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Disneyland Westside

Posted on March 26th, 2021

Dave!A second entry for Friday? Lucky you!

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you undoubtedly are aware of my Disney theme park obsession. Heck, I even designed my own parody theme park DaveLand because my Disney love goes pretty deep...

The Daveland logo... shamelessly rendered in the style of the Disneyland logo.

I collect the map pamphlets from the Disney parks. I have the wall maps. I bought the map book. And every time Disney announces anything new or any kind of expansion, I am compelled to figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to do it.

The lastest news is more announcements for the Disneyland Resort "Westside Expansion" which will turn a bunch of parking lots into an expanded hotel/shopping/dining/entertainment experience...

An illustration showing the Disneyland Westside Expansion.

Now, this concept illustration is not in any way final (indeed, it looks like the previous plans for the "Mickey Mouse Hotel" have been drastically altered or scrapped... and does anybody remember the plans for "Westcot?"). And it's a bit deceptive, which we'll get to in a minute. But you can see that the idea is to add more stuff to snag tourist dollars than they already do. Looks like there's a lazy river tube ride to the left there. The above-mentioned "Mickey Hotel" in the middle. Three entirely new hotels to the far right. A live stage venue just in front of them. And of course more shopping and dining. Disney quite clearly doesn't want you sleeping, shopping, or dining at anything except Disney-owned properties.

As I was saying, the illustration is a bit deceptive though because about 1/3 is already developed with The Disneyland Hotel and Disney Paradise Pier Hotel, which will be surrounded by new construction (which I've shaded in magenta)...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the new construction will be.
© Google Maps... Click to Embiggen

Yellow shading is over Disneyland and California Adventure so you can compare sizing. Suffice to say, this is not a small endeavor... nor will it be cheap. I'm not sure where all that parking will go. Could be it will be constructed underground. Could be they will expand the Pumba lot that's wayyyy off to the East or the Toy Story lot that's wayyyy off to the Southwest (see below) to be a multi-story garages like they did for the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures that are in the upper-left corner of the map.

It's interesting to note that Disneyland is pretty much at its limit here. To the South is the Anaheim Convention Center. To the North and West is suburban sprawl with hundreds of homes that Disney would have to purchase.

But then there's the land to the East.

And here's where my speculation takes a bit of a sinister turn.

Right now, most of the land to the east is occupied by a bunch of hotels, with the exception of the afore-mentioned Pumba Parking lot (outlined in cyan) which I'm guessing is owned by Disney. The red outline is the land I'm talking about...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the Eastern land is located.
© Google Maps... Click to Embiggen

Unfortunately for Disney, there's a shopping Mall to the South of the Eastern region that's likely there to stay unless Disney acquires it (if they haven't already) in which case they could rebrand it as yet another Disney shopping experience.

But let's think about this for a second.

The Disneyland Resort Westside Expansion has at least four high-capacity hotels planned. That's going to take business away from the hotels which popped up to the East of Disneyland. Which means the price to buy them out may cheapen. After enough lost business, they may consider selling to Disney... something that's inconceivable as things currently stand because their occupancy must (normally) be pretty darn high and very profitable. And once that first hotel domino falls... and Disney re-themes it as a Disney hotel... and people flock to it because Disney dangles enough perks... and more hotels lose more business... well, it's not difficult to see how it might be "bye bye Candy Cane Inn"... followed by the rest of them one-by-one.

This, of course, is all conjecture. It could be that Disney has zero interest in the budget hotel business, or that the existing hotels will continue to be so popular that the selling price would be insane. Or maybe the chain-owned hotels don't care about lost business and just want a Disney-adjacent property in their portfolio. It's hard to say. All I know is that both parks are overcrowded year' round now, so maybe it's worth it to Disney to buy everything up... and simply not provide budget lodging. At least not as it looks right now. A Disney "Budget Hotel" will be cheaper when compared to their other hotels, but still Disney-pricey. Because if there's one thing that Disney knows how to do... it's make money. Lots of it.

And they could, of course, use the land to build a third theme park. Or relocate the structures that are currently to the North of Disneyland so they can expand the park there. Or just shift the Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking to the East so another big chunk of land opens up for entertainment and hotels on the Westside.

