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Sleepless in Other Portland

Posted on November 16th, 2017

Dave!My flight landed at Boston Logan International Airport at 5:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I was not able to sleep on the plane. I never can for some reason unless it's drug-induced. Problem is that sleeping pills make it impossible for me to deal with time changes, so I'm better off just doing without. I was tired, but the drive up to Portland (which I refer to as "Other Portland" since I am a West-Coaster and "Portland" to me is in Oregon) was dark, cold, and boring.

I arrived around 8:00am, which is way too early for hotel check-in (at least it is here in the USA... everywhere else on earth they always seem happy to check me in if I arrive really early so long as they have a room available). Since I was still not feeling well after being sick yesterday, I tried to book a cheap hotel room in Boston to get a few hours sleep, but they won't let you retroactively check-in yesterday so you can just stay the current morning. At least not online. I tried calling a hotel, but that was confusing for everybody involved and I gave up.

And so breakfast it is then.

Followed by three-and-a-half hours sitting in the hotel lobby trying not to fall asleep. At least not before I finally got a room and took a three hour nap.

Rather than go into a coma I decided on an early dinner.

There's a lot of things to love about Portland. The transitional period from Fall to Winter is definitely not one of them. It's windy. It's bitter cold. It's rainy and wet. And there is puddles of water everywhere in Old Town, which means you end up drenched from passing cars no matter how careful you try to be.

Other Portland is, however, a food paradise for me because they excel at three of my favorite foods...

    PIZZA. I have no idea how Portland became a "pizza city" but here we are. My favorites are OTTO (seriously, their butternut squash and cranberry pizza is sublime), Micucci's Italian Grocery, and Flatbread Company (which has some of the best desserts on earth).
    VEGGIE BURGERS. Again, no clue as to why Portland ended up being a mecca for custom veggie burgers, but this is the place. Many restaurants have frozen patties from local favorite Blue Mango (which, oddly enough, do not contain mangoes or anything blue)... but a surprising number of restaurants craft their own. My favorite in the city are from B.GOOD, but there are many others.
    ICE CREAM. Perhaps it's the proximity to Vermont two states over or something, but some of the best ice cream I've ever had has come out of Portland, Maine. Oddly enough Portland, Oregon is also a great "ice cream city."

I opted for a B.GOOD veggie burger because it was the shortest walk and many ice cream parlors are closing early in the wintertime. Not that ice cream doesn't make an awesome dinner, mind you.

I should have pushed my way through and not taken a nap because now I'm not tired and probably won't be able to sleep tonight. Oh well. I've got a day to recover because work doesn't start until Saturday.

Pleasant not-dreams.

   

Bullet Sunday 530

Posted on October 29th, 2017

Dave!Don't fear the reaper, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Benson! Robert Guillaume passed away this last week and it got me to thinking about the various roles he's played in his long acting career. Primary of which, was "Benson" on Soap (and the subsequent spin-off), where his sarcastic wit was showcased to hilarious effect. My personal favorite role was Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night, a role which is surprisingly relevant today...

You, sir, will be sorely missed.

   
• Think! Cost to renew my nine Nest security camera "Nest Aware" subscriptions annually? $500. Cost to renew Amazon's new Cloud Cam security camera subscription plan annually for triple the storage time and up to ten cameras? $200. This means I could essentially buy three new Amazon cameras every year PLUS get a superior subscription service for the cost of my Nest subscription alone. Gee... let me think real hard about what I should do. What to do? What to do? It's a quandary, that's for sure...

   
• Balls! I made falafel for the first time!

Falafel!

Falafel!

My balls were totally delicious.

   
• Mickey Hotel! Disney just announced that Disneyland will be getting a brand new 700-room hotel which will open in 2021...

New Disney Hotel!

New Disney Hotel!

Compared to the amazing Grand Californian hotel across the way, it's kind of boring-looking. Not very "Disney-Special" to me.

The most interesting bit of information in the press release is not the hotel itself, but its location. In order to build the thing, Disney will be ripping out the West end of Downtown Disney. Which is currently occupied by ESPN Sports Zone, the AMC 12 theater, a Starbucks, The Rainforest Cafe and, ZOMFG... EARL OF SANDWICH! The LEGO Store is spared though...

