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Bullet Sunday 696

Posted on January 10th, 2021

Dave!Free speech has consequences, which is nothing new to bloggers like me... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Colosseo! My mom's favorite landmark is the Roman Colosseum. She asked to visit it every trip we made to Rome which, I believe, was four times (it was a cruise stop twice and a trip stop twice). I'd ask her why she loved it so much and she'd say "I don't know... I just do." When I told her that maybe she was a gladiator in a previous life, she thought that was funny and started telling people that when showing this photo...

Travels with Mom who is standing at the Colosseum in Rome.

Because of this, I very much wish she was still alive, because Rome is renovating the Colosseum, and I think the idea of being able to stand on the floor of the Colosseum arena would be so thrilling to her that we would have definitely made a fifth trip once it was completed. This is really, really cool, and I'd love to be able to visit again. But it won't be the same without my mom there to share it.

   
• LEGO! I have to say... whomever works in LEGO advertising which came up with this ad for a "Make Your Own MiniFig" game apparently doesn't have the same filthy mind that I do, because, well...

My sleep data graph via the AutoSleep app on my Apple Watch.

Is that a hotdog in your pants, madam, or are you just happy to see me?

   
• PERFECT! I've watched this TikTok more times that I'd ever admit. It's hilarious because it's true...

@wasildaoud

This is so accurate😭😂 @jojo_arianna #foryoupage #foryou #relatable #viral

♬ original sound - WASIL🦋 حب نفسك

Though I'd argue the point that this is how girls make coffee, because I see plenty of guys doing essentially this. And given my distaste for coffee, this would absolutely be me as well.

   
• Cute Gay Shit! TikTok is so much more than funny coffee memes. There is some genuinely touching stuff on there that gives me hope for all humanity...

@thevolunteertexan

#stitch with @krazykris88 #MyStyle #tiktok #lgbtq

♬ original sound - Johnathan Francis

And just KNOW that this gentleman gets lumped in with people he’s condemning because of how he looks and talks. You know it. God bless you, sir.

   
• NEWSFLASH! FORBES: Close To A Worst-Case Scenario—Former CDC Director Issues ‘Horrifying’ Outlook For New Covid Strain. If your balls don't shrivel up after reading this, then you probably don't have balls. But you are alive if you're reading this, balls or no balls, which means you should be horrified that there are still people not taking this shit seriously. Protect yourself. Protect others. This has catastrophe written all over it.

   
• Specs? Apple is the most ridiculous fucking company. They want to make their products as simple to use as possible by taking all the "tech" out of everything. Which is fine. EXCEPT YOU CAN NEVER MANAGE TO GET ANY FUCKING SPECS FOR ANYTHING THEY SELL. Will this cable work for charging? I dunno. What is the maximum transfer rate for this cable? I dunno. Can I quick-charge with this cable? I dunno. What about the charger? I dunno. Can you at least tell me if it is USB-PD compliant? I dunno. They literally tell you NOTHING in their support docs or on anything in their entire store. — If you want to shield your customers from scary tech-speak, fine. But at least have the fucking information SOMEWHERE for the people who need to know this shit. Their solution for everything is to say "Well, if it doesn't work, you can always return it." Which is an astound attitude to take considering that it wastes my time and their resources, and I'm getting seriously tired of it.

   
• Apolitical! My existence right now:

REPUBLICANS: You're just a Democrat shill.

DEMOCRATS: You're just a Republican shill.

ME: I AM NEITHER A DEMOCRAT NOR A REPUBLICAN! I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE NEED TO WORSHIP POLITICIANS AND FALL IN LINE WITH A POLITICAL PARTY RUN BY WEALTHY ASSHOLES THAT ARE PROPPED UP BY WEALTHY CORPORATIONS WHO DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT US! WHY CAN'T I JUST BE A NON-PARTY SHILL?! WHY DOES MY SHILLNESS HAVE TO BE ATTACKED LIKE THIS? I AM A SHILL FOR ALL HUMANITY! AND A SHILL FOR CATS! TOWANDAAAAAAA!!!

Me rubbing Jake's floofy cat belly.

