Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022
2022 may be feeling even worse than 2021, but I'm still spitting out those bullets... because an all new 2021 RETROSPECTIVE Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Pizza! As anybody who's been reading Blogography for any amount of time knows, I've been searching for a decent frozen pizza for decades. And in 2021 I've finally found one. It's Red Baron Fully Loaded Five Cheese Pizza!
The sauce it great. The crust is amazing. The amount of cheese is a little excessive, but perfectly acceptable. Put it all together and it's the best frozen pizza I've ever had. With a caveat! As good as it tastes fresh out of the oven, it tastes horrible once it's gone cold. And reheating it in the microwave or oven does not bring it back. I've been sawing them in half and cooking only half and a time so I can eat the remainder at its best as well.
• Potato! As somebody who loves fries, I usually end up making them from scratch out of freshly-cut potatoes that I soak, pre-cook, freeze, then fry to get the best tasting ones I can get. But that's a horrible amount of work. So whenever I see a new frozen fries product, I give it a try. Usually I spray them with oil then put them in the rotisserie basket of my air fryer and they turn out okay. But in 2021 I discovered "McCains Quick Cook Fries." And they are a world different from anything else on the market...
The secret of the reason they cook "quick" with no flipping is that they are coated in oil. This is not a new trick. Ore-Ida did this years ago. But, for whatever reason, McCain's fries taste far better. Even though they do lie about the timing. Even when I preheat my oven, it takes closer to 20 minutes than the 13 minutes they advertise to get perfectly-cooked fries. Usually I don't bother to preheat. I just put them in and set the timer for 25 minutes. Bliss. Their crinkle-cut fries are so good that I'd rather have them that restaurant fries. Possibly even more than my own hand-cut fries! A half-bag is the perfect serving size for me and I anticipate eating a lot of these things in 2022.
• Sustained! I have been really trying to minimize waste more in 2021, recycling whatever I can and eliminating disposable plastics from my life. It's the least I can do, even though it's a ridiculously small dent in the amount of pollution produced (corporations are vastly more responsible than individuals, but convince people it's not their fault). One of the bigger steps I took was to stop buying Saran Wrap (plastic wrap). I used to go through a couple boxes every year, but the one I bought back in March will hopefully be my last. I've also greatly reduced the number of plastic bags I've been buying. My favorite replacement is "BioBag" products which decompose quite quickly in a landfill. They're expensive as hell though, so I've also brought "brown paper bag" sandwich bags for regular use...
They work great! But I also buy Reynolds wax paper bags for things that get sloppy (like the veggie burger with extra mayo I eat on my morning commute!). Or when I'm out of brown bags (like I am now). They have little stickers to keep them closed, which probably makes them bad for the environment, but they are fun to pack for lunch....
Wax paper doesn't biodegrade like raw paper (or BioBags), but it does biodegrade better than plastic. And uses more natural materials, so I'm chalking that up as a win (even though I'm trying to use them less and less since biodegradable bags are better). The best solution seems to be using glass containers with plastic lids which you can wash and reuse for years, so I've bought more Pyrex as well. Maybe one day they will come up with lids that aren't plastic but, in the meanwhile, they have lasted me over a decade so far, which is far less than if I were using plastic bags.
• Apples to Apples to Apples! This past year was a tough year for me financially because Apple ended up getting so much of my money. But boy was it money well-spent! My new iMac M1 is a (relatively) inexpensive Mac that flies through even my most demanding work. Despite it being on the low-end of the spectrum, it's the best desktop Mac I've ever owned. Then I traded in for the iPhone Pro Max 13, which is the best phone I've ever owned (and the heaviest). Then I traded in for the MacBook Pro M1 Max. Legit the best computer I've ever owned. And my favorite. Not even a contest...
It is ridiculously fast and powerful, has incredible battery life, and is an absolute joy to work with. THIS is the kind of "pro" computer Apple should have been making for the past decade instead of the form-over-function bullshit they were married to. The weird thing is that this MacBook is still really beautiful despite being constructed for function over form. Yet "curviness" was more important than power to Apple for a decade, so that was what we got. Blergh. Hopefully they won't slide back to old habits. The wild acclaim for this computer by pundits and customers alike should tell them they are finally on the right track.
