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A Friday Like Any Other

Posted on June 18th, 2021

Dave!I am sure that there was a time in my life that I looked forward to Fridays... last day of the standard work week and all that. But now it's always just more of the same. Oh well. Any day you're not six feet below ground is a good one, right?


"Did I know you once in another life?
Are we here just once or a billion times?
Well, I wish I knew, but it doesn't matter.
'Cause you're here right now, and I know what I feel..."
Oh What a World — Kacey Musgraves,

   

This was a tough week from just about any angle I look at it. I'd like to say that I can stay at home and relax this weekend, but since I have to drive over for my TSA interview to renew my Global Entry card, probably not.

Of course had I known when I sent in my renewal application back in 2019 what I know now, I'd probably have just saved myself the hundred bucks. But oh well. Wouldn't be a day that ends in a "Y" if I didn't have something I'd like to change about my pre-pandemic days.

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Invention is the Mother of Neccessity?

Posted on June 17th, 2021

Dave!This morning I woke up wanting strawberry cheesecake. The closest I could get is eating strawberry yogurt alternating with white cheddar popcorn. AT LEAST IT WAS UNTIL I STARTED ALTERNATING WITH KETTLE CORN! ZOMFG! THIS IS STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE FOR LAZY PEOPLE, AND I AM SO HERE FOR IT!

Did I invent a thing? I think I might have invented a thing. You're welcome, world!

Necessity is indeed the Mother of Invention... though sometimes the Invention is the Mother of Neccessity!

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No… is a Complete Sentence

Posted on June 15th, 2021

Dave!These 4:00am daybreaks are killing me. Partly because I'm still recovering from all the sleep I lost running down to check the kitten trap every hour... but mostly because the bird activity has been crazy. I think a bird or two is building a nest nearby, because their chatter each morning is deafening. My cats are loving it though. They are running around from window to window... salivating at the prospect of catching a bird or twelve to rip apart. The adorable little murderers.

The more there's talk about life getting "back to normal" (whatever "normal" means), the more I find myself reevaluating absolutely every detail in my life. I've been working really hard at spending less money, eating healthier foods, and making sure that I'm living better in general. Which is tough given that the COVID virus keeps mutating and getting so much worse. Once winter comes and people are spending more time indoors our outlook becomes really scary. Especially considering how many people are unvaccinated and how reckless people are being. Then along comes the Epsilon variant and we're all fucked.

One of the biggest and most drastic changes I've been looking at is my travel.

I cannot even fathom a return to non-stop travel for work. It just seems utterly bizarre to even contemplate it. I may consider a trip here and there for jobs I like or places I like, but my road warrior days are over. If I end up with more than five or six work trips a year I will consider that a failure.

Now if I'm flying somewhere, I want it to be for vacation or visiting a friend or something I enjoy. Having a calendar filled with 12-20 work trips is over for me. Which I was able to reaffirm when I got a call this morning...

"Could you be in Vegas on September 7? It's the day after Labor Day."
"No."
"Comeon... you could fly in over the weekend and make a 3-day vacation of it!"
"No."
"Any chance you might change your mind between now and then?"
"No."
"Oh. Okay. We'd really like for you to sign on with us. You did such an amazing job."
"That's so nice of you to say. But, no."

Don't get me wrong... I consider myself hugely blessed to have been able to travel so much... visit so many places... and see so many things... but that's not where my heart and head are at any more.

For that part of my life, Winter is here already.

   

On Heartbreak and Giving Up

Posted on June 14th, 2021

Dave!I took down the animal trap. I'll return the hunk of shit to Home Depot later this week when I get caught up with work. I remain no less livid that traps with a defect that's been reported for over five years are still being sold to unsuspecting people. I also remain heartbroken for that little kitten that I wasn't able to save. I sure hope he made his way to a place where somebody will watch out for him.

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Hashtag-Blessed

Posted on June 11th, 2021

Dave!Compared to other weeks in my life, this has been a fairly difficult one. Everything kept going wrong and the minute I get a crisis handled, two more takes its place. About half-way through my Friday I was wanting to chuck it all and go home to play video games for the rest of the day. I probably should have, because the longer I stayed at work the worse things seemed to get.

And yet... I have a roof over my head, food to put on the table, and two cats that give me reason to get up in the morning, so it seems weird to complain. #blessed

The good news is that I have zero plans to work this weekend, for once, so that's nice. Though I've got a long list of chores that need to be handled here at home, so it's not like I will be sitting around eating chips and watching television.

