Posted on December 14th, 2020
I've got a bit of a TikTok addiction going on, and finally had to admit to myself that I have a problem so I can limit the time I've been wasting on it. Now I give myself 15 minutes when I get up and 15 minutes before bed... though sometimes I pick it up while I'm waiting for a file to upload or clothes to dry or stuff like that.
It feels very much like wasted time that I could be using for something else... except not really.
Because my favorite thing to do with TikTok is look for recipes. I have grabbed a shocking number of meal ideas off the app and have made many dishes I've found there. Last night I made these Herb and Parmesan Crusted Potatoes, and they were magnificent...
I mean seriously delicious. So good that after I finished an entire carb-loaded plate full of them, all I wanted to do was run to the grocery store so I could buy more potatoes. Fortunately, I was too busy being a lazy potato to go get more potatoes because that cannot be a good way to lose my remaining lockdown weight.
My second favorite thing to do with TikTok is follow a bunch of woodworkers and home renovators to get tips on the projects I like to do. Since TikTok videos are so short... 15 seconds each (with up to four strung together for a total maximum of 60 seconds)... you are getting maximum efficiency out of your time investment. Unlike YouTube videos where people can pad them with stupid crap you don't need to know... or waste your time selling products and other irrelevant nonsense... TikTok has none of that. 99% of the time, it's just the information you're wanting. 15 minutes on TikTok can easily equal an hour on YouTube or recipe sites where the author posts stupid shit for pages about how this was the recipe their grandmother found while on a wine tasting tour in Tuscany and she gave it to you on her death bed but there was a page missing so you had to spend a week looking through all of her paperwork until you found it but the information was in Italian so you had to write to your Uncle Giuseppe to get it translated and he's doing so great with his two kids all grown up and married and it breaks your heart because your own kids are growing up so darn fast and you know that you're only getting a few more summers at The Cape until they are married with children of their own and then you'll be a grandmother and you hope that they call you "Nana Kate" but you aren't named Kate at all your name is Jenna and that's a totally different story for a different recipe because, boy you're going to want to cook this right away so I'll just get right to the ingredients and instructions but, before I do, I just have to tell you about the time I went clamming on the beach and got so sunburned...
Cannot tell you how many times I've wanted to throw my laptop against the wall while scrolling through recipes because ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY thinks that their life IS JUST THAT INTERESTING.
Unlike me, of course, who has such an interesting life that I put it on the internet daily.
But in a blog where that kind of nonsense belongs!
Posted on December 6th, 2020
I may be spending my day celebrating, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Happy Birthday! Jake and Jenny were feral rescues, so their birthdate is kinda-sorta estimated. I think. Maybe the person who found them knew the exact date and reported it when they got to the Humane Society, I'm not sure. In any event, December 6th is what's on all their paperwork and their insurance, so this is the day I wish them a Happy Birthday. And this year I am actually home to tell them "Happy Birthday" in person, which is rare. They weren't available for adoption until they got out of foster care and were fixed, and that was February 16th, 2016 (meaning these photos are of them when they were 2 months and 11 days old)...
They were both so scared that it took weeks before I was even allowed to touch them. Most of their time was spent hiding under the couch. Jake was easily motivated by food (and still is) but Jenny took much longer because she's so much more cautious (and still is). Adopting them remains one of the best things I've ever done, so happy birthday to my amazing cats!
• AutoSleep! Speaking of my cats... at 3:30am I was awakened by Jake really struggling with a hair ball. My cats rarely have hair balls since I brush them regularly, so I got up to make sure he’s okay and clean up the mess. I would have thought that I dreamed it all, except I've been using the AutoSleep app with my Apple Watch and can verify exactly when I got up...
AutoSleep is an app that has all the data that Apple's own Health app is missing... like the most basic of information, HOW MUCH SLEEP DID I GET? Health just gives you a start and a stop time, leaving you to have to mentally calculate it out, which is plain stupid. AutoSleep does so much more in addition to basic functions, which makes it well worth the $5 price tag, and I highly recommend it for Apple Watch owners who wear theirs to bed at night.
