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Affordable Courtesy

Posted on September 21st, 2017

Dave!It's funny what you remember as you're looking through old travel photos.

As an example...

I took a Mediterranean cruise that was incredible. Wonderful visits to Barcelona, Tunisia, Malta, the Italian coast... all amazing sights with plenty of amazing memories. But what I also remember? When I was waiting in line at the airport check-in how I overheard a passenger at the adjoining counter say "Sorry"... because the airline agent was trying to pull his suitcase around the podium, but it had a wheel missing and made a loud scrrrrape across the floor. The guy standing behind him said "Jeez, might want to buy some luggage that'll stay in one piece!" He said this while looking up to the ceiling, directing his words to nobody in particular.

Except any idiot could tell who he was talking about.

The man with the broken suitcase turned around and said "It was all I could afford."

Approaching Valletta

   
I thinks about that moment a lot. And a part of me wonders... Where was the guy with the suitcase going?

Was he on his way to some exotic location for a vacation?

Was he flying for a job interview?

Was somebody in his family sick and he was rushing to be by their side?

I don't know.

All I do know is that he was doing the best he can to get by with his busted-ass suitcase. And if he was having a happy day because he was going on vacation, he didn't deserve to have it ruined by somebody being an asshole. And if he was having a sad day because this trip was to go to a funeral, he didn't deserve to have it made worse by somebody being an asshole.

Which begs the questions... why are people compelled to be assholes to people they don't even know?

If we could answer that question, we might all be able to get along with each other better.

We all have our baggage, after all.

   

AAA Fucking Sucks and You Should Hate Them

Posted on September 19th, 2017

Dave!Whatever you do, Do NOT make hotel reservations with AAA. I had booked some hotels for a trip to Glacier National Park after my work was done in Spokane last week. When the park ended up besieged by wildfires that caused road closures and cancelation of all the activities I had lined up, I had to change plans. Despite the fact that my hotel reservations were non-refundable, I didn't have any trouble canceling one of my bookings for a full refund and getting an 80% credit on another booking for a future date. Since there was nothing I could do about the fires changing my plans, the hotels stepped up and did the right thing.

Then there was the booking I made in Coeur d'Alene for the trip home. I called the hotel, explained the situation, acknowledged my room was non-refundable, but asked if they could please change my reservation to two days earlier. I may not be able to go to Glacier National Park, but I could still hop over to Coeur d'Alene for a day after work was done.

The hotel was sorry about my trip being ruined, and said they would be happy to change the reservations for me. Except they couldn't, because it was made through AAA's system. They said that if I would contact AAA and have them request the change, they would be happy to accommodate me.

So I contacted AAA.

And received an email telling me that not only can't they change my reservation, THEY WON'T AUTHORIZE THE HOTEL TO MAKE A CHANGE TO THE BOOKING! They do say that the hotel can make a change at their discretion... but the hotel can't do that because the reservation is not in their system. The hotel would essentially have to make a second reservation for $0 and then have a second reservation for me that they would have to honor if I were a jerk who insisted on showing up. Needless to say, they can't do that.

So... the company that I rely on for help with things go wrong is the company telling me that they won't help when things go wrong? I complained to the main AAA site and was told I will be contacted. That was a week ago... and nothing.

Well fuck that.

So I guess I'm canceling my AAA membership that I've had since 1996 (and was on my parents family plan for a decade before that). Let's see... $92 a year for 21 years is $1932.00 I've paid to AAA and don't think I've ever used their roadside assistance. I have gotten a guidebook or two though. Coming up on a $2000 relationship that's been destroyed thanks to a $110 hotel reservation. Alrighty then. Guess I won't miss it. I think my VISA card has roadside assistance anyway.

If you have AAA, might want to check and see if you have roadside assistance on your credit card so you can dump their asses before they fuck you over too.

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Giant Murder Spiders and Rearend Cellular

Posted on September 12th, 2017

Dave!I've been coming to Spokane for work for decades. There are a lot of memories in this city for me.

