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Extraordinary San Diego

Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Dave!Landed at 1:30 yesterday, was done with work by 3:30, and in my San Diego hotel room chillin' by 4:00. Usually I would just fly back the same day, but since I started bypassing the toxic waste dump that is SeaTac International Airport and flying out of Everett Paine Field, my flight back doesn't leave until tomorrow at 2:20pm (unless I wanted to fly home at 7:45am, which I did not).

With time to kill, I met up with San Diego friends for dinner. Which was awesome.

Then we went out for dessert at Extraordinary Desserts. Which was extraordinary...

Extraordinary Desserts San Diego!

I had the "Shangri-La" cake, which was described like this: "White chocolate mousse along with guava mousse and fresh strawberries are layered in between whipped cream and Kirsch infused vanilla cakes. Every girl loves this cake." And yet... I was secure enough in my masculinity to order it because I really wanted something strawberry. It's pretty enough to eat...

Extraordinary Desserts San Diego!

Delicious. And that's 24K gold leaf on the strawberry, which is great because I've always wanted my poop to be gold-plated.

As I've mentioned a few times, Jake has been really clingy after his accident, and this is the first time I've left him overnight since it happened. I checked in on him several times to make sure he's doing okay. After spending most of the morning looking for me, he took a long nap right in the middle of my messy bed...

Jake Sleeping!

Poor guy.

Before I knew it, time had flown and it was time for me to be flown home...

Warm Nuts in First Class!

My trip back over the mountains was much less eventful than the drive over, thankfully.

And that was the end of that.

My cats were happy to have me home... especially Jake, who wouldn't leave my side, which was kinda sweet at 10pm...

Jake Sleeping!

But kinda scary at 1am...

Jake Possessed!

Probably not great that I decided to take his picture with the flash on. Because, damn. If looks could kill...

And on that ominous note, enough work for the day... time for bed.

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Deerest Motorists

Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Dave!Today is my final charity trip of the Spring!

Thanks to the Trump Government Shutdown, nobody from our group was allowed to make travel plans for the first three months of the year. The concern was that we might end up trapped away from home (and our paying jobs). So instead of having seven trips over twenty weeks, I ended up having to make up for lost time and cram five trips into eight weeks. This was more difficult than I anticipated, but you do what you gotta do.

San Diego travel is almost always a "day trip" for me where I essentially fly down for a critical one hour meeting, then just fly back home. But first I actually have to get to San Diego.

I left home at 6am so I could make my way over the mountains, which are packed with deer on the roads this time of year...

Deer on the Road!

It's not a big deal if you are careful with your speed and stay alert*, but there are always assholes who do neither. When I slowed to let the deer in the above photo cross, a truck behind me had to slam on the brakes to avoid smashing into my rear end. If he had trouble seeing a big blue car, a small brown deer probably would have been roadkill.

I counted nine deer on my way over, which means there were at least that many that I missed.

By far the most dangerous thing on the road this trip was not a deer, but a motorcycle.

Having been a motorcyclist, I can tell you that riding on the highway is pretty much taking your life in your own hands. You have to be on high alert every single minute, because drivers don't pay attention. With this in mind, I was a very cautious rider and still almost ended up plowed into on several occasions.

And then there are riders who decide that highways aren't nearly dangerous enough, and decide to ride stupid.

As I was approaching the left-lane exit for I-5, a rider weaving in and out of traffic cut me off twice. And here he is directly after my close call cutting in front of other drivers... one of whom was just trying to get the hell out of the maniac's way, even though they needed to be in the left lane to exit...

This is phenomenally stupid. Not only did I almost hit him, but two other cars nearly did the same. Which begs the question... what was so damn urgent and important that this rider decided to risk an accident (and possibly his life) to get to?

I probably don't want to know, because it was likely something stupid... like making it to work with enough time for a Starbucks.

Despite this guy's best efforts, I'm here at the airport awaiting my flight, so I guess I'll just count my blessings that nobody died and hope the rest of my trip goes better than this.

