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Wednesday is for Burger Breakfast

Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Dave!I had to wake up fairly early this morning to check into work. Once I had some things handled, I had time for a leisurely shower and... surprise surprise... breakfast!

Beside myself with joy at the prospect of being able to actually have breakfast for once, I tried to think of what I wanted to eat. All that came into my head was the Fatburger I had when I arrived on Monday night. It was everything I could want in a meal. I thought I would look up Fatburger's hours to see if there was time to stop on my way to the airport.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only is Fatburger open 24/7... they are serving burgers all hours of the day and night!

Fatburger Veggie Burger for breakfast it was...

Fatburger Breakfast!

It was everything I dreamed it would be.

The weather has been really nice these past couple days. Warm and breezy, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It's almost enough to make me want to stay a couple more days. Almost.

This time around I'm staying at New York New York because it's where my friends were staying. It's also close enough to my work that I could walk instead of taking pricey taxis. It's a pretty nice hotel, even if the rooms are fairly basic. It certainly has my favorite skyline of all the Vegas Strip hotels...

New York New York Hotel in Las Vegas on a Sunny Day!

My room was in that light orange tower, fourth from the right. I was actually on the North side facing The Park... something I didn't know until I finally looked out the window this morning...

New York New York Coaster Out My Window!

Two things...

1) I kept hearing "wooshing" sounds and assumed it was the wind. Turns out it's the roller coaster. The occasional sounds of people screaming were not people whooping it up on The Strip... but people riding said coaster.

2) The Park MGM hotel used to be The Monte Carlo. At the very top there is a "hotel within a hotel" with luxury suites that used to be called "Hotel32." I note that now the "hotel within a hotel" has been renamed "NoMad." I've actually been up there when it was Hotel32 and it was pretty spectacular (seriously, Google for photos of it). I can't imagine what it must look like after the remodel.

   
And now I'm at the airport waiting to fly home. As if that wasn't good enough news, I was upgraded to First Class for the flight home (which is pretty cool considering I was upgraded to First on the way down too...

First Class Upgrade!

   
And now it's time to head home so I can drive home!

   

Thursday is for Shitty Sonic Fries

Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Dave!It's not like I can say my life is boring... I have been lucky enough to travel the world, meet interesting people, and do really cool stuff... but when I'm not doing that my life is as mundane as it gets. Oftentimes I question why people read this blog* when most of the time all I've got going on in my life is cats.

Take today for example.

I woke up at 5:30am, which is about average. I then check my personal email, see what's happening with my East Coast Facebook peeps, then check my work email. At 7:00am Alexa alerts the cats that it's breakfast time, so we all go downstairs where I feed them. I then do household cleaning and chores until around 8:00am when I hop in the shower and get ready for work. I am usually out the door around 8:30-ish for my 7-minute walk to the office.

I try to be out of the office at 4:00 (today I left at 4:10) and walk back home.

Today there was some excitement when I spotted an old cat with patches of fur missing walking through several yards until it decided to rest on somebody's porch (no idea if that's where home is)...

Old Cat Taking a Walk!

Once I got home at 4:20, I worked until Alexa chimed for the cat's dinner at 6:00pm. Since I received a notice from Home Depot that my carpet squares had arrived, I decided to run to The Big City (20 minutes away) and pick them up. Afterwards I wanted to have fries for dinner, but was too tired to make them by hand. I was going to drive to McDonalds, but Sonic was closer so I went there.

Huge mistake.

I rarely go to Sonic because they don't have vegetarian options. I only go there when they are having an ice cream promo or some kind of drink special. I've never had their fries before. AND I WILL NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN! Holy crap! They were not very fresh, barely warm... AND THEY WERE GUMMY! As in, you had to chew through their saggy, bleak texture in a way that is usually reserved for gummy bears. And then there's my OREO Sonic Blast (AKA a McFlurry). The first third of the cup was as expected. A good distribution of OREO pieces that were large enough that they tasted like OREO. The second third was just OREO crumbs. Just a dust, really. And the final third? NOTHING! NO OREO AT ALL!

OREO-Free OREO Blast from Sonic!

How the fuck did Sonic get to be "America's Drive-In?" Their half-assed food is a blight on the entire country!

Oh.

Never mind.

Anyway... I head home and immediately get to work carpeting my Cat Bannister Tray when I arrive around 7:10pm. The squares were way thin, but surprisingly nice considering how cheap they were. The good news is that I have lots of spares if my cats decide to destroy the ones I installed...

Carpeted Cat Banister Tray

And that was that.

At some point I'll build the cat-stairs up to it so it's safer for Jake and Jenny to get up there... add a shelf under the upper window so I won't go out of my mind with worry when Jenny leaps up there (nearly two full stories above the stairs below!)... and then my project will be completed. At least until I think of something else to add to it.

Around 7:40pm I threw a load of clothes in the wash then finished up a work project a little after 9:00pm.

Then it was clothes in the dryer, catching up on television, clothes out of the dryer, and I was in bed at 11:30pm so I can blog this then start it all over again tomorrow.

