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New Year, New Day

Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Dave!Happy New Year's Day! Happy 2019!

I'm doing really well this morning since I decided to stay home and hang out with my cats instead of going out and drinking my weight in alcohol last night.

All was going well until the fireworks started blasting around 7:00pm. Jenny, who is usually the biggest scaredy cat over the smallest thing did surprisingly well. She was shocked at first, hid under the bed for a while, but was pretty much ignoring the noise an hour later. Jake, on the other hand, was scared out of his furry little mind. I was able to lure him out from under the bed with treats, but he was on edge the whole night and would be terrified whenever more fireworks would start banging.

Rather than be afraid alone, he decided to try and squeeze in next to Jenny on the coffee table cat bed where she had set up camp...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
Jenny wouldn't budge, so Jake finally just shoved her out of the way...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
Jenny was not at all happy about this. So she tried smacking him on the head to get him to leave...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
When that didn't work, she decided biting him on the ear might be the answer...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
Finally she decided to just squeeze in next to Jake like he had tried to do to her...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
It kinda(?) worked...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
I thought maybe she had succeeded in forcing him out just like he had forced her out...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
But he was just getting re-situated and wasn't planning on going anywhere...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
And so... they ended up sharing...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
Which Jenny was not happy about because she couldn't get comfortable...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
Finally she flipped around, which was just the ticket. Jake was happy to have something to hang onto since the fireworks were still going on...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
But eventually Jenny was tired of being crowded and decided to find someplace else to ride out the firework noise. Jake looked a little depressed after she left...

Jake and Jenny... BED FIGHT!

   
If only cats could just do a couple shots of Jägermeister to make everything better.

Fortunately belly rubs work just as well...

Jake and Jenny... BELLY RUBZ!

Jake and Jenny... BELLY RUBZ!

Jake and Jenny... BELLY RUBZ!

Jake and Jenny... BELLY RUBZ!

But more on that tomorrow...

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Categories: Cats 2019, DaveLife 2019Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

KonMari and Closure (Or The Absence Thereof)

Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Dave!At the end of 2018 my mom's post office box expired and I closed it out. I had kept it open for six months so I could be sure to get all her remaining bills paid. Also to find out who hadn't heard she had died and was still sending her cards and letters and such. All she's getting now is mail from places like Degree of Honor and AARP Life Insurance. I have been marking up their crap "DECEASED - RETURN TO SENDER" for months, but they won't stop sending. I've even called them and sent them letters (strange they don't have email) but AARP Life Insurance is still mailing her every damn week. No exaggeration. EVERY WEEK! How the fuck can they afford that postage bill?

Anyway...

For some reason I thought that shutting down a PO Box would act as some kind of closure.

Of course it wasn't.

I've gotten rid of her clothes. I've gotten rid of her furniture. Heck, I've gotten rid of most of her possessions.* None of that worked. How stupid was I to think that letting go of a frickin' PO Box go was going to be any different? I dunno. Maybe I was just being optimistic. Or naive.

There will probably never be closure when your mom dies. Even if you weren't as fantastically close to her as I was.

But, alas...

Last night when I was burning through episodes of Schitt's Creek in an attempt to get caught up before the fifth season starts in a couple weeks, I noted that Marie Kodo has a new show on Netflix!

For those not in the know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizational consultant who developed the "KonMari Method" of tidying your home. I discovered her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before I bought my new place. I used her methods once with my possessions before moving in. Then let things settle for a year before using her method once more to sort through my mother's things, simplify my life, and declutter my new home. It's a magical process that's difficult to explain to people who have not studied it or seen it in action. It's essentially forming a relationship with your stuff and only surrounding yourself with things that "spark joy."

KonMari The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book

KonMari changed my life.

My garage, for example, used to be a heinous mess with crap stacked to the rafters. I couldn't even park in it, things were such a mess. After KonMari, I was able to get rid of 2/3 of my junk. A huge amount of that being travel souvenirs that were never organized and just tossed into boxes. But not anymore...

KonMari Organization

KonMari Organization

On the left is my wood supply, all organized and easy to get to. Next to that in the middle of the shelf is seven plastic bins for my souvenirs (I've since bough two more for a total of nine). Originally my souvenirs were in 22 massive boxes. Most of it was stuff I didn't even care about, so KonMari made it easy to pare down to a much more manageable level, all organized by country and stored vertically for easy access. The only other things I kept were my Hard Rock T-shirt collection, some of my mom's Christmas decorations, touch-up paint for the interior and exterior of my home (with paint supplies), winter tires, plus extra bathroom tiles and extra hardwood planks in case I need to replace anything. There's also some LEGO sets I'm keeping for my grand-nephew when he gets older. Everything else? Gone. Donated or trashed.

My biggest tidy improvement in my garage was going all KonMari on my tool collection. For the longest time they were just stacked in boxes. This did not spark joy. Eventually I found that having them all hanging on a wall so I could find them is the best way for me...

KonMari Organization

Kondo-san's Netflix show is a total of eight episodes.** They are entertaining and insightful, but I don't know how helpful they would be if you hadn't read her book. At best they just show you the process in action...

I didn't learn anything new from the show, but I did enjoy watching them (Marie Kondo is ten tons of adorable in a tiny package). If you're in need of tidying your home, check out the show and see if her book might be for you.

And now back to Schitt's Creek. I should be able to watch a couple more episodes before I have to go to work.

   
*I still have some of mom's collectibles I need to try and sell. I am sooooo not looking forward to that. But, what else is there? leave them boxed up in the garage until I die and somebody else has to deal with it? Better to get rid of it all now while I can. Another goal for 2019 to add to the list.

**Interesting to note that the seventh episode of Tidying Up has the song A Home to Come To over the closing credits which is from the No. 6 album on my Best Music of 2018 list. How is it that Silhouettes can have their music popping up all over and still be a mystery band you can barely find?

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Categories: Books, DaveLife 2019Click To It: Permalink  4 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Behind the Scenes: LEGO Craig

Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Dave!Ages ago (when blogging was still a thing) I had "met" a guy named Craig on his blog, Puntabulous! It was one of the funniest things I've ever read and I became an immediate fan (so much so that I ended up guest-posting there). Sadly, Puntabulous! Has been lost to the ages (and the Wayback Machine has only spotty entries archived). Currently Craig's old site seems to have been poached by a Slovakian link farm or something, but we'll always have the memories!

Fast-forward nine years and I'm part of a gift exchange where, miracle of miracles, I get Craig's name. I'm never sure what I am supposed to buy for gift exchanges, so I decided to to mash-up some of his favorite things and make something for him (the only way I could be sure I wasn't getting him something he already had!). And those things are... LEGO, Power Rangers, Star Trek: The Next Generation, his boyfriend Steve, and his cabin.

Custom LEGO Craig posters it is then!

This is what I came up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

I am a huge fan of LEGO video games, so I thought I could just draw little minifies doing fun things and be done with it. Except it was a lot harder than it looked to get them looking "real" so I ended up downloading a 3D model that I could pose in Blender...

LEGO Craig Posters

LEGO Craig Posters

Then drop them into the layouts I had come up with...

LEGO Craig Posters

   
Power Rangers: Ninja Craig

I didn't know much about the Power Rangers except that they would scream "It's Morphin Time!" and transform from super-powered-ninjas into robot dinosaurs. Or something like that. After little Google research I found out there were loads of Power Rangers series. I liked the logo for Ninja Steel because I could turn it into Ninja Craig. All I had to do was drop in Steve Blue Ranger and Rita Repulsa, and, done...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

At first I had the same generic helmets for both Rangers but, upon closer inspection, I noticed that all the Rangers had different helmets! This meant I had to go back and re-draw them to be accurate...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

   
Star Trek: The Craig Generation

I'm more of a "original series" guy than a "Next Generation guy," but had seen all the episodes (of course), so it was easy to decide what I wanted to do...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

I drew Craig as Number One, Steve as Data, and was planning on putting a LEGO Enterprise-D in the background. But I could never get it to look recognizable in simple LEGO form. Then I did some cyber-stalking and found a photo of Craig wearing a T-shirt that had the "LEGO Space" logo drawn as an X-Wing circling the Death Star...

LEGO Star Wars

Very cool! The original logo is the one I grew up with and looks like this...

LEGO Space Logo

It was made cool again when they introduced Benny in The LEGO Movie ...

LEGO Movie Benny SPACESHIP!

It was a simple matter to redraw it for Star Trek: The Next Generation like so...

LEGO Star Trek

   
Craig's Cabin

My original idea (shown in my sketch above) was to have LEGO Craig in a majestic pose while Steve was being surprised by a bear in the background. The LEGO bear is a rare piece that goes for big money on eBay, but I was able to find enough photos of it that I could probably draw it. Problem is, the LEGO bear is kinda hard to recognize in a cartoon drawing, so I decided to give poor LEGO Steve a break and attempt to draw Craig's actual cabin in LEGO back there...

LEGO Craig Power Ranger

It ended up looking pretty good once I got the LEGO studs on the roof panels. Then I added some happy little LEGO trees and happy little LEGO plants and I was good to go. But my favorite part is the plaid shirt "print" on LEGO Craig...

LEGO Star Trek

   

Fun!

Has me anxious for February 2019 to get here so I can see The LEGO Movie 2...

Who knew that LEGO DUPLO would end up being so evil?

   

Oh Schitt!

Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019

Dave!For the past two years, I've named Schitt's Creek "The Best Show You're Not Watching" in my annual television wrap-up. I just watched through all four seasons again to prepare for Season Five, airing on the 16th.

It's most definitely one of my favorite shows going, but it's tough to fit it on a list because I'm always behind while waiting for it to appear on Netflix. Now I see that POP TV is on my DirecTV, so I will finally be able to watch it when everybody else does. That'll be nice, and I anticipate that the upcoming fifth season will land on my Top Twelve at the end of 2019.

