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Flatware of the Budget Conscious

Posted on June 12th, 2024

Dave!When I bought my home, I had zero money. Technically, I had way, way less than zero money because I had a mortgage. But I had a lot of practice having zero money from when I was crawling out of credit card debt, so it wasn't a new situation for me. I needed a place that was safe for my mom, and that was my entire focus. How I was going to be able to afford to live was a distant second.

My furniture came from IKEA. Everything else came from Amazon or Target.

I never bought the cheapest stuff because I didn't want to replace it in six months. Instead I bought the best-reviewed stuff from the high end of the low end. When it came to flatware, that meant a set of minimalist utensils from Food & Wine. I loved the look of them, and I could get 8 sets for $100...

Despite a few reviews saying it would rust, most of the reviews were positive. I never had any problems with rust. I'd toss them in the dishwasher and that was the extent of my involvement with their care.

Last year once I wasn't drowning in new home ownership debt, I decided to upgrade my flatware. I bought a very cool matte black set for not an insubstantial amount of money. I loved it. All I could have wanted.

Until it started rusting if put in the dishwasher.

Which wasn't very long. Don't think it even lasted six months. Fine when you hand-wash and dry it... not at all fine drying in the dishwasher, despite the fact that it was advertised to be "dishwasher safe."

I bought the expensive stuff and ended up needing to replace it after six months, which is why I didn't buy the cheap stuff in the first place. Which just goes to show... quality doesn't exist and everything you buy is shit now-a-days, regardless of how much you pay for it.

And so I am back with my old cutlery. I'm still hanging on to the black flatware because it's too cool to toss, I'm just not using it on the daily since it can't go in the dishwasher. I'm saving it for special occasions. Of which I have very few now that I'm not hosting houseguests very often.

Though I suppose I could make an argument that every day is a special occasion with my cats and all. A pity hey don't eat with utensils.

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Lens Replacement Theory: Part Four

Posted on June 6th, 2024

Dave!I'm talking about my cataract surgeries! If you missed Part One, you can find that here. And if you missed Part Two, you can find that here. And you definitely need to have seen Part Three, which is all about the surgery, which you can find here.

But today we're talking about after the surgery (Spoiler Alert: I could not be more thrilled with the results).

That first day you wake up after your second surgery when both of your eyes have had their lenses replaced, prepare to be in shock if you had a heavy eyeglasses prescription like I did. You open your eyes and... the world is in focus! You can see! It's definitely weird. But even weirder? It's kinda been messing with my head when I'm trying to fall asleep. Since I had been taking my glasses off before my head hits the pillow for decades, I think my brain uses that as a clue that it's time to start falling asleep. But now that everything is in focus when my head hits the pillow, my brain is still thinking that I'm not ready to sleep because I can see. No idea how long it will be before my brain understands that this is not how it works any more, but hopefully it's not too long.

But the strangest thing by far post-surgery is how I'm perceiving things around me. I thought that cataracts were only affecting my night-vision. Not being able to drive at night was what pushed me to get things fixed, after all. But I had no idea whatsoever that my day vision had been compromised. Badly. This was most obvious when I had only one eye's lens replaced. This is an (exaggerated) simulation of what I was seeing when I switched from one eye to the other...

Yellow-ish vision vs. Blue-ish vision!

My cataract eye looked dingy and yellow. My fixed eye looked cool, crisp, and blue-toned.

And then it hit me... my progression to dingy yellow vision happened over a long period of time. And my brain just kept remapping colors so that white still appeared white in my head, even though it was no longer very white at all. So once one eye got fixed, all of a sudden I was seeing white as being truly white in that eye. And since my brain had remapped color, it appeared blue-toned because it was no longer yellow-tinted.

Once my second eye got fixed, I had no way to compare what I had been seeing to what I was seeing after surgery. But the re-re-mapping must have already begun, because I wasn't seeing everything as if it had been blue-shifted. I did, however, see white as being very, very white. My toilet was frickin' gleaming!

Right now I'm kinda in-between. In another week once I've forgotten what my dingy eyes used to see, and my brain has finished re-re-mapping colors, I'm guessing that everything will settle down and my normal will be back to... well, normal... again.

