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Bullet Sunday 745

Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

Dave!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!

Red Baron Fully Loaded Pan Pizza Box

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...

A bag of MacCains Crinkle Cut Fries

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...

Beautiful Maui Beach

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.

   

On Broadway

Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Dave!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.

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The Social Memory Construct

Posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022

Dave!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.

Although...

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.

   

Interstate Highway

Posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2022

Dave!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...

  • The Cascade Loop. Probably the only scenic highway system I've driven in its entirety (albeit not on the same trip). This one was easy because I live here. There are some beautiful places to be found along this route.
  • I-10 from Houston to Jacksonville I drove this one mainly because I was in San Antonio and wanted to visit New Orleans for the hundredth time. Then I kept driving because it seemed like a good idea at the time. The views over the bayou outside of The Big Easy at sunset were incredible.
  • I-5 from Seattle to Sacramento. The highlight of this one is the Redwood Forest, but the drive through Oregon is also pretty nice. All those trees.
  • I-90 from Chicago to Boston .I've driven at the beginning of I-90 in Seattle and the end of I-90 in Boston. The longest stretch of it I've driven is from Chicago to Boston. Upstate New York is beautiful, but it's all the towns along the way that made this such an interesting drive.
  • I-40 from Memphis to Greensboro. This was mainly driven to see a bunch of Hard Rocks (I actually ended up in Myrtle Beach after driving off the I-40) but I wanted to see The Great Smokey Mountains and the surrounds.

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.

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An Elephant Never Forgets

Posted on Friday, February 11th, 2022

Dave!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...

Mom and I in front of a watering hole with elephants around it.

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.

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What Happened to Boys with Frogs?

Posted on Monday, February 21st, 2022

Dave!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 of Venice with Murano and Burano.
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...

A Google Maps Street View capture of a large white statue of a boy holding a frog which has been encased in a glass cage.
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...

Boy and Frog Statue!

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...

The Getty Los Angeles Boy with Frog

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...

  • In 2008 artist Charles Ray used 3D computer modeling to create models of a photo that had been taken. The work, entitled Boy with Frog, was then super-sized and built out of fiberglass over a steel frame for a commission by François Pinault to stand outside of a museum he was building to house his art collection in Venice.
  • The Punta della Dogana museum opened in June 2009. Boy with Frog was installed for the opening, sitting on land owned by the City of Venice. The lease to house the sculpture was renewed with the city four times a year.
  • Sometime in 2011 the fiberglass sculpture in Venice was replaced with a painted stainless steel version.
  • On July 26, 2011 the fiberglass version made its way to The Getty Center in L.A. where it was put on temporary display until January of 2012.
  • In May of 2013 the stainless steel version was removed from the Punta della Dogana and replaced with a reproduction of a lamp post.

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).

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In Absence of Travel

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2022

Dave!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.

Oh well.

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.

   

Bullet Sunday 759

Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2022

Dave!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!

   

Unbearable Consequences of Consequence

Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2022

Dave!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.

   

Travel. Work. Forget.

Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Dave!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.

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An Unintentional Cheapskate

Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

Dave!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'.

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Home. At Last. Again. Barely.

Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Dave!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...

  1. Slam on the brakes and risk this guy being a total asshole who would then also slam on his brakes, in which case I'd be trapped and then dead.
  2. Speed up even faster to pass.

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 OF COURSE the asshole slowed right back down to below the speed limit again... proving that Option #2 was the correct choice. The driver was just a sadistic asshole who would cause a horrific accident because they didn't want to be passed.

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...

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It’s the Greek Fries for Me

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Dave!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...

Beautiful Falafel Pita

BUT THOSE GREEK FRIES THO!!!!

Beautiful Greek Fries

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.

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I’ve seen things, you people wouldn’t believe.

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

Dave!I am beyond exhausted.

Today I had to make the three-hour drive to Spokane for work... something I haven't done in quite a while. Years even. For decades I had to drive it at least once a year, if not multiple times. But given the general weirdness of the world and the way things like COVID keep popping up, it just hasn't been in the cards until now.

If there's one thing I can count on every time I make the trip, it's two things.

  1. I will see some new construction that will make me think "WTF?" In the past this has included everything from a new chain restaurant very close to where another one already exists... or places I've been going for years suddenly bulldozed under... or something you just don't expect (the massive new Amazon warehouse outside of Spokane, to name one).
  2. I will see some wacky-ass driver doing something so ridiculous and/or dangerous as to defy belief.

Sure enough, I was not disappointed.

The construction would be a new Mormon Temple just outside Moses Lake. This is a city between Seattle and Spokane which is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, and probably has around 20,000 some-odd people living there. It would not surprise me to know that Moses Lake has a Mormon church because loads of cities large and small have LDS churches... but a full-on temple?!? In Moses Lake?!?

Mormon Temple in Moses Lake under construction.

To put this into perspective, this is only the fourth temple in the entire state. There's one in Seattle and one in Spokane (as one would expect) and a third one in Richland (which serves the Tri-Cities area of about 300,000 people). But frickin' Moses Lake?!? And it ain't no matchbox place of worship either... it's looking like it will be substantial. Which means that Moses Lake must have a pretty healthy number of Mormons residing there. Go figure. Still... kinda weird given how church attendance keeps falling year-over-year.

As for the unbelievable driving crap? Pretty much what you'd expect.

Probably the most dramatic was when a line of us were passing a motorhome in the passing lane... when an asshole went zooming past all of us in the right lane... got to the motorhome... then 1000% cut in front of a car to get back int the passing lane. Which was fucking stupid on every level because then he just ended up stuck behind the same car that was in front of us passing.

And boy was the person he cut in front of mad.

Not that I could blame them. Such recklessness could have caused a major accident. I saw the person who got cut off go grinding on the asshole's bumper... then zoom ahead of them and cut them off. Which was actually a dangerous thing to do, but sometimes we lose our minds when an asshole ruins our day, so I can understand it.

And now it's time to collapse so I can get up for work in the morning.

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Hulk Out for Pizza Time

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2022

Dave!Turns out I only thought I was exhausted yesterday. Because today I found out exactly what "exhausted" really means.

Last night I was quick to take a nap because I knew I was going to wake up to watch the series premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law that debuted on Disney+. Probably a mistake, but I didn't have to be to work until 9:00, so no big deal, right? (SPOILER ALERT: It would indeed turn out to be a big deal). I'm going to reserve comment on the show until we get past this origin episode... but my first impression was very good. I love Tatiana Maslany, and she brought everything you could hope for to the role. A guest appearance from The Hulk didn't hurt matters (where we also get a lingering question answered from the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings credits scene...

But anyway... Could not get back to sleep after hulking out, which ultimately lead to me getting a whopping three hours and twenty-eight minutes of sleep (according to Apple Watch). It didn't help that there were people in the neighboring hotel room who were making lots of noise and slamming doors until 2:30am. Thankfully work went very well, because if things went badly and a fully-functional brain was required, I would have been in deep trouble.

After work I stopped for a road pizza at David's...

PIZZAAAAAAA!!!

And then I was on my way. Three hours of nothing but this...

Boring open road in the Great Basin of Washington State

Could be worse. It could have been five hours of nothing but that.

   

We Have a Fear of Peace Problem…

Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2022

Dave!Traveling the world is not the only way to have a more open perspective concerning the people living on it. But it definitely helps. If there's one thing that I've taken away from my travels, it's that the vast, vast majority of people on this planet just want to live their lives in peace. They want to have a place to life. Have food to eat. Maybe pop out some kids and raise a family. But above all, they want to not have to live their lives in fear. Unfortunately fear is a highly effective tool to control people, so our lives are governed by fear.

They hate us, so you have to hate them more.

They want what we have, so you have to destroy them before they take it.

We deserve to have what they have, so we need to take it.

Our lives are more important than their lives, so they don't deserve to live.

It is an endless cycle of hatred and fear which keeps powerful people in power and people without power in line so that powerful people maintain their power.

In all honesty, I thought that the advent of the internet would severely cripple the ability of people to use fear as a motivator. "Surely once people see that there is no reason to hate other people since everybody around the globe basically wants the same thing out of life, powerful people will lose their grip on us!" I thought.

To say that this was not the case is a gross understatement.

Turns out the internet was just another tool for powerful people to control us with hate and fear. Even worse, it allows non-powerful people to have a global audience for their hate and fear.

And so it has all escallated to such obscene levels that I'm wondering if we can escape it before we destroy ourselves. It's nice to hope so... but reality says we probably won't.

Which is such a shame.

Because all that the vast, vast majority of people on this planet want is just to live their lives in peace.

   

The Most Magical Whatever on Earth

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

Dave!As a kid, I was a massively huge fan of Disneyland. I dreamed of going for years before my family finally made the trip down to California. Once I got there, it truly was the most magical place on earth... at least it was to me.