• Travel-less! It has been genuinely strange going from dozens of trips each year to zero in 2020 and one in 2021. Unless some miracle cure arrives which eradicates COVID from the face of the earth, I'm expecting the same for 2022. Because right now I have no plans to go anywhere. But still, that one trip I did take during Delta but pre-Omicron reminded me of what "normal" is like. Even though I was masked most of the time...
So maybe after they announce a fourth booster I will make a trip just to remember what "normal" used to be like? If I do, it will probably be a trip to San Francisco because that's where my tattoo artist is, and I've been wanting new ink for years now. Fingers crossed.
• Kitty! Once again the thing that saved me in 2021 were my cats. Even at times when I was at my lowest and didn't care about myself, I always cared about them. In 2021 Jenny learned to manipulate me better than in previous years, coming up with an entire menu of meows and behaviors to get what she wants. Jake and I have conversations now. He meows (or tries to) and I meow back. Then we go back and forth for a while. I have no idea what I'm saying, but it must be interesting enough to him that he feels a need to respond!
• Betty! I'm still crushed. I've been avoiding social media and the news so I'm not seeing news about her death over and over. What a shitty end to a shitty year.
• Boosted! I've had people sneer at me for getting boosted, saying that the COVID vaccine obviously doesn't work if you need to get a booster... "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? GET BOOSTER SHOTS FOREVER??" And the answer is yes. Fuck yes. Because there are mountains of data showing that staying current with vaccinations vastly reduces incidents of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. MOUNTAINS OF DATA! So give me all the shots. This is no different than getting a flu shot every year. Except COVID mutates so fast and the vaccine is so new that we may end up getting two boosters a year instead of one. As the science gets better, the boosters will get better. Eventually we may even have the option for a combo flu/COVID booster, and I will take that shot. 1000% I will take it. I have faith in the science which has given us so much. There's a learning process which goes along with scientific research, and I am happy to be a part of it. I have cats to take care of, after all.
So... yeah. Not a lot else happened in 2021, so I guess that's it. Pizza, fries, sandwich bags, Apple stuff, one trip, cats, the passing of a legend, and COVID. Not a banner year, to be sure.
Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
As I've probably stated a dozen times or more here on Blogography, I am not a theater kinda guy. The only show I've ever gone to see on my own volition was The Book of Mormon, and that was only because Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with the idea and worked on it. I counted on it being funny, and it was.
Any other time I've gone to a show was because my mom loved to go (she loved The Lion King so much that we saw it in New York and London). And seeing her happy for getting to go to the theater waas good enough for me.
But there was one other time that I very nearly went to a Broadway show just for me. And it was for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. I may not love live theater, but I do love me comic books, and the production was supposed to be a revolutionary show (and I had no reason to doubt it... Julie Taymore was in charge of The Lion King and did such an incredible job).
But then the reviews started pouring in.
The show was terrible.
Nonsensical, long, not faithful to the comics, and (worst of all) boring.
And so I didn't make it a priority to get to NYC, but I did still want to see it. If it was, in-fact, such a horrendous train wreck, then that would make it all worthwhile, wouldn't it? Alas, I was so busy traveling everywhere else in the world that I never made it before the show was shuttered. This would forever be a minor regret of mine (like not visiting the Hard Rock Park when I had a chance), because it was one of those things that is now gone never to return.
But the memory still lingers, and there's a fascinating YouTube video about the show I ran across that's worth your valuable time if you enjoy "behind the scenes" madness like I do. Sounds like the show was an epic mess from every conceivable angle, and now I really regret not having seen it...
Contrast and compare to another Broadway production that I didn't realize existed but, after having watched a video about it, now really wish I had seen...
It's interesting how videos like these actually have me more intrigued about Broadway theater than I've ever been before. No, I probably won't ever come to love it... but I honestly do think that I could eventually learn to appreciate it.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark included.
Posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022
I don't do Twitter or Instagram. I mean, I have accounts, but I look at them rarely and hardly ever post. TikTok is something I actually enjoy, but I never post there. I'm merely a voyeur. The only social media I'm involved in is Facebook and I hate it. They can randomly ban you for arbitrary reasons that make no sense. I once got a three day ban for posting "sexual content." There was nothing remotely sexual about it. I don't even understand how they came to that conclusion. I appealed, but nothing came of it. Meanwhile, friends have been targeted with threats of violence and reporting it only gets them ignored. Needless to say, if you're popular enough, powerful enough, or rich enough, you get to post whatever the fuck you want. Including hate and misinformation which is literally killing people.
But, alas, Facebook is a necessary evil because friends from around the world are there and it's the only way to easily keep in contact with them.
And then there's Blogography.
Blogging isn't the social platform it once was. It used to be that everybody had a blog and you kept in touch by reading and commenting back and forth around the blogging community. Now only the tiniest fraction of my blogging friends are still at it. Bloggers who were only in it to keep in touch moved to social media platforms because it was so much easier. Bloggers who were in it for the money left when the money dried up. Bloggers who were in it for fame abandoned it when the fame never came.
Those of us who remain each have our own reasons.
At this point, blogging is a habit for me. But I do like being able to go back through old posts and remember stuff I was doing my life. Next year I'll have 20 years worth, which is a big chunk of my time on this earth.
From a historical perspective, I sure wish that blogging existed in the 1980's.
That's when my life just started getting interesting, and all I have are random memories from 1985 through 2003. That was college. That was time with the best friends I'll ever have. That was when I first started traveling. Sure I have photos, but they're just snapshots. What happened in-between is a messy blur that's mostly lost because alcohol might have been involved. Had I written things down, I'd be able to remember them too.
What triggered this post was my struggling to remember details of my first trip to Japan in 1996. I had found a journal where I wrote out single sentences with a bunch of space between them. I had always intended to go back and expand on what I had seen and done so it would be documented and I wouldn't forget. Well, that was over 25 years ago now, so there will be no filling in anything. Half of the sentences are meaningless to me. Take this one, for example...
"I hear it is a custom over there, to exchange cigarettes as a form of greeting..."
All I know is that it was a tag line written in English on a cigarette vending machine in the lobby of my hotel (which I was able to find thanks to some Google sleuthing back in 2014). I guess I wrote it down because I thought it was funny. But four pages later I wrote...
"Lonely night in Akihabara. Was happy to get back to my hotel where my best friend Fred was waiting to exchange cigarettes with me again."
And I'm like WTF? Because I have no clue what that means. If I were to venture a guess, there was probably an illustration or a photo of a guy holding out a pack of cigarettes next to that tagline on the cigarette machine. And I guess I named him Fred. Or something. I haven't a clue. And there's no way I'll ever know. Unless they invent time travel. Or I invest in hypnotherapy... maybe.
If this trip had happened any time after 2003, it would have been documented here. If it had happened any time after 2007, it would have been photographed multiple times and posted. But oh well.
There's still 20 years sitting here for me.
Posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2022
I no longer enjoy driving. People are too aggressive, too stupid, and too distracted to make it fun.
But there was a time I enjoyed it very much. I'd fly into someplace, rent a car, then drive for days. You see a lot of cool things while driving. Small towns. Oddities. Strange places. All the things you miss when you're flying over it all. There was a time that I had a dream of driving all of America's great highways. Route 66, I-90, and dozens more. As it is, I only ever drove them in pieces. Here are some favorites...
CGP Grey released a video today which revolves around cool things you might not know about the US Interstate Highway System. WELL worth your time to watch...
I'm likely done with driving the scenic byways of the USA... but I still enjoy videos like this.
Posted on Friday, February 11th, 2022
My SD card at work is corrupt, so I had to grab one from home.
On the card is the last photo ever taken of my mom and I together. It was our last day on Safari before heading to Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls to the colonizers). We went to this watering hole to watch the elephants come in for their evening drink. There was absolutely nobody there except us, the elephants, and our guide, which was pretty spectacular...