Although...

... how cool would that be?

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Feeling Everything

Posted on June 10th, 2021

Dave!I'm in zombie mode now that I haven't gotten any sleep in two days. One night of worrying about the stray kitten I saw as I walked home from work... one night running back to the office every hour to check on the cat trap... and there's only so long that a person can go on like this.

I've had to accept that the kitten is most likely gone because I haven't seen him since before 2:00am and it's now 1am the following day.

He got trapped twice but, because of the known defect in the trap I bought that I was unaware of, he escaped. Then, undoubtedly terrified of the cage that got him, he moved on.

So now I have a camera of the (repaired) trap on my Google Hub and I only set my alarm every three hours to have a look...

I know that kittens get abandoned every day. I know that this cruel world lets stray cats die of neglect all the time. I know this. And yet here was one kitten I could have saved... but ultimately couldn't. And I don't know how to feel about it so I'm feeling everything.

  • I'm heartbroken that I was so close to saving the little guy but ultimately couldn't.
  • I am angry at HavaHart for looking the other way when there's a known defect in their animal traps for over five years that's responsible for all this.
  • I'm disgusted in myself for not figuring out sooner that the trap I bought was defective and not working properly.
  • I'm sick with worry over not knowing where the kitten is or how he's getting along... or if he's dead.
  • I'm disappointed that the local Humane Society never bothered to return my call about borrowing one of their traps so I wouldn't have had to buy this defective one.
  • I'm grateful that my two cats managed to avoid this fate.

I'll keep the trap up for a while yet... even though it's undoubtedly futile at this point. Eventually I'll return it to Home Depot for being a defective piece of shit and contact their coporate headquarters to ask that they stop selling this model trap so that others won't go through what I've had to go through. Probably not going to do anything since corporate schenanigans between companies are always going to take precidence over people, but it's worth a shot.

Now back to sleep again until my alarm chimes in another three hours.

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Loki the Kitten and Defect

Posted on June 9th, 2021

Dave!Remember yesterday when I was talking about trying so hard not to hate because I know where it leads? I've failed for two days in a row now.

Before I get to that, I need to pop some keywords up so Google can index this and perhaps help people who went through what I went through...

HavaHart Live Animal Cage Trap Failure — HavaHart Trap Door Won't Stay Closed — HavaHart Handle Falls Off — HavaHart Trap Model #1079 — HavaHart Trap Defective — HavaHart Victor Trap Manufacturing Defect — HavaHart Trap Won't Work

Last night I had to work a few extra hours so that I could make up the time I lost arguing with shitty AT&T over money they wanted to charge me on a closed account. As I was leaving the office, I thought I saw a kitten running in the parking spaces across the street.

Fast forward to this morning and I was outside social-distanced from my uncle so I could give him some papers my mom had left for him... and I saw the kitten again. My uncle also saw it, so this time I knew it wasn't my imagination.

Well, obviously I'm not going to let a scared, hungry kitten suffer on my watch, so I immediately ran home to get my cat carrier and some food. Sure enough... the little guy (or gal) came running out to scarf it down...

A kitten chowing down.

He looked like there might be something wrong with one of his eyes, and he doesn't look 100% well. Which may just be the trauma of being out on the streets trying to survive, but I won't know until I manage to grab him. Except he's so skittish that I couldn't get near him...

A kitten looking not so happy and well.

And so I called local veterinarian offices to see if they had a trap I could borrow. They did not. So I called the Humane Society because surely they have one... left a voicemail, but never heard back. Eventually I went to Home Depot where they had them in stock...

A stack of animal traps on the shelf at Home Depot.

When I got back to the office, I unpacked the trap and followed the instructions to open it. Immediately the "handle" springs off and slashes a nice gash in one of my hand while the trap falls on my other hand to cut it as well...

The handle to the trap door on the animal trap.

A gash on my left hand.

A cut on my right hand.

Ouch. But whatever. I have a cat to catch. Train tracks run right next to where he's been hiding, and I am mortified that he might be run over. So I don't need a handle on the door. I set it up with stinky cat food, then covered it like what was suggested by a local cat rescue to make it seem more "safe" to the kitten...

Towels covering the cage trap.

I checked the trap every hour. On the third hour the door had sprung and I was ecstatic that I had got kitty so easily. But when I ran across the street to collect him, there was no cat inside. Thinking that maybe a gust of wind set it off, I reset it to try again. But the cat was wary of it...

