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Bullet Sunday 468

Posted on Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Dave!Sad though my life may be right now, the bullets must go on. And so an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Thank you and remembrance. First of all, thanks to the many, many people who sent their condolences. It never ceases to amaze me what a great group of friends I have online. Second of all, for people asking where they can send a remembrance donation in my mother's name, please consider the Cure Alzheimer's Fund. It is estimated that somebody develops dementia every 65 seconds in the United States alone. We have to find a cure. This charity gets a perfect rating from Charity Navigator, and 100% of the money donated goes directly to dementia research. My mother's name is Pat Simmer and if you have a couple bucks to spare, you can donate in her name to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund here.

   
And now...

As I had explained yesterday, dementia is a horrific idea that forces you to reexamine everything. Relearn everything. And while I didn't find the books I read to be very helpful... and I feel as though I learned practically nothing... I thought I'd run out some bullets with my experience.

   
• Don't wait to have a power of attorney assigned. A lot of life decisions and financial decisions will need to be made that won't be able to be made by a person suffering with dementia. I wasted no time getting my brother and I assigned power of attorney so that we could make those decisions when the time came... because it always comes earlier than you'd think. The scary thing about POA is the potential for abuse, so it's essential to get somebody whose heart is in the right place and will always have their best interest in mind when making decisions. It's okay if that's not you. Recognize if that's not you.

   
• Be sure you are an owner on all financial accounts. Even the most beloved small-town bank seems out to screw you over, so make damn sure your finances are in order very early in the game. When my grandmother died, we found out that a Power of Attorney becomes invalid after death and, even though my mom was a signee on my grandmother’s account, she had no access to the account upon my grandmother’s passing. So... when I became Power of Attorney on my mom’s account and had that added to her checks, I had learned my lesson. I went into the bank and asked to use my Power of Attorney to add myself onto the account NOT as a mere signee, but as an owner. I was told "we’ve already done that." And when I logged into my mom’s account online, it appeared that was true, because my name was right there. Well, guess what? Turns out I was only a signee on the account after all, so now I have to go through all the bullshit I had to go through for my grandmother. This is outrageously stupid. If the situation is such that a person IS NO LONGER ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR OWN FINANCES AND THEY ARE SURRENDERING POWER OF ATTORNEY, IT SHOULD BE AUTOMATIC THAT THEY ARE ADDED TO THE ACCOUNT AS AN OWNER. And if banks don’t want to MAKE that automatic, then they at least owe it to their customers to point out that they need to do this so that the POA can control the finances to pay off final bills and expenses after death. I HATE banks. HATE HATE HATE them. Mostly because I have never understood their motivation in screwing over their customers. For the love of God, ditch your bank and find a Credit Union that is interested in serving you, not some board of directors. I'm not saying that they will be any better about making sure your loved one's accounts are accessible after death, that's up to you, but at least they won't be actively working against you for whatever reason banks choose to act against you.

   
• Hope for a miracle... be wary of miracle cures. From the minute the doctor dropped the dementia diagnosis, I was all about tracking down that miracle cure. I scoured the internet for anything the even remotely showed promise. I spent hundreds of dollars on everything from CBD oil to miracle juices to coconut oil to herb mixes... all in the hopes of halting or reversing her condition. Needless to say, it all ended up being a load of crap, and books like Awakening From Alzheimer's: How America's Most Innovative Doctors are Reversing Alzheimer's, Dementia and Memory Loss were essentially snake oil (which I would have probably tried if I read snake oil was the new miracle cure). Desperation to save somebody you love makes you want to believe anything, and there's no shame in trying alternative medicines if they make sense to you. But be careful you don't get sucked into losing more money than you can afford to lose. Because there's a lot of money to be lost out there.

   
• Question medications and mood changes. My mom has always been a kind and gentle soul. But near the end of her time living with me, she would lapse into fits of belligerence and anger. This can happen with dementia, and I had just written it off as her condition progressing. But it turned out that was not the case. At least not for her. She was prescribed loads of drugs to keep her calm and out of depression. When she ended up in the hospital, they cut all the mind drugs... all of them... and she was back to her normal kind and gentle self within a week. And she stayed that way until she passed. I'm not saying that you should ignore all doctor advice when it comes to medications... I'm just saying that if you see serious personality changes popping up, consult with your doctor to see if they have ideas about reducing or changing the drugs they're on. My life would have been so much easier if my mom was "clean" those last few weeks of living with me, but I didn't know to question what was happening.

   
• Don't intentionally create confusion, even if you're doing it for the "right reasons." Needless to say, coming to terms with dementia was not an easy thing. I didn't want it to be true. I needed for it not to be true. And every once in a while some little thing would happen that had me convinced she might be getting better, even though deep down I knew it couldn't be. So I'd come up with little tests to see if it were possible she had improved. Things like asking her if she wanted a Coke, then pulling up to a mini-mart and asking her to run in and buy a couple bottles. Then waiting. And waiting. And waiting. All in the hopes that she would come out with those damn bottles. But she wouldn't. Of course she wouldn't, because she couldn't remember why she had gone into the store the minute she walked inside of it. Which means I'd have to go in and get her. Turns out all I'd done is needlessly confuse her in an attempt to make myself feel better. Helping somebody with dementia means doing everything you can to keep confusion to a minimum. At this point, it's about all you can do and the biggest kindness you can offer them.

   
• Take breaks. Find a way to laugh every day, even when you don't feel like it. If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that being a dementia caretaker is a lot harder than actually having dementia. You will be pushed to your limits... a lot. Caring for somebody with dementia is like a black hole from which you can't escape. But you simply have to. You risk losing yourself if you don't. I didn't have anybody I could have come give me a break, so I worked with the local council on aging to apply for a nursing service. I was able to get a few hours a month paid for, but if I ever needed a break or had to travel, I paid for it myself. And if I didn't have the money? I put it on my credit card. Something I hate doing, but couldn't not do. There were days I felt as though I would never laugh again and, as things progressed, I was honestly wondering if I could feel happy again. It became such a serious concern that I promised myself to find something I could laugh about every day. More than anything else I did, this helped me feel human again. The day that my mother no longer recognized me was the most painful day of my life. I went home and watched Eddie Murphy standup until I could laugh again because it's so vitally important to keep your ability to do so.

   
• Don't discount the rest of their life (or yours) after diagnosis. Once the doctor dropped the dementia bomb, it would have been incredibly easy to consider my mom's life to be over. But let me repeat what I said yesterday... her life was not done yet! Look at the last photo I posted on my travels with mom post...

Travels with Mom

At this point, my mom could not remember anything new. The brain mechanism for recording memories had been destroyed. All she had right here is most of her old memories... and that moment. She was happy and having a nice lunch even though she had no idea she was having high tea at the Jungle Junction Restaurant at the five-star Victoria Falls Hotel. She didn't even know she was in Africa. And the minute we left the restaurant, she would have absolutely no memory that this had ever happened. And yet... I would remember. I would remember her being happy even though she didn't realize she had no reason to be happy. Her life wasn't over. There were still good times to be had.

   
• Recognize when you can't be a caregiver anymore. I didn't. The fall off the dementia cliff happened over years, so I didn't recognize how bad it had gotten until one of my mom's doctors pointed it out to me. As it turns out, I probably should have found a facility for my mom months... maybe even a year... before I did. And yet, I have no regrets. My thinking was that the longer I could keep her with me, the better her quality of life. And maybe that was true. She was still recognizing me as her son, so having a friendly face has to be a benefit, right? In any event, when it's time... it's time. I am very, very lucky that my local hospital made the process be as painless as it could possibly be. First of all, they made it known that I needed to find a place as soon as possible... but they never threatened to force my mom out of the hospital. Second of all, they had an amazing, amazing staff helping me search the state for the best facility "fit" for my mom, taking in consideration her retirement savings, my budget, her Navy pension options, her Social Security monies, and what aid she was qualified for. And I took my time. I considered eleven facilities... and visited seven of them across the state... before making my decision. Because of that, I never felt bad about where she ended up because I knew I had put in the effort to find the best place possible.

   
• The best option may not be next door. When it came to finding a home for my grandmother, I picked a place that was literally two minutes from my home at the time. My thinking was that it would make it so easy to visit whenever I wanted. The problem with that is that I felt obligated to visit more often than I wanted. Not that I didn't love her... I loved my grandmother more than just about anything on earth... it's just that you can't let the sunset of their life become too much of your life. Had I been smart, I would have put her somewhere further away where visiting was more of an event than a constant chore. Your mileage may vary, of course. Perhaps you need to have your loved one close by, and that's fine. But for me? Having my mom being further away was much, much better for my health and mindset. No matter how bad things got, I looked forward to my visits because they were happening every two weeks instead of every two days.