It was from that point on that I became a hardcore Disney Parks geek. I would visit Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and even Tokyo Disneyland over the years just to keep up with whatever cool rides and experiences they had added. That lead me into becoming once of those infamous "Disney Adults" that keep getting trashed by assholes who are mad that they have to stand in line with their bratty kids to ride the rides... using the justification that "Disney is for kids."

To which I say "Fuck off" because kids invade my space all the time. So even if I bought into the argument that "Disney is for kids" (which I do not), I wouldn't care.

But anyway...

I haven't managed to make my way to any of the Disney parks for years. I really want to see the completed Pandora - The World of Avatar land in Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. And Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at either USA park. But I have a serious problem with the way that Disney is letting the parks go downhill thanks to shitty decisions made by CEO Bob Chapek. The gutting of perks from staying at Disney hotels. The total shitshow that's the "Genie+" service (pay more to get less!). The meandering lack of direction and general stagnation. It's as if all the things that make Disney parks a magical place have been falling by the wayside.

Meanwhile over at Universal Studios...

Yeah, Universal is slowly starting to eat Disney's lunch. On top of investing a lot of time and money into cutting-edge experiences and maintaining hotel perks, they're building an entirely new park in Orlando. Not an extra land, but a whole new third park.

Called Universal's Epic Universe the information coming out of its construction is pretty amazing. We're getting four dedicated lands: Super Nintendo World, Universal Monsters, Wizarding World, and How to Train Your Dragon... along with a central hub (complete with its own attractions) and plenty of room for expansion...


Photo by @BioreConstruct with overlay by @TonyHawkins

This isn't just "Blue Sky" promises about stuff that might happen, this is Universal literally building their future.

So I dunno. Maybe Disney will pull through and actually manage to get Disneyland Westside going. Maybe their rumored "Disney Villains" land and "Frozen" land will actually happen in Orlando. Maybe they'll start adding perks back to the hotels so that the massive price tag is worth it.

But until then... I just don't know that a few new rides is enough to make me book a trip to Orlando.

But Epic Universe is shaping up to be something that might.

   

The Need for Balls to Your Wall

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Dave!Today I'm driving over the mountains. A prospect that looks a lot better than it did yesterday when the snow was dumping down.

Not that I'm worried about the driving, mind you. I've been driving in the snow forever. No, I'm worried about the sheer number of idiots on the road who either drive too fast for conditions or don't pay close enough attention while operating a motor vehicle.

Which is most people, alas.

It always seems weird that some people want to risk getting seriously hurt or dead... or causing others to get seriously hurt or dead... by not slowing down and paying attention.

I guess it's all worth it if you can text grandma that you're driving balls-to-the-walls so you can be there in time for cocktails.

   

travel-less

Posted on Friday, December 2nd, 2022

Dave!It's surprising how many people ask me "Do you miss traveling? You used to travel all the time and now you don't! I guess when you do something a lot, that kinda becomes entwined with your identity. Sometime that defines you to others and, to some extent, to yourself.

The truth is that I did miss it very much at first... for about six months after my non-stop travel ended. I had become so accustomed to it that it seemed normal, and not traveling seemed like things in my life were not normal. It was like I didn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't flying off to Honolulu for a couple days to present at a conference... then flying to San Francisco for an overnighter to see that paperwork was handled... then flying to Vegas for a few days for one reason or another. I was gone for 1/3 of the year, now I'm home 99% of the time.

And yet... two years later now... I am quite happy to stay at home.

Sure there are some places in the world I'd still love to visit, but the drive to actually go there has subsided. Now the idea of spending hours upon hours in airports and in planes just doesn't appeal to me. At all. Maybe once COVID has finally been eradicated I'll join up with another charity to keep fighting the good fight and start traveling again, but the longer I'm going nowhere the more I doubt it.

Maybe it'll just be a vacation here and there.

Though I don't mind saying... the idea of a staycation where I'm just building stuff in my garage woodshop sounds like it would be the best vacation ever.

   

Snowmageddon VI

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2022

Dave!The snow has been relatively calm where I live so far.

But all that's due to change. I got a weather alert that late tonight we're under Winter Storm Warning.

I'd really, really prefer that the heaviest snowfalls wait until after the holidays when everything has settled down and I'm not traveling over the mountains. People lose their minds traveling for Christmas, and having tons of snow on top of that invites all kind of horrors to a drive.

As if driving with people who are texting or doing Lord knows whatever wasn't a big enough horror.

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Passing Out

Posted on Monday, December 26th, 2022

Dave!I was supposed to drive over the mountains on Friday. But the forecast called for freezing rain, which makes driving in the mountains crazy-hazardous, so I took a big ol' pass and drove over on Thursday.

There were a few slippery spots along the way, but it was a good drive overall and I didn't have to put chains on, which was nice...

My snowy mountain drive.

My snowy mountain drive.

My snowy mountain drive.

My snowy mountain drive.

I was due to drive back on Christmas Day (Sunday) but the mountain passes were closed. The one I drove over has no estimated opening date, the other route had decent roads, but there was a semi jack-knifed on the second pass, so that was closed. It was still closed on Monday morning, but eventually opened at 11am. The roads themselves were pretty good. The problem was that there was a lot of people on the road post-holiday, and half of them were either clueless or assholes. Now there's freezing rain all over the place, which makes me very happy I'm not driving in it. Instead I'm in bed with the cats trying not to fall asleep. If I go to bed before 10pm, I'll wake up at 4am and be very cross indeed.

   

It’s A Winter Wonderland. Still.

Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

Dave!A quick trip over the mountains today!

Years ago it was common for there to be snow in March. I remember drive over for my birtday in late March when it was near white-out conditions and chains were required. But these years that's becoming more and more rare. There have been times when ski resorts were shutting down in February due to lack of snow.

But this year? Season pass holders are getting a good deal because it looks like there will be plenty of snow through the month...

Snow at the ski resort!

Snow in the mountains!

I dunno. I'm ready for Winter to be over.

   

Corn Over the Mountains in Traffic

Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2023

Dave!I have apparently reached the point where I am the guy who doesn't want to leave the house.

Remember when you could drive to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from my house in 2 hours and 25 minutes? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Now you are very lucky to do it in under 3 hours... even if you carefully plan it so that you hit that narrow 1:30 to 3:30 window where the traffic is bad... but not horrendous like what happens after 3:30.

Even though I planned accordingly, there were two lane closure events that cost me 20 minutes and a traffic slow-down that added an additional 10 minutes. So... needless to say it was well over 3 hours travel time. Again. This blows. Left at 12:30, arrive at 3:40. It's gotten to the point where I just want to stay home with my cats and not go anywhere.

I'd get drunk to decompress, but I have work in the morning and don't want to be hung over for it.

So instead I went to Cheesecake Factory for Corn Cakes...

Corn Cakes!

No, it doesn't make up for having to leave home.

But it does come close.

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Bullet Sunday 809

Posted on Sunday, June 11th, 2023

Dave!Recovering from being deathly sick has never been more fun... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Toast! Awww... my little Toast nightlight arrived!

A little toast nightlight glowing serenely in the dark.

It's a nightlight that I put in the dark corner of my kitchen next to my toaster. Get it?

   
• Buses? These captchas are getting frickin' stupid ridiculous...

So what? Now we're just supposed to be clicking on every fucking square on these idiotic things?

   
• Good Omens 2! This looks even better than the first one. The casting was note-perfect for these characters, and seeing more of them is something I am very much looking forward to...

It's weird how flawless the casting was for these.

   
• Schlage Rage! It went something like this...
ME: "I hate my Schlage Sense smart lock SO much. Flames... flames... on the side of my face... Which lock should I get to replace it? Preferably one with HomeKey."
HOMEKIT FORUM MEMBER: "Definitely the Schlage Encode Plus."
ME: "IS THIS SOME KIND OF JOKE?!? I hate hate HATE the Schlage I have now!"
HOMEKIT FORUM MEMBER: "I understand. I agree. But know that all the bad things on the Sense have been improved one thousand percent on the Encode Plus. And be sure to get the Plus if you want HomeKey."
OTHER HOMEKIT FORUM MEMBERS: "Hard agree!"
ME: "Just so you know, if I hate this lock I am coming back to haunt all of you."

And... they were absolutely right. No more stupid battery pack cable. No more stupid setup fails. No more stupid "lock not found." No more stupid random lock resets. No more stupid random lock cycling. No more stupid HomeKit disconnects. It's an entirely new product. So good on Schlage for listening and improving, I guess. Doesn't change the fact that they unleashed a shitty product that I've been suffering with for seven years though.

   
• Hilarious! Zuckerberg on Apple Pro Vision: "Our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social. It’s about people interacting in new ways and feeling closer in new ways. Our device is also about being active and doing things. By contrast, every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself. I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want." This is the stupidest fucking thing I've heard this week. How many times have a GROUP OF PEOPLE all put on their Facebook Quest VR goggles and sat around interacting in the same room? Nah, buddy. They're sitting alone on the couch! How is the Facebook headset more "social" when you're wandering around as a cartoon floating torso that's always gripping hand controllers? Apple at least went with uncanny valley avatars that attempt to look like you and leave your hands free...

