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Soda. Baking Soda.

Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019

Dave!Okay... you've all seen my refrigerator.

There's nothing in it except soda, beer, salad dressings, condiments, and tons of cheese. I don't have a lot of food-stuffs in there because there's only myself and my cats in the house, and I usually end up freezing stuff instead so it doesn't go to waste. If I refrigerate something, it just sits there until it eventually spoils, because there's only so much food I can eat...

And yet... when I opened it this morning it smelled like a fish had died in it. Which is odd, because I don't eat fish. Tonight when I got home it was STILL reeking like low tide. And so I took absolutely everything out and did a smell test. Perhaps one of my cream cheeses went bad? But no. Everything smelled fine. UNTIL I GOT TO THE BAKING SODA! YOU KNOW, THE STUFF YOU PUT IN THE REFRIGERATOR TO KEEP IT FROM SMELLING?!? HOLY CRAP! Arm & Hammer are on my list now, buddy!

It's weird how this could happen because I buy baking soda in bulk (it's useful for SO many things) and my house reminds me to change the baking soda in my refrigerator every four months!

The stuff that started smelling awful was just under 3 months old!

Which begs the question... can baking soda go bad?

I changed out the Arm & Hammer in my refrigerator, so I guess we'll find out.

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Armchair Dark Tourism

Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Dave!I've been consumed with work for the past week and will continue to be consumed by it until the holiday. It's just that time of year.

This is tough for a number of reasons, but mostly because I have no life outside of work for the month of June. About all I get to do is occasionally look through my Facebook feed and see how the other half live.

Today as I was waiting for a project to render so I could move on to the next project, I was scrolling through Facebook and happened across a photo of David Farrier and a cat...

David Farrier and a Cat
Photo by David Farrier on Facebook

Somehow this awesome cat staring back at me was just what I needed after yet another very bad day. It also inspired me to revisit David Farrier's Netflix show: Dark Tourist.

I mentioned a while ago that Dark Tourist has my favorite opening credits of all time...

If you're interested in the show (and you should be!), here's a trailer...

At least now I have something to watch as I work through the night tonight.

   

Golden Earring

Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Dave!I think I've finally taken care of all the donations from my friend Grant's estate. Medical supplies dropped at a shelter. Bandages and medical tape put in storage so I can add them into AnySoldier.com care packages. And some of Grant's stuff that was going to his friends has been shipped.

My inheritance from Grant consisted of three 2-liter bottles of Coke Zero (since drank) and a cash box (cash not included). Grant's executor was kind enough to give me the box so I could store my foreign currency collection in it... and it works great! Much nicer than the cardboard box I was keeping it in!

So thank you for the box, sir. I still miss you muchly.

Interesting to note that inside that cardboard box was something I was not expecting to find...

My very first earring!

Back in the 80's I wanted my ear pierced in the worst possible way, but my parents wouldn't endorse it... AT ALL. So I waited until I went skydiving. I figured they would be so happy that I survived that they wouldn't mind that I had an earring! Not so much. But they were pretty good about ignoring it for the seven(?) years I had it.

This replaced the stud you get when they shoot your ear with that piercing gun (something I would never use again, now that I am smarter about piercing). Little golden hoops were what the style was at the time (circa 1986 I think?) so that's what I got. This was a cheap-o hoop that came in a set of two for $5 or something. I didn't want to spend a lot of money because I didn't know how long I'd want my ear pierced.

I wore it for probably a year... maybe a year-and-a-half... until I replaced it with a better quality hoop. By then I figured that I'd have my ear pierced forever, so why not invest in something that wouldn't turn my ear green?

Eventually the tiny little hoops went out of style. Which means I probably wore it for another 3 years after that.

Then one day I woke up, decided I was done with it, and threw my earring in the trash.

I've toyed with the idea of getting my ear(s) pierced again just for the hell of it. But I think I'm good. After I started getting tattoos, it just felt like it would be redundant.

That's okay though. I'm undoubtedly too old for this kind of stuff anyway.

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One Man, One Tiny Penis

Posted on Thursday, July 4th, 2019

Dave!I'm finding it even harder than last year to find something to celebrate today. Lately it seems that everything I love about my country is in our past.