   
• Make their home a home they're recognize when they can't recognize it as home. When my mom was living with me and really started to slide, the home she was looking for was the home she lived in when she was six years old with her mom and dad. Obviously there was no way I could make that happen. And so I tried other ways. Having her personal effects out in the open where she can see them helped. But the best thing I found? Photos. Not necessarily of family (though I did that too) but of herself. I had big photos printed on canvas of all our travels and hung them everywhere around my home. The brighter and more attention-getting the better, because she always seemed to recognize herself. So when she would see herself everywhere, she'd be able to figure out that this was where she was supposed to be. This ended up being so helpful that I actually hung photos of her over the windows. Because what's outside the windows could be confusing. Pictures of herself? Not confusing. When she moved into a memory care facility, I took the pictures off her my walls and covered her walls with them. For several months, she had something to talk about with her caregivers because she could still kinda remember them. Even once she didn't remember, they were still cool to have there for her visitors and the staff caring for her.

   
• Abolish glass everywhere you can. This may seem obvious, but it wasn't to me. When I moved into my new house, I bought all new dishes. For whatever reason, my mom kept breaking them all. Eventually I replaced all plates, bowls, glasses, and cups with shatter-proof melamine dinnerware from Pier 1. I got rid of picture frames and went with canvas prints because she was breaking those too. Anything breakable... especially if it could harm them after breaking... has to go. For things I couldn't put away... like the glass in my IKEA hutches... I covered with clear contact paper front and back so if it were to break it would be held in place instead of flying everywhere. You can do that with actual windows too, though most windows are tougher than you'd think.

   
• Keep an eye on their feet. Loose carpeting and area rugs are accidents waiting to happen because people with dementia have a confusion which is always distracting them. The first thing I did when I moved into my new home was have all the carpeting ripped out. It made things so much easier. But it's not a bulletproof solution because they can still trip easily. Do whatever you can to minimize this wherever you can. I kept my home as sparse as possible with little to no clutter.

   
• Surveillance cameras are as handy as you'd think they would be. In the earlier years where my mom was a bit confused yet still had some memory and was able to function on her own, I was still able to go to work because I set up security cameras everywhere so I could check in. These cloud cameras are getting cheaper every day and can be bought for as little as $30. I went with Nest Cams, which are considerably more expensive than that (and the cloud storage is even more expensive)... but they were easy to set up, allowed me to create motion zones so I could be alerted when my mom when places she shouldn't, and were an overall godsend for my peace of mind.

   
• Make as many moments as you can. Four years seems like a long time. But I assure you that the four years from June 2014 to June 2018 went very quickly as my mom's dementia progressed. Milestones happen and you don't even know it until they've passed. The last time we saw a movie in a theater. The last time we ate out in a restaurant. The last time we'd go for a walk. The last time she'd ride with me in my car. The last time she recognized me. The last time her eyes were open. In every case, I never knew it was the last time. So if there is something that you enjoy doing together... do it often, because there will come a day that they can't do it any more. I regret that my mom's last drive was to the dentist. She loved going for drives, and it would have been awesome if we could have went somewhere nice for her last time. But I waited too long after I saw she was starting to have serious difficulty getting in and out of the car, so it never happened. Not that she would remember any of it... but she might have had a nice moment at the time... and I would remember.

   
• If you're Catholic, plan ahead. My mom hadn't had anything to do with the church for decades, but she was raised Catholic and if you were to ask her what religious affiliation she was, that's what she would tell you. I don't know whether or not receiving "last rights" (or "anointing the sick" as it seems to be called now) would be important to my mom, but I wanted to cover that base just in case. This was a problem though, because my mom's old church was 2-1/2 hours away. The religious director for the hospice company we were using attempted multiple times over three days to get a priest from different local Catholic churches to come. No priest ever did. I was told somebody from the church would call. Nobody ever did. Needless to say, I was absolutely livid. Not because I give a shit... I'd just as soon not have a priest anywhere near my mother. I was livid because it might have mattered to her. And so... unless your loved one is in the vicinity of a Catholic church that knows them so there's a priest who gives a shit, plan ahead. Find a parish and build a relationship with a priest long before you'll need them to come for last rights. Otherwise? Apparently saving immortal souls is only something priests care about if you were a member of their church long enough to have made it worth their while on the donation plate. Because of this I went from loving the Catholic church, to being an apologist for the Catholic church, to being indifferent about the Catholic church... to now actively loathing the Catholic church.

   
• Just plan ahead, period. Because my mom and I had spent so much time together and were so close, I knew what her wishes were and what she would want for herself once she couldn't make decisions for herself. This is not a luxury everybody has, so you have to do the work. Go over every possible decision. Get an advanced directives document drawn up today. Start looking at facilities before you actually need one. You can't anticipate everything... Lord knows I didn't... but the more you can take care of ahead of time, the better off you'll both be.

   
• If a pet will help you, make sure you have a pet. If you need help, make sure you get help. Jake and Jenny kept my mom company and me sane while she was living with me. They gave me a reason to get up in the morning after she left. I seriously question if I could have survived all this if it weren't for my two cats. There were times I thought I should be in therapy to help deal with everything that was happening. I never pursued it. I should have. No matter how strong you are, dementia will test you like nothing else will. Be sure you're strong enough to face it because you're no good to anybody if you're not. Whether that means cats... or a dog... or therapy... or whatever... don't forget to be a caregiver to the most important person in all this. That would be you.

   
This is just the stuff off the top of my head, and my experience won't be the same as everybody else's experience. But maybe it will be of help to people, I dunno. It's a mere drop in the dementia bucket, but collect enough drops and you can fill that bucket.

Take care of each other, everybody.

   

Warm Cookies and Cool Jewelry

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Dave!When it comes to death, we humans have a crazy variety of customs, superstitions, and rituals. Most people would agree that a lot of them are really weird, which is to say that they're weird to you To other people, maybe it's your customs that are weird.

My beliefs are a bit complex, largely falling into Buddhist ideals, but sometimes straying into the other belief systems which have shaped my thinking. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, so death is just a natural thing that happens... like a flower that blooms, dies, then returns year after year. While I don't know that I believe in reincarnation, I do believe that death is natural and nothing to be afraid of. I also believe it's not the end of you, though what happens to the energy that was you I do not know. I'm actually glad about that because it means there's one final mystery solved when you leave this earthly plane.

When I die, I honestly don't care what becomes of my body. I'm not there anymore, it was never anything really special to me, and it can get tossed in the garbage for all I care. I do like the idea of having my ashes spread over Mt. Haleakala in Maui though... just in case my friends want an excuse to take a vacation.

My mom was raised Catholic, so I am doing my absolute best to act according to what I believe her wishes to be. The whole "last rites" thing was a bust because apparently Catholic priests have better things to do than serve their flock now-a-days, so I'm already off to a bad start. I know she wanted to be cremated. I know she didn't want a church service. I know she wants to be buried in her plot next to her parents. Everywhere else I'm just filling in the blanks the best I can.

And it's been a bit weird, I don't mind telling you.

The local funeral home here went out of business one week before my mom went into hospice. I was really saddened by this, because the guy who ran it is the brother of a friend and I really appreciated how he helped me out when my grandmother passed. And so I found a new funeral home by doing a Google Maps search near my mom's care facility, picking the one that looked the nicest, and then dropping by to take care of everything. Years ago I had bought my mom's car from her and put the money into a funeral insurance policy, so the money to pay for everything was already there.

I sat down with the funeral director where I was served a plate of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Assumably to provide comfort to grieving clients. Which... I must admit... it actually did. Or maybe I was just hungry because I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning. In any case, they were some really tasty cookies.

While the lovely person handling my mom's final affairs was off photocopying her birth certificate, Navy discharge papers, and all that kind of stuff, I started looking around at all the urns and casket options when I saw this...

Love Ashes!

That's right... for a hefty chunk of money, you can turn your loved one's remains into jewelry! Remember when I said that this was all a bit weird? This is what I was talking about. I mean, how does that go? "My that's a lovely pendant you're wearing!""Oh thanks... it's grandma!"

But that's just the beginning. You can also get your loved one fingerprinted and turn that into jewelry...

Love Prints!

"Do you have any wishes for your mother's remains?""Yeah... book 'em, Dano!"

And lest you think that your pet has been left out of the fun... you can also get paw-print jewelry and even nose-print jewelry made! I mean, hey, I love my cats and all, but I can't picture a scenario where I would want to wear Jake and Jenny's noses around my neck.

After nearly an hour of cookies and paperwork, it was ultimately decided mom would be cremated then put in a nice metal jar I selected. I'll then pick up her ashes at a later date and have them interned in her plot just before concrete is poured for her marker, then say one last goodbye to the remarkable woman that will always be my mother. And check in with grandma and grandpa next door, of course.

I have decided against any kind of graveside service. I feel badly about that because I'm sure there's many of mom's friends who would like to say goodbye and have closure. But it would be just my luck to have her fucking pig of an ex-boyfriend show up, and I think it would be in bad taste to have a murder occur as she's being laid to rest. So... instead my family will set aside some time at the next reunion and remember her then. I like this idea anyway because a lot of people will already be there and not have to drive hours for a ten-minute goodbye.

And so... plans made. I guess I'm done with all the weirdness then, right?

LOL. No. There was a call from the medical examiner which was another bucket of weird to deal with. I won't go into all the details of my spilling details... but I will say that it was surprisingly thorough and specific. As if they suspected foul play. Which had my mind racing in a dozen different directions. Have there been a slew of "accidents" at mom's care facility? Has there been a chain of suspicious deaths surrounding my mom's doctor? Who knows. But my mom used to read mystery novels by the hundreds, so I kinda like the idea of her getting one final mystery before leaving this earthly plane.