If you haven't seen it, the concept is pretty simple. An absurdly wealthy family loses all their money when their accountant doesn't pay their taxes. With no home to their name, they ends up moving to Schitt's Creek... the only asset they have left. It was bought as a joke for a birthday gift and was deemed too worthless by the IRS for them to bother taking it.

Hilarity ensues.

In the first and second season, much of the humor came from super-rich people having to adjust to their new life in a new town where the locals are very different from the people they're accustomed to.

I liked the show... didn't love it...

Schitt's Creek

Then everything changed in the third season.

It was at that point that The Rose Family started accepting their new lot in life and began assimilating into the community. That's when the show became total genius and one of my favorite things ever. Since New Year's, I've been rewatching the first four seasons so I can be caught up before the new season starts on the 16th. I finished this morning.

Here's what I love about the show and why you should be watching...

   
BEST TELEVISION COUPLE: DAVID & PATRICK
I'm not even joking here. This is hands-down my favorite couple on television. When they first meet, Patrick is just another new local who is in charge of approving David's small business loan. And though you know that David is pansexual, their romance comes completely out of left field. And you're there from the very start...

Schitt's Creek David and Patrick

They couldn't possibly be more opposite, but it's just one of the many things that makes their relationship so heartwarming and sweet. One thing's for sure, you'll never listen to Tina Turner's Simply the Best the same way again...

Schitt's Creek David and Patrick

For people who say that they started watching Schitt's Creek but couldn't get into it, I tell them to skip right to the third season. Patrick appears half-way through, and everything about the show changes. The fourth season is even better. After that you'll want to go back and watch the first two.

   
BEST TELEVISION BEST FRIENDS: DAVID & STEVIE
Their relationship started as disdain... evolved into friendship... blossomed into friends with benefits... then landed on best friends...

Schitt's Creek David and Stevie

David and Stevie end up best friends because it seems unlikely that they could be best friends with anybody else. It's funny, sweet, and just works...

Schitt's Creek David and Stevie

   
BEST TELEVISION SIBLINGS: DAVID & ALEXIS
Spoiled from birth, they behave exactly as you think they would. For the most part, they seem indifferent to each other, but still make a hilarious team. And Alexis's never-ending stories of horrible situations she's escaped from is always interesting. Almost as interesting? The way she pronounces "David." Which she says constantly. Day-vhed... Day-vhed...

Schitt's Creek David and Alexa

   
BEST TELEVISION FASHIONISTA: MOIRA ROSE
Catherine O'Hara has long been one of my favorite actors. Even so, nothing could prepare me for her mind-boggling performance as the Rose Family matriarch. She has adopted an accent for the role that's tough to pin down. She grew up "normal" so we can only imagine that she talks the way she does because that's how she imagines wealthy people speak. But it's not her accent that makes the character so insanely watchable... that's only part of it. What really makes Moira appealing is the outlandish wigs and outfits that she's always wearing. Where do they all come from? Who knows? You'd think she would have long since ran out of new fashion, but she's always got outfits waiting in the wings...

Schitt's Creek Moira

   
BEST TELEVISION EYEBROWS: JOHNNY ROSE
Eugene Levy is positively nuts on the show... even though most of the time it's his reaction to the state of things that's the most rational.

Schitt's Creek Moira

   
BEST TELEVISION REDNECK: MAYOR ROLAND SCHITT
Chris Elliott could have easily sleepwalked his every scene with this character, but seems to be injecting some genuine decency and sweetness into him. So instead of just being a bumbling, clueless, moron... he ends up being a genuinely nice guy that you want to root for instead of dismiss. His wife, Jocelyn, has a bit more going on when it comes to smarts. But that's probably because she's a high school teacher...

Schitt's Creek Roland and Jocelyn

   
BEST TELEVISION BEARD: MUTT SCHITT
And you don't realize it until Alexis goes nearly catatonic after he shaves it off...

Schitt's Creek Roland and Jocelyn

   
If you haven't seen Schitt's Creek, take a look.

If quirky humor is not your thing, jump to the third season. It's still quirky, but more grounded.

If you aren't in love with the show by the end of the last episode of season three, there's no hope for you my friend.

   

Caturday 91

Posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Dave!For the longest time after I got Jake and Jenny, they were completely silent. They didn't meow at me or try to communicate at all. I, on the other hand, talked to them all the time.

Then Jenny started talking back. Jake tried to talk back, but he can't meow for some reason (unless he's stressed out, apparently). He kinda squawks a bit though. Especially if I look in his direction and he wants to be petted. Jenny mostly wants kitty treats when she meows.

They don't talk to each other at all. They chase each other around from time to time, however. Otherwise they just kinda work around each other. Sometimes literally.

Jenny was sitting directly in front of the cat door looking at something outside. Jake then decides HE wants to look outside, but he can't see around his sister. He tries one side... then the other side... then goes back to the other side. And still can't see out. He was not happy...

Jake Trying to Look Past Jenny

Finally he figures out that if he twists his head, he can look past her...

Jake Trying to Look Past Jenny

He looked outside sideways for several minutes until Jenny got bored and left.

Jenny gets bored easily. Which is why I think she likes watching television so much. Her favorite thing to watch is Rick and Morty. But I was re-watching Isle of Dogs recently and she was totally absorbed...

Jenny Watches Television

After a while she decided she wanted to sit next to me while watching the movie, which is what she usually does...

Jenny Watches Television

She's too adorable, even if she has a couple floopy whiskers...

Jenny Watches Television

She's even more adorable when she decides that the drawstrings on my favorite hoodie are more entertaining than what's on television. It only cost me $100 and I had to fly to the bottom of the earth to get it... but please do chew on my Hard Rock Ushuaia hoodie. It's fine...

Jenny Chews on My Favorite Hoodie

Jenny Chews on My Favorite Hoodie

Jenny Chews on My Favorite Hoodie

Jake never wants to sit and watch television with me. He just climbs on my lap and falls asleep. He does like my computer to scratch his face though. They both do...

Jake Scratches His Face on My Laptop

Jake Scratches His Face on My Laptop

With the exception of my hoodie strings, my cats are surprisingly great about not chewing on stuff they shouldn't be chewing on. They are happy to chew on their toys when they feel the need. Assuming they let each other.

After dinner one day this past week, Jake was laying on the floor gnawing on Mufasa. Jenny comes bolting through the room, snatches Mufasa, then goes running to the stairs.

"JENNY! Why are you stealing your brother's toy?" I ask. She then drops the toy, runs up the stairs, and glares at me. I grab my iPhone to capture the moment, at which time she looks away and whistles. Or appears to be whistling. Can cats whistle? I dunno. So guilty!

Jenny Steals Mufasa

Jake wasn't too bothered. A minute later he went out in the catio because he saw Fake Jake walk by.

Fickle kitteh.

See you next Caturday!

   

Bullet Sunday 494

Posted on Sunday, January 6th, 2019

Dave!I know that having to skip a Bullet Sunday for my year-end wrap-up was tough, but don't despair... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Bandersnatch! This past week all the internet buzz revolved around Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix's new "Choose Your Own Adventure" movie. As the movie played you would be presented with choices which determined how the rest of the movie would progress...

Bandersnatch Choice: Thompson Twins or Music NOW!
Any guesses as to which music I picked?

This novelty alone would be pretty lame. Unless the story was really terrific, why would you want to replay it over and over to see how your choices affect things? But this is Black Mirror, and they took their excellence to another level here. First of all, the story itself addressed the idea of free will vs. control... and completely breaks the fourth wall by going meta with the concept in some story branches. It was really well done, and I ended up playing through several different scenarios to see where the story would land. Once I had gotten through the major different branches, the differences became more and more subtle, so I ended it. I'm told there are some other stories that are more hidden, but time time required to find them was too much for me. Overall, I loved Bandersnatch! It took full advantage of the concept, the performances were great, and I was entertained throughout. My only criticism was that I could play on my AppleTV (which was incompatible) and ended up having to watch on my computer. Other than that? Well worth your time to check out!

   
• Magic! Every once in a while, Disney's magic extends to their advertising. That's definitely the case with this wonderful ad that was airing for Disneyland Paris...

And now I want to go to Disneyland.

   
• Good News! If you're a little depressed with how 2018 ended up (Lord only know I am), here's the link for you: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018 (And Recent Years).

And for all those people buying into President Trump's claim that the Mueller Probe is wasting tax dollars, here's more good news: Mueller Probe Cost $25 Million So Far, Report Says. It’s Pulled in $48 Million From Tax Cheats. It's paying for itself (and then some) as well as ripping into political corruption. What's not to like?

   
• Micropenis! I never suspected that Tucker Carlson has a tiny, minuscule, impotent, wee little penis... but here he is telling everybody about it. Study after study has shown that men who are threatened by women who make more money than them have tiny dicks... and who am I to question science?

What a pathetic, sexist, whiny, tragic, little pissant Tucker Carlson is. The amount of sublime ignorance as to how modern relationships work here is stunning. And yet, there are people believing this bullshit and faux science, so I'd imagine Tucker Carlson isn't going to be out of work any time soon.

   
• SCANDAL! Oooooh! Here it is! A SCANDALOUS video of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was just released from her school years! I wonder what it is? Sex with animals? Doing drugs? DOING DRUGS WHILE HAVING SEX WITH ANIMALS? My gawd... what a totally reprehensible role model. SHE SHOULD RESIGN IN SHAME!!!

Seesh. From they way some conservatives are (over)reacting, you'd think that she grabbed somebody by the genitals without consent... or cheated on her spouse with a porn star and tried to cover it up... or was defending white nationalists... or hiding her tax returns. The hypocrisy is blinding.

   
• Roller Kingdom! There was a time I wanted to be addicted to roller skating instead of crack too. But times change...

Alas, the local roller rink was torn down ages ago here, so I guess crack it is!