Thrilling, I know.

But hey, not every day can be an expedition to Antarctica.

   
*Yes, people actually do visit this blog. A lot. The interactivity I had from the heyday of blogging is long gone, but my wide variety of topics and daily updates means that Google sends scores of people here every day. Though it's not all search results... most days the number of people coming here directly is fairly substantial. No, I don't know why. You tell me!

   

Friday is for Thrice and Art

Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Dave!Hey!

Have you heard?

The latest issue of Thrice Fiction has been released! And you can read it online (or download it as a PDF) absolutely FREE! To see a bunch cool stories and terrific art for the bargain price of free-fitty-free, just click here and enjoy!

Thrice Fiction No. 25 Cover!

This issue's cover features our raccoon mascot and was lovingly painted by the ever-talented Kyra Wilson!

As always, I'm going to take a minute to talk about the art that I created for the issue. This may involve spoilers, so it's probably best that you read it before proceeding!

Alright?

Alright!

The first piece I created is for the story Convenience by Gregory Wolos. In the story a couple loses their dog "Bark" and all they have left is his collar. Since this happens almost immediately in the story, I didn't think it would be spoiling anything to use that in the image...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

This is a stock photo of a collar that I combined with a stock photo of a name tag (which I had to erase then "engrave" myself) that I then Photoshopped on a formica countertop stock photo so I could add shadows. My goal was to have something look fairly realistic so that it reflected the very real stuff going on in the story.

   
This next piece for the story Last Wednesday by Djanaina Salamon was not something I felt that I should take on myself. It specifically speaks to experiences of a Black woman, and I felt if needed that voice for the accompanying artwork. I tracked down an artist that was a good fit, but it fell through. I tried to get a replacement, but that fell through. And so... the night before we went to press... I pulled out my laptop to paint something myself...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

I used Adobe Illustrator and the brush pallet to "finger-paint" the image, which I wanted to look a bit raw and abstract... but still capture a sense of beauty. The idea here is that she's burning with righteous fury over the microaggressions and other daily injustices that would probably drive a white person insane if we experienced even a fraction of it. I didn't want the fire to be actual fire... that just reads as "anger" to me. I wanted it to appear "holy," in a sense, so that it could be interpreted as "righteous." So I decided to make it silver. I also decided to make it be more of a "glow" than wild flames, so it didn't seem like the woman was out of control. There had to be an internal strength there. Originally, her hair was much shorter... but then I got the idea to make an afro which was a perfect circle, like a halo around her head. In the end, I'm happy with the illustration... but I still struggle as to whether it was appropriate for a white guy to try and interpret something he will never have to experience. I really wish I could have found an artist better suited. But I was my only option if we wanted to make deadline. Such is the life of an art director.

   
For the story Away, Away by past Thrice Fiction contributor MaryAnne Kolton, I wanted to come up with something which illustrated what I perceived to be the essence of the story. It's the story of a woman thought of as weak and inconsequential by her abusive husband... a "dead fish" as he refers to her... who has to find the strength to do the unthinkable...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

MaryAnne was specific as to the firearm used in the story... a Phoenix Arms Semi-Automatic Pistol... and I wanted to be accurate in my illustration. A stock photo of a dead fish was easy to find. But I couldn't find the right pistol at the right angle which could be used. So I called my brother, who works at a gun shop in Montana to see if he could help me out. He didn't have one. But a friend of his happened to walk in that did have one, so I had him prop it up against something of fish-height and send me a photo. I then composited them in Photoshop, painted over everything (being sure that "Phoenix Arms" was visible), adjusted the colors to be almost monotone and bleak, then ran it through some filters until I had what I was looking for.

   
Ali Azar's story A Drifted Sorrowful Soul was dense with imagery I could pull from... but I couldn't get the idea of a young Iranian boy being inundated with images from the television out of my head. At first I was just going to illustrate it like out of a children's book. But I bristled at the idea of taking such a serious subject and reducing it to a kiddie illustration, so I took my drawing and cut out textures as shapes that I could paste over it...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

Every piece of the illustration is a texture except the Iranian flag, which is the real deal (but not really, because you can't see the center identifying mark). As you can imagine, this took a long, long time to construct. But the result is what I was looking for so I guess it's worth it. Kinda childlike... but "real" in the sense that the textures are all real.

   
For Paul Beckmans awesome bit of flash, it was critical to not give the ending away, which is what makes it so great. So I grabbed an image from the front-end of the story of a running dog and used that. In order to throw readers off balance and make it so they couldn't possibly guess what the story was about, yet be compelled to read it so they could understand what was going on in the picture, I intentionally drew something goofy and simplistic...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

I then added old-fashioned halftone dots to the image to make it look like something out of a comic book. For no other reason than I love the story and the illustration I came up with amuses me, this is my favorite work in this issue.

   
For the cross-spread story of Larry, Said a Voice from Inside by Frank Candeloro, I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. The thing that sets everything in motion... a dying cellphone battery...