However...

That's not the end to Disney's (estimated) land holdings. They either own or lease a rather large piece of land to the Southeast which is currently the Toy Story parking lot. Not sure if the parking for the hotels/businesses to the North is Disney-owned (that's outlined in green)... but if Disney does own this, they could build a massivley huge parking structure which could replace all the lost parking for Westside... and absorb parking for any hotels they buy, which could then be expanded or rebuilt... or replaced with more theme park to attract more customers (or maybe spread the crowds out a bit)...

Me drawing on top of a Google Map screen capture to show where the Eastern land is located.
© Google Maps

I dunno.

All I do know is that Disney gobbling up that Eastern parcel... along with the area above the Toy Story parking lot... creates a nicely contiguous chunk of land which would nearly double what they have now.

Not that contiguous land is essential. Just look at Walt Disney World. Build another monorail or an air-tram... or expand the bus system... and that third theme park could end up in the Southwest section. Or anywhere, really. I remember reading how Disney wanted to expand to a beachfront property in L.A. or something. Heaven only knows how much land in the greater L.A. area they own either directly or via shell companies.

What I wouldn't give to work for the team at Disney which gets to plan all this stuff. That's my dream job right there. But since I don't, all I can do is have fun speculating and be excited for what's coming next.

Until then, there's always Daveland.

UPDATE: Well looky what we have here... a site that Disney created to shame Anaheim into rezoning their property for multi-use purposes called Disneyland Forward. It doesn't do anything to curb speculation because it's just Disney tossing out ideas, but it does clarify a few things. First of all is their plans for expanding into the Westside property and Northward...

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Note that Disneyland gets an addition to the West, so those weren't hotels, they were attraction buildings. The only hotel expansion looks to be another tower for Paradise Pier?

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Which is not to say that Disney couldn't change their mind and drop a bunch of hotels once they get their way so that they can still buy out everything to the East and raze it for a third theme park. And idea which still makes a lot of sense. Though remember that land to the Southeast? Hotel and shopping have been dropped there as an example of what could happen...

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

Disney Forward Expansion Map.

   
Interesting stuff! You can see everything for yourself at Disneyland Forward.

   

100% Totally Believable

Posted on March 22nd, 2021

Dave!Today I booked my first flight since November, 2019 for a trip this September. Which means that if nothing derails my plans, I will have gone almost two years without having stepped foot on an airplane. I think the last time I went more than a year without flying was 1992 maybe? So obviously this is a bit weird for me.

This is a trip which was supposed to happen in the Spring of 2020... but... well, you know.

Even with vaccinations happening, travel is still a scary prospect. Though I will most certainly have been vaccinated by September, there's still loads of people not giving a shit about taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the ever-growing number of coronavirus mutations. On the contrary, people are being less cautious than ever and COVID infections are starting to take off again.

So... maybe I end up with an incurable strain of COVID from my trip and that's the end of me. Not the best way to go, but there are certainly worse ways. Hopefully somebody will take care of my cats, because that's all that really matters to me.

Ugh.

It's almost unbelievable that people couldn't be bothered to stay vigilant until vaccinations could become more prevalent and mutations could be curbed... but here we are.

And by "almost unbelievable" I mean "100% totally believable" because you can see evidence of people acting like anti-science morons on a daily basis. TikTok is replenished with new anti-masker nonsense hourly.

Oh well.

Human nature and all that.

   

Now That’s a Mind Trip

Posted on March 4th, 2021

Dave!In case I haven't mentioned it in the past ten minutes, I'm at high risk for COVID complications thanks to issues which ordinarily mean very little in the grand scheme of things...but mean quite a lot if I'm infected with the coronavirus, thanks to the way it attacks the lungs and respiratory system. I get COVID, and I could end up truly fucked.

There was a time that I was thinking "Well, I just need to hang on until I can get vaccinated and the pandemic settles down a bit... and then I can have my life back again." Except that's not really true any more, is it? Thanks to mutations of the virus, new strains are popping up which are more contageous and more deadly than before. Yes, the vaccine will help you better survive the mutated strains, but for somebody like me? I just don't know.