• Dysfunction? Since there are so many assholes still not willing to mask up to stop the spread of COVID, maybe this will motivate them... Another Reason to Wear a Mask: COVID-19 May Cause Erectile Dysfunction. We can only hope. Thanks to way too many people not being careful and acting like the pandemic isn't real... and even more of these people getting together for Thanksgiving despite the risks... hospitals are already starting to reach maximum capacity...
This doesn't just affect people who have serious COVID-19 symptoms and will die without hospitalization, it also affects anybody who get a treatable health problem... like a heart attack... who can't get into a hospital because all the beds are taken by COVID patients. Stop being an asshole. This virus doesn't just kill old and sick people, it can kill anyone. A vaccine is just around the corner (along with even more incredible treatments in the pipeline) and everything can just wait.
• Weight! On November 19th, I reached the heaviest I've ever been... 192 lbs. Usually I try to stay at 170 lbs. and not exceed 180 lbs. because that's when I feel my best, but gave myself a pass because of COVID shit happening. But enough was enough, and I started trying to eat sensibly again. No more Family Size Bag of Lay's Potato Chips in a single day... no more Pop Tarts for breakfast... no potato salad at midnight. Two weeks later I'm down to 186 lbs., which means I've got 16 lbs. to go to get to my goal weight. It's shocking to think that I managed to put on 22 lbs. since March, but when you sit around the house doing fuck-all day after day, I guess that's what can happen. I need to eat better and be more active, because I'm getting old enough that the weight doesn't fall off as easily as it used to. Bring on that vaccine! I want my life (and body) back!
• Mulan? Good Lord is the live-action Mulan a boatload of shit. Very, very beautiful and pretty... but shit. Thank heavens I didn't pay the $30 to see it early... which I was this close to doing because I love the Disney animated classic original so much. The story doesn't even make sense anymore. And they left out Mushu, which is just madness when they've given her magical powers from The Matrix which makes the whole thing fantasy anyway...
Ugh. What a waste of money that could have been put into another Star Wars series or Marvel Studios series for Disney+.
• HEADLINE! Warner Bros. Smashes Box Office Windows, Will Send Entire 2021 Slate to HBO Max and Theaters — In an unprecedented announcement, the studio will send 17 films — including The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad and Dune to its streaming service for 31 days the same day they hit theaters.
Look, as I've stated many, many times, I absolutely hate the "theater experience" any more. Between people texting and talking and letting their kids run around and generally being assholes, it's about the worst form of "entertainment" there is, and I'd rather do just about anything else for fun. The only movies I see in theaters are those that I can't wait for (like Marvel Studios films). Otherwise? No thanks. So, for obvious reasons, I am thrilled by the news that I will be able to watch Dune and The Matrix 4 at home with an HBO Max subscription. But, on the other hand, I wonder what this means for those massively expensive blockbusters that I love. Will they even be able to be made any more if theaters don't exist? My guess is that they will still make them because A) Streaming services are already paying insane amounts of money for movies... B) Special effects are getting cheaper, and expensive actors can be replaced if they refuse to work within the new budgets... and C) This is where the future was headed all along as the home viewing experience gets better and better. So I dunno. I am certainly not rooting for theaters to die off completely... I think they still have a role to fill... but I'm not going to complain about not having to suffer through a theater for the movies I want to watch, that's for sure.
• HEADLINE! Elliot Page, Oscar-Nominated ‘Juno’ Star, Announces He Is Transgender. — Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” Page wrote in a statement that he posted on Tuesday
And good for him. I'm thrilled when somebody figures out who they are and what it takes to live their best life at a cost of $0 to me. Because this is not about me! Who Elliot Page is has absolutely zero effect on my life what-so-ever. How great is it that he's got it all figured out, because many people never do. My gender identity was a cakewalk. I'm a man. I've always felt like a man. My genitals align perfectly with who I am at my very core. I've only ever been attracted to women. I've only ever had sex with women. And I can't imagine somebody telling me that I can't be who I am... just like I can't imagine somebody feeling entitled enough to tell Elliot Page who they are either. Whether you accept it or not, transgender persons exist. And when they have the strength to come out to the world, it will undoubtedly save lives. Far too many transgender kids are killing themselves because they can't picture a world that they could ever exist in. Elliot Page shows them that they can.
