Posted on September 11th, 2021
Flying on 9/11 is an interesting concept, to be sure. Couple that with flying during a pandemic and... well... yeah.
My day started at 3:30am because I had an early flight. This wouldn't have been a problem except my cats sensed that something was going on last night and both of them took turns wanting to be petted. For two hours. So instead of going to be at 9:00pm, it was more like 11:00pm. A smarter person might have locked them out of the bedroom so they could get some sleep, but I think we all know that I'm not that guy.
All things considered, today was an uneventful day.
I don't know what I was expecting my first flight in two years to be like, but it wasn't the smooth sailing I got. Made it to the airport. Got checked in. Made it to Seattle. Got my PRE-CLEAR wristband to get me into Hawaii. Got upgraded to First Class. Had an easy flight over the Pacific Ocean. Easy trip to the hotel. Arrived in time for a nice dinner. If I hadn't had to wear a mask the entire time, this was a trip like a hundred others.
No anti-masker meltdown. Nobody being dragged off the flight in handcuffs. Nobody being an asshole even. Just everybody doing whatever they had to do to get to where they were going.
My PRE-CLEAR band managed to survive the trip, so I'm just going to leave it on...
And now for some sleep. It's been a very long day.
Posted on September 10th, 2021
I'm off to Maui for a "celebration of life" ceremony for one of my best friends to scatter his ashes in the waters of a place that he loved. We've had many adventures together in Hawaii. We got certified to SCUBA dive in Maui together. We took a hop over to Kauai to be chased by wild boars... and have even had a guy with a shotgun tell us to get off his property when we made a wrong turn. Along with friends, we've been all over the island, and it only seems appropriate that his ashes end up there.
Originally it was discussed for the Spring of 2020. But COVID. So then the Fall of 2020. Then the Spring of 2021. Then (finally) got planned for Fall of 2021 (which seemed sensible at the time since the vaccine was so widely available... but we all know how misinformation turned that into a fucking shit-show). And so here we are. Getting ready to fly over to Maui tomorrow.
The road to get to The Garden Aisle has been long. And made difficult in order to keep everybody safe as the COVID Delta Variant continues to explode.
In theory, meeting the requirements are a simple matter. But in practice? Not so much.
First of all, Hawaii requires the AlohaSafe Alert app be on your phone and enabled. This is actually pretty smart, because if you've come into contact with somebody who has a COVID diagnosis entered into the system, it will anonymously let everybody know who was in their vicinity. Smart. Assuming people keep it turned on AND enter their diagnosis into the system. Two failure points that will most certainly cause AlohaSafe Alert to be rendered useless. But it's required, so whatever.
Second of all, Hawaii requires a negative COVID test result within 48 hours or proof of vaccination to enter the state... unless you want to quarantine for a couple weeks. I'm vaccinated, so no problem there. I uploaded photos of my vaccination card to the travel.hawaii.gov "Safe Travels Program." No confirmation. No verification. No nothing. Apparently you need a digital pass in order to take care of this on top of the card scans? Who knows.
So I got a digital pass with the VaxYes app, thinking I could link that to Safe Travels. Nope. VaxYes is worthless.
So then I tried to get a CLEAR HealthPass via the CLEAR app. There were some initial problems, but I managed to get it taken care of and linked to my Safe Travels account just fine. Perfect. I can now fly into Hawaii.
BUT THEN... Oahu and Maui announced that they would require negative test results or vaccination proof to eat at restaurants and bars via the state-sanctioned CommonPass. No problem. I download the CommonPass app thinking I can just use my VaxYes, CLEAR, or Safe Travels pass to get that set up. NOPE! In order to use CommonPass, you have to have received a SMART Health Card. But the only way you can get a SMART Health Card is if your vaccination site offered it. My vaccination was from the Washington State Department of Health, and they don't offer SMART Health Cards (of course not... Washington State NEVER is on top of tech shit like this). Which means I have no way... none... of getting CommonPass for eating in restaurants or bars when I'm in Hawaii. Hopefully I can just show one of the other fucking passes I've had to get and that will do. I'll also bring my physical vaccination record card (which is a pain in the fucking ass because whomever designed this stupid shit made sure it doesn't fit in a fucking wallet).