For somebody who has spent most of their life traveling, the idea of not traveling again has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.

And in very strange ways.

Usually it happens when I'm just starting to fall asleep... but sometimes randomly in the middle of the day... some image from my travel past will pop into my head. And then I cannot stop thinking about it until I remember where it was and what I was doing! Sometimes it's easier than others to place it...

Oh! That was at the train station at Kuranda after the Butterfly Sanctuary visit!
That's right! It was with the cat that lives at Peace Cafe in Siem Reap!
Yes! That was outside that awesome gelateria in San Gimignano!
That has got to be from the market with the sesame nuts in Santorini!

And so on.

But then there are those images that pop into my head which I cannot place. They take actual work to track down. Take for instance what happened last night as I was starting to drift off to sleep...

Huh! That's in a hotel... at an elevator bank.
But where? I don't think it's in a foreign country. I think it's in the USA.
Yes. And it's at an airport! But which airport?
It's too familiar... I think it's an airport I've been to a lot.
It's a big hotel... probably a major airport. But not Seattle. Or Chicago.
Definitely not Boston.
Not San Diego, LAX, or SFO either.
Not Orlando... oh wait! It's Atlanta! Gotta be Atlanta!
Yes. Definitely Atlanta. I've flow into ATL many, many times.
Which hotel? It's just West of the airport. Right off of the 85.
Oh crap. I can't remember. Guess I grab my laptop and Google Map it...

The Hartsford-Jackson Airport in Atlanta as seen from satellite view in Google Maps.
Image © Google Maps

Ugh. Southwest or West-West? Maybe in-between.
I think it had that giant triangular atrium that lead out into the parking lot?
Oh yeah! There it is! It's The Westin! OF COURSE!!

The Westing Atlanta Airport as seen from satellite view in Google Maps.
Image © Google Maps

How did I not remember that was The Westin? I've stayed there a dozen times!
Okay! Glad that's settled so I can finally get to sleep!

   
Say! I wonder what trip I would have been on?

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Ruin and Despair in Atlantic City

Posted on February 17th, 2021

Dave!Last night I got a call from a good friend I've known for over a decade. And the way you know that they are a good friend is that I actually picked up. There's only a dozen people that I will interrupt my busy pandemic lifestyle to talk with, and he is one of them.

"I'm starting to worry about you. Your texts and emails have you sounding down."
"More down than usual?"
"Yes."

I assured him that I'm doing just fine despite the pandemic completely changing my life, we shot the shit for a half hour, then said our goodbyes.

And I totally get why he called. COVID is happening, the world has gone to shit, and the light at the end of the tunnel is probably the headlight of a freight train. This is a friend who knows first-hand about my struggles, and it's nice to know that there are people who care enough to check in on me like this.

The centerpiece of our conversation was me explaining that there's a difference between wanting to die and being apathetic about dying. I don't want to die, I just don't care if it happens. For the time being I have cats that rely on me, there's some things left I'd like to do with my life (or try to do), and I'm not ready to check out just yet. So I'm good.

Mostly.

The news when I woke up this morning was Trump Plaza being imploded and demolished...

The Trump Plaza being imploded.
Photo from the Associated Press Newswire

This brought up memories of my first and only trip to Atlantic City back on July 17, 1999. I was working in New York City and ended up with a free day and nothing to do. Ultimately I decided that I would go to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City for lunch so I could check it off my list, then head back to The City. The cheapest way to do this was via Greyhound Bus. Not the best way to travel, but I had survived far worse.

I managed to get a window seat half-way back, then sat there as the bus started filling up. Eventually a woman walked up and asked if she could sit next to me. I said "No problem" and she replied with "Thanks. You look like the person least likely to grab me or assault me." The only thing I could think to say way "Um, thanks. I guess?"

The next three hours were spent talking to my seatmate and new best friend. John F. Kennedy Jr. had died the previous day and she had to get out of The City. He had been the golden boy of NYC, was much beloved there, and things were just too depressing for her. A nine hour distraction was just what she needed. Like me, she had booked the 8am departure (arriving 11am) returning 2pm (or something like that). Along the way she had quite a lot to say. I remember almost none of it. I do remember her talking about how she had moved to a new church and signed up for choir. When she got her robe, she was dismayed to see that it was all white. "So there I am in all my Blackness standing there in the whitest robe I've ever seen..."

