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Digitalization Proclamation

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019

Dave!Are you converting your DVD/Blu-Ray library to digital? Upgrading your SD DVDs to digital HD?

Yesterday I talked about my Blu-Ray player and how I rarely use it. I haven't bought a DVD or Blu-Ray in years, preferring to purchase everything digitally. And mostly on sale. Few movies are worth paying full price for,* (usually if you wait a couple of months they'll drop to $10 or less). I do still have bunches of old DVDs and Blu-Ray discs hanging around. Those I watch over and over again I repurchased digitally for convenience... but most movies aren't worth buying twice.

Until Vudu joined up with Movies Anywhere, that is.

Movies Anywhere is an alliance of digital media stores and movie studios which allow you to buy a film from one store... then watch it at any other. Buy a movie from Google Play and, so long as it's a part of Movies Anywhere, it will show up in your Apple iTunes (or whatever).

This also goes for DVDs/Blu-Rays converted by Vudu, so long as...

  1. The movie is available digitally at Vudu (some aren't).
  2. The movie in question is participating in Movies Anywhere (some aren't).
  3. The movie is available for conversion (some aren't).

Assuming these conditions are true, you're in luck!

  • DVDs will covert to SD Digital for $2. Most of them can also convert to HD Digital for $5 if you prefer.
  • Most HD Blu-Rays will convert to HD Digital for $2. For some reason there are a few titles which will still cost $5 for HD.

Since I want to play everything on iTunes, here's how I've been converting my DVD/Blu-Ray library...

1) Look up my disc on MoviesAnywhere.com. If they have it, scroll to the bottom for the title info and verify that it's a part of Movies Anywhere...

Vudu Purchase

2) If the movie is eligible, I grab my iPhone and point its browser to Vudu.com/disc (GPS location and camera are required). From there you can scan the UPC code off of you DVD or Blu-Ray and see if it's available for digital conversion...

Vudu Purchase

3) If it is, you select SD or HD, and off you go!

For older movies I own on DVD, I mostly choose the cheaper $2 conversion. Many modern televisions will upscale the SD picture to something that looks just fine, even on a large display. But if it's an older movie I love which underwent remastering or it's a more recent movie which will benefit from the HD image, I spend the $5. Weirdly enough, Vudu will only allow you to convert 100 movies per calendar year. After that, you have to wait until January 1 in order to convert any more... just in case you're flush with cash and have a huge DVD library.

It will take me a few years yet to be able to afford to convert all the titles I want into digital format, but it's sure nice not having loads of DVDs taking up space in my home. It's also handy to have movies I like in digital format that can be watched anywhere. There is a drawback to conversion, however. Most digital movies don't have "iTunes Extras," so those DVDs which come with "extra features" will likely be lost. If that's something important to you, be sure to check what features iTunes has before spending your hard-earned money.

And now, if you'll excuse me, my biological clock is ticking like this... =stomp stomp stomp= so I've got My Cousin Vinny to watch.

   

*The exception being all the Marvel Studios movies. I buy those the minute they go on sale.

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Caturday 95

Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Dave!As I've bragged many times, my cats are remarkably well-behaved.

They don't bother me when I'm sleeping. They don't scratch or chew on things they shouldn't. They rarely go where they're not supposed to. And they really don't try to get at my food while I'm eating it. Even Jake has the manners to wait until I'm finished before sniffing my dishes for crumbs. Jenny, on the other hand, doesn't seem interested in people food at all.

At least that's what I thought... until she made a bee-line for my chip dip...

Jenny Tries Dip

Once she smelled garlic, she was over it in a real hurry, however.

Instead she and Jake decided to stare me down in the hopes of getting an early dinner...

Jake and Jenny Want Dinner

In other news, Jake has started snuggling up with me since his sister has been getting more and more annoyed with him trying to snuggle up to her...

Jake Looking

Jake Looking

Jenny, who has always loved watching television, has started getting interested in computer videos now. Last night I was watching an otter video when she leaped up on the couch behind me to take a look...

Jenny Watches Otters on YouTube

She must really like otters, because she came in for a closer look...

Jenny Watches Otters on YouTube

Guess I need to install YouTube on the cats' iPad.

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Bullet Sunday 498

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Dave!Don't the mistake of clicking that back button now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Carnivore! I choose to be vegetarian because humans can adapt to vegetarian/vegan diets. Cats and dogs were not designed to be vegetarian/vegan, and forcing them on this "diet" is unhealthy... even deadly. If you won't feed your pets the meat they were built to eat, then get a pet that is made for a vegetarian/vegan diet. Like a hamster or something. Better yet, don't get a pet at all if you don't have their health and well-being as a priority.

   
• Salty! After it was announced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was retiring from baseball I started to write a blog post about it, but could never figure out what I wanted to say. I'm a huge fan...

Jarrod Saltalamacchia by Keith Allison
Photo by Keith Allison @ Flickr

I'm such a fan that I ended up bidding on (and winning) his dugout jacket from the 2013 World Series...

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

I first became a fan when he started playing for the Red Sox (of course), but I kept up with his career as he moved on to Miami, Arizona, Detroit, and Toronto...

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

Best of luck in retirement, Salty!

   
• Taxable! Heaven only knows I'm not 100% onboard with the current taxation scheme that we're subjected to here in the US. And I don't much agree with many of the proposed alternatives either. That being said, I'm getting increasingly pissed off with those politicians who are lying assholes about how tax brackets work. Forget what you're being told and watch this short video...

It's pretty simple, yet people are incredibly stupid when it comes to what they choose to believe. No surprise there.

   
• Stop Doing That! Samantha Bee's Full Frontal had a segment on the challenges that deaf persons have in dealing with the police. If that's not enough to get you to take a look, Nyle DiMarco stops by to help out... and take his shirt off...

If only those who can hear will take the time to listen.

   
• Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! Now this takes talent...

When I was in Wales, I had trouble pronouncing the four letter words. Attempting to pronounce this would probably kill me.

   
• Infinity Paint! And, lastly, this is my favorite thing on the internet this past week.

   
And... life goes on even though Bullet Sunday is over.

   

Living Comfortably Numb

Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2019

Dave!Blergh.