Because, like, how could you not be a shill for floofy bellies like dis?

   
Stay frosty out there, my friends.

   

Benge, Washington, Represent!

Posted on January 5th, 2021

Dave!Eastern Washington is home to many, many small unincorporated towns which are basically just places which have some kind of historical reason for existing... a stop on a now-abandoned railroad or trail... an important business that used to be there... or maybe a place which intersects land owned by local farmers. And, to many of them, the nearest major city (usually Spokane) is 1 to 2 hours away. They usually don't have stores, shops, or restaurants to speak of (those being anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes away). If they're lucky, there might be some kind of general store with a few edible staples and various sundries amongst the grain and feed, but there's no full-on grocery store. Instead they have to make their own meals from what they can get at the nearest grocery store when they go once or twice a month. That's just how it goes.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

Partly because I am sick to fucking death of seeing political maps of Washington State where the entirety of Eastern Washington is painted red making it look like a gajillion people vote red and it's unfair that "blue Seattle gets to dictate who runs the state." That's a pretty gross exaggeration. Some of these towns which turn counties red have like A DOZEN PEOPLE in them. And land doesn't vote. So Washington State is getting the political representation which is actually representing the majority of the voters in it, regardless of what story a map is presenting.

However... the other side of that coin is the fact that these small towns DO exist. These dozens upon dozens of rural communities and the people in them DO endure. Often times they are the people who farm our land and grow our food and have communities which MEAN SOMETHING. So having them wholesale ignored by our State government is fucked up beyond all reason.

Is what's best for Seattle always going to be what's best for little Benge, Washington with its 50 people? Fuck no. But the rules Benge lives by are the rules major population centers over the Cascades dictate to them. District and County governments are supposed to have power to make sure they get fair representation but, let's face it, their power is severely limited in the grand scheme of things. Ain't nobody with major political power speaking up for the good people of Benge...

Satellite View of Benge, Washington.
Benge, WA as seen from Google Maps, ©Google

The red dot on this map points to where Benge is in Washington State...

Washington State Map View of Benge, Washington.
Benge, WA as seen in relation to Washington State from Google Maps, ©Google

   
Now, I've never been to Benge. Odds are I will never step foot in this town.

But a part of me really, really wants to.

I would love to travel to all these small, so-called "nothing" towns that dot my side of the state as a way of acknowledging that they exist. That the people who inhabit them deserve to be recognized for the thankless work they do to grow our food. To remind myself that they are a part of Washington too, and that the lives of their citizens mean something when it comes to the rest of the state.

Even when they get lumped into politics of a city that's four hours away.

Especially then.

I dunno. Benge is 2-1/2 hours from where I live. However, it's an easy 35 minute drive off I-90 on my next trip to Spokane... so maybe one day? I'd like to think that Benge would have a kind word for a stranger passing through town. It's a nice thought to have, isn't it? I'm from a small, rural, Eastern Washington community too, after all.

I just won't mention that there's a grocery store ten minutes from my house. No need to flaunt my big-little-city luxuries like that.

   

Blog of the Damned

Posted on December 17th, 2020

Dave!Last night it snowed. Not a ton, but enough to turn the world white here in the foothills of the Cascades.

In the Northeast, of course, it's another story entirely. Which means even if there wasn't COVID happening, I'd likely be unable to get to my annual December work trip in Maine. Assuming I could even fly into Boston and the roads are open, there's still a matter of 2-4 inches of snow falling per hour... followed by rains which will freeze at night. Not a pretty scenario.

Back on my 2014 trip, similar conditions were brutal, and it took a half hour to scrape the ice off my rental car and get the tires free from having been frozen to the ground...

Tires frozen in the snow.

But I can't complain too much. Being stuck in Portland in the bitter cold gave me the opportunity to go exploring with my camera and I got some really nice shots that trip because so few people were out braving the weather...

Portland's Harbor Fish Market.

Portland Maine

Portland Maine

Portland Maine

It will be interesting to see how my travel goes in 2021. Now that the charity has shuttered and work travel has halted indefinitely, it's entirely possible that I'll take just one or two trips a year for vacation or visiting friends and that's it. Quite a change from the dozens of trips I was making each year pre-pandemic. Though when you consider I had zero flights in 2020, even one flight will be a huge change from where I'm at now.