So, essentially, it took two websites, four apps, and my vaccination card to get me this far. And I still have absolutely no idea how any of it works or even if any of it will work.
I guess if I show up in Maui and they refuse to let me in or decide to quarantine me, I'll finally find out that it didn't work.
So fingers crossed.
Posted on August 29th, 2021
So much good entertainment news this week, but I'm keeping my expectations in check... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Old Guard! My favorite movie of 2020, by a large margin, is getting a sequel! Starring Charlize Theron and based on the comic book of the same name, I literally can't say enough good things about it...
Apparently everybody's coming back, though a major shift at the end of the movie adaptation have me wondering if the follow-up movie will attempt to adapt the story of the follow-up comic book, Force Multiplied.
• Atomic Blonde! And speaking of Charlize Theron... her other amazing film, Atomic Blonde, is not getting just one sequel... it's apparently getting two!
This is phenomenal news, because the first movie was a spy thriller unlike anything I had seen before. I only hope that whomever picked the songs for the soundtrack comes back to select them for the sequels, because that just made an incredible film even better.
• Dark! And I'm not done with awesome entertainment news! Yet another amazing movie has a television series sequel in development... Dark City! But it gets better! Original director Alex Proyas is going to be working on it!
I remember the original film very well. A friend and I had made a trip to Seattle and had some time to kill. There was a theater near our hotel so we decided to see a movie. Nothing looked interesting to us, but we eventually settled on Dark City because it at least was supposed to be science fiction, which we both liked. Nothing could have prepared us for what we were going to see. It was an absolutely fascinating story and had some of the most stunning visuals of any film I had seen up to that point. Visuals, I might add, we've seen copied in any number of films (there were times watching Doctor Strange that I couldn't get Dark City out of my head). No word as to whether any of the original characters will be returning, but
• Happy Little Trees! I finally got to the Bob Ross documentary on Netflix. I was most pleased that they acknowledged that The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross was preceded by The Magic of Oil Painting with Bill Alexander. They were essentially the same program using the same technique... except Bob Ross was ASMR personified. I remember when I was a kid how upset I was that Bill Alexander was replaced with the new guy, but ultimately fell in love with Bob Ross just like everybody else did. I am fairly certain that I saw every single episode of both series, and was a huge, huge fan...
From PBS. But, just in case... © ® ™ Bob Ross Inc. so I don't get sued.
The documentary was quite good, but I didn’t learn anything new from it. I was well aware of the battle between Bob Ross and The Kowalskis, and was hoping that we would finally get their side of the story. But nope! They opted out and provided a weak-ass statement, which only makes me believe that they are awful people who didn’t honor the wishes of Bob Ross and tried to cheat everybody out of ownership of what they were left after Bob Ross died (not to mention the awful things they did to steal from other artists). Such a shame. With all those millions of dollars there was plenty of money to go around while still honoring Bob Ross’s final wishes. UPDATE: Bob Ross Inc. Responds to Netflix Doc.
• Eeelie! DAFUQ?!? CAN SOMEBODY CONFIRM THIS?!?
It's like... I don't even know how to respond after watching this.
• Sheep! "A sheep farmer stuck in lockdown in New South Wales who was unable to attend his aunt’s funeral has honoured her memory with the ultimate tribute: a love heart made from sheep."
The innovation of people to escape the confines of the horrors of this never-ending pandemic provides hope amongst the ignorance and selfishness that plagues us.
• Value! "Spread the word. This has to stop." — People really are the worst...
And just as a sample of what this guy has to deal with...
Jesus, humanity. Do fucking better.
Any more attempt at bullets and I'd be shooting blanks. So until next week...
Posted on July 1st, 2021
And... just like that... the year is half over.
And on a frickin' Thursday of all days. After having 2020 pass so slowly thanks to a COVID-mandated hallscape, we're back to time flying by again, I guess?