THRICE FICTION artwork!

To match the previous page, I rendered it in the exact same style. Nothing round. All angles. Despite the simplicity, I love how it turned out.

   
And there you have my artistic contributions to Issue No. 25 of Thrice Fiction Magazine. If you haven't already, please do check it out... it's FREE, after all.

   

Caturday 107

Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2019

Dave!I'm pretty sure that Jake thinks his name is "Where is Jenny" and Jenny thinks her name is "Where is Jakey Bear." Heaven only knows why I keep asking... they never tell me where their sibling is... but I guess it makes me feel like a concerned parent to ask.

Speaking of being a concerned parent... Jake seems to have (mostly) healed from his tumble off the banister. His limp is very slight now, and sometimes disappears altogether. Hopefully the new Cat Banister Tray will prevent this from happening again.

Even if his physical state is getting back to normal, I'm afraid Jake's mental state is not being so quick to return. He is far more jumpy than he used to be. He also is far more clingy than he used to be. It used to be that my cats left after I fell asleep, but now Jake is with me most of the time I'm home... including when I'm sleeping.

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

He's pretty much stuck to me like glue...

Jake Stuck to Me Like Glue!

The good news is that Jake is considerably more agreeable to getting Furminated now...

Jake Getting Brushed with the Furminator!

   
As for Jenny? She's doing great.

She spends most of her time out in the catio chasing bugs and watching birds parade around the back yard...

Jenny Paws at My Jeans!

Jenny Paws at My Jeans!

She still likes to spend time clawing at my jeans...

Jenny Paws at My Jeans!

And she still likes to stare me down each morning until it's breakfast time...

Jenny Paws at My Jeans!

And she still likes hiding in places... even though she's not very good at it...

Jenny Paws at My Jeans!

She also likes to shed a metric ton of cat hair every week... but I'm sure she feels bad about it.

And, lastly this Caturday, I ran across this video and liked it so much I was compelled to share it...

Awwwwwwww!

See you next Caturday!

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Bullet Sunday 510

Posted on Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Dave!It's Cinco de Mayo! It's also great day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Chewy! Peter Mayhew, most famous for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies passed away this week. He sounded like a wonderful, generous man...

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca!

Rest in peace, sir. You crafted a character that captured my imagination and made me love a walking carpet.

   
• Mattress Wars! This is some shady shit right here...

I never trust online review sites. I rarely trust reviews on any site. Unless it's coming from somebody I know and/or trust, it's just bullshit noise. And yet... I still read them in an attempt to be informed as to my purchases. =shrugs=.

   
• Boca? Last year Kraft abandoned their Original Boca Burgers and Vegan Boca Burgers. They instead came out with a new "Boca Burger" which is nothing like the original despite still saying "original" on the box. It tastes like shit. The Vegan burger was discontinued entirely. Recently on their Facebook page, they unleashed this steaming pile of bullshit...

Our consumers told us that their experiences with our vegan burger were better represented by a turkey burger. With this new insight, we renovated our vegan burger to better deliver on taste, texture, and flavor under the new “Turk’y Burger” banner.

Vegans no longer want a vegan burger, they want a turkey-tasting burger? Yeah that sounds like it totally happened. Now that Kraft has completely abandoned all the things people loved about the Original and Vegan Boca Burgers, hopefully some other company will step in and make an ACTUAL Original Boca-inspired burger that people actually want to eat. Personally, I think Kraft is run by lying pieces of shit who just wanted to make a cheaper burger, didn't give a crap if it tasted nothing like a Boca Burger, then decided to sell it with outrageous levels of lying. Whatever. Not buying it. Go fuck yourself, Kraft. Why buy Boca Burger if you weren't interested in making Boca Burgers?

   
• Chalk! I ran across this video on chalk, of all things, and found it more interesting than I thought I could...

I haven't used a chalkboard for decades. But after watching this? I have an overwhelming desire to get me some Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk and write on one! Probably cost me $5 to buy a stick, but apparently it's an experience that needs to be had.

   
• Deep Sky! I've professed my love of all things GigaPan more than a couple times. But now they've got something really interesting going on. They've combined thousands of photos from a tiny area of sky about the size of the moon in the sky. The result? A Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

This is so cool...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

And zoom...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

And zoom...

Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!

Yeah, you'll want to head over to the GigaPan site to play with this yourself. It is positively astounding the number of galaxies that can be found in such a small section of our sky. Google says that the average number of stars in a galaxy is 250 billion ± 150 billion.

   
• Follow the Money! Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows of all time, which is why it's so great that it's getting revisited. First with a movie... now with a new series from Hulu...

Here's hoping that it's the first of many new seasons!

   
• Boo Pricing! Recently Hulu lowered their prices. Apparently they understand that with so much new streaming competition that they need to be competitive. Netflix, on the other hand, is taking the opposite tact. Recently when I visited their site I was forced to accept their new pricing before they would even let me access the content that I pay for...

Netflix Price Increase!