Today I had to run into The Big City to have some dental work repaired. Going to the dentist is never fun, but today's trip was made worse by the brutal cold front that descended into the valley last night. It was so cold out that the windshield wipers fell apart after ten minutes on the road.* Which is dangerous when road-slush is fusing itself to your car...

Ice Fusion to My Car

Fortunately I was able to crank the defrost and drive carefully enough that my windshield stayed mostly-clear. At least long enough to drop by the auto parts store for new wipers.

And then it was dental reconstruction time.

Which was a piece of cake.

I can't believe how anesthesiology tech has advanced over the years. Used to be they shoot you up with novocaine and you're uncomfortably numb for an entire day... then you have that awful taste in your mouth as the drugs leach out. Gross. Then everything hurts for a while as your body recovers. Even once novocaine was replaced in the 80's, the new generation of numbing agents seem like they're improving.

Now? You feel nothing. You taste nothing. The numbness fades in hours. There's no residual discomfort or pain. The work was completed just six hours ago and I can barely tell that anything was done. How cool is that?

And speaking of cool...

There's a musician named Simon "Blanks" de Wit in the Netherlands who reimagines popular songs with his own musical arrangements on YouTube. The results are fantastic, especially when he takes contemporary music and turns it into 80's pop with a "StyleSwap"...

The result is often something I like far more than the original...

The guy is incredibly talented, posting "One Hour Challenge" videos where he attempts to remake songs in 60 minutes...

He composes his own songs as well...

His sound is still developing, and it will be interesting to see where he goes as a musician. If he can come up with an album that's 80's pop inspired, I'm so there.

   

*Note to self: Not replacing your windshield wipers for six years is probably not a good idea.

   

Bird Boxing

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Dave!A while back Jake managed to murder a poor bird that wandered into the catio, leaving me a not-so-nice present when I returned home.

My hope was that this would be a rare incident. But the little maniac struck again last night. Luckily this time I was home and could run out and admonish him so the bird could escape...

If I weren't so mortified at Jake's homicidal tendencies, it would actually be funny. The minute I open the back door he's like "whut?" and the bird plops right out of his mouth and wanders out to the back porch.

As soon as the bird had escaped I immediately ran to get a box I could cut open as a temporary shelter to keep the snow off of him and (hopefully) keep him safe from another cat. But by the time I had made it back there he had flown away...

Box for a Bird

He didn't look gravely injured, just shocked, so I'm hopeful he was able to recover. I have no idea how much damage Jake does when he attacks, but I'm assuming there's some kind of puncture wound from his claws/teeth. Poor bird.

Except...

A couple weeks ago I got an alert that somebody was breaking into my house. It ended up being a bird...

Bird in Flight

Just before it snowed, it happened again...

Bird in Flight

Bird in Flight

   
Maybe these bird break-ins are not accidental.

What if... they are seeking revenge?!?

Somebody alert Tippi Hedren.

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Impractically Obsolescent

Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Dave!Today I went looking for some old, old, very old files that I knew I had backed up on CD somewhere. Turns out they were even older than I thought, because they weren't on CD after all. They were on magneto-optical discs.

This poses a problem, as I have no way of reading them.

Well, I think there's a way... but it's far from an easy way.

It will involve my dragging one of my old computers with a SCSI interface out of storage, wiring up the optical drive, copying the files to a hard disk, then taking apart the computer so I can remove the hard drive and put it in another Mac which has ethernet (but no SCSI). Or something like that. Maybe I've got a SCSI CD burner around somewhere.

My guess is that CDs and DVDs will be next to die off. Just like in Back to the Future...

Back to the Future CDs LDs

At some point Real Soon Now, I need to transfer all my older files to Amazon's online storage. Then it doesn't matter if I can't read CDs or magneto-optical, or ZIP, or JAZ, or SyQuest... all I have to worry about is whether or not I can read the format that the files are in.

Years ago any time a new version of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign came out, I immediately read in all my older files, then saved them out in the new file format. That way even my oldest files would still be accessible if I ever needed them. But eventually, as the number of files I have archived skyrocketed, this became impractical.

Now I just cross my fingers that new versions of the programs will be backwards compatible enough that I don't have to worry about it.

   

Excuse Me

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Dave!I've been preoccupied with work lately, starting up at at 5am and working until late. This is no fun for me... but it's even less fun for my cats. I still make time for them whenever they want attention or need to be petted, of course, but I'm not going out of my way. This is confusing to them, resulting in Jake and Jenny being a little more needy than usual.

"Excuse me. Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Hill's Prescription Diet Ocean Fish Dinner?"

Jake Looking Over My Computer Screen

   
After next week I'm hoping to be caught up enough that things can get back to normal.

Or whatever passes for normal when you have cats.

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Presidential Nonstarter

Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2019

Dave!   

I don't even know where to start.

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Caturday 96

Posted on Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Dave!And so we're in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning.

Which sounds like a bad thing, but I'm so grateful that there will be more snow accumulating in the mountains that I just don't care. Not having to go through a drought come Summer is worth it.

Jake doesn't care much about the snow or rain. He mostly ignores the weather. If the snow is really coming down, he might go out in the catio and watch for a while. Jenny on the other hand?

Jenny Watching Snow

Jenny Watching Snow

Jenny Watching Snow

Jenny is greatly upset by the weather. When it rains, she meows at the drops falling on the roof. When she sees big snowflakes falling, she meows at them (and her brother) through the window...

Jenny Watching Jake Out eh Window with Snow

Or hides in a paper bag...

Jenny in a Paper Bag

Jenny in a Paper Bag

Jenny in a Paper Bag

   
In other news... Jenny is still stealing Mufasa from Jake whenever he does something to piss her off.

So there I was headed to take a shower when Jenny comes charging up the stairs with Mufasa in her mouth at top speed. She dashes into her bedroom and I hear rustling as she runs through the cat tunnel... then strolls out of the room like nothing happened. I must say, this is not a very inventive hiding spot...

Jenny Puts Mufasa in a Tunnel

Don't worry about Jake though. He knows how to console himself by eating my junk food picnic...

Jake Steaking Junk Food

And demanding consolation scratches...

Jake Wants Scratches

Jake Wants Scratches

   
And... it looks like the foot of snow we got is going to be it. Not much of a "winter storm" if you ask me.

But don't try to tell Jenny that.