   

*As in stay seriously alert. Sometimes the deer are really difficult to spot, and can dash out onto the road at any moment...

If you are traveling in the mountains (especially this time of year), might want to drive like a deer's life depended on it.

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Of Crackers and Mondays

Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Dave!There are times... not many, but enough... that I think I have my life together. Then I get smacked in the back of the head by reality and realize that I'm about as close to having my life together as I am to walking on the moon.

Not that I'm discouraged or depressed about it though. I'm most definitely not. I'm doing the best I can to keep my head above water (and mostly succeeding) so what else is there? Nothing. And I'm content with that. Perhaps one day I won't be, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Last night I had cashews and crackers for dinner. It was my fallback plan after the frozen pizza I bought was essentially inedible and I could only get through two slices.

Jake, as he does any time I have food, was curious to see what I was eating. Or, to be more accurate, curious to smell what I was eating. Very rarely does he try to actually taste any of it though...

Jake Wants Crackers!

Probably because a boring-ass cracker doesn't even smell like food to him.

Or to me.

I don't know why I continue to buy frozen pizza. It's always bad. But every time there's a new brand that pops up, I roll the dice anyway. This time it was another variation on the "Rising Crust" type pizza. The crust is okay, I guess, but the sauce is pretty weak and the cheese is rubber. I'd throw it out, but the thing cost me $5... so... bad pizza for breakfast... and bad pizza for lunch today.

I have got to save up money for pizza steels so I can work on my own recipe.

Until then? Crackers it is, I guess.

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Bullet Sunday 511

Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Dave!Who cares who sits on The Iron Throne... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• No Spoilers! Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Game of Thrones was HBO's most popular show of all time. You just know that money was not an issue when it came to wrapping things up. But apparently David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were tired of their show and wanted to move on, so they just hacked together some of the most mundane and lazy storytelling they could muster, crammed it into six episodes, and called it good. You'd think if they were tired and wanted to move on they would hand the show off to somebody who gives a shit, but no. This is what we got. I'll wait a week before posting my thoughts so as not to spoil things for any latecomers, but dang. Lame.

   
• Keanu! I know more than a few people working in Hollywood. Not one of them has ever had anything but nice words to say about Keanu Reeves. He's a kind, generous soul and everybody loves working with him. On top of that he has a self-realized wisdom that makes me happy for his every success...

John Wick: Chapter 3 was pretty kick-ass. Can't wait for Chapter 4.

   
• Represent! When stars like Brie Larson say they are using their celebrity to insist on a more diverse, inclusive group of interviewers, they get attacked by people wanting to keep the status quo of the same voices. I find this absurd. Making room for more is not taking away from who's there now. It's making room for more. And here's the incomparable Halle Berry walking the walk and doing her part...

How can anybody watch this and think anybody is losing here? More people winning doesn't equate to more people are losing, and it's shitty that this attitude continues to be our default. Make room at the table... your dinner party will only get more interesting.

   
• Again. HEADLINE: Trump Tries to Win Over Midwest Farmers with Socialist Promises. Because socialism is bad when it comes to keeping people healthy or fed or housed... but good when it's used as pathetic compensation to keep your base happy due to your complete failure to understand how global trade works in the year 2019.

   
• Hypocrisy in Action! HEADLINE: Anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy resigns after report he asked lover to end pregnancy...

Make no mistake... NONE... that wealthy politicians will ALWAYS have access to safe abortions for their mistresses and family. For everybody else? Wire hangers and back alleys, baby. This hypocritical bullshit disgusts me to my core.

   
• Evolution! Ummm...

It's only a matter of time before they go all Plant of the Apes on our asses.

   
And, on that apocalyptic note, see you next Sunday!