Posted on May 10th, 2021
My official "Vaccination Complete" date was last Wednesday on Cinco de Mayo. That was two weeks after my second dose. It was my intent to go out for dinner... sitting down in an actual restaurant... but it never ended up happening. I watched television with Jake while drinking margaritas and Pacifico.
But tonight was the night.
Now that my sister and I are on the vaccinated train, she stayed over last night... the first time in a year-and-a-half... and we decided to celebrate by going out to dinner. It was so wonderful. The last time I ate out in a restaurant was probably early December 2019, and I forgot how nice it is to leave the cooking to somebody else and just enjoy being out of the house again.
Afterwards we went to a favorite Redneckistan bar for beer and pulltabs. Oh... and I played video-trivia games! I for 100% certain caught COVID from touching the screen for an hour, but it was worth it because I got high score!
It's a strange feeling having people in my house again. Before the pandemic, my home was a revolving door of houseguests and good times. During the pandemic it was just day after day after day of me and my cats watching television.
Life is not "back to normal" yet. Probably won't be for years. But it was sure nice to get a glimpse of "normal"... if only for one evening.
Posted on May 9th, 2021
We may not be at heard immunity yet (if ever), but life goes marching on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mom! Happiest of Mother's Days to all the moms out there. The more time goes on, the more grateful I am to have had the best mom ever looking after me...
We were best friends from the start and I love her around the world and back.
• Hoth! Anybody seen Star Wars: Biomes on Disney+ ?!? Gorgeous! Just a 12-minute screen saver of various planets from the Star Wars universe...
I am addicted and want more... more... MORE! There are other planets that would be so cool to see! If you have Disney+ tune in and be mesmerized! Then demand another episode! The two ship fly-through videos (for the Millennium Falcon and a Star Destroyer) are also wonderful to look at.
• Vaccinate! The New York Times has a fascinating article on how Pfizer is manufacturing their COVID vaccine, and I encourage everybody to give it a read.
Image from The New York Times
Incredible stuff. mRNA vaccines seem more like magic than science, and future prospects for the technology are bright indeed.
• Honnold! Every New Year's Day, I have a checklist of things I do. On that list is to check and see if Alex Honnold... a free-climbing genius... is still alive. I'm a huge fan, but not always able to keep up on what he's up to. As of a week ago, I know he was alive because he did a video for GQ Magazine where he looks at climbing scenes in movies. It's fantastic and well worth your time to watch...
"He doesn't get tired though because he's Tom Cruise!" And here's the original one I watched...
"Oh my goodness gracious... he just fell to his death!" Alex is entirely too nice for this cruel world!
• Trek! I am rewatching the first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie... you know, the one with ALL THE LENS FLARE ALL THE TIME... I just got to the point at the start where Lil' Spock is beating the ever-loving shit out of the Vulcan kid that called him mom a whore. All while his classmates look on in horror. And I realize something. JJ Abrams completely and totally defined Spock in three scenes... something it took a dozen episodes of the original television series to do...
And this follows on the heels of him doing the same for James T. Kirk. Say what you like about the reboot, but Abrams was absolutely brilliant in introducing the Star Trek Universe to people who may have been unfamiliar with it. If you didn't know Kirk, Spock, and McCoy at the beginning of the movie... you certainly did by the end. No easy feat.
• Clark! I was a huge Tom Clancy fan back in the day. Read all the early books he wrote. They were entertaining diversions with increasingly ridiculous stories... reaching peak absurdity when Jack Ryan became president. I stopped reading a couple books after Executive Orders and never got into the books that were added after Clancy died where other authors wrote them. I thought the three movie adaptations with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford were pretty good. The Ben Affleck and Chris Pine movies were forgettable. Though I have (mostly) enjoyed the John Krasinski Jack Ryan series on Amazon. And now we have Without Remorse with Michael B. Jordan as John Clark...