Interesting how I seem to be past the crushing despair that comes from knowing my mom is gone. I honestly didn't think I'd ever get here. Now I'm able to miss her while being so very grateful that we had moments like this to share. Looking at the image, it seems unreal that at no point in the two years after this did I get any more photos taken with her. But perhaps it's for the best? Here she couldn't make any memories, but she was still healthy, happy, and enjoying life.
And that's how I'll always remember her.
Posted on Monday, February 21st, 2022
On February 19, 2022, I was sitting in my home watching the final two installments of "The Wedding Veil Trilogy" on Hallmark Channel. In the second film, they end up in Burano, Italy, a small island near Venice which is known for fine lace and colorful houses. As I do every time a place I've been to appears in a movie, I take a quick look at my travel photos from my visits and try to remember details of my trip.
Turns out I remembered quite a lot. But one thing I couldn't remember is how far it was from Venice to Burano. All I could recall was that it was the vaporetto stop after the cemetery island and the island of Murano. A quick look at Google Maps, and I saw that Burano was quite a bit further away than I was thinking it was...
Map © Google
Because the movie wasn't very good, I found myself wandering around Venice using Google Maps "Street View"... tracing my way around the places I had been in my two trips to visit.
Eventually I got around to this...
Map © Google
Now that's weird... what's that glass cage doing there?
On March 20, 2011, I was in Venice, Italy. While there I posted a photo of a giant statue of a small boy holding a frog at the Punta della Dogana...
On August 16th, 2015, I was in Los Angeles, California. While there I posted a photo of a giant statue of a small boy holding a frog at The Getty Center...
At the time I remarked that it was weird how there were duplicate statues half a world away from each other.
So tonight I decided to Google for more information on the statues to see why there were two of them...
Apparently the Google Maps Street View image I saw was snapped prior to May of 2013. Furthermore, the statue had a police guard during the day, but had the glass cage locked around it at night to protect it from vandalism.
Now I am going a little bit crazy, because I have some questions about what I've read...
It seems absurd that such an important and beloved work has so little concrete information available about it. The good news is that I think I saw both the fiberglass and the painted stainless steel versions. And, if it turns out I haven't, a trip to Philadelphia can solve that (or New York City, if I can get there before June 5th).
Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2022
For decades... 30 years plus... I've traveled on the week of my birthday. Partly because I just don't want to be home to celebrate an occasion that I don't celebrate, but mostly because it seemed like a nice treat for myself for surviving another year. In years when I could afford it, I've left the country. In other years I find something a little more domestic. And it's been great.
The hard part these past two years have been seeing my Facebook feed packed to the rafters with all my past travels... all the while knowing that I'm not going to be going anywhere thanks to the pandemic.
Could be worse.
Though looking at the shit-show this world has become, I guess it is worse?
And, to be honest, I'm not sure my heart is in travel any more. Certainly not to the extent that it used to be. There are still some places I'd really like to go, but will I ever get there? As time marches on will I even care? And if I ever do care enough to travel again (and if it's ever safe enough to travel again), will the places I want to go even be available to me? It's always been my dream to visit St. Petersburg. But, well, you know...
In other news... the Netflix Marvel shows are now on Disney+. I found this out when I tried to log in and they asked me to set up a ne profile so that I can watch shows not meant for children.
And so I've been rewatching the three seasons of Daredevil we were lucky enough to get. One thing that's immediately apparent is why Marvel Studios didn't bother to recast Matt Murdock & Kingpin for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Charlie Cox and Vincent D'Onofrio are sublimely perfect in the roles. Anything less would be a step backwards...
Though what's going to come of it, who knows? A new season of Daredevil on Disney+? A new Daredevil movie? More appearance in other Marvel Studios movies and series?
Hopefully all of that.
Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2022
Don't you dare touch that dial... because an all new, all YouTube Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Heartstopper! Easily one of the best series I've seen so far in 2022, Heartstopper (Netflix) is about the most adorable TV show you'll find. What really got me is how much of the lives of young people today are invested in immediate feedback from texting. The struggle to put your thoughts and feelings in short little messages... the frustration of not knowing what to say... and the agony of sending something and immediately regretting it... we had absolutely nothing like this in school. Maybe note passing. That's it. The game is entirely different today...