One thing that I hope won't be going away any time soon is the clarity of what I'm seeing. My glasses were very thick, so there was a distortion to what I saw. And because there was refraction and grime and dust accumulation going on, I never saw things with any real clarity (though it was better than what I got out of multifocal contacts, because they weren't sliding around with every blink). I watch television now and, day or night, a 4K picture makes a big difference. It's so noticeable that when I look at SD (standard definition) content, it just doesn't look crisp to me any more (even though my television upscales and sharpens it). Never used to bother me, now it does.

And now a bit about my lens choice...

As you may remember in Part Two, I had to make a choice as to which lenses I'd get implanted. I opted for the Multifocal 2-Zone lenses because I didn't want to rely on glasses like I would have to with a monofocal lens, and was concerned with losing contrast which was more likely with a 3-Zone lens.

NEAR-VISION: I used to wear progressive bifocals to see near-to-far. I was told that with Multifocal 2-Zone lenses my clarity of sight would begin at 24-28 inches. I figured this would cover most of what I'm trying to see... 95% minimum. For that remaining 5% I'd just buy some reading glasses. So long as I could glance between working on my laptop and looking at my television without issue, I'd be fine. I was concerned about using my mobile phone since I do that a lot and I generally hold the phone fairly close. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I can see my mobile perfectly if I hold it just a little bit further out (but not comically far away). To make it even less of an issue, I switched my iPhone to large-sized, bold dynamic text and turned on "Display Zoom." Anything closer than 18 inches is too blurry to be much use but, for me, that zone of 18-to-26 inches is okay, 26 inches to infinity is flawless. The only time it's been an issue is when I got a sliver in my finger and couldn't see to pull it out because I didn't have any readers handy. Guess I need to start stashing them everywhere like I do with tape measures.

BRIGHT LIGHT: Interesting to note that the lights in my house seem much brighter to me when it's dark out. It's like replacing a 75-watt bulb with a 100-watt bulb. At least it would be if my lights weren't all LED now. That will take some getting used to because not all my lights have dimmers on them.

CONTRAST: I am thrilled to say that, in my specific case, contrast is actually better than it was before my surgeries. Probably because everything is so much more clear and not because I'm actually getting more contrast. After my first eye was fixed, I would spend a lot of time comparing how I was seeing out of one eye vs. the other. There was no contest on contrast. After worrying so much about the risk of losing some of it, it was bizarre to find out that there was improvement. I went out walking around three nights in a row, and it was always the same... left eye in glasses: blurry mess where it's hard to pick out details... right eye after surgery: crisp with good definition. I know this won't be the case for everyone, so I feel fortunate. It does kinda make me wonder if I should have gone for the 3-Zone lenses after all. But no regrets. I love what I have, and feel good in my decision to go the more cautious route (because it's not like you can just swap for a new pair of lenses).

HALOS: When it comes to bright lights in darkness, yes there are halos that appear. But it's nothing compared to what I was seeing with cataracts. No more big blurry blobs dancing across my vision and obscuring my sight. I can watch movies in a dark room. I'm no longer afraid to drive at night. It's a huge plus. Yes, there's still glare, but I'm told that as my brain starts to adapt it will lessen more and more.

So... that's all the pros of my cataract surgery... are there any cons? We'll find out tomorrow!

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Lens Replacement Theory: Part Three

Posted on June 5th, 2024

Dave!I'm talking about my cataract surgeries this week! If you missed Part One, you can find that here. And if you missed Part Two, you can find that here.

So... I've consulted with my doctor. I've consulted with the cataract clinic. I've selected my lens. I've selected the paralyzing injection. I've wiped out my Health Savings Account. Time to operate!

But first, a warning: so that you always have an operational eyeball, most cataract surgeons will not operate on both of your eyes on the same day. You'll get your worst eye done, then come back in a week or two to get your other eye done once you've healed up. If you have insurance which has an annual deductible, be absolutely sure that both of your surgeries and your follow-up appointments will be in the same deductible year, or else you'll be starting over and end up paying more money!

