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Bullet Sunday 786

Posted on Sunday, November 20th, 2022

Dave!It's time to be human... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Again. The shooting at the Colorado Springs nightclub "Club Q" last night is yet another in a string of violent attacks on marginalized communities. And it's like... I just don't get it. LGBTQ persons are not made to feel welcome in general society, so they carve out a space where they can enjoy life for even a short time away from general society... and that's not good enough? Senseless violence has been out of control for as long as humans have existed. That's just fact. But the hatred behind the violence is quickly reaching unsustainable levels as the weapons to act out violence keep getting more powerful. Dozens of people can be cut down in an instant by a single individual, and pretty soon that's going to be the only thing we have.

   
• Let's Go Brendan! This GQ "Iconic Characters" series is always great. But this one? Oh wow...

I want... quite badly... for Elizabeth Hurley to get one of these.

   
• Todd! If you are not watching So Help Me Todd on Paramount+, then you are missing out on one of my favorite shows on television. It almost makes me forgive Paramount Network for canceling Magnum P.I. (which, thank God for Peacock TV and NBC, is actually returning despite it all)...

Skylar Astin is a gift, and this show uses him to maximum effect. So COLOR ME SHOCKED that CBS actually renewed the show for a second season! Yay!

   
• Big Animation! Floor 796 may very well be the coolest thing I've seen in my browser in a minute...

Floor 796 Detail.

Floor 796 Detail.

Worth a visit if you like looking at cool stuff!

   
• I'm Batman! And here's what I wish I would have had to post when Kevin Conroy passed...

A lot of people... like a lot a lot... have Kevin Conroy as "their" Batman. This will go on for a while.

   
• SHIT! And here we are again. Apple's HomeKit... which has always been HomeShit... is still a pile of shit. And Apple doesn't fucking care. It is absolutely outrageous how there are known issues plaguing the system and Apple doesn't even acknowledge that there are problems. A company worth billions of dollars, but they won't fix it or offer any solutions. For me the biggest problem is that Automations tied to timed events (like sunset or a time of day) don't fucking work! The event arrives and nothing happens. Which is shitty, because I have all kinds of things set up. Like turning my outside lights off and on. There are hundreds of threads on various forums with people trying to find a way to get their timed Automations working. Some things work... for a while... but the overreaching problem of HomeShit being garbage can only be addressed by Apple. And, once more for the people in the back, Apple doesn't fucking care.

   
And now back to your regularly scheduled Sunday antics.

   

Caturday 284

Posted on Saturday, November 19th, 2022

Dave!I tried different "automated" litter boxes which self-clean so I don't have to scoop. Not that I mind doing it, but Jenny is very particular about having a clean litter box in which to do her business. If the litter box is dirty, the poor thing will hold it as long as she can... wandering from box to box hoping to find a clean one... then go on the floor when she finally can't hold it any more. I really don't want my sweet girl go through that, so I pay the massive cost for the only automated boxes I trust to do the job... Litter-Robot.

I started with the Litter-Robot 3. It was great. But I started having random "BONNET REMOVED" errors soon after purchase, which would render the unit nonfunctional. I followed all the advice that Litter-Robot Customer Service gave me, but nothing solved it. This was so worrying to me due to my constant travels that I ended up buying a second just in case the "BONNET REMOVED" error happened while I was gone. This error itself is inexplicably stupid. Who wouldn't put the bonnet back on after taking it off? It's huge. It's not like you'd forget or not notice. But despite tons of people having this problem, there was never a permanent fix offered... and nobody ever offered up any hacks to solder a jumper or disable the faulty sensor, so it kept happening.

Enter Litter-Robot 4.

I waited for reviews before I even considered spending SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS buying one. When the reviews came and nobody mentioned any BONNET REMOVED errors, I wrote the Litter-Robot Customer Service and specifically asked if the problem had been solved. About all they would commit to saying was "We've improved the product in many ways." Hardly the assurance I was looking for.

Worried that the cats may resist the new machines, I started by replacing only one of them so they would have a choice. Jenny noticed something had changed immediately...