What amazes me most about this show is how many opportunities they had to fall into the Hallmark trap of letting a misunderstanding sabotage their entire relationship, but were actually more adult about talking things out than adults are in Hallmark movies. Refreshing! There's also a guest star playing Nick's mom who may not be a known face to American audiences, but she was a major "get" across the Atlantic, and I was SO happy it wasn't spoiled in the trailer. Worth a watch. 100% Dave Approved television.
• Hard Rock Park! I don't have many regrets. But I do regret that I never made it to Hard Rock Park. The year that it opened, my travel calendar was packed, but I had plans to visit the following year. Alas, it closed after a single season. It would become "Freestyle Music Park" for another season before closing permanently. One of the most unique things to ever come out of Hard Rock and I missed it! Then I ran across a couple videos about the park, and regret not making it even more...
Boy. I wish somebody would rescue all that material and published it in a book or something. I could have spent hours going through all that!
• Miriwoong! Few things are as sad to me as a language dying out. Because it means an important part of humanity's culture is lost, because in so many ways language is culture. Or at least a very good symptom of it...
I've long been fascinated by languages, and Miriwoong is an example of exactly why I'm fascinated.
• Giza! Holy cats I love videos like this. And, let me tell you, that walk into the pyramid is something I will never forget. It was hot, stuffy, and claustrophobic for sure, but it's the fact that the passage could collapse behind you and leave you trapped inside that's the real scary part. What would they do? Rip apart the pyramid to save your life? Yeah, probably not...
Manuel Bravo is a YouTube creator I've never heard of before. But I subscribed after 2 minutes in on this video, only to find his entire channel is magic. Give it a look if this kind of stuff interests you.
• Bud! The fact that John Oliver releases short videos like this on the weeks he's off to tide you over until his next show is why his YouTube Channel is a must-subscribe...
I mean. Holy cow. The dogs got super-powers?!? Where have I been?
• Space! If you're not excited to bits about the James Webb Space Telescope, it's because you don't understand it properly. Lucky for you, Marques is here to drop some knowledge...
I have gone through so many rabbits in learning about what this incredible telescope is going to do for our understanding of the universe, and all of it is positively mind-boggling.
• History! The Statue of Liberty is one of those things that we kinda take for granted. It's there. It's been there for a while. France gave it to us. But there's so much more than that. For a very cool glimpse into all things Lady Liberty, this video is worth a watch...
And that's it for year another fascinating Bullet Sunday. Tune in next Sunday where I may... or may not... have even more interesting things to share!
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2022
Since I had to work all weekend, I was under this deluded fantasy that I would be able to put in a half-day today. Which I really need, because there is so much stuff that needs to be done at home. Stuff that I've been putting off for weeks. Like laundry. Like cleaning the house. Like putting together furniture. Like tying up the flowers in my back yard. And the list goes on and on and on.
Spoiler alert. I was in the office right up until 5:00 and then worked for another three hours when I got home.
In two days I will have to start turning my underwear inside-out because all my clean pairs will be gone. They would have been gone long ago, except I've got huge amounts of underwear and socks left from my back-to-back travel days. Sometimes I'd be gone for weeks, dropping by my car in the airport parking garage only long enough to grab a suitcase with clean clothes before catching my next flight. You can't do that unless you've got four weeks worth of underwear on standby.
Well, clean underwear, of course.
Which is in dangerous short supply for me just now, as noted.
Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022
For the longest time I've been telling people that I haven't traveled for work since September, 2019. And I could have sworn it was true. But it isn't. The last actual work trip I took was the day after Christmas, 2019. Before that I was in New Orleans for work in October, and the work trip before that was to Las Vegas in August. Which is to say I didn't even travel in September of 2019!
I get all confused because, pre-pandemic, I traveled a lot for work. Like a lot a lot. I have no idea why a prime work/travel month like September was a blank slate, but I probably had something personal going on. It happens.
Fast-forward to today, and I have my first work trip in 2-1/2 years. I didn't have to fly, thank heavens, it was just a drive over to Seattle this afternoon where I will be for two nights. I don't think I want to fly now that people don't have to be tested or wear masks and COVID is mutating into some shit that's more serious (which is disappointing, because the new variants were actually getting weaker for a while there).