Most memories are easy to recall here because so much of the city is unchanging. Spokane is a relatively big city that feels like a town. Small businesses in old brick buildings go on for generations. Today I passed by a block of these buildings and remembered that it was where I had my first driving accident. I was coming up to a stoplight when the driver behind didn't stop in time and bumped into me. After we pulled over to survey the damage (surprisingly, there wasn't any) he said "I'm so sorry. I was trying to answer a call on my cell phone." Back then mobile phones were a new technology and I had never even seen one in person. I remember being surprised that Spokane even had cellular service. I was shaken, but sympathetic towards the man's plight because he let me hold his bulky cell phone. It might as well have been magic to me, I was so fascinated by it. I was tempted to ask him if I could make a call, but I knew the pay-per-minute rate of the day was astronomical, so I reluctantly handed it back without comment.

This was not the first time I was rear-ended in Spokane. The second time I was coming up to a stoplight next to Safeway and a woman plowed into me. This time there was damage... albeit minor. I got insurance money to repair my bumper and it looked good as new. The second and third times I was rear-ended, I took the insurance money and went on a trip. Because eventually my priorities shifted. I'd rather travel than have a nice car.

The hotel I stayed at last night is a beautiful restoration property in downtown Spokane. Everything from the public spaces down to the paint on the walls of my room is lovely. Except... holy crap is it noisy.

There is a central atrium where people gather, and everything from quiet conversation to children screaming echoes throughout the entire hotel. And when those children are running around screaming until 2am? Just try sleeping through that. Then... then... there's the air conditioning. Every time the air starts up, there is a loud "snap" followed by a huge "bang." It literally sounds like somebody is trying to break into your room every time it goes off. Especially as you're attempting to drift off to sleep at 3am.

And so I am sleep-deprived and exhausted.

Which made for a fun day at work, I'll tell you whut. I'd best describe my demeanor as "punchy."

C'est la vie.*

Work went exceedingly well and, before I knew it, it was time to grab lunch at David's Pizza (my favorite pizza in the known universe) and head home.

Which was a much better journey than yesterday.

Yesterday's drive across Washington State's Central Basin was long and boring as always... but augmented with the excitement of asshole drivers. The speed limit is 70mph. I drive around 75mph. Occasional I would pass a truck doing 60mph only to have some asshole jam on up to my bumper doing 90mph... who then flips me off when I jet back over to the right-hand lane. Sorry that I interrupted your illegal driving speed, asshole. In what universe do I deserve to be flipped off for that? If I had psychic powers, I would be telekinetically ripping off middle fingers, no lie.

On my way home I stopped at a mini-mart gas station outside of Quincy (home of the best corn in the nation!) to fuel up and grab something to drink. When I went up to the counter to pay, a kindly elderly gentleman leaning on a cane (surely 90+ years old) was in line ahead of me. He was buying a single ice cream sandwich... nothing else... with a credit card. He talked in a whisper, but I could hear him tell the cashier that he couldn't open the package on his ice cream and asked him to do it. They cashier grabbed a pair of scissors and did so, after which the old man said "thanks." He then had to put away his credit card, put his wallet in his pocket, grab his ice cream bar, and shuffle off to destinations unknown. The process took forever but I actually found it fascinating to watch and didn't mind at all. We'll all be there someday, if we're lucky.

Or unlucky, depending on your perspective.

After paying for my Gatorade and a Coke, I pass the old man eating his ice cream sandwich when a thought flashed through my head.

"Holy shit! He's not driving is he?"

I was beyond curious to know if the empty car parked by the mini mart was his, but didn't want to wait ten minutes to see if he drove away in it... or if somebody else was driving... or if he was being picked up... or if he actually walked to the mini mart from somewhere miles away.

After starting up the car, I noticed the MAINTENANCE REQUIRED light had come on. Apparently all those oil change email notices that I had been ignoring had come home to roost. And so I detoured to Jiffy Lube to take care of that, because heaven only knows when I'd ever have time to drive there again. Hey, it was on my way home anyway... so might as well.

As I pulled into Jiffy Lube, I noticed that the air quality in Wenatchee was more smoke-filled than I had seen it all year. This made me very concerned for my cats, so the first thing I did when I got to the waiting room was check my security cameras...

Sleepy Catio Kities

OF COURSE they're both outside. Why wouldn't they be?

And then I noticed movement in the corner of the security camera. What the heck is THAT, I wondered.

Oh... it's just a GIANT FUCKING MURDER SPIDER DISPOSING OF IT'S DEAD LOVER'S BODY!!! I think I actually said "Holy shit! out loud when I zoomed in...

Giant Murder Spider

THE HORROR! I mean, come on... she just dumped the dead body into her web and went back to hiding in the door frame...