Oh well. I guess the frequent flier status and upgraded seats were good while they lasted. I had 5 years of good status followed by 25 years of amazing status and nothing lasts forever. Still... I will surely miss getting International upgrades. Domestic flights are no big deal. Seattle to Hawaii is just over 5 hours. Seattle to Orlando is around 6 hours. I can tolerate just about any seat for that long. But those 11+ hour flights? Having legroom and comfy seats makes a world of difference.

2006-2013 were my best travel years. When both you and your mom (who has zero status) regularly get upgraded to World Business Class for international trips... you know you are flying a lot of miles. An absurd amount of miles...

Mom and my feet stretched out enjoying World Business Class luxury.

Mom and my feet stretched out enjoying World Business Class luxury.

=sigh=

Those were the days.

In other news... hate comments continue to trickle in because I dared blog about the movie Dashing in December and showed a photo of two gay cowboys dancing together. I hardly ever read hate comments and delete them the second I know what they're about... but this morning I awoke to a comment which merely said "YOU WILL BE DAMNED!" and I had to really appreciate the artistry in that. A comment short enough that I had read the entire thing before I realized it. If I were to respond to this kind of idiocy (and I don't) it might be along the lines of "Settle down there, snowflake! It's not like I posted images of the gay cowboys kissing!"

Gay cowboys kissing.

Closeup of gay cowboys kissing.

Well I'll be damned. I actually did do that!

Please keep your hate comments short and to the point.

   

The Elephant on the Corner

Posted on November 25th, 2020

Dave!You can't stop progress. Or whatever passes for progress now-a-days.

Seattle has some iconic landmarks... The Space Needle... Pike Place Market... The Seattle Public Library... it's a unique city with a unique and interesting history (and if you want to know just how interesting, then the book for you is Sons of the Profits: There's No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901).

One landmark which Seattle recently lost was the Elephant Car Wash sign. I've seen it many, many times driving into the city... usually on the way to The Seattle Center. The sign has been there since before I was born...

The pink elephant Car Wash sign on a Seattle street.
Image taken from Google Maps Street View

The pink elephant Car Wash sign on a Seattle street.
Image taken from Google Maps Street View

But now it's been taken down...

The pink elephant Car Wash sign being cut in half and loaded on a flatbed trailer.
Image by Alan Berner / The Seattle Times

It was inevitable that it had to come down one day.

But it seems strange that I've outlasted it. At least at this location. It's being moved to permanent display at the Museum of History and Industry. I am trying to picture driving down Denny Way and it not being there.

I cannot.

Maybe it would be best if I just circumnavigate the location in the future so I don't have to?

That way I can stop progress just a bit. If only in my head.

   

A Cold Day in Berlin

Posted on November 10th, 2020

Dave!I am fortunate that my home is fairly energy efficient. It must have pretty good insulation to keep the heat out, because I barely have to run my air conditioning in the Summer. The Winter is a different story. It gets so cold where I live that the heat has to run often just to maintain a temperature of 72º F when I'm home. My smart thermostat drops to 70º F while I'm at work and 66º F when I'm sleeping. The cats don't seem to be much bothered, but they have heating pads to sleep on if things are too chilly for them. As for me? I wear wool socks and extra layers... and I have a heated throw for my couch and a heated blanket for my bed. It's not ideal, but it aves me a lot of money on my energy bill. And it works.

Except when it doesn't.

At around 2:30am I woke up with terrible leg cramps. And I was freezing.

Apparently the heated blanket on my bed has died.

The coldest I've ever been was not Antarctica. Not even close. The coldest I've ever been was at a Berlin train station in the middle of Winter. It was so cold that I couldn't feel my legs... and my fingers and toes (once I managed to heat them back up) were tingly for days. The second-coldest I've ever been was on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine waiting for the sun to rise. That one was on me. I just had to get photos from the first place to see sunrise in the United States. Worth it though...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

This morning was nothing that bad. But it sure felt like it. And so I guess I need to order a new hot blankey. This is a no-brainer purchase because the money saved on my power bill will pay for a new blanket in just one month. I toyed with the idea of trying to repair it, but I think an electric blanket is one of those rare cases where that isn't an option. It's just my luck I would screw something up in the electrical system and the blanket would burst into flames in the middle of the night.