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Bullet Sunday 499

Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Dave!Don't go fretting that you aren't in touch with what's new in life... because a Very Special Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• NEW Disco! I tell you what... Star Trek: Discovery has been knocking it out of the part again this season. Even slow, throw-away episodes (like the latest one) have surprising depth. But, then again, any time spent with my favorite Kelpien, Saru, is time well-spent...

Doug Jones as Saru Star Trek Discovery

There is a campaign to get Doug Jones an Emmy for his work as Saru, and I can't think of another actor more deserving. Jones has flawlessly constructed movement, voice inflections, and mannerisms that feel completely alien, and the skill to be doing all that while completely encased in makeup and facial appliances is remarkable. He had better at least get nominated.

If you like sci-fi and are not watching Disco, you owe it to yourself to take out a free trial for CBS All Access and see what you've been missing. I am a diehard fanatic of Star Trek: The Original Series, and feel that this is the best series to come out in the Star Trek Universe since then. I was not impressed with any of the Next Generation/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise shows, but this? This is great stuff (despite the bitching and moaning from "Star Trek fans" that hate it... which, if that's you, don't worry... you'll be getting your Next Generation pablum when Captain Picard comes back with his new show).

   
• NEW! Netflix has just unleashed the third season of the One Day at a Time reboot, and it did not disappoint...

If there's a flaw, it's that the show feels the need to continue addressing absolutely every social issue in existence. It's handled really well, but it can still be exhausting. Yes, it's great to see the show address current events, but it's at its best is when it focuses on the people behind the issues. Fortunately there's plenty of that as well, and I'm hoping we get a fourth season.

   
• NEW Boys! Pet Shop Boys have a new EP that just dropped called Agenda. And it's as relevant and interesting as you would expect...

And then there's thinly-veiled political message, perhaps?

Yeah. Just when we needed it most.

   
• NEW Ellen! What would it take to coax Ellen DeGeneres to do her first standup special in 15 years? Apparently it's the $20 million that Netflix ponied up for Relatable, which was released back in December...

I just watched it again last night and I gotta say... it's worth the money. Ridiculously funny. Probably my favorite of all her specials so far. Until Netflix lures her back with $50 million maybe?

   
• NEW Boarding! CGP Grey released a new video this past week on how to best board an airplane. It's an interesting discussion, to be sure...

   
• NEW Country! With rare exceptions, I am decidedly not a country music fan. Though recently Casey Musgraves has me re-thinking this stance with her amazing Country-Pop fusion, which is some of the best music I've heard in a while. Because of that, I found this analysis on the current state of Country to be a fascinating watch...

The fact that the finger-snapping madness is becoming such a predominant force in music today is pretty disheartening. Time will tell if it's eventually replaced by something even worse.

   
No more new for you. See you next Sunday.

   

A Boy and His Lion

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2019

Dave!Worst. Monday. Morning. Evar.

Which is bound to happen when your bed ends up covered in cat vomit and you pull a muscle in your back.

But we'll get to that. First let me back up to yesterday, which was a much better day for me.

As I've mentioned a few times, Jenny has a vindictive streak and knows exactly what buttons to push on poor Jake when he pisses her off. First thing on her list? Stealing Mufasa, his stuffed lion and favorite toy. Many times when Jake has done her wrong, she runs off with Mufasa and hides him away somewhere. Jake will then spend hours trying to find him.

Yesterday I found Mufasa stuffed behind the garbage can in the bathroom so I took him to Jake, who was lounging on top of the cat tree in my bedroom. It was like Christmas morning...

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake oftentimes latches onto Mufasa with his claws and swings him around...

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

But it always comes back to bite-bite time...

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

He was all smiles for a good ten minutes...

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Jake and Mufasa

Good times. Good times.

I am dreading the day that Mufasa gets ripped to shreds. I've already had to repair him once, so his time on this earth is coming to an end eventually. A friend checked at the gift shop "Out of Africa" in Johannesburg's airport where I got him but, alas, they are no longer selling Mufasas. Every once in a while I check eBay just to see if one will pop up, but no luck so far.

Anyway...

This morning at 4:00am Jake hops on the bed and wakes me up in distress. He's making chirping noises and acting like he wants to throw up, which is a rare thing for my cats to do. I'm immediately worried that he's sick with a urinary problem again, but it turns out it was just a hairball. A hairball that took him a full ten minutes to hack up, the poor guy. He was pretty whipped after that, so I threw off my vomit-covered sheets and let him rest up for a bit before I took them to the wash.

Not wanting to disturb Jake on my bed after his rough morning, I decided to take a nap on the couch. But it wasn't ten minutes before I heard a cat howling and was freaking out that Jake or Jenny was hurt... only to realize that it was coming from outside. Turns out that the people who plow my driveway piled the snow over the path that I keep shoveled for the neighborhood cat, Fake Jake, to get around my home so he can get to his food and his bathroom out back.

And so... there goes my morning nap...

Snow Shoveling

Snow Shoveling

Snow Shoveling

   
And so... crisis averted...

Fake Jake on His Path

Fake Jake on His Path

That'll teach me not to get up and start shoveling when the snow removal team messes with Fake Jake's routine!

After my bagel and cream cheese breakfast, I took a shower and got ready for work. All was good... until... I went to get in my car and pulled something in my back. I had screwed it up last week and had been taking care to move gently until it had healed. I thought I was fine... but then had to go shoveling a path for a cat and messed things up again.

Good times. Good times.

   

No Frills Air

Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Dave!Air travel is expensive, yo.

And as somebody who has done their fair share of finding fair fares, I can tell you that it's just getting worse and worse. Airlines are raking in millions... billions... in profit, and they're doing it by raising the cost to fly and nickel-and-diming you to death for absolutely everything. Most airlines still serve you a tiny cup of Coke and a cookie or a wee bag of snack mix for "free"... but if you want to actually have something to eat, you'll have to pay for it. Want to check a bag? You'll pay for that too. Want to sit in the front of the plane? How about have a reserved seat? Oh yeah, most airlines are definitely charging for that now.

It reminds me of a cartoon series by Al Jaffee from MAD magazine back in 1975...

Al Jaffee No-Frills Airline
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions


Al Jaffee No-Frills Airline
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions


Al Jaffee No-Frills Airline
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions


Al Jaffee No-Frills Airline
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions


Funny thing is... Jaffee wasn't that far off. Kinda.