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Facial Unrecognition

Posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Dave!I currently have 146,427 images in my photo library. And while they are all fairly well organized by date and location, I tend to rely on the facial recognition in Adobe LightRoom if I'm trying to find a picture of a person. It does a pretty good job, though there's a lot of room for improvement. Fortunately there's a "training mode" where you can fine-tune the algorithm's picks.

Take for example pictures that LightRoom thinks are me that are actually me.

And... some pictures not so much of me.

XXX

So... pretty good job, actually.

And yet... Apparently I look like a skeleton doll... a painting of a grody old saint... a statue of some Thomas Jefferson looking guy... a drawing of a woman in curls... and a black blob.

Among other things.

No accidental comparison to Ryan Reynolds this time, however. Just a woman in curls.

Sometimes technology lifts you up.

Sometimes technology kicks you in the balls.

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Undependence Fall

Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Dave!It's hard for me to celebrate the psychotic wasteland that the United States of America seems to headed towards, but I do my best. Despite it all, I still love my country... or rather the potential of my country... so what else can I do?

Try to make it better, I guess.

Not so easy given the way things are, but since when is anything worthwhile easy?

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey waving US flags.

   
If you're not registered to vote, now's the time you want to get on that.

   

“Alexa, take out the garbage.”

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Dave!This morning I went to brush my teeth and forgot what I named the light above my bathroom sink. It was all "Alexa, turn on the... uhhhh...

Now, before you think it's insane that I can't remember "Bathroom Light" you have to understand that I have two bathrooms. The downstairs bathroom has "Bathroom Light" (above the sink) and "Shower Light" (above the shower). Since you can't give two different lights the same name, I had to call the lights in the upstairs bathroom names that are kinda esoteric. The light above the shower is "Spa Light" and the fan above the shower is "Spa Fan." The light above the bathroom sink that I couldn't remember is "Throne Light." "Throne" as in "Toilet" because my bathroom has a toilet in it, I guess (hey, it sounded better that "Toilet Light" at the time). I would have named it "Sink Light," but that name was already in use for the light above my kitchen sink.

So... yeah... couldn't remember "Throne Light."

Rather than set my toothbrush and toothpaste down, then try and remember which of the three switches controlled the light above my bathroom sink, I did was any home automation addict would do.

"Alexa, turn on ALL LIGHTS!"

You do not get to judge me for turning on every single light in my house so I didn't have to brush my teeth in the dark.

Well, you can judge me, I'd just prefer that you don't.

It's not my fault that Alexa is not location aware and can't understand commands like "Turn on the light in the room I'm in." Maybe one day she will acquire such smarts, but she's just not there yet.

I'm just happy I can tell her to lock the front door downstairs when I'm lying in bed upstairs and all of a sudden remember that I forgot to lock it after I took the garbage out.

   

EDDIE!

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2018

Dave!As a movie-lover, it's tough to put my finger on my favorite films. Such a list would change from day to day depending on my mood or what I find entertaining at the moment. Sure, some movies will always be near the top (there's no way that Field of Dreams is ever going to drop off my favorites) but I don't think I would even attempt a definitive list for the ages.

That being said, there are many films that I love watching over and over that would not rank highly on such a list if I were to make one.

Like Eddie Murphy movies.

I simply cannot pass them up when I see them pop up on my television. And when I'm looking for a movie to run while I work, Eddie's films comes up far more often than others...

Eddie Murphy

Despite being enormously talented and having this uncanny ability to make mediocre movies into something fantastic, it's not like Eddie is perfect, however. I mean, films like Meet Dave, Pluto Nash, and Holy Man seem to suggest he's not exactly worried about missteps.

Anyway...

Last night Eddie Murphy movies came up in conversation and we were all trying to decide on our favorites. This is pretty much what I came up with...

  1. Beverly Hills Cop If there's one movie that defines the absolute core of what Eddie Murphy can accomplish on-screen, it's this. From a really good script to some hilarious improvisation, all that I love about Eddie Murphy is right here.
  2. Coming to America This movie so deftly drifted between hilarious moments and genuinely touching romance that I think it gave Hollywood pause as to what Eddie Murphy was capable of. I've seen this movie so many times that I can practically recite it from memory.
  3. Trading Places I debated putting this film in the top spot, because it was the first time I truly "got" how huge a movie star Eddie was going to be. All the performances were spot-on here (the casting was flawless), but this was Eddie's film from start to finish.
  4. Harlem Nights I don't understand the critical disdain for this film. I absolutely loved it. Some of the best funny moments in Eddie's career. And not only did it drop in some amazing A-list talent (Redd Foxx? Richard Pryor? Della Reese?), but it was absolutely beautiful to look at. The sets... the wardrobe... the styling... all so beautifully done. And Murphy directed it as well? Too much greatness for people to handle, I guess.
  5. Beverly Hills Cop II Did it match the first one? No. Did it completely live up to my expectations? Absolutely. The whole "Alphabet Killer" thing was a weak plot element (how could you be labeled the Alphabet Killer after one crime?), but it was otherwise a good story with some genuinely funny moments.
  6. The Distinguished Gentleman This movie is so overlooked and I don't understand why. In many ways I think it's a smarter film than others ranking higher on this list, and have always felt that the story was perfect for the day (and painfully relevant even now). The thing that keeps me watching it over and over is how beautifully all the pieces fit together. Everything is scripted to keep moving the story along as bit after bit clicks perfectly into place. No, the characters aren't fleshed out to any depth, but they don't have to be. Everybody is designed to contribute to making things funny and keep Eddie at the top of his game. And with this movie he definitely is.
  7. The Golden Child This was not a great film. And it felt as though Eddie was phoning it in the entire time. Some of his delivery was just plain awful, and so much less than he was capable of. It's like he insisted that he only have to perform one take per scene because nothing felt as polished as his other movies. And yet... even when he's phoning it in, Murphy is still funnier than most people on the planet combined, and the film worked on that basis alone. It was non-stop Eddie doing exactly what makes him so hilarious to watch.
  8. 48 Hours It's hard to ignore the film that started his big screen career, though I don't think it holds up as well as his other works. Still, this is a great film and a terrific debut.
  9. Boomerang Okay... I'm going to admit that Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, and Halle Berry went a long, long ways towards me liking this film as much as I did, but they didn't overshadow Murphy's performance. He was just so on-the-money scene after scene as the story kept building to its inevitable conclusion.
  10. Bowfinger I couldn't decide between Bowfinger, Dr. Doolittle, and Life for my last film because I like them equally. But Bowfinger had these genuinely wacky moments that could have only come from Eddie Murphy. And it was great to see him matched with a talent like Steve Martin who could so easily hold his own on screen.

This list doesn't include his standup.

Oh man I hope he does at least one more standup movie before he retires.

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Caturday 66

Posted on Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Dave!When it comes to my cats, I am the absolute worst kind of parent. Rather than enact strict discipline in my household, I always take the path of least resistance because I find it incredibly difficult to tell Jake and Jenny "no" to anything.

It wasn't always this way. I started out with all kinds of rules. My #1 Rule has always been to keep the cats out of my kitchen... for two reasons. The first is that this is where there front door is located, and I didn't want them to wait there and run outside as I came and went. Second of all is because this is where I prepare food, and I didn't want kitty germs and cat hair all over my counters. I went to great lengths to keep them out. Even going so far as to purchase Scat Mats to electrocute them when they walked across them. Well, "shock" not "electrocute" but you get the picture.

Unfortunately, my cats were smarter than Scat Mats...

Yes. Jumping over the mat. Who'da thunk it? But that wasn't even the start. They would also drag things over the mats so they could walk across without getting shocked.

And so... they were allowed in the kitchen since there didn't seem to be an easy way to stop them. Oddly enough, they stopped hopping on the kitchen counters once I let them in, so I am declaring myself the voctor here.

It goes on and on.

Most all my rules have been tossed out the window. About the only one I have left is to not allow them outside, but they've got a catio for that, so I'm not sure I won that battle.

The latest battle I've lost? Letting them play in the cat food cupboard.

I made the huge mistake of storing all the cat food in a lower cabinet. It's all sealed up to keep it fresh, so they can't really get into anything, but I still try to keep them out so I don't have to clean up all the stuff they drag out of it...

Cat Food Breakout

What's interesting to note is that my cats know the difference between the food packets and the treat packets.

They will pull food packets out of the cupboard, but the only packets they try and open are the treat packets. Food packets never leave the kitchen. Treat packets are dragged and thrown all over the house...

Cat Food Breakout

This morning when I woke up, I heard a ruckus downstairs. I knew what was going on before I even looked at the security cameras...

Cat Food Breakout

There was Jake, throwing around a treat packet trying to break it open since he can't find a way to bite it open.

Usually, I run downstairs and take it away because I have a rule about not letting them mess around with food like this... but... well... another rule down the drain. Who am I to deny them fun times like this? I've bought toys which they have ignored that cost a lot more than a bag of treats.