New Disney Hotel!

The money that a hotel generates is probably huge compared to the royalties from everything it's replacing. With this in mind, I don't know why A) They are only putting in 700 rooms when there looks like there's room for more, and B) they haven't expanded The Grand Californian (the "Redwood Creek Challenge Trail," cool as it may be, is hardly a critical part of California Adventure, so it seems a natural to rip it out and put in another 150 rooms).

   
• Payola! HEALDINE: Senate votes to kill new rule allowing class-action lawsuits against banks; Pence casts deciding vote. — FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT!!! No recourse now... NONE... when big banks fuck you over. You are forced to accept binding arbitration or small court settlements instead of having your day in court. And, of course, data breaches due to shitty bank security are now basically a crime without meaningful punishment. All because the fucking Trump Administration and their Republican lackeys have their mouths so deep on Big Finance cock for cash that they don't give a shit who it hurts... so long as the big paychecks keep coming their way. And OF COURSE they are re-framing this act of utter submission to bank payola as a "good move" for consumers because "frivolous lawsuit costs get passed on to consumers." All 100% bullshit of course. We STILL end up paying... just in a different way. Meanwhile, any and all protections are now ALL THEIRS. Looks like we've got ourselves a government by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

   
• Harrassment! Everywhere you look, it's the same damn thing. I do not know Robert Scoble personally. All I know is that he worked at Microsoft then got famous for conducting crappy "WHO ARE YOU?!?" videos with happening tech industry people. I also know that he went into rehab a couple years ago because he was accused of shitty and harassing behavior towards women when he was drunk and high.

I also know one of these women.

Now it's coming out that he didn't stop with his shitty harassment of women AFTER he was supposedly "cured" of the things he blamed his behavior on. Typical of these types of situations, people are defending him because he's married and supposedly a "good guy." Meanwhile... there's the women whom he's sexually harassed who are having to deal with the fallout of HIS crap.

I believe them. Scoble may be married with kids and be known as a "good guy" in certain circles, but obviously that does NOT exclude him from being a habitual sexual harasser.

On his Facebook profile, Scoble has the douchey description of himself as "Authority on what is next," even though he just talks about what OTHER PEOPLE are doing. I hope "what is next" for him is somebody pressing charges. The more times that shit like this results in public shaming and even more public punishment, the more these reprehensible fuckers will think twice before being assholes to their fellow human beings.

   
All our times have come, see you for more bullets next Sunday!

   

Beyond Compear

Posted on October 3rd, 2017

Dave!I like yogurt okay.

I mean, it's not ice cream, but it makes for a decent substitution if you're trying to eat healthier. Especially when it's Tillamook yogurt, which is my favorite by a wide margin. Low in fat and good protein. High in carbs though, thanks to 21g average sugar. All their flavors taste amazing, but the Oregon Marionberry is my hands-down favorite.

AT LEAST IT WAS UNTIL I FOUND OUT THEY ARE COMING OUT WITH NEW HOOD RIVER PEAR YOGURT!!!

Tillamook Hood River Pear Low Fat Yogurt

Pear is my all-time favorite flavor anything, so I was psyched to learn that Tillamook was making my yogurt-eating dreams come true.

Except, not really, because nobody in my area... or any area... seems to be selling it yet.

Sucks to be me.

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Bullet Sunday 524

Posted on September 17th, 2017

Dave!Grey skies are starting to clear up, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• McDONALD'S!!! Imagine my shock when I ordered my usual "Biscuit with Egg and Cheese Only" breakfast sandwich while I was at McDonald's in Spokane this past week... AND THEY DIDN'T CHARGE ME FOR BACON THAT I DON'T EAT!

McDonald's Receipt

Every time I've ordered this in the past, they've rung up a "Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit" then hit the "minus bacon" button. That usually costs me $3.29 or so, which means I'm paying for bacon I'm not getting. This is not unique to McDonald's. It happens everywhere. Order a Chalupa Supreme at Taco Bell but want rice instead of beef? Most times they charge you for the beef, remove the beef from the order, then charge you extra to add rice. Want a Market Fresh Cheese Sandwich at Arby's? Most times they charge you for the beef even though they never put it on the sandwich. It goes on and on. Sometimes it's different... Taco Bell will have a "beef sub rice" button or Arby's will credit you 50ยข when they remove the beef... but this is rare. I am hoping that McDonald's is starting a trend that others will follow. It sucks to pay for something you're not getting.