Apple's take will cost HUGE MONEY... to start... but it will get cheaper over time. Facebook, who has lost millions (billions?) trying to do VR... and ultimately failing... shows Zuck's statement for what it is... fear. And bullshit. I'm not sure ANY of this is the "future I want." But I'd take Apple's vision over Facebook any day.

   
• Crossing the Street in Vietnam! Not a lie. Which would have been fine... except I had my mom with me, and most intersections are far busier than this one! I'll never forget the first time we went to cross a street. The intersection actually had a crosswalk signal (many don't). But it was totally ignored. We had the light but it made no difference at all... you're just expected to cross like this...

@travelwithpat Crossing the street in Vietnam is something you need to prepare to do #travel #vietnam #tiktoktravel ♬ Super Mario Bros Main Theme

But still... it's s country like no other and worth a visit. As is this guy's TikTok.

   
• Church & State? Okay, government funded Christian schools are a thing now... so are they going to also fund Muslim schools? Buddhist schools? Hindu schools? So much FOR FUCKING SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!! This is a big slap in the face to all Americans, even if they consider themselves "Christian." Absolutely outrageous. Can't wait until the government is forced to sponsor Church of Satan schools because they're so fucking stupid that they don't have the fist clue about the can of worms they are opening. Jesus. OR NOT. THAT'S *YOUR* FUCKING CHOICE IN THIS COUNTRY!!!

   
And now I guess I had better make my bed, take a shower, and try and get some sleep .

   

River Float, Flesh Burnt

Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2023

Dave!I'm burnt, y'all.

It was the annual Fabulous Fourth Weekend Float for my friends and I. This year our Summer came early, so the creek and river were lower than usual. This made it a little tough to go through spots, but it was still a fun float in the end.

How it started...

How it ended... Note that I put on two coats of sun screen, but still got royally burnt...

As usual, there were plenty of awesome dogs floating as well. I never get tired of seeing dogs in life preservers...

Floatin' Puppers!

Floatin' Puppers!

Floatin' Puppers!

And there were a lot of duckies out too...

Floatin' Duckies!

Floatin' Duckies!

Floatin' Duckies!

Floatin' Duckies!

So... yeah! Another great float in the bag. Even though I'm so wiped from being out in the sun that I think I'm good for the year.

Not that it matters much given how low the river is.

   

It’s the Rainforest Cafe!

Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2023

Dave!I don't know what's going on with me. My energy is at an all-time low this week.

Which is to say that I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos. Including the entire back-catalog of Eddy Burback videos. One of which is him and another YouTuber driving to every Rainforest Cafe in North America. Of which there are a lot fewer left than I remember.

It's pretty funny...

And this got me to thinking... how many of these things have I been to? They were never a destination to me. Most time I went to one was because I was in town and noticed it, or (more likely) I was in town to visit a Hard Rock Cafe and it was nearby.

Anyway, here's the list I came up with...

  • Anaheim, California (Downtown Disney) - CLOSED!
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Bay Lake, Florida (Animal Kingdom)
  • Bloomington, Minnesota (Mall of America)
  • Chicago, Illinois - CLOSED!
  • Costa Mesa, California - CLOSED!
  • Denver, Colorado - CLOSED!
  • Gurnee, Illinois
  • Houston, Texas - CLOSED!
  • Kowloon, Hong Kong - CLOSED!
  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida (Disney Springs)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (MGM Grand Hotel) - CLOSED!
  • London, England - CLOSED!
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - CLOSED
  • Sunrise, Florida (Sawgrass Mills)
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Francisco, California (Fisherman's Wharf) - CLOSED!
  • Toronto, Ontario (Yorkdale) - CLOSED!
  • Tukwila, Washington - CLOSED!

Wowzers. Twenty-two? That's a lot.

And I think that I ate something at all of them except the London and Costa Mesa locations. In both of those cases, my time was limited and I had Hard Rocks and Planet Hollywoods to visit.

Priorities.

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Memories of Old Lahaina Town

Posted on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

Dave!I'm just gutted today.

This morning when I woke up at 5:30am I had a lot of emails with a lot of work attached to them. I set to the tasks at hand and only stopped long enough to feed the cats at 7:00am. 49 minutes later, I got a text telling me that Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii was on fire. And not just a little on fire... a lot on fire. The flames had started to invade downtown along Front Street, and many of the historic buildings were being destroyed.

The news only got worse as the day went on.

The first time I visited Lahaina was in 1987 with friends...

Old Lahaina Town in the late 80's

Old Lahaina Town in the late 80's

And, up until it caught fire, it never changed that much.

Sure, over the years different businesses have come and gone from the city. Including "Longhi's"... an Italian restaurant with a verbal menu that I loved (and was very sad to have seen closed). And the first Hard Rock Cafe I've ever been to (and was also very sad to have seen closed)...

Old Lahaina Town in the late 80's

But, by and large, the one thing you could count on is that Lahaina would be much as you remembered it. I was trying to count up how many times I've been to Maui, and I think it ended up being eleven or twelve times. And I walked down Front Street of Old Lahaina Town at least once every trip. It was a tourist trap for sure, but the restaurants and galleries and shops kept taking me back.

I have a lot of great memories with my friends from the city. And some great memories with my mom as well (I took her along on a couple business trips to Honolulu where we diverted to Maui for a quick vacation). She love poking around Lahaina... and loved eating at "Cheeseburgers in Paradise"...

Mom at Cheeseburgers in Paradise

And I'm trying to wrap my ahead around the fact that it's likely all gone. The historic buildings. The many homes. The shops. The restaurants. The galleries. All of it. And that's really difficult for me to accept.

But it's more than that.

Lahaina is home to a massive banyan tree... one of the largest in the United States. It was brought to Lahaina from India in 1873 and just kept growing and growing. Which means it's been a fixture in the city for 150 years...

The Lahaina Banyan Tree

The Lahaina Banyan Tree

The Lahaina Banyan Tree

Survived 150 years, and is likely gone. Just gone.

I've studied photos of the devastation, but either the tree has been utterly wiped from existence or I'm looking in the wrong place. But, in my defense, it's almost impossible to know what I'm looking at despite having been to the city over a dozen times.

This is a nightmare scenario. But a bigger nightmare could be to come. When they rebuild the city, are they going to try and recapture the charm and uniqueness of the structures? Or will everything be replaced by a bunch of cookie-cutter buildings, condos, and strip malls that destroy the city again?

Time will tell.

As it always does.

   

A Little Hope To Cling To

Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2023

Dave!I did not sleep much last night.

My head was overwhelmed by the fire in Lahaina (which I talked about yesterday), and I kept grabbing my phone off the nightstand to see if there was any news. Which there really wasn't. Just a few minor updates and repeating the same news over and over.

This afternoon more information started to trickle into the newsfeeds. Apparently the fires are either out... or at least contained... and photos of the devastation are being released. It's a sobering sight to see almost the entirety of a city wiped off the map... and profoundly sad to so many, including myself...

A smoldering Lahaina Town.
Photo by Richard Olsten/AFP/Getty Images

   
I had mentioned yesterday how heartbroken I was over the 150-year-old Banyan tree which was brought from India and planted in 1873 when it was only 8-feet tall. Eventually it grew and spread to cover an entire city block.

Miraculously, at least some of it seems to have survived. Whether or not it can actually be revived I have no idea, but it would be amazing if at least part of it can be salvaged and allowed to grow out to its former glory...

The Lahaina Banyan Tree shows a little life maybe?
Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Down on the street, things look much more grim for the poor thing, but people have come forward to say that banyan trees are tough to kill, so nobody should be giving up hope just yet...

The Lahaina Banyan Tree shows a little life maybe?
Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

I dunno if I'll sleep any better tonight... but at least there's a little hope to cling to, and that ain't nothin'.

   

Bullet Sunday 818

Posted on Sunday, August 13th, 2023

Dave!Don't worry about all my looming deadlines at work, I still have time for you, dear reader... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Bicycle Thief! All this pupper wanted was some pets... even if it was from a bicycle thief...

I hope that the dog didn't run away. That would be worse than losing a bike because your automated garage door opener (likely) screwed up (it's happened to me).

   
• Cat Coaster! I can't get enough of this (here's a link in case Instagram is being a dick)...

I wonder if, from the cat's viewpoint, they feel like this is the real deal? And that has me wondering if it's traumatizing. Though I suppose they could alway jump out.

   
• Virus! Yeah... I'll take all the vaccinations. All of them. SCIENCE, BITCHES!

Even that might be enough to save me, but at least I can say I tried.

   
• Strange New Gorn! Despite a bit of a continuity problem when it comes to the Gorn, the second season finale for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds was incredible...

My mind is still boggling at the thought that this is my favorite Star Trek now. I never, ever thought that anything would eclipse the original series for me.