Jenny looking in the Litter-Robot 4

Jake took a bit longer before he realized it...

Jake looking in the Litter-Robot 4

In any event, there was no adjustment period. I transferred the litter from the old Litter-Robot to the new so that the smell would reassure them what it's for. But I don't think it was necessary, as they both took to it immediately and the Litter-Robot 3 was forgotten.

After a week of use, here's the positives...

  • Litter-Robot 4 is much more attractive than the previous versions. The old one was kinda industrial and sad. The new one is sleek and beautiful. Plus... instead of the sickly tan/grey color, you can choose either white or black. I went with white since it will show litter dust less and be easier to spot when it's dirty and needs to be wiped down.
  • The opening is larger. Jenny, in particular, seems to like this better even though she's a smaller cat than Jake by a third.
  • The latest version is incredibly quiet. I can barely hear it, even when I'm in the same room. Instead of having both units side-by-side in my living room, I've got the second unit in my office next to my bedroom. Haven't been woken up by it yet (and you can program quiet hours if it still bothers you, which I doubt).
  • There's a new feature which measures the level of kitty litter in the unit and alerts you when it's getting low. This is very cool and much appreciated. Furthermore, it seems to be fairly accurate in letting you know when it's time to add more.
  • The waste drawer is smaller, but deeper, and it is filled up from the middle instead of always piling up in the side of the drawer. Since the waste level is measured by the same laser which measures the kitty litter level, it's far more accurate than the old photo sensor (but still not perfect).
  • The nightlight is much nicer for the cats, making it easier for them to see inside and less wary about entering when it's nighttime.
  • The odor control is even better than before, having the filter above the drawer instead of in front, which is far more logical. You also have the option of using odor-trapping pods instead of filters which is even better. I don't smell anything after the air clears once the unit cycles... even after one of Jake's infamous toxic dumps.
  • I've already had some firmware updates, which means that they are still fine-tuning to make the product work better. That's nice.
  • Despite the problems you're about to read below, it's still the best automated litter box I have ever used (and I had four before I found Litter-Robot).

Here's the negatives (photos to follow)...

  • The interior of the globe is smaller by about an inch in both directions. My cats can still use it, but Jake is noticeably less comfortable, and spends a lot more time than he used to trying to scratch over his waste because he has less space to operate.
  • If a cat steps on the step to look inside without entering, the unit will think that a cat has entered and trigger a cycle. Hell, if you fart in the general direction of the unit, it will think that a cat has entered and cycle the unit. This is frustrating because it results in unnecessary cycles. You'd think that you could set a threshold so that anything under a certain weight is ignored because it's clearly not your cat.
  • The little fence that snaps on the front to keep the kitty litter inside is included now (it used to cost $25), but it doesn't stay on. Jake snaps it off every time he uses the box. The old one never came off. This could be because he has less room to scratch and is pawing at it, but it's a pretty serious design flaw.
  • The units goes offline at random and are brain-dead about trying to reconnect to WiFi once they go back online. When I am away from home I want to keep track of what's going on with the Litter-Robots, so I've had to install smart plugs so I can remotely cut the power then restore the power so they will go online again. Until next time.
  • When the unit goes offline, you lose the history from that time.
  • The bonnet... which has always been problematic... has a new problem. It doesn't fit well and doesn't stay closed. The little tab on the top snaps into the slot as it's supposed to (but pops back out any time a cat uses the units and it cycles.
  • Apparently the units will eventually be able to track which cat is using the Litter-Robot based on their weight. This is a feature which is "coming soon." The problem is that sometimes the weight doesn't get recorded. Pair this with the whole "offline" nonsense, and I actually have less of an idea as to what's going on with my cats' potty habits than I did with my Litter-Robot 3 boxes. Hopefully the update will disregard false positives... or at least allow you to flag them so you can train the system how to recognize your cats.
  • Litter can still be tracked out of the box fairly easily. Furthermore, since the globe is smaller and the fence won't stay on, litter gets tossed out of the box more than with the old one.
  • There's no stairs you can buy to accommodate older cats or cats who are uncomfortable with jumping/climbing in and out. The stairs I got for my Litter-Robot 3's were ugly and klutzy, but they worked. Maybe if the step on the drawer protruded a little more it wouldn't be necessary. I may have to build some kind steps myself, which might be tricky because I don't want to interfere with the operation or weight sensor.

