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2021
I'm the kind of gardener that's mostly "Eh, just let the plants do what they gonna do."
So when I received the huge surprise that some of my pansies came back from last year... AND that they are growing in weird places (like in a hole in garden barrier fabric!)... I decided to just leave them where they are and plant around everything...
Though apparently I have a green thumb for transplanting, because the irises that I dug up and moved that subsequently died... have somehow come back and are stronger than ever?
They're some really pretty irises, so I'm not mad they survived, but it was a shock because I expected them to die! I maintain that they are an incredibly stupid flower because many of them can't support their own weight and end up flopping over where they get run over by a mower...
My white irises, however, are like a frickin' fence, and stand straight year after year...
But anyway... finished my planting over Saturday & Sunday. Then this morning I went out and looked to see if my everything survived the early-morning irrigation...
Yikes. Those purple flower thingies (which haven't bloomed yet) get bigger every year. They probably need to be broken up or something. They take up almost the entire bed now!
My dogwood in the front yard which flowers for 15 minutes before all the petals drop off, is at its prettiest right now...
Will probably be bare tomorrow.
And that's it for my life in florals. I only have one area left to plant, but it needs a shrub of some kind and I don't know how to do that right. I might see if the landscaping company can do that for me.
Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021
I've had many mormon friends over the years that have come to mean a lot to me. And, without exception, they have accepted it when I tell them that I try to live my life according to Buddhist principles and that's enough for me. They've never attempted to "convert" me. They've never condemned me or my beliefs. They've never lied or harmed members of my family. They've never been anything except nice to me. And so I've done my very best to be kind to them in turn.
When I'm traveling and run into Mormon missionaries, I stop and say hello, ask how they're doing, and ask them where they are from to make conversation. Especially when I am in a foreign country, because I know they're probably homesick and lonely. Being nice costs me nothing.
This is not to say that I don't have issues with the Mormon Church. Far from it. I was absolutely infuriated when they, as a tax-exempt entity, decided to support the virulently anti-gay Prop. 8 Campaign. But I feel this way about all the churches that decided to become anti-gay propaganda machines. If you want to be a PAC, then that makes you taxable, and you should lose your exemption. Period.
But anyway... ultimately if you want to be Mormon (or whatever) and aren't using it as a weapon to against people (see Prop. 8 above) then you do you and I'll do me.
And if you want to stop being a Mormon, that's okay with me too.
Which brings us to Mormon Stories.
Mormon Stories Podcast is a series of conversations with John Dehlin which center around Mormonism. It started as a forum where Mormons could discuss all aspects of the religion from varying perspectives. And it's fascinating. I was reminded of this recently when a friend brought up Tyler Glenn (lead singer from Neon Trees). Back when I first got into the band (late... just four years ago or so), I found a 3-part interview he did about his growing up in Mormonism... and what eventually caused him to leave the church. If you don't know of him, he's the guy behind the fantastic theme song for Love, Victor...
I ended up listening to Tyler's episode all over again. I think what makes it so compelling is just how smart, kind, and humble he is when talking about Mormonism. His perspective is part uplifting... part heartbreaking... but all interesting. Even if you're not a fan of Neon Trees I still highly recommend listening to his appearance on Mormon Stories. Yes, it's six hours long, but once you start listening the time flies by. I (re)listened to it while I was working...
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's an interview with Jeremy Runnells about his infamous letter questioning Mormonism that's fascinating in a more analytical way. There's an interview with Wayne Sermon from the band Imagine Dragons that's every bit as interesting as Tyler Glenn's story. There's an interview with Noah Rasheta, who teaches Secular Buddhism from the perspective an ex-Mormon. The list goes on and on.
If you're looking for a new podcast series about a subject you may not even be familiar with, give it a listen.
Posted on Thursday, May 20th, 2021
This past week I've been planting stuff in my flower beds. I got everything into the ground on Sunday and finished my planter on Tuesday. Surprisingly, I must have learned a thing or two from previous years, as ALL of my flowers survived the process. I took a walk around when I got home from work yesterday and was most pleased.