Well... let's see... Netflix has canceled all the Marvel shows (the reason I signed up in the first place), so I suppose this is where I tell them to take their price increase and go fuck themselves with it. Except... they do add a comedy special I enjoy from time to time. So I guess my solution will be to drop the service, then pick it up for a month a couple times a year. Maybe if everybody does this, they'll get the fucking message. Because, sure, I love having original content (when it's good) but there's a limit as to how much I can afford to spend on it.

   
• Thrones! The first part of this episode was exactly what it needed to be... the calm before the storm. And then the storm began. And while the result of the initial encounter was tragic and earlier than expected, it WAS expected. There are a list of things that really must happen before the story ends. And we're almost there. So now it's all about the unknowns. There's things you'd like to happen. Things you'd hate to happen. Things that, hopefully, unexpectedly happen. And two episodes left for it all to happen in. Hopefully in way that makes sense, which the back-end of this episode really did not. Does nobody ride ahead and make sure that your way is safe any more? Insanity.

   
• It's Not Me It's You! Last Sunday HBO unleashed an episode of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. It was a massive battle that had been building for years, and was an epic sight to behold. At least it would have been had they not filmed it so fucking dark that you couldn't see a damn thing. It was a horrific mess. Even when there was light enough to see something, they filmed it so close that you still couldn't tell what was going on. Needless to say, a lot of fans were extremely pissed off. Now the cinematographer for the episode said that It's not Me, It's Your TV Settings. Which is a load of shit, of course. I have a high-end 4K television and a fiber internet connection. I black out my entire living room when watching. This is NOT my fucking fault... or that of my internet... or that of my television... or that of my viewing environment.

Thrones Too Dark!

The cinematographer's job was to create media which could be displayed and understood in the way that people would be consuming it. Namely, streaming over the internet with compression, limited gamut, and a normal television. Not in an idealized fantasy theater with Blu-Ray 4K Ultra HD signal and a $15,000 OLED TV. Which means he completely, utterly, and totally failed to do his job. And fuck him for saying otherwise. My hope is that HBO will listen to their customers and spend the money to re-key the lighting, then rebroadcast it so people can actually see the shit. If not? Fuck them too.

   
And that's all he wrote for bullets this week. Tune in next week when I'll try to find more to complain about!

   

Rabbits, Discarded and Unloved

Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019

Dave!This morning I put in three hours working at home before I walked to work, so I was already exhausted by the time I left the house. Apparently I'm better driving while exhausted over walking while exhausted because I kept tripping over stuff. Rocks, roots, raised seams in the sidewalk... getting my exercise in today is a dangerous business.

But then, at the half-way mark, I had a heart-stopping moment that caused me to wake right up.

As I started rounding a corner, I saw a rabbit in the middle of the road...

Bunny in the Road!

This is a very busy corner and, despite distracted driving laws, I regularly see people driving while texting. Driving while putting on makeup. Driving while eating a bowl of cereal. My instinct was to rush into the street and see if I could block traffic until the rabbit had a chance to get wherever it was going. But then I worried he would get scared and run away from me into oncoming traffic. So I decided to walk around it while recording video... because if some texting asshole were to run him over as I was trying to flag them down, I wanted to have footage I could use to turn them into the police.

And then a bus started barreling around the corner and I held my breath because I had no idea what their visibility might be.

But, much to my delight, the bus stopped. Cars coming from the opposite direction stopped. And the bunny ran back to the (relative) safety of the yard from whence he came...

Bunny in the Road!

As I walked along the sidewalk, I scoped out the bushes in the yard to see if I could see him. Sure enough...

Bunny in the Bushes!

I've lived in this town since I was five. I've seen bunnies in the wilds surrounding the town... but I've never seen a rabbit walking around civilization like this. My hope is that this is an anomaly, and he just got lost or something.

I really hope that some asshole didn't buy a rabbit for their kids at Easter then decide it was too much work so they just kicked it to the curb. I read about this happening with bunnies and chicks every year around Eastertime, and have to wonder who the fuck could be that big of an asshole. Probably the same people who want to punish poor people for being poor, which is a reoccurring theme in today's political arena. The prevailing thought seems to be that poor people want to be poor. That poor people are lazy and don't want to work. That poor people live like royalty with their free hi-def televisions and mobile phones. That poor people are to blame for high taxes. That poor people get all the breaks while honest hard-working people get none. That poor people don't deserve healthcare or places to live or food to eat... because they're poor.

Of course these same people tend to be the ones that persecute the shit out of our LGBT communities because of a couple passages in the Bible they think tells them it's okay... while completely ignoring the multitude of passages telling them that ignoring those in poverty is most definitely not okay. So I've given up on trying to apply rational thought to crap like this. But I don't blame myself here. Hypocrisy often defies rational thought.

   
Over the weekend I noted that G.I. Jane (a 1997 film starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen) was playing as I cycled through TV channels. I've always liked this film and have never understood the contempt that critics have for it. Demi Moore seemed highly dedicated to the role and did a fine job. Viggo Mortensen's contemptible, yet oddly complex Master Chief is one of the better movie characters I've seen. And Ridley Scott's thoughtful direction, hallmark scene composition, and wonderful cinematography is a beautiful thing to behold...