   
• Portland! Trying to end on a happy note, this is painfully accurate... and funny...

I miss having work trips to Portland. It is really terrific city.

   
Stay frosty, everybody.

   

Bread (The Food Not The Band)

Posted on Monday, January 7th, 2019

Dave!I can pinpoint when my love affair with bread began... Elementary School. The cafeteria had these amazing rolls that defy description. But I'll try for you. They were dense without being heavy. They were drenched in butter for fantastic flavor. They were everything I love about bread. You used to be able to buy extras for a quarter. I bought a ridiculous amount of them. I even took them home for my mom because they were just that good.

Then I graduated to Middle School and that was the end of it. I never had them again, though I would often think back to those heady days of breaded bliss.

I'd eat a lot more bread over the years, of course, but none of it quite compared.

Then one day at a family holiday dinner, my sister-friend's mother-in-law brought homemade garlic bread. And there is was... the bread I had been missing for decades was on my plate.

Naturally I was immediately obsessed. Turns out it's a sourdough hybrid that uses both sourdough starter and yeast to rise. This means you can get good flour density without being heavy like a brick. And it wasn't sour despite having sourdough in it. I ended up taking a jar of sourdough starter home with me so I could make my own. For years I rarely bought bread, I made my own.

Then tragedy struck.

When I moved to my new place, I accidentally left my starter out in my car for a week. I thought it would be fine since it was winter, but when I finally remembered it, the poor thing was in pretty bad shape. I could never get it to rebound, and eventually it developed a reddish-pinkish hue and had to be thrown out.

My life was in turmoil back then, so it was easier to just buy bread, and I forgot about making it.

But then it was served at Christmas dinner last month and I fell in love all over again. I was given another jar of starter and have been making my own bread again ever since...

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

So good.

Lately I've been experimenting with the amount of flour I add. More flour results in denser bread that's not too dry, if you don't overdo it. Less flour results in a higher rise, when you want flakier bread or use it to make cinnamon rolls.

And this time I promise to take good care of my starter so he won't ever go pink again.

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Categories: Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  3 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Behind the Scenes: Thrice Fiction No. 24

Posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Dave!"Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?" —Aldous Huxley

A lot of artists are of the belief that their art is born out of suffering and in order to create good art you have to suffer for it. If that's the case, I'm a pretty shitty artist because I don't think I have ever "suffered" for my art. Though, to be honest, referring to myself as an "artist" is kind of laughable because that's a gross overstatement as to where my talents lay. I'm a very good designer. I'm a pretty good photographer. I'm a decent craftsman. I'm an amazing burrito-maker. But true "art" has always eluded me.

Probably because I'm just not suffering enough to create it.

Although I did come close to suffering in creating my "art" for the latest issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine, which you can get for FREE over at our website...

Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 24
        Delicious cover by SEIGAR, an actual artist.

   
Originally I had art for three stories assigned to myself. Eventually I ended up with a lot more because the holidays wrecked havoc with people's schedules and they had to drop out.

One of those original stories I had was titled The Woman Thinking of Nothing by Beth Shirley. I liked it a lot, and had an idea what I wanted to do for the image after reading the first two sentences of the second paragraph...

She ordered a vodka martini, very dry with two olives. She ordered a basket of fries after the first drink and ate nearly half of them slowly while she drank a second martini.

I absolutely loved the imagery of ordering a high-class drink like a martini with two olives and pairing it with something as low-rent as a basket of fries. When I read that, I was... I dunno... "tickled" at the thought of it, I guess you'd say.

But I worried that since the art needed to be a full page that I'd make a mess of it, so I handed the story to another artist. But when they had to bow out, I took the story back for myself. Because you don't defy The Universe when they give you a second chance.

I decided to go to a bar, order a martini and a basket of fries, take a photo, and call it a day.

Except...

After trying on four separate occasions over a period of eight days to be served what I was envisioning in my head, I came up empty. Either the bar... A) Didn't serve their martinis in a martini glass, or B) Had classy fries that looked too upscale for what I wanted, or C) Didn't serve their fries in a basket.

Which lead to a lot of suffering because... A) DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A MARTINI COSTS?!? HOLY CRAP!, B) I am not a martini drinker at all, and C) I went to these bars for a late lunch because I didn't want there to be a lot of people watching me take photos, which meant I was drinking at 1:00 on a work day.

After spending $75 on martini lunches to no avail, I decided to stage my own photo in a studio. So I borrowed a martini glass. I found a piece of wood that looked like it could be a bar top. I had some liquor bottles I could place out-of-focus in the background. All there was left to do was go buy some fries and find a basket to put them in.

The basket, which I thought would be an easy get, was impossible to find. I wanted one of those cheap-looking plastic flat baskets like you used to find in diners all the time. You know, the ones they hand you when you play pull tabs to put your losing tickets into. Looked everywhere. Couldn't find one. The closest I could find was a blue plastic basket at The Dollar Store. And then there were the fries...

I wanted crinkle-cut. I really wanted crinkle-cut. But time was pressing and the only bar that served them would have taken too long so I went to Wendy's. I prefer Wendy's because every once in a while I like to treat myself to a tiny 89¢ Jr. Frosty, and everywhere else you go you have to buy a giant cup. Can you guess what happened on the drive back? Yep. I forgot why I bought the fries and ate them all along with my tiny Frosty on the way home!

Don't get old, folks. No good can come of it.

Frustrated that it was going on three weeks for a photo that I thought would take fifteen minutes, I grabbed my little blue Dollar Store basket, went back to the bar which had both martini glasses and crinkle-cut fries, then staged my photo.

   
The wall of bottles was too far away, so the background ended up being boring and I removed it...

Martini Fries Lunch

I took a second photo for the background like so...

Martini Fries Lunch

Compositing them and straightening out the foreground elements resulted in this...

Martini Fries Lunch

With the exception of the basket not being what I originally had in mind, this was pretty darn close to what I was going for. But when I went to drop it into the story, it looked... odd. So I decided to paint over it and run the image through some Photoshop filters to make it look a little more interesting. And there you have it...

Martini Fries Lunch

I toyed with at least changing the basket color to red, but the blue stood out better so I left it.

And if all that wasn't "suffering for my art" then what is?

All things considered, I'm fairly happy with it. I guess. Probably should have just drawn it from the start, but I really wanted a photo for this one.

I did a few more pieces for the issue. To understand why I decided on what I did, you might want to read the stories first. Otherwise I'm not sure how much sense this will all make.

   
For a pair of stories by the always-amazing Howie Good called Prayer Vigil and The Rain Side of the Rain-Snow Line, I wanted a drowning cross and a bird/person mashup. Again constructed from stock photos then Photoshopped...

Cross in Water Bird Head

   
For loneliness for taste, a story by dN eQ, I had wanted to do something which had to do with a barber shop. Like a pair of scissors and a comb or something. But that wasn't what the story was saying to me. I rethought things and decided I wanted to somehow illustrate life moving forward in ways that were both mundane and interesting. This is what I came up with...

Haircut Illustration

   
For Mountain High Pizza Pie, a story by the always-interesting Matthew Dexter, I kept coming back to the way he'd echo pizza toppings and a fetus. I put the two together and... voilà...

Pizza Toppings and Fetus

   
Whenever I have a spread of two stories, like Her Love by Megan Gordon and Call Me Kumiktuq (Scratch) by Tom Sheehan, I try to find a commonality which I can illustrate that will tie them together. For Megan's story, I really wanted to find a way of showing lemons and lavender flower. I had no idea what to do for Tom Sheehan's story. Eventually I liked his line about snowflakes and lightbulbs and decided I could have the lemon play off the lightbulb, then use lavender and snowflakes in the backgrounds...

Lemon and Lavender Bulb and Snow

   
For the story Children of Survivors by Miriam Sagan I wanted quite badly to come up with something that would compel you to read the story... but without giving anything away as to what the actual story was about. So I zeroed in on a bit of conjecture by one of the characters which had somebody being killed over half an apple. This was taking place in an internment camp, so I had to be careful about showing the apple being too red and too tasty because, I figured, that if they were given apples at all they would undoubtedly be shriveled and older...

Hand and Apple

   
For a brutal story called Honeymoon (by Beate Sigriddaughter), I wanted a lit candle being strangled by vines. Originally I just drew it, but didn't like what I came up with, so I composited four stock photos and ran it through some Photoshop filters. On the page opposite is a vivid story called Clown Town by Couri Johnson where I wanted to composite stock balloons over a bright blue sky. This looked strange next to my drab candle, so I changed out the drab candle I used to a bright purple one. This ended up being kismet, because it actually fit the story better. The hope being that the character's brightness and light won't be completely crushed out

Candle and vines Balloons and Sky

   
And that's the end of my contributions to Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 24! If you'd like to take a look at the issue (and see some real artists creating actual art)... head over to our website where you can take a look for FREE!

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The Catio Murder

Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Dave!There are two reasons I decided that Jake and Jenny were going to be indoor-only cats. The first reason was to protect them. I don't want them attacked by dogs... run over by a car... or hurt by some heinous excuse for a human being. No, for my peace of mind and their safety, they are staying indoors.

The second reason was to save the poor birds, mice, and other critters that cats seem to relish torturing.

That being said, I really didn't want to deny my cats access to the outdoors. There's too many interesting things to look at (and even more interesting things to smell) which can help make their lives more exciting than if they were trapped inside all the time. and so... I built a "catio" for them so they can go out when they feel like it. Jake and Jenny love the catio... especially in Spring and Summer when they are out there all day lounging around.

Unfortunately, an occasional bird wanders into the catio. It's happened twice. The first time I was able to build a tunnel to shoo the poor thing outside. The second time I managed to rescue it and get it un-stunned so it could fly off.

Then yesterday it happened a third time. Unfortunately I wasn't home to rescue the poor thing, so I came home to a dead bird yesterday...