   
• Abandoned. While I feel absolutely terrible about the people who are facing natural disaster, it's the animals trying to survive it that have touched my heart. Bad enough there are wild animals who will struggle... but at least they have a fighting chance. Abandoned pets left tied up to die, however? Not so much. This horrific, disgusting, barbaric, inhuman practice is the stuff of nightmares. Luckily, something is starting to be done about it. People who abandon pets in some areas are going to be prosecuted...

There is no punishment harsh enough for abusing, neglecting, or abandoning an animal to life-threatening conditions. None.

   
• Grands! Who knew that Pillsbury "Grands" frozen biscuits are actually quite decent... tasty and fluffy... when the "Grands" canned biscuits are a disgusting mess that have an acidic burnt oil aftertaste? Good to know for those times I just need two biscuits and don't want to waste food making a batch of my own...

McDonald's Receipt

I never thought I'd find biscuits I like better than homemade, but here they are. If you've only ever tried the canned crap, this is worth a look. They are more expensive, but worth every penny.

   
• Gay Cake! Well that explains it then!

MARK BRAZILL: Floods, fired, earthquake. Clearly someone baked a wedding cakr for a gay couple.

That there are people out there who actually believe this shit just boggles the mind.

   
• It's Pickle Rick! One of my favorite programs on television is South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been at the show for twenty-one years and yet, even with a few missteps along the way, it is just as culturally relevant as it ever was. South Park may be a crappy cartoon... but it skewers current events and pop culture like nobody else can, and I consider it essential viewing. A newer show that I'm in love with, Rick & Morty, is gearing up to be every bit as significant as South Park. I can only hope that it lasts for 21 years. The latest episode, The Ricklantis Mixup, is exactly why. It masterfully parodies everything from police brutality to puppet politics, yet still manages to be incredibly entertaining...

McDonald's Receipt

McDonald's Receipt

If you've got a warped sense of humor and like cartoons and sci-fi, here's the show for you. Disturbingly brilliant in ways most shows could never be. Not bad for a cartoon which started out as a Back to the Future parody of Doc and Marty.

   
Until next time, stay schwifty.

   

Customer-Hostile Packaging

Posted on August 30th, 2017

Dave!I hate the taste of chicken.

I didn't like eating it before I became a vegetarian, and I'm certainly not going start eating the crap now. Even the veggie stuff that tastes like chicken is a big ol' PASS for me.

So guess what I ended up buying totally by accident at the grocery store yesterday?

Yes "Chik Patties."

Barf.

I'd like to say that it's my fault, but it's really not. The fault is 100% on Morningstar Farms for having shitty packaging which does nothing to distinguish the various products they make. All of them are green bags with purple stripes. And they dress the photos of different products in the exact same way so it's easy to get them confused...

Stupid-Ass Confusing Morningstar Farms Packaging

Especially since the bags are just laying in a pile in the grocery freezer. I grabbed three packages of "Grillers Prime" and had no idea that the store put a "Chik Patties" in there (or, more likely, a shopper looked at it and put it back in the wrong place)...

Stupid-Ass Confusing Morningstar Farms Packaging

   
This is a categorically bad design flaw that any designer worth their salt works very hard to avoid. Well... any designer except the one working for Morningstar Farms.

Helpful hint to not being a total dick to your customers... come up with packaging that uses color and design language to distinguish your products so people can get what they're wanting to buy. Look at your products from six feet away and see if you can tell them apart. Look at your products as they will be displayed and see if you can tell them apart. If you can't in either case, your design is a failure. Go back to the drawing board and come up with something that works.

Otherwise you end up with pissed off customers like me.

Huh. I wonder if my cats will eat "Chik Patties?"

   

Bullet Sunday 517

Posted on July 30th, 2017

Dave!Time to get busy living... or get busy dying, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Sweet! Today is National Cheesecake Day! The odds of me finding decent cheesecake in the wilds of Maine are probably slim considering there aren't any Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the entire state. I'd have to drive to Boston, which is nearly five hours round-trip! But who knows? Perhaps there's some awesome blueberry cheesecake to be found 'round these parts. The question being... will I have enough energy to seek it out given that I haven't slept in two days?

