Posted on January 15th, 2020
The plan was to meet a friend for dinner in nearby big city 20 minutes away. But it was pretty dark at 4:30 and snowing like crazy so I called to cancel. Turns out my friend had forgotten all about meeting up, so it was no harm no foul. Instead my dinner consisted of veggie hot dogs. Which was lame, but better than the bag of potato chips I had for lunch.
Though it's tough to feel too sorry for myself after I saw this video this morning...
Animals around the globe are having such a tough time of it... and people are not doing enough to help. Indeed, it seems so many of the problems animals face are due to humans in the first place. This kind of shortsightedness is incredibly depressing, and I can't help but wonder how close we are to catastrophic failure of our ecosystem.
Then we humans will be the ones having a very tough time of it.
And it will be fully deserved.
Posted on January 14th, 2020
Yesterday I ran to the grocery store to throw some money away on food. It never ceases to amaze me the cost of food nowadays. Every time I go shopping it seems like the prices have gone up. Ten items... $45, please.
One of the items I purchased was a bottle of spicy brown mustard.
To eat it.
Which, if you have known me for any length of time, is a surprising turn of events given that I spent the majority of my life hating mustard. Sure I've always got a bottle of that yellow stuff in my refrigerator for friends who come over for barbecue, but the only time I use it is as an ingredient for potato salad.
But then last month I had a Market Fresh Sandwich at Arby's and everything changed.
Let me back up a second there.
I don't usually buy Market Fresh Sandwiches at Arby's because I don't like having to pay for something I'm not eating. They don't have a cheese sandwich at Arby's, so I have to order the Roast Turkey & Swiss Market Fresh Sandwich and have them hold the turkey... AND DEFINITELY HOLD THE MUSTARD.
Except last month when I ordered I forgot to tell them to hold the mustard because it had been four or five months since I last had one.
The sandwich was incredible.
And it took me a minute to realize that the reason it was incredible was because there was mustard on it. I was dying to know what kind of mustard it was, so I went up to the counter and asked for an extra packet. But I didn't put it on my sandwich. I took it home so I could add it to my shopping list.
And so here we are.
Except the store didn't have spicy brown honey mustard like they use at Arby's so I had to buy regular spicy brown mustard and mix a touch of honey in.
Tonight for dinner I had a Swiss cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mayo, onion, and the spicy brown mustard with honey. It was delicious, as I knew it would be. And now I am wondering what other things in life I need to try that I decided I don't like because they might be something that I actually like. Well, except cauliflower and broccoli. I know that shit hasn't gotten any better since childhood.
Posted on January 5th, 2020
We may be on the verge of World War III as a reckless, clueless president is intent on starting a war to distract from his impeachment, but all is not lost because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Oh Deer. So there I was falling asleep last night when the security system alarm goes off on my phone telling me that there was a person on the side of my house and in my back yard. I thought it might be a cat trying to get into the catio again, but Jake and Jenny were in bed with me. Nope... definitely not a cat... it was A FAMILY OF DEER! A couple others came along after this video...
Apparently with the warmer weather they are looking for something to eat, because they spent some time in my shrubs before moving on...
I feel horrible that somebody may harm them as they try to survive by heading into suburbia.
• RIP Syd Mead. It's unbelievable how so much of how we envision the future was defined by one guy... Syd Mead. He has created a tremendous volume of incredible work, and I was saddened to hear of his passing.
2010, him. Aliens, him. Blade Runner, him. Blade Runner 2049, him. Star Trek the Motion Picture, him. Tron, him. You will be missed, sir.
• Poop. I loathe coffee. I have never liked it despite my proximity to Coffee Central (AKA Seattle). On those occasions where it's the only thing to drink, I will try it (again) and want to barf (again) so I've just stopped trying. Finally, finally I've found a video which encapsulates how I feel about the entire situation...
• Persevere. And speaking of cats... for all the challenges you meet in 2020... take courage from this cat who perseveres over whatever life throws at them!
Way to go, buddy!
• Squishy. HOLD UP A MINUTE... how many butternut squashes were y'all going to let me buy, peel, and cube before telling me that they make LUXURY BUTTERNUT SQUASH that comes pre-peeled, pre-cubed, and frozen for my convenience?