The weirdest part about this trip is not that I'm actually traveling for work again.
It's that I had forgotten what it's like to be around STUFF again.
Oodles of great restaurants... tons of great stores... loads of great places... and they're all so close! A mall with one of my favorite stores (The Container Store) is a five-minute drive away. A Cheesecake Factory with those frickin' amazing Avocado Eggrolls is a five-minute drive away. Heck, a frickin' Burger King with my beloved Impossible Whopper is just a five-minute drive away! Everything is just so ridiculously close in a big city. Where I live, Burger King is almost a half-hour away.
It's all so... great.
Except I am seriously missing my cats. Leaving them has never been easy, but it's even worse now that I'm with them every day. Poor kitties probably think I've abandoned them.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022
I wish I knew how to abuse my work expense account.
Most people are likely to eat out at expensive restaurants, stay at expensive hotels, and live like they're not paying for it all. Because they're not. But I've never been like that. I stay at reasonably-priced lodging and eat the same food I'd eat if I were paying for it...
BREAKFAST: Egg & Cheese Biscuit and a soda at McDonald's.
LUNCH: Impossible Whopper ($3 for Whopper Wednesday!) and a soda at Burger King.
DINNER: Avocado Eggrolls (an apetizer) and a glass of water at Cheesecake Factory.
I spend a fraction of the money I'm allowed, but it's exactly what I want to be eating. Heck, I'd go so far as to say it's what I'm thrilled to be eating. Which is to say that an expense account is wasted on me. Maybe if I wasn't a vegetarian I'd be loading up of steak, lobster, and caviar, but I sincerely doubt it.
You'd think that I'd at least stay at a hotel with decent WiFi (which this DoubleTree most definitely does not have). This place is as slow as frickin' 300 baud dial-up back in the pre-history of the world. I'd use my phone as a hotspot, but my hi-speed allotment was blown when the internet was down at my house on Monday, so it's also as slow as frickin' 300 baud dial-up back in the pre-history of the world.
Oh well. I did get warm cookies when I checked in (which this DoubleTree most definitely does have). That's not nuthin'.
Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2022
On my way home, I got behind a driver who was driving 5-10 miles per hour under the speed limit and veering off the side of the road from time to time. Frustrated that they were obviously not paying attention to the task at hand, I decided to pass them. But as I was passing, they decided to speed up. Immediately I had gone from having plenty of room to pass... to having a car coming from the other direction approaching fast. I has a decision to make.
So do I...
I picked option 2 and floored it. I managed to get around them with plenty of time, but the car coming from the other direction had veered off the road anyway... and I couldn't really blame them. I would have likely done the same. And
What the fuck?
There was a time I enjoyed driving. That hasn't been the case in years. Other drivers on the road are sadistic assholes who simply don't pay attention. They're texting... or doing their nails... or playing Scrabble... or what-the-fuck-ever. And it's not enough to try not to cause an accident, there are people like this asshole today who are actively trying to cause them!
And the downfall of humanity stays the course...
Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2022
Yesterday before I went back to my hotel and worked the night away, I stopped by the 7-11 because I needed a Coke Zero and a bottle of water. Except the place was packed, so I went next door to a place called "Momo's Kebab." They had a Coke cooler visible through the window, and that's all I needed.
When I walked in, the place smelled like what I thougt heaven probably smalls like.
I saw that they had a falafel pita and Greek fries on the menu, so I figured I'd go for it and save myself the trouble of figuring out what to do for dinner.
The falafel sandwich? Incredible. Five out of five stars. The melange of flavors and seasoning is everything you could want, and it looked beautiful...
BUT THOSE GREEK FRIES THO!!!!
If I had to use a single word to describe them, I think it would be "orgasmic." Probably the best I've ever had. Flawless. Eleven out of five stars. (they looked more amazing than that photo, but I mixed them around before I thought to take a photo).
It's a darn good thing that I live 2-1/2 hours away from Momo's, because I would double in size from eating these daily.
Indeed, I've just arrived home after a long drive and it's taking all of my willpower to not drive back over to Seattle so I can have some.