As I mentioned yesterday, I opted for the paralyzing injection so I'd be sure my eye wouldn't move during surgery. Once I've had my injection, my eye got taped shut so it doesn't dry out while I was waiting to go to the ER. They sat me in a comfy lounge chair where I was hooked up to a heartbeat and blood oxygen monitor. Both times I very nearly fell asleep.

Once I was in the ER, I was seated in another comfy chair and reclined until I was almost laying flat. They then taped a drape over my face and cut out the part over the eye getting operated on. They removed the tape forcing my eye closed, clipped my eye open, then irrigated it with saline until my surgeon arrived.

I truly wish that I could have gotten a DVD of my surgery, because it sounds fascinating (you can see surgeries and animations of surgeries on YouTube if you are interested).

A small incision is made into your cornea on the side that's closest to your ear. Then the surgeon inserts an ultrasonic wand to pulverize the lens that's in your eye so it can be sucked out in tiny pieces with a teeny-tiny vacuum. I heard a bunch of weird noises during this whole ordeal, as you can imagine, but I didn't feel anything. There was a bright light shining in my eye, so I couldn't really see what was going on either. It was just a bunch of shapes moving around.

The new lens is rolled up in a syringe, which they then insert into the incision. The doctor shoots it in the empty cavity, then it flattens itself out. The entire surgery took about ten minutes each time. But all told, I was probably at the clinic 90 minutes each time.

After surgery they tape your eye closed since it will still be paralyzed for 3-1/2 to 4 hours and you don't want it drying out since you can't blink. I was not able to feel most of the side of my face, including that side of my forehead to the top of my head.

Once you feel your eye waking up, your upper eyelid will hurt a bit because it's taped over your lower lid. With my first eye surgery, I assumed that this meant it was time to take the tape off. I was wrong. My eye was stuck looking up and off to the side! I am not embarrassed to say that it freaked me out a bit. I looked like a literal zombie. This isn't a big deal... you'll just be seeing double until your eye drifts back to being in sync with your other eye, and you'll have to keep douching your eye with saline until you are able to blink again.

They have to dialate your eye for days (literally, your eye won't be normal again for 2 to 3 days!), so be sure to have sunglasses handy if your clinic doesn't provide them to you.

Depending on the policy of the clinic you go to, you'll either be given a blend of medicines in a single eye drop bottle... or be given different bottles of individual medicines. This helps your eye heal and keeps it free from infection. I was instructed to use the single-drops I was given 4 hours apart from when I first wake up until they're gone.

Other than the drops, I was given two instructions: 1) Do not rub your eye, especially over where the incision is made, and 2) Do not get your eye wet.

And that's surgery. It probably sounds more scary than it is. Fortunately, I had an amazing clinic with amazing staff and amazing doctors and an amazing surgeon, so the entire ordeal simply wasn't a big deal to me. But I've had so many eye surgeries and procedures that it was just more of the same. I'd like to think that if you get an amazing clinic and staff, it won't be a big deal even if it's your first eye surgery.

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Lens Replacement Theory: Part Two

Posted on June 4th, 2024

Dave!I'm talking about my cataract surgeries this week! If you missed Part One from yesterday, you can find that here.

The first step in addressing your cataracts is to have a consultation with an expert. There are choices you'll need to make and, while you can read about this stuff on the internet, you really need to talk things over with somebody who can guide you to the best options FOR YOU... not for some random social media influencer or YouTuber or (most definitely) me.

CHOICE #1: Which lens is right for you? During the discussion with my doctor, I was given four options...

  1. Monofocal Distance. You can see things far away, but near-to-mid-range vision will require glasses.
  2. Monofocal Near. You can see things close-up, but mid-to-far-range vision will require glasses.
  3. Multifocal 2-Zone. You can see things from about 24 inches away to far away, but near vision will require reading glasses. Some halos and glare possible. Diminished contrast possible.
  4. Multifocal 3-Zone You can see near to far without glasses. Halos and glare more probable. Diminished contrast more probable.

Thanks to the shitty state of "health care" in America, the cost of the lenses will likely factor into your decision depending on your insurance. My insurance would only cover monofocal lenses (outside of whatever deductible I had left, of course). Any other lenses would be 100% my responsibility to pay for (though the surgery itself is still covered). If I wanted multifocal lenses, they are $2,900 each... $5,800 for the pair!

