Posted on August 13th, 2018
Whenever a fire siren goes off in town, my heart stops for a second. When you live in a city as small as mine, there's a good chance that somebody you know has their home on fire. Not that it's any less sad when it's a stranger losing their home, but it does hit you harder.
Right now it's especially terrible when the siren sounds because a fire happening when there's wildfires all around us just seems cruel.
Today the smoke was so thick in the air that I could barely make out the nearby hills. If you look at this map...
...that huge red dot in the middle is just North of where I live. It's a wildfire that's currently 29,186 acres in size and only 5% contained. When the winds blow South, the smoke comes with it. For me that means a day of burning eyes and difficulty breathing.
But that's not the worst part.
The smoke is a constant reminder that hundreds... thousands... of animals are losing their homes and living in terror. And many of those may not survive it. Unlike people, they don't understand what's happening, and that has been weighing heavy on me.
Our local animal shelter has had to stop taking in owner surrenders because they just don't have room. They have to shelter animals from people under evacuation with what little space they have available. And this also weighs heavy on me. I try and think of how terrified Jake and Jenny would be in a shelter... trapped in a small cage with nowhere to hide from the noise and people. I can't imagine how traumatized they would be. I can't imagine that they would ever be the same. I just can't imagine. It's just too awful.
A part of me wants to run down and adopt another cat... do my part to free up some space. But I don't think that's for me. Jake and Jenny are perfect. Life with Jake and Jenny is perfect. We've adapted to each other very well and I think they are happy here. If introducing another element in any way disrupts that, it wouldn't be fair to Jake and Jenny. Or me.
I cannot say that I won't give in and take a chance.
I really need to unsubscribe from the Human Society newsletter and Facebook feed. Too many animals need homes.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 12: Ant-Man
Original Grade: A • Today's Grade: A
I knew I would love this movie the minute that Paul Rudd was attached to star. Then they went and made it into a caper flick so it would stand out from the pack, which was about a brilliant a move as they could have made. I ended up really loving it. Still holds up today. I'm having to really restrain myself from bumping it up to an A+ here, because I have a tough time seeing how the first Ant-Man movie could have been much better than this.
SCENE TO BEAT: That opening scene where SHIELD's headquarters (as seen in Captain America: Winter Soldier (three movies ago) are just being built... and we get a de-aged Michael Douglas interacting with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark... thus immediately cementing Ant-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe before he even appears on screen! Genius! But... yeah... the fight in Cassie's bedroom was pretty great. They played with the size altering abilities in interesting ways, which was a lot of fun.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Once again... the villain has the same powers as the hero but is a little stronger. It gets so old. And yet... from a story perspective I get it. Yellow Jacket kinda fell out of Scott Lang's origin story, so it was a logical choice. Fortunately, we got Ghost in the sequel, which was something entirely different.
SIDENOTE: With every viewing I remember how upset I was before the movie came out when I heard that Scott Lang would be in the suit instead of the original Ant-Man from the comics. Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne were founding members of The Avengers, and it was a real slap in the face they were being side-stepped. And then I saw the movie and the way they so brilliantly integrated Hank Pym into the history of everything the MCU was building. It was a brilliant move and made perfect sense. It was at this point that I finally just stopped questioning what Marvel Studios was doing until I saw the full film. In most every case they end up nailing it, so why waste the energy?
Posted on September 22nd, 2017
It seems as though every corner of the earth is being assaulted by some kind of disaster... from floods and wildfires to earthquakes and hurricanes, it just doesn't seem to stop.
I'm particularly troubled by Puerto Rico. American citizens who are once again getting screwed when they are needing assistance because it's not politically advantageous to help them. I cannot help but wonder if Puerto Rican citizens could vote in US elections if our government's attitudes toward them in times of crisis would change?
My home state of Washington is finally having some luck in containing the wildfires which have been plaguing us. Oregon, Idaho, and Montana? Not so much. A shocking number of fires are still burning.
Guess it's a good thing the forecasters are predicting an early, harsh winter for the Pacific Northwest then.
Though I could really use another month or two of Fall, if that's an option.
Posted on September 7th, 2017
The air quality improved enough that I decided to let the cats outside for a little while. When I opened the catio door, they didn't last very long... coming back inside after only a few minutes.
