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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.

   

Bullet Sunday 696

Posted on Sunday, January 10th, 2021

Dave!Free speech has consequences, which is nothing new to bloggers like me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Colosseo! My mom's favorite landmark is the Roman Colosseum. She asked to visit it every trip we made to Rome which, I believe, was four times (it was a cruise stop twice and a trip stop twice). I'd ask her why she loved it so much and she'd say "I don't know... I just do." When I told her that maybe she was a gladiator in a previous life, she thought that was funny and started telling people that when showing this photo...

Travels with Mom who is standing at the Colosseum in Rome.

Because of this, I very much wish she was still alive, because Rome is renovating the Colosseum, and I think the idea of being able to stand on the floor of the Colosseum arena would be so thrilling to her that we would have definitely made a fifth trip once it was completed. This is really, really cool, and I'd love to be able to visit again. But it won't be the same without my mom there to share it.

   
• LEGO! I have to say... whomever works in LEGO advertising which came up with this ad for a "Make Your Own MiniFig" game apparently doesn't have the same filthy mind that I do, because, well...

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

Is that a hotdog in your pants, madam, or are you just happy to see me?

   
• PERFECT! I've watched this TikTok more times that I'd ever admit. It's hilarious because it's true...

@wasildaoud

This is so accurate😭😂 @jojo_arianna #foryoupage #foryou #relatable #viral

♬ original sound - WASIL🦋 حب نفسك

Though I'd argue the point that this is how girls make coffee, because I see plenty of guys doing essentially this. And given my distaste for coffee, this would absolutely be me as well.

   
• Cute Gay Shit! TikTok is so much more than funny coffee memes. There is some genuinely touching stuff on there that gives me hope for all humanity...

@thevolunteertexan

#stitch with @krazykris88 #MyStyle #tiktok #lgbtq

♬ original sound - Johnathan Francis

And just KNOW that this gentleman gets lumped in with people he’s condemning because of how he looks and talks. You know it. God bless you, sir.

   
• NEWSFLASH! FORBES: Close To A Worst-Case Scenario—Former CDC Director Issues ‘Horrifying’ Outlook For New Covid Strain. If your balls don't shrivel up after reading this, then you probably don't have balls. But you are alive if you're reading this, balls or no balls, which means you should be horrified that there are still people not taking this shit seriously. Protect yourself. Protect others. This has catastrophe written all over it.

   
• Specs? Apple is the most ridiculous fucking company. They want to make their products as simple to use as possible by taking all the "tech" out of everything. Which is fine. EXCEPT YOU CAN NEVER MANAGE TO GET ANY FUCKING SPECS FOR ANYTHING THEY SELL. Will this cable work for charging? I dunno. What is the maximum transfer rate for this cable? I dunno. Can I quick-charge with this cable? I dunno. What about the charger? I dunno. Can you at least tell me if it is USB-PD compliant? I dunno. They literally tell you NOTHING in their support docs or on anything in their entire store. — If you want to shield your customers from scary tech-speak, fine. But at least have the fucking information SOMEWHERE for the people who need to know this shit. Their solution for everything is to say "Well, if it doesn't work, you can always return it." Which is an astound attitude to take considering that it wastes my time and their resources, and I'm getting seriously tired of it.

   
• Apolitical! My existence right now:

REPUBLICANS: You're just a Democrat shill.

DEMOCRATS: You're just a Republican shill.

ME: I AM NEITHER A DEMOCRAT NOR A REPUBLICAN! I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO WORSHIP POLITICIANS AND FALL IN LINE WITH A POLITICAL PARTY RUN BY WEALTHY ASSHOLES THAT ARE PROPPED UP BY WEALTHY CORPORATIONS WHO DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT US! WHY CAN'T I JUST BE A NON-PARTY SHILL?! WHY DOES MY SHILLNESS HAVE TO BE ATTACKED LIKE THIS? I AM A SHILL FOR ALL HUMANITY! AND A SHILL FOR CATS! TOWANDAAAAAAA!!!

Me rubbing Jake's floofy cat belly.

Because, like, how could you not be a shill for floofy bellies like dis?

   
Stay frosty out there, my friends.