Slightly worse than waking up cold, I think.

A shame it couldn't have failed closer to Black Friday though.

That's also just my luck.

   

Life of a Chinstrap Penguin

Posted on November 6th, 2020

Dave!There's a feature in iOS 14 where you can have a "photo widget" on your home screen. It pulls photos from my phone that I see every time I wake it up. Most of the pictures displayed are of my cats because most of the photos on my phone are of my cats. But there are occasional photos of my travels... or my friends... or my mom and my family... or scenery I thought interesting enough to capture. Every once in a while it pops up with a photo I transferred from my "real" DSLR camera to my phone.

This morning when I woke up it was a penguin from my epedition to Antarctica...

A penguin looking at me in Antarctica.

I remember taking this shot with perfect clarity.

You are instructed not to approach within a certain distance of any wildlife... like six feet or something. But it's okay if wildlife approach you. It's not like if a penguin walks up that you have to turn tail and run away or anything like that. This happened to me a couple times. The first time was at Hydrurga Rocks where the above photo was taken. The penguin was bobbing along as penguins do when I dropped down to take a photo of him. He stopped, looked my way, then hopped over within a couple feet...

Penguin checking me out.

Penguin coming over to me.

Penguin navigating rocks to come see me.

Penguin come to see me.

I would have offered him a fish if I had one on me, but I did not, so he gave me a once-over then wandered away...

Penguin hopping away.

Penguin looking back as he wanders off.

And so I found myself thinking about this penguin for a good chunk of my morning. What's going on with him? Is he still around? Still healthy? Hasn't been eaten by a seal or something? How long does a penguin live anyway? What's the life of a chinstrap penguin?

Turns out the Chinstrap Penguin AKA Pygoscelis Antarcticus can live for up to 20 years.

So maybe he's still around. Swimming in ice-cold waters. Hunting for fish. Sunning himself on rocks. Doing whatever other penguin stuff that penguins do.

That would be nice.

I know thanks to climate change things are getting tough for arctic and antarctic wildlife, so it's nice to think that he's doing okay.

Or she's doing okay? Males and females look exactly the same and the only way I could ever tell was if they were next to each other since males are larger than females. Which is probably why they are the ones who end up fighting over pebbles to build nests? I should probably look into that one of these days. Maybe the next time a penguin pops up on my iPhone home screen.

Wouldn't want to misattribute penguin outrage.

In Washington State, so long as your ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it will still be counted even if it arrives at the polling station up to 20 days after Election Day. Obviously we are not a battleground state... WA is about as blue as blue can get thanks to the massive progressive voting block on the Seattle-side of the mountains... but, technically, our election is not over until November 23. So when I hear people in Washington going on a tirade because votes are still being counted in other states... it takes all my willpower to keep from telling them to take a seat. If we were a battleground state deciding the election and the vote was close, WE would be potentially delaying things for weeks. But it's all good. The Office of the President doesn't transfer until noon on January 20th.

Save your human outrage for something else.

   

Life Behind the Golden Curtain

Posted on October 14th, 2020

Dave!Thanks to my volunteer work, I am accustomed to working with people who have unfathomable wealth. And while I can't speak for all of the vastly wealthy persons on earth, those I've worked with for charitable causes have also been unfathomably generous.

But just because I am accustomed to it doesn't mean that I am used to it. You never get used to being next to that kind of wealth. When you get to a certain financial level, money loses all meaning. You don't look at price tags. You don't care what something costs. You know you can afford it regardless of how much it is, so you don't have to care.

One of my many functions was to assist donors and their families before and after my meetings. Mostly in Las Vegas. Arranging for translators. Making reservations. Looking into custom experiences. Finding transportation. Researching people, places, and things. I pretty much had to do it all. Or at least be in charge of finding the people who could actually do it. Some of my friends familiar with my work assumed this made me a "Vegas Insider" but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I could drop a name to jump a line from time to time, but unless you have millions upon millions of dollars, I really can't help you. Anything I might have an inside track for would be way above your price range.