G.I. Jane Poster!

   
I ended up watching it, of course. Or, to be more accurate, I had it on while I was working. I quickly learned to regret my decision though, because the Ovation TV network is a steaming pile of shit*... but I hadn't seen the film in at least a decade, so I was happy to get to see it again.

One notable thing (for me) about the movie is that it features a poem by one of my favorite poets, D.H. Lawrence. Much like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which features a line from a Lawrence poem along similar lines (Wales Weep Not), it provides a small (yet critical) expansion of the story.

Rumor has it that Viggo Mortensen himself injected it into the film...

This is absolutely remarkable if it's true, because finding out that his speech was a poem called Self-Pity and not just badass rhetoric completely changes everything about the character at the very end of the film in the best possible way...

Self Pity by D.H. Lawrence!

My guess is that rabbits, discarded and unloved, probably feel no self-pity as well.

It's our job as humans to feel pity for them and we are failing miserably.

But not on my walk to work today, thankfully.

   
*What a fucking shitty network Ovation TV is. I swear they air more commercials per hour than any other network I've ever seen... and that's saying something. G.I. Jane has a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ovation is taking THREE HOURS to air it. Which means anything you watch on this laughably pathetic network is ONE THIRD COMMERCIALS! And so... Ovation is being deprogrammed from my DirecTV and I'm never watching this bullshit again. It's things like this that make me want to tell cable and satellite television providers to go fuck themselves. FIRST you have to pay a massive amount of money just to GET the channel... then you have to waste your fucking time watching an abundance of ads. Ad-free streaming direct from the source is the wave of the future... like CBS All Access. If I'm going to pay a shit-load of money to watch television, why pay DirecTV to watch ads?

   

Google Nest Can Just Die Now

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Dave!I have two camera systems for my home. One of them is a system of hidden cameras which records locally and has a battery backup. If somebody cuts my power or cuts the internet or whatever, then I will still have then on camera. The cameras automatically disengage when anybody successfully connects to my internet. So if I'm home (or a guest uses my WiFi internet) they go offline. The other system is my NestCams, which are "cloud-based." Back when I bought them, they were the best-quality cameras I tested. They were also the easiest to set up and maintain. Eventually I came to hate Nest because their billing system is shady and shitty, but the cameras are still pretty great. There are occasional hiccups with accessing them via the pricey "Nest Aware" service, but by-and-large they are fine.

Back in 2014 Google bought out Nest.

At first I was excited because I thought maybe... just maybe... the shitty billing system that Nest has in place would be jettisoned for something that actually works, actually lets you know how much you're being billed, and actually maintains a history that bears some sense of accuracy. Nest had none of those things.

But then today the wheels came off of any excitement I might have had.

I got an email from Google saying that "Nest" is now "Google Nest" and they are making some fairly radical changes to how they run things...

  • You must transition your Nest account to a Google Home account. The Nest accounts will be killed on August 31st. You will then have to use the Google Home app for all admin functions, such as adding/deleting users.
  • The "Works with Nest" program will be discontinued. From now on only "select partners" and other Google Home products will be integrated with your Nest products.
  • Third party access... most notably IFTT integration... has been killed.

Google's reasoning behind this is to make Nest products more secure.

This is complete and total fucking bullshit.

And even if it weren't, it should still be my choice as to how I connect my shit.

Google is making it so other stuff no longer works with their Nest shit because they want you to replace all your other shit with Google shit. As an example (from what I can tell) this means no more Alexa. If you want to voice control your Nest shit, you have to dump Alexa and buy Google Home Hubs instead.

So, basically, the entire reason I bought my NestCams and Nest Protect smoke detectors is gone. No more getting FireTV to display my camera feeds on my television. And no more using IFTTT so I can't interface my cameras and smoke detectors with all my other home automation devices. Which is the entire fucking point of building a SmartHome!

What scares the shit out of me is if Google decides that their WiFi Mesh Network Hubs will no longer allow integration with IFTTT. That's the backbone to my entire system. I would lose at least half of my home automation functionality if they were to do that. There would be no option for me but to replace it with something entirely different.

And it gets worse.

Google is also changing basic functionality of the products. NestCams have a light that glows when somebody is recording or observing the cameras. I've turned this off, because if there's somebody who has broken into my home, I don't want to draw attention to the cameras... the longer a burglar is unaware they are being recorded, the more footage I have for the police. But now Google is no longer going to allow you to do this. The light will be glowing whether you want it to or not... all in the name of my "privacy." Well fuck you, Google. The entire reason I bought these cameras is for HOME SECURITY. If you lessen their effectiveness at doing the one job I bought them for, then you're destroying their whole reason for them even being here.

So now I guess that I hope for a class action lawsuit so I can get my money back and buy an entirely different camera system that works the way I want it to... the way it worked when I bought it... instead of the way Google wants it to work.