Now, my first instinct was to skip right to the Multifocal 3-Zone lens. No more glasses at any distance? Sweet! But I work as a graphic designer and love photography. The idea of losing any contrast in my vision scared the shit out of me. Would I even be able to do my job any more if I lost contrast? This is mostly a factor in low-light conditions, but it can creep into any situation because the light entering your eye is split between three focal zones. Most people in most situations would be fine with that. But after telling the doctor my concerns, she agreed that I'd be "safer" with the 2-Zone lens because the light is only split between two focal zones. This gives me the best compromise between not wanting to wear glasses and preserving the most contrast in my vision. Since these lenses are going inside your eye, it's not like I could replace the three-zone lenses easily or cheaply, so better safe than sorry.

Pacific Cataract and Laser prefers Alcon brand lenses, and their 2-Zone lens is called AcrySof IQ Vivity. I, of course, read reviews and experiences online from people who had this lens implanted, and no red flags were raised. Yes, there were a few people unhappy with them, but those were outlier opinions that didn't match what the vast majority of people were saying.

CHOICE #2: Which anesthesia is right for you? Which, to me, wasn't a choice at all, but I'm not everybody. I was given two options...

  1. Paralyzing Injection. Let's just cut to the chase... they stick a syringe full of paralyzing solution via a small needle under and behind your eyeball to paralyze the muscles which allow you to move your eye (which also removes your ability to blink). I heard this and was like "SIGN ME UP!" Because it seems as though NOT HAVING YOUR EYE MOVING AROUND WHILE SOMEBODY IS CUTTING INTO IT IS A NO-BRAINER. Spoiler Alert: You feel a small pinch. That's it. The paralysis wears off about 3-1/2 to 4 hours after surgery. The only residual pain is from your top eyelid being taped over your bottom eyelid so your eye doesn't dry out while you're unable to blink. I also felt where they poked me a little bit for a few hours after the paralysis wore off. No regrets. Highest possible recommendation. Safer for you. Easier for your surgeon. 17 out of 5 stars.
  2. Topical Anesthetizing. I asked the guy injecting the paralyzing solution into my eye muscles why in the heck anybody would choose to not have it. His answer? Fear of needles. For people with that fear, they offer a topical anesthesia which makes it so you can't feel any pain while they're operating on you, and no needles are involved. I cannot fathom going this route. They offer an oral anti-anxiety drug for people to not freak out during surgery, but they give it to you before your eye is either paralyzed or anesthetized, so that may help you with the whole needle thing. I've done all this before, so I didn't need the drugs... but you should ask the doctor about it if you think you might need them.

And thats the end of Part Two. Tomorrow we operate!

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Lens Replacement Theory: Part One

Posted on June 3rd, 2024

Dave!Over a decade ago I was trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest when a branch snapped back on my face and cut into my eyes. This caused a series of problems with my eyes and eyelids, and I had a half-dozen procedures and minor surgeries over the years because of it. And now I've had two more so I could get the lenses replaced in my eyes. I decided to write about it in case anybody out there is curious about cataract surgery.

A couple years ago my optometrist had told me that cataracts were starting to form in my eyes and I would need to eventually have surgery to improve my vision. As we age, the lenses that focus light on our retinas can get discolored, cloudy, or both. Called "cataracts" they negatively affect normal vision because it obscures and changes what we see.

Recently it's gotten increasingly difficult for me to drive at night. There's a weird glare from headlights that's uncomfortable. Not to a dangerous degree, but certainly enough to keep me from driving after dusk. But even more critical? Watching movies in a theater or at home when the screen is bright and the room is dark was not a great experience. That was something I couldn't deal with.

And so at my last appointment my doctor and I talked about it, and she said I met the criteria for getting cataract surgery now.

Long story short if you want to skip the next couple days...

