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Virtual Hellscapes

Posted on September 14th, 2020

Dave!I am not ashamed to say that I am most definitely not doing well.

Not only is Central Washington being blanketed with smoke from our own wildfires, massive amounts of smoke is being blown in from the fires in Oregon and California as well. And despite five air purifiers running day and night, my allergies are in overdrive, making for a miserable existance. I have had a crushing headache for a week. Breathing is painful. Nosebleeds happen at random. My eyes and nose are running almost constantly. Sleep is almost impossible. Not a great day to be me, that's for sure...

   
Last night I finally passed out around 2:30am. I woke up shortly after 3:00am choking on blood from yet another nosebleed. That is a scary enough way to wake up... but I had aspirated and couldn't breath. The wheezing as I struggled to catch a breath freaked my cats, both of which ran out of the room at top speed. Eventually I managed to work through it, but getting back to sleep was impossible. I called in sick and have been nodding off and on ever since.

Poor Jake and Jenny. The fires have been so tough on them.

After terrifying her early-early this morning, Jenny ended up sleeping in the room next to mine...

Jenny sleeping in a cat bed.

Jake... is more complicated. He has been really clingy lately and sleeping with me every night. After he ran out scared, I heard him come walking back in about an hour later. He didn't hop back on the bed, so I wasn't sure where he went. This morning I found him hiding in the cat tower...

Jake hiding in a hidey-hole in a cat tower.

My cats rarely go in those hidey-holes. As in very rarely. But Jake wanted to sleep near me while also being scared and this was his solution. Naturally I feel terrible about it. Note the smoke out my window.

And so here I am taking a sick day at home with two cats who are afraid of me.

In-between trying not to work because it makes my headache worse, I've been zoning out in front of the television. One think I saw today was that Drew Barrymore has a new talk show. I was interested in seeing how they were going to manage a new talk show, fully expecting it to be remote chats on Zoom or something. But that wasn't the case. Drew's Charlie's Angels co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu were there with her... albeit socially distanced...

Drew, Lucy, and Cameron on a chat show set.

Except...

That wasn't the case at all. While Drew nd Lucy were in New York... Cameron was still in Los Angeles, appearing in the studio virtually...

Cameron Diaz disappearing from Drew's chat show.

Cameron Diaz disappearing from Drew's chat show.

Weird to think that things like this will quickly become our new normal.

In the meanwhile I'll just go back to the virtual hellscape that's my life right now.

   

Smoke Gets in Your Orifices

Posted on September 8th, 2020

Dave!I have a terrible reaction to smoke... mostly revolving around cramping and a bloody nose. It's been this way for as long as I can remember, which has always made camping problematic. Usually I can just escape to another part of the state when everything is on fire but that would be tough this time even if there weren't a pandemic. The smoke is bad just about everywhere...

A map of Washington State with some very poor Air Quality Index numbers.

And so... not a fun time to be me.

Last night I thought I would take some sleeping pills and ride it out until this morning. But then I woke to what looked like a murder scene in my bed and the smoke worse than ever. I have a spill-proof mattress cover, so my mattress was okay... but I think the sheets are a goner. Fortunately I have three sets exactly the same, so I have more available to destroy tonight.

There was a bright spot in my day, however... the new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery is here...

After an incredible first season, I was let down a bit by the second. But now things are looking very interesting for the third...

Star Trek Discovery Logo.

Despite now being set hundreds of years into the future, Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou, which is odd since she will be heading the new Section 31 show sometime in the future back in the present(!)...

Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou.

But we knew she was coming back. Somebody I didn't know was coming back (but am thrilled that they are) is Tig Notaro as Jett Reno!

Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou.

   
And speaking of Tig Notaro, I rewatched her documentary this weekend...

If you haven't seen it and have Netflix, it's well worth your time.

   
And now I guess I'm back to feeling sick. Blergh.

   

Worlds on Fire

Posted on September 7th, 2020

Dave!75,000 acres on fire to the South... 65,000 acres on fire to the North... and I'm stuck in the middle with so much smoke in the air that I've been feeling sick for hours. I guess I should be uhhh... grateful?... that this is happening now instead of in July, but it still sucks. I honestly thought we'd make it though the Summer without major fires, but here we are.

At least the sunsets will be pretty? I guess?

A sky filled with smoke outside my back door.

I haven't read what caused the fires. My guess is that some people were careless over the holiday weekend.

And then there's this...

A pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party sparked one of the California wildfires, burning over 8,600 acres.

This idiotic gender reveal bullshit is reaching all new levels of stupid. This isn't even the first time that one of these moronic events has gotten out of hand. God only knows the damage. The number of animals killed or left homeless.

If there's any justice, the people responsible will be having their new baby in jail.

   

Wildfires and Ant-Man

Posted on August 13th, 2018

Dave!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...

Washington State Fire 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.

And yet...

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?

   

Disaster After Disaster

Posted on September 22nd, 2017

Dave!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.

   

Inside Cats

Posted on September 7th, 2017

Dave!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.

   

Air Quality and You

Posted on September 6th, 2017

Dave!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...

Missing Mountains!

Smokey Valley
To see the full resolution, click photo to embiggen.

   
You can kinda see hills there... but that's it...

Smokey Valley

   
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 Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Jake eventually gave up and climbed on my lap for attention...

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Though it seems as thought he's finally getting wise to my photographing him...

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

Jake Wants my iPhone Camera

   
Silly kitty.

Here's hoping tomorrow's air quality is better than today. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

   

Where There’s Smoke…

Posted on September 5th, 2017

Dave!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...

Smokey Drive Home

Smokey Drive Home

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...

Catio Door Closed!

Catio Door Closed!

Catio Door Closed!

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...

Cats on Towels!

But eventually Jake started whining again.

So Jenny, ever the loving caretaker, decided to make him feel better by licking his head...

Cats on Towels!

Cats on Towels!

But eventually their gaze kept going back to the door to make sure it was still closed...

Cats on Towels!

This upset Jenny, so Jake returned the favor...

Cats on Towels!

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...

   

Bullet Sunday 532

Posted on September 3rd, 2017

Dave!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...

Wildfire Smoke Scenery

   
• 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...

Deodorant Drawer Madness

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!

Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 20

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.

   

Smoke Gets in Your Eclipse

Posted on August 2nd, 2017

Dave!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!

Except...

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...

My Smokey Home!

Pretty nasty.

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...

Eclipse Map!

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.

   

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