And just when I think The United State of America has reached rock bottom, our government finds new depths to sink to. The latest? Our dictator wannabe president and his stupid-ass military parade. Which was always pathetic and sad, but reached new depths of heinousness when it was revealed that our National Parks had to pony up $2.5 million out of the entrance fees they collect to maintain the parks. Which means we're giving up much needed maintenance of parks that everybody can enjoy to roll out our big guns and stroke the ego of one man with a tiny, wee little penis...

"Military displays like this are a favorite tactic of those who want to wrap themselves in the symbols of who we are rather than really celebrating who we are. This fits into this larger, troubling trend of identifying America itself as a military state. The Fourth of July in America should be about so much more than our military and our ability to fight off the rest of the world.” — Army Major Jason Dempsey (retired).

And you just know that this $2.5 million isn't the end of it. Millions more will be spent for something so unfathomably asinine as to be fucking laughable.

But what's really disgusting is the idea that Clownface VonFuckstick will be passing out V.I.P. tickets to big Republican Party donors...

"This looks like it’s becoming much more of a Republican Party event — a political event about the president — than a national celebration of the Fourth of July, and it’s unfortunate to have the military smack dab in the middle of that.” Army Lt. Gen. David Barno (retired).

“The president is using the armed forces in a political ploy for his reelection campaign and I think it’s absolutely obscene” — Army Maj. Gen. William Nash (retired), a veteran of Vietnam, the Gulf War and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.

And that's where we're at. The United States of America is a for-profit enterprise for the sole benefit of its insecure leader who needs a big parade to feel loved. A leader who idolizes the likes of Vladimir Putin. Kim Jong Un, and Mohammed bin Salman... a horrific collection of murderers known to commit grotesque human rights violations.

How the fuck am I supposed to be celebrating my country when those who run it are garbage? People who claim to be celebrating our military... but then dictate what our military is allowed to say on a holiday celebrating our freedoms...

Pentagon Instructions to Troops
From Mother Jones... Pentagon Guidance to Troops in Trump’s July 4th Event: Say I Love My Tank

Perhaps I can celebrate that 565 days from now... 13573 hours from now... 814401 minutes from now... 48864067 seconds from now... President Trump's term will be over and somebody else can fuck up the country for a while. Hopefully somebody who won't need to spend millions upon millions of dollars on a fucking parade so they can feel special.

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

Or, more likely, the Democrats will be fucking idiots again and we'll have four more years of Trump bankrupting the country like he's bankrupted everything else he touches.

And I won't be the least bit surprised.

Just disappointed. Again.

   

Vacation Week

Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019

Dave!I just finished a big project at work that's been consuming my every waking moment for weeks. A part of me is anxious to move on and start on something new (heaven only knows there's enough to be done), but there's a part of me that wants so badly to do nothing at all. Just for a little while.

Good thing I'm on vacation for a week...

Dave in a Pool with a Duck Floaty

Maybe if I wasn't so exhausted I'd be motivated to do something, but I'm really just not.

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Caturday 116

Posted on Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Dave!Apparently I had some motivation in me after all?

Today was so beautiful out that I ended up floating the river with friends instead of lounging around the house doing nothing.

Though laying on a floatie drinking booze and letting the river take you is pretty close to nothing...

Floating Down the River

Floating Down the River

At the end of our float, there was a couple with their too-cute dogs out enjoying the sun. One of the pups was tuckered out and decided to take a nap under a cap...

Floating Down the River

Floating Down the River

But this is Caturday and not Dogurday, so back to the usual feline madness that Saturday brings...

I ended up having to leave the post-float party early because I have ghosts...

Asking Jenny to go close the door had no effect.

Behind my house is a big field filled with dandelions that have gone to seed. So leaving the door open like that will guarantee that dandelion fluff will fill my living room if I don't take care of it, so off I went.

   
Whenever I have guests staying over, my cats cower upstairs in my storage closet until everybody goes to bed... then they come out and goof around until everybody wakes up and they hide upstairs again. This morning poor Jake was lounging in the catio and didn't make it upstairs before we were all awake. This is the look on his face when he realized he was "trapped" in the catio until we all left for the day...