This is a screen capture showing how one of them is offline. They were actually both offline until I power-cycled the first one...

Litter Robot App Screen Capture showing one unit is offline.

As you can see, the unit went offline sometime after 11:11am, and I've lost all data from then until I cycled the power at 7:10pm. I have no idea why it's saying a cat was detected at 7:12, because neither of my cats are even in the room. I can only guess that I farted in its general direction, and that was enough to make it think a cat is taking a dump...

This is the tab of the bonnet which will not stay locked into the slot. I keep putting it back in only to have it pop out the next time the unit cycles. Incredibly frustrating...

Bonnet hood won't stay latched.

The bonnet itself is ill-fitting all the way around, with gaps and seams that don't match up...

Bonnet hood not flush.

Bonnet hood not flush.

But, to be honest, I can handle the bonnet being poorly constructed... just so long as I don't get those idiotic "BONNET REMOVED" errors that plagued me for years with my previous units. It seems inconceivable that something costing $700 is so poorly constructed, and I can only hope that it stays operational despite it all.

And that's that. A lot of plusses. Some hefty minuses. But an overall good product that I can't imagine being without.

Pretty sure my cats can't imagine it either.

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Categories: Cats 2022Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Matter over Thread on Eve via HomeKit

Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2022

Dave!This is Part Deux of removing all the dead INSTEON smart home crap from my home and replacing everything with Thread smart home devices.

Back in the day INSTEON was the best fit for my smart home setup. It was clunky and weird and didn't always function as expected, but it was cheap and mostly worked (or not... turning my bedroom lights on and off also turned my living room lights on and off, and I never got that figured out in six years). The bad thing about it was that interacting with it was awful. I had to buy a pricey programmable ISY-994i hub to replace the INSTEON hub that barely worked. THEN I had to buy a modem to connect it to my network. THEN I had to pay for a service which would allow me to use Alexa for voice control and interact with my devices remotely from my phone. THEN I had to write literal programs to get everything working as I needed.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Apple's initial efforts with home automation was something they called "HomeKit" but it was actually "HomeShit" because you couldn't do shit with it. And there weren't many devices that worked with it anyway. I frickin' hated it so much that I completely scrapped the test gear I bought and started over with INSTEON.

But that was 2016, and Apple has come a long way in six years. Most importantly, they joined the Matter Smart Home alliance which will allow all Matter devices to communicate with each other (so it doesn't matter than HomeShit can't get automations working to save their life). And the network behind Matter is something called Thread.

Thread is actually pretty great, because it does all the work by itself instead of relying on a central router hub to handle everything. Devices designate themselves as either router leaders, routers, or endpoints to build a self-propagating, self-healing mesh network. And that's it. Except if you want to access your Thread network from outside your local network (such as the internet), you also need a "border router." Apple's HomePod mini works for that, so I'm good to go.

Any device that's connected to wired power routes traffic, which includes all 26 switches in my home. Needless to say that with so many routers my Thread network is rock-solid.

Which brings us to Eve, the company making most of my devices, including my light switches.

Eve Switches on my wall.

Pros...

  • The design is really nice. All the switches are capacitive touch with no moving parts. You just tap them on and off. It's really nice.
  • They're built on Thread. But not at first! When I first installed my switches I was mortified to see that they were using bluetooth as the "network carrier." But then after a few days they switched over to Thread and all was well. I think that they are Bluetooth to start for configuration purposes.

Negatives...