   

Caturday 109

Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2019

Dave!I rescued Jake and Jenny to keep my mom company while I was away at work. As her dementia progressed, being alone was not easy for her. I remembered how much she liked Spanky hanging around at her old place and thought kittens would help. But they were feral rescues and spent most of their time hiding under the couch instead. Eventually, they got used to mom being around and were happy to hang out with her. It took another couple weeks before they trusted me.

On Mother's Day I talked about the books I made as souvenirs of our travels. Yesterday I found photos of my mom actually looking at those books.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom didn't seem to notice that Jake was there at first...

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

Once she did notice, she says "Hey..."

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

Then... "Don't you chew on my book!"...

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

And Jake's like, "Well, shit!"...

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

A heartbreaking, awful time made so much better because of cats. I still don't know how I would have made it through without them.

Earlier this week I was just about to fall asleep when I heard something plastic fall to the floor downstairs. Then I heard the cats batting it around. I am generally very careful about not leaving out anything dangerous, but decided to check the security cameras anyway, just in case. I couldn't tell what they had, but I was certain it was something harmless, so I figured I'd look for it in the morning.

Turns out it's a pencil sharpener.

A pencil sharpener shaped like a nose that a friend gave me along with colored pencils and a Vanderpump Rules coloring book for my birthday...

Nose Pencil Sharpener!

I put it back next to my pencil cup and forgot about it.

Until Thursday morning when I woke up and found it on my bedroom floor...

Nose Pencil Sharpener on the Floor!

A quick check of my security cameras and, yep, Jake dragged it up the stairs at 2:17am...

Jake Carrying a Nose!

No idea how he managed to carry it up the stairs, but he did. No idea why he thought I needed a pencil sharpener, but he did. Maybe he just likes bringing me stuff. He does that a lot.

Speaking of Jake.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, he has not been the same since falling down the stairwell and spraining his leg. I mean, personality-wise, he's the same... but behaviorally he's changed. He's clingy now. Any time I'm home, he's on me. Literally...

Jake on Me!

For a while he was sleeping on my bed with me, but he seems to have moved on these last couple of nights, so maybe he's healing? How long is a cat's traumatic memory anyway?

Still likes to nap next to me while I work though. Yesterday I thought something was wrong with him because he was sleeping funny.

For reference, this is how Jake usually sleeps...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Every time...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Awww... who can resist that fuzzy belly...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Anyway...

He was sleeping abnormally like this...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

I was genuinely worried. But then he went back to normal...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

There we go!

And don't worry about Jenny. She still gets her share of belly rubs too...

Jenny Belly Sleeper!

Until next Caturday...

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Ant Music

Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

Dave!I am currently on my third round of decluttering my life at home. I'm trying to leave as little to deal with as I can once I'm dead, and donating or trashing a lifetime of possessions is how I'm doing it.

One area I haven't worked on cleaning out is my office at work. But I'm having to make room for some new equipment, so I've been forced to go through decades of "stuff" to see what I can live without. I'm always worried to throw things out in case I need them one day, so this has been a massive ordeal. I've got junk piled everywhere!

Back in the late 80's and early 90's I had transitioned my music to CDs (compact discs), leaving me with loads of music on cassette tape that was just sitting in a box. Eventually I bought a small cassette player for my office so I could play them when I was working late or on weekends. The player died probably 25 years ago, but this morning I found the box of tapes...

Cassette Tapes!

And you know what's weird?

This is pretty much the same music I'm listening to today!

Adam and the Ants, Bowie, Prince, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys... same music, different decade!

Now it's a matter of going through everything to make sure I have a copy of it digitally. If not, I'll have to see if I can convert it. But how? Do they even sell cassette players any more?

Hope that yellow Walkman I found still works!

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Death by Pasta

Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Dave!My favorite cuisine by a wide margin is Italian. So many vegetarian dishes, and almost all of them are amazing. From pasta to pizza, I could eat Italian day after day and never grow tired of it.

Until I actually eat Italian day after day and grow tired of it.