Jake Staring from The Catio

He didn't have to wait long, but enjoyed staring at us from behind the safety of my massive pole...

Jake Staring from The Catio

I have tried many, many times to get my cats so they are not afraid of people. It never works. After a few days Jake might come wandering out for a minute if it's quiet and calm, but he's completely scared and on edge the entire time. Jenny won't even think about it. This makes me terrified as to how my cats will manage if I'm in some kind of horrible accident. Will anybody want to adopt them if they are this frightened? Are there kind souls who are patient and caring with a feral rescue who's terrified of people? I sure hope so.

Of course, just getting ready for guests is an adventure unto itself. I try to get everything cleaned up and organized, but this is never easy. "Oh, you just made the bed? Here, let me get on that, even though I haven't been on the bed in weeks...

Jake on the Guest Bed

   
And now, as I retire on this fine Caturday, I leave you with this...

Oh. And this...

Cats are the best.

   

Bullet Sunday 619

Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2019

Dave!It's a glorious day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• IN THE NEWS: Mississippi makes it a jailable offense to call plant-based or cultured-meat patties "burgers."

Seeing as how Mississippi ranks 49th out of the 50 states in education. Perhaps it's understandable that their state government thinks the populace is TOO FUCKING STUPID TO KNOW THAT A VEGGIE BURGER ISN'T MADE FROM A COW. But are they smart enough to know that a veggie dog isn't made from a dog or do hot dogs confuse them too?

   
• Ski! Somehow I missed this excellent short video on Jim Niehues, the guy responsible for painting so many of those ski run posters you see at all the resorts...

Incredible stuff.

   
• Dreaming! Any comic book series is going to have its ups and downs. A series which had less downs than usual was Neil Gaiman's Sandman. A complete reimagining of the cheesy DC Comics character...

My favorite thing to come out of the series was Sandman's sister, Death, as she appeared in the mini-series spin-offs by Gaiman Chris Bachalo...

Death: The High Cost of Living is easily one of my all-time favorite comic books.

And now comes the news that Netflix has commissioned a Sandman TV show. Despite the fact that Gaiman himself will be involved, I am more than a little nervous. The series seems all but unfilmable given the visual language of Sandman's world. And the stories are wildly tied to the medium they were created for, and I question how well they will translate to television. I hope it's good. I hope Death makes an appearance...

"A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power."

   
• German! I ran across one of my favorite Trevor Noah's Between the Scenes the other day...

I mean, they're all good... but his wit is at its sharpest here.

   
• Mermaids! Disney has found their latest live-action princess when they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. She's incredibly talented and I know of her from appearing in Grown-ish (the TV spin-off from Black-ish)...

Halle Bailey
Photo by Evan Agostini

Disney, being the savvy company they are, cast who they felt was best for bringing the character to life... regardless of race. She's a Grammy nominee, for heaven's sake. But of course the bigot brigade is all #NotMyAriel because the idea of a fictional half-fish girl being played by a Person of Color is just too much for their tiny brains to process. Time will tell If Bailey will make a good Ariel. Personally I am trusting Disney on this. But holy crap... give the young woman a chance! They haven't even started filming yet! I sure hope she isn't bothered by all this nonsense.

   
• Plus Plus! Speaking of Disney... as if the Marvel and Star Wars series in development weren't enough reason to compel me to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service when it debuts later this year, now they've got a new series called Life and Deaf in development with one of my all-time favorite actors, Marlee Matlin. Somebody at Disney is very, very serious about competing with Netflix!

   
Have a great Sunday!

   

Hinterland and Cymraeg

Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2019

Dave!I have had Hinterland on my Netflix watch-list for a long time. Tonight I finally watched the first episode of the first series.

It's fantastic. Mostly due to the remarkable performance of lead Richard Harrington. You can feel the wheels turning any time he's on screen...

Granted, I'm only half-way through the first season, but I'm sure liking this show. The atmosphere they've created permeates every scene so the series feels more "real" than most.