Giant Murder Spider

To say I was in a panic is an understatement.

My cats were outside in the catio WITH A GIANT MURDER SPIDER! And since GIANT MURDER SPIDERS are always poisonous, their fate was in serious doubt. Because there is nothing... nothing they love more than to play with bugs. If either one of them saw the thing... my guess is that I would arrive home to a cat in respiratory failure because it had been bitten and poisoned.

So I wait for an agonizing 20 minutes while my oil was changed.

I drive home through work traffic, which is another 30 minutes of torture.

I get home, tear into the house, lure both kitties in from the catio, close off the catio door so they can't get back out, run and grab the bug spray from the garage, run around the house to the catio door, then soak... soak until dripping... the entire upper corner of the frame.

Eventually a tiny little spider crawled out, fell to the ground, and died.

"Huh. I guess when a little spider is close to the camera lens on a security camera, it only looks like a GIANT MURDER SPIDER.

And then I feel so awful. If I had known it was just a little spider, I would have left it alone. I am not a spider murderer. If I find a spider in my house, I catch it and take it outside. I try to console myself with the fact that she murdered her little spider-boyfriend after mating, then dumped his body without a care, but it didn't work. Then I tried to console myself with the fact that the little spider won't be laying millions of eggs which would hatch and fill up my catio with tiny spider babies. Somehow, I was able to make my peace with being a spider murderer after that.

Of course... there's nothing to say that she didn't lay those millions of eggs before she dumped the body.

Which means millions of spider babies intent on revenge for the death of their mother. That's all I need.

   

* Will it impress you to know that I can spell "C'est la Vie" without having to Google it? No? Okay.

   

Flat Earther Dumbfuckery

Posted on August 22nd, 2017
Dave!When I was at the early stages of planning my trip to Antarctica, I ran across something... strange.

It was an article talking about how Antarctica is a fraud. It's not a "continent" at all... instead it's just a wall of ice around the edge of a FLAT EARTH DISC to keep the oceans from spilling off the side. The sun and moon are much, much smaller than the earth and rotate above the "disc" like yo...

Flat Earth GIF
Image attributed to The Flat Earth Society. Really. It exists.

This is not the first time I had heard of such a thing, but I always thought that stuff like "The Flat Earth Society" was a joke. I mean, how could it be anything except a joke? We have visible, reproducible evidence that the earth is a globe which can be witnessed with our own eyes! Astronauts have been off the planet and have seen the earth is a globe! We have actual science that proves how the earth globe works! We have frickin' satellites orbiting the planet to give us technology magic like GPS and shit!

And yet... it's no joke. An increasing number of people are tossing reason right out the window and actually believe this crap.

Then I started seeing flat earth dumbfuckery pop up again for the eclipse yesterday. To some people, the eclipse was seen as "irrefutable proof" that the earth is flat. They don't take time to understand how reality works, so they come up with stuff like "THE SHADOW IS MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!" and "NASA IS TELLING YOU TO WEAR SPECIAL GLASSES SO YOU CAN'T SEE THE TRUTH!" as their "evidence."

What's most fascinating to me is the flat-earther's blinding hatred of NASA.

Over and over and over again I read how NASA is lying to us and everything they produce has been faked and photoshopped. Of course they think the moon landing was a complete hoax. How could they not? The reason they think NASA is faking everything is that they get tons of money from the government to explore stuff in space, and if they told the truth... that there is no stuff in space to explore... they would be defunded and shut down. No explanation as to how NASA manages to keep their thousands of employees on a leash... or why Russia, Japan, China, and other countries are cooperating with the NASA 'lie" when there's no reason for them to. But it's not like reasonable thinking is going to get you anywhere with somebody who thinks the earth is flat.

Aside from the common sense of a globe-shaped earth given all we know, observe, and study, I have yet to figure out how flat-earthers think that eclipses can be predicted by science if they reject all the science that allows eclipses to be predicted. I mean, seriously... how can NASA tell you in advance when and where an eclipse is going to occur if they are faking the science that gives them the information?

Here's a segment of a list maintained by Time and Date that lays out eclipses for all of 2019...

Eclipse Schedule!

Scientists are able to release stuff like this because our solar system has been modeled. It's not some wild guess that they're making... if you go to the places they say there will be an eclipse at the time they say there will be an eclipse, you will see an eclipse. It's that simple.