Y'all are on my list now. — I think I was dangerously close to breaking down crying in the supermarket when I saw it in the freezer case. This changes so much!
• Fly Someone. And lastly, I missed this adorable Christmas commercial from Heathrow Airport. Well worth your time to watch...
What a nice way to end Bullet Sunday! Have a good one, everybody.
Stay safe and be kind, everybody...
Posted on December 31st, 2019
For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.
Last year losing my mom was the worst year of my life. This year couldn't help but be better by comparison. But I lost one of my oldest, dearest friends right off the bat, so now I'm horrified at what 2020 may have in store. I guess I've reached the stage of my life where it's all tragedy and loss from here on out? Lord, I hope not.
• Took a look at Schitt's Creek, one of the best TV shows ever...
Took a look at the Seattle Tunnel... and the horrible design of the new spaces it will allow.
• Built a magnificent photo wall in my stairwell...
• Experienced Poster Raising with the Amish...
• Converted another batch more DVDs and Blu-Rays to digital... and explained how you can do it too.
• Wished Jarrod Saltalamacchia, one of my favorite ball players, a happy retirement...
• Dedicated a post to Mufasa, Jake's toy lion, his favorite thing in the universe...
• Lamented the fact that SeaTac International Airport is still a shitpile of fail, even when they build something new.
• Watched as my home keeps getting invaded by trash pandas.
• Spent my 101st Caturday taking inventory of the cats in my neighborhood...
• Watched the funniest stand-up of the year with Nate Bargatze's The Tennessee Kid (highest possible recommendation if you have Netflix)...
• Took Jake back to the vet after he ended up sick again. Still amazed that the little guy can't meow ever... EXCEPT when he is in distress...
• Found out the reason Jake was sick was because he fell off the stairwell banister. Absolutely heartbreaking (and more than a little scary), but he recovered like a champ...
• Built a bannister ledge tray to keep my cats from falling down the stairwell again...
• Talked about the series of travel books I made for my mom to commemorate each of the trips we took together...
• Shared my thoughts on the fucking disaster that was the Game of Thrones final season...
• Once again shared a video on how tax brackets work because I am sick and tired of people believing the bullshit lies that are being propagated. I honestly don't know if this is the best way, but if we're going to discuss tax brackets let's at least be informed as to what they are. And with that in mind, here we go again...
• Said goodbye to Grant, an internet friend who will be sorely missed.
• A visit to the Chihuly Garden of Glass, a magical place crafted by one of my favorite living artists...
• Spent my lazy summer days floating down a river...
• Finally cut the cord and got rid of the toxic mess that my satellite television had become.
• Ooh... Upgrades (a process that is ongoing, by the way!).
• I have opinions. And they get me in trouble by all sides.
• Back in Vegas for the third? Fourth? time in 2019 and decided to take stock of my one-time Planet Hollywood obsession...
• Got to see Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty...
• Discovered the total magic of my favorite new thing... THE IMPOSSIBLE WHOPPER at Burger King...
• Got myself an Apple Card... an interesting beast to be sure.
• My obligatory Apple Card unboxing entry...
• Total outrage that Hallmark can't seem to ever get the details right.
• Jake and Jenny's cat personality analysis...
• Hell of a Day, Isn’t It? Talked about what happens when you lose that person you share an inside joke with.
• Impressed the internet when I joined in on the SHOW US A PHOTO OF YOUR KITCHEN CABINET meme...
• Shared my brief attempt at being a home designer.
• Put my iPhone 11 Pro through it's paces... and shared my thoughts in it's incredible camera capabilities...
• Took my iPhone 11 Pro camera for a spin in my favorite American city.
• Ranting against changing the clocks because it fucks up my cats like nothing else... and the quail are back...
• Flew to Minneapolis so I could experience Avengers: Damage Control in real-live kinda virtual reality...
• Caring for somebody with dementia involves telling lies and making decisions.
• Disney+ finally debuted with a slew of watchable stuff to occupy time I don't have.
• Get Angry, Then Laugh... same as it ever was... same as it ever was.