   
• Florida? The repugnant shit going on in Florida to teach kids that slavery was a good thing because enslaved people learned “job skills” that could be used after emancipation can be easily refuted. But this gentleman vividly illustrates why it’s a bullshit concept that doesn’t deserve any consideration (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@garrisonhayes

Florida’s efforts to rewrite, redeem and santize the worst parts of American history *for white comfort* is exhausting. Here’s why, from Tennessee.

♬ original sound - Garrison Hayes

Fuck FOX “News” and their white suprematist agenda forever.

   
• Rao No! Well, shit. Campbell's Soup bought Rao's Homemade sauces. Guess we can kiss that brand goodbye. Like every other great brand that gets bought by a mega-corp, Campbell's is most certainly going to fuck up the recipe with cheaper ingredients so they can squeeze more money out of it. The way Kraft fucked up Boca Burger is still very fresh in my mind. It was good while it lasted, I guess.

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that companies with billions of dollars to throw around will ruin the brands they absorb, despite them always saying "We won't change a thing!" Because do you know how many times this has been promised? Current CEO of Campbell's says "WE WON'T CHANGE THE RECIPE!!!" But then he gets replaced or fired and the new CEO is all "WE MUST USE CHEAPER INGREDIENTS TO GET MORE PROFITS!" and then it's "WE ARE CHANGING THE RECIPE TO REFLECT CURRENT TRENDS" or some such bullshit. I do not believe it for one second. Not one. This has happened an astronomical number of times with a crazy number of brands. Profits are always the focus of these huge companies. ALWAYS. Maintaining the integrity of Rao's isn't the priority. It's a short game to buy the brand and squeeze as much money out of it as they can before they ruin it. And then they're on to the next beloved brand.

   
• RUINED!!! I had to step away from my TikTok "For You Page" for a while, because people who "Had their Maui vacation ruined!" or "Had their Maui wedding ruined!" or what the fuck ever were enraging me to entirely new levels. There was a "social media coach" bitching because her 25th birthday to Honolulu was ruined when her flight was cancelled... SO SHE WENT TO MAUI... and took away much needed resources from people trying to survive the fires. I’m amazed... but not surprised at these assholes. This guy says what I’ve been thinking (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@thomas_thevillain_bishop #Inverted it’s not about you. It’s about survival.#fyp #thevillainsguild ♬ original sound - Thomas Bishop

Sorry about your vacation... but there are people still missing. Have some perspective for crying out loud.

   
And that's a wrap on bullets.

   

Bullet Sunday 821

Posted on Sunday, September 10th, 2023

Dave!I don't know who needs to hear this, but life is indeed good... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Not Nice! It has been a tough time for Hard Rock properties around the globe. A number of them have closed this year, and last night it was announced that the cafe in Nice will be closed by the end of the week. The cafe itself was kinda boring on the inside, but it was still a nice place with beautiful views...

Hard Rock Cafe Nice

I visited in 2014. This was the infamous trip where I was hit by the shuttle that took me to the airport. In the end, it's just a restaurant... but I do feel bad for the people who worked there and built a family around it.

   
• Scuttlebutt! Look, there is no denying Halle Bailey's talent. There was a reason she was cast as Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid remake, and it had absolutely nothing to do with Disney being fucking "woke" or whatever racist bullshit people are claiming. Because holy crap is she fantastic...

That being said... this was a wholly unneeded remake of a classic film because they didn't try to do anything new or revolutionary with it except add a couple songs (including the gut-wrenchingly awful Scuttlebutt). The sea creatures were scary as fuck because they looked so weird. The guy playing Prince Eric was okay, but has less charisma than his animated counterpart. While I like Awkwafina, she was horrifically miscast as Scuttle (Buddy Hackett made him absent-minded and charming, Awkwafina just made the character stupid?). Melissa McCarthy was good casting, but as much as she relished in the role, she paled in comparison to the late great Pat Carroll as Ursula. Also I agree with the criticism of the makeup...

On the plus side, the special effects were actually pretty great. But that's hardly enough to make it a good use of your time.

   
• Oxygen! Wow. The more you know (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@joespinstheglobe if you smell something burning *after* the masks come down, it's probably this thing. If beforehand... 😬 #science #travel #medicine ♬ original sound - JoeSpinsTheGlobe

Science is darn cool.

   
• Nice Dress! It's so simple. Just be kind... and correct where needed to continue to be kind...

huge shoutout to the guy at the bar who said i like your dress maam and when i was like i'm a man but thank you! he was like oh shit ¡ like your dress homie — i love you forever

Why are there people who would rather be a fucking asshole about it in these situations where it costs $0 to just be kind? I saw this pop up somewhere in social media, and thought how nice it was that this guy's day was made just because somebody wasn't an asshole. Couldn't we all use a little of that?

   
• MangaManga! I gotta say... so far as manga adaptations go, One Piece feels pretty spectacularly faithful. The casting is flawless. And, let's face it, that's where the series was going to live or die. How they found their Monkey D. Luffy is close to a miracle, as Iñaki Godoy is Luffy come to life. And Nami, Shanks, and Zoro are straight out of the books too!

On one of my trips to Japan, the manga was all the rage, so I looked up the English translation when I got back to the US (thanks, Viz!). I've been addicted ever since. The Netflix show makes me want to re-read it from the start.

   
• Circle, Send! If you have ever watched the absurd Reality TV game show on Netflix called The Circle, you know how batshit insane it is. Leave it to Jake Cornell to completely summarize the insanity in a TikTok. This is painfully accurate (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@jakewcornell It’s always like this. #TheCircle #thecirclenetflix #comedy ♬ original sound - Jake Cornell

I swear, some comedians are more brilliantly able to explain things than an entire textbook.

   
• MAX... Prices! Warner Bros. Discovery Says Ongoing Strikes Will Mean $300M-$500M Hit to 2023 Earnings. Guess it's going to be time to raise the subscription price to HBO Max. Again. They don't give a fuck about the people making their content... they sure don't give a fuck about their customers (except how much money they can wring out of us). It's absolute madness how they were bragging about how much money they were going to SAVE because of the strike... and now they're watching people unsubscribe in droves because they raised prices and customers mad about paying more for the new content won't get... so now they're going to LOSE money. Good. Couldn't happen to a nicer conglomerate. Fuck Warner Brothers-HBO-Discovery and and their idiotic fucking leadership who have brought this entirely on themselves. If they sink under their stupidity, that's one less service I'll have to rotate through. Which is fine by me.

   
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

   

Justice, Sweet Justice

Posted on Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

Dave!As I was driving over the mountains for the Peter Gabriel concert with Jester, a big pickup came roaring up behind me. I was in the passing lane, but I was... A) Actually passing somebody, and B) Wasn't going under the speed limit... so there was no cause for him grinding on my bumper. The speed limit was 70mph, I was passing at 75mph. As what usually happens, the person I was passing increased their speed, which meant I had to increase mine to 80mph... then finally 85mph just so I could finally pass them and get that truck off my ass.

The minute I pulled right again, the truck went blasting past me. Probably flipping me off in the process, because isn't that what these aggressive asshole drivers do? Even when I wasn't doing anything wrong (except exceeding the speed limit so he would get off my ass).

But then?

Sweet Justice.

As we rounded the next corner an unmarked police car was pulling off the side of the road with lights blaring.

And sure enough, I caught up to the pickup that was likely going 90mph as he was pulled over.

Ultimately I don't give a shit if somebody wants to exceed the speed limit (although I think that 20mph over the limit is probably too dangerous a speed to be going). Heck, I bounce around 5mph over myself. But holy crap... is it really necessary to terrorize people on the road to do it? It's not like I was driving in the passing lane under the speed limit and not passing anybody! I was using the lane as it was designed to be used!

Oh well. Assholes will be assholes and all that.

   

Sadly, Pedro O’Hara’s closed in 2021

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2023

Dave!Not so long ago I noted how strange it is to hear about tragedy in a place I've been on Facebook.

Since I've been to a lot of places on this earth, this seems to happen more and more often.

Not so long ago I posted this:

It always feels strange to hear of tragedy in a place I've been. A 14-year-old kid opened fire at the Siam Paragon Mall in Bangkok. That's very close to the old Hard Rock Cafe in the city (and pretty close to the new one as well), and I was there when I was in Thailand in the late 80's. The mall didn't exist yet, but I am very familiar with the area. So sad.

And now this...

For around a decade I had work taking me to Lisbon, Maine.

Twice a year I would fly into Portland then drive up to the city of Auburn, where I always stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's a nice, reasonably-priced location overlooking the Androscoggin River. The region is home to some very nice people (including those that I worked with), and has interesting eateries across the river I enjoyed like She Doesn't Like Guthries and Pedro O’Hara’s*, a Mexican-Irish restaurant.

Also across the river? The city of Lewiston.

If you've been watching the news since Wednesday night, you know why this has been haunting me.

A single shooter with an assault rifle mass-murdered 18 people in two locations in Lewiston, Maine. Needless to say, I had a rough night followed by two rough days wondering if anybody I know was hurt or killed. As of now I am still wondering because I can't bring myself to email anybody to find out. They have enough to deal with, as the shooter is still at large.