I thought that perhaps the smoke was irritating or scary enough that it would keep them from going outside, but my hopes were soon dashed. After verifying that it wasn't a trick and they really could go outside if they wanted to, they started spending all their time out there, as usual.
This meant having to close off the catio again. The last thing I want is two cats with respiratory problems.
Because me having respiratory problems is more than enough. I've been coughing my head off since the smoke started rolling in, and have had just about enough of the stuff.
Given how my cats have been whining about wanting to go back outside, I'm sure they feel the same way.
Posted on September 6th, 2017
Well this sucks.
I think I might be dying. At least the smoke is making me miserable enough that I feel like I'm dying.
Believe it or not, the air quality is better today that it was yesterday... you can actually see the nearby hills. What you cannot see are mountains. The sky is just white when you go looking for them...
You can kinda see hills there... but that's it...
I've been keeping the cats inside to protect their little lungs... no catio for you! They are not pleased. They just sit at the window being mad that I won't let them go outside...
Jake eventually gave up and climbed on my lap for attention...
Though it seems as thought he's finally getting wise to my photographing him...
Here's hoping tomorrow's air quality is better than today. I don't know how much more of this I can take.
Posted on September 5th, 2017
The drive back home was awful. In what was just so typical, WSDOT stopped me twice on the pass for projects they'll never finish... meaning I sat in smoke for a half hour. This resulted in an upset stomach and a whopper of a headache. I do not react well to smoke.
Especially when there is so much of it...
Much to my horror, it was even worse at home than on the passes. The smoke is so thick I can't even see the surrounding hillsides.
After stopping at work for a couple hours, I ran home to check on my little monsters. And freaked out when I realized that they had been hanging out in the catio when the air quality was abysmal. The first thing I did (after a lot of petting) was close the cat door.
It did not go over well with Jake and Jenny.
Much whining and crying ensued as they tried to figure out how to open the door...
Eventually I relented and let them out for a bit. Luckily they didn't want to stay out long... they don't like the smoke any better than I do... so now I'm in a quandary. Do I keep the door closed so I can rest easy knowing they won't be exposed to air toxins? Or do I leave it open to avoid whining and crying and trust they will limit their own exposure?
Oh I'm closing the door, alright. I don't trust either of them to do anything I want them to do. Instead I distracted them with towels to play with. They love towels...
But eventually Jake started whining again.
So Jenny, ever the loving caretaker, decided to make him feel better by licking his head...
But eventually their gaze kept going back to the door to make sure it was still closed...
This upset Jenny, so Jake returned the favor...
And now... back to finishing assembling a bed, washing linens, stocking guest supplies, and getting some foodstuffs together... just in case my friends have to evacuate their home because of the fires. All I need to do is find a hair dryer and some dentist toothbrush kits in my travel supplies, and I'm ready. I hope hope hope hope that they don't have to abandon their home (I know how that feels first-hand), but I'm happy I can help if they need it.
Betweens hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other disasters, things are sure a mess in this country right now.
Clearly God is not pleased that Trump was elected president.
Isn't how that works?
Because if I had a nickel for every time President Obama was blamed for natural disaster...
Posted on September 3rd, 2017
Don't let smoke inhalation get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• FIRE! Once again it would seem that the Columbia Basin is on fire. This is the view I had on the drive over the mountains...
• Chase! My... My... My pants! Jake chases Jenny. Jenny chases Jake...
It's the circle of life up in my house.
• Tolerance! A short but bittersweet article that's worth a minute of your time: The Christians Making Atheists. The decline of Christianity in a nutshell. But, in reality, it could also hold true for other religions that attempt to hide their bigotry in the guise of religion.
• Fresh! This is what happens when you travel a lot and keep forgetting to pack deodorant...
That's a lot of money tied up in antiperspirant products!
• Thrice! Hey! Did I happen to mention that the latest issue of Thrice Fiction has been released, and you can read it online or download it for FREE?!? Well, you totally can! Just visit the Thrice Fiction website!
If you like fiction and like to read... it's worth the price of admission. Which is FREE!
• All That We Share! Nice to know that while this country is tearing itself apart that other countries are making an effort to keep it together...
Viva la Denmark!
Have a good Labor Day weekend, everybody.