• And, oh yeah, I joined the Instant Pot cult!
• Finally replaced my dying MacBook Pro... with a MacBook Pro...
• Let's take a Very Special edition of Caturday to talk about how technology helps Fake Jake survives the winter!
And there you have it... my 2019 year in review.
Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through even the worst of times.
Here's to a good 2020, everybody.
Posted on December 10th, 2019
A while ago I was at the store and saw that the University of Washington Tree Fruit Program's hotly anticipated new apple, the Cosmic Crisp, was available! How exciting! And then... the price tag... THREE DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS A POUND?!? This was so outrageous a cost for an apple that I was looking to see if it came with a free gold brick or something. But nope! THREE DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS A POUND!
Too rich for my blood. I think 88¢ a pound for apples is extravagant. I took a pass.
But when I went to the store yesterday, they were "only" $2.99 a pound. Which is insane. But I bought one... a single apple at a $1.52 cost... just to give them a try.
As I was walking out to the parking lot it occured to me that they probably released them at a crazy $3.49 a pound so that everybody would think that $2.99 a pound was sane by comparison and buy them. Genius. It sure worked on me.
Here is what the Cosmic Crisp looks like, from a glamorshot photo on the University of Washington website...
It's pretty. A deep red, but not so deep it doesn't register as red.
There are a few things I've learned about the apple...
But whatever. How does my $1.52 apple taste?
Pretty good. Though I don't get Honeycrisp out of it. It has more of a Winesap slant. Tart with a bit of sweetness... with a really crispy snap to it. For snacking I don't like it as well as the Pink Lady (AKA Cripps Pink, an Australian import) or Honeycrisp, but it's a shit-ton better than crappy Red Delicious apples, which are not so delicious (I'd argue they're mostly tasteless).
I have no idea how Cosmic Crisp cooks up. I can't afford to make a $10.50 apple pie. I'd guess they're fine. For pies I prefer Pink Lady (when they are on sale) or Granny Smith. For apple crisp I prefer Braeburn. For applesauce I like Golden Delicious or Gravenstein. Yet I almost always end up with Fuji because they are generally the apple that's on sale. And that's fine. Fuji are good for snacking and make decent pies and dessert.
I won't buy Red Delicious for 5¢ a pound. I have no clue why they are still grown.
And I sure as heck won't buy Cosmic Crisp until the price drops way, way lower than it is now.
Posted on December 7th, 2019
My houseguests bought me an Instant Pot Duo Crisp!
While we were talking on the phone last week, I mentioned that I had an imitation Instant Pot so we could have mashed potatoes when they came. They said that they had the new Instant Pot DUO CRISP which also air-fries and bakes (as well as pressure cooks) and they love it. Apparently they thought I needed one too, so they got me one. You just switch lids depending on how you want to cook...
How sweet is that? In the span of a week I've gone from having no Instant Pot to having two?
I already know what pressure cooking does. I was interested in the air fryer. So I chopped up a Yukon Gold potato; rinshed vigorously; soaked for 15 minutes; then tossed with a little oil, some fresh-ground pepper, and seasoning salt...
...dumped them in the cooker...
...air fry for 22 minutes at 360° (stirring after 11 minutes) and there you go...
I was amazed that they tasted as good as they did. They're beautiful too...
Fantastic! I mean, they're not going to take the place of deep-fried, but they were still excellent. Easier to make, faster to cook, far less clean-up, and they are different enough from the deep-fried version that they are one more option for me when planning my meals.
Next up? I want to try cooking up an apple crisp. Thanks to the air-fryer/baking lid, I wouldn't have to transfer from the pressure cooker to a baking dish in order to get the top of the crisp... errr... crisp!
And I also need to get some lemon juice so I can try dehydrating some fruit. I prefer freeze-dried, but a freeze-dryer costs thousands, so dehydrated will have to do. In any case, it will be a deliciously healthy snack to take to work.
Guess I need to start looking for recipes.