This fucking sucks.

My post about Bangkok was 23 days ago. I didn't even have a month to get over that before this happens. And that's just places I am familiar with. There's loads upon loads upon loads of places going through exactly this kind of thing week by week. And I'm mortified that it's just become background noise to me.

Until it's not in the background. Like Lewiston, Maine.

Lewiston may be the second-largest city in Maine after Portland, but it's not a big city. The first shooting at a children's league bowling alley event is just next door to a restaurant I liked. The second shooting at a cornhole competition even bar & grill is just down the street from a McDonald's that I stopped at for breakfast dozens of times. So, yeah, you might say I'm familiar with the area where the shootings occurred. An area where on Wednesday night people were just living their lives, never knowing that 18 of them would end up dead with even more injured.

Which is all kinds of fucked up. Especially when now-a-days you can't even say you're sad that 18 people were murdered without being told you're "anti-gun" or "woke" or whatever other bullshit labels get hurled by assholes lacking any sense of empathy, decency, or compassion. Something I'm getting used to, despite it never making any sense.

Not that anything surrounding mass-murder ever could.


*Sadly, Pedro O'Hara's closed in 2021.

   

The Way Yes Used To Be Again

Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2023

Dave!I think I've written a few times about my love for the Yes Theory YouTube channel.

I can't remember where I first heard of it. In all likelihood somebody via the internet... probably even a total stranger... who contacted me through this blog. They see that I loved traveling the world and meeting new people and discovering new things and said something like "You should really check out Yes Theory on YouTube". And so I did. This was many years ago, and I've watched everything they've ever released.

And the members of Yes Theory have meant the world to me. Because they don't just want you to watch, they invite you into their lives and you get to experience everything with them. It hasn't always been an easy road, and there have been many changes over the years.

The original Yes Theory Posse reunited now.

Which is why this reunion video is so incredibly special to me...

The way Yes Theory looks at the world is how I want the world to be.

I cannot wait to see what happens next.

And if you're looking for a massive dose of positivity in your life, I highly recommend checking out their channel. But be forewarned... if you are remotely human, those videos are addictive. You cannot watch just one.

   

For the Traffic of it All

Posted on Monday, November 13th, 2023

Dave!24/7 Wall Street has published a list of cities with the worst traffic in the USA.

As you may have guessed from reading this blog, this is a subject on which I have very strong feelings. So, naturally, I can't just let this list blow by without commenting. In order to get the ball rolling, I'll just publish my list and discuss entries on their list after. Because I have some serious disagreements. Their only metric is "lost time due to traffic delays" which is a worthy way of looking at it, but I'd argue that an overall statistic is too general to be useful in specific circumstances. If I'm sitting in traffic I'm not thinking "Thank heavens I'm not in Chicago where traffic is worse" because my driving experience in Chicago is specific, not general. Based on my experience, here's my Top 15 (they did 32 cities for some reason)

  1. Atlanta (24/7 Rank: 10)
    Here is a classic example of their list's "general timing" being bizarre to me. Because to find traffic worse than Atlanta on my list, I would have to go International. Atlanta is hands-down, without-a-doubt the worst traffic I have encountered in the USA. I remember very well approaching Atlanta from the East Coast only to run into traffic so bad that it took over an hour to get through what should have taken ten minutes. And within the city itself, driving anywhere means you are just fucked. It takes forever to get anywhere. Even if you circumnavigate the city center. From the airport? Fucked. Heading to Marietta? Fucked. There is no way to navigate anywhere near Atlanta without getting fucked.
  2. Los Angeles (24/7 Rank: 7)
    The fact that L.A. doesn't appear until the #7 slot makes me dubious about the list to begin with. I'm not questioning that the data is accurate, but I am questioning how it applies to actual people and their driving experience. As anybody who has ever driven in L.A. (or tried to get out of L.A.) will tell you, traffic is a nightmare without end. I have driven from LAX up to The Valley and honest-to-God felt as though I was caught in some kind of time warp where time slows to a crawl. I used to have to drive from Santa Monica down to Anaheim/Santa Ana and would end up screaming... not at anybody in particular, just out of general frustration. I may have taken my driving lessons in Central Washington, but I didn't really learn to drive until I was working in L.A. regularly in the 90's. Traffic has only gotten worse.
  3. New York (24/7 Rank: 3)
    Despite the fact that NYC is in the #3 spot, New York is actually not that terrible to get around in. So long as you are using public transport! But if you attempt to drive in any of the five boroughs, you're 100% fucked. I used to drive from whatever airport I arrived in to Manhattan because I often needed to go out of the city on my work trips. I gave up on my fourth trip. I take public transportation out of the city, then rent a car from there. It saves my sanity.
  4. Seattle (24/7 Rank: 10)
    Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water. So there is no "ring road" to get around it... and any attempt to get around it by driving around the East Side is an exercise in futility because it's equally bad over there. Couple that with the fact that the streets are always torn up somewhere or other, and the horrific traffic is multiplied to an insane degree. Of all the cities on this list, I drive in Seattle the most often. My breath is taken away every time, because it's just so horrifically bad. Everywhere.
  5. Chicago (24/7 Rank: 1)
    Maybe it's because most times I just take the el (elevated train) to get around and only really drive to get to the city from the airport when a car is required, but I don't get the #1 ranking. Even when I do drive within Chicago, it's always seems like normal big-city traffic and not some insurmountable beast. That being said... from the experience I have had driving, I get it. Nothing quite like hitting the same light three and four times to make your blood boil.
  6. Boston (24/7 Rank: 2)
    Boston is a very old city which is a massive mess to navigate. For years I would arrive at the airport and drive up to Maine because flying direct into Portland was too expensive, and each time I would be stuck in ungodly traffic even though I was nowhere near central Boston. And God help you if you actually do need to drive in Boston proper because the traffic is a never-ending source of angst. Whenever I would have to navigate the old street layouts and ridiculous routes needed (all while trying to avoid potholes) my anxiety would escalate. I was exhausted at the end of the trip even though it technically "wasn't that terrible." Even so, I don't get the #2 ranking here. If you're a smart driver that can handle it, Boston is far better than Seattle of L.A. to navigate.
  7. Miami (24/7 Rank: 5)
    This is one of those cities where your experience very much depends on where you're driving. If you're driving from South Beach to Little Havana, let's say... yeah. The number of cars on the road is absurd. And while that's true for the rest of the city as well, it's to varying degrees. When I was driving from Miami to Palmetto Bay every year in the 90's I didn't think it was all that bad. Maybe it's far worse now? But you could say that about everywhere.
  8. San Francisco (24/7 Rank: 6)
    I have driven in San Francisco the second most on this list after Seattle. Yes, the traffic is bad. Yes, navigating the city can be baffling. Yes, there is construction often. Yes, people can be jerks. But traffic-wise? It's busy, but not to the extent of most big cities. Maybe it just seems that way because it's fairly compact? Like Seattle, the city is surrounded by water on three sides, which makes it impossible to improve things much, but driving the Bay Area never caused me more anxiety than the cities above.
  9. Washington D.C. (24/7 Rank: 8)
    Yeah... it's pretty bad. But not as bad as it could be if you know the streets to avoid. Some of it is, of course, unavoidable, but I've been all over D.C. and just don't find it to be bad enough for the #8 ranking. Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta are exponentially worse in my experience. It's been six years since I've driven there, so maybe it's gotten a lot worse... but what cities haven't gotten much worse?
  10. Philadelphia (24/7 Rank: 4)
    Philly traffic got so frustrating to me that I ended up refusing to drive there, and stopped renting cars because my blood pressure would become so elevated that I considered it a health risk. So I totally understand it landing in the #4 spot. That being said... worse than Atlanta?!?? Are you kidding me? Philadelphia has serious problems when it comes to traffic, but it's an absolute cakewalk compared to Atlanta! For one thing, navigation doesn't seem to be as bad, which maybe makes the traffic not seem so bad to me. I don't know. But the fact I refuse to drive in the city and use taxis/public transport is still very telling.
  11. Houston (24/7 Rank: 11)
    Houston is problematic to me in so many ways... but the traffic doesn't even rank in the top five reasons I am not thrilled to have to go there. But it is still a very large problem. Most times when I am in Houston for work, I have to drive out to some location in the burbs, and getting in and out of the city makes that a problem because the roads are jammed at all the wrong times. Many times I will just circumnavigate the horrors of downtown to get from the airport to my destination, but then if you want to experience the many terrific restaurants in the city, you have a choice to make. Do I really want to have a Hillstone veggie burger that bad? Unfortunately, the answer is most often "yes," and the fact that the restaurant is not even in the worst traffic in Houston won't save you because it's still bad. And don't get me started on the parking. San Francisco is the absolute worst... don't ask my why Houston is nearly as bad. I honestly don't understand it. Maybe I hang out at all the wrong places?
  12. New Orleans (24/7 Rank: 9)
    Driving in New Orleans can absolutely test your patience. Especially if you're foolish enough to attempt to drive through the tourist-heavy regions like The French Quarter. My most hated drive, however, is the one to and from the airport. Not sure why they can't do something to improve this... probably a question of money... but I would have a much more favorable impression of the city if this route weren't so dang slow.
  13. Portland (24/7 Rank: 13)
    This is highly dependent on where you are driving. The outskirts of the city are usually not that bad, but anywhere else... especially from the airport... can be a serious challenge. Oddly enough, the city proper is hit-or-miss, and many times I've driven it weren't terrible at all. This is also time-dependent, I think. But, yeah, rush hour is a mess and there is some weirdness to navigate certain areas, so it's understandable how traffic can seriously put a damper on your transit times.
  14. San Diego (24/7 Rank: 18)
    It's not just San Diego proper... it's the entire region. To the South is a mess because there's border traffic. To the north is a mess because there's limited corridors and popular cities like La Jolla and Del Mar are there (not to mention Los Angeles!). Going East isn't quite as bad (I had work in Spring Valley that I'd drive to)... but the rest? Disastrous. And I don't truly understand why that is. Sure there's a lot of people and it's between to high-traffic destinations, but even in the city proper it can take a long time to really get anywhere. I've drive in San Diego more times than I can count and found traffic to be a problem most every time. Maybe it's just California?
  15. Austin (24/7 Rank: 17)
    Not only can Austin be a complete bear to navigate, but the public transportation is fucked. I have had busses blow past me many times despite the stop being on their route. Not just once... many times. It seems as though drivers only stop if there's enough people waiting to be worth their time? I have no idea. When it comes to driving Austin proper, it probably doesn't actually deserve my final spot... it's busy but not prohibitively so... but I'm putting here anyway because the busses piss me off that much.