  • My overall surgery experience was excellent, which I'm told is typical.
  • They fix one eye at a time, so you always have one working eye while the other eye is impaired.
  • I had functional milky-vision four hours after surgery when I untaped my eye. Full vision was there the next day.
  • I am seeing better now than I have in a decade.
  • I selected multifocal two-zone AcrySof IQ Vivity lenses. I will explain why next entry. Be aware that while cataract surgery is covered by most insurance plans (with or without routine vision care), only the basic lenses are covered. Fancy two and three zone lenses are most likely not covered at all.
  • Yes, it's freaky having your eyes sliced into. Maybe it's because I'm so used to dealing with eye surgery stuff that this didn't faze me, but it seriously wasn't a big deal. I understand that many people will be afraid to have cataract surgery even if they need it because the mental game can be overwhelming. If that describes you, I'd urge you to at least look into it. They can give you relaxing drugs and there are options that will make it not so terrifying for you.
  • After being recommended by my amazing eye doctor, I selected Pacific Cataract and Laser in Bellevue, WA for my surgeries. Cannot possibly tell you how thrilled I was with them every step of the way.
  • All in all, cataract surgery has improved my life for the better and I highly recommend it to those whose vision is being compromised from cataracts.

Tomorrow I'll talk about my lenses and the surgery itself.

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A Night of YouTube and A Day of Corruption

Posted on May 30th, 2024

Dave!I had a really rough night and ended up watching a boatload of YouTube videos to take my mind off the stabbing pain that was shooting through me. Sure it meant I only got 3 hours and 42 minutes of sleep and was exhausted all day long, but it beats having to take painkillers that wreck havoc on my internals.

One of the standout videos I watched was Jenny Nicholson at her most hilarious. The longer this went on, the funnier it got. I think I have a hernia now...

   
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! There was more Jenny madness to be had: "I guess I don't know that guy's nationality just by looking at him... so... maybe in his case it is okay to be doing this." In this video she's taking a look at this Canadian church which has become famous for their Easter plays. I WAS NOT AT ALL PREPARED!! As she runs through them, things just keep getting more unreal as the years go on. I cannot fathom how much time is spent on these productions. But it's a lot. TIME THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPENT WORSHIPPING THE LORD! GAH!

   
Another great thing I saw was the trailer for Moana 2, which looks gorgeous and hilarious...

   
I finally joined Nebula to watch Thomas Flight's exclusive videos and discovered Mary Spender. What a phenomenal talent. She's on YouTube too and worth a listen. She's got her original music there, but she also comments on music in general. This video on the song Dreams by Fleetwood Mac is so good. What a wild story...

   
And now it's today! I've always loved Antonio Banderas. Even when the film isn't great, he puts his all into his role and is always worth watching. What's so great is that the guy never stops working. The first thing I saw him in was Philadelphia. But the movie I first really remember him from was "Desperado." Then there was Mask of Zorro and The 13th Warrior and Once Upon a Time in Mexico which cemented him as a favorite. Right now I am watching a 2017 film called Security on Netflix. I liked it. Banderas has lost absolutely nothing. And then... BEN KINGSLEY?!?? It's kinda Die Hard in a mall, but in a good way. Plenty of action, some dark turns, and Banderas killing it...

Enjoyed it quite a lot. In a day when fascist assholes are wanting to close libraries, ban books, and keep kids from reading, it's nice to remember more literate times.

In other news...

As usual, neither the Left nor the Right is happy with my reaction to the Trump verdict, but I'm getting used to it. Because what I have to say is this... "Great! Now let's go after the rest of these corrupt politicians and purge the government in BOTH parties."

Overwhelming evidence. Guilty on all 34 counts. That's what his party wants representing them in government? But then I look at Democrats and their love of Nancy Pelosi and her corrupt insider-trading ass, which they excuse away because her husband made the actual trades, and it's like... yeah. She couldn't have possibly told him to sell their Google stock right before Google would be sued over antitrust violations. That totally tracks.

Americans need to wake the fuck up. The only reason that 90% of these politicians are in government "service" is so they can exploit their office for money and power. Period. Ban politicians from trading stocks or accepting money from PACs and lobbyists, make the penalty for corruption be death by firing squad, and watch how fast most of them abandon a job that once meant guaranteed money and power.

Corruption is built into our political system, and the ones who can stop it are the ones running it.

Which is why I pledge fealty to no politician or political party. I am sick of all of it.

   

Third Time’s a Data Plan

Posted on May 28th, 2024

Dave!For only the third time in my life, I've changed my mobile company.