   

Bullet Sunday 698

Posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Dave!A new era may be dawning, but some things will never change... because an all new Q&A Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
Does the stair shelf you built for your cats work?
Yep! No falls since I installed it! Jenny has never been a banister girl, so she just walks along it on occasion. But Jake still lays up there all the time. Especially in the Summer when the sun shines on it. Since the catwalk I built adds a couple inches to the width, he's a lot more comfortable laying on it, and like to prop his head on the ledge to watch me and Jenny on the stairs. This, along with the catio, are two of the best things I've made to keep my cats safe and healthy.

Jake laying on the banister ledge I built for him.

Jake looking at me from the ledge as he lays there looking lazy... my Marvel movie posters are on the walls.

Jake looking down at me from the ledge as I go down the stairs.

   
Which meal service do you like best?
Are you talking between Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon and "Hello Fresh," the two I am currently using? That's actually a very good question! Both of them allow you to skip weeks (which I do often because they are expensive) so when I do order, I have been bouncing back and forth. Comparing them in a face-off is actually a good idea for a post. I'll do that sometime in the coming week!

   
Japanese knives RUST... they are NOT stainless steel!
Yes. When I reading up on knives, this was brought up many, many times. I made my purchase with my eyes wide open. I expected for rust to appear. But it was still the best knife for what I would be cooking, and I just made a mental note to be sure and wash the blade after every use. And I've never seen rust. Until one day I did! I went into a Google panic, found out the easiest way to deal with it was a Rust Eraser, ordered one, and then found out it wasn't actually rust before the eraser ever arrived. It was a piece of food that I didn't get wiped off and only looked like rust. Since I first got it a year ago, I've never seen a speck of rust and my Rust Eraser hasn't even been taken out of the wrapper. My MAC Chef's Knife and Bread Knife are from their "Professional" series which is "rust resistant" but will still rust if you don't wash and dry them immediately after use. I also have some "Original" series knives which are supposed to rust more easily but, as I said, I've never seen any rust on them because I keep them clean and dry.

Rust Eraser still in the wrapper.

   
Are you still playing Animal Crossing?
Sadly, no. I haven't had time. And I'm scared to look and see how many weeds I'll have to pull in order to get my island back. It's a great game and helped a lot when we were first under quarantine, but I was spending 2+ hours a day playing it and had stop because there were other things I need to do with my time. Might pick it back up one day and just force a time limit so it's not consuming me like it was. Now I've got TikTok for that!

   
Where's your Bernie meme?
Ummm... right here!

Bernie Sanders sitting in a folding chair with a mask and gloves in my living room while my cats Jake and Jenny are sitting nearby.

My house is kept fairly cool in the winter in order to save on heating costs, so Bernie judging me for the temperature... along with Jenny (and Jake, who has clearly turned his back on me)... seems appropriate.

   
Are you finally happy now that Biden is president?
No. No I am not. As I have said quite a few times now, Biden was never my guy so I'm not "finally happy" that he's president. I am, however, elated that Trump is no longer president. So there's a big difference there. I won't be truly "happy" until all the career politicians and other assholes who exploit their office for personal gain at the expense of the American people are out of office. I will also be happy once all the pieces of shit who have so severely divided this country are out of office. Alas, what this would take is the American people WAKING THE FUCK UP and realizing that they are being majorly played. But that takes thinking for themselves, and we all know that this is not something we seem to be very good at right now. So... here we are.

   
Where's the first place you'll go once you can travel again?
Well, odds are I won't be traveling for work or for volunteering again... at least not any time soon... so it will likely be a personal trip. My guess is it will be one I've been planning for over a year with friends to Maui. We have unfinished business there that we need to take care of. Otherwise? Not entirely sure. It will take a while for the world to get back to normal and I have no idea where my life will be by then.

   
And that's the last of my answers to questions I've been asked.

   

Ruin and Despair in Atlantic City

Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Dave!Last night I got a call from a good friend I've known for over a decade. And the way you know that they are a good friend is that I actually picked up. There's only a dozen people that I will interrupt my busy pandemic lifestyle to talk with, and he is one of them.