Now it's time to stop slinging bullets so I can go serve Ocean Fish Pate "birthday cakes" to my fuzzy kids. Be safe, everybody.
Posted on December 4th, 2020
I've been dealing with a persistent winter roof leaf for the past several years. When I first moved in, I thought the drops of water on my kitchen floor were being left by the contractor crew renovating my home. The next year I blamed it on the cats playing in their water dish. The next year I woke up to water pouring down through a lighting fixture, and was mortified that I had a major roof leak. For the next three years I tried everything... scraping snow off the roof... filling in the valley channel with FlexSeal... and back in October I even ran additional heating cables above the area giving me trouble...
But it didn't solve anything. I'd still wake up each morning and have to clean a small puddle of water off my floor and wipe up the water above my ceiling fixture so it wouldn't mildew. Finally I managed to find a roofing guy to come out and take a look.
Imagine my surprise when I found out it wasn't the roof. It was a leaky pipe.
Which meant a call to the plumber so he could come out and take a look. And, sure enough, he was able to look up through the lighting hole in my ceiling and confirm that it was a nice long split along the kitchen venting return pipe. Unfortunately it was not something that could be fixed through the lighting fixture hole. He had to rip out a big chunk of the drywall in my ceiling...
The pipe wasn't just cracked, it was really cracked. The split was over a foot long. For whatever reason... whether it's freezing or condensation or whatever, this wasn't an issue except in the Winter. The rest of the year, there was no leak to be had. Fortunately it was just venting and not a pipe actually carrying water. That would have been disastrous, likely flooding the entire ceiling in my kitchen and causing a collapse.
The hole left by the repair looks worse than it is. That's actually a pretty easy repair to make. I've done many a drywall project, and have all the tools to fix it. What I don't have is a way to transport sheetrock, and a texture gun. And so... I'm going to get a repair estimate from a restoration and repair company. If it's not outrageous, I'll just have the HOA pay somebody else to patch it up. If it's insanely expensive, I'll take care of it myself in the Spring. In the meanwhile, I've just piled the insulation back up there and stapled up some cardboard to save on heating bills.
I am once again shocked at how expensive it is to hire a plumber. To repair the pipe was $715.41... which is kinda crazy. But, once again, plumbing is an area where I am not going to gamble with a DIY repair. Since I live in a condo where I am only responsible for what's within the sheetrock-to-sheetrock space of my home, it's not like I'm having to pay for it. Well, technically I am... my HOA fees have to be paid every month... but I'm not the one cutting the check this time, thankfully.
This morning when I woke up to feed the cats I first ran to look at my ceiling.
No water on the cardboard covering. No puddle on my floor.
Just two very anxious cats wanting me to hurry up and feed them.
Kinda makes me regret that I didn't take care of it sooner, but since I couldn't diagnose the problem I never knew what it was I was supposed to be taking care of. Oh well. There were no mold or mildew issues, the problem was relatively minor, and all's well that ends well.
Weird how 2020 had conditioned me to anticipate a catastrophic issue that costs $10,000 to fix. I had almost forgotten how it feels to have something not turn out worse than expected.
Posted on December 3rd, 2020
"A gentleman always opens the door for a lady." — Grandma Marie
My grandmother worked at a five-and-dime in town. Before each school year she would tell me (and eventually my brother) I that she would buy us a toy OR buy us school supplies. I could be wrong, but I believe I always picked the school supplies. Looking back, I should have taken the toy, because my parents were legally obligated to provide school supplies... but I was responsible at an early age and liked the idea of being able to pick out my own stuff. Posted at the store was a list of supplies required for your grade, and we'd go through the list together until I had everything I needed. Then I'd get to write my name on everything, which was almost like having a toy.