Several months ago I became obsessed with developing the perfect Cacio e Pepe recipe. Italian for "Cheese and Pepper," this is the Official Pasta Dish of The City of Rome and I've been hooked on it since I first had it there back in 2000. It's a deceptively simple dish because it has only three ingredients... pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground pepper. But, in reality, it's tough to get it right.

The first mistake I made was following recipes from popular cooking sites that added all kinds of extra ingredients like butter, cream, or cheeses other than Pecorino Romano. I'd try recipe after recipe and get frustrated because it tasted nothing like what I had experienced in Rome. Eventually I found out why... just like with "Americanized" Fettuccine Alfredo, we fuck it up by adding extra shit that ruins the intended taste.

The second mistake I made was using spaghetti noodles. This is actually not terrible... I've eaten it in Rome made with spaghetti noodles. But, unlike an Italian chef, I cannot get consistent results. What you want are tonnarelli noodles, which are essentially "spaghetti alla chimaera" or "square spaghetti." Since tonnarelli doesn't have the edges rounded off, the noodle has more heft and doesn't cool quite as quickly. This pasta can be difficult to find in smaller markets, which is why I almost always end up using linguine (No. 7) noodles, and they work perfectly.

The third mistake I made was not using fine enough grate on my cheese. You must use the finest grate you have... the cheese should be almost a powder, not shreds.

The fourth mistake I made was not so much a mistake as it was a lesson. I was using plain old peppercorns right from the jar. Ideally you want the larger sized peppercorns (called tellichery) that you toast fresh before grinding. The larger peppercorns are less spicy, but more aromatic, and giving them a toasting before use helps bring out the flavor.

Once all that is handled correctly, you've pretty much won the battle.

After dropping my pasta into water which has come to a full-boil (a little salt is fine, but no oil) I blend the finely grated Pecorino Romano with a little bit of ice water to form a paste.

When the pasta is almost done being cooked to al dente (7 minutes for me), you take some of the hot, hot, boiling-hot pasta water and mix it with the above paste until you get a creamy sauce. The starch from the pasta water along with the heat has weird emulsive properties and you absolutely DO NOT need to add cream.

From there I wait for the pasta to finish cooking properly (an additional 2 minutes or 9 minutes total for me), then quickly drain, toss with the cheese sauce, add freshly-ground pepper (a bit coarse is better), then top with shredded cheese (shredded on top is fine... inside you want it almost powdered).

Amazing.

I like a lot of cheese on my pasta. Like, a lot of cheese. Pecorino Romano has more of a punch to it than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so using a lot of it can be a bit overwhelming. In recent years I've taken to making the same recipe as above, but substituting the Parmigiano-Reggiano so I can use extra and maintain the flavor profile I'm looking for. I also like my Cacio e Pepe to be a bit on the dry-side (too wet and it doesn't stick as easily to the noodles) so I use less pasta water than what is authentic.

After finally getting the perfect recipe, I found that I had been eating so much of it that I was sick of the stuff. Then last night I was suddenly craving it again, and this was the result...

Cacio e Pepe Pasta Dinner!

Delicious. Except... there's at least 150 fat calories and 50g of carbs right there.

This is not a healthy dish.But it is tasty. My all-time favorite pasta, as a matter of fact (a close second is Fettuccine Alfredo, which can be constructed similarly to the above, except you use thinly-shaved egg noodles instead of tonnarelli and butter instead of pasta water).

Boy... it's going to take a lot of will-power to not have this for dinner again tonight.

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Where is My Portal Gun?

Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Dave!Can I please just have a day off from this insanity?

Every time some heinous new political bombshell drops, my brain explodes and I have to pull my head back together so I can get through another day. Whether it's idiot politicians being idiots, ignorant people being ignorant, or the nonsensical being presented as common sense... it seems every single day is another assault on my sanity, and it's getting harder and harder to pull myself through it.