"I'm starting to worry about you. Your texts and emails have you sounding down."
"More down than usual?"
"Yes."

I assured him that I'm doing just fine despite the pandemic completely changing my life, we shot the shit for a half hour, then said our goodbyes.

And I totally get why he called. COVID is happening, the world has gone to shit, and the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of a freight train. This is a friend who knows first-hand about my struggles, and it's nice to know that there are people who care enough to check in on me like this.

The centerpiece of our conversation was me explaining that there's a difference between wanting to die and being apathetic about dying. I don't want to die, I just don't care if it happens. For the time being I have cats that rely on me, there's some things left I'd like to do with my life (or try to do), and I'm not ready to check out just yet. So I'm good.

Mostly.

The news when I woke up this morning was Trump Plaza being imploded and demolished...

The Trump Plaza being imploded.
Photo from the Associated Press Newswire

This brought up memories of my first and only trip to Atlantic City back on July 17, 1999. I was working in New York City and ended up with a free day and nothing to do. Ultimately I decided that I would go to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City for lunch so I could check it off my list, then head back to The City. The cheapest way to do this was via Greyhound Bus. Not the best way to travel, but I had survived far worse.

I managed to get a window seat half-way back, then sat there as the bus started filling up. Eventually a woman walked up and asked if she could sit next to me. I said "No problem" and she replied with "Thanks. You look like the person least likely to grab me or assault me." The only thing I could think to say way "Um, thanks. I guess?"

The next three hours were spent talking to my seatmate and new best friend. John F. Kennedy Jr. had died the previous day and she had to get out of The City. He had been the golden boy of NYC, was much beloved there, and things were just too depressing for her. A nine hour distraction was just what she needed. Like me, she had booked the 8am departure (arriving 11am) returning 2pm (or something like that). Along the way she had quite a lot to say. I remember almost none of it. I do remember her talking about how she had moved to a new church and signed up for choir. When she got her robe, she was dismayed to see that it was all white. "So there I am in all my Blackness standing there in the whitest robe I've ever seen..."

I didn't say much after explaining that my trip was just to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.

When we arrived we just kinda gravitated towards hanging out together for our three hours. The first thing I did was ask somebody where the "Trump Hotel" was at. "Which one do you mean? The Taj Mahal or the Plaza? I had no idea, so I just responded with "Um... whichever one has the Hard Rock Cafe in it?" Turns out it was the "Trump Taj Mahal" across from "Steel Pier" which was a 20 minute walk...

The Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking South on the Boardwalk.

The Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking South on the Boardwalk.

The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City was there too...

The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking North on the Boardwalk.

After eating lunch, we played slots in the casino for a while. I hit a $70 jackpot fairly quickly off a $10 investment, and poured her out a bunch of quarters so we could keep playing the various slot machines before walking back to the bus terminal. We had a great time. I got the Hard Rock Cafe checked off my list and she got her distraction.

And then some.

On the way back a fight broke out on the bus. Some guy leaned his seat back into some other guy and he was not happy about it. The guys were screaming. The wife of one of the guys was screaming. And the bus driver was screaming for them to knock it off or else he would stop the bus and kick them all off of it. Eventually the matter was settled by the husband and wife swapping seats or something. All my seatmate had to say about the situation was "I knew it. I just knew I wasn't going to get through six hours on a bus without something like this happening!" The rest of our trip was made in silence as we headed back to a city in mourning.

The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was one of Donald Trump's many banruptcies and has a rather colorful history... including it being involved in money laundering and being a hot spot for Russian mobsters. Eventually the property was shut down in 2016, then sold to Hard Rock International in 2017. Then in 2018 they reopened it as the "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City."

As for The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino? Also bankrupted. Also a colorful history. It was originally THE place to be in Atlantic City for the rich and famous. But once the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1990, Trump ended up poaching his own customers with the newer, bigger, flashier property. Thus the Plaza bankruptcy in 1992. In 1993 Trump somehow made his way out of bankruptcy (do I even want to know how a casino beloved by Russian mobsters managed that?) and started expanding the property... because doubling down in the face of financial ruin is apparently his thing, I guess. But money wasn't the only thing that Trump lost... he also famously lost an eminent domain case against a woman named Vera Coking. Like the asshole he is, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property so he could buy it and turn it into a limousine parking lot. He failed.