  • THEY ARE NOT DIMMABLE! This is absolutely bonkers. I ended up having to buy some of my switches from Brilliant for those lights I wanted to dim. I would have preferred to have had all my switches by Eve since Brilliant isn't built on Three.
  • Because the switches are flat with no protruding rocker, it's very difficult to camouflage that you may have outlet boxes that are uneven or at slightly different depths. Very few of my switches are flush with the faceplate which doesn't bother me too much... but I sure wish they had the ability to self-level by screwing a spacer out or something.
  • These switches are massive. I'd have thought that technology would have gotten smaller as time goes on, but these are every bit as huge as the INSTEON units they are replacing (technology that's decades old). The Brilliant switches I bought are a much smaller profile.
  • You get a single-gang faceplate with each switch, and it's great quality. But Eve doesn't sell matching 2-gang and 3-gang faceplates, so you have to look elsewhere. And I looked a lot. I even wrote to Eve to say "Hey, which brand of screwless faceplates matches your switches?" Only to be told "We dunno." That's kinda bad. I ended up just re-using my old INSTEON switch plates until I find something that works better.
  • There's an LED light on each switch which can be configured to be "Never On" or "On when On" or "On when Off." I decided to have the light be "On when Off" so that people can find them in the dark. Unfortunately, the LEDs could have been better. First of all they are an annoying and attention-seeking green color when they should have been a more unobtrusive soft white. Second of all, you can dim them a bit, but they are still very bright and I wish I could have dimmed them further.
  • You can't just run power to the lights and automate them to perform other tasks, something which would be very handy (some of my INSTEON switches were used this way). If the power can't physically turn something off connected to them, then there is no "off." They're just on all the time. This seems incredibly weird given how smart homes work.
  • The HomeKit QR code is on the faceplate... not the switch itself. Considering that most of my switches won't be using the faceplates since they are 2-gang and 3-gang switches, this is a pretty bizarre move. The electricians were so concerned about it that they copied the last four digits of the code, wrote it on a Post-It tab, and stuck it to the side of the switches so I wouldn't be completely lost if I ever have to pull them out of the wall for some reason. I also wrote the switch location on the HomeKit code booklet and filed them away just in case.

And so I guess we'll see how it goes over the long haul. Hopefully the little quirks with HomeKit will work themselves out as I attempt to get my home "smart" again.

   

Brilliant(?) Smart Home

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2022

Dave!

The electrician showed up to install my new switches! I'll talk about the Eve stuff tomorrow, but first thing's first.

After INSTEON died and I knew was going to have to replace all my smart home devices, my dream scenario was originally to wire my entire home with Brilliant smart switches. They're the cat's meow because you can have controllers that are literally computers in their own right (complete with touch screen)...

Brilliant Smart Switch

They can control not only your lights, but most anything. Sonos speakers. Hue lighting. Whatever. It's seriously cool. But, alas, the screen controllers are ungodly expensive and even their "regular" smart dimmer switches were out of my price range. What I ended up doing was buying one screen controller "bundle" which included three of the non-screen dimmers. That would cover my dining room and living room, which is all I really need because they are the only ones that I want to dim anyways.

The sliders on their switches are configurable. For the lights that are Philips Hue lights, you can have the power be "always on" so the slider talks with your Hue Hub and does the dimming from there (albeit very slowly, which is massively annoying). For all other lights, Brilliant just does the dimming by controlling the power feed as usual.

So... simple, right?

Not really. Turns out that Brilliant isn't quite so brilliant after all.

It began when I first installed it. The "software update" which is supposed to take "a few minutes" took 35 minutes... and I have a super-fast fiber connection!

Then there's the boot-up time. Which is very slow. Seriously very slow. It's so slow that I am thankful I have fairly reliable power where I live. If I didn't and had to wait for Brilliant to reboot all the time, I think I might go crazy.

Configuring stuff is much harder than it has to be. For example, I was looking through their help documents to add a Hue controller to a slider and what they are describing in the document was not what I was seeing. And then it's like... oh. Primary configurations (like connecting to Hue Hub) have to be done on the controller itself, and you can't do it on the app. Except they never mention this. I only found it out when I went to the controller to just reset everything... and saw exactly what I had been looking for. Convexly, configuring the dimmer switches can't be done on the screen controller, only the app.

Ultimately, it all worked out, but I only got there by picking around for over an hour until I got it sorted. I'm still having a few integration wackiness I need to figure out, but I'll get there eventually. I hope. Don't know if Brilliant would have been my best move knowing what I know now.

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All Hail the Anti-Chef!