And speaking of treats... Jake loves air conditioning. Loves it. The minute he hears the AC kick in, no matter where he is in the house, he will run as fast as he can to get to the vent above the cat tree so he can bask in its coolness...

Cat Food Breakout

I've posted this photo (or a photo like it) before, but here's Jake showing his true love of cold air...

Jake Catspreading

And since we just can't seem to get enough Jake this Caturday...

There I was, working away, when I have to stop so I can check my security cameras and find out which cat is responsible for the foul-smelling dump that just got left in the Litter-Robot. Because this is my life now.

Turns out it was Jake (big surprise). BUT HERE'S THE PART WHERE I FREAK OUT, BECAUSE AFTER HE TAKES A DUMP, HE SITS THERE STARING AT THE CAMERA LIKE HE KNOWS I'M GOING TO BE LOOKING. JUST LOOK AT THIS SMUG LITTLE BASTARD! ALL PROUD OF THAT POOP HE JUST UNLEASHED!

Cat Food Breakout

Oh gawd... why in the hell are you reading my blog? Who needs to know this stuff? What is wrong with you?

See you next Caturday!

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Bullet Sunday 469

Posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Dave!Everything in the world seems to suck... but life goes on, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Science Fiction! One of my all-time favorite bands is the Thompson Twins. I maintain that Quick Step and Side Kick, Into the Gap, and Here's to Future Days is one of the best trifecta of albums released. Not bad for a band that considered themselves to be a joke. Eventually lead singer and writer for the Twins resurfaced for a series of 80's flashback tours. He ended up having so much fun that he decided to write new material... sticking to the slick hooks and 80's vibe that made his work so popular. And now there's an album coming from Tom Bailey called Science Fiction. If the single What Kind of World is any indication, I'm going to love it...

Only have to wait five more days...

   
• Coaster! That Kayla is a lucky girl...

Who needs Disneyland?

   
• Gaston! And speaking of Disneyland... whomever hired this cast member struck gold...

The rides are cool and all that, but it's the people at Disney that make it theme park magic.

   
• Coaster! And speaking of theme park magic, take a look at this amazing video...

The riders are lucky that the camera and selfie-stick didn't fly out of his hand and kill somebody... but... very cool.

   
• MALKOVICH! How did I miss that Spike Jonze and Jordan Peele accepted a fan theory about a link between Being John Malkovich and Get Out? Then Peele confirmed that he now considers it to be true?

Being John Malkovich

Bizarre! Which is what you'd expect when Being John Malkovich is involved.

   
• NOT MALKOVICH! Now, I hesitate to compare any film to Being John Malkovich, but this sure looks like a contender in the bizarre department...

So cool that there are people trying to do something different in movies... and that there are studios supporting them.

   
• Triple Header! I still have no idea how Luca Stricagnoli does what he does. You'd think that his brain would explode trying to do so many things at once...

Beautiful. Amazing how his interpretation just keeps getting better and more complex as time goes on.

   
And that's all she wrote for bullets this Sunday. See you again in a mere seven days.

   

A Change of Heart

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2018

Dave!My cats are too weird... when they are apart. When they are together it's an entirely new level of weird.

When I first got my cats as babies, they were inseparable. Probably because they were scared to be in a new place... but their bond lasted well past the time they got used to their home. You would never see one without the other, and one would always follow the other wherever they would go.

Eventually they decided to live separate lives. Sure their paths cross all the time, but they don't feel the need to constantly be together. Jenny, in particular, is happy to find a private spot to sleep or play where her brother won't bother her. Fortunately my home has two levels, so there's never a problem for them finding a way to escape from each other.

And then over the past month something strange started happening. Jake started following Jenny around like old times... playing where she's playing, sleeping where she's sleeping. At first Jenny was irritated by this and would leave the second she felt he was crowding her. But in the past couple of days she's had a change of heart. Sometimes when she absolutely should not...

Jake Wants to Sleep

Jake Wants to Sleep

Jake Wants to Sleep

Jake Wants to Sleep

Jake Wants to Sleep

Because they absolutely don't both fit on the same platform like they used to...

Caturday Cat!

And it's not just on top of the cat tower... Jake will climb onto whatever space Jenny is occupying...

Jake Wants a Bath

Jake Wants a Bath

And lest you think that Jake doesn't return the favor...

Jake Wants a Bath

I am very, very grateful that my cats get along. But there are times I think Jenny probably wishes Jake would just leave her alone.

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Sleepy Time Entrapment

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Dave!Jenny went from a kitten who would never let me touch her to a cat who wants to be petted all day long. She's still terrified of other people, but loves to hang out with me.

What's great about Jenny is that she will absolutely let me know exactly where and how she wants to be petted, and will contort herself into a pretzel to make it happen. And if I am petting her wrong or in a way she doesn't like, she'll paw at me or kick at me to let me know. There have been times she'll paw at me or kick at me because I'm not looking at her as I pet her. The little diva wants my full attention and not some half-assed distracted petting.

Most days now she will clean up after breakfast then run upstairs to hang with me while I'm working in bed. I don't get as much done when I'm working one-handed, but I don't mind because it's a nice way to start my day.

Every once in a while her purring will stop as I'm petting her and I know that she's fallen asleep...

Jenny, a sweet ginger kitty, falls asleep while I'm petting her.

This morning she fell asleep on my foot, which means I can't get up. Sure I could waker her and try to explain that I have to go into the office or else I can't earn money for her food, shelter, and toys... but something tells me she won't be having it.

And so I guess I'm late for work today.

I can always make money putting cat videos on YouTube, right?

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Blogography Moving Day!

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Dave!Blogography may be screwed up for a bit, but I'm still blogging!

After twelve years of suffering through my current web hosting provider, I'm moving to greener pastures.

When I first investigates Media Temple, they were more expensive than others, but billed themselves as a "pro" solution and were hosting some of the biggest sites on the internet. I figured the extra money would be worth it, and signed up.

And, for a while, I think it was worth it. They offered tools and goodies that most others were not, and their support was very good. I didn't like my annual bill, but I liked everything else.

Then they moved to a new "grid" architecture, and it sucked ass. Basic stuff like... oh... I dunno... SITE BACKUPS were gone. Downtime was rampant (and they never felt like reimbursing you for the time your site wasn't available). But they kept promising that they were working out the kinks and that the missing tools would be restored, so I stuck with them.

After two years, things stabilized. Downtime was still happening, but it was okay for a personal blog. And then? That was it. They just coasted along and nothing changed. And that backup tool? Oh... it's still coming!

A decade passes and I'm still fucking waiting.

I stuck around despite it all because I didn't want the hassle of moving. The thought of losing emails in the transfer was always a big deterrent.

And then? I kept getting hacked. I installed protection, which helped, but the attacks never let up. My hosting company doesn't offer any help in this arena what-so-ever (knowledge-base articles didn't much help), and so I've been attempting to handle it on my own. As I'm working on it, my "GPU" points ran out, and so I had to pay for overages... $38 for last month alone... in order to cover my backups and blog hits. $38 I can't afford.

And so I wrote to support from Media Temple.

After the bullshit canned answers I've come to expect, I couldn't take it another minute. Twelve fucking years as a customer, and they don't give a shit about me. No "Hey, sorry you're having problems we don't offer tools to deal with, so let us reimburse you the $38 as you're working through things because we value you as a customer!" Not even close. And so? They can just fuck all the way off. I'm moving to a new hosting company that may or may not be better, but at least I'm not paying a premium to host there... and, oh... THEY OFFER FUCKING BACKUP OF MY SITE AUTOMATICALLY!!!

A few things I've learned through all this...

  • The paid Wordpress "easy migration" tools don't work. I tried three of them (ranging from $30 to $45) and not one of them was able to handle my massive Blogography site... or even my much smaller DaveCafe site. Hoping that all their "money-back-guarantees actually happen.
  • Using the built-in WordPress export tool to collect your entries, comments, and such is fine... but the import tool to get them in your new site is total shit. I had to manually split my export file into two pieces because of size limitations... then the installer kept timing out before finishing, so I had to figure out which entries were missing, edit the files to only contain them, then install those. Then repeat. Again and again. Blogography ended up being tens of thousands of lines of XML code. Do you know what it's like to try and edit that shit? Thank heavens for TextMate and the ability to define blocks to copy/paste! (Command-Shift-DownArrow, Command-Shift-UpArrow).
  • All my templates are custom-coded by me. A skill I have long-since forgotten how to do. This meant a lot of time wasted trying to figure out how my templates work so I could repair everything.
  • Do not panic when your archives say "0 comments" on entries you know you have comments... the actual post page will have the comments intact. You have to Google for a PHP script to fix all that (though I am really nervous about doing so when I just got everything working, finally).
  • The SSL certificate "ca-bundle" goes in the "Intermediate Certificate" field or else secure site hosting won't work. Why hosting companies can't label where things go is beyond me. I had the same issue with Media Temple, and finally remembered what I did to get it working.
  • You can look up your database prefix in MyPHPAdmin. Don't forget to put it in the appropriate spot in the wp-config file or nothing will work. And, no, I don't know why WordPress puts that not with the database credentials section, but instead all the way down the page where you can easily miss it.
  • If you hard-coded links on your site, every last one of them will fail if you customized your permalinks (under settings). I customized mine to "/archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html" in order to be backwards-compatible with the Movable Type blogging platform (that was my pre-WordPress platform).
  • Just copy all your plugins via FTP and add them directly to your new site... don't try to search for them inside WordPress because half of them are missing, unsupported, or abandoned.
  • Screaming at your computer display does nothing except scare the kitties. Don't do that.
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Unbloggable

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Dave!Um... yeah... things may be messed up here for a little while. Everything is helplessly screwed up, and I'm trying my best to restore from my backup... but the backup software I purchased won't restore properly. And so I'm kinda trying to manually restore, which isn't going so well either. Such is life.
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Friday Not Friday This Time

Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2018

Dave!I just noticed something... odd.