Just as Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione had failed in the 1970's to buy her out of her home. A situation that fans of the Pixar movie, Up, might recognize...

Jenny at the end of my bed.
Photo by Jack Boucher for Historic American Buildings Survey, c.1991 (via Wikipedia)

Unironically I also have a photo of the now-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel from my 1999 visit. I took a photo of Planet Hollywood Atlantic City and it was sticking out like an ugly sore thumb in the background...

Planet Hollywood Atlantic City with Trump Plaza behind it.

Trump's rise and fall in Atlantic City is an engaging story, which you can read in this Salon article originally published by InsiderNJ just before the previous presidential election: Atlantic City has a warning for the nation: Donald Trump brings ruin and despair. Salon helpfully added the byline "Trump looted and corrupted New Jersey's gambling mecca and then got out of town. Does that sound familiar?" Why, yes. It sounds very familiar, alas.

It's weird to think of the stuff that's happened in the world during my 54 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days on this planet. From the year I graduated, Trump had Trump Taj Mahal ('84), Trump Plaza ('84), Trump's Castle ('85), Trump's Steel Pier ('88), and Trump's World's Fair ('89) in Atlantic City... and lost them all. His consolation prize being that he was elected President of the United States of America in 2016, the same year Trump Taj Mahal (his last remaining Atlantic City property) was shut down permanently.

Oh well. In addition to my dying (among many, many other subjects) I also hold apathy towards ugly buildings being demolished.

I am kinda glad that I was able to visit Atlantic City during Trump's heydey there in 1999 though. America's prince may have just died in a tragic plane crash... but Donald J. Trump, Democrat, was thinking of running for president on a pro-choice Reform Party ticket with Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.

It was a glorious time to be alive.

   

Now That’s a Mind Trip

Posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Dave!In case I haven't mentioned it in the past ten minutes, I'm at high risk for COVID complications thanks to issues which ordinarily mean very little in the grand scheme of things...but mean quite a lot if I'm infected with the coronavirus, thanks to the way it attacks the lungs and respiratory system. I get COVID, and I could end up truly fucked.

There was a time that I was thinking "Well, I just need to hang on until I can get vaccinated and the pandemic settles down a bit... and then I can have my life back again." Except that's not really true any more, is it? Thanks to mutations of the virus, new strains are popping up which are more contageous and more deadly than before. Yes, the vaccine will help you better survive the mutated strains, but for somebody like me? I just don't know.

For somebody who has spent most of their life traveling, the idea of not traveling again has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.

And in very strange ways.

Usually it happens when I'm just starting to fall asleep... but sometimes randomly in the middle of the day... some image from my travel past will pop into my head. And then I cannot stop thinking about it until I remember where it was and what I was doing! Sometimes it's easier than others to place it...

Oh! That was at the train station at Kuranda after the Butterfly Sanctuary visit!
That's right! It was with the cat that lives at Peace Cafe in Siem Reap!
Yes! That was outside that awesome gelateria in San Gimignano!
That has got to be from the market with the sesame nuts in Santorini!

And so on.

But then there are those images that pop into my head which I cannot place. They take actual work to track down. Take for instance what happened last night as I was starting to drift off to sleep...

Huh! That's in a hotel... at an elevator bank.
But where? I don't think it's in a foreign country. I think it's in the USA.
Yes. And it's at an airport! But which airport?
It's too familiar... I think it's an airport I've been to a lot.
It's a big hotel... probably a major airport. But not Seattle. Or Chicago.
Definitely not Boston.
Not San Diego, LAX, or SFO either.
Not Orlando... oh wait! It's Atlanta! Gotta be Atlanta!
Yes. Definitely Atlanta. I've flow into ATL many, many times.
Which hotel? It's just West of the airport. Right off of the 85.
Oh crap. I can't remember. Guess I grab my laptop and Google Map it...