TA small kitten looking over at the trap.

I worked until 10:00pm when it got too dark to see the trap. So I went home and started taking naps between my hourly trap checks. FINALLY at 2:00am my headlights revealed that the trap had sprung. But, once again, not kitten inside. What the hell?

So naturally I went to the internet to see what I was doing wrong. LO AND BEHOLD, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A "HANDLE" WAS, IN FACT, A CRITICAL CLIP NEEDED TO KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! There were videos on YouTube about it from FIVE YEARS AGO and everything...

The kitten had actually been trapped twice, but managed to squeeze out from under the trap door.

I was absolutely enraged.

This company, HavaHart, who never responded to a guy telling them that their product is defective... has ibviously known about this problem FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. Probably longer. How shitty is that? The only way I found out that the "handle" was not actually a handle was because one of the comments on that video explained it. With not a small amount of effort and a pair of wide-grip pliers, I managed to get the trap door clip installed in the slots that hold it...

The defective clip is back on the trap door to keep it closed when it springs.

This is so shitty that I can't even express how angry I am. The kitten is probably so frightened about being trapped twice that they may never go back in now that I've repaired it. My God... all it would take is a simple rivet... or a punch-fasten... or a frickin' dimple... to make it so that this clip... WHICH ALSO ACTS AS A HANDLE PER THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOX... won't come flying out and hurting people when you pull on it to open the door. It would also make their product work as advertised. Rage. Rage. Rage...

All it would take to fix this shitty product is a simple rivet.

I continued to drive back to the office every hour, but the scared, hungry, possibly sick kitten never went back in the trap. And I don't blame them. I can only hope that they get hungry enough that they'll try to eat from the trap one more time so I can rush him to the vet and make sure he's okay. I'll still be checking every hour... even though I'm exhausted from lack of sleep worrying about a scared kitten getting run over by a train.

I don't really want a third cat, but I may not have much choice in the matter. I'm not going to abandon the poor thing. Which I've decided to name "Loki" whether it's a boy or a girl. Because Loki in the Marvel Studios movies is famous for being able to escape a trap... just like this kitten. And speaking of Loki...

A poster for the Disney+ series Loki by Marvel Studios starring Tom Hiddleston.

The first of six episiodes dropped. And it's glorious. It's Loki doing what Loki does best, but also has some heart in it that's surprisingly touching. So nice to see that Marvel Studios is killing it not just with their movies, but with their Disney+ series as well. Can't wait to see where this one goes!

   

What Drives Us

Posted on June 2nd, 2021

Dave!It's getting to the point that I don't want to drive any more.

Because every time... whether it's five minutes to work or two hours over the mountains... people are driving like psychotic assholes. They are so aggressive and awful that driving has become an overwhelmingly stressful chore.

Take four-way stops, for example. There are two in my small town I use regularly. In increasing frequency, people are not waiting their turns. They roll right through the stop because they don't want to wait for you to come to a complete stop... as you are legally required to do.

A ten-minute drive to the grocery store will easily result in somebody cutting me off. An asshole revving their engine behind me while I wait for somebody to cross the street. Some jerk recklessly racing around me in the parking lot. And an idiot running a stop sign. And this is not some random event that happens every once in a while, it's every damn time!

On the way back from the Seattle-side of the mountains yesterday, there was a car ahead of me bouncing between 45mph and 55mph on a single-lane 60mph highway. As you can imagine, this is frustrating, so the minute there's passing lane, I went to go past him. AT WHICH TIME HE STARTS DRIVING 70MPH!! Then, the minuite the passing lane disappears, he's right back down below the speed limit. Which is to say that he was intentionally not allowing cars to pass him. He got off on the idea that he was blocking people. I waited for a straight-away where passing was permitted but, you guessed it, he sped up the minute I sped up and put on my turn signal to go around him.

Finally I couldn't take it any more. The next time a passing lane opened up, I floored it and did not give a shit. But here's the thing... he didn't move to the right lane. He stayed in the passing lane as cars were trying to pass him. We had to pass on the right! And of course he sped up so that only people willing to temporarily go 75mph could pass him.

Assholes like this should not be allowed to drive.

Hell, they shouldn't be allowed to live! This kind of intentional asshole driving should be punishable by death, because it's people like that who cause fatal accidents with their aggressive, idiotic bullshit.

It's a shame I don't want to drive any more because I've always been such a good driver.