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

Dave!I watch a lot of YouTube. Like... a lot a lot. Probably more than actual television. Which is why I pay for the ad-free version, because being inundated by non-stop ads completely destroys my sanity.

There are a lot of YouTubers that I enjoy. I've blogged about them a couple times. And while I'm never looking for new creators to follow, I do poke around from time to time. And while I honestly don't need more to watch, sometimes I can't help myself.

My latest discovery is Anti-Chef.

I have never subscribed to a channel so fast. Not only that, but I also signed up to support his work on his Patreon.

I don't know how else to describe it... except Jamie Tracy is me! He's me in the kitchen!

This guy is a Canadian living in New York City, via London, via Belgium, via Toronto, who makes rather complex recipes and lets you watch. The results are often hilarious, because he's not an expert chef. He just a dude who likes cooking. But the complex nature of the recipes often has him confused and frustrated... and most times there's a complete disaster going on.

AND IT'S ME! THIS IS WHAT I GO THROUGH EVERY TIME I COOK! HE IS MEEEEEE!

In this video he's making Cronuts, which is something I've long wanted to try. But now that I've seen him attempt it... I know I would burn my fucking kitchen to the ground because he calls it a "one way ticket to hell" and I am not going to take that trip. But... they do look dang delicious!

Occasionally Jamie steps outside of the kitchen... as was the case with this video about PATATJES MET he filmed when he was living in Brussels...

His latest thing is to cook Julia Child recipes. Often to hilarious effect!

If you're looking for a YouTube rabbit hole to fall into, this is your guy.

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Categories: Food 2022Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

MagSafe Wallet Time!

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

Dave!I've always ignored the whole MagSafe scenario because I didn't think it would be very practical. Room for three cards? THREE?!? What am I supposed to do with that? Especially considering that Washington State legislators are more concerned with raising taxes and running for re-election than actually getting shit done so we can have digital licenses. Other states are hopping on board. But not Washington! Patty Murray is too busy sucking Big Pharma dick to have ten fucking minutes to tell her staff to instruct the Department of Licensing to do jack shit. So one of those three precious card slots will be devoted to my physical license, leaving me with two left (thank you shitty USA health care system!).

Now, given that one of those has to be for my health insurance card means I'm left with one slot left.

And even though ApplePay is finally rolling out to most stores now-a-days, that should probably go to my primary credit card for places it doesn't work.

And that's all she wrote.

But would it be enough? I tested it out by rubber-banding the three cards together and sticking them in my front pocket while my wallet with the rest of my junk goes in my back pocket. I would keep track of how many times I had to reach for my wallet in a month and see if MagSafe Wallet was even possible.

Surprisingly? Turns out it was. So I orderd the orange one to go on my Project RED case on my Deep Purple iPhone...

Now... I originally wasn't going to go with the Apple wallet because I didn't want to buy leather anything. Faux leather was fine. But Apple MagSafe Wallets are the only ones that have "Find My" technology which will let you know when your wallet was last attached to your iPhone. Since I was genuinely concerned with the wallet falling off, this seemed a handy feature to have, so I went with Apple's cruelty-enabled option.

Turns out that the magnets on this wallet are actually pretty good, I've been using it for over a month and it's never fallen off once, even when sliding it in my pocket.

The only problem I have with the magnetic attachment is that it doesn't snap to alignment, and oftentimes I have to twist it a bit so that it pops into place. Kind of a huge flaw in Apple's design, but not a dealbreaker.

The only other difficulty is getting the cards in and out. There's a thumb-hole on the back which allows you to push the cards out one-by-one. But sometimes they come out easier than others. I've taken to having my credit card be in the back since that's by far the card I use most (Home Depot and other stores don't allow ApplePay).

Other than that? Kinda great, actually. I love not having to lug around a huge wallet, and the three slots are all I really need (though hopefully one day Patty Murray will be forced out of office and be replaced by somebody who will give Washingtonians digital driver's licenses, because I'd rather add my Health Savings card in its place).

If you rarely use cash like me... and don't need a ton of cards on you, then this is actually a pretty good investment.