The Hartsford-Jackson Airport in Atlanta as seen from satellite view in Google Maps.
Image © Google Maps

Ugh. Southwest or West-West? Maybe in-between.
I think it had that giant triangular atrium that lead out into the parking lot?
Oh yeah! There it is! It's The Westin! OF COURSE!!

The Westing Atlanta Airport as seen from satellite view in Google Maps.
Image © Google Maps

How did I not remember that was The Westin? I've stayed there a dozen times!
Okay! Glad that's settled so I can finally get to sleep!

   
Say! I wonder what trip I would have been on?

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The 50 Countries of Europe

Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

Dave!While there's a lot to love about my new best friend, TikTok... there's also stuff that manages to piss me off. Last night it was somebody (assumably British) who hit with a video where they're saying "IF YOU ARE AN AMERICA, NAME FIVE COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT AMERICA!"

Now, I get the assumption here. Americans are self-centered, don't know much about the world outside our borders, and it's easy to think that we're all morons who can't name five countries outside of our own.

Usually I would just keep scrolling, but in this case I think the assumption of ignorance is misplaced. Partly because "five countries" is such a low bar (we're attached to two of them), and second of all because the person attempting to shame Americans is not doing it to enlighten us, but to laugh at our circumstance. As if some rural, small-town American who hasn't managed to get a good education and whose finances don't allow a life outside the town where they will grow-up, live, work, and die, somehow deserves to be belittled in this way.

Well they don't.

And a lot of us are likely aware of more countries than you'd think which is entirely independent of our education (or lack thereof).

First of all, not all of us are poorly-traveled. If I were asked to name five countries, can it be five of the fifty-plus countries I've visited in person, or does it have to be from those I haven't visited yet?

And I know fellow Americans who are more well-traveled than I am.

I know fellow Americans who have spent their lives volunteering in foreign countries.

I know fellow Americans who have sons and daughters, moms and dads who have died in foreign countries and am fairly certain they can name them.

I know fellow Americans who have friends and families who immigrated from foreign lands, which is fairly common in a land of immigrants.

I know fellow Americans who have raised money for relief in foreign countries.

I know fellow Americans who have adopted children from foreign countries.

I know fellow Americans who have served in foreign countries.

I know fellow Americans who had their service rerouted to administer foreign aid of countries struggling from disaster.

I know fellow Americans who can name foreign countries for a variety of reasons, and it in no way makes them better or worse as people. It's just something they may or may not know.

And if they don't know five countries? Quite possibly it's because the entirety of The United States of America (9,833,000 km²) is only a little smaller than Europe (10,180,000 km²), so Europeans knowing the countries their country borders is more similar to Americans knowing which states border their state...

A tortilla in a pan with rice, Doritos, and cheese.

I'm the last person who will say that Americans are the most educated or globally aware people on earth. Far from it. And while there are some Americans who should know better... starting with our politicians who are making decisions that affect the world yet can't find their own ass with a map... painting all of us with the same brush is kinda ridiculous.

But the world seems to have a lot of that going around lately, so no offense taken, I guess.

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100% Totally Believable

Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Dave!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.

Ugh.

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.

Oh well.

Human nature and all that.

   

Disneyland Westside

Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2021

Dave!A second entry for Friday? Lucky you!

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you undoubtedly are aware of my Disney theme park obsession. Heck, I even designed my own parody theme park DaveLand because my Disney love goes pretty deep...

The Daveland logo... shamelessly rendered in the style of the Disneyland logo.

I collect the map pamphlets from the Disney parks. I have the wall maps. I bought the map book. And every time Disney announces anything new or any kind of expansion, I am compelled to figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to do it.

The lastest news is more announcements for the Disneyland Resort "Westside Expansion" which will turn a bunch of parking lots into an expanded hotel/shopping/dining/entertainment experience...

An illustration showing the Disneyland Westside Expansion.

Now, this concept illustration is not in any way final (indeed, it looks like the previous plans for the "Mickey Mouse Hotel" have been drastically altered or scrapped... and does anybody remember the plans for "Westcot?"). And it's a bit deceptive, which we'll get to in a minute. But you can see that the idea is to add more stuff to snag tourist dollars than they already do. Looks like there's a lazy river tube ride to the left there. The above-mentioned "Mickey Hotel" in the middle. Three entirely new hotels to the far right. A live stage venue just in front of them. And of course more shopping and dining. Disney quite clearly doesn't want you sleeping, shopping, or dining at anything except Disney-owned properties.