   

Lucifer Times Four

Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Dave!One of my favorite shows over the past three years has been Lucifer, which FOX unceremoniously canceled last year. It was unfathomable that such a brilliant, funny, wonderful show didn't attract a massive audience, but that could be true for bunches of shows I love that got chopped.

And then Netflix picked it up for a fourth season and all was well in the world again...

And tonight the ten-episode season dropped and I started binging. Alas, I had to work late so I could start until 9:00pm... but I got five episodes in before 1am!

Such a great show.

Still a great show.

And I can't wait to see where they are going with it.

Thank you, Netflix!

   

Star Trek: Discovery S2

Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Dave!Last night I read and article on ScreenRant which declared that Star Trek: Discover became the most popular streaming show in the world.

When the show first debuted in 2017, I was mesmerized. Here, at long last, was the Star Trek I had been longing for since I first saw the original. I have never cared for any of the Next Generation /slash/ Deep Space Nine /slash/ Voyager /slash/ Enterprise shows. Sure they have their moments, but they weren't Star Trek to me. MY Star Trek has always been Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the gang. Everything that followed was a pale imitation.

But Disco changed all that.

This Star Trek was raw... it was different... it was exceptionally well-cast... it was pushing new ideas, just like The Original Series. And that crazy twist! Holy cats! It wasn't just good Star Trek, it was good television!

A lot of people loved it (obviously) but there were oh so many detractors that hated it. "IT'S NOT STAR TREK!" they cried. Except it so totally was. It's just that it wasn't a continuation of the janky NextGen Star Trek... it went back to when Star Trek was good! Both figuratively and literally! Sure I had some gripes (why reinvent the Klingons yet again?) but, for the most part it was everything I could want in a show... PLUS MICHELLE YEOH!

I was definitely ready for more of that. Then cam Season Two...

Star Trek: Discovery!

Captain Pike? The Enterprise? SPOCK?!???

JUST TAKE MY MONEY, CBS PRIME STREAMING!

While I didn't love it as much as the first season, I did thoroughly enjoy it. And the fact that it (kinda) brought back THE Star Trek was a bonus.

Spoiler Zone!

And now for some thoughts on Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery (SPOILERS, obviously)...

  • As I said, I love Discovery, far more than any of the series that followed the original. The first season was phenomenal, having characters and a story concept that was deliciously epic and fun. That being said, Season 2 story has been a mess that I've found mostly boring. It wandered off in way too many distracting directions that were snooze-inducing, and no attempt to justify this in the finale made it worthwhile.
  • The frustrating thing about being a Disco fan is that the characters are so fantastic, even when the story they occupy is shit. Even the new version of established characters like Captain Pike, Spock, Number One, Vina, etc. The sole exception for me is Tilly, who is so fucking annoying that I want her dead every minute she's on screen. I loathe Tilly, but keep hoping that they will make her work because I love the idea of including somebody on the autism spectrum on the show.
  • In fact, Pike, Spock, and Co. were so great that having another show featuring their time on Enterprise is something I'm dying to see.
  • And Michelle Yeoh's spin-off show cannot come fast enough. Her every moment on screen is absolute magic.
  • Speaking of characters... what a shame that Airiam, one of the most interesting characters to ever appear on the show had to die before they gave her screen time. I wonder if that will be the case for other interesting "background" characters like Owosekun, Detmer, Bryce, and Rhys. I should certainly hope not. At least we got some Saru time this season.
  • That being said... Is Airiam the start of The Borg? Many people think so! I would be thrilled to find out that Airiam is still around in the future and to explore what her connection to The Borg might be.
  • One last note on characters... I purposely left out Tig Notaro's "Jet Reno" because she has to be singled out as one of my favorite Trek characters of all time. Given how little she was on the show, that's really saying something.
  • I remain amazed that the special effects are so incredibly well-done. In some ways, that's a shame though, because it tends to eclipse the mind-bogglingly good job done by other aspects of production. The set design is incredible. The costuming is beyond great. Everything about Discovery screams quality, and they should be very proud of their accomplishments. Particularly the reimagining of the Enterprise. The ship had to be updated lest it ends up looking comical by today's standards, and the result is amazing. The tweaks on the uniforms make them hands-down my favorite of any Trek series ever.
  • The explanation as to why Discovery, the spore drive, and Spock's sister have never been mentioned was kinda a cop-out, but at least they addressed it so the continuity fanboys can shut the fuck up.
  • The time-travel wrap-up was a big-ol' mess, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited about the possibility of Disco being flung into the Star Trek universe future. I mean, what's Starfleet even going to be like then? What alliances will have changed? Is the spore-drive commonplace now? What new species will have been found? The possibilities are truly limitless now that they are not tied to pre-continuity.
  • I hope that we get some fantastic villains in the new season. Granted, following Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh was going to be almost impossible. But the whole "Command" AI computer angle was lame as shit. It got a little interesting when it possessed Leland, but that was too little, way too late.
  • Michael Burnham is almost too good to be true. She is complex, layered, strong, capable, and everything you need to lead a show. Partly thanks to her being written with such purpose, but mostly because Sonequa Martin-Green is just that incredible. For Season 3, I dearly hope that they keep moving her forward. Even when Season 2 was at its most boring, she was still compelling.
  • I hope that they give the captain's chair to Saru. He is such a fantastic character (thank you, Doug Jones!) and I love the idea of a non-Terran finally getting a spotlight on a show.
  • Please, for the love of all things holy, let Tilly be Tilly in Season 3, but stop making her such a scattered disaster. As seen when she was portraying her Mirror Universe counterpart, Tilly is perfectly capable of holding it together and bringing the annoying down to manageable levels. So why the fuck doesn't she? As I said, I love the idea of somebody on the spectrum having representation... but to make her this annoying all the damn time is exhausting. It's a disservice to the character to have her always on the verge of falling apart. Can't she be capable, on the spectrum, AND have a little confidence sometimes? See: The Good Doctor.
  • Speaking of representation and all things annoying... having a gay couple on the show is what Star Trek was made for. But the Stamets/Culber drama after Hugh "came back from the dead" was forced and awful. It made me loathe two characters that I would otherwise like. They wrapped that situation up in a too-pat neat little bow, and I hope it stays that way. Can't there be a couple that is stable and happy for once? They would be so much more interesting if they were.
  • Here's hoping Ash Tyler is a part of the Michelle Yeoh spin-off show, because this is an interesting character that's begging to be explored more. Him becoming head of Section 31 was a great place to leave him.