My maternal grandmother was an interesting woman. She was the first of seven sisters (Catholics, amiright?) and had a brother as well. Which meant a significant portion of her life was spent helping to raise her younger siblings. She was there as each of them came into the world... and, remarkably, she would survive long enough to be there as each of them left it. She was loving, kind, honest, hardworking, and made the best apple pie you've ever tasted. I grew very close to her over the course of my time on this earth and was holding her hand when she died. She was one of those people who fills such a huge part of your life that you don't know how to survive without them when they're gone. The gaping wound I suffered after her passing will never heal.
Grandma helping me with my drinking skills during those early years.
When I had sold movie rights for one of the books I had worked on (don't get excited... like most projects in Hollywood, it went absolutely nowhere) I was flying to L.A. once or twice a month to consult on the project. A couple times I took my grandmother with me and flew into San Diego. That way I could drop her at my uncle's house on the way up to L.A. so she could see her other grandkids. On her first trip I rented a convertable because the forecast was amazing in the way that only Southern California summers can be. We had just gotten to the beautiful red machine that would be our ride when I remembered that I had left the paperwork behind. It took me a couple minutes to run and get it, so I was surprised to see that my grandmother was still standing next to it when I got back.
"I'm sorry grandma, I didn't know they had locked it!"
"I don't know if it's locked, I was waiting for you to open the door."
Oops. I had made the grievous error of not opening it for her before leaving. Once I opened the passenger side door and got her settled, I hopped in the driver's seat and said "Do you remember that you were the one who taught me to open a door for a lady?" — "Yes, but apparently I didn't do a very good job!" It was one of those sick burns where she said it as a joke so as not to make her favorite grandchild (=ahem= ME, because I was her first!) feel bad... but she was 100% serious under the surface.
I was fairly young when my grandmother had taught me to always open a door for a lady. In some cases, when the door was heavy, I had to have help. But it was one of those things that became fun for a young child to do, so eventually it stuck. After a while it just got to be habit. A good habit (for once).
It's such a habit that the way that it finally sinks in that a relationship is over is when I go to open the passenger side door for her a couple times... and she's not there.
After a particularly brutal heartbreak I went to the passenger side door as I had a hundred times before... once again remembered that she had broke up with me... and broke down in tears in the JC Penny's parking lot.
But even worse than that, of course, was after my mom had to leave. I went to open the passenger side door after taking her to the hospital and being told she couldn't come home again. I went to open the passenger side door when I would visit her. I went to open the passenger side door after dropping her off at the care facility where she'd live out the rest of her days. I was always opening the door for her in the years I was taking care of her and didn't know how to stop.
Last night I went to open the passenger side door for her after picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. I don't know why. She's been gone for over two years. Any time I had to go out I would take her with me to get her out of the house and we made many, many runs to the pharmacy for her medications. So maybe something in my brain got crossed and I thought the pharmacy run was for her? No idea.
After I moved mom out of my house, my brain kinda broke down. I had been taking care of her for so long that I didn't quite know what I should be doing with myself once she was gone. It's quite possible that I never recovered fully. It's quite probable that I never recovered fully. And so I suppose things like this are going to happen.
Which sucks in some ways... but is kinda profound in others. I am so very lucky to have had the privilege of opening doors for these two amazing ladies in my life.
Posted on November 30th, 2020
Well that was an awful Monday.
Posted on November 27th, 2020
It's Black Friday. The one day of the year I allow myself to buy stuff I want instead of stuff I need. I put away $100 a month all year long in order to afford things like better quality clothes... tools for my wood-shop... electronics. You know... stuff.