One of these days I should make a list that includes foreign cities. But I don't know that my heart could handle even the memory of some of these places!

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Rose and Crown

Posted on Monday, November 20th, 2023

Dave!The first half of the "final season" of The Crown dropped on Netflix last week. The four episodes are entirely devoted to Princess Diana's final days and death, and anything to do with The Crown is largely ancillary. Sure you've got Prince Charles struggling to get his relationship with Camilla legitimized with both Her Majesty The Queen and the public at large, but make no mistake... this is the Diana Show. She's stealing the headlines. She's driving the narrative. It's her world and everybody else is just living in it.

Which is very much as I remember it.

Diana is a fascinating person. And admirable. She tried to use her fame for a number of good causes (the two most famous being compassion and understanding of people with AIDS and the global removal of landmines, but she also advocated for the homeless, shined a spotlight on the struggle of people living in poverty, and supported numerous cancer charities... to name a few). That she also dared to try and build a life for herself and find happiness bothers an awful lot of people, which is profoundly sad.

A sympathy that The Crown definitely shares.

Right up until her death in the third episode.

Although the story that Netflix is telling has been refuted on several fronts. The foremost of which being that Mohamed Al-Fayed was the driving force behind his son Dodi Fayed and Diana's romance and, by further extension, is responsible for their death since he set up the infamous photos that escalated the paparazzi frenzy. Every photographer wanted their million dollar payday, and that ultimately resulted in tragedy.

It's just speculation.

Which, from the beginning, is all The Crown really has.

And yet we watch it anyway.

I've mentioned how I was eating breakfast and watching television before driving to the airport for work on August 31st, 1997. The morning the news broke here about the car accident in Paris. When I got to Seattle, it was being reported that all three passengers had perished. Then, as I was waiting, it was reported Diana was still alive. As I was boarding my flight to Orlando, there was serious confusion as to whether she had died or not.

After landing, all the televisions were reporting the sad news of her passing.

It didn't really register.

Not until the next day. My work was at one of the Disney World hotels. I had finished up my first meeting and went to Epcot for lunch with a friend in "Italy." I was early, so I walked counter-clockwise to pop by the France Pavilion for a pastry first. To get there, you have to pass through the pavilions for Canada and The United Kingdom. Which is to say "A member country of The British Commonwealth and The United Kingdom."

And since Disney endeavors to make each country's pavilion be as authentic as possible, the staff is populated by people from those countries. And they were grieving far from home. Far from the people who could truly comprehend what they were feeling.

Though the people at Disney World that day were far from unsympathetic. Flowers were piled around the UK Pavilion just as they had been back at Kensington Palace. The usual murmur and laughter was greatly muted.

Then you'd cross the bridge to the France Pavilion... and everything was back to normal.

Or as normal as it could be considering a person loved and admired around the world was gone.

In the end, I think The Crown could have ended with Season 05 and we'd all have been better off. The wild speculation about Diana in Season 06 serves no purpose. It's not even very entertaining. And the drama surrounding The Royal Family was already portrayed far better by the 2006 movie The Queen.

Not that Netflix hasn't wasted money on useless programming before, but this time it just seems so unneeded.

   

Utilitarian Artistry

Posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2023

Dave!It's easy to fall in love with art. At least it is to me.

Art is such a big part of my life that I do what I can to experience it. Whether it's driving over to Seattle to see a new art installation, or flying to Columbus, Ohio to see a Kehinde Wiley exhibit, or visiting every art museum I possibly can while traveling the world... art brings joy to my life.

But it's not just museums where you find art. It's all around us.

I've mentioned a couple times that I've collected bank notes I find whenever I'm in foreign countries. Some are interesting. Some are clever. And some are just incredibly beautiful. Like the notes that the Netherlands had before converting to the Euro. I marveled at them whenever I visited the country.

And finally somebody talked about it...

Fascinating, isn't it?

There's nice art on the various Euro notes as well, but I haven't seen anything that approaches what they used to have in Dutchyland.

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Moving Violations in Slush

Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Dave!With winter arriving, the roads are going through this cycle of snow, slush, and ice that's not a big deal if you know what you're doing... but it's a definite challenge if you don't. And there's some people who definitely do not. The trick is to make sure that you don't get into trouble because they get into trouble. It's always been tricky, but in a day-and-age when people can't seem to get off their phones, it's worse. Washington State has a "distracted driving" law, but it doesn't seem to make much difference.

But anyway...

Yesterday was a bit of a rain day which melted the snow we got over the weekend into slush. The slush managed to pull a car off the road, which wasn't anything serious, but it did get me thinking about how this is going to be happening more and more over the next three months or so.

Hopefully that's the worst of it all this year.

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An Easy Holiday Drive

Posted on Saturday, December 23rd, 2023

Dave!The thing about driving over the mountains is that you never know what you're going to get. In the Summer, they can have construction going on that delays you up to an hour. In the Winter, the weather can be bad which delays you up to an hour. Now, it sounds as though the weather component would be a bigger problem. Historically, that's certainly been the case. But now-a-days? You are far, far more likely to be delayed by road construction in Summer. Snow removal is actually very, very good, which keeps roads open. On top of that? We just don't get snow like we used to.

I remember driving over in the 90's where the roads had to be carved out of massive amounts of snow. It would be piled on the sides of the road so high that it towered over you. It was wild. And more than a little scary. But that rarely happens now. Sure there are days that the mountains get loads of snow... but it's just not the problem it once was.

Today's drive over the mountain was just... pretty... as shown in these shots taken from my dashcam...

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

Winter Road Trip... pretty with little snow.

There was only snow on the roads at the top of the mountain pass.

Not that this stopped some people from driving ten miles under the speed limit on essentially clear (albeit wet) roads. Because of course it doesn't.

That's something you can count on regardless of weather.

   

To Pee or Not To Pee

Posted on Tuesday, December 26th, 2023

Dave!As I mentioned on Saturday, driving over the mountains is always a crapshoot in my neck of the woods. My drive Seattle-side was a piece of cake. A beautiful drive, actually. No complaints.

The drive home, however?

Kinda maybe I guess?

The most direct path that I drove on Saturday was now "Traction Tires Required" with chains required only for trucks. I have very good tires, so that didn't bother me. The idea that people who have zero clue how to drive on snow, slush, and patches of ice would likely bother me very much, however... so I took a less direct route over two mountain passes which were both listed as being "bare and wet". Sure it takes 30 minutes longer to drive that... but it would likely be a lot less aggravating, and possible safer as well.

The first pass was great because there are multiple lanes. Very easy to pass those wanting to go 20 miles under the speed limit for some reason (as seen by my dashcam)...

Over the mountain pass I go on multiple lanes!

More multi-lane fun!

But the second pass has a single lane most of the time. You get an extra lane going up the pass in either direction, but if you're coming down the pass and the person ahead of you is going 20 miles under the speed limit... then you're going 20 miles under the speed limit as well...

Single-lane purgatory!

This wouldn't have aggravated me much... if not for the fact that I had to pee really, really bad the last hour of my trip behind somebody who was behind somebody driving painfully slow for no reason.

Oh well.

I made it home without peeing my pants, although my cats were pretty upset that I waddled past them to the bathroom without giving them pets.