I never minded being on-call 24/7 to assist absurdly wealthy people with their desires, questions, concerns, and problems. As somebody who loves adventure and likes to travel, it was like visiting an entirely new world. I got to see things most people probably think they know from watching TV shows and movies, but the reality is wildly different. At least most of the time it is.

I could blog for months about all of the stuff I arranged or was witness to. Mind-blowing stuff. Funny stuff. Inexplicable stuff. Obscene stuff. Crazy stuff. In the decade I spent volunteering, I saw it all. For obvious reasons, I can't talk about any of it. People entrusted me with discretion, and the last thing I would ever do was break that trust.

I can give some examples though!

On one of my last trips I had to work with a store to arrange for a jewelry purchase to be securely transported. I never found out what the purchase was (the translator /slash/ personal shopping assistant I worked with would only mouth the words "holy shit" when I enquired) but you just know that hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions of dollars?) was on the line to require that kind of fuss to be made. I was so nervous about it that I personally oversaw the loading/unloading.

On another trip I had to arrange shipment of a painting. And, no, I didn't walk it across the street to Kinkos. The gallery just needed me to provide details, gather information, contact a customs broker... that kind of stuff. And then I had to sign off on it all. The insured price was just over $6 million. I broke out into a cold sweat and asked to know what I was signing for. The agent took me to a private viewing room where the work was still set up for examination. Once I saw it, my legs turned to jelly. "Is the artist who I think it is?!?" I somehow managed get out. "Oh yes."

Many times I was asked to arrange for dining and show tickets and other mundane things. Except it is never really mundane when you do it for the people I was assisting. Restaurants and shows which are fully booked or sold out to me suddenly because no problem for them because money starts getting involved. And while I was forbidden from accepting gifts or anything (the sole exception being additional donations, of course!), I did get to experience life behind the golden curtain from time to time. I would receive permission to attend a private dinner... or an event... or otherwise indulge in a life far removed from my own. After a culinary tour I thanked my host because the vegetarian courses were some of the best food of my life. "I'm so happy you enjoyed it!" they replied. Later I found out that the chef who prepared the food and accompanied us was world-famous. I also found out that the cost per person for the event was $7,500 plus expenses. For 16 people. I was aghast... until I found out the $120,000 was all donated. Then I was aghast in a different way.

Since the pandemic shut down my volunteerism and my travel, I don't know if I will ever again get to drift through the private world of the über wealthy. Something tells me I might be done... even if the organization I work with starts up once more. That kind of travel and that kind of work takes a toll on you after a while.

Instead I get my unobtainable wealth fix like everybody else does... by watching TV shows and movies!

My obsession right now is Island Hunters...

The Steve Jobs Theater Building at Sunrise.

It's like House Hunters and House Hunters International but instead of choosing from three houses to buy, these people are choosing from three islands.

Now, right off the bat I have to say... the people on this show are not what is considered "über wealthy." They have budgets, which is something truly über wealthy people just don't have.

But they might as well be über wealthy as far as I'm concerned. Because you won't see me touring million-dollar islands and being all worried as to where I can put the caretakers and servants so they don't intrude on my experience! And I certainly have never had to figure out where to build a helipad, that's for sure.

The show is kinda bonkers.

Island #1 is the right size, on-budget, and has a nice beach... but neighboring islands are too close and the existing house is not at all adequate and would have to be torn down so something more acceptable could be built!

Island #2 is under-budget with fantastic views, but is smaller and undeveloped... so it would take money and time before it was ready for construction and the house would only be 3,000 square feet.

Island #3 has gorgeous beaches, plenty of land, a great dock, and a home which would work with extensive renovation... but it's over-budget.

WHICH ISLAND WILL THEY CHOOSE?!?

I am really hoping that one day I'll be watching an episode and the buyer says "I just can't decide... so I want to buy all three!" because that's more in-line with what an über wealthy person would say.