Despite the story starting off with a tiresome and antiquated "fridging" that could have easily been changed, it's a darn good movie. Jordan has the chops to sell the character both emotionally and as an action star, and his path of revenge is glorious. If you like this kind of thing, it's worth a look on Amazon Prime streaming!
• Borders! I absolutely love stories like this: Belgian Farmer Accidentally Moves French Border.
And that's a wrap on my Sunday Bullets. Hope your Mother's Day weekend was a good one!
Posted on May 5th, 2021
It's been two weeks since my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Which is to say that I am now fully vaccinated. Though with all the mutations that are happening, this could be short-lived. Right now they are saying that the vaccines do very well against the new strains... keeping people out of the hospital and away from death. Tomorrow something new could come along to change all that. In fact I would expect something new to come along and change that. This ain't over, and I can easily see how we'll need an annual booster to handle new strains just like we have with the flu shot.
In the meanwhile though? I am going to eat in a restaurant!
Maybe. I think. The plan was to go to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate my being totalmente vacunado on Cinco de Mayo... but that's looking unlikely now because I've got a list of things to do that's a mile long. But I will be eating at a restaurant that's taking proper precautions one day soon.
Preferably one that makes a mean margarita.
Just me entering Phase One of getting my life back.
Posted on May 3rd, 2021
I am at the end of my rope with the pandemic response.
Where I live here in Redneckistan, we've made INTERNATIONAL NEWS because there was a super-spreader event in the city of Republic, Washington on April 9 through 11. Now 10% of the population there has been diagnosed with COVID. And that number is sure to climb because the people who got it from the people who were at the event haven't shown their symptoms yet. That will start happening any minute now, because we just passed three weeks out. Their 25-bed hospital has been completely overrun, so patients are being shipped to other counties where they can fill up their hospital beds. Yikes.
And now I steel myself for hater Democrats to say "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!" because that's always their response when something idiotic here makes world news. Except... it's not as simple as that. In the 2020 election held in Ferry County, which is where the city of Republic is located, 1/3 of the people voting there did not vote for President Trump...
Washington State is a blue state. In fact, it's one of the bluest states (if not the bluest state) across all demographics in the entire country. Most of that "blue" is on the West side of the Cascade Mountain Range, it's true, but the blue is spreading. Where I live, the vote was only 53% Trump, 45% Biden, and 2% Other. To which a lot of people across the state were saying "HALF didn't vote Republican?!? Because this would have been absolutely unthinkable even ten years ago. So when people look at idiocy in my region and their immediate response is "TYPICAL DUMBASS REPUBLICANS!"... they are thinking of the past, not the here and now.
Though the Republican demographic IS likely responsible for what happened in the small city of Republic.
There's just no sugar-coating it... the data claerly shows that the people more likely to engage in dangerous and reckless pandemic behavior are Conservatives. Though, to be honest, I don't really blame them for being ignorant as to how their actions are dangerous. I blame the "news" organizations which cater to them. When you have Tucker Carlson regularly spreading outright bullshit and lies when it comes to masks, vaccines, and COVID, well... the people who trust him as a "news" source are going to be roped into that kind of thinking. The outlet they choose to keep informed is misinforming them. You tune into a channel called "FOX NEWS" because it's the "news," and it doesn't occur to you that it's not actually reporting facts. FOX "News" lawyers infamously argued that people can't sue them for spreading misinformation because "FOX persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes." But that doesn't get reported on FOX "News." There's no disclaimer at the start of Tucker Carlson's show letting their viewers know that most everything he says is utter bullshit. And so they continue to believe him.
This is backed up by the above-linked article in the Tri-City Herald...
"The county previously had relatively few COVID-19 cases, and many in the conservative, rural community saw mask mandates as infringing on their liberty. Less than one-quarter of the county’s residents have received a vaccine to date, according to the health district, but officials said the outbreak has increased interest in it."
Because apparently it takes hospitals being overrun and people dying to get people to start thinking seriously about COVID? Thank you, Tucker Carlson.