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All Y’all

Posted on Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Dave!I've traveled through The South many, many times.

And I don't just mean I took a few vacations to New Orleans and Disney World and flew into Atlanta for work, then flew back home (though I did that too). No. I've been around. I've driven between Austin, Dallas, and Houston a lot. I've driven around Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida a crazy number of times. And it's not just the major cities. I've stopped in numerous small cities and towns in those states and also on drives through Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina.

So, yeah, my familiarity with The South is far from a passing one.

Which is why I howled when I saw this (NSFW: here's a link in case TikTok is being a jerk)...

@erichwithanh I have never known the second to be used in any other context 😳 #fyp #language #yall #south #slang #humor #jokes #local ♬ In the Mood - Glenn Miller

This is painfully accurate.

Because when I break out the "All y'all" this is where my head is at.

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Bullet Sunday 841

Posted on Sunday, February 4th, 2024

Dave!I am banging this entry out early because I have a house to clean, but better early than ever... because an all new Very Special YouTube Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Strangers! The meat of this excellent video story is about 10 minutes long. It is absolutely worth your valuable time to watch. Especially if you want to know what this experiment we call "life" is all about...

I've seen feature-length movies that didn't work this hard. Brilliant.

   
• Crash! Remember when police officers stood on the driver's side to talk to you when you get pulled over? Thank heavens they changed procedure and switched to the passenger side, or this officer would have certainly been killed...

Wild. It's just wild to watch it happen. Even more wild that nobody as hurt. And you have to wonder what happened. Was somebody looking at their phone or what?

   
• We Are the World! It's interesting how USA for Africa came together. I mean, not shocking because it's pretty much what you'd expect, but it's exciting to watch as the dominoes started to fall and people were getting involved. If you have Netflix, this documentary is gold. Especially if you like music...

I actually think there was likely enough material to make a second part, because the stories behind having so many legends in a single room are undoubtedly endless.

   
• Power! On Friday I mentioned the Marques Brownlee Waveform Podcast where they were talking about the Apple Vision Pro, and they mentioned a relaxing "game" called Powerwash Simulator. I played this at a friend's house, but don't actually own it, so I had no idea what all it contains. Basically, you select a dirt object in the game, then power wash it until it's clean. That's it. When you wash all the dirt and grime off the object you selected, you finish the job and "win." It turns out that one of the things you can wash is the Perseverance Mars Rover! I've fast-forwarded to that part of this review (5:45 minutes)...

And look! The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is there too! How cool is that? If I had a Vision Pro and Powerwash Simulator was available, I'd buy it just for this.

   
• Attendant! I learned very early on when I was flying constantly about how being a flight attendant works. There are all kinds of excuses as to why their pay doesn’t start until the cabin door closes, usually having to do with making sure that their maximum legal hours worked doesn’t expire in mid-flight after a delay. But it’s all bullshit. I 1000% support flight attendants earning a living wage for the work they do, and excuses are just excuses. Airlines can find a way to pay these hard-working people fairly for the work they do...

   
• HOT! Hot Ones is a surprisingly deep interview that runs at a brisk pace while buying into an absurd concept of eating hot sauce. And regardless of how you feel about John Oliver and his politics, he has some really funny moments... and some surprisingly astute observations... that aren't straying into political territory...

It just goes to show that John Oliver has some very smart takes the go beyond politics.

   
• Tay Tay Today! The bat-shit insane conspiracy theories that Fox "News" is drumming up over Taylor Swift don't concern me. It's the fact that some of their viewers actually buy into the conspiracy theories. They don't even make any fucking sense. Like if Taylor Swift says anything AT ALL that's political, she's an evil Biden puppet. But all the "musicians" who show up on Fox "News" to talk Conservative politics are real patriots? Jesus Christ. Taylor Swift hasn't said shit. But apparently Conservatives are shitting their pants over the idea that she could, and so they want to jump in front of it. Anyway... Seth Meyers has a look down the rabbit hole of Taylor's existence, and it's worth a closer look...

Anymore doesn't our reality seem like a fucking bad movie?

At the beginning of each year I don't make resolutions. Instead I make a list of dreams for the next 365 (366 in 2024) days. I'm not talking about pie-in-the-sky dreams of unrealistic fantasy that are unachievable, but dreams which can actually happen. High on that list is that Taylor Swift continue to trigger people in all the best ways. Because apparently this is something that is badly needed. And you know what? January just ended and I'm just going to check that one off my list. Whether she's just existing... or watching her boyfriend play football... or she's being accused of being a demon in league with satan... she triggers more ridiculous people on a daily basis than I could ever hope for. And I love you for that, Taylor!

   
Now I need to get back to cleaning my wreck of a house. See you next Sunday with more bullets.

   

Love Languages

Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Dave!I love languages almost as much as I love travel.

I watch a lot of videos and follow a lot of accounts which talk about languages, so "The Algorithm" is constantly feeding me more language content. Which just goes to show that it's not all bad, because cool stuff like this is what I want to see on the internet...

This guy is awesome! I love people who know things.

I missed two on the list. The same one he did #10 (which I wouldn't have thought of, even with three strikes available) and #9... which I should have thought of, but I didn't because I wasn't thinking of the other countries that also speak it (which is silly because I absolutely knew this).

For somebody who loves languages as much as I do, you'd think that I speak a slew of them. You'd think wrong, unfortunately. But it's not for lack of trying...

  • German. My great grandmother spoke German, so I thought it would be fun to learn how to speak it. This would be in Middle School, and I have long since forgotten all but the basics, which is sad because I've been to Germany a lot.
  • Spanish. Studied it in high school. I still use a bit from time to time, but to say "I speak Spanish" would be a gross overstatement. I dabble. And I can understand it being spoken far easier than trying to speak it myself.
  • Japanese. I studied it because I love Japanese cartoons and comics and wanted to try and understand Japanese language and culture so that the anime/manga would be more enjoyable. This was an off-and-on endeavor during high school. But then became an obsession when I started traveling to Japan for work and to see friends I had made. For a while in the early 90's I was fairly fluent. I could hold my own in a basic conversation so long as people weren't speaking too fast. Now-a-days? I have a tough time remembering much of anything. A lot of words, but grammar has gone right out the window.
  • French. I loved the idea of being able to speak French, but it was way past my ability to grasp. Five or six months before my second trip to Paris, I did nothing but listen to Pimsleur language tapes. It was a wasted effort. I managed to speak basic phrases and be understood, but it never really gelled, and my comprehension was awful so I gave up. On the plus side the French people, who have a reputation for being "rude," were incredibly nice and supportive of my feeble efforts in mangling their lovely language. I never met a single French person who was anything but kind to me.
  • Italian. I started studying Italian once my Japanese was pretty good. I wanted a second language and thought it might be an easier alternative to French. My passion for visiting Italy and eating Italian food sealed the deal. It was nice to be able to have basic conversational skills (especially the three times I took my mom) but I didn't use it enough to really have it take 'hold.
  • Swedish. For my first trip to Sweden, I studied really, really hard to learn the language. I had this fantasy that I would be all cool and be able to chat up hot Swedish women. I tried it out on some friends I was meeting and was immediately told "English is fine, please don't do that." Because of course their English was better than mine. I think I remember maybe five words.
  • Portuguese. During the time I spent visiting Spain (5 times in 6 years), it was always my goal to tag on a trip to Lisbon. And so I did. I wanted to have a little bit of Portuguese in my head so I could enjoy it more, and studied quite a lot. Alas, the people I tried to speak to had zero interest in entertaining me. They'd even pretend to not understand me... even when I was certain that I was pronouncing everything correctly. I gave up on that real quick.
  • Russian. After visiting countries like Poland and Romania where I was at a serious disadvantage by not knowing any of the language (English is not as ubiquitous as in other European countries), I decided that I would study Russian before a planned trip to St. Petersburg in 2013. I was not going to mess up an architectural dream-trip by not being able to communicate. So for nine months I studied. Which was insanely difficult because Russian, which I was told would be easier than Japanese, is not a simple language for Westerners to wrap their head around. But I pushed through and... had a visa problem and only made it as far as Helsinki. St. Petersburg would have to wait. Then, eight years later, I had a work opportunity where knowing Russian would be helpful so I started looking at it again. I'm far from fluent because... well, unless you're born speaking it, Russian is just next-level tough. But I have built a bit of a vocabulary and am not entirely helpless, so that's nice. I'm probably going to stick with it for a while because the difficulty gives my brain a workout and can hopefully keep me sharp in my declining years.

And that's it. Studied a lot, know nothing. The story of my life, really.

If I had tons more time to spare and the brainpower to handle it, I'd love to learn Mandarin. That seems as if it would be a real door-opener when it comes to work projects. And of course visiting India is still sitting on my bucket list, so learning Hindi would also be nice. Realistically, however? English, a smattering of Japanese, and Russian is probably it for me.