Then this afternoon the skies opened up and a torrential flood of rain fell out.
At first I thought that it would be a momentary thing that lasted for just a couple minutes. But eventually the rain kept dropping harder and harder and I started to worry about my poor flowers. After 10 minutes I couldn't take it any more and ran home to see what was happening to them...
The answer was... nothing good. So I ran around trying to cover them.
All the irises that hadn't already fallen over from their own weight were pounded flat.
My larger flowers were okay... with minor damage and a few snapped stems that had to be trimmed.
But the smaller flowers, which I thought would be just fine because of their proximity to the ground, were ripped to shreds. Not the alyssum, of course... that shit can survive just about anything... but all the tiny blue, purple, and yellow flowers I liked so much. They had their petals ripped off and their leaves buried in mud. They likely have new blooms yet to come, so I expect that I'll see them come back. But right now there's just little stubs where flowers once grew.
I spent a while digging a small trench to vacate all the water from the beds. I then had to manually scoop the water out of my planters. I left the irises alone, however, because they were going to fall over eventually anyway.
After I finished up, I went inside to take a shower, change clothes, and grab a sandwich.
And the minute I sat down to enjoy that sandwich?
Here comes the torrential flood of rain again.
Posted on Monday, May 31st, 2021
Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor those who died in service of this country. Many having done so far from home. It's difficult for me to not put Memorial Day in this context, having visited American cemeteries in foreign lands (like this one in Tunisia). One I have not been to is the Netherlands American Cemetery (though I have been to nearby Maastricht), which was beautifully captured in this drone footage...
To those soldiers and their family and friends who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we so casually enjoy, thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.
Like many people, I'd imagine, this Memorial Day Weekend is the first time I've gathered with friends and family in a very long time. Thanks to vaccination efforts and a beautiful day outside, the conditions were finally safe enough for a group event, and it meant more to me than I could ever say to have a moment of "normal" after a year of "anything-but-normal." Plus... we had foster puppies to play with!
A day off work doesn't get much better than this.
Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021
It's getting to the point that I don't want to drive any more.
Because every time... whether it's five minutes to work or two hours over the mountains... people are driving like psychotic assholes. They are so aggressive and awful that driving has become an overwhelmingly stressful chore.
Take four-way stops, for example. There are two in my small town I use regularly. In increasing frequency, people are not waiting their turns. They roll right through the stop because they don't want to wait for you to come to a complete stop... as you are legally required to do.
A ten-minute drive to the grocery store will easily result in somebody cutting me off. An asshole revving their engine behind me while I wait for somebody to cross the street. Some jerk recklessly racing around me in the parking lot. And an idiot running a stop sign. And this is not some random event that happens every once in a while, it's every damn time!
On the way back from the Seattle-side of the mountains yesterday, there was a car ahead of me bouncing between 45mph and 55mph on a single-lane 60mph highway. As you can imagine, this is frustrating, so the minute there's passing lane, I went to go past him. AT WHICH TIME HE STARTS DRIVING 70MPH!! Then, the minuite the passing lane disappears, he's right back down below the speed limit. Which is to say that he was intentionally not allowing cars to pass him. He got off on the idea that he was blocking people. I waited for a straight-away where passing was permitted but, you guessed it, he sped up the minute I sped up and put on my turn signal to go around him.
Finally I couldn't take it any more. The next time a passing lane opened up, I floored it and did not give a shit. But here's the thing... he didn't move to the right lane. He stayed in the passing lane as cars were trying to pass him. We had to pass on the right! And of course he sped up so that only people willing to temporarily go 75mph could pass him.
Assholes like this should not be allowed to drive.
Hell, they shouldn't be allowed to live! This kind of intentional asshole driving should be punishable by death, because it's people like that who cause fatal accidents with their aggressive, idiotic bullshit.