Posted on November 27th, 2019
I have always resisted the "Instant Pot" pressure cooker craze because it seemed as if it would be a waste of money for me. There's simply not a lot of things I would use it for. I don't make many soups, my sauces don't call for one, I already have a rice cooker and, since I don't eat meat, all those recipes for "the moistest, most succulent meat you'll ever eat" are lost on me. It's not worth the $120 they cost when I'll barely use it.
But then I got one of those bargain shopper emails which had an 8-quart Instant Pot imitator on sale for $35 and I thought "why not?"
For one reason and one reason only... hard boiled eggs! I am tired of buying a carton of eggs, having to wait weeks and weeks so they'll be "old enough" to peel easily, then inevitably be disappointed because one or two of them still don't peel that great. And every time I've complained... EVERY TIME... a dozen people perk up with "You should get an Instant Pot! The shell practically falls off the egg!"
And so... I ponied up the $35 to see what all the fuss was about. At best I had the most amazing egg cooker money could buy. At worst I blew $35 on something I'd use twice a year...
After I got it, I was shocked at how huge this thing is. It's massive! I was not expecting something this gigantic for $35! So I went back to the site and found out why... somebody made a boo boo. The 6-quart was supposed to be $35, the 8-quart was supposed to be $70. At first I was wishing that I would have gotten the 6-quart so I had space to store it in the kitchen... but after thinking about it, I was happy to have the larger capacity in case I have to cook for a crowd. I'll just have to find a spot in the garage to store it.
Seriously, this thing is huge!
The manual, which they insist you read from cover to cover before operation, is pretty serious. You can get burned. You can release the pressure wrong. You can die. That kind of thing. And so... I was sure to read everything. Twice.
And then? Bring on the eggs!
Except... first of all, THERE'S A CAKE BUTTON?!? And, second of all, where was the hard boiled eggs button on this thing?
Umm... there wasn't one. And so I went online to look up at how to do this. The instructions were not rocket science. Dump in one cup of water, let cook for 5 or 6 minutes on low pressure, then drop the cooked eggs in an ice water bath. Simple. Except... where is my "low pressure" button? Apparently you have to use low pressure or else your eggs will crack open. So I read the manual again and... unlike a pricey Instant Pot, my knock-off doesn't allow you to set the pressure.
Apparently with my pressure cooker you are forced to select a "recipe button" and adjust it. I went with "Vegetable Steam" and reduced the timer from 8 minutes to 5 minutes. Then I pressed the start button. Much to my dismay, the timer didn't start. Instead lights were chasing each other on the display. Back to the manual. Apparently this is what happens when the cooker comes up to pressure... then the timer starts. Okay then.
Once the cooker beeped I clicked it off and unplugged it so it wouldn't stay on "Keep Warm" forever. Then I turned the release valve to let the steam blow out and waited for the little pressure valve to drop. At which point I opened the lid and expected to find a bunch of crushed eggshells stuck in a giant egg pie. But the eggs were intact and looked perfect. So into the ice water bath they went! Ten minutes later it was time to peel them.
THE SHELL REALLY DOES FALL OFF THE FRICKIN' EGG... EVEN FRESH EGGS!
Alrighty then! $35 well-spent! So happy I didn't throw that money down the drain. And then I cut one open and... BOOOOOOO! It wasn't cooked all the way! The yolk wasn't runny, but they weren't done. This made me mad because eggs aren't free, and I was having to throw out a half-dozen of them. Except... they're still edible, right? Back to Google, where I found out that what I had were medium-cooked eggs. Cooked, but with a soft center instead of a firm center. Something I have never had before. So I sprinkled on some freshly-ground salt and pepper and...
HOLY CRAP! THESE ARE AMAZING!!!
Egg chart taken from Mamabee... the arrow is pointing to what my eggs look like.
I HAVE BEEN EATING BOILED EGGS WRONG MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!
Medium-cooked eggs have creamy yolks... not dry and pasty. Medium-cooked eggs have whites that are soft... not firm and rubbery. And I could not stop eating them... I downed four of them for dinner right then and there. Then I sliced a fifth one to put on an English muffin for dessert.