As I was saying, the illustration is a bit deceptive though because about 1/3 is already developed with The Disneyland Hotel and Disney Paradise Pier Hotel, which will be surrounded by new construction (which I've shaded in magenta)...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the new construction will be.
© Google Maps... Click to Embiggen

Yellow shading is over Disneyland and California Adventure so you can compare sizing. Suffice to say, this is not a small endeavor... nor will it be cheap. I'm not sure where all that parking will go. Could be it will be constructed underground. Could be they will expand the Pumba lot that's wayyyy off to the East or the Toy Story lot that's wayyyy off to the Southwest (see below) to be a multi-story garages like they did for the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures that are in the upper-left corner of the map.

It's interesting to note that Disneyland is pretty much at its limit here. To the South is the Anaheim Convention Center. To the North and West is suburban sprawl with hundreds of homes that Disney would have to purchase.

But then there's the land to the East.

And here's where my speculation takes a bit of a sinister turn.

Right now, most of the land to the east is occupied by a bunch of hotels, with the exception of the afore-mentioned Pumba Parking lot (outlined in cyan) which I'm guessing is owned by Disney. The red outline is the land I'm talking about...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the Eastern land is located.
© Google Maps... Click to Embiggen

Unfortunately for Disney, there's a shopping Mall to the South of the Eastern region that's likely there to stay unless Disney acquires it (if they haven't already) in which case they could rebrand it as yet another Disney shopping experience.

But let's think about this for a second.

The Disneyland Resort Westside Expansion has at least four high-capacity hotels planned. That's going to take business away from the hotels which popped up to the East of Disneyland. Which means the price to buy them out may cheapen. After enough lost business, they may consider selling to Disney... something that's inconceivable as things currently stand because their occupancy must (normally) be pretty darn high and very profitable. And once that first hotel domino falls... and Disney re-themes it as a Disney hotel... and people flock to it because Disney dangles enough perks... and more hotels lose more business... well, it's not difficult to see how it might be "bye bye Candy Cane Inn"... followed by the rest of them one-by-one.

This, of course, is all conjecture. It could be that Disney has zero interest in the budget hotel business, or that the existing hotels will continue to be so popular that the selling price would be insane. Or maybe the chain-owned hotels don't care about lost business and just want a Disney-adjacent property in their portfolio. It's hard to say. All I know is that both parks are overcrowded year' round now, so maybe it's worth it to Disney to buy everything up... and simply not provide budget lodging. At least not as it looks right now. A Disney "Budget Hotel" will be cheaper when compared to their other hotels, but still Disney-pricey. Because if there's one thing that Disney knows how to do... it's make money. Lots of it.

And they could, of course, use the land to build a third theme park. Or relocate the structures that are currently to the North of Disneyland so they can expand the park there. Or just shift the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking to the East so another big chunk of land opens up for entertainment and hotels on the Westside.

However...

That's not the end to Disney's (estimated) land holdings. They either own or lease a rather large piece of land to the Southeast which is currently the Toy Story parking lot. Not sure if the parking for the hotels/businesses to the North is Disney-owned (that's outlined in green)... but if Disney does own this, they could build a massivley huge parking structure which could replace all the lost parking for Westside... and absorb parking for any hotels they buy, which could then be expanded or rebuilt... or replaced with more theme park to attract more customers (or maybe spread the crowds out a bit)...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the Eastern land is located.
© Google Maps

I dunno.

All I do know is that Disney gobbling up that Eastern parcel... along with the area above the Toy Story parking lot... creates a nicely contiguous chunk of land which would nearly double what they have now.

Not that contiguous land is essential. Just look at Walt Disney World. Build another monorail or an air-tram... or expand the bus system... and that third theme park could end up in the Southwest section. Or anywhere, really. I remember reading how Disney wanted to expand to a beachfront property in L.A. or something. Heaven only knows how much land in the greater L.A. area they own either directly or via shell companies.