Scratch that. I am an exemplary driver.

Never caused an accident. Have never come close to causing an accident. The one accident I've been in was when I was stopped at a light and a driver trying to escape the police RAN INTO ME. I've driven in 47 states. I've driven in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Austria, Spain, Italy, France, and Mexico without incident. I'VE DRIVEN IN DETROIT AND SURVIVED! I've had only two tickets in 38 years of driving... BOTH OF WHICH WERE BULLSHIT... but that was decades ago.

So naturally I signed up for Progressive Auto Insurance "Snapshot" program so I could save $20 every six months.

I'm sure this device which monitors your driving is great for some places... but not where I live! I am constantly being dinged for stuff that's not an actual thing, and honestly feel that this device encourages bad driving. Where I live, there are stop lights on the highway. So naturally you're going to make hard stops from time to time when a light changes and you're going 60 miles per hour! BEEP BEEP! Come up to a YIELD and don't make a complete stop... A YIELD, NOT A STOP? BEEP BEEP! Actually make a complete stop like you're supposed to? BEEP BEEP! And the beeps I get for hard stops is insane. Apparently anything less than a 2mph deceleration is considered a "hard stop," which means that you are coming up to stops way too slow and backing up traffic where lights are close together. I don't make hard stops. But I also don't make old-person-slow-stops that cause problems and accidents either. Yet... BEEP BEEP!

I kept hoping that the Snapshot device would eventually get smart about the conditions where I live, but on my 44th day of the 45 day trial I just couldn't take it any more and opted out. I don't care if it rates me a "B+" for my driving and tells me I'm doing a good job... I am not going to start driving unsafely just to avoid that fucking BEEP BEEP!

A $20 savings over six months is not worth my sanity.

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Puppies and Remembrance

Posted on May 31st, 2021

Dave!Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor those who died in service of this country. Many having done so far from home. It's difficult for me to not put Memorial Day in this context, having visited American cemeteries in foreign lands (like this one in Tunisia). One I have not been to is the Netherlands American Cemetery (though I have been to nearby Maastricht), which was beautifully captured in this drone footage...


Laying buried in the cemetery are the bodies of 8,301 Americans. Carved into stone tablets
on the walls of the Court of Honor are 1,722 names of those whose bodies were never found.

To those soldiers and their family and friends who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we so casually enjoy, thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.

Like many people, I'd imagine, this Memorial Day Weekend is the first time I've gathered with friends and family in a very long time. Thanks to vaccination efforts and a beautiful day outside, the conditions were finally safe enough for a group event, and it meant more to me than I could ever say to have a moment of "normal" after a year of "anything-but-normal." Plus... we had foster puppies to play with!

Puppies in a crate!

Dark brown brindle puppy Charlie.

Light tan color puppy Lucy.

Caramel color puppy Sally.

Me petting Charlie.

Lucy laying on my feet.

A day off work doesn't get much better than this.

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Like The Weather…

Posted on May 20th, 2021

Dave!This past week I've been planting stuff in my flower beds. I got everything into the ground on Sunday and finished my planter on Tuesday. Surprisingly, I must have learned a thing or two from previous years, as ALL of my flowers survived the process. I took a walk around when I got home from work yesterday and was most pleased.

Then this afternoon the skies opened up and a torrential flood of rain fell out.

At first I thought that it would be a momentary thing that lasted for just a couple minutes. But eventually the rain kept dropping harder and harder and I started to worry about my poor flowers. After 10 minutes I couldn't take it any more and ran home to see what was happening to them...

The answer was... nothing good. So I ran around trying to cover them.

All the irises that hadn't already fallen over from their own weight were pounded flat.

My larger flowers were okay... with minor damage and a few snapped stems that had to be trimmed.

But the smaller flowers, which I thought would be just fine because of their proximity to the ground, were ripped to shreds. Not the alyssum, of course... that shit can survive just about anything... but all the tiny blue, purple, and yellow flowers I liked so much. They had their petals ripped off and their leaves buried in mud. They likely have new blooms yet to come, so I expect that I'll see them come back. But right now there's just little stubs where flowers once grew.

I spent a while digging a small trench to vacate all the water from the beds. I then had to manually scoop the water out of my planters. I left the irises alone, however, because they were going to fall over eventually anyway.

After I finished up, I went inside to take a shower, change clothes, and grab a sandwich.

And the minute I sat down to enjoy that sandwich?

Here comes the torrential flood of rain again.

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