Rachel McAdams sure ends up in a lot of movies with a time traveler.

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in The Time Traveler's Wife, a silly concept for time travel that doesn't quite work as sci-fi or romance...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen film I refuse to watch because I loathe Woody Allen...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in About Time, one of the sweeter romance films I've seen with time travel used to good effect...

   
Rachel McAdams and a time traveler in Doctor Strange, one of the better super-hero movies I've seen...

   
Kind of surprising that she wasn't cast as Rita in Edge of Tomorrow.

Is it too much to hope that my favorite Dean Koontz book, Lightning, gets made into a film? Rachel McAdams would make a good Laura Shane.

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Caturday 67

Posted on Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Dave!Jake is a lovable lump of a gentleman... Jenny is a lovable petite little lady. It's tough to compare their size because you can't corral them to sit next to each other. All I know is that Jake is quite a bit larger than his sister.

Then the other day after feeding them, I noticed this...

Cat Comparison Jake and Jenny

I have no idea which sibling is older.

But Jake will forever be the big brother...

Cat Comparison Jake and Jenny

By about a third, I'm guessing.

   
And now?

Trying to do laundry in a house with cats...

Cat Laundry

Cat Laundry

And just when one cat finally gives it up...

Cat Laundry

   
And lastly...

When you spend lots of time and money to create catio perches and toys... but your cats would rather lay on the cool concrete. Hot summer nights and all that...

Catio Nights

   
And last-lastly...

I leave you with cats who like to sleep...

SleepyJake

SleepyJake

Except Jenny woke up before I could get my phone out, so she's not sleeping any more. But she was sleeping...

   
See you next Caturday.

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Bullet Sunday 470

Posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Dave!We're on fire again and smoke fills the air... but don't despair, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• M-S-G Can You Dig It? Absolutely fascinating...

I don't eat Chinese food hardly at all (it's not very good here, and choices for vegetarians are severely limited)... and yet I've heard the MSG myth forever.

   
• Monkey Business! In case everybody doesn't know... I put the first volume of Bad Monkey Comix up to read online for free. You can take a look by clicking on this image...

Bad Monkey Comics Vol. One Cover

Or you can just click this link!

   
• New MacBooks! Apple's new "Pro" MacBooks once again lacking the ports that "pros" need to actually FUNCTION in their fucking JOBS. Such a crock of shit. DONGLES! DONGLES EVERYWHERE!!!

MacBook Pro 2018

I thought that Apple was supposed to be working with pros to find out what they want in "pro" products? I don't think that's true. Otherwise they wouldn't be sticking with a shallow, shitty keyboard and no standard USB ports. At least you get more than one port now. Still no MagSafe, which sucks.

   
• Science Fact! Tom Bailey's new album, Science Fiction, is here! If you pre-ordered, it has probably arrived (my autographed copy of the deluxe set did!) but you can also listen to it on the usual streaming services. I'm saving my review for another entry, but here's a sneak preview: love it.

   
• Be You! Oh noes. Roll up on a woman, call her a slut because of what she is wearing, then think that you can then proceed to slut-shame her into submission? Not. This. Woman. Not today. My guess is not any day...

What absolutely kills me about this is how we rave about "American freedom"... but never seem to back that up. Whether it's telling a Muslim woman she's wearing too much... or telling this woman she's wearing too little... everybody is just DYING to tell OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES. Well fuck that. Live your truth. Be who you are. Defy those who would oppress YOUR FREEDOM by defining what it means for you to be free. So long as you're not endangering others, be free to be you.

   
• Incompetence. I have been trying very hard to keep politics off of Blogography because I don't want it degrading into a comedy of horrors that makes me want to slit my wrists every time I visit my own blog. But things are so bad right now. So bad. And people don't even seem to realize what's happening. The Trump Administration trade fiasco is probably going to damage this country more than anything so far. Companies are already laying off scores of workers because the reciprocal tariffs are making it impossible for them to operate. It's horrendous, and it's just the beginning. From Professor David Honig...

I’m going to get a little wonky and write about Donald Trump and negotiations. For those who don't know, I'm an adjunct professor at Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law and I teach negotiations. Okay, here goes.
   
Trump, as most of us know, is the credited author of The Art of the Deal, a book that was actually ghost written by a man named Tony Schwartz, who was given access to Trump and wrote based upon his observations. If you've read The Art of the Deal, or if you've followed Trump lately, you'll know, even if you didn't know the label, that he sees all dealmaking as what we call "distributive bargaining."
   
Distributive bargaining always has a winner and a loser. It happens when there is a fixed quantity of something and two sides are fighting over how it gets distributed. Think of it as a pie and you're fighting over who gets how many pieces. In Trump's world, the bargaining was for a building, or for construction work, or subcontractors. He perceives a successful bargain as one in which there is a winner and a loser, so if he pays less than the seller wants, he wins. The more he saves the more he wins.
   
The other type of bargaining is called integrative bargaining. In integrative bargaining the two sides don't have a complete conflict of interest, and it is possible to reach mutually beneficial agreements. Think of it, not a single pie to be divided by two hungry people, but as a baker and a caterer negotiating over how many pies will be baked at what prices, and the nature of their ongoing relationship after this one gig is over.
   
The problem with Trump is that he sees only distributive bargaining in an international world that requires integrative bargaining. He can raise tariffs, but so can other countries. He can't demand they not respond. There is no defined end to the negotiation and there is no simple winner and loser. There are always more pies to be baked. Further, negotiations aren't binary. China's choices aren't (a) buy soybeans from US farmers, or (b) don't buy soybeans. They can also (c) buy soybeans from Russia, or Argentina, or Brazil, or Canada, etc. That completely strips the distributive bargainer of his power to win or lose, to control the negotiation.
   
One of the risks of distributive bargaining is bad will. In a one-time distributive bargain, e.g. negotiating with the cabinet maker in your casino about whether you're going to pay his whole bill or demand a discount, you don't have to worry about your ongoing credibility or the next deal. If you do that to the cabinet maker, you can bet he won't agree to do the cabinets in your next casino, and you're going to have to find another cabinet maker.
   
There isn't another Canada.
   
So when you approach international negotiation, in a world as complex as ours, with integrated economies and multiple buyers and sellers, you simply must approach them through integrative bargaining. If you attempt distributive bargaining, success is impossible. And we see that already.
   
Trump has raised tariffs on China. China responded, in addition to raising tariffs on US goods, by dropping all its soybean orders from the US and buying them from Russia. The effect is not only to cause tremendous harm to US farmers, but also to increase Russian revenue, making Russia less susceptible to sanctions and boycotts, increasing its economic and political power in the world, and reducing ours. Trump saw steel and aluminum and thought it would be an easy win, BECAUSE HE SAW ONLY STEEL AND ALUMINUM - HE SEES EVERY NEGOTIATION AS DISTRIBUTIVE. China saw it as integrative, and integrated Russia and its soybean purchase orders into a far more complex negotiation ecosystem.
   
Trump has the same weakness politically. For every winner there must be a loser. And that's just not how politics works, not over the long run.
   
For people who study negotiations, this is incredibly basic stuff, negotiations 101, definitions you learn before you even start talking about styles and tactics. And here's another huge problem for us.
   
Trump is utterly convinced that his experience in a closely held real estate company has prepared him to run a nation, and therefore he rejects the advice of people who spent entire careers studying the nuances of international negotiations and diplomacy. But the leaders on the other side of the table have not eschewed expertise, they have embraced it. And that means they look at Trump and, given his very limited tool chest and his blindly distributive understanding of negotiation, they know exactly what he is going to do and exactly how to respond to it.
   
From a professional negotiation point of view, Trump isn't even bringing checkers to a chess match. He's bringing a quarter that he insists of flipping for heads or tails, while everybody else is studying the chess board to decide whether its better to open with Najdorf or Grünfeld.
   
— David Honig

This level of incompetence when it comes to trade is going to completely and totally fuck us. And make no mistake that we, as a country, are fucked. And this is just trade. We are equally fucked in many other areas. Which leads me to believe that President Trump thinks that the era where America was "great" is The Great Depression.

And don't think that just getting a new president in two years is going to fix the problem. The things that have been screwed up may very well take decades to correct. If they are correctable at all.