Wealth is wasted on the wealthy. Wealth should really be given to somebody like me who knows how to spend it properly! So if any über wealthy person out there wants to make sure their money is spent right, my email address is in the sidebar of every page!

   

Looking with Your Heart

Posted on October 9th, 2020

Dave!Phenomenally gifted musician Eddie Van Halen died this past Tuesday at the age of 65.

As I seem to do any time somebody passes away at a younger age than my mom, I immediately count my blessings that I had her for as long as I did. She died at 73, which still seems awfully young, but it's eight years more than Eddie's son had. Had my mom died in 2009, there would have been no Disney cruise through the Mediterranean... no cruise through the Panama Canal... no trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos... no trip to Africa... not to mention countless other memories I have from that precious time I got with my mom that Wolfgang Van Halen did not get with his dad. And my heart is crushed for him thinking about it. Though I'm sure he probably feels lucky he got the time he did when he thinks about those who lost a parent even younger than Eddie.

Eddie Van Halen playing guitar with his son Wolfgang Van Halen

All this was weighing on my mind this morning when I was getting ready for work. So I took a half hour to look through the travel books I made for my mom from our trips together. I haven't thumbed through them in over a year because it was just too painful. But now? Still painful... but not so much that I have a total melt-down just taking them off the shelf. Now they're just page after page of fantastic memories that I am overwhelmingly grateful to have had. I got to travel the world with my mom... how cool is that?

On the afore-mentioned Disney cruise through the Mediterranean in 2010, one of the ports of call was Civitavecchia, Italy. This was the stop for an hour-long drive into Rome. Since we had been to Rome three times prior, I asked if she wanted to hang out on the ship instead of heading into the city. She, of course, wanted to see Rome again. Not only was she adventurous like that, but I am fairly certain it was one of her favorite places on earth. Never one to pass up an opportunity to eat at Alfredo alla Scrofa, my favorite restaurant in the world, I made the arrangements and off we went...

Mom with her giant plate of Fettucini Alfredo at the restaurant where it was invented.

On the bus-ride I asked what she wanted to do in Rome besides lunch and the only thing she said was that she wanted to go The Colosseum. For whatever reason, she loves the thing, and we ended up going every time she was in The Eternal City...

Mom at The Colosseum in Rome.

I thought it might be fun for her to toss another coin in the Trevi Fountain. It's said that if you have your back to the fountain and toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder, you are guaranteed another trip to Rome. She did this our first trip together and here we were on our fourth, so it must work, right? Here she is trying to figure out which hand you use over which shoulder. If there were an audio recording you'd hear me saying "Other shoulder, mom!"

Mom at The Colosseum in Rome.

Alas, we never made it back to Rome again, but I'd hardly blame it on the fountain since it worked really well that first time.

With hours left to kill we went to The Vatican. I had never been on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, so I thought we might as well take a look rather than getting lost wandering in areas I wasn't familiar with. But before that we went inside to kill more time. The church is stunning in a way the vast majority of architectural structures are not, so you simply can't see enough of it. My favorite thing there is Michelangelo's Pietà, one of the most sublimely beautiful works of art you'll ever see. It depicts Mary holding her son Jesus after the crucifixion...

Michelangelo's Pieta showing Mary cradling Jesus after he was crucified.

I was explaining to my mom that Michelangelo was just 23 years old when he started work on it, and the piece was considered controversial because he depicted Mary as a young woman instead of somebody far older as had been customary. This has always been fascinating to me, and I noted that her face wasn't contorted in anguish because this would add creases and folds that would age her. My mom nodded and replied "She still looks sad to me." When I told her that I thought Mary looked more serene in her grief than sad, mom said "But she does look sad. She may be the mother of God, but she's still a mother who's lost her son. How else could she look?"

Michelangelo's Pieta, a close-up on Mary's face.

And there's no debating that. I was looking with my eyes... my mom was looking with her heart. She tended to do that a lot. Probably because it was a talent she had baked-in. I, on the other hand, have to work at it.

But not when thumbing through my mom's travel photo books. Looking with my heart is all there is.

Rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen. Your music was a voice for the generations.