I didn't say much after explaining that my trip was just to visit the Hard Rock Cafe.

When we arrived we just kinda gravitated towards hanging out together for our three hours. The first thing I did was ask somebody where the "Trump Hotel" was at. "Which one do you mean? The Taj Mahal or the Plaza? I had no idea, so I just responded with "Um... whichever one has the Hard Rock Cafe in it?" Turns out it was the "Trump Taj Mahal" across from "Steel Pier" which was a 20 minute walk...

The Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking South on the Boardwalk.

The Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking South on the Boardwalk.

The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City was there too...

The All-Star Cafe Atlantic City at Trump Taj Mahal as seen looking North on the Boardwalk.

After eating lunch, we played slots in the casino for a while. I hit a $70 jackpot fairly quickly off a $10 investment, and poured her out a bunch of quarters so we could keep playing the various slot machines before walking back to the bus terminal. We had a great time. I got the Hard Rock Cafe checked off my list and she got her distraction.

And then some.

On the way back a fight broke out on the bus. Some guy leaned his seat back into some other guy and he was not happy about it. The guys were screaming. The wife of one of the guys was screaming. And the bus driver was screaming for them to knock it off or else he would stop the bus and kick them all off of it. Eventually the matter was settled by the husband and wife swapping seats or something. All my seatmate had to say about the situation was "I knew it. I just knew I wasn't going to get through six hours on a bus without something like this happening!" The rest of our trip was made in silence as we headed back to a city in mourning.

The Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino was one of Donald Trump's many banruptcies and has a rather colorful history... including it being involved in money laundering and being a hot spot for Russian mobsters. Eventually the property was shut down in 2016, then sold to Hard Rock International in 2017. Then in 2018 they reopened it as the "Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City."

As for The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino? Also bankrupted. Also a colorful history. It was originally THE place to be in Atlantic City for the rich and famous. But once the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1990, Trump ended up poaching his own customers with the newer, bigger, flashier property. Thus the Plaza bankruptcy in 1992. In 1993 Trump somehow made his way out of bankruptcy (do I even want to know how a casino beloved by Russian mobsters managed that?) and started expanding the property... because doubling down in the face of financial ruin is apparently his thing, I guess. But money wasn't the only thing that Trump lost... he also famously lost an eminent domain case against a woman named Vera Coking. Like the asshole he is, Trump tried to get the city to condemn her property so he could buy it and turn it into a limousine parking lot. He failed.

Just as Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione had failed in the 1970's to buy her out of her home. A situation that fans of the Pixar movie, Up, might recognize...

Jenny at the end of my bed.
Photo by Jack Boucher for Historic American Buildings Survey, c.1991 (via Wikipedia)

Unironically I also have a photo of the now-demolished Trump Plaza Hotel from my 1999 visit. I took a photo of Planet Hollywood Atlantic City and it was sticking out like an ugly sore thumb in the background...

Planet Hollywood Atlantic City with Trump Plaza behind it.

Trump's rise and fall in Atlantic City is an engaging story, which you can read in this Salon article originally published by InsiderNJ just before the previous presidential election: Atlantic City has a warning for the nation: Donald Trump brings ruin and despair. Salon helpfully added the byline "Trump looted and corrupted New Jersey's gambling mecca and then got out of town. Does that sound familiar?" Why, yes. It sounds very familiar, alas.

It's weird to think of the stuff that's happened in the world during my 54 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days on this planet. From the year I graduated, Trump had Trump Taj Mahal ('84), Trump Plaza ('84), Trump's Castle ('85), Trump's Steel Pier ('88), and Trump's World's Fair ('89) in Atlantic City... and lost them all. His consolation prize being that he was elected President of the United States of America in 2016, the same year Trump Taj Mahal (his last remaining Atlantic City property) was shut down permanently.

Oh well. In addition to my dying (among many, many other subjects) I also hold apathy towards ugly buildings being demolished.