   
• Czech! Came home to see Stripes was on this past week. It was at the part where their unit has accidentally crossed the border into Czechoslovakia and so, naturally, they're all going to die. Amazing how international relations have changed within my lifetime. I've been to Czechoslovakia... and China... and Romania... and other countries it was assumed I would never be able to step foot in back in the day...

Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in Srripes

Of course... thanks to the ineptness of the Trump Administration, we may very well be going back to those times, so I guess I'm happy to have enjoyed it while it lasted. Pretty soon the only place that Americans may be able to travel is Russia and North Korea.

   
• Which Brings Us To... So... under President Obama we were the laughing stock of the world you say? What about now, you feckless ridiculous ignorant fuck?

The absurdity of where we are as a country keeps hitting new lows.

   
And, I think that's enough bullets for a smoke-filled Sunday. See you next week!

   

Reality is the new Reality

Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2018

Dave!Holy shit.

I missed half of this crap. It's just so unreal.

Which is saying something given the nature of our current reality...

Didn't know that Ireland wasn't a part of the UK?!? It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse.

Within the span of a 45 minute press conference! This is a perfect snapshot of the bigger picture and how there' no bottom to hit when it comes to our president.

   

Primed for Disappointment

Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Dave!I have long wanted a dash-cam to record all the crazy shit I see while driving. It's all so wacky that even I don't believe it sometimes, so it's good to have photographic evidence.

Since I didn't want to invest a ton of money in tech that was going to be obsolete in five minutes, I decided to buy the cheapest camera I could find until the newest generation of cameras with all the cool bells and whistles dropped in price. I ended up paying $28 on Amazon for a dash-cam that was usually $70 (I think it was on closeout?) and that would be good enough. Sure, the picture is crap and it doesn't have many features... but it would be better than the nothing I had at the time.

Three problems...

  1. I keep forgetting to press the "save" button when something interesting happens, so the video gets overwritten.
  2. So much of the crazy happens just outside of the range of the lens, despite it having a fairly wide angle.
  3. Removing the tiny micro SD card to get the video off of it is a huge pain in the ass.

Last night while I was waiting for an email response, I ran out to the car and grabbed the card. Turns out I had four videos saved. Two of them were of my garage door when I installed the thing and kept accidentally pressing buttons. But the other two were from my last drive back over the mountains...

The first was of a guy peeing on the side of the road. Didn't bother to go in the bushes or nothin'... just whipped it out and was peeing. At least his back was turned, but still. Problem is... all the camera captured was his car. And since the video quality is crap, you can barely see that...

Dash-Cam Footage

Dash-Cam Footage

The next video I saved was a deer...

Dash-Cam Footage

Dash-Cam Footage

   
I was hoping that Amazon's Prime Day would have a massive discount on a camera with a GPS, voice-activated save, and wireless download... but it was not to be.

And speaking of Amazon Prime Day, it was a total bust. The only thing I really care about is gift cards at a discount but I can never snag one. I set my alarm... wait for the card I want to be offered... then click to purchase the second it shows up as available... but it's always, always, always sold out. I couldn't get Petco. I couldn't get Panera. I couldn't get American Eagle. The only card I managed to get was iTunes, which is great... but it's insane that Amazon doesn't offer enough cards to last more than 2 seconds.

The only real bargain I managed to find was a white SONOS One speaker for my bathroom. I had a $100 gift card that was gifted to me when I watched a friend's dog plus I had $65 in Amazon Credit Card points... so I only had to come up with $35 to buy it (except I didn't have it, so hello credit card). The Prime Day Special was the speaker bundled with a $50 gift card, which I could not pass up because SONOS rarely goes on sale, and this is as close as it gets.

Now all I need to complete my SONOS home experience is a SONOS BEAM for my bedroom and two SONOS One speakers (one for the guest room and another for the main-floor bathroom). Then there will be no corner of my home that can't be blanketed in sound... or that's not Alexa accessible. Gotta tell you... this SONOS stuff is addicting. It's just too amazing to have your television or music playing everywhere you want so you can move around the house for chores (or whatever) and not miss anything. If only they made some kind of a SONOS-style video device for my kitchen so I could keep up with television video as well as audio.

That way I won't have to miss a minute of Love It or List It when I am unloading the dishwasher or making dinner.

   

Wednesday the 18th

Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Dave!This has been an incredibly challenging week as I try to catch up on everything I missed while also covering the things I'm going to miss.

Last night I backed up my local security camera footage and checked the health of the UPS batteries that keep them recording in a power outage. Then I went through all my cloud security camera settings to increase the picture quality.

Then I washed interior windows.

Not that you'd know it. The outside windows are so filthy that they all still look dirty. So I guess it was wasted effort.

Except — I — know they're clean, so that's gotta count for something.

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Mandela at 100

Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Dave!The current host of The Daily Show is Trevor Noah, a South African native who was tasked with the impossible job of filling Jon Stewart's shoes after he left the desk.

For the most part, he's done an amazing job. He is incredibly funny, whip-smart, and has a delivery that makes every joke land with a lethal precision that makes so many other comedians feel like a blunt instrument.

The Right tends to dismiss him as a progressive mouthpiece, but that's a gross simplification. It makes him sound like he's a Left-Wing Tomi Lahren who just stupidly parrots talking points without actually contributing anything to the conversation. That's not even remotely true. Trevor has a viewpoint that's uniquely his own, which is on full display on his "Between the Scenes" YouTube Channel where he is totally off-script and just talking to the audience.

Anyway...

On the occasion of Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, Trevor... who is in a unique position to offer commentary... paid tribute on tonight's show. I have watched this segment three times now, and won't be deleting it from my DVR. If you've ever listened to anything I've had to say here, trust me and take a look at the following 8 minutes...

Only Trevor Noah. If you haven't listened to his audiobook for Born a Crime, you owe it to yourself to do that.

Listening to Mandela telling how he received his "Christian name" is fascinating to me. And profoundly sad. The idea that your name is unacceptable because other people have a problem with it seems... inhumane.

But inhumane treatment was nothing new to Rolihlahla Mandela.

   

Sweet Cats and Disinfectant

Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2018

Dave!Jake has adapted to living at my place a little better than his sister. Where she's still nervous and runs away from anything and everything, Jake is a little more adventurous. Front door opens? Jenny runs away and hides. Jake will watch... from a distance... to see who it is. If it's me, he runs up for butt scratches. If it's not me, he will run and hide with his sister.

It's sweet.

But he's a sweet cat. Just look at that face...

Jake!

Jake!

   
Except...

My cats haven't been on the kitchen counters since I started letting them in the kitchen nearly a year ago. I was so grateful to not have to keep disinfecting my countertops. Then... for whatever reason... probably chasing a fly or whatever... here we are...

Jake Busted!

Time to pull out the scrub brush and cleaner, I guess.

And speaking of cats named Jake... Fake Jake is still around.

Yesterday I was testing my lawn sprinklers so I can figure out why parts of my lawn are brown. Little did I know that Fake Jake was wandering through when the sprinklers activated. He was Not Happy. I decided to show him some love to cheer him up...

Jake!

Jake!

Jake!

And now?

A new season of Trial and Error is starting! Woo hoo!

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Caturday 69

Posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Dave!Turns out that my cats sleeping next to each other like they are kittens is not a phase. I see it all the time now, and it's kinda sweet to see Jake and Jenny getting along so well.

They are particularly in love with the "self-heating" pads I bought last winter. Probably because they are larger than a kitty bed and not because they are cold. I keep my air conditioning off most of the time to save electricity so it's usually around 72-76 in here...

Sleepy Cats

But no worried... Jake still likes curling up next to me for a nap too...

Sleepy Cats

Or pulling the blankets off the bed and sleeping on the floor...

Sleepy Cats

I wish I could sleep anywhere like this.

Or just on planes. I would give anything to be able to sleep on a plane.

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Bullet Sunday 471

Posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Dave!I've been keeping busy designing and building... but no worries, because a Special Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Cat Feeding Station! When it came time to decide where I wanted my "designated cat areas to be," everything came together fairly easily. Their food would be in a corner of the dining room next to the kitchen... the litter box goes next to the cat tree... and so on. The problem is that I'm not happy with how things work. The litter box really needs to be moved to the garage, but I'd have to build a pass-through and a containment cage. That's a big project. A smaller project? Building a feeding station...

  • I feed my cats both wet and dry because there are benefits to both. Jenny won't eat wet, however, she'll only lick it. So I buy a "mousse" that I thin down with water and she loves it. Problem is, she is a very messy eater, splashing cat food on my walls and floors that's hard to clean up (I think her tongue must not work properly?).
  • When I am traveling and have the automated feeders out, Carl the RoboVac keeps chewing on the power cords and I need a way to keep them contained.
  • When I throw my back out, leaning down to deal with the cat dishes can be a big ordeal. I need something to lean on in order to make life easier when I'm hurting.

And so? This weekend was the weekend to build that feeding station!

   
• Planning! I always start with a sketch like this...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

On the left there is the power outlet and an open space large enough to hold the power strip and all the cords for the water fountain and auto-feeders. All the posts in the framing seem like overkill, but since I'll be leaning on it I wanted it to be sturdy.