   

YouTube for Days

Posted on October 1st, 2020

Dave!With television production shut down and the new television season pushed back for the foreseeable future, I've been turning to YouTube for entertainment while I work. There's just so much to experience. And since everybody else is probably in the same boat with running out of stuff to watch, I thought I'd go through some of my favorite YouTube channels that I watch regularly. I did this a while ago but wanted to update after I learned that Great Big Story is shutting down.

Channels I watch because I want to learn something. There are so many brilliant educational channels that it blows my mind, and I'm regularly linking to them in my Bullet Sunday posts. When I'm alerted that Veritasium has a new video available, I drop everything and watch immediately. Derek Muller breaks down science like nobody else, and his latest video is the kind of stuff I obsessess over...

There are many many learning channels I love. CGP Grey, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, Johnny Harris, Doctor Mike... they all have cool stuff to open my mind towards.

Channels I watch because I just think what they do is so fascinating. Baumgartner Restoration is just video after video of Julian Baumgartner restoring fine art... mostly paintings. That alone would be amazing to me. But it's the things he develops to be able to do the work that blows my mind out of the back of my skull. He did a SIX PART SERIES on restoring a painting which was painted on wood. But before he even got to the point where he was working on the actual paiting, he had to use his engineering and fabricating skills to build a special table to do it...

Baumgartner is like some kind of renaissance guy who can do everything. And he has one of the most soothing voices and most agreeable personalities of anybody I've ever seen. There are few things I can watch which will calm my mind faster than Julian working on his latest project. Another brilliant channel for watching somebody make magic happen? My Little Bakery is filled with Nadia's incredible icing artistry and has to be seen to be believed. I mean...

Another fascinating thing to watch is Calligraphy Masters which was originally for learning calligraphy, but also features beautiful lettering art I can't get enough of. And then there's the cool stuff that Mark Rober does, which is about as fascinating as it gets.

Channels I watch because I love woodworking and home reno. My favorite hobby is working in my garage wood shop and doing my own home renovation. YouTube has been invaluable in learning how to do all this stuff. The channel I look at first is always Home RenoVision DIY where Jeff will give you all the dirt on how to get professional results from your projects and save money while doing it...

Another person doing God's work for learning renovation and home improvement is skateboarder Ben De Gros at Vancouver Carpenter. For pure woodworking, Peter Millard is another great channel. And I love Fix This Build That as well.

Channels I watch because I want to keep up on tech. My favorite tech blogger is Marques Brownlee. The guy is smart as hell, has a subtle funny streak that makes him fully relatable. He reviews the stuff you want to see, but doesn't get bogged down in too many details nobody cares about. I didn't see his Apple Watch Series 6 video before I bought mine, but I was livid when I finally got to see it because HE HAS THE WATCH I WANTED TO BUILD THAT APPLE WOULDN'T LET ME! A Project RED watch with a black band...

Marques may not want a red watch... BUT I DID! Except I couldn't get it with a black band. =sigh= If you're looking to majorly geek out to tech, Linus Tech Tips has been around forever and sometimes goes reeeeeally deep into the nuts and bolts of it all. And then there's Unbox Therapy, which is exactly what it says in the title.

Channels I watch because I want ideas for new things to cook. But many of them I watch because I just like to watch cooking channels. Especially foreign cooking channels where you can turn on auto-translated subtitles and see how masters of their craft work. Like De mi Rancho a Tu Cocina...

And if you love pasta, the artistry found on Pasta Grannies is remarkable...

There's also channels like Pro Home Cooks, budget-conscious cooks like Joshua Weissman, and exceptional bakers like John Kirkwood... the list goes on and on and on.

Channels I watch because I want to be more informed on Current Events. All media is biased. All of it! but when you recognize their biases you can use that to expand how you see the world. I'm not saying I'm going to watch Far-Right assholes or Far-Left assholes... that's just torture. But I'll tune into channels by those on the Right or Left if I think that they have something to actually say on a subject and aren't just parroting extremist talking points and don't consider their views to be above the facts. David Pakman is highly opinionated towards the Left, but not beyond all reason. Somebody who is labeled as Right, claims to be more Left, but strives to ride down the middle and distill information wherever it lands, is Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan gets a lot of hate from both sides, some of which is justified, but he has thoughtful commentary and does a really good interview. Here he is with Pakman and some fantastic discussion that really needs to happen...