Poor Dead Bird

I had no idea which of my cats were responsible. My money was on Jake. He was the one who caught the birds the other two times. So I check the security cameras and, sure enough...

Jake sure can move like lightning when he wants to!

A part of me wants to add a fence screen to the bottom foot of the catio to hopefully prevent birds from hopping in. But then I worry that if a bird comes in from above and wants to get out, a screen might make that tough. And so... since it has only happened three times in three years (with only one fatality), maybe I should just hope it continues to be a rare event and leave well enough alone.

Having to disinfect my home because the cats bring in dead birds is no fun at all. I mean just look at Jake going nuts and tossing that poor bird carcass around...

Bring on the Pine-Sol.

And not just for dead birds.

Tonight Jake threw up his dinner.

This is scary and worrisome to me. I'm hopeful that he somehow ate a shred of cheese from my pizza to make him vomit. Because the alternative could be that he's got urinary problems again. The first time was such a horrible ordeal for the little guy that I am in no hurry to go through that again.

And I'm sure Jake would agree.

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A Clean Place to Poop

Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Dave!Last month I was reading through one of the dozens of "Little Things You Can Do to Save The Planet" type articles I found online. In the list was the idea to wear clothes more than once before washing. At first I dismissed it out-of-hand. I'm not wearing dirty clothes! I don't even wear dirty clothes when I travel! And it's true. I bring more than enough clothes to make sure I can change every day.

But then I got to thinking...

Most days I wake up, take a shower, put on a pair of jeans, go to work, then come home and change into a pair of sweats after tossing my jeans in the hamper. Which means I wear the jeans for 8 hours in a clean environment and then waste water, energy, and detergent washing something that's not dirty.

And so... for a month now I've been coming home and hanging my jeans on a different color hanger so I can wear them a second time later on. Easy.

And since it was so easy, I decided to revisit the list and see what else I might be able to do.

It looks like my next step will be trying a biodegradable cat litter. I didn't realize that the clay litter I was using doesn't biodegrade.

Hopefully my cats will use it. Because something tells me that they really don't care about saving the planet...

Jake

They do care about having a clean place to poop. And I would just as soon have it not be my floors.

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Habitat for Inhumanity

Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2019

Dave!I am trying my best to not dump politics in my blog day-in and day-out, but this fucking wall business is driving me insane. The government has been shut down because of it, AND IT WON'T EVEN WORK! But that's not the reason I'm losing my shit. The government spends tons of our money on stuff that doesn't work all the time. What's another $5 billion on top of the $2 trillion that Cheeto Jesus has already added to our $20 trillion national debt?

No, the reason I am beside myself with angst over the wall scenario is because of the ecological disaster it would pose. Which, in turn, would have a horrific effect on animals in the region that need to migrate to survive. Out-of-control government spending is upsetting. But destroying the habitat animals need to survive is rage-inducing.

So fortify the border where needed, yes. Increase manpower there to keep us safe, yes. Be smart about border security, yes. Invest in technology to fortify our country, yes. But get over this damn wall already. It's not going to work anyway. Even if it ever could be built (which, legally, it probably can't be).

But don't take my word for it.

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Patrick...

Howdy.
   
To recap: I’m a licensed structural and civil engineer with a MS in structural engineering from the top program in the nation and over a decade of experience on high-performance projects, and particularly of cleaning up design disasters where the factors weren’t properly accounted for, and I’m an adjunct professor of structural analysis and design at UH-Downtown. I have previously been deposed as an expert witness in matters regarding proper construction of walls and the various factors associated therein, and my testimony has passed Daubert.
   
Am I a wall expert? I am. I am literally a court-accepted expert on walls.
   
Structurally and civil engineering-wise, the border wall is not a feasible project. Trump did not hire engineers to design the thing. He solicited bids from contractors, not engineers. This means it’s not been designed by professionals. It’s a disaster of numerous types waiting to happen.
   
What disasters?
   
Off the top of my head...
1) It will mess with our ability to drain land in flash flooding. Anything impeding the ability of water to get where it needs to go (doesn’t matter if there are holes in the wall or whatever) is going to dramatically increase the risk of flooding.
2) Messes with all kind of stuff ecologically. For all other projects, we have to do an Environmental Site Assessment, which is arduous. They’re either planning to circumvent all this, or they haven’t accounted for it yet, because that’s part of the design process, and this thing hasn’t been designed.
3) The prototypes they came up with are nearly impossible to build or don’t actually do the job. This article explains more. And so on.
   
The estimates provided for the cost are arrived at unreasonably. You can look for yourself at the two-year-old estimate that you see everyone citing. It does not account for rework, complexities beyond the prototype design, factors to prevent flood and environmental hazard creation, engineering redesign... It’s going to be higher than $50bn. The contractors will hit the government with near CONSTANT change orders. “Cost overrun” will be the name of the game. It will not be completed in Trump’s lifetime.
   
I’m a structural forensicist, which means I’m called in when things go wrong. This is a project that WILL go wrong. When projects go wrong, the original estimates are just *obliterated*. And when that happens, good luck getting it fixed, because there aren’t that many forensicists out there to right the ship, particularly not that are willing to work on a border wall project— a large quotient of us are immigrants, and besides, we can’t afford to bid on jobs that are this political. We’re small firms, and we’re already busy, and we don’t gamble our reputations on political footballs. So you’d end up with a revolving door of contractors making a giant, uncoordinated muddle of things, and it’d generally be a mess. Good money after bad. The GAO agrees with me.
   
And it won’t be effective. I could, right now, purchase a 32 foot extension ladder and weld a cheap custom saddle for the top of the proposed wall so that I can get over it. I don’t know who they talked to about the wall design and its efficacy, but it sure as heck wasn’t anybody with any engineering imagination.
   
Another thing: we are not far from the day where inexpensive drones will be able to pick up and carry someone. This will happen in the next ten years, and it’s folly to think that the coyotes who ferry people over the border won’t purchase or create them. They’re low enough, quiet enough, and small enough to quickly zip people over any wall we could build undetected with our current monitoring setup.
   
Let’s have border security, by all means, but let’s be smart about it. This is not smart. It’s not effective. It’s NOT cheap. The returns will be diminishing as technology advances, too. This is a ridiculous idea that will never be successfully executed and, as such, would be a monumental waste of money.

And, lastly...

Remember when everybody in our district was thrilled when Dr. Kim Schrier, Democrat won over Dino Rossi, Republican in a miraculous upset victory in the last election? Remember when I said that Dino Rossi was a piece of shit and I was happy to have somebody in office who was probably still going to be a piece of shit, but not as big a piece of shit as Dino Rossi?

Yeah. Never mind.

   

Caturday 92

Posted on Saturday, January 12th, 2019

Dave!Ever since Jake got home from his week-long stay at the vet, he's been more clingy than usual. He also doesn't want to be left alone. If Jenny follows me upstairs while he's asleep, he'll wander around crying when he wakes up until I holler down for him.

This has been tough of Jenny, who likes her independence.

I've tried to make sure that everywhere there's a bed she likes to sleep in, there's a second bed for Jake. This was a little confusing for her at first...

Dueling Cat Beds

But it actually ended up working...

Dueling Cat Beds

For a minute or two. Then Jake was right back to crowding in on her...

Dueling Cat Beds

Needless to say, she isn't thrilled...

Dueling Cat Beds

After a while Jenny escapes, leaving poor Jake alone again...

Dueling Cat Beds

Every once in a while Jenny does a bit of rearranging, which kinda works...

Dueling Cat Beds

But the minute things are back to the way they were, Jake wants to share again...

Dueling Cat Beds

Dueling Cat Beds

It's been three months since the vet, so I can only guess Jake's behavior change is here to stay.

How this is going to affect Jenny's behavior remains to be seen.

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Bullet Sunday 495

Posted on Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the long cold nights of winter get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Duck! It's no secret that I love museums. I've made it my mission in life to see many of the world's great (and not-so-great) museums as I can. Which is why I got a big kick out of this article: Museums around the world are soliciting duck pics from each other...

A very old duck photograph
Image Courtesy of The Museum of English Rural Life.

If you're even a little fan of art, this article is a must-see.

   
• Cars! These Walmart curbside pickup "cars" commercials are phenomenal...

I can't fathom how much money it cost to license all these properties.

   
• Akeem! One of my all-time favorite movies is Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in multiple roles. It's a great story chock-full of funny situations and had some real heart to it...

Coming to America Movie Poster

There are many other things to love about the film... namely James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Eddie Murphy's parents. But there are also the incredible designs for the country of Zamunda. Make no mistake, Zamunda was Wakanda way before Wakanda was the benchmark for fictional African countries!

And now it comes to light that there is a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as Prince Akeem. Right now, I am deliriously happy about that. But given how badly things could go wrong, I'm also more than a little nervous.

   
• Again! Again! Speaking of an Eddie Murphy movie getting sequels... apparently Boomerang, another movie I love more than butter, is getting a television sequel...

Coming to America Movie Poster

The show will continue the story with Marcus and Angela's son and Jaqueline's daughter. No word if Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, or Robin Givens will be making an appearance. But I sure hope so. The thing that gives me hope is that Lena Waithe is onboard. As is Halle Berry as an executive producer. Fingers crossed.

   
• Monument! As somebody who loves travel photography but can't stand people walking through my shots, I was excited to hear about "Monument." This new technology that Adobe is developing will automatically remove moving objects from photos. It's a fascinating idea that I'm anxious to try out. There's a video which takes a look at Moment but Nick Offerman is an idiotic distraction throughout. Why in the hell they couldn't have just presented the tech without the comedic bullshit is beyond me...

It's only a matter of time before machine learning with this kind of smarts gets dropped into all our cameras. As popular attractions become more and more crowded, it will be a handy and very welcome thing to have.