What I wouldn't give to work for the team at Disney which gets to plan all this stuff. That's my dream job right there. But since I don't, all I can do is have fun speculating and be excited for what's coming next.

Until then, there's always Daveland.

UPDATE: Well looky what we have here... a site that Disney created to shame Anaheim into rezoning their property for multi-use purposes called Disneyland Forward. It doesn't do anything to curb speculation because it's just Disney tossing out ideas, but it does clarify a few things. First of all is their plans for expanding into the Westside property and Northward...

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Note that Disneyland gets an addition to the West, so those weren't hotels, they were attraction buildings. The only hotel expansion looks to be another tower for Paradise Pier?

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Which is not to say that Disney couldn't change their mind and drop a bunch of hotels once they get their way so that they can still buy out everything to the East and raze it for a third theme park. And idea which still makes a lot of sense. Though remember that land to the Southeast? Hotel and shopping have been dropped there as an example of what could happen...

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

   
Interesting stuff! You can see everything for yourself at Disneyland Forward.

   

Walt Disney World Is Turning 50

Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2021

Dave!This October Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary. I know this because I saw an article about it after I woke up this morning. I almost feel obligated to go since I was there for their 25th anniversary. Back in the late Fall of 1997 I was in Orlando for training. My mom asked if she could tag along and so she went too. It was our first time traveling together by ourselves... but wouldn't be our last. Not by a longshot.

I had training for two days. While I was in class, mom would sit by the pool at the Buena Vista Palace and read a book. On the third day we moved to Disney's Wilderness Lodge for the remainder of the week. At the time there were only three parks... Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney MGM Studios (eventualy named "Disney Studios"). Animal Kingdom wouldn't open for another year yet. I had been to Disney World once before, but mom never had, so it was a lot of fun.

The iconic symbol of the entire 25th anniversary celebration was turning Cinderella Castle into a massive, heinous, pink birthday cake (NOTE: All these photos are old scans from a cheap APS camera, so they don't look great... sorry)...

The hideous Cinderella Castle Birthday Cake all gaudy in pink and yellow.
This was supposed to be an APS "tall print" but got printed regular,
so it's chopped off... my mom is still there though!

You could see the ugly thing from afar...

The hideous Cinderella Castle Birthday Cake all gaudy in pink and yellow.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge is my favorite of all the on-property resorts. It's pretty much an attraction unto itself. There was all kinds of things to see and do... including renting tiny little speedboats. Despite being in the Navy, mom was afraid of water since nearly drowning as a kid. Even so, she was a trooper and had a great time as we went buzzing around Bay Lake...

Mom in a mini speedboat.

Mom in a mini speedboat.

It's definitely the best vantage point to look back at the Wilderness Lodge...

Disney's Wilderness Lodge as seen from the waters of Bay Lake.

Interesting to note that DisneyQuest... a kind of advanced arcade... was being built at the time I was there, though it wouldn't open until the following Summer. It would close in 2016 once Downtown Disney was transformed into Disney Springs..

The DisneyQuest Building at Downtown Disney, which is now known as Disney Springs.

The following week was spent driving over to Kennedy Space Center... then onward to Disney's Vero Beach Resort for a couple nights... then driving down the coast to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami... then finishing our trip in Key West...

The Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center

Ft. Lauderdale Beach Sign

Key West Southmost Point in the Continental USA Buoy.

Downtown Key West.

Sooooo... yeah... that was 1997, 24-some-odd frickin' years ago when I was young, handsome, and had the world at my feet. Not like now where I'm old, grizzled, and have been buried by the weight of the world.

I do have a much better camera now, however, so there's that.

   

Bullet Sunday 716

Posted on Sunday, June 6th, 2021

Dave!STILL HACKED! I didn't have time to look at my WordPress install last night and this afternoon I've developed quite the headache. But fear not, dear reader, I will hack out my bullets this fine Sunday anyway, and hope that I can post them one of these days... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now soon...

   
• SHARRRRRRK! Discovery has announced that Shark Week begins July 11th this year! GO SHARKS!

Jenny looking most upset!

P.S. Did you know that sharks predate trees on planet earth? It's true!