   
• More Planning I had a hundred bucks worth of subway tile in my garage that I bought to put a partial backsplash in my kitchen. I decided I wanted a full backsplash, so it's all been collecting dust. I decided to use it for the feeding station, but had to make sure I had enough of the stuff, so I laid it all out...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

I also wanted to make sure that I had enough rows so a "bricklayer" pattern would alternate nicely between the edging.

   
• Even more planning! I am horrified at the thought of wasting material or having a project turn out wrong, so I am very careful when planning things out. It's not enough to calculate the dimensions... I also have to stack up the materials to verify the calculation... then I have to actually model things out to make sure that I am accommodating things like baseboards, plywood underlay, cement board, thinset thickness, tile spacing, and so on...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Sure it's a big time-waster, but at least I know that everything will turn out perfectly.

   
• Framing! Once I've figured out how big everything has to be, I cut some cement board for the floor and frame everything out...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Because I'm leaning on this, I have to be sure I'm bolting it to the studs in the wall, hence the frame has to match them.

   
• Corded! I mocked up the space I would need for the power cords and such so I could make sure everything fit easily. Thanks to this advance planning, it did, even if the wall bolts had to be off-center a bit on that last stud...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

That's cords for two auto-feeders and a water fountain power adapter.

   
• Power Supplies! At the last minute I decided to add a conduit pass-through for power cords...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

This way I can minimize the amount of cords hanging out everywhere.

   
• Underlay! And here's where everything gets covered up with plywood...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

I went pretty thick for stability... I don't want the tiles popping off when I lean on it.

   
• Underlay Part Two! I don't like working with cement board at all, but it's a necessary precaution when you are working with a tiled surface that's going to get wet. That way if you do end up with a leak, everything won't swell and flex...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Note that careful advance planning resulted in a perfect fit for my tiles.

   
• Wet Cutting! I bought a "wet cutter" for chopping up tile, but had only used it once before on flat tile. I had no idea if curved (mud-cap) tile would be a problem. Thankfully, it wasn't...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

If you are doing a tile project I highly, highly recommend buying (or borrowing or renting) a wet cutter. I bought a cheap one for $80 that spits water everywhere and makes a heck of a mess... but it gets the job done (I just cut a piece of plastic to make a full bib when I use it!). I've tried the tile-score units, but they never do as nice a job and can result in busted, chipped tiles.

   
• Tile Up! This is my second tile project. If you look real close, you'll see that I'm not very good at it yet. But so long as you use a grout color that's not high contrast (like black for white tile) it will look just fine. How I learned this was watching Flip or Flop on HGTV. The one thing that Tarek seems to be capable of is laying tile. I figured if he could do it, I could certainly do it... because any time there is a close-up of his work, it looks pretty bad. Furthermore, any time I've hired a professional, it never looks perfectly set either, so I figured "what the heck" and dove in. Thanks to YouTube videos, you can learn how to do anything...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Note that on the floor I didn't set the edge tiles at the same time as the rest. The reason for this is that I am trying not to damage the flooring as much as possible. This means not getting thinset mortar on the hardwood. Instead I put a bead of clear silicone on the edge that touches the floor, then "butter" the backs of each piece so I can carefully drop it into position. Sure it's a lot of extra work, but ultimately worth it. Under the cement board is plastic sheeting to protect the floor even more. About the only damage I did was three screws to secure the board in place (and there was probably a little leakage on thinset that would have to be chiseled off). So now if I ever change my mind on the feeding station, I can tear it out with minimal restoration needed to the original structure.

   
• Busted! I use a Dremel tool with a ceramic cutting attachment to roughen the edges of the cove base tile (getting rid of the glaze so the grout will stick better). I figured if I was going to damage a tile, that would be the time. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. Unfortunately I ended up with a damaged tile anyway. One of the mud-cap pieces was cracked when I pulled it out of the box...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Since I had exactly the number of pieces I needed, I was in a panic. I bought the tile from Lowes at least a year ago... would a replacement tile match? Fortunately, the answer was yes.

   
• Finale! Tiling done! Now I just have to wait for the thinset to dry so I can grout it up!

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Note that I am so concerned about having the tile pattern be balanced and equal that I even put a thin line of pencil tile in the back so it begins and ends on a row of full tiles (I also made sure that the alternating pattern was maintained around the corners!).

And so... almost complete. Overall I'm quite happy with how it turned out. Jenny's messes can be cleaned up easily. The power strip and wad of cables is concealed. The power cords can be hidden when I'm not using the auto-feeders. And I have a really good support to lean against when setting down or picking up food bowls when my back is out! On top of that, it will match what I'm planning to do in my kitchen/laundry room remodel (and matches the square tile used in my bathrooms).

The nice thing about it being tile is that I can hang stuff on it with suction cups! I can label their bowls and even decorate for the holidays... assuming my cats would leave it all alone!

   
• Inside! Given how much I love to design and build things, I will probably be the one who ends up tearing this out to make something different. But, in case I'm not, I left a note for future owners if they decide they don't want a pet feeding station...

Cat Feeding Station Construction!

Now they know who to blame that there's this ceramic tile construct in their dining room!

   
And that's all she wrote... FOR TOMORROW WE GROUT!

   

Holy Grout!

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Dave!Apparently "white" as a description is variable. In the case of the grout I bought for my cat feeding station, "white" was actually "light gray." Since this is entirely what I didn't want, I had to make yet another trip to Home Depot in order to try a different brand of "white."

Second time was a charm, because I ended up getting exactly what I wanted...

Cat Feeding Station!

Since this will eventually match what I want for my kitchen remodel, it was important to get exactly what I wanted... a clean, sleek, simple look where the tile was more of a suggestion. That way it's not boring and flat, but also not something which calls too much attention to itself.

Anyway...

Overall, I'm very happy with how everything turned out. Sure there are some minor details I'd do differently now that I've learned so much... but that's the way it goes. My only other option is to never try to build anything, never learn anything, and never accomplish anything.

So next up?

I'd love to hop on my laundry room remodel right away. That would put one step closer to remodeling my kitchen... but I've got other projects I need to knock off my list first.

But eventually... one day...

   

Taking Flight

Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Dave!I've never much minded traveling for work. But I'm certainly looking forward to it less and less. Partly because there's so many things I'd rather spend my time on now... but mostly because because I've been doing it for decades and am just tired of it. The glamour of jet-set lifestyle has faded. Take a look at my day...

  • Drive to the airport (25 minutes).
  • Clear security and wait for my flight (90 minutes).
  • Fly into Seattle (45 minutes).
  • Have lunch and wait for my next flight (3 hours 15 minutes).
  • Fly into Boston after a delayed flight (5-1/2 hours).
  • Wait for luggage (15 minutes).
  • Wait for the bus (20 minutes).
  • Wait in line for a rental car (15 minutes).
  • Drive to an affordable hotel outside of Boston (30 minutes).
  • Send files I worked on while flying (20 minutes).
  • Read emails to figure out my schedule (15 minutes).

I'm exhausted and work hasn't even started yet!

But worst of all?

This is as close to my cats as I'm going to get for a little while...

Jake and Jenny Sleeping in the Catio

At least Jake and Jenny aren't losing any sleep over my being gone.

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Mainestream Media

Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Dave!It's 11:59pm and I've been on-site for a job for five hours. There's at least seven hours left to go... probably more... and my brain is starting to feel mooshy. If only I had taken a nap when I got into town instead of doing silly things like eat, unpack, check email, and spend time on Facebook. But, alas, it was my understanding that I would be finding out when work starts at 7:00 rather than actually starting work at 7:00, so my bad.

On the drive up to Maine, I stopped along the way to visit with an online friend I've never met in person before. He lives in a beautiful region of the state called Kittery Point, which is home to Fort McClary. The site is a bit confusing for a "fort" as there are no walls. Just a kind of hexagonal building overlooking the water...

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

Once you get inside, however, all is made clear. There's a sign saying that the fort was never completed because an advancement in weaponry made it obsolete, and the granite blocks for constructing it were just left where they lay when work stopped...

Fort McClary

After meeting up with my friend, we walked with his dogs down to the waterfront on a beautiful Maine day...

Kittery Point Waterfront

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

I always make time to stop in Portland for a glass of Allagash White (one of my favorite beers on earth) and whatever seasonal dessert is local. I always park across from the Old Customs House, but never thought to stick my camera out of the parking garage until this trip...

Old Customs House Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

My favorite summertime deserts here are made with Maine blueberries (seriously nothing else like them), but this time I happened onto Maine raspberry season, which is so short that I'd never had them before. Delicious, as I knew they would be...

Portland, Maine Dessert

On the way to work, I saw that Maine was still in prime blooming season, even though it's just starting to end back home...

Fort McClary

And now? Back to work I go...

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The Rain in Maine Falls Mainely on My Brain

Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Dave!When I finished work at around 8:30am (which made it a 13-1/2 hour shift) I went straight back to the hotel so I could try and get some sleep after 23 hours of being awake. I was hoping for more than six hours, but I'll take what I can get.

And what I wanted to get at that point? Food.