It's a shame I don't want to drive any more because I've always been such a good driver.
Scratch that. I am an exemplary driver.
Never caused an accident. Have never come close to causing an accident. The one accident I've been in was when I was stopped at a light and a driver trying to escape the police RAN INTO ME. I've driven in 47 states. I've driven in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Austria, Spain, Italy, France, and Mexico without incident. I'VE DRIVEN IN DETROIT AND SURVIVED! I've had only two tickets in 38 years of driving... BOTH OF WHICH WERE BULLSHIT... but that was decades ago.
So naturally I signed up for Progressive Auto Insurance "Snapshot" program so I could save $20 every six months.
I'm sure this device which monitors your driving is great for some places... but not where I live! I am constantly being dinged for stuff that's not an actual thing, and honestly feel that this device encourages bad driving. Where I live, there are stop lights on the highway. So naturally you're going to make hard stops from time to time when a light changes and you're going 60 miles per hour! BEEP BEEP! Come up to a YIELD and don't make a complete stop... A YIELD, NOT A STOP? BEEP BEEP! Actually make a complete stop like you're supposed to? BEEP BEEP! And the beeps I get for hard stops is insane. Apparently anything less than a 2mph deceleration is considered a "hard stop," which means that you are coming up to stops way too slow and backing up traffic where lights are close together. I don't make hard stops. But I also don't make old-person-slow-stops that cause problems and accidents either. Yet... BEEP BEEP!
I kept hoping that the Snapshot device would eventually get smart about the conditions where I live, but on my 44th day of the 45 day trial I just couldn't take it any more and opted out. I don't care if it rates me a "B+" for my driving and tells me I'm doing a good job... I am not going to start driving unsafely just to avoid that fucking BEEP BEEP!
A $20 savings over six months is not worth my sanity.
Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021
Honestly, I have tried to work the word "hate" out of my vocabulary. Because I have seen where it leads. So I endeavor to not hate anybody, anyplace, or anything.
And sometimes end up failing miserably.
Like with AT&T.
After being forced into a new plan so I could have access to 5G data, my bills were never right. The amount I verified I was to pay never ended up being on my bill. So I would call AT&T... they would see I was correct... then fix it. Until the next month. All in all it took them SEVEN FUCKING MONTHS to get it straightened out. At which time I was done. I was more than done. I wanted nothing to do with this shitty company that can't figure out how to bill people the amount they promise. So I switched to T-Mobile. Called AT&T and canceled my plan on April 24th. Called for my pay-off amount on May 5th (that's the day after my billing cycle). Provided my credit card. Paid my canceled account off. Then verified that the transaction went through on my bank statement (which it did on May 7th). Fourteen years as a loyal AT&T customer down in flames because they can't figure out a fucking billing statement.
But at least I'm done, right?
NOPE! Nope de nope nope nope.
Because today I received a balance overdue notice. On a canceled account. That I paid in full. To an AT&T representative. Over the phone. Not some random amount I pulled out of my ass... the amount I was told I owe to close out my account.
So I called the fuckers to tell them that I don't owe them a damn thing.
It didn't go as well as you would expect. Even though it's obvious to anybody with a fucking brain in their head that they made a mistake. My bill is always $152 to $157 a month. With the exception of November-December where my brother and I bought new iPhones and had to pay bullshit activation fees even though AT&T doesn't do a fucking thing because it's all automated...
But I digress.
For no reason at all, AT&T decided my final bill was NOT the amount on my closed account that the representative gave me and took my credit card for... I owe them $89.83 more. Even though I was out of contract and there were no cancelation fees or anything. But nobody could explain WHY I owed this additional money. Nor could they explain how my bill jumped extra money AFTER I HAD PAID IT. Nor did they find it strange even though I was on auto-pay until my last bill, so they automatically took the amount out of my checking account. Nope. They just wanted the money. And, depending on whom I talked to, it was either old money owed on my wireless account, old money owed on my Direct TV account (that I canceled three years ago), or just money I owed period and I should shut up and pay it.