This year I had to spend $380 of my Black Friday savings on a ridiculously expensive WiFi router when my old one died. Then I had to spend $470 on crazy stuff like food and HOA dues. So... $350 left. The plan was to put it on a new Milwaukee Tool table saw. But it’s conveniently "sold out" absolutely everywhere so stores can exclude it from their sales. I’m sure it will mysteriously be back in stock come Monday. That’s the way 2020 goes, it would seem. I’d buy some new clothes, but what for? I’m not going anywhere. So who cares? I guess now I have a $350 head start for 2021. Just think of all the superfluous crap I can buy next Black Friday!
I did treat myself to a bowl of Apple Jacks though, so I guess my Black Friday wasn't a total loss?
Apple Jacks. The apple cereal that tastes absolutely nothing like apples... but I love it anyway. I just can't eat them every day. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When I was a kid, however, I had a bowl of sugar-infused cereal every single morning before heading off to school. As I started working and traveling heavily in my twenties, I eventually phased breakfast out of my diet. It was either too inconvenient or too expensive to consider. The only time I ate breakfast when traveling was when it was included in my room rate, because that meant I could save money by skipping lunch. Occasionally I slip back into a cereal renaissance where I'll eat it for a while, but I always end up moving away from it again. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When my mom was living with me, getting her to eat anything was tough. The only way I could get her to eat was to take her to a restaurant because the environment set her in a headspace where she knew she was supposed to eat. Most days I was taking her out to breakfast, going to work, coming home to check on her and grab a bite, then taking her out to dinner when I got home. It was an expensive way to live. And a monotonous way to live. Since she couldn't hold anything in memory for more than five minutes, she would forget the restaurants we just ate at and want to eat there again. Many times this ended up being Denny's, for which I was grateful, because they had a big menu with a lot of selections. Mom could eat eggs and toast for breakfast and dinner every day because she had no memory of it. I, however, could not, and would need to mix things up a bit. The chef at our local Denny's probably did not like seeing me walk in because I was trying to get creative with their dishes to make something vegetarian and interesting that I could eat. I tried to tip well though, so maybe it was okay? I have to say though, it was nice that my mom and I were recognized by name all that time.
Not that I didn't want to order banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream every chance I got. But, alas, sugar. Loads of sugar...
Mmmmm... dessert for breakfast!
I don't eat breakfast very often now-a-days. So when I do, don't I deserve banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream? Or at least a bowl of Apple Jacks?
Posted on November 26th, 2020
It's not that I don't have anything to be thankful for.
I have so much. And I try to appreciate that. Honestly I do. I haven't managed to catch COVID yet. I still have a job. I have a roof over my head and something to eat. I have friends that mean the world to me (even though I don't ge to see them). I have my cats.
There are a great many people who have far less.
This was my day today...
Happy Thanksgiving to me.
And to you.
Posted on November 23rd, 2020
I'm experiencing a tea renaissance. Last night I had some amazing Winter Chai and I'm still thinking about it this morning. I stopped drinking tea for the longest time, but took it up again when I was served some amazing native tea in Laos back in 2013. After a couple years I started favoring sodas, but now I'm drifting back into tea-land again. Figured I might as well since the tea I ordered for my 2020 guests in January (that wouldn't end up coming thanks to the pandemic) will have to be replaced soon anyway... even though I froze it to keep it fresh like you're supposed to.
Winter Chai Blend from Tea Forté, whose pricey teas I love.
I have a free pizza to thank for my renewed interest in drinking tea.
Last week I went out for groceries and got yet another free pizza. Safeway/Albertsons is forever giving away free pizzas with purchase of something else. And since the "something else" is usually something I'm buying anyway, I always grab one. I don't like frozen pizza, but I'm not going to pass up on free food. This was my fourth free cheese pizza and I had to make room in the freezer by tossing out some old stuff I shouldn't have been saving in the first place... and drinking my tea stash. From there I moved on to cleaning out the refrigerator and found a full carton of eggs hidden behind the fresh carton I just bought. I don't even remember having bought them. I don't shy away from expired foods, but eggs that are a month past their "Best Before" date are probably a gamble I shouldn't be taking, so down the garbage disposal they went.