Posted on August 2nd, 2017
Yesterday was fairly uneventful. Woke up hideously early to make my flight out of Boston... changed planes in Seattle... and... eventually made my way home to Redneckistan. Easy!
Thanks to wildfires in British Columbia and the Okanogan, things here have become quite dire. Smoke is so thick that the entire county has been declared a hazard. THIS was my view of the valley after pulling over on the way home...
When the total eclipse happens later this month, I'm supposed to be able to see the moon obscuring 92.1% of the sun from my house. I bought viewing glasses and a filter for my camera and everything...
But, if this smoke keeps up, I won't be able to see much at all.
It'll be a real bummer if that happens.
Posted on November 30th, 2016
I first visited Gatlinburg around my birthday in March of 2000. There was a Hard Rock there I hadn't visited yet, and I had some time to drive through the region after a work trip took me to Memphis. So far as places go, The Great Smokey Mountains is a beautiful part of the country. Gatlinburg itself is fairly touristy, but a perfectly charming and lovely town.
And now it's engulfed in flames...
Which is heartbreaking in so many ways... especially when you see families losing everything in the devastation. Fires like this are commonplace where I live, and we've had major fires here the past two years (The Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 and The Okanogan Complex Fire of 2015). I've been through a fire myself, and have come close more than once (the most recent close call being in 2004).
It's hard to know who to trust when it comes to all the charitable organizations that have popped up around the Smokey Mountains fires, but Dolly Parton (who was born in the area and has a theme park there) has stepped up to help...
If you can't trust Dolly Parton, who's giving a huge chunk of her own money to help, who can you trust? If you'd like to help Dolly help others, here's a link to donate to her My People Fund.
Stay safe, everybody.
Posted on August 23rd, 2015
Don't touch that back button... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fighter. Before we get started... a huge thank you to the firefighters battling the very serious wildfires that have been plaguing us here in Central Washington State. The most serious being the Okanogan Complex fire, which is now the largest ever in state history (maps courtesy of the NIFC)...
Most of the smoke plaguing the valley where I live is from the Chelan fire, which is threatening a lot of people...
Three firefighters have already lost their lives. Hopefully these horrific fires will be contained before more lives are lost.
• Catastrophe! If you have Amazon Prime and don't mind a little adult-oriented humor, Catastrophe had me laughing all six episodes. When an American working in London accidentally gets an Irish woman pregnant, both their lives are turned up-side down...
The show's page is right here on Amazon.
• Naptime! Could the solution really be this easy?
Damn. Banned in Washington State!
It seems to get me great results with little hassle. I don't know that it can completely replace Noiseware, but I'm sure glad to have it in my Photoshop toolbox. Here's an old photo of me, BEFORE and AFTER at 200%...
Yeah, it looks a little soft... but at 100% it's actually useable. Here's another...
Night shots don't fare quite as well as photos that have enough light... you get some clumping in solid areas... but still, pretty nice work for a one-click fix.
HELPFUL HINT: If you want to save 20% on Noiseless Pro, just put the app in your cart then abandon it. Eventually you'll get an email with a 20% off code. I got one... AFTER PURCHASING THE PROGRAM... which is kind of shitty, but my loss is your gain.
• In-App. Looks like I'm not the only one pissed off by all these apps having stupid-ass "in-app purchases"... Apple has been running ads featuring games with NO in-app purchase...
I wish there was a way to turn off apps with in-app purchase so they don't even appear in the iTunes Store. I never download them.
• Freedom. If I ever have the opportunity to kick the ever-loving shit out of Donald Trump, please look at it NOT as a heinous act of violence, but as me making America great again.
And... it's too hot for more bullets. BS out!
Posted on July 18th, 2014
The wildfire situation here is quite dire. Again.
Around a hundred people lost their homes in the Pateros region of Washington State. Highways are closing down all over the place. Local businesses are losing loads of tourism dollars during their busiest time of year.
And with more lightning strikes in the forecast, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
The flames aren't landing on my doorstep... yet... but the air is so full of smoke and ash that you don't want to leave the house without a mask on. Which seems like such a petty thing to complain about when houses are falling like dominoes... but it's miserable. There's only so long you can live in smoke before it drives you a little crazy.
I don't know how the firefighters manage it day after day.
But bless them for doing so.
Here's hoping some relief comes soon.