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Another Year, Another… Opportunity?

Posted on Friday, January 1st, 2021

Dave!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...

Fresh loaves of bread out of the oven and looking gorgeous.

Slices of freshly-baked bread with butter smeared on them.

All my best to you and yours from me and mine for a happy, healthy, and productive 2021!

   

A Knee Jerk Reaction to My Monday

Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2021

Dave!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...

My knee ripped clean through my jeans while I'm sitting 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.

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Benge, Washington, Represent!

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Dave!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...

Satellite View of Benge, Washington.
Benge, WA as seen from Google Maps, ©Google

The red dot on this map points to where Benge is in Washington State...

Washington State Map View of Benge, Washington.
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.

Especially then.

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.

   

Antihistamines and Sedition

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Dave!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...

A bunch of white people storming the Capitol... one of them dressed up in viking horns.
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.

   

Passed Out On My Watch

Posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Dave!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!

And then...

...I remembered that I had my Apple Watch on, and it had recorded everything.

And the data it had collected is interesting...

My sleep data graph via the AutoSleep app on my Apple Watch.

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.

And then...

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.

   

Lies and the AT&T Liars Who Tell Them

Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2021

Dave!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...

AT&T Plan for $65 per line via ATT.com.

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...

AT&T bill showing $75 one line and $65 the other line.

=sigh=

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.

   

Outage in the Snow

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Dave!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.

Oh well.

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.

   

Zesty and Un-Grateful

Posted on Friday, January 15th, 2021

Dave!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...

My new zester with a zested lime.

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.

   

Live My Words

Posted on Monday, January 18th, 2021

Dave!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.

A Doodle by Drea of Martin Luther King Jr. holding a sign that says DON'T JUST SHARE MY QUOTES, LIVE MY WORDS!
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.

   

Sex in the Time of COVID (or lack thereof)

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Dave!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.

   

Grandma Birthday to You

Posted on Monday, January 25th, 2021

Dave!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...

Two envelopes from my grandmother.

After shaking off the shock of what I had clearly forgotten last year, I started reading through them all...

Garfield strips coming out of an envelope.

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.

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Flannel The Flannel Flannel

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Dave!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...

A winter glow out my bedroom window.

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.

Oh well.

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...

Me holding a flannel shirt.

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...

Me holding a pair of flannel pants.

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.

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Cheez-It’s After Midnight

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2021

Dave!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...

   

Hindsight is 2020

Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Dave!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.

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Humpday Truth

Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2021

Dave!   
If you beat your head against a wall all day... you're going to end up with a headache.

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Smelly By Association

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Dave!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.

   

Resigning Myself to Destiny

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Dave!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.

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Butt Scratchin’ Holiday Fun

Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2021

Dave!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...

Jenny at the end of my bed.

And of course she rubs all over me before planting herself, so now I'm covered in cat hari...

Jenny laying next to me getting butt scratches while I'm covered in cat hair.

Then, before you know it, she's fast asleep... trapping my arm in the process...

Jenny asleep beside me while her leg is flopped over my arm.

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...

Snowy roads and blue skies on my way to work.

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.

   

The Nuclear Option

Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Dave!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...

A Swanson TV dinner in aluminum tray.
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...

A Swanson TV dinner in aluminum 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.

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Kitchen Sentimentality on Fire

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Dave!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...

Holding my mom's Teddy bear potholder all scorched and burnt.>

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!

My two new silicone potholders all pretty and red.>

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...

A Reynolds Wrap parchment box completely blown apart.>

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...

A Signature Select box of foil saying Compares to Reynolds.>

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...

A plastic wrap dispenser with parchment inside of it.>

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.

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Deeeeeeep Sleeeeeeep

Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Dave!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...

That Vegan Asshole being an asshole in a TikTok duet.

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.

   

Tragic Pineapple Visions

Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2021

Dave!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?

No.

Just no.

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.

Except...

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.

But Anyway...

Agatha Harkness creeping up behind Wanda on WandaVision.

My thoughts on the latest episode of WandaVision are in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

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