I've considered it many, many times, but the effort to switch over something I don't care that much about was never worth it to me. If I can make calls and access the internet, I'm good. But eventually the reasons to switch are far more than the reasons to not switch, so here we are.

My first cellular carrier was Verizon. I liked everything about them and stuck with the company for a little over a decade. Right up until the Summer of 2007. And why did I switch from a mobile carrier that I had been so loyal to? The first iPhone was released, and it was exclusive to AT&T. Had Verizon been able to sell me an iPhone, I would have stayed.

Switching to AT&T was okay. I didn't love them. I didn't hate them. I just went along with them out of sheer momentum for nearly fourteen years. Their coverage was never as good as I had with Verizon, but it was good enough. What was horrific about AT&T was their billing. I have no fucking idea why it was so shitty, but in my last four years it kept building and building until I couldn't take it any more. After I changed plans I spent hours on the phone trying to get my bill straightened out. It never worked. The next month I'd just have to start all over again. The minute I was eligible for T-Mobile's Magenta 55+ plan, I bailed.

The nice thing about T-Mobile was the price. $50 a month. Total. Taxes and fees included. But that price came at a cost... 1) The signal was terrible so many places despite the fact that my handset was showing good bars and 5G. 2) They discriminate against single people, because single-line customers didn't get the perks (like free Netflix) that multi-line customers get, even though single-line customers pay more per line than anybody! 3) They keep changing the game from when I signed up. First I couldn't pay with a credit card any more or they'd take away my auto-pay discount, then they decided to raise the price $5 a month. With no perks, poor quality service, and a price increase, I was done.

And now I've come full circle. I'm back to Verizon. I was going to go with a pre-paid plan just to get the best price, but ultimately went with a regular phone plan because... GET THIS: VERIZON DOESN'T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SINGLE PEOPLE! Single-line subscribers get all the perks that multi-line subscribers get! So when I factored in an auto-pay discount, a bring-your-own-phone discount, plus the money I would save on stuff I was already paying for by taking advantage of the choose-your-own-perks, I would be paying the same $55 that T-Mobile was charging. Except taxes and fees were not included, so I am paying $8 more. But I was willing to pay it to get Verizon's better service... and to support the fact that VERIZON DOESN'T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST SINGLE PEOPLE! Interesting to note that when I take advantage of other perk savings that are available when my current subscriptions lapse, I can likely recoup the $8, and maybe more...

Comparison Verizon vs. T-Mobile

In three years my "bring your own phone" discount will end. I don't know if Verizon will make an offer to keep me... or if I'll have to switch again... but I think I'm to the point where I'd rather switch for a fourth time than pay more for what I was already getting, so maybe I'll jump to a pre-paid plan then. Or switch carriers. Or give up on a mobile phone altogether.

You can do that, can't you?

   

The Bread You Don’t Bake

Posted on May 27th, 2024

Dave!People can get really aggressive over Memorial Day. Somebody will inevitably say "Today is the day we honor our troops!" at which point somebody else will inevitably respond with "YOU MORON! THAT'S VETERAN'S DAY! THIS IS MEMORIAL DAY WHEN WE REMEMBER THOSE SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY!" I see this and am like dude, calm yourself. This is true, but they were at least trying to do a good thing so there's no need to be quite so aggressive about it.

Then today I turned on my television and saw that PlutoTV had a marathon of movies to "salute the troops" and was all "YOU MORON! THAT'S VETERAN'S DAY! THIS IS MEMORIAL DAY WHEN WE REMEMBER THOSE SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY!" But in my case I was railing against a faceless streaming corporation so it's okay.

Yesterday I had planned to work on home improvement projects, but had to spend the first six hours of my day cleaning my garage wood shop so I could find all the things I needed to actually do the work. Every year I swear I'm going to keep everything organize and clean up as I go... but then I get absorbed in projects and don't do that. So I lose stuff. Which is why I have four hammers, three crowbars, five tape measures, etc. etc.

I found what I needed half-way through cleaning yesterday, so this morning I decided to clean up what was left before continuing work. Alas, it took most of the day so I didn't get much else done. I mean, I did hang the mirror back up in the guest bathroom, so I guess that counts for something.