There was another interview with Pakman which was equally good and equally important from this year (and highly disturbing in hindsight). Seriously. Tune into that.

Sure, Rogan skates on the edge of conspiracy theory sometimes, but the guy got me to change my mind on Bernie Sanders, and that ain't nothin'...

I love that there are conversations which can make me look at a person or an event or an ideology in a different way... or even change my mind. Joe Rogan's show is really good at this kind of thing. Even though I definitely don't always agree with him or his guests, I keep watching.

Channels I watch because I want to challenge how I see and live. I know that Russel Brand can be problematic. The guy has some views which I consider to be naive, impractical, and just plain bonkers. And yet... he is one of the smartest, most caring, most insightful humans on this planet. And he's hilarious. And it's because of this that I tune into every one of his videos. A third of the time I have to bail because the discussion is not something I'm interested in exploring with him, but the other two-thirds? Fascinating stuff. Take this short 12-minute video where he discusses the presidential "debate" fiasco we just endured...

Yep. Yep. Yep. I mean, Russel is more "big picture /slash/ in the grand scheme of things" here than he might should be... if you believe in a woman's right to choose (to throw out one example) then there is a huge difference between President Trump and Joe Biden getting elected. But is he wrong that our political system is primarily interested in self-preservation over addressing the needs of a diverse population and that the big-picture items won't change much because it's all run by people who only care about money? Fuck yes, he's right. Or, to be more accurate, he's not wrong. And it's not just politics and the hideous crap going on in the world today. Russell has a number of videos on self-help and personal growth that can be inspiring and helpful. Another channel along these lines is Rich Roll. It's not like he's going to convince me to adopt a 100% plant-based diet or become an endurance athlete, but Rich has some very good insight on living a healthier, most enlightened life and I enjoy hearing his thoughts.

Channels I watch because I want to see people being human. It's really easy to get disassociated from humanity even when there's not a pandemic. It's not good for us. It's not healthy for us. It's not fun for us. But it happens. So there are a few channels I subscribe to simply because I like to watch and feel more connected to people. Yes Theory is a good example. The crew there do things and go places and ponder ideas that are just so very... human, and I love to see it. Take a look at this video where Thomas visits the least-visited country on earth to see what I'm talking about...

God I love videos like this. How can you not? The crew's latest video is where they paid somebody to be their friend for 12 hours. The result was wonderful...

Another channel which is sometimes sweet, sometimes shock, sometimes stupid, but always human to a crazy degree is MrBeast, which I talked about here.

And there you have it! Some of my favorite YouTube sites! And I didn't even get to those sites that I watch just to be entertained. I guess that's a list for another time.

   

No More Borders

Posted on September 17th, 2020

Dave!I am a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Johnny Harris.

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know who Johnny Harris is even though you may not be able to place his name. The guy is a remarkable travel blogger whose videos I have watched over and over and over again. He is the one person I can point to and say "I want to see the world like that!" Given how much travel I've done over the years, that's a pretty bold statement, but it's 100% true.

The best outlet for his work is the series Borders which was published by Vox. At least it was. The series has ebeen canceled... even though the new season (Borders USA) was mostly shot already...

Borders, which sent Johnny to interesting border zones between countries, was an exceptional look at the world and its peoples. I learned so much from this series and it actually changed the way I travel and what I do when I'm out of the country.

So... needless to say, I'm completely gutted at the news.

All is not lost, however. Johnny has been posting on his personal channel and has some very cool stuff there (he's a map-lover like I am and his map videos are amazing). His latest? This piece of brilliance...

I hope you'll give Johnny's videos a look because they're really something special.

And if you like what you see, you can help support his work via his Patreon for as little as $3 a month. A pittance given that it keeps him making really cool videos that are as good as anything you'll find on television.

So... no more Borders.

That always sounded like such a good thing for the people of planet earth. At least until now.

   

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