And that's Star Trek: Discovery Season Two.

I will probably re-watch it in advance of Season Three premiering, but I'm almost positive I'll be re-watching Season One long before that!

Here's to interesting times in Season Three!

AND GIVE US THE PIKE AND SPOCK ENTERPRISE SHOW WE'RE ALL DYING FOR! This is a big part of why Season 2 became the most popular streaming show in the world!

   

Laser PRINCE at PacSci

Posted on Friday, May 10th, 2019

Dave!The Laser Dome at Pacific Science Center (next to the Space Needle) is the largest and longest operating laser dome in the world. It began as the "Spacerium" theater which was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

It's been many years since I've seen a show at the Laser Dome (I've been to Laser FLOYD, Laser BOWIE, and Laser BEATLES). But there was no way I was going to miss their latest show... Laser PRINCE!

Laser PRINCE Banner!

The first thing I noticed that the show was fuller and more colorful than I remember. After a quick check, I found out that they did an upgrade to their system last January and now have nine lasers. This is "the most full color lasers permanently installed in any Laser Dome in America." It would have been nice if they upgraded the sound as well. While it's not terrible, it's far from great.

The setlist was pretty much what you'd expect. All his most popular singalong hits plus a surprise appearance by Sometimes It Snows In April. All I wanted was my favorite Prince track, Raspberry Beret, which was (fortunately) included. So far as laser shows go, this one was pretty good and we had a great time...

Laser PRINCE!

Laser PRINCE!

Laser PRINCE!

Laser PRINCE!

Naturally there was a lot of purple lasers used throughout, until the show closed with Purple Rain. Unfortunately YouTube won't let me embed the audio... but if you've got a browser that can play direct video, you might try this crappy low-quality movie that has the sound still attached...

If you have the opportunity to see Laser PRINCE, and are even a little bit of a fan of his music, I would absolutely go while it's playing. Tickets are $14 now (it was only $10 when I went last!)

After you can go up the Space Needle if you want...

Seattle Space Needle

As we'd been up it many, many times, we elected to skip it this time.

And that's all for Laser PRINCE.

Hoping to get Laser PET SHOP BOYS some day.

   

Caturday 108

Posted on Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Dave!I'm not home with my cats this Caturday. I'm over the mountains spying on them through the security system.

Though I don't really need to spy on them to know what they are up to. Every day is pretty much the same this time of year...

  • 5:30am — Wake up and fret until breakfast time.
  • 7:00am — Breakfast.
  • 7:15am — Post-breakfast bathing and running around.
  • 9:00am — Treats.
  • 9:10am — Sleep.
  • 4:00pm — Wake up because daddy's home (if daddy's home).
  • 6:00pm — Dinner.
  • 6:15pm — Post-dinner bathing and running around.
  • 6:30pm — Nap.
  • 7:30pm — Chasing bugs in the catio.
  • 11:00pm — Sleep.

The catio bug-chasing is a huge deal this time of year. Huge.

Both of them love it, but Jenny obsesses over it. Sometimes she will stay out there past midnight chasing them around...

I feel bad when the bugs aren't out yet, because Jenny is out there alone bravely waiting for them to show up...

Jenny Waiting!

Sometimes she'll come in to hang with me... but then five minutes later a bug will hit the window and she's on high alert...

Jenny Waiting!

Then she's right back at it again.

Jake goes out to the catio often, but a lot of his bug hunting is attempted through the window...