I've since found out that I should have let them sit for five minutes in the cooker after releasing pressure before dumping them in the ice bath so the yolk finishes cooking. Then I'll get the firmer hard-boiled eggs I need for potato salad and stuff. I'll figure it out eventually. In the meanwhile... I would not be opposed to more "failures" like my first batch. Delicious!
I'm excited to try mashed taters next. Apparently mashed potatoes are amazing when pressure-cooked, and I do love me a good mashed tater.
And chili. Vegetarian chili would be great!
Oooh... and what about risotto?
And... CAKE(!?!) of course.
Posted on November 21st, 2019
Vegans: MEAT IS MURDER!
Also Vegans: I AM SUPPORTING THIS MEAT-BASED RESTAURANT WITH MY BUSINESS!
I am so fucking sick and tired of American's lawsuit culture that I could just vomit. Suing people is a nation-wide activity, which just clutters up the courts and make it so that actual lawsuits... you know, lawsuits with merit that need to be heard... have to fight for courtroom time.
I mean, come on. The place is a Burger King. What are people expecting? That every restaurant will install a second $100,000 auto-griller to make a burger that they never claimed was vegetarian become vegetarian? The ONLY claim that Burger King makes is that it's a 100% plant-based patty. THAT'S IT! I eat Impossible Whoppers because I don't want to kill an animal to eat. If I was bothered by meat contamination then a MEAT-BASED RESTAURANT would be the LAST place I went.
Picture taken by ME... just before I ATE IT!
Besides, if you want it vegan, then ask Burger King to microwave the patty for you... something they will happily do. And also remember to hold the cheese and mayo.
And then? Shut the fuck up about it.
Stupid shit like this drives me insane. If eating 100% vegan with no meat contamination is important to you, THEN EITHER EAT AT A VEGAN RESTAURANT OR COOK YOUR MEALS AT HOME! Otherwise YOU'RE JUST FUCKING THINGS UP FOR THE REST OF US, YA DUMBASS!
THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE IS WHY SO MANY VEGANS ARE HATED! Rather than be happy that people who don't want to kill animals to eat are finally getting options... AND LESS ANIMALS ARE BEING KILLED... they want to drop lawsuits so that restaurants won't even bother to take a risk in developing meat-free foods. HOW IS THAT PROGRESS?!?? Well, it's not. And if these dumbfucks would pull their self-righteous heads out of their asses and stop suing people out of their own fucking idiocy, maybe they could appreciate that.
Or not. Because this kind of senseless stupidity is all these lawsuit-happy assholes know.
Posted on November 17th, 2019
Don't despair that yet another weekend is over, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mando. After only two episodes of The Mandalorian I am prepared to say that it's my favorite thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Or at least tied with Rogue One. I am just completely shocked that they are using their big budget on something more than pew pew space battles. It's all story development... and they are taking their time to get to where they're going. And making everything look 100% gorgeous along the way...
And now I want a Baby Yoda doll. But who doesn't?
• MACLUNKEY! And, speaking of Star Wars, I still can't get over how stunning the 4K remaster of the movie looks. Seriously... it looks like it could have been filmed last week! IT WAS RELEASED IN 1977! I was compelled to watch because I heard that the "Han Shot First" scene which was "reimagined" into a "Greedo Shot First" scene is now a "Han and Greedo Shot at the Same Time" scene...
It's all so damn stupid. Han shot first. It was filmed that way. Any attempt to make it seem otherwise is just fucking embarrassing because it looks fake. BECAUSE IT IS FAKE! Why not just admit that Han Solo had a dicey past but in the end his hero nature prevailed? It sabotages nothing. It changes nothing. And the more you try and play it otherwise, the more you are drawing attention to it. Which is actually more than damn stupid... it's insulting.
• The King. Since the debut of The Impossible Whopper, I've eaten at least a dozen of them. Including the perfect one I had this morning...
For the most part, I absolutely love them. But here's the thing... like any burger, a number of factors go into how good each one tastes. Unripe, tasteless, tough tomato? Not so good. Ripe, flavorful, juicy tomato? Very good. Lettuce core that's tough and rancid? Not so good. Leafy, fresh lettuce? Very good. It goes on and on. Ordinarily, I'd chalk this up to rolling the dice in a game where I'm happy to play and take my chances. But when they cost $7.50 each? For that kind of money I would hope that Burger King would be a little more careful about making sure everything is good. Because... $7.50?!? Still cheaper than so many other vegetarian options out there... assuming you can find them in the first place.