   
• Puck! My new brown sugar container came with a small terra cotta coaster in the box. I was telling a friend about it and laughing because I don't have any glasses small enough to fit on it. "ARE YOU HIGH? YOU SOAK IT IN WATER AND PUT IT IN THE CONTAINER SO YOUR BROWN SUGAR DOESN'T DRY OUT!" In my defense, there weren't any instructions. Just the little puck thingy in a baggie. How was I to know?

Brown Sugar Terra Cotta Disc

Is this some secret everybody knows but me? Is there some brown sugar conspiracy to exclude me from this magic?

   
And... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.

   

Vast Vehicle Viaduct Vacated Verily for Vanishment

Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019

Dave!The big news of this past week here in the Pacific Northwest is the closure (and eventual destruction) of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated double-decker highway that runs along the city. Built in pieces over the entire decade of the 1950's, it's long been a controversial structure because it divides Seattle from its waterfront...

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct Highlighted in Pink
Photo by David Simmer II — Viaduct highlighted in pink, click image to embiggen.

   
Even though it's not solid like a wall, it's a big, clunky, ugly, double-layer structure which casts giant shadows that make it feel like a wall...

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct
Photo by Waqcku — Courtesy of Wikipedia's Wikimedia Commons.

   
I've driven the viaduct many, many times when getting from my work in West Seattle to my hotel downtown. It's kinda scary at times because the lanes are a bit narrow and the exits are awkward. That being said, the views of the city and Elliott Bay could be stunning, as shown in this terrific drone video...

   
There are many reasons that removing the viaduct is a good thing. In addition to getting rid of an eyesore, it also gets rid of a major earthquake hazard. Like all cities along the Pacific Rim, Seattle is in constant danger of a major earthquake which could easily flatten the viaduct and pancake anything underneath.

To replace the viaduct, Seattle built a massive 2-mile long, $3-billion tunnel that runs the length of the city. We're told that it's far safer to be in the tunnel during an earthquake than on the viaduct, but I'm not anxious to find out first-hand if that's true. It is a really cool structure though...

Seattle's SR-99 Tunnel
Image Courtesy of WSDOT.

   
The digging began in mid-2013 using "Big Bertha," the largest tunnel-boring machine in the world at the time which cost $80-million. The construction was fraught with criticism and had its share of problems. The biggest of which was a 2-year delay that happened when Bertha broke down after less than five months of digging.

But now it's all over, the tunnel is finished, and roads are being rerouted over the next three weeks so traffic can finally use it starting February 2nd.

And while the new SR-99 Tunnel is exciting and everything, it's not a perfect solution.

For one thing, the tunnel is two lanes in each direction. The viaduct was three. This will be offset, in part, by a new surface street which runs where the viaduct used to be. But the fact remains that there is one less lane bypassing downtown Seattle, which could be highly problematic given how bad the traffic is.

Another issue is that the tunnel will be an electronic toll road to drive on. The price will vary depending on traffic and such, but it kinda sucks that you'll have to spend minimum $2 a day to get to and from work if you live north of the city and work south of the city (or vice-versa).

Another issue is the loss of an area many of Seattle homeless use as shelter.

Yet another issue? Just look at this hot mess...

Seattle's SR-99 Tunnel On/Off Ramps
Image Courtesy of WSDOT.

I hope Google Maps is ready to navigate this pretzel of a roadway.

The plans for the space once occupied by the viaduct look nice. In addition to the afore-mentioned surface street, there are plans for greenery, bike lanes, a pedestrian walkway, some parks, and other cool stuff which will completely transform Seattle's waterfront...

Seattle's Alaska Way Surface Street Project
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.

   
Overall, I like the plans I've seen very much. Where it falls apart for me is the proposed signage, which is trying way too hard to do way too many things. Signs should be pretty, yes, but their primary function should be to TELL PEOPLE HOW TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANT TO GO. But the "wayfinding markers" that were in the proposal kit are a jumbled mess of ideas that don't do a very good job of it...

Seattle's Waterfront Project Signage
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.

   
I mean, seriously, how in the hell is this ugly mess helpful? Especially from a distance. You'll have to be right on top of it to make use of the thing...

Seattle's Waterfront Project Signage
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.

   
The design also looks dated before they've even been built. I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and somebody will rethink things to create a more clean, simple, easy-to-read signage design which also reflects Seattle culture and its location in the Pacific Northwest.

And so...

I am anxious to see how all the plans pan out. Seattle has the potential for one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country. But it's been buried under chunks of steel, concrete, pavement, and heavy shadows for far too long.

It will be nice to see all that change.

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Shut-Down Smack-Down

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Dave!And... I had to cancel all of my March travel because there's no way to plan for a US Government shutdown that has no end date. If this thing is still going through February, I'm guessing I'll have to cancel my travel for April. This is extraordinarily bad. Both for the charity I'm trying to work with and the people who rely on that charity to, you know, continue living and stuff.

Not to mention all the people who are going to have a tough time surviving right here at home. If they have government jobs (or are in industries linked to the government) I'd imagine that money for things like rent and utilities and gas and food is going to be in short supply soon. It's really tough to see people posting their worries online only to be met with helpful comments like "YOU SHOULD HAVE SAVED MONEY IN CASE THIS HAPPENED! ARE YOU STUPID? Well, if they're like so many people, they're not stupid. They're just having to live paycheck to paycheck and don't have an opportunity to save. I paid $46 for two bags of groceries the other day. That'll cover me for about a week. If I didn't already have cat food, that total would have been higher. I can't imagine how much it costs to feed a family of four for a month.

What's difficult for me to figure is the non-stop political blame game that's currently going on. DEMOCRATS WERE FOR A WALL BEFORE THEY WERE AGAINST IT! Well, not really. They were for a "Secure Fence Act"... thirteen years ago... which was attached to a lot of concessions. Needless to say, a lot has fucking happened in thirteen years, so it's not the apples-to-apples comparison it seems. DEMOCRATS ARE WEAK ON BORDER SECURITY! THEY WANT WIDE-OPEN BORDERS! Well, not really. Any Democrat I've heard speak on the subject says that border security is a priority for them... they just want to invest money into something that's actually going to work (and not bankrupt the country over a pathetically inadequate budget projection). THIS IS ALL THE DEMOCRATS' FAULT! Well, not really. According to 2013 Donald J. Trump, weak presidential leadership is at fault for government shutdowns. NO, REALLY, THIS IS ALL ON THE DEMOCRATS! Well, not really. There are Republicans opposed to the stupid-ass wall as well. Enough Republicans that President Trump couldn't get it funded before Democrats took the House earlier this month. If Republicans can't convince Republicans when they are in control of everything, it's the Democrats' fault? Really?

What's even more difficult for me to figure is how people are okay with their very lives being nothing more than bargaining chips over a wall that's not even going to fucking work. I may loathe Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in equal measure, but they've got one thing correct: border security should be debated apart from the livelihood of Americans just trying to get by. But Clownface VonFuckstick doesn't give a shit about people who aren't millionaires, which is all the justification he needs to carry on with his temper tantrum stand-off bullshit. And that's enough for his supporters to taunt, ridicule, and otherwise rip into people wondering how they're going to be able to afford food and shelter if things keep going as they have been.

I'll ponder all that while trying to figure out how I will find space in my calendar to fit the three trips I just canceled. They're going to have to be pushed to Fall where travel dates are already scarce. But since actual lives are at stake, I'll make it work somehow.

Assuming we're not still shut down.

   

Spidey Marvel Time!

Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Dave!My only complaint about Marvel Studios is that they are restricting themselves to three movies per year. This seems lacking in ambition. I understand not wanting to crowd the theaters in a wash of super-hero films, but maybe after the 21st Century Fox merger is complete they will up their game a bit? Hopefully.

In the meanwhile...

The first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home dropped earlier this week...

The most obvious piece of new information here is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

He doesn't seem like he's a villain... yet? I guess?

From appearances, it would seem Peter Parker is being deputized by Nick Fury to become "Spider-Man: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." or something like that. Apparently to fight some elementals terrorizing Europe. That's seems pretty mundane and impersonal for a Marvel movie, so I'm guessing something (or more likely, someone) is behind it all.

Since the new Spider-Man takes place after Avengers: Endgame it's interesting to note that life on earth has returned to normal. Which means it returns to normal in Endgame. Which seems to indicate that Thanos and his snap were eradicated from the timeline? We shall see.

And then there's Captain Marvel...

New character posters for the forthcoming movie have been unleashed. Notably absent is a poster for Ronan the Accuser. Kinda weird that he didn't get one when everybody else did...

Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers, of course...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Agent Nick Fury, having been CGI youthed to his 90's self...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Agent Phil Coulson, likewise youthified...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Maria Rambeau, whom I'm guessing is future-hero Monica Rambeau's mom and fellow pilot...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Goose, Carol's cat... which is named "Chewie" in the comic books (after Chewbacca)... and is apparently named after Anthony Edward's Top Gun character here...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Mar-Vell(?) is the original Captain Marvel in the comic books but, since the origin is changing for the movies, he could be playing somebody completely different...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Korath, whose last appearance was in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Minn-Erva, an enemy of Carol in the comics, but apparently isn't that (yet) in the movie...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

Talos, an evil alien Skrull shown here in his human form...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

??? No idea who Annette Bening is playing in the movie... Supreme Intelligence in human form perhaps...

Captain Marvel Character Posters

March 8th can't get here soon enough.

   

Home Security is for The Birds

Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Dave!This morning while I was at work, I received a notification from my security cameras that somebody was breaking into my front door. This happens whenever anybody is in the vicinity of the exterior doorknobs. I wasn't too worried because my door locks weren't reporting any tampering. But I was curious. Did somebody leave me a pamphlet or something? Let's take a look, shall we?

Well, that's disappointing...

But pretty.

I love birds. Especially in flight...