It was also my big plan to bake bread today but I didn't, so that counts for nothing.

Any other day that would be sad, but isn't nothing what's supposed to happen on a holiday?

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Missed Opportunities

Posted on May 21st, 2024

Dave!I've mentioned more than a few times here, I try really hard to not have regrets in life (okay, I've probably mentioned it several times... give me a break, I've been blogging for over 20 years!). It's just not worth it to pine away over something you did or didn't do, something you said or didn't say, or somewhere you went or didn't go. Just be happy with what you got out of this life and not worry about the rest. It happened. Or didn't. What more can you do without the ability to travel in time?

That being said...

This is not to say that there aren't things I wish could have happened or not happen for one reason or another. Missed opportunities, if you will.

As an example... I really wish I had visited the Aspen Hard Rock Cafe when it was open. It would have been so easy to do. So easy that I kept putting it off so I could hit the more difficult ones in foreign countries. But then the cafe closed with little warning and my plan to visit every US cafe evaporated. That really sucked. It haunted me for years. Now-a-days, when I've pretty much given up on visiting Hard Rock properties, it's like... meh.

As another example... I really wish that I had visited the infamous "Star Wars Hotel" (AKA Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser) at Walt Disney World in Florida. I'm a huge Star Wars nerd, and the immersive properties of the hotel seemed like something I would have enjoyed. But it was ungodly expensive, and I just couldn't afford it. My plan was to wait until the newness wore off and the price would (hopefully) drop a bit when Disney needed to draw in more visitors.

Except rather than lower the price when they weren't getting enough visitors, Disney CLOSED THE HOTEL! I was bummed. Just like the Aspen Hard Rock, I had missed my opportunity forever.

And then I saw this video by one of my favorite YouTubers, Jenny Nicholson, detailing her totally fucked and busted experience at the doomed attraction. It's four hours, but time well-spent...

Holy shit!

Thank God I didn't have thousands of dollars to throw away on this awful experience. Knowing my luck, I'd end up with a worse stay than Jenny, and it's not like Disney is going to give you your money back if they failed to accomplish what they promise. At least I assume that's the case. If you go to one of their theme parks and an attraction you were dying to ride is broken down, you don't get part of your ticket price back. Unless you're an influencer with huge social media reach, apparently.

So, yeah, absolutely no regrets when it comes to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.

As it should be.

   

It’s dangerous to have heroes…

Posted on May 20th, 2024

Dave!While I was at my most visually-challenged last week, it was tough to watch TV or use the computer for extended periods. What time I was able to manage was usually devoted to working, because my job doesn't stop just because I'm hurt. Non-visually, I listened to audio books. Another activity was something that I generally loathe... talking on the phone.

One call I had was with the brother of an ex that I still keep in touch with. Since me and his sister parted on great terms, it's all good. I've been to a couple Red Sox games with him when I was in Boston, and we chat about the team from time to time. They're running about 50/50 wins/losses and, after commiserating over another loss to the Rays, our talk turned to happier times... namely the 2013 World Series Champions that once was.

The BoSox winning the World Series in 2004 is one of the happier moments of my life, but it's the 2013 team that became my heroes. Ortiz, Pedroia, Bucholz, Lester, Napoli, Gomes... everybody... so many great players, and I loved them all.

And then there's Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

I was a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Salty. His whole style of play was great to watch, and it was fun to be a fan of a guy who was kinda under the radar while more famous players were getting all the attention. I wore his jerseys and shirts... and ended up with a signed ball and photo... and even won a bid on one of his warm-up jackets from the World Series...

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

   
I loved the 2013 Red Sox, and Salty was a big part of why.

Then, three years later after he had left the Sox, Saltalamacchia hit the news because of his hot-take on Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to protest systemic injustices against Black Persons and Persons of Color in this country. Saltalamacchia called this act... which was suggested by a veteran as a respectful form of protest... "disgusting" and had the absolute gall to tell Kap that he "...needs to go back to the history books and realize what that flag represents and what a lot of people have sacrificed for it."

My God.