• Axel! And so Netflix not only ponied up what I'm sure is an ungodly amount of money to Eddie Murphy so he would film a standup special... they must have backed up another dump truck full of cash for him to make a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie...
I loved the first two... liked the third one... and am hoping against hope that they will make the fourth one be worth a crap. After the long, long, long time that the franchise has languished in development hell, this is probably our last shot.
• Root Beer. I love Japan and adore the Japanese people. I see videos like this pop up in my feed and it's weird how the language starts coming back to me. I really should make time to refresh my skills and get back to Japan one of these days...
For the record, I love root beer. And A&W Diet Root Beer is fantastic.
• Watching. All-in-all I liked what Zack Snyder did with Watchmen. At least I did until the end where he completely changed Ozymandias's plan and fucked everything up. Which, in retrospect, is no surprise. He has absolutely no respect for the source material and feels as though he can "improve" on everything. In the case of Watchmen, he jettisoned the shock of a giant psychic alien squid destroying New York City, thus depriving us of one of the original series' greatest moments. In tonight's episode of the HBO series, which follows the graphic novel instead of Snyder's film, we finally got to see it in a flashback...
Now, this is not really a spoiler since it already happened back in 1987. And if it is a spoiler, how sad that you never read one of the greatest comic book series of all time before watching the show.
The HBO Watchmen series has been good... very good. And with each new episode I like it even more. But then I have to remind myself that the guy in charge of the show is Damon Lindelof. Talk about somebody who can fuck up an ending. This was one of the guys responsible for Lost. And so... while this series is delicious in all the right ways (mind-bogglingly good scripts and incredible performances) I'm holding onto my final judgement until all nine episodes have aired.
Until next weekend then...
Posted on November 7th, 2019
Last night after experiencing Avengers: Damage Control, Kyle and I went to an amazing Cuban restaurant in southern Minneapolis. It was a tiny place, but had a big heart which contained by lovely graffiti-strewn walls...
My iPhone's "Night Mode" came in real handy when trying to read them...
My dinner was a vegetarian plate. Seasoned black beans with rice... a Cuban slaw... sweet plantains... and, of course, yuca frita!
Kyle had a shrimp dish that was worthy of an umbrella!
I had to be up and getting ready at 4:30am, so it was an early night for me.
Once my hotel shuttle had deposited me at MSP, I started looking for a breakfast snack. Surprisingly, not much was open at 5:00am. But eventually I ran across Dunkin Donuts which, much to my surprise, had BOTH a veggie option AND Coke Zero! They were using Beyond Sausage on a muffin with egg and cheese. It was fantastic! I wish more restaurants would offer this kind of thing...
Burger King is having one of its best quarters ever thanks to their vegetarian Impossible Whopper causing a surge of 10% in sales. And it's easy to see why. It tastes fantastic. Probably due in part to the fact that it's cooked with real meat products, which I'm fine with because Burger King didn't have to kill any animals for what I'm eating. Apparently McDonald's is working on their own vegetarian burger. Which is kind of silly when the McVeggie Deluxe they once offered at their Times Square location was amazing and they could just do that.
I am genuinely excited to see vegetarian options being adopted like this. They don't always work for my tastes (Qdoba has the Impossible Fajita Burrito which tastes "off" to me) but the fact that I can go to so many restaurants and at least have something I can eat is fantastic. I wish it wasn't made more expensive than the meat options (thanks government subsidies!), but I'll gladly pay a premium if it's something I like. Most places the Impossible Whopper is just $1 more than a regular Whopper... worth every penny, and Burger King gets my business.
Anyway... before I knew it I was back at SeaTac which wouldn't be SeaTac if at least one thing I needed to use wasn't busted to shit...
The drive home was uneventful (thankfully) and here I am hanging with my cats for an hour before going into work at noon. They are, needless to say, happy to have me home.
If, for no other reason, that the heat will no longer be on "Away Mode."