Bird in Flight

Bird in Flight

   
And now, if you'll excuse me, the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is here! I loved the first season, so I'm hoping for more Star Trek goodness this time around...

Live Long and Prosper...

   

Snow Day

Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2019

Dave!We keep getting promised snow in the weather forecast, but it never comes. Then yesterday morning it started coming down like crazy. We had inches accumulate in short order. My cats couldn't get enough of it, and spent all morning hanging out in the catio watching the flakes fall. They came in for breakfast, but then it was right back outside.

When it was time to go to work, I stuck my head out to make sure all was well...

JENNY: =meow=
JAKE: =squawk=
ME: Yes, I see that. It's snowing!
JENNY: =meow=
JAKE: =squawk=
ME: Yes, how exciting!
JENNY: =meow=
JAKE: =squawk=
ME: No, you can't go play in it. You'll get all wet and make a mess in the house!
JENNY: =meow=
JAKE: =squawk=

But then I got to thinking that it's unfair they don't get to experience snow like outdoor cats do. They also don't get to experience walking on grass. What I need to do is create some kind of catio tunnel out to the yard. Then I need to find a way to bury some latches under the grass so I can secure a cage there. That way I can have a safe way for Jake and Jenny to walk on snow in the winter and grass in the summer... but also have it be removable so the lawn can be mowed.

Something to think about. In the meanwhile... I can shovel a little snow into the catio for them to play with.

Jenny ran out immediately so she could see what it was all about...

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

Jake was a bit more cautious. He circled around it trying to sniff out what it could be. Probably trying to determine if he could eat it...

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

Then he pawed around it for a while...

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

Eventually he saw me through the window and started squawking at me. Assumably telling me that the snow made his feet cold. I tried to explain that he needs to step off the snow to fix that, but he just stood there complaining...

Jake and Jenny Playing in the Snow in Their Catio

And that was the end of that. Tonight it's pouring rain, which I'm assuming will melt all the snow. Again.

Guess it was good while it lasted.

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Caturday 93

Posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Dave!I am telling you... if I end up dead under mysterious circumstances, my cats are likely responsible.

Earlier this week I was awakened by my cats raising holy hell in the guest bedroom downstairs. Wanting to know what in the heck was going on, I grabbed my phone to look at the security camera and got... a black screen. Reviewing the footage revealed that one of them had pushed the camera off the dresser at 1:02am. The last thing recorded was A GIANT ALIEN CAT EYE STARING AT THE LENS!!! ZOMG!

Cat in the Security Camera!

Which means their shenanigans this morning were premeditated. I don't bolt the camera to the wall because I need to remove it when guests are staying with me. I honestly didn't think that would be a problem. But there I go again... underestimating my cats...

Cat in the Security Camera!

In other news...

Jake has started sitting like this now...

Jake Perching

He does it everywhere...

Jake Perching

And he's thoroughly irritated that I'm photographing him all the time. Look at that face!

Jake Perching

Awwww... look at that face...

Jake in Blue

And in Jenny news...

I try not to interfere in my cats' skirmishes. I worried about Jenny for the longest time since she's smaller than Jake... but it turns out that she's more than capable of taking care of herself. Not only that, but she often is the instigator. Take, for example when Jake was out in the catio running around acting the fool. She sits there watching him through the window... AND THEN... when Jake wants to come back inside, she lunges for the cat door and scares him off. SHE DID THIS THREE TIMES IN A ROW!...

Jenny Attack

Jenny Attack

I finally had to intervene so poor Jake could come inside.

But they still hang out together otherwise, so I guess it's all good...

XXX

XXX

   
And now... it's kitty dinner time. Can't keep the little monsters waiting.

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Bullet Sunday 496

Posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Dave!Rejoice and be saved... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Stuck In Your Head! Oh man, I cannot wait for February 8th!

And... it's stuck in my head! So good!

   
• Judas? Two of my favorite YouTubers are John Crist and Trey Kennedy. Every once in a while they collaborate on a video and the result is darn funny. Like their latest: If Bible Characters Had iPhones...

Here's another one that's entirely too funny...

More, please.

   
• Baroque! There's an artist named Christy Lee Rogers who is creating these stunning underwater photos that look like amazing baroque paintings...

Underwater Paining by Christy Lee Rogers

The article over at My Modern Met is a must-see.

   
• NEWS! Conservatives are outraged a gay couple is on the cover of ‘Parents’ magazine
“Mothers and fathers are seeing more and more similar examples of children being indoctrinated to perceive same-sex couples as normal, especially in the media,” an unsigned blog post on One Million Moms’s website says. — Oh dear. My eyes just rolled to the back of my head and are stuck there. I am typing this while blind, so please excuse any spelling mistakes.

If a same-sex couple is what you have for parents... and they love you, care for you, provide for you, and foster your growth into adulthood... THEN YOUR PARENTS ARE FUCKING NORMAL! Likewise, if you have only one parent (for whatever reason) and they are doing their best to provide the same? THAT'S A FUCKING NORMAL FAMILY TOO!

XXX

“It could be displayed in waiting rooms of dentist and doctor offices, where children could easily be subjected to the glorification of same-sex parents,” the blog post says.YES, GOD FORBID YOUR CHILDREN SEE A PHOTO OF A HAPPY FAMILY. THEY MIGHT THINK IT'S OKAY TO NOT BULLY THE KID WHO HAS TWO DADS!

   
• Dads! AND, YES, IT DOES OCCUR IN NATURE. IT IS ACCORDING TO GOD'S PLAN. AND ALL YOUR ENERGY HATING PEOPLE WOULD BE BETTER SPENT NOT BEING ASSHOLES. WHY NOT TRY BEING ACTUAL CHRISTIANS FOR ONCE?

Penguins are the best!

   
• Jesus Christ. When you lie, like, ALL THE TIME... it gets hard to keep your lies straight...

I mean, holy shit...

You know it's fucking bad when the Saturday Night Live parodies aren't as funny as our actual government...

This is just exhausting. I am physically and mentally checked out.

   
And... I'm done. DONE!

   

MLK Peanuts

Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019

Dave!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody!


Peanuts on MLK Day

Peanuts on MLK Day

Peanuts on MLK Day

Peanuts on MLK Day

   

Steaming for Dollars

Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Dave!I used to love going out to the movies. Then it got ridiculously expensive and you basically end up paying obscene amounts of money to watch people text on their mobile phones... or listen to them talk... or endure their kids acting like idiots. So you spend even more money to go to the VIP theater so the experience is at least tolerable. And that's an expense I'm just not going to make unless it's a movie I'm dying to see (like anything from Marvel Studios).

So, by not going to the movies, I'm saving $12 for a ticket plus $8 for popcorn and a drink... that's $20, which is how much it costs to just buy most movies on iTunes now-a-days. Or, if you're patient, you can always wait and rent it for $5 or see if it shows up on HBO or something.

More and more I'm getting my entertainment from my television, but that too is quickly getting crazy-expensive.

DirecTV is pricey and I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it. I pay $53.57 per month for the bare minimum they offer just to get Seattle-local networks and a bunch of stuff I never watch (the big exception being HGTV). This is better than it used to be. Since I'm an AT&T wireless subscriber, the $53.57 reflects a $25 bundle credit. I remain incensed that I can't just pick and choose the networks I want to see. I will never, ever watch Fox "News," so why the fuck am I paying for it?

The obvious option here is to go 100% streaming...

  • HBO Go. Free with my AT&T mobile plan.
  • Apple. Free with my iPhone/iPad/Mac.
  • Amazon Prime. Included with my Amazon Prime account (already pay $120/year $10/mo.).
  • Hulu ($6/mo). A&E, ABC, Adult Swim, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, Cheddar, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, Epix, Food, FOX, Freeform, Fuse, FX, FXx, HereTV, HGTV, History, Hulu Originals, Lifetime, MTV, National Geographic, NBC, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Science, SyFy, TBS, TLC, TNT, Travel, VH1... plus select shows from other networks like Showtime.
  • CBS All Access ($6/mo.). For all CBS shows and originals like Star Trek: Discovery and The Good Fight.
  • Disney+ (???/mo.). The upcoming must-have streaming service thanks to Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm content.
  • Sundance Now ($7/mo.). Only when shows I want to watch are airing (like This Close)

Interesting to note that Hulu has actually lowered their ad-supported pricing...

Hulu is Cheaper

What I don't like about cutting the cord is that some networks withhold streaming their shows on Hulu for a while. As an example... Home Town has started its second season on HGTV, but only the first season is available on Hulu just now. For many programs, this wouldn't be a big deal... but for shows I really like, it's an issue.

Right now, receiving local channels from Seattle is worth the cost to me. But eventually my feelings may change. Saving $200+ a year on entertainment is no small amount of money.

   

Poop on a Triscuit

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Dave!I'm trying not to swear in front of my cats.

Well, technically I'm trying not to swear out loud any more. I worry about somebody hearing me being an ass who would just as soon not hear it. Including young kids, babies, church groups, and Vice President Mike Pence. As well as my cats.

The challenge is trying to come up with alternatives which adequately convey my feelings about a situation.

Like just now when I realized that I left my phone at work and have to go back and get it.

I was about to yell "Fuck!" but instead said "Poop on a Triscuit!"

Jake and Jenny seemed confused. I'm guessing it's because they hear me scream "Fuck!" all the time and are accustomed to it... but the Triscuit thing is something new.

I hope that Vice President appreciates that.

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To Home (Depot) and Back Again (Again)

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Dave!As I think I mentioned a while back, I've been working on a photo wall in my stairwell. It's a huge, expensive project, but I've been loving how it's been coming together so much that it's all been worth it.

Until I went to finally finish the dang thing only to realize I'm out of black spray paint for a couple frames that are the wrong shade of black. So after work I made a quick run to The Big City and Home Depot for a stupid (but necessary) $3 can of paint.