I am kinda glad that I was able to visit Atlantic City during Trump's heydey there in 1999 though. America's prince may have just died in a tragic plane crash... but Donald J. Trump, Democrat, was thinking of running for president on a pro-choice Reform Party ticket with Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.

It was a glorious time to be alive.

   

Bullet Sunday 698

Posted on January 24th, 2021

Dave!A new era may be dawning, but some things will never change... because an all new Q&A Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
Does the stair shelf you built for your cats work?
Yep! No falls since I installed it! Jenny has never been a banister girl, so she just walks along it on occasion. But Jake still lays up there all the time. Especially in the Summer when the sun shines on it. Since the catwalk I built adds a couple inches to the width, he's a lot more comfortable laying on it, and like to prop his head on the ledge to watch me and Jenny on the stairs. This, along with the catio, are two of the best things I've made to keep my cats safe and healthy.

Jake laying on the banister ledge I built for him.

Jake looking at me from the ledge as he lays there looking lazy... my Marvel movie posters are on the walls.

Jake looking down at me from the ledge as I go down the stairs.

   
Which meal service do you like best?
Are you talking between Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon and "Hello Fresh," the two I am currently using? That's actually a very good question! Both of them allow you to skip weeks (which I do often because they are expensive) so when I do order, I have been bouncing back and forth. Comparing them in a face-off is actually a good idea for a post. I'll do that sometime in the coming week!

   
Japanese knives RUST... they are NOT stainless steel!
Yes. When I reading up on knives, this was brought up many, many times. I made my purchase with my eyes wide open. I expected for rust to appear. But it was still the best knife for what I would be cooking, and I just made a mental note to be sure and wash the blade after every use. And I've never seen rust. Until one day I did! I went into a Google panic, found out the easiest way to deal with it was a Rust Eraser, ordered one, and then found out it wasn't actually rust before the eraser ever arrived. It was a piece of food that I didn't get wiped off and only looked like rust. Since I first got it a year ago, I've never seen a speck of rust and my Rust Eraser hasn't even been taken out of the wrapper. My MAC Chef's Knife and Bread Knife are from their "Professional" series which is "rust resistant" but will still rust if you don't wash and dry them immediately after use. I also have some "Original" series knives which are supposed to rust more easily but, as I said, I've never seen any rust on them because I keep them clean and dry.

Rust Eraser still in the wrapper.

   
Are you still playing Animal Crossing?
Sadly, no. I haven't had time. And I'm scared to look and see how many weeds I'll have to pull in order to get my island back. It's a great game and helped a lot when we were first under quarantine, but I was spending 2+ hours a day playing it and had stop because there were other things I need to do with my time. Might pick it back up one day and just force a time limit so it's not consuming me like it was. Now I've got TikTok for that!

   
Where's your Bernie meme?
Ummm... right here!

Bernie Sanders sitting in a folding chair with a mask and gloves in my living room while my cats Jake and Jenny are sitting nearby.

My house is kept fairly cool in the winter in order to save on heating costs, so Bernie judging me for the temperature... along with Jenny (and Jake, who has clearly turned his back on me)... seems appropriate.

   
Are you finally happy now that Biden is president?
No. No I am not. As I have said quite a few times now, Biden was never my guy so I'm not "finally happy" that he's president. I am, however, elated that Trump is no longer president. So there's a big difference there. I won't be truly "happy" until all the career politicians and other assholes who exploit their office for personal gain at the expense of the American people are out of office. I will also be happy once all the pieces of shit who have so severely divided this country are out of office. Alas, what this would take is the American people WAKING THE FUCK UP and realizing that they are being majorly played. But that takes thinking for themselves, and we all know that this is not something we seem to be very good at right now. So... here we are.

   
Where's the first place you'll go once you can travel again?
Well, odds are I won't be traveling for work or for volunteering again... at least not any time soon... so it will likely be a personal trip. My guess is it will be one I've been planning for over a year with friends to Maui. We have unfinished business there that we need to take care of. Otherwise? Not entirely sure. It will take a while for the world to get back to normal and I have no idea where my life will be by then.

   
And that's the last of my answers to questions I've been asked.

   

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.

   

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