When I went to bed, it had just started to sprinkle. When I went down to the lobby to drive somewhere to eat though? Rainageddon. My first clue was when the hotel staff was furiously attempting to clean up the gallons of water that had poured into the building...

The Rain in Maine

The Rain in Maine

The Rain in Maine

I was then told that many roads were closed because they were flooded... and the rain was so bad that part of the roof of the local hospital had collapsed. And so... I decided to walk to a local eatery rather than risk being out on the roads. Problem is, I didn't have a raincoat.

And so I made one by clipping a plastic bag into a long-sleeve shirt...

The Rain in Maine

That coupled with my faithful Boston Red Sox hat didn't do much to keep me from getting soaked, but it was better than nothing. Totally worth it... because pizza and beer...

The Rain in Maine

By the time I had finished eating, it was still raining... but not nearly as much. And yet the damage had been done. My clothes were completely soaked...

The Rain in Maine

I guess dinner will be leftover pizza and a Coke Zero from the vending machine followed by Bugles for dessert, because I ain't going back out in this.

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Mainetenance Protocols

Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2018

Dave!Breakfast was leftover pizza. Lunch... was also leftover pizza. For dinner there was no more leftovers to be had, so I decided I'd wait 3 or 4 hours, put down my laptop, and venture out for a late supper. But then I heard thunder booming around 4:00, and decided I would rush out to eat before a torrential flood of rain unleashed like it did yesterday.

Dinner was uneventful... thank heavens.

The walk back from dinner? Mostly uneventful...

• There was a scuffle in the parking lot between two guys whom, it would seem, arrived together in the same car. It was more verbal than physical... except for one poorly-timed slap that landed badly and a spit-response. Then one of them ran off while the other got in the car. Apparently to give chase and run him down.

• Whenever I come to the Auburn/Lewiston Area, I note that the Androscoggin River (which divides the two cities) is bordered by "Great Falls Boulevard" on the Auburn side. Problem is... in the years I've been coming here, I've never seen the "Great Falls" be that great. I'm guessing it's great in the Spring, but I'm here in the Summer and Winter when it's just rocks. Today I finally asked about it. "Well, it's not really that great most years any more."

• Today I finally decided to make a quick stop at Veteran's Park next to the above-said-not-so-great-falls. I knew it was here... never stopped. It's dedicated with a marker, which I sadly noted didn't have any women in service on it (sorry for the glare)...

Veteran's Park

Until I took a closer look(?)...

Veteran's Park

The hands-on-hips should have given her away.

• Other than the odd choice to have a gun firing at a jeep(?) it's actually a nice little park...

Veteran's Park

In case you are wondering... off to the right there are the Great Falls.

• As I was nearing the end of the bridge, I noticed that there was a Trump Protest going on across the street, almost all of them (I'm guessing) being senior citizens. They were calling for his impeachment...

Veteran's Park

Maine, like my home state of Washington, is a Blue State. But Androscoggin County, like my home county of Chelan, is a Red County. Meaning more than 50% of the people voting voted for President Trump. Don't know if that would be the case today.

• As I walked up to my hotel, the thunder was growing in intensity, but there was still no rain. As I walked in the sliding doors to the glass-enclosed vestibule, I saw a poor little bird flying back and forth. He was smashing into the windows from one side to the other, and I felt terrible about it. And so... I spent the next five minutes corralling the little fellow until I could shoo him out the front door. Time well spent, even though everybody in the lobby thought I had gone insane.

• When I got back to my hotel room, I noticed that there was a photo of the Great Falls (where there were actually falls) hanging in the bathroom (sorry again for the glare)...

Veteran's Park

Okay, I have to admit that this does look pretty great!

   
And thus ends my big day. Tomorrow it's back to work again.

   

Caturday 70

Posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Dave!And so my work ended two days early. I can either...

A) Take two days off, get some much-needed down-time and disappear... or...

B) Get an earlier flight home so I can see my cats.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Jenny

Jake

I'll have to think on that and get back to you...

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Bullet Sunday 472

Posted on Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Dave!Home again home again... and just in time too, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Mutants! The news of the week? Disney's offer to buy out 21st Century Fox's movie properties was approved by the shareholders on both sides. They still have to get regulatory approval, but it's expected there won't be any issues. And so? The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises will be headed to Marvel Studios. Which means we might finally get to see a good X-Men film... and we hopefully won't get more horrendously shitty Fantastic Four films. Deadpool was done right (twice!), but he lives outside of comic book reality, so he won't require a reboot. He'll just comment about his new universe and move on. In all honesty, I don't give too big a crap about the mutant teams showing up alongside The Avengers and so-on... but I am beyond excited to see The Fantastic Four popping up everywhere...

The Fantastic Four by Art Adams

There is so much potential there.

   
• Big Gunn! And speaking of Marvel Studios... they've cut loose Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn over offensive tweets he made almost a decade ago. I have mixed feelings over it all. On one hand he has repeatedly apologized for what he said, explained that it was a poor attempt at being provocative, he has moved on, and he tries hard to not be that person any more. On the other hand though... the jokes(?) were about things like pedophilia and rape and really don't qualify as "jokes" at all, assuming that was the intent. They certainly weren't funny. But... is that worth losing the third act of The Guardians of the Galaxy over? In the end I'd have to say "no." It would be a different matter entirely if he actually was a rapist and pedophile... but he's not. He was just entirely too stupid to understand he wasn't being provocative or funny... he was just being an asshole. And if we're going to start firing people in Hollywood for being stupid assholes, at least half of the industry would be gone.

   
• Printables! Downloadable guns? Well that sure took less time than I thought.

   
• Roasted! The Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis was on tonight. It was raunchy, horrible fun as always...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

But every time one of these comes up, I cannot help but think back to one of the best roast lines ever said. Sandra Bernhard was preceding Jeffrey Ross at the roast of Jerry Stiller. Jeffrey stepped up and said "Yeesh, I wouldn't fuck you with Bea Arthur's dick!"... with Bea Arthur in attendance. I had always wondered if Bea Arthur ever reacted to it, so tonight I Googled it. Turns out Jeffrey Ross has a story about that.

   
• McWrong! Ever wonder what happens when McDonald's wraps your Egg & Cheese Biscuit Sandwich inside-out? Here you go...

Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis

I was too hungry to throw it all out, so I tore off as much of the color as I could. Hopefully it's non-toxic in case I didn't get it all.

   
• Kurzge-wha?! And here's my new favorite thing of the moment on the internet the Kurzgesagt Channel on YouTube...

If you've got time to waste, here's the place to go.

   
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.

   

Let Sleeping Jakey Bear Lie

Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2018

Dave!Tonight was when I was supposed to be traveling home from Maine... but I finished work two days early and got in yesterday early-morning instead. When I waltzed home at 1:00am, both my cats came running to greet me, which is always nice. But then Jenny kind of wandered off to do whatever it is Jenny does. Jake, on the other hand, stuck to me like glue...

Jakey Bear Glue

I finally decided to turn in at 2:00am, but he was not deterred. He was rolling around for belly rubs and would not take no for an answer...

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Jenny still checked in from time to time, but wandered off after she made sure I was still home...

Jakey Bear Sleeping

In the morning I found that all kinds of toys had been left for me, and so I'm guessing the cats are happy I'm back home...

Jakey Bear Glue

Last night things went back to normal... or as normal as things can get when you have cats... but I slept through the Alarm set for Jake & Jenny's 7:00am breakfast this morning, which made for an awkward awakening at 7:45, because both cats were just sitting there glaring at me when I dragged my ass out of bed. They have been conditioned to expect breakfast when that alarm goes off, and don't know what to do with themselves if I don't get on that immediately.

After breakfast I went back to bed to go through the piles of email I had built up. Jake decided to throw himself on the floor and sleep like Jake likes to do. Every once in a while I'd lean over and snap a photo, because he is all over the place while he's sleeping...

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Jakey Bear Sleeping

And now he's relocated to the window...

Jakey Bear Sleeping

I wish I could fall asleep wherever whenever like that.

Seriously!!!

Jakey Bear Sleeping

And why oh why oh why didn't I buy another catnip lobster toy when I was in Maine? Jake loves that thing...

Jakey Bear Sleeping

Back to real life...

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Justice League: Revisited

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Dave!Today Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War was released on digital home video. I thought before I sat down and wrote my thoughts on the movie, I'd take a run through Justice League from the Distinguished Competition and jot down some notes on it as well.

It's no secret that, with one exception, I loathe the DC Comics Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman was pretty great. But Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League were all festering piles of crap that were not only bad movies... they were bad adaptations of the comic books they were taken from.

Justice League was so bad that I couldn't even get through it. I've only just watched various chunks when I've seen it on HBO. But, in the interest of fairness, I thought that I would sit through the whole thing last night to see if that changes my opinion.

Turns out that, no, it most definitely does not...

Justice League Poster

   
If anything, it sucks even harder in one viewing because it's such an epic slog to force your way through. All that did was make me end up resenting the film even more than I already did. My notes are something I'm posting for myself so I don't lose them, but feel free to read along if you want to.

And now? Do not proceed unless you've already seen the movie. LOL! JUST KIDDING! You do not want to see this movie, trust me.

Spoilers await in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

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