Jake Hunting!

Jake Hunting!

   
As I type this it's 4:30pm and I'm not home, which means they are asleep...

Cats Napping!

Interesting that they both brought a toy to bed. Jenny brought her Dr. Seuss Thing 2 mouse. Jake brought Mufasa (of course)... but he's too big to fit Mufasa in the bed with him (or his foot, apparently).

   
And I guess that's it for Caturday this week.

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Mother’s Day Traveler

Posted on Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Dave!2019 has been surprisingly accommodating considering the milestones it's been racking up for me.

First year without my mom. First Valentine's Day with nobody to buy flowers for. First Birthday Weekend celebration without my friend of 33 years. And now, as advertising will not stop reminding me, first Mother's Day with no mother.

I will be the first to admit, that last one is proving to be tough.

For thirteen years my gift to my mom on Mother's Day was a new vacation. We traveled the globe, visited all kinds of amazing places, and had fun doing it. Recently I was going through all the travel books I made for her as a souvenir. Starting with our 2002 trip to Europe right up through our 2014 safari in Zimbabwe.

Initially I created books for her at Apple Books. They were nice enough, but I eventually switched to professional printing because I was unhappy with the photo reproduction. On our first trips, I didn't take many photos though. Just a few snapshots here and there. I took so few photos that I was able to combine the first four Apple Book trips into a single professional book (I used the colors of the cloth covers on the original books as borders)*...

Mom Travel Book!

The look of the book was nothing groundbreaking, but the graphic designer in me tried to create stylish introductions at least...

Mom Travel Book!

Photo presentation was pretty basic though...

Mom Travel Book!

As the years went on, I got a little more ambitious. I was designing nicer, more elaborate looking covers, for one thing...

Mom Travel Book!

Mom Travel Book!

Mom Travel Book!

And adding maps, travel routes, and such...

Mom Travel Book!

On later trips I was taking a lot of photos and putting considerably more thought into the the images I was capturing. With this in mind, I started buying "lay-flat" books and adjusting my layouts so photos could be as large as possible. I also tried to tell a story to make the content more interesting...

Mom Travel Book!

Mom Travel Book!

The final book is my favorite for so many reasons...

Mom Travel Book!

Mom Travel Book!

Every book was always ended with a photo of the both of us...

Mom Travel Book!

For 2015 we were going to take a cruise along the fjords of Norway. 2016 was going to be Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. But those trips weren't to be. I thought she might be well enough in 2015 to take a Spring trip that was less ambitious. I booked flights to South Dakota so I could finally see Mount Rushmore and check the only state I haven't been to off my list (North Dakota). But a couple months before we were to leave I realized there was no way that she would be able to travel. Her confusion was far too great and it wouldn't have been a fun time for either of us. And so that was that.

Mother's Day isn't sad to me because I don't have anybody to buy a card and flowers for... after we started traveling, she never wanted me to spend money on that stuff anyway. It's now a reminder that I've lost a friend who explored the world with me. And while the books, photos, and memories are nice, ain't nothin' going to take the place of that.

   
*Apple Books was a part of the original iPhoto. You could select photos that you had stored there, then have the program automatically build a book for you. For the time, it was actually pretty cool. They had durable fabric covers with a nifty label stuck on the front...

Mom Travel Book!

There were issues though. In addition to the print quality, which was fine but not great, the books were kinda small and the layouts had a lot of wasted space and the pages were all one-sided...

Mom Travel Book!

By having my books professionally printed, I paid way, way, way more money... but I got to control the layouts, get superior print quality, and print both sides of the pages.

   

It’s a Monday, After All

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2019

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

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

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

Jake and Jenny Sharing a Window Perch!

Jake and Jenny Sharing a Window Perch!

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

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

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

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

Yay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bulbs in Bloom!

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

Bulbs in Bloom!

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

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

It's a Monday, after all.

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

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Another Nail in Our Coffin

Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today more than ever.

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

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

Assuming we can ever recover at all.

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

   

Where is My Portal Gun?

Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

How the fuck do I get off this planet?

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

New Rick and Morty, November 2019 on Adult Swim!

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

Welcome to life in these United States.

Or on this earth, really.

   

Death by Pasta

Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing.

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

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

Cacio e Pepe Pasta Dinner!

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

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

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

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Ant Music

Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

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

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

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

Cassette Tapes!

And you know what's weird?

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

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

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

Hope that yellow Walkman I found still works!

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Caturday 109

Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2019

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

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

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

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

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

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

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

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

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

Mom Reading Her Travel Book with Jake!

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

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

Turns out it's a pencil sharpener.

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

Nose Pencil Sharpener!

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

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

Nose Pencil Sharpener on the Floor!

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

Jake Carrying a Nose!

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

Speaking of Jake.

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

Jake on Me!

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

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

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

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Every time...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

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

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Anyway...

He was sleeping abnormally like this...

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

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

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

Jake Sleeps Spread-Eagle!

There we go!

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

Jenny Belly Sleeper!

Until next Caturday...

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