   
• It Burns! <sarcasm> Color me shocked </sarcasm>... CDC loosened mask guidance to encourage vaccination—it failed spectacularly. So stupid.

   
• It's Not Hard to Learn If You're Already Doing It! A-fucking-men to that...

@renegadescienceteacher

LGBTQIA+ people are natural, valid, and welcome in my community. Both science and I have your backs. ##english ##lgbt ##nonbinary ##basichumandecency

♬ original sound - Forrest Valkai

Our preferred pronouns are just like remembering an honorific. Like "Doctor" or "Professor" or "Arch-Duke," and it's such a small thing to learn them. We do things to be courteous to others all the time, so why is this such a difficult concept to embrace for some people? You don't have to agree with it... just be fucking polite about it... because it's not your life... it's their life. Ooh! Look! I just did it and I didn't even think about it! So miss me with your bullshit excuses and just be kind to your fellow humans. That's the only way we're all going to make it.

   
• Fly the Friendly Skies! It's almost as if flight attendants should all be armed with tasers and have a zero-tolerance policy for your bullshit (like with this piece of shit and her bullshit right here). Start spouting off about your "right" to not wear a mask... tasered. Start being a disorderly piece of shit... tasered. Be a pile of garbage towards the cabin crew and try to assault them when they're just trying to do their job... tasered. If potential problems with these assholes were immediately dismissed with a nice tasering, the sky would be a safer, more friendly place for both passengers and crew. Nobody is forcing you to fly, AND THE CABIN CREW DOESN'T SET POLICY... THEY JUST HAVE TO ENFORCE IT! So if you're going to fly then you have to follow the rules in place and not be an abusive dick. Or else... tasered...

   
• Cancellation Station! Netflix has canceled Jupiter's Legacy and I'm like ORYL?!? I may die of unshock. They took what could have been a fantastic show and took a huge shit on it BY NOT FOLLOWING THE COMIC BOOK IT WAS BASED ON. Had they just used the original comic book series as a script we could have had something epic. BUT NOOOOOOO! What a waste. My thoughts on this turd of a series are here.

   
• Texas! Look, I'm pro-Second-Ammendment and all, but what happened to the days where the NRA was a gun safety organization? Before I was allowed to shoot a gun, I had to take classes and learn about responsible ownership. Just like owning a car, where you need training and a license, guns can kill people... so that should be the bare minimum, right? Not in Texas. Now they've got this absurd "Constitutional Carry" legislation in play which allows people in the state to buy a gun without license or training. You know... Texas... where a woman tried to shoot a puppy and ended up shooting her kid instead...

God what a dumbfuck asshole. This is just more ammunition for the anti-gun lobby, so great job there, moron. I hope the kid is okay.

   
And there's all my Sunday Bullets that may never be seen. Stupid hackers.

   

No… is a Complete Sentence

Posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Dave!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."
"No."
"Comeon... you could fly in over the weekend and make a 3-day vacation of it!"
"No."
"Any chance you might change your mind between now and then?"
"No."
"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.

   

Caturday 214

Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2021

Dave!I am not home for today's Caturday... I'm at the airport!

It is very, very strange to be at the SeaTac International after so long. Pre-pandemic I was here twenty times a year... then there was nothing since November 2019! I’m not here to travel, alas, but to go to my TSA interview for renewing my Global Entry card. Really wish I could have done that via Zoom, but every effort to make a Zoom appointment failed. So I had to take a 2-1/2 hour drive over the mountains instead.

In other news... Jake has suddenly realized that the alarm that sounds for breakfast and dinner comes from the Alexa speakers.

I know this because now when he's hungry in the morning and wants his breakfast, he no longer bugs me... he is wanting to bug the magical box where the alarm sounds. Apparently so he can convince Alexa to chime earlier or something...

Jake climbing my dresser to get to the Amazon Echo device on top of it!

He's done this three times this past week. Patience is apparently not something Jake feels like dealing with when food is on the line.

In other, other news... bring cats...

@dereklipp_

Reply to @jaylon__05 Bring Cats @jaylenlipp @tommylee_00 ##ringseries

♬ Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra

Here's hoping that my cats are having fun without me back home.

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