Last night I had one of those free cheese pizzas for dinner. It was the last thing I wanted to eat, but I didn't have room for my next freebie so I thought I should whittle down my pile. My attitude ended up being "Sure I don't want it, but does it even really matter?"
And it's at that point I realize I've been saying that to myself a LOT recently...
"Does it even really matter?"
Because, seriously, does any of that really matter? No. Not really. Dishes left in the sink. Cleaning that needs to be done. Projects that are lingering. Things I need to stay on top of. It just doesn't matter. Life is just a self-isolating blur of tedium sameness, and I'm mired in it like quicksand.
About the only thing that matters are my cats. Where I'm happy to just let things go in my life, I refuse to let anything go in theirs. I still steam clean their feeding station. I still wash their food dishes and water fountain. I still clean their beds. I still collect their toys. I still play with them. I still drop everything when they want attention. I still do everything I can to make sure they're cared for.
Just like after my mom died, I probably owe it to Jake and Jenny that I find the willpower to keep going day after day. Mostly because they are about the only thing I've going for me right now. But partly because I don't want to keel over and die and have them eat me.
Though with all these exotic teas I've been drinking lately, I'll bet I'm delicious.
Posted on November 20th, 2020
Back in October I purchased new wiper blades and wiper fluid for my car, then made an appointment to get my snow tires put on. I also created a grocery list for all the things I would need to take to Thanksgiving dinner. After an entire year of not being able to see family and friends, I was more than a little excited that I would finally be making a trip over the mountains to see everybody.
Then the pandemic exploded. Again.
Thanks to people who are entirely too careless, COVID infections are on the rise, hospitals are filling up, and the recommendation is to avoid family gatherings until things calm down again. Especially if you have existing conditions which make contracting the virus potentially fatal. I've struggled with my breathing for the past decade, so I'm especially screwed if I get a serious case of The 'Rona. Especially if the hospitals are full up and there's no place for me to go if shit hits the fan. And since I'm absolutely certain that entirely too many people will totally be having unsafe Thanksgivings, I guess that's all she wrote for my Veggie Turkey Day celebration.
And then today was the appointment for my tire change.
I was going to cancel, but since I had to run into The Big City to drop off my old iPhone at Fed-Ex anyway, I decided to just keep it.
The experience was more depressing than I anticipated.
Getting tires changed so I can stay at home? So much fun.
My hope is that things calm down enough that I at least get to have a Christmas dinner with family. But if everything explodes yet again because of Thanksgiving idiocy, I suppose that's going to be a goner too.
Is it any wonder that I'm getting that COVID vaccination the minute it becomes available?
My cats are great and all but, so far as the holidays go, being stuck at home with them is not my ideal way to celebrate.
Posted on November 16th, 2020
Yesterday Washington State's governor released a new lockdown measure in the hopes that the latest wave of infections sweeping the country won't overwhelm our hospitals. As you can imagine, there's some serious outrage happening here. I have no idea what else they're supposed to do. Are we just supposed to ignore the pandemic until people are dying in the street because the health care infrastructure is maxed out? Daily death tolls keep climbing even though doctors and scientists have a better handle on things and people have a better chance of surviving now. What this means is that more people are being infected than ever before and COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever before. Something has to be done.
So, yeah. Let's just be extra cautious for a while until we have a vaccine in the new year. Hopefully serious illness rates can be slowed down enough that there's hospital beds for those who need them. This is not some evil master plan to control people, it's just a common sense approach to dealing with a population containing people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to be careful, thus fucking it all up for the rest of us.
Man. Can you imagine if we had just locked everything down for two solid weeks and rolled out massive testing back in March? Maybe then we'd be like New Zealand who listened to science and have all but eliminated COVID-19. Twice.
Oh well. It is what it is... our response was our response... and now we're paying the consequences. Again.
Story of my life, Year 2020.