Then I went to finally, finally finish the dang thing only to realize that I didn't have enough Command Strips to hang all the remaining photos. So there I was at 8:00pm tonight making another run to The Big City and Home Depot to buy hangers.

The good news is that I think I will finally, finally, FINALLY be able to finish the dang thing tomorrow morning once the paint has had a chance to dry thoroughly.

If not, there will be no more trips to The Big City and Home Depot. Instead I'll just light the entire project on fire and forget I ever thought about doing it.

Because everybody has their limits.

Mine was two trips to Home Depot ago.

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Photo Wall (Stairwell Edition)

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2019

Dave!As I mentioned a few times (or maybe it was just yesterday), I'm building a photo wall in my stairwell. Originally it was going to be a wall for friends and family, but it became much bigger than that when I realized I wouldn't have enough wall space for everybody. So now I'm going to have a Blogger Friends Wall in the stairwell, another Blogger Friends Wall in the dining room, a Family Wall in the upstairs hall, and a Friends Wall in my entryway.

And figuring out how to go about it all is not as easy as it sounds. There are hundreds of photos to organize and frame which requires some planning. For the sixty-six photos in my stairwell, I measured all the frames I've been collecting over the past two years and drew up a schematic...

Stairwell Photo Wall Plan

   
If you'd like to see a zoomable image, you can go to the project page I made right here. It has a magnifying glass so you can see everybody up-close-and-personal...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Despite being a huge amount of work and more frustration that I imagined it could be, the results are amazing...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image
My cats don't seem to know what to make of it yet. But they're keeping their paws off. For now.

   
The most important part of the plan was determining how low I could go and still see everything. If I were to put photos too far down on the wall, I'd have to be on my hands and knees to see them. After hanging test photos, I was able to see what photos I could see as I approached the stairs...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

Then what I would see with each new step...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
As I was testing placement I found out that my eye went to a different area depending on whether I was climbing the stairs... descending the stairs... or looking down from the second floor...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Going up the stairs I tend to look downward so I see the photos along the bottom. But going down the stairs my eyes tend to go down the middle for some reason...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
This is perfect, because I end up seeing all the photos. Even the photos that are too high to be seen from the stairs are perfectly visible from above...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
I couldn't be happier with how it all came together, and I actually look forward to using the stairs now so I can see my friends...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Even if hanging the photos at the top was a bit precarious thanks to my homemade scaffolding setup...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
And now for my notes on creating this beautiful monstrosity...

  • When planning a collage, I found it's important to not only vary frame placement by size, you also need to be mindful of randomizing the depth of the frames. Otherwise you end up with high spots or low spots that look weird. This was harder than it sounds. I used all black frames, so it was easier than it could have been. I have no idea how insane it would be to add different colors to the mix. I drew out the above template on my computer so I could move things around to try and get a pleasing pattern. Frame depth was shown as different colors so I could more easily come up with something looking random.
  • Finding picture frames I could afford was a lot of work. The only time I went truly crazy was when the local Michaels Crafts store went out of business. The prices (which were already pretty good) were crazy cheap, so I bought as much as I felt comfortable piling up on my credit card. Everything else was purchased from buy-one-get-one sales (Fred Meyer's is great for these), special sales (Pier One is insanely expensive, but their sales are terrific), or clearances (Target flushes out their old stock at great prices to make room for the newer stuff). Some stores (like IKEA) have good quality and decent prices all the time, which was handy for filling in spots where I didn't want to wait for a sale.
  • I tried to be sensitive to people who were friends that had a falling out or couples who are no longer together, but there were a few times I didn't have any choice but to use what I had available. I also tried to avoid shots with people I don't know, but that too was unavoidable a few times. I'm okay with this. I hope the people in question are.
  • There are people I've tried hard to erase from my life, and leaving them off my wall is just another opportunity to remove them. It's tough, however, when they were so prominent in your life that Photoshopping them out of photos you'd otherwise like to use is often times impossible.
  • On the flip-side, running into photos of people you love that are gone is tougher.
  • Few things are more frustrating than trying to find photos you know exist but can't locate. Either because you've lost them or they were taken by somebody else and you don't have the originals to work from (or it's just a low-res image that got posted to your blog). There are people and shots I would have loved to have included, but simply could not find anything workable. I am trying hard to track them down in the hopes that those I missed can go on my second Wall of Bloggers.
  • Originally the smallest frame in my plan was 5x7. I had to change everything when I realized that some of the photos I had were of such low resolution that this was too big for them. So I went down to 2.5x3.5. There's not too many photos that can't go down that small, and even web-resolution images look okay. At first I was blowing them up anyway and trying to paint out some of the JPEG noise, but then everything looks fake. Better to print at a smaller size and have it look good than printing too big and have the problems magnified so the photo looks bad.
  • I was shocked at how many photos I wanted to use were blurry and awful upon closer inspection. Which is to say I'm not shocked that most of my blurry photos were taken at events where I was drinking.
  • On the wall, there's not much difference between a $4 frame and a $20 frame, because people are looking at the photo not the frame.
  • Quality is not governed by price. One of my most expensive frames that I really loved ended up falling apart when I took it apart to put the photo inside. That being said, cheap-cheap frames are going to be exactly that.
  • I found it much easier to work from the top down in strips rather than assembling a collage from side to side. And starting from the middle and working outwards was the smartest decision I made. Check your measurements often, especially if you are centering your photos on a wall.
  • To hang everything, I used 3M Command Strips which I bought in bulk to save money (thanks, Tim Gunn!). I also used a small level, which is essential for getting things to hang straight. There are pluses and minuses to using Command Strips. The plus is that it's very easy to get things placed where you want and they can be easily removed without damaging the wall. The negative is that they are visible on thin frames where you want to use every last bit of frame to attach them to. Also... not as environmentally-friendly as a nail and far, far more expensive. For a project like this though, the pluses far, far outweighed the negatives, and I am happy with the results.
  • Acrylic does not look the same as real glass for some reason. Unless my frame is so big that glass would be dangerous, I've been buying only frames that have real glass because I like the look better.
  • Working those little metal tabs that hold in the picture/backer/glass on most frames got to be painful after a while. Eventually I started using a putty knife to save my nails and fingertips.
  • Manufacturers who staple their corner protectors to the frame should be slapped.
  • I printed all my photos on an old HP printer that I had stored in the garage and hadn't used in years. The printheads were completely plugged and it took many soaks and flushes with cleaning fluid to get them unclogged. The ink cartridges were all dead, which meant I had to track down replacements. When I couldn't find them for a reasonable price, I ended up getting refillable cartridges that worked amazingly well at a fraction of the price. Now that I've printed all my photos, I'm pretty sure the printer is due for recycling, but I'm extremely grateful it lasted long enough to get through what I needed. Not that I am endorsing HP printers, mind you. The company is complete and total shit, and I won't be buying anything from them ever again if I can help it. The paper I had saved was still good, except one corner where moisture or something got to it. No big deal, but it was sealed in a plastic bag so I'm not sure how it happened.

And now on to planning my next wall.

Remember there's a zoomable image here that has a magnifying glass so you can everybody (maybe even yourself!)...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   

Caturday 94

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Dave!This morning Jenny demanded belly rubs after she had breakfast. She hopped on the bed, sauntered up to me, then flopped over on her back and waited impatiently. I was happy to comply... except she was irritated at the way I was rubbing her belly. She'd grunt. She'd flop around. She'd paw at my hand to move it. She'd contort herself to get me to the right spot. But no matter what I did, Jenny was having none of it. She kept getting more and more frustrated until she meowed in disgust and walked off.

When I went downstairs to work while my bread was rising, Jenny sat next to me on the back of the couch, but refused to look at me no matter how many times I tried to talk to her...

Jenny Ignores Me

After some butt-scratches for a little while, she started to forgive me, but was still perturbed...

Jenny Ignores Me

There are times I'd give anything to be able to talk to my cats. This was one of those times.

But then, with a little patience...

Jenny Forgives Me

Jenny Forgives Me

   
In other news... my cats are still trying to kill me. Yesterday's morning tributes included Mufasa, a piece of rope I used to make the massive scratching pole in the catio, and one of my mom's rubber stamps. Made of wood. Which hurts a LOT when you step on it. Where did it come from? How did they bring it here? How did they fit it in their mouth? What does it mean? How long does it take foot pain to go away? WHY ARE MY CATS TRYING TO KILL ME?!?...

Jenny Ignores Me

   

My Philips HUE light in my bedroom lights up on "low" a half hour before I get up at 7am to feed the cats. It then keeps increasing in brightness until my Alexa alarm goes off. It's supposed to be simulating a sunrise or something. Anyway... the minute light clicks on at 6:30am, Jake has learned that this means it's getting close to breakfast. He then hops on the bed to stare at me for a half hour...

Jake Wants Breakfast

IS IT BREAKFAST TIME YET? I'M LITERALLY DYING OF STARVATION! I'M JUST GOING TO SIT HERE STARING AT YOU UNTIL YOU FEED ME. I HOPE THIS MAKES YOU FEEL BAD.

If he's feeling really frisky (or hungry) he will hop on top of me...

Jake Wants Breakfast

Or, if he's feeling lazy, he'll lay down beside me and fall asleep...

Jake Stretch

Jake is pretty much back to normal after his health scare. Still likes to sit on my lap when I'm trying to work...

Jake Laptop Cat

And he still watches for birds to land in the catio so he can attack them...

Jake Waits

But his behavior has definitely changed, because he still doesn't want to sleep alone...

Jake Loves Jenny

Jake Loves Jenny

He will sleep in the guest bedrooms alone if I'm at home. If I'm downstairs, he'll sleep in the downstairs guest bedroom... it I'm upstairs he'll sleep in the upstairs guest bedroom. But his days of being fully independent when sleeping seem to be over.

So long as Jenny doesn't mind, I guess it's all good.