Well... unless you are an elite flyer with the airline. Then you get some of those perks at no additional cost. There's also perks (like checked bags) which you can get by having a credit card from the airline.

But for the casual traveler? Most of the things you pay for now are stuff that you didn't have to not so long ago. Given the price to fly, it's like adding insult on top of injury, but that's the way it goes.

A while back my home airline, Alaska Air, was facing stiff competition in critical markets from discount no-frills airlines. Rather than continue to lose infrequent flyers to these bargain-basement alternatives... or have to cut fares on their "Basic Economy" seats and lose money... they introduced "Saver Fares" which give you a cheaper rate with some serious restrictions...

  • Non-Refundable. Something happens and you need to cancel? Not so much.
  • Not changeable. Did your plans change? Looks like you're buying a new ticket!
  • No front-of-cabin seats. Back to the back of the bus you go.
  • No complimentary upgrades. Even if you fly 500,000 miles annually!

As an example of the savings, here's a Seattle to Boston flight, each way...

Alaska Air Saver Fares

So... $60 savings total, roundtrip.

Unless I was really strapped for cash and positive my plans wouldn't change, there's just no way I'd ever do this. Sure you save $60... but if something happens with your travel plans (this happens to me all the time), you're out $468 for a ticket you can't use.

Despite my having an aversion to "Saver Fares," I am awfully glad that Alaska has them for people who only care about price. I want my local airline to be successful, and anything they can do to be competitive is something I am in favor of.

At 6'2" what I'm not in favor of is cutting legroom... yet again... though it would seem the FAA has put a stop to that. At least for now. Heaven only knows what regulations Presidebt Trump is going to abolish next that fuck people over in favor of his corporate owners.

But something tells me it will resemble something straight out of Mad magazine, like everything else he does.

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Winky the Bichon Frise

Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Dave!Don't ask me why, but I watch the Westminster Dog Show every year.

This year my dedication was rewarded with "Winky"... a little Bichon Frise running the agility course. This hilarious pup was in no hurry at all to complete the course, and was happy to stop for applause a couple of times. Needless to say, the crowd loved Winky...

   
Definitely not the fastest time, to be sure, but my favorite run of the show.

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Last Chance Valentine

Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Dave!For the first time in nearly 40 years, I didn't buy any flowers for today.

When I was young, my mom would give me money to buy flowers for my grandmother on Valentine's Day. Once I started earning money of my own I carried on, buying grandma flowers every year until she died in 2015. Because of that, it's tough not to think of my grandmother whenever February 14th rolls around. Even those years I had a girlfriend and would load her up with flowers and candy, it was still my grandma's holiday.

I would sometimes buy flowers for my mom, but every time I did she would tell me I should save the money for our next vacation instead. And so I did. Mostly. After she couldn't travel any more I started buying her flowers for Valentine's Day again in the hopes it would brighten her life a bit. Lord only knows she could use it given that her days were spent being confused and confined to a building.

But now she's gone as well.

And I am single.

So no flowers. But I do have my annual Valentine's Day card...

Happy Valentine's Day 2019

For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!

   

Snowmageddon Las Vegas

Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2019

Dave!I woke up not knowing whether or not I'd be on my way to Las Vegas today.

The forecast for this week was "partly cloudy" but it ended up being "Snowmageddon Part 2: The Snowpocalypse" and flights were being canceled left and right. I don't think I single flight left my local airport yesterday. Driving over the mountain passes was out of the question because they keep closing.

But because this is one of those rare trip to Vegas for fun with friends where I don't have a deadline... all my flights were fine. Better than fine, actually, thanks to a First Class upgrade...

Dave in First Class

It's only when I have to be at a critical meeting at a precise time that all my flights are delayed, canceled, or otherwise screwed up.

And so...

Glitter Gulch awaits.

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Neon Refrigeration

Posted on Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Dave!I end up in Las Vegas for work a lot. Four to six times a year. On those trips, it's not my favorite place. Because when you're here for work, it can be the loneliest city on earth. It's not like most cities where you can wander to a small corner cafe, soak up the atmosphere, and feel a part of something real. Partly because there are no small corner cafes (at least not on The Strip or in Old Town), but mostly because nothing in Las Vegas is real.

But when you're here with friends?

Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities on earth.

Tonight we wandered around and ended up at the fountains at the Bellagio, which is always nice...

Fountains a the Bellagio

From there, some of us went to Brilliant, which is a light show at the Neon Museum "boneyard" where to play popular songs associated to Vegas while signs light up and videos play. I've seen it before, and it was actually quite nice...

Briliant Neon Museum Show

Briliant Neon Museum Show

Briliant Neon Museum Show

Briliant Neon Museum Show

Except...

As you can tell from that bottom photo where everybody is bundled up an shivering, this time is was bitter cold. As in "I'm wearing my winter coat but still freezing my ass off" cold. And thank heavens I had my winter coat, because I would have been a wreck without it. I rarely travel to Vegas in the dead of winter, so I had no idea this was what was awaiting me. Fortunately, I had dressed for the weather back home to get to the airport, so I was (somewhat) prepared.

At the end of the day, I was up $36 thanks to a lucky pull at a slot machine in the Paris hotel. If I play my cards right (or, better still, don't play cards at all) I just might go home with my shirt on my back.

Given the weather both here and back home, that's actually my best-case scenario.

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Bullet Sunday 500

Posted on Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Dave!Five hundred days of bullets and counting... because Bullet Sunday live from Las Vegas starts now...

   
• Fremont! I'm not much of a gambler, but if I'm going to do so, my preferred place to throw away my money would be "Old Town Vegas" AKA Fremont Street. It's a little more laid back, the slots are looser, and it doesn't take 20 minutes to walk between casinos. And then there's the giant canopy which helps protect you from the rain... like what was coming down last night in sprinkles. Also? It's pretty...

Fremont Street

Fremont Street

Fremont Street

Fremont Street

Fremont Street

   
• Alaska! I've never had an "Alaskan Waffle" before. I've never even heard of the term. Essentially, it's a waffle with ice cream, which is genius. Needless to say, I had to try it...

Alaskan Waffle at th Blueberry Hill restaurant

Alaskan Waffle at th Blueberry Hill restaurant

Alaskan Waffle at th Blueberry Hill restaurant

Way. Way. Way too sweet for me. I could only eat half of it. But I give it a 9 out of 10... would order again.