As I've said many times, I do not support abortion outside of special circumstances. But that's my personal belief. This being AMERICA and all, everybody gets to live by their beliefs and for their conscience. I fully, unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. President Clinton said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"... and that pretty much sums it up for me. But in order for abortion to be rare, people must be educated and have free and easy access to birth control. Until that happens, our society endorses "abortion as birth control," and the people who are strongest against abortion seem to be the people most responsible for it. Their only solution is to just make it illegal... problem solved.

Except not really. Because banning abortion isn't going to stop abortion! The collapse in logic here is mind-boggling. No way to get a safe, controlled abortion? Oh, okay... bring on the coat hangers and back-alleys. Then some 12-year-old pregnant rape victim ends up dead because her parents didn't want her childhood (and possibly her entire life) ruined, so they risked an at-home procedure that went terribly wrong. THAT's what constitutes being pro-life?!? Who in the hell are these sadist pieces of shit running Alabama?

Meanwhile, all these politicians and their wealthy backers will STILL have access to safe abortions and suffer absolutely no consequences because of it. As always, the law only applies to poor people.

How the fuck do I get off this planet?

If only I had a portal guns from Rick and Morty. Which, by the way, is finally coming back this November...

New Rick and Morty, November 2019 on Adult Swim!

Isn't it sad when the best thing you've heard out of the news all day is that a cartoon is returning?

Welcome to life in these United States.

Or on this earth, really.

   

Another Nail in Our Coffin

Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Dave!So... apparently we're headed towards war with Iran.

I wonder if all the people screaming "YEAH! BOMB IRAN BACK TO THE STONE AGE! MAGA!!" understand that war doesn't work like that anymore. Superior military strength does not insure a victory because advanced technologies are so cheap and readily available. Technology has changed the face of small-scale warfare, given rise to mass-scale terrorism, and redefined what it means to "win" a war.

I have no clue what our Commander in Chief thinks winning a war looks like. My guess is he is he pictures bombing raids obliterating Iranian cities as our soldiers raise the American flag over Tehran. Or maybe his "victory scenario" is distracting Americans from all the heinous shit he's been doing, and bombing a foreign nation is incidental? That's certainly a thought that's entered his head...

I predict that President Obama will at some point attack Iran in order to save face! — President Trump, 16 September, 2013

But who can say? Even when he attempts to explain his "thinking," it comes out as incomprehensible gibberish, so I honestly don't think anybody can say what his end-game is.

But here's the deal. Even if we manage to obliterate the bulk of Iran's ability to make war and establish a massive military presence in the country, we haven't "won." All we will have done is galvanize terrorists around the globe and create substantially more committed enemies for generations to come. Even worse, if the war is handled badly (it will be, given who is in charge of it) and innocent civilian casualties are huge, we're certain to lose even more of our allies as well. And what happens after we leave? We put some US-approved puppet leader into power who will have no ability whatsoever to fix a broken country, there's a coup out of desperation, and somebody with an even bigger hatred of the USA can come into power... this time with nothing to lose and a philosophy that no risk is too great to do harm to America.

There is no way this ends well for the United States of America. None.

Because Iran is not a technological backwater. Because terrorism isn't centralized. Because biological warfare is easy. Because powerful drones are smaller than ever and can deliver increasingly lethal payloads. Because American citizens travel outside of America and are easy targets. Because US allies are within striking distance. Because there are US interests outside of the USA. Because there are many, many ways into this country. Because a wall will do very little to deter a terrorist or stop a drone. Because you don't even have to have a military to reign terror and destruction upon the most powerful of nations now. Because... because... BECAUSE... this is the world we live in.

Yes, Iran is most definitely a threat. This is nothing new. There are many countries who are a clear and present danger to the United States of America, and they have been for decades (hey, we're "allies" with some of them!). And while war may have been a viable solution to deal with them in the past, there's no way that's true today. Most sane people realize this. Which is why the world put so much effort into the Iran Nuclear Deal. Was it perfect? No. Did it move us away from nuclear annihilation for a little while longer? All indications pointed to yes (despite what President Trump and his propaganda organization at Fox News say). Are there ways to work with Iran so that setting the world on fire is not a desirable course of action for them to take? Well, history has shown that there probably is. But so long as we have an incompetent 2-year-old with anger issues in The White House who won't listen to the people who know how to handle these things, what difference does it make?