   
• Sweeter! Also not available in the entire state of Maine? Pinkberry. Which is a major bummer, because they just added a delicious-looking Black Raspberry to their flavors list...

Pinkberry Black Raspberry Froyo

So not fair.

   
• Sweetness! Awwww...

This could be one of the best meet-cutes in history... or the beginning of a horror story to end all horror stories.

   
• Sweetest? In a move that I can't wrap my head around, I'm seeing posts to social media about people finding Halloween candy being put out. When it's not even August and the holiday is still three months away. Given how the leftovers go on close-out sale for the month of November, we might as well leave it out year-'round. One third of the year devoted to Halloween is absurd... and I like Halloween.

   
• Unsweet. Since politicians would rather tax people to death than reign in spending, we're inundated with taxes every damn day, and new taxes are never far away. Take, for example, the "Sugary Drink Tax" which adds to the cost of every soft drink (or pop, or soda, or Coke) you buy. Chicago's takes effect on Wednesday... and Seattle's takes effect in January. More cities are looking to follow suit so they can be a part of a crash-grab disguised as a way of saving citizens from obesity. It's shameless and pointless (politicians will never be satisfied with one new revenue stream when there are dozens more to be had!), but... easier than cutting spending, that's for sure. Which leads me to wonder exactly when the tax burden of everyday citizens is going trigger revolt. Could this be the one? Stay tuned.

   
• Sour. And speaking of bullshit taxes... Washington State's legislature is devoting $300,000 to a feasibility study of building high-speed rail from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver. Something which would undoubtedly be funded by putting a tax on the tax that's on the tax you're already taxed! And undoubtedly be run by the Washington State Department of Transportation... an organization which regularly takes projects which should be able to be completed in months, and dragging them out for years (all while creating the biggest inconvenience possible for everybody). It's a total recipe for fucking disaster. But let's spend THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS to study it anyway.

Which, in itself, is fucking stupid. We don't need a study. All we have to do is look at California and the way their high speed rail is coming along. The project is hemorrhaging money and taking much longer than originally budgeted. As if that wasn't bad enough, the projected top speed of their "high speed rail" keeps dropping below the 220mph benchmark they set. But even better? Even at the outrageous price of $86 a ticket to go from San Francisco to L.A. ... IF they manage to get a whopping 10,000 passengers to ride per day... it will STILL take 203 years to pay for itself. And that doesn't even include maintenance costs?!?

Apparently the Washington State legislature has been taking advantage of our marijuana legalization before deciding where to throw away THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS! And here's the best part... people like me who live in the Eastern half of the State and would rarely use the thing will undoubtedly be included in the taxation required to build it. Yay.

   
• Bitter. Holy crap where do I even start after the week in politics we've had?

   
Annnnnd... welcome to Shawshank.

   

Maine Blueberries

Posted on July 28th, 2017

Dave!The cost to fly into Portland, Maine during high tourist season is astronomical. Far, far cheaper to fly into Boston and drive north than to pay for the convenience of terminating at PWM.

And so... that's exactly what I did.

Even though the last time I did this, I nearly died.

The route from Boston to Portland is fairly straightforward and takes less than two hours...

Boston to Portland Drive: Sane

Unless you're me.

I had time to kill, so I took the crazy 3-1/2 hour back roads route to see some bits of New Hampshire I hadn't seen before. And avoid tourist traffic. And avoid a bunch of tolls...

Boston to Portland Drive: Sane

All in all... a lot more time on the road than I had patience for, but it was all worth it because Barbara's Maine Blueberry Crisp at Flatbread Co. was waiting for me when I arrived...

XXX

Other than my grandmother's apple pie, there is no dessert on earth I would rather have than this right here. Totally worth a five-and-a-half hour flight followed by a 3-1/2 hour drive. If you're ever in Portland during blueberry season, stop in and pray it's on the day's dessert menu.

After a late lunch, I had 45 minutes more in my rental car until I arrived at my job-site.

And now... since work starts at 5:00am tomorrow morning, which means I have to get up at 4:30am... I'll be taking my leave of you this evening. Good night! Blueberry dreams to you!

   

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