   

Bullet Sunday 843

Posted on Sunday, February 18th, 2024

Dave!The snow has all melted, and ... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mean It! It’s a beautiful song to begin with. But when LANY's lead singer comes in with that hook at 2:47... how do collaborations like this happen? It’s perfect...

Can't believe this track is off Lauv's debut album.

   
• Winner! (here's a link in case TikTok is being a dick)...

@jamieandblake Keep them guessing 😅 #funny #viral #fyp ♬ original sound - Jamie and Blake

I hope he at least didn't have to pay.

   
• Patagonia! I don't have very many regrets in life. But the few I do usually revolve around missed opportunities when it comes to travel. Not having been to India yet is something that I very much regret, for example. But bigger regrets are having gone places but not having enough time to see and experience more of the area. My photo expedition to Antarctica was incredible. A true bucket-list-worthy item that I will remember forever. And yet... I sure wish I would have had more time so I could visit Patagonia. But I had new kittens back home that I worried about. A mom in a memory care facility that I worried about even more. And two weeks away was already more than I could take (or afford).

   
• Streaming Services Are Shit! Cutting cable/satellite was one of the happiest things I ever did. I fucking HATED having to buy bundles that included channels I would never watch and commercials I was forced to suffer through on top of the huge monthly bill. Streaming allowed me to pay for exactly what I wanted to watch and was ad-free. Then, fast-forward to today, and we're back to bundles and fucking ads (unless you pay an absurd amount of money to get rid of them. Not only that, but the amount of content you get is shit too. Which brings us to this...

God. It's so bad that I'm to the point where I subscribe to one service ad-free each month, cancel it, then move on to the next ad-free service. And I know I'm not alone. It used to be that I cared about supporting services that produced content I wanted to watch by subscribing every month. Now I don't give a shit. Fuck 'em. I will pay when there's something they have that I want to watch. For the rest, I pay for YouTube Premium, which is ad-free and has endless content. That's enough.

   
• Marvel! Today I watched Assembled: The Making of The Marvels and am sad all over again that the movie underperformed. I love Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Her first movie was SO good. Her part in Avengers: Endgame was flawless. And while there were some serious problems with The Marvels, it was still very entertaining. I loved the power-switching concept that drove it. — I want to see Captain Marvel again. I need more Carol Danvers. I hope that Marvel Studios brings her back somehow. And Photon. Teyonah Parris is a frickin' gift. How awesome would it be to get a limited series which explores her light powers in a cool and interesting way. And of course Ms. Marvel. I didn't particularly care for her limited series, but she was absolute gold in The Marvels. That Iman Vellani could capture the wonder of what her character was experiencing so perfectly is the heart of the entire film...

But my favorite part of the documentary was Laura "LOOK AT ME, I'M WACKY" Karpman on sound design. Makes me want to re-watch the movie just to have a better appreciation for her work on it. And of course I thought the special effects were glorious. =sigh= I am so bummed that super-hero movies are imploding. I love love loved having so much content and watched it all. I would love to have a new Marvel movie every month. Like the comics. But now it's all being scaled back, and there's really nothing out there to replace it for me. I waited so long for something like the MCU to happen. I don't want it to end.

   
• Housed! It is so weird having spent a month watching every episode of House and now it’s over. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that there are no more episodes to watch. But anyway… the final season was a bit of a mess, but I loved the show. Ten thoughts… 1) I think it’s probably a good thing that the show didn’t have a ninth season. They did everything, and it was time. There’s only so many times you can say “sarcoidosis.” 2) That being said, I want a spin-off with Chi Park. I love her character and want more. Even though they didn’t know what to do with her, and came up with the idiotic Chase love scenario. 3) I missed Cameron after she left. But Cuddy was the one that I cannot believe wasn’t there for the last season… and the way they got rid of her was insulting and stupid. 4) Robert Sean Leonard better have gotten an award for playing Wilson, because damn. 5) I think that Omar Epps probably didn’t get enough credit for his role. He was memorable despite his character being buried most of the time. 6) While I loved Taub when he was in doctor mode, they spent WAY too much time on his stupid personal life. 7) Thirteen was my favorite character. Partly because they made her so interesting, but mostly because Olivia Wilde played her so beautifully. 8] The saddest moment to me was Kutner, not Wilson, because Kutner was all reactions by the characters, and we will never know what he was feeling. 9) I would have liked to get more of the detective guy, Lucas. He was just so… together… and I love that they didn’t feel the need to make him a mess like everybody else. 10) I really do think that the writers backed themselves into a corner with Greg House. It’s like they felt him being a mess was his only quality, and he never really gave him the opportunity to be anything else (even when he was with Cuddy). Fortunately, Hugh Laurie was just so GOOD in the role that it didn’t matter. He made the character fascinating to watch no matter how much the writers were intent on sabotaging him. — BUT ANYWAY... A really good show that I’m kinda sad I didn’t watch as it was airing, because that way it probably wouldn’t have seemed as repetitive with the medical diagnosis jargon. GRADE: A- (though the final season was probably more of a C+).

   
Until next Sunday then.

   

Slow Excitement

Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

Dave!Blergh. Had to drive to Spokane today.

The older I get, the more driving three hours straight wipes me out. I can get through it just fine, but once I arrive I'm beat. You can pretty much write off the rest of the day (which is why I drive over the day before work starts).

But anyway... near the start of my journey, there's always a decision to be made...

GO LEFT   GO RIGHT
  Slightly more interesting... a few ghost towns and a little scenery to look at.     Boring as hell.
  Slower, takes longer.     Faster, 70mph nearly the whole way.
  Two lane, and you're guaranteed to get stuck behind somebody going under the speed limit.     Takes you to a four lane highway, easy passing the whole way.
  More easy-going.     You might die. Drivers are aggressive as fuck and don't give a shit.
  Gas up in full, because most gas stations are abandoned.     Occasional gas station opportunities.

Now, 20 years ago... even 10 years ago... there was no question I would be turning right. Of course I would! I can save 15 minutes or more! And I've got a dedicated passing lane! Why wouldn't I?

But now? It's a genuine dilemma.

Yeah, still I want to get there as quickly as possible. But I'm resistant to "boring" now that I'm in my declining years. I don't want to spend my remaining years driving through "boring." So I turned left so I get to see things like this...

Dean's Drive-In is now closed.

Dean's is a famous burger stop about a half-hour outside of Spokane. It looks like they got tired of repairing the roof, said "fuck it," and decided it was easier to build a massive canopy over everything. I stopped for fries and a huckleberry shake a few times, but it had shuttered so I couldn't this time (apparently I missed it by 5 months, since they closed last September). Sad. I'm guessing that they could never recovered from COVID like so many restaurants that closed.

But anyway...

When I got to Spokane I threw everything into my hotel room, then had to make a beeline for River Park Square so I could get a replacement power adaptor. Apparently my ancient one that's been around the world with me decided to die.

By now I was tired and hungry, so I decided I would just eat at the upscale burger chain across the street. I don't particularly like them, but I know they have food options for me, so whatever. I went in. Waited and waited and waited. Finally went into the bar. Was told to sit anywhere, which I did. The wait staff proceeded to wait on two tables that came in AFTER me... then decided to check on other tables before I even got a menu. Well fuck that, I left. Instead I decided to get an Impossible Whopper, but the Burger King I knew was shuttered when I got there. So I decided to drive along the main drag to see if anything appetizing jumped out at me, and ended up at... a different Burger King! Which thrilled me, because the Impossible Whopper I had was twice as delicious and half the cost if I had gone to the fancy place.

INTERESTING TO NOTE: In addition to the accident on the highway to the right that was so bad that it jammed up the highway I took on the left, where there ended up being another accident. Then there was another on the way to Burger King... and another on the way back that was really, really bad (don't run red lights, kids).

Spokane must have more auto accidents per capita than anywhere else in the USA. And so now I am back at my hotel and feeling dead, which is not great because I have to be on-site early in the morning. Fortunately, the gift shop had ice cream DIBs, which I totally deserve after this shitty day I've had.

I wonder what the odds are that I'll get a good night's sleep tonight?

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DRIVE INTO THE LIGHT, CAROL ANNE!

Posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Dave!Work lasted quite a bit longer than expected, which was fine except it meant that I didn't get home until dark. Driving in the dark is something that I don't find as thrilling as I once did, which means that I value the precious light for as long as it lasts.

EVEN WHEN IT IS SHINING DIRECTLY IN YOUR FACE!

THE SUN... SHINING DIRECTLY IN MY FACE!

But it does make for some pretty scenery when you look to the side though...

Pretty sun shining on a pretty rock wall that looks like it's out of Utah or something.

I did get to have some of the greatest pizza on earth though, so there's that.

And... well... yeah. Home again. And exhausted.

But I'm having leftover pizza for dinner.

And for breakfast tomorrow. And probably lunch too. Because I bought a whole, giant, extra pizza to bring back with me.

Which is the nicest memory I have of the trip considering that the "upgraded river view" that I was given ended up being this...

The foggy look out my hotel window.

I need sleep.

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