   

The Crown: A Parody in Ten Parts

Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2022

Dave!Wow. Netflix really let The Crown get away from them. It's like they've gone from attempting any form of accuracy and slid straight into parody.

And Princess Diana caught the worst of it.

This is how they have her looking in EVERY FUCKING SCENE...

I am well aware that she tended to bow her head in public (especially in her earlier royal days), but they took it way too far. It was incredibly distracting, and a cursory Google Image Search shows that she wasn't like this 24/7.

Lord only knows how the sixth (and final) season is going to go. Hopefully it won't sink further than this.

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Bullet Sunday 785

Posted on Sunday, November 13th, 2022

Dave!Don't worry about Christmas coming early... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Rebel Rebel! Finally got around to watching E10 of Andor. Holy crap! The quality of this series is unreal. Serious talent and money were put into it every aspect of the show, and it's all on screen. There's nothing currently on television that can touch it. The series transcends Star Wars to become something more... a gritty, surreal form of entertainment that will haunt you for a bit...

Cassian Andor in Prison.

Two episodes to go in the first season.

   
• I'm Batman! I was saddened to learn that Kevin Conroy died. Batman: The Animated Series endures in a way that the Batman movies struggle to do. A big part of that was the voice of Kevin Conroy. Another series that I remember him from was Tour of Duty where he played Captain Rusty Wallace, a character that helped define the first season...

He truly will be missed. Rest in Peace, sir.

   
• SOCK-LIGHT?? My new light switches do not have dimmable controls, which means I have to have dimmable lights. Which is not a problem, as I found pretty good pricing on Philips Hue can lights. Problem is... one of them I got had the clips bent and A DIRTY SOCK IN THE BOX! And it's like WTF? Returns are not inspected for this kind of gross crap?

A dirty sock in my light box!

Every time something like this happens when you are purchased a "new unopened item" it feels like merely replacing it is not enough. Not only am I losing time, but I'm also having to literally deal with somebody's dirty laundry.

   
• Whoopsies! Couldn't happen to a nicer piece of shit company raking in huge profits over a drug which the inventor meant to be free. He famously sold the patents to the University of Toronto for $1 saying “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” But of course Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi couldn't let that stand when there are billions to be made...

Insulin should be manufactured and sold at cost. It needs to be a function of government for the public good... not Big Pharma's balance sheet. It's disgusting that this isn't the case.

   
• The Merchant Tribe mourns. This past week Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opened up. I found out that last year Dorothy Steel died at 95 years old, and this was her final acting role...

Dorothy Steel in Black Panther

I remember reading an article when the first Black Panther was released about how she started acting at age 88. Which just goes to show that you're never too old to chase your dreams!

   
• Ribbit! The Red Wave that wasn't has come and gone. It would appear the Democrat's strategy of not doing a damn thing about preventing the things their base cares about getting destroyed (like codifying Roe) so they can scare people into showing up to vote actually worked. It's like "Oopsies! Sorry you lost the right to choose, but we needed a way to survive the midterms, so we let you lose it so you'd show up." An incredibly fucked-up strategy, but there's no denying the result...


I COULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT IF NOT FOR YOU MEDDLING KIDS!

Wonder what they'll be throwing away next so that they have a chance in two years?

   
Time to make the chimichangas...

   

Caturday 283

Posted on Saturday, November 12th, 2022

Dave!My cats have been more than a little upset about being trapped in my bedroom while workers are here to tear apart my home and take all my money. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of it either.

Jenny is outright pissed. She meows at me to let me know exactly what's on her mind, then avoids me like the plague for hours.

Jake is tougher to figure out because he bounces back from it quicker. I know he's upset... but then he will climb up next to me on the bed, shit down, then hang out for a while. But he still has attitude...

Jake looking up at me while sitting down getting pets.

Jake sitting down staring out into space.

This week it was especially great, because some birds fighting outside distracted him from his morning ass-wiping...

Jake looking up surprised.

I'd show you a photo of Jenny, but she's still holding a grudge.

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Categories: Cats 2022Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Happy Friday

Posted on Friday, November 11th, 2022

Drunk Guy on a Wednesday

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