I remember being absolutely baffled at this statement. I still am. A white man telling a Black man to go back to the history books? Did Salty ever pick up a history book? If he had, he'd know that slavery exists in American history... segregation exists in American history... the civil rights movement exists in American history... redlining exists in American history... a massive laundry list of social injustices against Persons of Color exists in American history! And while I know that a lot of our history has been (and continues to be) whitewashed, I cannot fathom how anybody could be so deranged as to tell a Black man to "go back to the history books." There was a time that you couldn't be Black and play at the highest levels of America's national pastime of baseball. Apparently not only should Salty pick up a history book, but he should visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and see exactly what American history had in store for Black players of the day. Was he friends with Big Papi and other Black players in the Sox? If he was, did it ever occur to him that if he was playing in the 1930's that it would have been impossible for them to have been his teammates?

Yes. Brave soldiers have fought and died under our flag. But ultimately it's a piece of cloth. A symbolic piece of cloth to be sure, but a piece of cloth nonetheless. And here's the thing about symbols... they are open to interpretation. Salty may see the American flag and have a John Wayne movie playing in his head, but when Colin Kaepernick saw the American flag, he saw oppression, injustice, and violence against his people. At which time he did THE MOST FUCKING AMERICAN THING YOU CAN DO... enacted his FREEDOM to peacefully protest.

Interesting to note... in the year of 1960 when The United States of America's star spangled banner received it's 50th star (and became the flag that we're still flying today), four Black college students sat at the Greensboro Woolworth's "whites only" lunch counter to protest the segregation which restricted Black persons from existing in some public places. How can you be Black in America and not equate the two? In the year our current flag was born, there were places you couldn't be Black and eat at a lunch counter. That really needs to be fully understood by all Americans... but there are crusty old racist white politicians who are doing whatever they can to keep it out of our "education" system, so here we are.

The Greensboro Four at the lunch counter at Woolworth's.

   
The following year in 2017, Saltalamacchia gave an interview where he commented on a bunch of New England Patriots declining to visit the Trump White House after their Super Bowl win. He said that if he wasn't otherwise occupied, he would have likely skipped visiting the White House after his World Series win... "It would have been tough just because of my thoughts on Obama and his belief system. I feel like he did a lot of things completely opposite of what this country believes in. I just think he didn’t do a lot for our veterans. That’s my beliefs. I’m sure those Patriots players are doing what their beliefs are. I understand it, and that’s what is so great about our country, the freedom to make that choice.”

I fully agree with this sentiment. We do have the freedom to make our choice. That's what brave American soldiers have fought and died to defend. And Salty's "read a history book" comment to Colin Kaepernick was a perplexing, tone-deaf, sad, and overall wrong choice. Regardless of whether or not you agree with an American's right to peacefully protest the National Anthem and the American flag, the audacity here was off the charts. Why Salty couldn't have said something like "I disagree with what Kaepernick is doing... but he's doing what his beliefs are, and that's his freedom to make that choice" is something I will never understand. That would have been more in line with what he was saying about skipping White House visits, so I dunno. Saltalamacchia is a huge law enforcement supporter and his grandfather was a local sheriff. He admirably raises money for the families of fallen officers. And while he acknowledges that not all officers are honorable, he likely felt Kap's statements about police violence against Persons of Color was an attack on the law enforcement he believes in. And I get that. But that's not an excuse for what was said. How could it be?

As a quick aside here... While I agree that President Obama didn't do enough for veterans (seriously, no president has), I will say that apparently he did enough that President Trump decided to take credit for it. And if you want a quick run-down of the many things that Obama did for veterans even as Republicans were trying to take things away from them, here's a letter by Ben Lofton which lays it out for you.

But anyway...

It's dangerous to have heroes. Because heroes are only human and humans can let you down.

I still love Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He was my hero during the BoSox run to a World Series win, he was a source of great joy at a difficult time for me, and the fact that he said something awful that I vehemently oppose doesn't change what he meant to me at that time. I can no more remove Salty from the 2013 Red Sox than I can stop rooting for the Red Sox.

Maybe in the future he'll do something so unforgivable that I won't be able to reconcile it with being a fan (like shooting a puppy Kristi-Noem-style), but Lord I hope not. This sick sad world is just too damn awful to have to cut out people, places, and moments that brought you even a sliver of happiness.

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