   
• Venice! Most of the big theme hotels on the Vegas Strip are beautiful and well done. But The Venetian is probably my favorite. When we passed through for dinner, they had a fantastic Chinese New Year display up...

Chinese New Year at the Venice Hotel

Chinese New Year at the Venice Hotel

As you might guess, It's "The Year of the Pig." And this little piggy was huge. And gold.

   
• Dessert! One of the many restaurants in The Palazzo (at The Venetian) is Mott 32, a high-end Chinese affair. We went there for dessert after dinner at The Factory, because they're just so amazing. "I had The Bamboo Green Forest"...

The Bamboo Green Forest Dessert

Pretty phenomenal. The base is a scoop of yogurt lime sorbet floating in heavy yuzu cream. On top is shredded matcha sponge cake surrounded by crispy yoghrt crumbs and topped with white chocolate bamboo spears and crumbles.

   
• Wonder! Finally got a chance to play Wonder Woman slots...

Wonder Woman Slots

I'd seen it before, of course, but never had a chance to give it a shot. Princess Diana was not kind to me. Ended up walking away with 10¢ after spending $20.

   
Until next week when I'll be back home. I think...

   

Home is Where the Layover Is

Posted on Monday, February 18th, 2019

Dave!Today I got to Las Vegas McCarran Airport just in time to see that my flight to San Francisco was being delayed. Since I had a tight connection to my Seattle flight followed by a tight connection home, I went to the Alaska Air ticket counter to find out if I was going to make my connecting plane in SFO. They thought I probably could, assuming there were no further delays, but were happy to put me on a Seattle-direct flight that was leaving right away.

This was a huge relief, because spending the night in San Francisco... or Seattle... because I missed one (or both) of my flights was not how I wanted to spend my Monday.

After arriving in Seattle I had just over four hours to kill, so I had some dinner and hung out until it was time to go to my gate.

Which was... D25?!??

I found this funny because I knew full well that the D Concourse at SeaTac doesn't go that high. Out of curiosity, I headed down D and find a way-too-small sign pointing to a new expansion, which still doesn't make much sense (where could they fit the planes?). So there I was, going DOWN to gate D25... only to find that there are no planes. Which means that they built this multi-million dollar expansion to bus people to their planes? Oh yay!

SeaTac Terminal D Expansion

SeaTac Terminal D Expansion

Just when I think that this piece of crap airport couldn't possibly be a bigger piece of crap... here it is. On top of having to bus, which is already a bummer, whomever designed this steaming pile obviously doesn't ever spend time at airports, because there are STILL not enough seats! As in ALMOST NO SEATS! There was one flight going out of the terminal... ONE... and people were still having to stand around and sit on the floor...

No Seats at SeaTac Terminal D Expansion

I wish I could say I'm surprised. Like everywhere else at SeaTac, there aren't enough places to sit down because they've been ripping out all the chairs to make room for retail shops. Here they had a golden opportunity to FINALLY make sure there was ample seating available in a brand new building... and completely blew it. Turns out this massive new "concourse" is MOSTLY VACANT SPACE! Hardly any seating at all. GREAT JOB, PORT OF SEATTLE! Probably rubber-stamped by the same brilliant decision-maker who decided to take down the entire fucking food court for months and months and months to make cosmetic changes to something that wasn't that old to begin with. Brilliant use of money. How the fuck do I get a job where I can do nothing but sit back and think of ways to waste tons of money and screw over weary travelers?

But the lack of seating was just the beginning.

They also put in stairs instead of escalators. How stupid is that? The vast, vast majority of people WHO ARE AT AN AIRPORT are going to have luggage with them. A burden that's far easier to navigate with an escalator... WHICH IS WHY THEY FUCKING PUT ESCALATORS IN AIRPORTS! Not that SeaTac can keep their escalators running for shit anyways. They're constantly breaking down.

And so your choices to get down to the bus gates are as follows...

  1. Drag your bag down the stairs anyway, because it's the quickest way to get down.
  2. Use the one elevator, which is meant for people in wheelchairs and such.
  3. Walk down a massive ramp that's longer than the damn building and takes forever.

And then there's this bussing business.

Look, I get it. Having to add more and more flights means more and more planes and, after a while, you simply run out of space. That being said, bussing to planes is an absolutely horrendous fucking solution, and one I absolutely hate. Especially in a city like Seattle that's known for rain. Nothing like getting completely drenched while waiting to go up a bunch of stairs after unpacking from a frickin' bus.

Even worse? Seattle's airport is simply not set up to bus efficiently because there's no room for a bus route to go. Most of the time on the ride was spent waiting for planes and service vehicles to get out of the way. And you'd think that once you finally get to your plane your troubles are over. But that's not the case. Because the aircraft is still way, way at the other side of the airport. So servicing the plane means that airport personnel also have to make their way out to the aircraft. And that takes a while, as we learned when this announcement was made...

"Sorry for the extended delay, but this spot is really difficult to get to, and we had to wait for them to find us with the paperwork we need before we can take off."

Right now you may be thinking "How much worse can this fiasco get?"

Let me tell you!

THE PILOT HAD TO NAVIGATE THE AIRPORT IN REVERSE IN ORDER TO GET TO THE RUNWAY. I SHIT YOU NOT! They actually had to drive the plane BACKWARDS... ALL THE WAY TO THE FUCKING RUNWAY! That's how much room there is in the tarmac backwater where they are piling up planes to bus us to.

You can't make this stuff up.

Just another layover at lovely SeaTac airport.

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Gamers Club Locked

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Dave!Well, boo! Last week got an email from Best Buy saying that their "Gamers Club Unlocked" program is ending. I haven't been buying many video games the last couple years... preferring to spend my money on woodworking tools... but the 20% off you get from the club was great. Whenever there was a game I wanted, I'd wait for there to be a price drop or sale, then take the 20% off of the reduced price so I could actually afford it. Because, seriously, the $50 to $60 that games cost now-a-days is crazy. 20% off of $30 ($24) is much more my speed.

Oh well. I probably shouldn't be spending money on video games anyway. I've got plenty of games to last me.

The bummer is that I've got all these Best Buy rewards certificates I was saving up for the Next Big Game. Because paying $0 is even better than paying $24.