Hey, maybe she can train Jake the right way to scratch her belly? He speaks cat, so maybe...

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Bullet Sunday 497

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Dave!The Trump Shutdown may be only temporarily suspended, but don't let that get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Vax! =sigh= I was fully vaccinated as a kid, but it's been recommended that I get the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shot again because of a measles outbreak here in the Pacific Northwest. Since it's highly contagious, I never had it as a kid, I regularly climb into a confined metal tube with lots of people, and I only received one shot (not the series that's now recommended)... it's better safe than sorry I suppose. Fun! Thanks, anti-vax parents, for continuing to bring back diseases with gusto that we thought we had dealt with long ago. Polio, anyone?

   
• Just Die! And... apparently another idiot missionary is rolling the dice. If forced to choose between the death of a tribe of indigenous persons who are not equipped to handle the germs, disease, and overall bullshit that the outside world brings when it intrudes on their lands... or the death of some piece of shit missionary who KNOWS that it's illegal and KNOWS their actions can cause irreparable harm... I'm going to root for the asshole missionary to die. Hopefully in the most brutal way possible as an example to other assholes who might have similar ideas. Except that didn't seem to work the first time, because you just can't fix stupid. In the meanwhile, these Christian groups calling for the tribe to be arrested can go fuck themselves.

   
• Other Other! When I first heard that SNL alums Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider had a new series coming to Comedy Central, I was intrigued. Shows that fall out of Saturday Night Live talent are hit or miss, but the ones that hit are usually the most interesting and imaginative stuff to appear on television. And now The Other Two has arrived and it is about the funniest thing I've seen in a while...

Yes, that's Molly Shanon as the mom, and she's as good as you'd expect. And, yes, that's Wanda Sykes in there too (Lord, I wish they would find a starring vehicle for her that's worthy of her talent). It's a raunchy show to be sure, so it's not going to be for everybody... but, if you're intrigued, you can watch the first episode for free over at Comedy Central.

   
• London! I've wondered about London's airports for a long, long time. At last there are answers...

And... part two...

This guy's entire "Unfinished London" channel is gold.

   
• Out of Network! Regardless of where you land on the health care debate, this is essential reading. Now more than ever you have to be very careful about what care plan your doctor comes up with for you. It's critical that you know to question everything so as to avoid getting blindsided by outrageous medical costs.

   
• TransBan! The irony is not lost that President Trump (AKA Cadet Bone Spurs), who dodged the draft with a fake ailment, is in charge of deciding who gets to serve their country now (yes, it was fake... the daughter of the physician who signed off on his foot problem came forward). His desire to strongly curtail (or outright ban) transgender persons from serving was recently upheld by The Supreme Court. To those who understand that a strong military requires talents from all sorts of people, this makes no sense. So what is the president thinking? Not surprisingly, there's a series of tweets to explain it...

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
— President Donald Trump

Huh. Looks like our Commander in Chief doesn't know how the fuck our modern military works. But what does he understand? Let's hear what an actual fucking soldier has to say...

"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."
— Senator Tammy Duckworth

Oh, and forgive me for completely discounting his fucking bullshit about the "medical costs" being a disruption to our military. It's not like he gives a shit about the millions of taxpayer dollars our military spends shuttling his fat ass to golf courses around the world.

   
Have a pleasant week, everybody!

   

Poster Raising with the Amish

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2019

Dave!I have a dozen Marvel Studios posters hanging in my home. I love their movies and like using the posters as decoration everywhere. It was always my intent to have the first movie posters for the "Big Three" (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor) hanging together at the top of my stairwell. Thor was easy... I just used a stool on the landing. I built scaffolding to hang Captain America (and nearly killed myself in the attempt). Iron Man was just too high up for me to attempt it, so I hung him in my dining room and forgot about it. But now I need the dining room space for the second half of my Wall of Bloggers, so I had to find a way to hang Iron Man wayyyy up where he belongs...

Spot Where My Iron Man Poster Goes

I had no idea how I was going to do it without paying a painter to bring their scaffolding and build a ramp. I don't have that kind of money, so this wasn't really an option.

And then...

I was watching an episode of Banshee, which takes place in Amish country. Which got me to thinking about Amish barn raisings and how they manage to do it not with a forklift or a crane... but with long poles to push the frame up into place. Couldn't I do the same thing for my poster by using a Swiffer mop handle and some 3M Command Strips? The head on the Swiffer is kinda spongey, so it should have good grip on it.

And so...

First I cut some wood blocks which I mounted on the frame backing board. Then I attached the Command Strips to that. Then I nailed a piece of wood across the bottom of the posters to form a ledge. Then I stood on the landing, reached across with the poster, slid it into place, then grabbed the Swiffer handle to ease it up against the wall...

Swiffer Handle Poster Raising

   
Worked like a charm!

My Movie Posters on a Wall

My Movie Posters on a Wall

My Movie Posters on a Wall

Technically, Thor came before Captain America, but it looked better to have Cap's orange background breaking up the two blue/black backgrounds.

I'll probably leave the ledge up for a week or so just to make sure that the Command Strips have bonded to the wall properly. Each set can hold 4 pounds and I used 4 sets (16 pounds total), which means my 7-pound frame should be okay, I hope.

If not, hopefully myself or my cats won't be underneath it when it falls.

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Flat Flat Super-Flat

Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Dave!The weather has been exceptionally nice these past couple days, which is both good and bad. Good because I can park outside and do some light woodworking in my garage. Bad because I worry about us having enough of a snow pack in the mountains to avoid drought this summer.

Yesterday when I got home from work I started experimenting with making cabinet doors and drawer facings. What I want are simple shaker-style pieces which look like they would be easy to build. And, relatively speaking, they are...

Jake Perching
These are the doors and drawers I want... almost exactly. Photo from HGTV.

But getting doors and drawers that will look great takes great patience, attention, care, and time.

Take the drawers in the above photo, for example. It looks like you just saw off a piece of wood, paint it, slap a handle on it, then crack open a cold one because you're done. But it's not that simple. Every edge has to be routed because a sharp corner has little strength and will be nicked up and dented in no time. But you can't overdo it or else they won't look like they're meant to look. And then there's the biggest issue I face... having flat, flat, super-flat boards to work with.

This is a surprisingly weird thing to have to worry about.

You'd think that the boards you buy would be cut flat (which they are) then processed in such a way that they remain flat. This is not even remotely the case. After the wood has been cut from a log it's usually dried so it doesn't warp too badly, but temperature, humidity, and other factors work on the wood over time and cause it to bend. Every single "true-wood" board I have ever bought has been warped in some way. Every board. This is a huge problem when you are trying to build something that's supposed to be flat. Like a drawer face or a picture frame.

So... what to do?

Option A is to use a material like MDF (medium density fiberboard) or hardboard. It's real wood fibers mixed with resin and heat-pressed into sheets for building. It's inexpensive, smooth, flat, won't warp, paints super-smooth, and is easy to work with. In the past it was fairly weak and lacked the strength of true wood, but now-a-days it's pretty durable stuff and can be almost as strong. As a bonus, it's easy to work with as well. The downside is that it can chip or come apart easily if you're not careful about how you use nails and screws. Since I'm painting everything white, this may be a good choice for me because you'll never see the material. I also like the idea that it's cheaper and won't warp or split.

Option B is to use "true wood" and buy a planer. Running everything through a planer will provide the super-flat boards I need to build nice doors and drawers. This is wasteful and time-consuming, but you get the durability and strength that's made wood the material of choice since cabinetry began.

Option C buy fresh-planed wood from a cabinet shop. Not really an option because it's far more money than I have to spend.

My plan is to build a couple drawer faces and cabinets with MDF and see how it goes. Once I get them built I'll beat on them a little bit to make sure they're not going to fall apart. If they hold up well, then I guess I've found my material. If not, I guess I'm getting a planer. Which is something I wanted to buy anyway, but my kitchen remodel is such a huge deal that I am not thrilled with the time involved in having to use it.

For the most part I am anxious to get started on my kitchen and excited to tackle such a challenging project. But there's a small part of me who is very aware that I don't know what I'm doing yet and no amount of YouTube videos will prepare me for the real thing. Which is why it's nice that the weather has been so good and I can experiment. I'll be a lot more confident about my plans if I have some experience under my belt.

Also? By starting in on cabinetry early I'll have more time this summer to work on more catio projects. Jake and Jenny are wanting new adventures!

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Potato Chip Hauntings

Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Dave!Lay's potato chips were on sale at the grocery store so I bought a couple bags. And while I love them plain right out of the bag, I was craving the chip dip that my mom used to make. It was the same dip that my grandmother used to make. I think she got the recipe from the mother of one of my mom's friends. Since both my mom and grandma are gone now, I guess I'll never know for sure where it came from. One of a million things I should have asked about but never did.

Here's the base recipe...

  • 8oz. cream cheese brick, softened.
  • Two heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  • Splash of lemon juice.
  • Garlic powder to taste.

It's good just like that, but there are optional add-ins if you're wanting something more exciting...

  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (for non-vegetarians).
  • Two heaping tablespoons of sour cream.
  • Ground pepper to taste.
  • Cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Minced garlic to taste.
  • Dash of hot sauce.
  • Chopped scallions (or chives) and paprika as a topper.

   
Tonight I just made the base recipe with a little cayenne. It was exactly what I needed.

And everything I didn't.

It's been seven months since my mom died and there's always something there to remind me that she's gone. If it's not the pictures of her on the wall or cream cheese dip, it's something else.

Everything else.

There doesn't have to be a ghost for you to be haunted. All it took for me was a bag of chips.

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Categories: DaveLife 2019, Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Hairy Obsolescence

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Dave!This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.

This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.

And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...

Undercover Blues Movie

True Lies Movie

The Abyss Movie

Strange Days Movie

   

The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).

So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.

Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.

   
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.

   

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