I have scoured the internet trying to find an eclipse schedule as released by a flat-earther, but it doesn't look like there is anything. You're just supposed to take their word that the earth is flat even though they can't explain how astronomers are dead-accurate about the science of eclipses... and offer no explanation or "predictions" as to when eclipses on their pancake earth are going to occur.

Riiiiiight.

Oh well. When I set sail towards Antarctica this December, I'll be sure to take photos of the giant ice wall.

And if you never hear from me again, you can assume that the flat-earthers are right and I've fallen off the edge.

   

On Life and Barcelona

Posted on August 18th, 2017

Dave!A terrorist attack in Catalonia.

Including Barcelona, a city I love and have visited multiple times.

You'd think I'd have found the words to properly express my sadness at these ongoing tragedies from terrorism by now, but I don't think they're ever coming. It just continues to break my heart, and it always hurts to know there is such evil in the world.

But it hurts worse when places I love suffer for it.

And I love entirely too many places on this earth.

   

Thank you to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for your statement on the terrorist attack. It's nice to know there's a true leader left in North America.

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National Parks Salvation

Posted on August 17th, 2017

Dave!Rather than focus on the hideous events from another tragic day in this country, I thought I'd search for something positive about the good ol' USA that doesn't fill me with overwhelming dread and embarrassment.

I didn't have to go far.

I recently got a notice that Rob Decker is having a killer sale through the month of August on his incredible US National Park posters. There are many people/companies creating these, but Rob's are my hands-down favorite (he studied under Ansel Adams!). He bases the designs on his own photography, and crafts them in the style of the old-time WPA Federal Art Project posters that were made in the 30's and 40's. They are magic...

Rob Decker National Parks Posters

Rob Decker National Parks Posters

Rob Decker National Parks Posters

All of these gorgeous 13×19 posters are signed/numbered limited editions and usually retail for $30 each (which is a total bargain)... but with his sale, you can pick them up for as low as $20 each!

Talk about something Americans can be proud of... our incredible 59 National Parks are national treasures and truly showcase America the Beautiful. I visit them whenever I can, and have plans to visit more in the near future. Here's my list with a check next to the park posters I own (click on a National Park to visit its Wikipedia Page)..

National Parks I've Visited (15) Planning to Visit 2017-2019 (11) Have Not Visited Yet (33)
Arches Acadia American Samoa
Bryce Canyon Death Valley Badlands
Canyonlands Glacier Big Bend
Crater Lake Joshua Tree Biscayne
Everglades Kings Canyon Black Canyon
Glacier Bay Pinnacles Capitol Reef
Grand Canyon Sequoia Carlsbad Caverns
Great Smoky Mountains Shenandoah Channel Islands
Haleakala Wind Cave Congaree
Hawaii Volcanoes Yellowstone Cuyahoga Valley
Mount Rainier Yosemite Denali
North Cascades Dry Tortugas
Olympic Gates of the Arctic
Redwood Grand Teton
Zion Great Basin
Great Sand Dunes
Guadalupe Mountains
Hot Springs
Isle Royale
Katmai
Kenai Fjords
Kobuk Valley
Lake Clark
Lassen Volcanic
Mammoth Cave
Mesa Verde
Petrified Forest
Rocky Mountain
Saguaro
Theodore Roosevelt
Virgin Islands
Voyageurs
Wrangell–​St. Elias

Just for fun, I mapped them all out in Google Maps here...

   
Rob plans on eventually releasing posters for all 59 National Parks, so hopefully Hawaii Volcanoes, North Cascades, and Redwood will be added to my collection soon!

In the meanwhile, I rearranged my stairwell wall so I can fit my recent purchases into my collection...

Dave's National Park Layout Stairwell

Annnnd... my wall is full now! As I visit more National Parks, I guess I'll have to add any new posters to  my office  the cat's room walls.

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Over and Back Again

Posted on August 3rd, 2017

Dave!I had an appointment over on The Coast, which meant an early run across the mountains. Thanks to WSDOT and their endless construction at numerous spots, it wasn't the smooth sailing that I had hoped for. Thank heavens I left an extra hour early.

The trip back was much of the same.

Except I made the mistake of logging on to Facebook before leaving, where I received some gut-wrenchingly awful news. I decided to stop at Denny's for lunch rather than risk driving while in a state of shock.

It didn't help.

But I did get fries and a Coke out of it, so I guess that's something.

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