And by "Next Big Game" I'm guessing the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening which looks plastic cartoony and wonderful...

What's truly remarkable is how they updated everything, but stayed true to the original and made it look so familiar...

So cool. And boy does that bring back video games memories.

But more on video games tomorrow...

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Video Game Switch-Up

Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Dave!I've been a fan of video games for as long as video games existed.

It all started in the 70's when my family was eating at Mr. Geno's Pizza and they had a Pong machine that you could play from your table on a television that was mounted in the corner. It was magical being able to turn a knob and actually control something displayed on the TV. I ended up wanting to eat at Mr. Gino's a lot.

Flashing forward... I was on a field trip to coast where we were on a ferry boat for some reason (I can't remember why or where we were going). This is where I saw Space Invaders for the first time. It was a lot of money to play... 25¢... but it was worth every penny.

Flashing forward... All I wanted was an Atari 2600 so I could play video games at home. My parents obliged me for my birthday... or Christmas... or something... and it was all I wanted to do.

Flashing forward... All I wanted was an Atari 800 computer... not so I could learn how to program one, but because I wanted to play Star Raiders.

Flashing forward... The neighboring big city gets an actual video arcade. The local pizza joint installs video games. I spend my 80's playing Q*Bert, Donkey Kong, and loads of others.

Flashing forward... And video games have been a huge part of my life. I've owned an insane number of home/handheld consoles over the years...

Flashing forward... Though I owned a PS4, Xbobx One, and a Wii U, I rarely played them because I never had time. Most all my video games were played while traveling, which meant they were played on my Nintendo 3DS. A system I loved so much that I upgraded to the 3DS XL the minute it became available.

Then the Nintendo Switch was released...

At first I mostly ignored Switch because I already had two consoles I was ignoring. But then I started spending more and more time waiting in hospitals and doctor offices with my mom throughout 2017, and the idea of playing console games on-the-go was too good to be true. So I traded in my PS4 and Xbox One and got one.

It's not as powerful as a PS4 or Xbox One... not by a long shot... but you can play games in the palm of your hands that are full-on console-quality and that's pretty amazing. Then you can also dock it to your television and play there as well. And the transition is seamless. Like the above commercial demonstrates, you can start playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the plane as a handheld, then come home and dock it to pick up exactly where you left off. And the games look pretty good either way.

What's surprising is that the Switch dock doesn't have any expanded hardware in it. When you are using the Switch's built-in screen for handheld, it's running at 720p. When you dock to your television it can run up to 1080p, and it's all coming off of the Switch unit. Given how ridiculously small the system is, that's a pretty incredible feat.

Now, when it comes to games, I'm not at all hardcore. My favorite thing to do is to sit back and play the latest LEGO video game. They're relatively easy and a lot of fun. Just what I need to kick back, relax, and forget the world. And because this is as taxing as my gaming gets, I'm Nintendo's core demographic... and the ideal candidate for the Switch. But things have taken a surprising turn. The hardware is powerful enough that some decidedly non-Nintendo-ish titles are being released. Including critically acclaimed games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and my most favorite game on the Switch, Diablo III: The Eternal Collection....

Diablo III on Nintendo Switch
And, yes, I ended up buying the blue/red version of the Switch*

It's a flawless translation. It looks wonderful in handheld or console mode. It plays like a dream no matter how much chaos is on the screen. I have no idea how they managed to do such a good job, but it's a joy to play. And I've played it a lot since it was released last November.

Do I miss my PS4 and Xbox One? Kinda. The buttery smooth 60fps, hi-res graphics and raw power of those consoles makes video games a complete dream to play... but Nintendo's plan to sacrifice power for portability is a good one. There is nothing quite like playing Diablo III on an airplane at 30,000 feet. Especially since that's about the only place I have time for video games now-a-days.

So thanks for that, Nintendo!

   
*When I first saw the Switch, I was horrified by the lopsided blue/red color scheme. But when it came time to buy the thing, I passed over the grey/grey version because I decided I liked the colorful one after all. It's just so unique and pretty.

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There Ain’t No Money In The Cure

Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Dave!Annnnnd...

...I have a cold. If that's the worse thing I caught on the plane, I'll be grateful (considering we're in the middle of a measles epidemic here in Washington State).

That being said, why in the heck haven't scientists come up for a cure for the common cold yet? Oh yeah, that's right...

There ain't no money in the cure. The money's in the medicine.

Not that it makes any difference. If they came out with an immunization that prevented colds tomorrow, there would still be people taking a pass because fucking Jenny McCarthy told them that vaccinations cause autism or some other crazy shit. Which is why we're in the middle of a measles epidemic!

Stupid Fucking Jenny McCarthy

Enjoy your preventable diseases, everybody.

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Afternoons with Jake

Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Dave!In order to be able to take time off to go to Vegas, I had to work obscenely long hours the week before I left. Because I had to work obscenely long hours, I was sleep-deprived and my body was run down. Because I was run down, my immune system was compromised. And because my immune system was compromised, I got sick on my flight to/from Las Vegas.

It has been pretty bad. So bad that I've only been able to work part-days since returning. The rest of the time I've been plopped down on the couch watching television with my cats. But mostly Jake...

Sick at Home with Jake

Jenny is easily spooked and would run away when I'd cough or blow my nose. Jake is somehow able to ignore it. Kinda like with the vacuum cleaner.

The good news is that I'm all caught up on my shows.

The bad news is that I'm going to have to start working late so I can get caught up on the work I missed while I was sick.

The vicious circle continues.

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Caturday 97

Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Dave!Like most people with cats, I do what I can to keep them amused. I put cat trees in the windows so they can look out. I buy all kinds of toys. I put scratching posts everywhere. I built a catio so they can go outside. And I play with them when I can find time.

But Jake and Jenny are also fairly inventive when it comes to entertaining themselves. Which mostly involves them chasing each other all around the house.

Jake's latest entertainment? Climbing up to the top perch in the catio, knocking icicles off the roof, then running down and playing with any pieces that landed inside the catio...

Jenny doesn't like the racket, but will gladly go out and play with any ice on the ground once the commotion is over.

The icicles on the catio are pretty small. They don't have the water volume to get very big, so they're not much of a danger. The icicles off the roof, however, are pretty severe. Once Jake and Jenny hear one drop, both cats will rush to the window and hang out for long periods of time waiting for more to drop...