I've lived in Redneckistan for 50 years. I understand that things are not so cut-and-dry when it comes to the people, the attitudes, and the lifestyle here. And it's for that reason that I have always tried my very best to be compassionate when it comes to the conservative school of thought which drives our society. Outsiders judge us without knowing us... or without even trying to understand why things are the way they are here. And while I get frustrated... a lot... because of the horrific level of willful ignorance that goes hand-in-hand with a public that's been duped by FOX "News," OAN, and Newsmax, I try to keep my head and heart on track. I do not wish ill on my fellow Redneckistan residents. They are my friends, family, and community. I choose to live here, so any problems I have are on me... not them.
But it's not always easy.
And it's just going to get worse, because Governor Jay Inslee has no choice but to start phase rollbacks as COVID cases here continue to explode. And, as you can just imagine, the people who have been conditioned to hate masks, hate vaccines, and hate science, REALLY hate our governor, even though he's just responding to a problem that their actions are largely responsible for. Businesses here don't have signs saying "State Mandates Require a Mask Be Worn On These Premises"... instead it says something like "DUE TO GOVERNOR INSLEE DECREE, YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK! DON'T BLAME US, BLAME YOUR DICTATOR!" Which is to say that people are being conditioned to hate Governor Inslee as well.
In all honesty, I've given up trying to convince people. My voice simply cannot compete with "The News" that everybody here believes in.
All I can do is find voices of reason to listen to, try to be understanding, try to be respectful, and carry on as best I can... all while resisting the urge to run around screaming "WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR GOD'S SAKE!"
Mostly because, while all of John Oliver's information is good and the way he presents it entertaining, the condescending snark in the way he presents it would not go over here well at all. And I get it. Last Week Tonight caters to a liberal audience just like FOX "News" caters to a conservative audience.
The "middle ground audience" is grossly underserved.
And so I'll just keep biting my tongue, try to convince people to trust science where I can, and go on living my life.
Such as it is in the middle of a global pandemic that's exploding out my back door.
Posted on April 28th, 2021
Just two days ago I wrote about how utterly awful people are with their stupid shit. And today it all reached a peak that had me wishing an asteroid would nuke the planet. I am so done with awful, ignorant, stupid people. Like really done. Good thing my Buddhist philosophy promotes and existence of non-violence!
The nice thing is that the CDC realeased new guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated which, as I understand it, is two weeks after your second dose (which is May 5th for me). It's quasi-normal stuff...
I was supposed to fly out to New Orleans in June... plans which were made back in December of 2020 when the vaccines were rolling out... but canceled them this morning. That will make my first trip be in September, by which time I will hopefully feel better about crawling on an airplane with people and their nonsense for five-and-a-half hours.
Just my luck there will be a new COVID strain that hits at the end of August which isn't stopped by the vaccines. Then I'll have to wait for a Pfizer booster shot or something.
All because people are selfish dumbasses and, in the absence of reason, those who are fighting the good fight against COVID are facing an uphill battle. Because the pandemic isn't the enemy any more... it's the morons who don't trust science and take COVID seriously that keeps the war going on and on and on.
Posted on April 26th, 2021
Every damn day there's stuff going on that's worse than the day before, and I am exhausted. I just want to crawl under the covers and forget the outside world exists before I even get to my lunch hour because something in the news was the last straw for me.
Flat earthers. Anti-vaxxers. COVID deniers and mask deniers. Q-Anon conspiracy dipshits. Politicians selling us out to their wealthy corporate owners. Asholes making life so much harder for anybody who isn't a billionaire. The list goes on and on, but it generally boils down to mean people and stupid people. And most of the time the worst offenders are both. Those who lack compassion and kindness. Those who are willfully ignorant and not willing to acknowledge truth. It's depressing just how bad things have gotten because these people are intent on fucking it up for all of us.
The good news is that I finally set aside some time to reinstall Wordpress so the PHP update is no longer killing my blog, so there's that.
So I guess there's nothing stopping me from kicking my Monday to the curb a little early and crawling under the covers to play video games for the rest of the day.
Though I'm pretty sure my cats will want dinner come 6:00.