The reason that war is a last-ditch effort is because it has to be.

Today more than ever.

Unfortunately the decision as to whether or not we go to war rests with the same person who thinks 1970 economic practices can be applied to the global economy that exists in 2019 (which is why we're embracing socialism by spending billions that we'll borrow from China to give to farmers who can no longer sell their goods to China).

I cannot fathom how this country will ever recover from the massive damage that is being inflicted on just about every possible front by our current government. Not just the president, but the dysfunction of the entirety of our government.

Assuming we can ever recover at all.

War with Iran would just be one more nail in the coffin of the country we are now. We will have to become something entirely different if the USA is to go on existing. Given where we're at now, I can't help but think that this might be a good thing.

   

It’s a Monday, After All

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2019

Dave!My day began at 5:00am when I grabbed my laptop off the nightstand so I could start in on my work emails. Jake, hearing that I was awake, came running in to get his butt scratched, which is fine. What was not fine was when he jumped up to the window perch ten minutes later an immediately began puking up a hairball.

My bad. I apologized to Jake because I went to Seattle for Laser PRINCE instead of grabbing The Furminator and giving him his weekly brushing this week.

Jake was unfazed. He just moved to the other window, pushed Jenny over so he had a place to sit, then went about his business of watching birds fly around..

Jake and Jenny Sharing a Window Perch!

Jake and Jenny Sharing a Window Perch!

After catching up on work I got up to clean up the hairball puke only to find that... it was only water? No hairball to be found.

This scares the crap out of me because... A) My cats do not puke often at all... and B) the couple times they have puked and it wasn't a hairball, it was because something was seriously wrong. But Jake didn't seem sick at all, so I made a mental note to keep a careful eye on him for a while.

I tore apart the window perches so I could toss the covers in the wash and noticed that my window sill was filthy. So I ran down to the garage for a scrub brush and bucket only to find that a can in a twelve-pack of Coke had ruptured* while I was gone this weekend. It dripped out of the carton, down the shelf, then spilled out onto the floor.

Where it mixed with the sawdust and formed a gummy syrup that super-glued itself to the cement.

Yay.

My choices were... A) Leave it and clean up the mess later... or B) Clean it up immediately so ants don't fill up my garage. I opted for the latter because I really don't want ants in my wood shop.

After moving tools and relocating boxes and pulling apart shelves and scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing, I worked up quite a sweat. This made me realize just how badly I needed a haircut... so I grabbed the clippers and went to town on my head. I have started cutting my own hair again because... A) From what I can tell I don't do a half-bad job... and B) I really don't have money to spend at Super-Cuts after getting Jake's vet bill.

By this time it was past 7am and Alexa's alarm had gone off, letting the cats know it's breakfast time.

When I went back into the house Jake and Jenny were very put out that I had dared to allow a haircut to interfere with their breakfast being delivered in a timely manner.

At least whatever was wrong with Jake this morning didn't seem to affect his appetite.

In other news... the bulbs outside my house bloomed while I was away! The ones out front look pretty good...

Bulbs in Bloom!

Whereas the bulbs on the side of the house have already collapsed from their own weight and fallen over...

Bulbs in Bloom!

Irises have to be one of the stupidest flowers. When your design doesn't allow your stem to support the weight of your flowers... how are you not extinct? Oh well. I guess they're pretty while they last.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to put the window perch covers in the dryer and get ready for work.

It's a Monday, after all.

   
*I couldn't even figure out where the can had ruptured. They are so darn thin any more that you can barely hold onto them without crushing the can. I'm not surprised that cans are leaking at random... any thinner and soda cans will just explode when they feel like it.

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