Icicles out my window

Unfortunately, Jake will stare out any window waiting for icicles, even on a side of the house where there are no icicles. My neighbor slams a car door and away he goes, staring not at the neighbors, but at the roof-line...

Jake staring at icicles that don't exist

It's okay that he's not terribly bright, because he's awfully handsome...

Jake looking handsome

Maybe once the icicles are gone, I'll have to see if tossing some ice cubes in the catio will end up being something they want to play with. It's certainly worth a shot because it beats spending money on toys they get bored of in ten minutes.

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Bullet Sunday 501

Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Dave!Don't let Oscar-mania get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Oscar! I stopped watching the Oscars and other award shows years ago. The movies I like best rarely win anything and, given how little weight awards seem to carry in casting, it seems like pointless endeavor anyway. Just an excuse for Hollywood to congratulate itself in a pricey spectacle that seems to award based on factors outside of actual talent. Suffice to say I want Black Panther to win as many awards as possible (even though it will be passed over for Best Picture by The Favourite or (more likely) yet another white savior tale with Green Book. I am also pulling for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to win for Best Animated Feature. Other than that? =yawn=.

   
• WAKANDA FOREVER! One bit I did see from The Oscars was this hilarious intro of Black Panther by Trevor Noah...

But it gets better. Not soon after the video was posted, I ran across this...

The real translation is 'white people don't know I'm lying' ahahahahahahahahahaha

Xhosa is a fascinating language. And every time I hear it, I think of this video I saw years ago which attempts to explain the sounds...

Things like this makes me love this planet. How exciting is it that there's so much incredible diversity out there waiting to be discovered?

   
• Whiskey! While I did not watch The Oscars, I most certainly watched Whiskey Cavalier which followed The Oscars...

Whiskey Cavalier Poster

I was not disappointed. It's kinda a James-Bond-ish spy show with some humor and a darn good cast. Time will tell if they fall into the trap of having to two lead characters fall in love (which is always when things go terribly, terribly wrong). Hopefully if they do jump that shark, it will happen later rather than sooner, because I'd like to enjoy it for a while longer.

   
• Oh Captain! While I am absolutely dying to see Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, I think I'm even more excited for Captain Marvel to be released next month. Everything about it looks amazing, and the fact that Carol Danvers will play a big part in Endgame is interesting to me. And speaking of Captain Marvel... I really wanted the original one-sheet movie poster that was released, but couldn't find it available for a sane price anywhere. It was Wonder Woman all over again, where I wanted the gorgeous pre-release poster but could only find it second-market for obscene amounts of money. I think they were under printed because "women super-heroes won't sell," which is really a shame. But then I was looking to see if there were any pre-orders available for Spider-Man: Far From Home when I saw that both posters had gotten a second printing! Sweet! Now they're both hanging in my upstairs hallway where they belong...

Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman hanging in my hallway

Such amazing colors in both of them! So happy that they were reprinted at something I could afford.

   
• Curiosity! The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were incredible feats of engineering that exceeded their projected lifespan or two years by quite a wide margin. Spirit ran for 6 years and traveled nearly 5 miles. Opportunity ran for 14 years and traveled nearly 28 miles. And then there's Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still running. Or so NASA thinks. On its most recent reboot, the poor thing went into an unexpected "safe mode" and engineers had to get that straightened out...

Curiosity Mars Rover

Curiosity Mars Rover

Personally? I think it was a moment of silence to honor the end of Opportunity's mission, which NASA called on February 12th after it had gone silent since June 10th last year. Great job, buddy. Hopefully humans will get to visit you one day.

   
• Pika! I've never been into Pokémon that much (despite enjoying Pokémon Let's Go on the Switch), but I gotta say... I'm looking forward to Detective Pikachu on May 10th...

Probably because they gave him Ryan Reynold's voice and rendered all the Pokémon so brilliantly. One more interesting-looking movies in a string of interesting-looking movies for 2019. With some exceptions, of course...

Will Smith as Genie in the live-action Disney's Aladdin movie

Absolutely no idea how Disney's Aladdin is going to pan out. By and large I haven't been enjoying the live-action remakes that much, but this one looks like the diciest translation yet.

   
And the award for best bullets goes to...

   

The Real Green-Book

Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2019

Dave!Last night the Oscar for Best Picture went (unsurprisingly) to Green Book, yet another "white savior" film where stories detailing the lives of Black people are told through the lens of the white people who "rescued them" from racism and made life better for the entire Black race because of it. It's a trope that's been done to death, but Hollywood just can't seem to help themselves.

Whether it's a story of outright theft, as in The Help where a young white woman "liberates" Black servants in the 1960's by publishing their stories in her best-selling book (the story of which was stolen in real-life too)... or real events being reframed, as in 42 where Jackie Robinson's story is snatched away from him to be viewed from the perspective of the white Major League Baseball executive who decided to integrate the sport (and his white teammates who overcame their prejudices to accept him as a player)... or the unforgivable revisionist history in Hidden Figures where white Kevin Costner rips down a "whites only" sign on the bathroom so Katherine Johnson didn't have to run across campus to pee (something that never fucking happened)... it's a tired trend of making white people the hero in the lives of Black heroes when the actual stories are compelling enough as they are.

In the case of the Oscar-winning film Green Book, we get the story of real-life Black pianist great Don Shirley hiring a racist white chauffeur to drive him for a concert tour. Something which would be a great story, right? Except it ends up being the story of how Don Shirley's driver overcame his racism to build a friendship with him instead, making the white guy the hero of the movie. Because of course he was. Getting a movie about Don Shirley told from the perspective of Don Shirley is apparently asking too much. That film wouldn't get an Oscar for Best Picture because white voters wouldn't have somebody to root for (Black Panther had white Agent Ross, but he was only a minor hero in the movie... if Marvel wanted Black Panther to be a real Oscar contender, they apparently should have told T'Challa's story from the perspective of the white guy and how he saved all of Wakanda).

But I digress...

I'm not holding my breath that we'll get a major motion picture about Don Shirley from Don Shirley's perspective, but tonight on The Smithsonian Channel we did get a documentary on The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which inspired the name of the big budget film that did see release...