After being transferred to FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN FIVE DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OVER TWO HOURS, I finally told the last guy that I wasn't paying them a fucking thing because I don't just throw money away when I don't owe it. They weren't hearing me, so I screamed "EITHER ZERO MY ACCOUNT OR TAKE ME TO COURT BECAUSE I DON'T OWE YOU THIS MONEY AND I'M NOT PAYING IT! WHICH WILL IT BE? So they turned me over to collections, which offered the same party line. After TWO AND A HALF LITERAL HOURS and I'm not making that up because my phone keeps track...
...I decided I'd just try the online chat. Which has mostly been useless, so I stopped using it...
Six minutes later... while I was still on hold with the fucking collections department... Josie, bless her heart, saw that it WAS strange my bill jumped $89.83 for no reason with no explanation, then got a supervisor to zero out the account.
So this is how people become homicidal maniacs.
If nothing else, this only confirms that my absolute hatred of AT&T is entirely justified and I'm more relieved than ever I got the fuck out of that shitty company who doesn't know WHAT the fuck they are doing and doesn't have a billing system that's worth a damn.
Until next month when I'm assuming I'll get a new bill for a canceled account.
Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021
Remember yesterday when I was talking about trying so hard not to hate because I know where it leads? I've failed for two days in a row now.
Before I get to that, I need to pop some keywords up so Google can index this and perhaps help people who went through what I went through...
HavaHart Live Animal Cage Trap Failure — HavaHart Trap Door Won't Stay Closed — HavaHart Handle Falls Off — HavaHart Trap Model #1079 — HavaHart Trap Defective — HavaHart Victor Trap Manufacturing Defect — HavaHart Trap Won't Work
Last night I had to work a few extra hours so that I could make up the time I lost arguing with shitty AT&T over money they wanted to charge me on a closed account. As I was leaving the office, I thought I saw a kitten running in the parking spaces across the street.
Fast forward to this morning and I was outside social-distanced from my uncle so I could give him some papers my mom had left for him... and I saw the kitten again. My uncle also saw it, so this time I knew it wasn't my imagination.
Well, obviously I'm not going to let a scared, hungry kitten suffer on my watch, so I immediately ran home to get my cat carrier and some food. Sure enough... the little guy (or gal) came running out to scarf it down...
He looked like there might be something wrong with one of his eyes, and he doesn't look 100% well. Which may just be the trauma of being out on the streets trying to survive, but I won't know until I manage to grab him. Except he's so skittish that I couldn't get near him...
And so I called local veterinarian offices to see if they had a trap I could borrow. They did not. So I called the Humane Society because surely they have one... left a voicemail, but never heard back. Eventually I went to Home Depot where they had them in stock...
When I got back to the office, I unpacked the trap and followed the instructions to open it. Immediately the "handle" springs off and slashes a nice gash in one of my hand while the trap falls on my other hand to cut it as well...
Ouch. But whatever. I have a cat to catch. Train tracks run right next to where he's been hiding, and I am mortified that he might be run over. So I don't need a handle on the door. I set it up with stinky cat food, then covered it like what was suggested by a local cat rescue to make it seem more "safe" to the kitten...
I checked the trap every hour. On the third hour the door had sprung and I was ecstatic that I had got kitty so easily. But when I ran across the street to collect him, there was no cat inside. Thinking that maybe a gust of wind set it off, I reset it to try again. But the cat was wary of it...
I worked until 10:00pm when it got too dark to see the trap. So I went home and started taking naps between my hourly trap checks. FINALLY at 2:00am my headlights revealed that the trap had sprung. But, once again, not kitten inside. What the hell?
So naturally I went to the internet to see what I was doing wrong. LO AND BEHOLD, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A "HANDLE" WAS, IN FACT, A CRITICAL CLIP NEEDED TO KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! There were videos on YouTube about it from FIVE YEARS AGO and everything...