The Green Book Guide to Freedom Poster

Titled The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the documentary is a terrific exploration of the "travel and survival book" for African-Americans who dared to travel during a time when traveling while Black was a potentially life-ending experience. Stay out too late in the wrong city with the wrong color of skin, and it could mean your death. Something that we like to think happened hundreds of years ago in this country... but "Sundown Towns" were still in existence into the 1960's... less than 60 years ago. Meaning that there are people alive today who survived this horrific segregation brutality first-hand (and some of them are interviewed in this program).

If you have the opportunity to see it, The Green Book Guide to Freedom gets my highest possible recommendation.

NOTE: The documentary is excellent, must-see material that's well worth your valuable time. As of this writing, iTunes has it available for FREE and I think other streaming services may be giving it away as well.

NOTE: Another resource I enjoyed was this article from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture which has links to digitized copies of The Green-Book as well as a US map where locations have been mapped out... and even a Green-Book travel planner tool!

The first I had heard of The Green-Book was when I was visiting one of the best museums I've ever seen... The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They explained that away-games for Black players was often a difficult ordeal given that there may not be restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other kind of services available between cities (or even in the city once you got there). Everything had to be meticulously planned, and even then you could still end up in danger if a bus broke down or some other pitfall ensued.

As I was reading about this abhorrent concept, I overheard a couple nearby talking about "The Green-Book." I had never heard of it before, so I investigated further on Wikipedia when I got back to my hotel...

Cover for the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

I found out that it's essentially an AAA Guide with a specific audience in mind. Namely, Black motorists during the time of segregation. Inside you get a list of African-American friendly hotels, restaurants, and other businesses designed to make travel safer and more enjoyable...

Page from the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

Page from the 1940 Edition of the Negro Motorist Green-Book

As explained on The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the books often-times had editorials and articles that went beyond travel, delving into civil rights issues of the day. As also explained on the program, the book was created in the hopes that one day it wouldn't be needed. Ultimately creator Victor Hugo Green got his wish, and the final issue was published the year I was born, 1966. Sadly Green died in 1960, four years before the Civil Rights Act came into being and six years before his book ceased publication.

Not that the end of segregation was the end of segregation. South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster infamously refused to give up his all-white country club membership when he took office... just two years ago in 2017. Not to mention a president who has said white nationalists have some very fine people in their ranks. Apparently to some people, The Negro Motorist Green-Book was not a symbol of escaping oppression but a symbol of "the good ol' days." Which kinds of puts that whole "Make America Great Again" bullshit into proper perspective, doesn't it?

Seek out The Smithsonian Channel's The Green Book Guide to Freedom. You'll be glad you did.

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Raccoon Patrol

Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Dave!Well, the family of raccoons were back last night. Though this time I only counted three instead of the five that showed up last time.

Usually when another cat wanders by the catio, Jake and Jenny are dashing for the kitty-door at top speed so they can confront whomever is invading their territory. But when it's raccoons, Jake is perfectly happy to watch them pass from the comfort and safety of inside the house...

Once the gaze had passed, Jake went dashing out to make sure they were really gone, which had me all kinds of worried. What if they came back and took a swipe at him? After the problems with his urinary tract last year, I was not anxious for yet another emergency visit to the vet for a rabies check. He spent the rest of the night wandering between all the windows to make sure the danger didn't return. By the time I went to bed at 1:30am, the poor guy was thoroughly tuckered out and fell fast asleep next to me within minutes.

Jenny, meanwhile, was obliviously sleeping in the guest bedroom... never appreciating that Jake was protecting her from the threat of DEATH BY RACCOON.

I can't fathom what raccoons find to eat this time of year. And I notice that they're noticeably thinner than last time. Hopefully it's not scarcity of food that's driven them from where they normally live. Thanks to Jake, Jenny, and Fake Jake, I have my hands full caring for enough animals already.

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Surviving Hump Day

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Dave!I have been existing in a drug-induced limbo state.

I need to catch up on work, but I can't go into the office as sick as I am. So I take loads of medications which will allow me to function. But overdosing on the meds that allows me to function makes me sick to my stomach. So I work in a haze all day then end up nauseated all night. Then have to take a bunch of nighttime meds so I can even attempt to get some sleep.

It's a horrendous game of catch-22 where I get sick from the thing that makes it so I can deal with being sick.

And yet... until the weekend, I don't really have much choice.

Here's to surviving hump-day.

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Shoveling After Midnight

Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Dave!This has been a weird, wacky winter.

To begin with, our snow came late this year. For a while I was worried that we were in for a drought come summertime because there wasn't much of a snow pack in the mountains. After a couple false starts, the snow came down in earnest, and now it's piled up like a "normal" winter here.

Except...

We keep getting warm spells in-between the snowfalls. Warm blue skies will pop up, things will start to melt, you'll think that winter is over... and then it snows again.

Last night as I was watching television there was a rumble coming from the catio. When I looked out the window, I saw that a pile of snow had fallen off the roof, obliterating the path that Fake Jake uses to get to his food and bathroom spot. At first I thought I'd write a note to remind me to shovel it out in the morning... but then I felt bad if poor Fake Jake had to pee in the middle of the night, so I grabbed my snow shovel from the trunk of my car and headed out back to get to work.

Except I couldn't open the door...

Catio Icicles at Midnight

Because of all the warm days, the catio screen door was blocked. The water drips off the roof down these massive icicles, forming a pile of ice in front of the door. Making it impossible to open. So instead I had to trudge through snow all the way around the house so I could even get to my patio...

Me Shoveling at Midnight

Then I had to trudge back to get a hammer. The icicles were so big that I couldn't snap them off or break them with my shovel. Instead I had to get a hammer and chip away at them. The last thing I want is for Fake Jake to be walking there and have icicles fall and impale the poor guy.

My neighbors probably didn't appreciate my banging away after midnight, but it was all for a worthy cause.

This coming summer I need to work on clearing a pathway under my eaves to make it easier for Fake Jake to navigate in the winter. Right now it's all rocks, which are difficult to walk on, so I need to come up with something different. I also need to see about adding some kind of overhang to my pergola plans so that there's no ice buildup outside the catio. Some kind of snow removal tool in the design would be good too.

Ugh. I hope spring gets here soon so I have time to get everything done that I need to do before next winter rolls around.

   

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