The kitten had actually been trapped twice, but managed to squeeze out from under the trap door.
I was absolutely enraged.
This company, HavaHart, who never responded to a guy telling them that their product is defective... has ibviously known about this problem FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. Probably longer. How shitty is that? The only way I found out that the "handle" was not actually a handle was because one of the comments on that video explained it. With not a small amount of effort and a pair of wide-grip pliers, I managed to get the trap door clip installed in the slots that hold it...
This is so shitty that I can't even express how angry I am. The kitten is probably so frightened about being trapped twice that they may never go back in now that I've repaired it. My God... all it would take is a simple rivet... or a punch-fasten... or a frickin' dimple... to make it so that this clip... WHICH ALSO ACTS AS A HANDLE PER THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOX... won't come flying out and hurting people when you pull on it to open the door. It would also make their product work as advertised. Rage. Rage. Rage...
I continued to drive back to the office every hour, but the scared, hungry, possibly sick kitten never went back in the trap. And I don't blame them. I can only hope that they get hungry enough that they'll try to eat from the trap one more time so I can rush him to the vet and make sure he's okay. I'll still be checking every hour... even though I'm exhausted from lack of sleep worrying about a scared kitten getting run over by a train.
I don't really want a third cat, but I may not have much choice in the matter. I'm not going to abandon the poor thing. Which I've decided to name "Loki" whether it's a boy or a girl. Because Loki in the Marvel Studios movies is famous for being able to escape a trap... just like this kitten. And speaking of Loki...
The first of six episiodes dropped. And it's glorious. It's Loki doing what Loki does best, but also has some heart in it that's surprisingly touching. So nice to see that Marvel Studios is killing it not just with their movies, but with their Disney+ series as well. Can't wait to see where this one goes!
Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2021
I'm in zombie mode now that I haven't gotten any sleep in two days. One night of worrying about the stray kitten I saw as I walked home from work... one night running back to the office every hour to check on the cat trap... and there's only so long that a person can go on like this.
I've had to accept that the kitten is most likely gone because I haven't seen him since before 2:00am and it's now 1am the following day.
He got trapped twice but, because of the known defect in the trap I bought that I was unaware of, he escaped. Then, undoubtedly terrified of the cage that got him, he moved on.
So now I have a camera of the (repaired) trap on my Google Hub and I only set my alarm every three hours to have a look...
I know that kittens get abandoned every day. I know that this cruel world lets stray cats die of neglect all the time. I know this. And yet here was one kitten I could have saved... but ultimately couldn't. And I don't know how to feel about it so I'm feeling everything.
I'll keep the trap up for a while yet... even though it's undoubtedly futile at this point. Eventually I'll return it to Home Depot for being a defective piece of shit and contact their coporate headquarters to ask that they stop selling this model trap so that others won't go through what I've had to go through. Probably not going to do anything since corporate schenanigans between companies are always going to take precidence over people, but it's worth a shot.
Now back to sleep again until my alarm chimes in another three hours.
Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2021
Compared to other weeks in my life, this has been a fairly difficult one. Everything kept going wrong and the minute I get a crisis handled, two more takes its place. About half-way through my Friday I was wanting to chuck it all and go home to play video games for the rest of the day. I probably should have, because the longer I stayed at work the worse things seemed to get.
And yet... I have a roof over my head, food to put on the table, and two cats that give me reason to get up in the morning, so it seems weird to complain. #blessed
The good news is that I have zero plans to work this weekend, for once, so that's nice. Though I've got a long list of chores that need to be handled here at home, so it's not like I will be sitting around eating chips and watching television.
... how cool would that be?
Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2021
I took down the animal trap. I'll return the hunk of shit to Home Depot later this week when I get caught up with work. I remain no less livid that traps with a defect that's been reported for over five years are still being sold to unsuspecting people. I also remain heartbroken for that little kitten that I wasn't able to save. I sure hope he made his way to a place where somebody will watch out for him.
Posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2021
These 4:00am daybreaks are killing me. Partly because I'm still recovering from all the sleep I lost running down to check the kitten trap every hour... but mostly because the bird activity has been crazy. I think a bird or two is building a nest nearby, because their chatter each morning is deafening. My cats are loving it though. They are running around from window to window... salivating at the prospect of catching a bird or twelve to rip apart. The adorable little murderers.
The more there's talk about life getting "back to normal" (whatever "normal" means), the more I find myself reevaluating absolutely every detail in my life. I've been working really hard at spending less money, eating healthier foods, and making sure that I'm living better in general. Which is tough given that the COVID virus keeps mutating and getting so much worse. Once winter comes and people are spending more time indoors our outlook becomes really scary. Especially considering how many people are unvaccinated and how reckless people are being. Then along comes the Epsilon variant and we're all fucked.
One of the biggest and most drastic changes I've been looking at is my travel.
I cannot even fathom a return to non-stop travel for work. It just seems utterly bizarre to even contemplate it. I may consider a trip here and there for jobs I like or places I like, but my road warrior days are over. If I end up with more than five or six work trips a year I will consider that a failure.
Now if I'm flying somewhere, I want it to be for vacation or visiting a friend or something I enjoy. Having a calendar filled with 12-20 work trips is over for me. Which I was able to reaffirm when I got a call this morning...
"Could you be in Vegas on September 7? It's the day after Labor Day."
"Comeon... you could fly in over the weekend and make a 3-day vacation of it!"
"Any chance you might change your mind between now and then?"
"Oh. Okay. We'd really like for you to sign on with us. You did such an amazing job."
"That's so nice of you to say. But, no."
Don't get me wrong... I consider myself hugely blessed to have been able to travel so much... visit so many places... and see so many things... but that's not where my heart and head are at any more.
For that part of my life, Winter is here already.
Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2021
There's so much going on right now that I'm having trouble slowing my mind enough to get some sleep. My solution? As with so many things now-a-days... it's TikTok.
This guy covers songs a other artists, and what he comes up with is so good. The 1975 is one of my favorite bands, and her nails this. Just nails it. If you’re on TikTok, go be amazed. @maxfrostmusic...
He is able to effortlessly step into different musical styles...
Then it just starts getting unreal...
And into a region that's uncanny to an insane degree...
getting toasty with posty🔥🎄 @postmalone ##alliwantforchristmasisyou♬ original sound - Max Frost
Yeah, this is exactly the kind of thing I need to take my mind off of the world.
Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2021
This morning I woke up wanting strawberry cheesecake. The closest I could get is eating strawberry yogurt alternating with white cheddar popcorn. AT LEAST IT WAS UNTIL I STARTED ALTERNATING WITH KETTLE CORN! ZOMFG! THIS IS STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE FOR LAZY PEOPLE, AND I AM SO HERE FOR IT!
Did I invent a thing? I think I might have invented a thing. You're welcome, world!
Necessity is indeed the Mother of Invention... though sometimes the Invention is the Mother of Neccessity!
Posted on Friday, June 18th, 2021
I am sure that there was a time in my life that I looked forward to Fridays... last day of the standard work week and all that. But now it's always just more of the same. Oh well. Any day you're not six feet below ground is a good one, right?
"Did I know you once in another life?
Are we here just once or a billion times?
Well, I wish I knew, but it doesn't matter.
'Cause you're here right now, and I know what I feel..."
Oh What a World — Kacey Musgraves,
This was a tough week from just about any angle I look at it. I'd like to say that I can stay at home and relax this weekend, but since I have to drive over for my TSA interview to renew my Global Entry card, probably not.
Of course had I known when I sent in my renewal application back in 2019 what I know now, I'd probably have just saved myself the hundred bucks. But oh well. Wouldn't be a day that ends in a "Y" if I didn't have something I'd like to change about my pre-pandemic days.