What's interesting about this show (other than how good it's been) is that every scene is filmed twice... once in English and once in Welsh (which is called "Cymraeg" in the Welsh language). I did a YouTube search to watch some of the Cymraeg scenes and it's amazing how all these actors have to essentially perform the same show twice. And since Hinterland looks so grueling and demanding of the actors, I can't imagine how difficult that must be...

I'm sure they use all kinds of tricks to make the show affordable. In the scene above where he destroys a kitchen, for example, they were careful to make sure there was no dialogue so they only had to shoot it once. If he had said "I hate my life!" while smashing the dishes, they would have had to buy all new dishes, clean the set, then reset the scene so he could say "Rwy'n casáu fy mywyd!" for the Welsh version.

Here's the trailer in Welsh...

I first learned about Wales and the Welsh language in anticipation of my visit to the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe in Cardiff (Caerdydd). Cymraeg is a fascinating language which is estimated to be spoken by less than a million people around the globe. Most people have probably only ever heard of it on viral YouTube videos where people are pronouncing very long Welsh words...

Before wrapping up this post, I'd be remiss if I didn't post a link to one of my favorite comedy bits by Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert...

Happy Monday, everybody!

   

Working and Floating on Vacation

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Dave!Yesterday morning I spent my vacation working.

Clearly I am doing my vacation all wrong and need to change things up.

So yesterday afternoon I spent my vacation drinking blueberry margaritas...

Bluberry Margaritas, chips, and guacamole

...then making an impulse decision to go floating down the river with friends again. It's just such a relaxing way to spend a lazy summer day...

Me floatin'

Me floatin'

The river is getting really low in spots, so I spent a good chunk of my time lifting my butt so I wasn't dragging on the riverbed...

Me floatin' in very low waters!

It was a nice day, and ducks were out everywhere...

Me floatin' by DUCKS

As the sun started falling, it got to be pretty shivery. Having your butt in cold water with cool breezes is fine when the sun is warming you... not so fine when it's not. By the time we made landfall, I was a popsicle.

And then my cold, dead heart was warmed watching a momma duck with her four babies...

Momma Duck and Baby Duck

The little ones move so fast they were almost impossible to photograph...

Momma Duck and Baby Ducks

That poor mom had her wings full, I tell you. Two of her babies would go one way... two would go another way... then she'd have to run back and forth until she had them all corralled. It's a tough job. But she was up to the task.

That's pretty good vacationing, isn't it?

Which is why I didn't feel quite so bad that today I spent half the day working, then cut my hair, cleaned my house, and paid my bills.

I did go swimming in the late afternoon though, so I guess it's all good.

   

Sucking at a Waterless Vacation

Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Dave!I cannot seem to catch a break on this vacation thing. This morning a full city maintenance crew started working in front of my house AT SIX FORTY IN THE FUCKING A.M.! At the time I have no clue what in the hell they are doing, but it's so noisy that the cats wouldn't even come out to eat breakfast.

Why do I even bother taking a vacation if I can't sleep in and have to go to work all the time?

After me and my houseguest got up to start our day, we quckly figured out why The City was making so much noise so early in the morning.

The water was out.

Oh.

Yes, please feel free to make noise at any time of the day or night to restore water service. I am perfectly okay with that!

Especially since I had a doctor's appointment today. I spent yesterday afternoon in a pool and would prefer not to smell like chlorine, sweat, and laziness while I'm being examined by a doctor who deserves much better than that.

Lucky me, the water was restored in time for me to take a shower, wash some clothes, and get on with my life.

And now? A drive over the mountains so my real vacation can start...

Boddington's Cream Ale

Happy hump-day, everybody!

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Imagine Museum Interactivity

Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Dave!

Today was the first day I've felt like I'm actually on vacation. I mean, sure I answered a few work emails and made a few work calls... but I didn't do any actual "work" the entire day. That's exceedingly rare.

One of the things I did do was accompany my grand-nephew to Everett's Imagine Interactive Children's Museum. Sometimes these things end up being pretty janky, but this one was actually very cool. Plenty of imaginative exhibits to keep kids entertained for hours. Like an air-tube exhibit where you can see how air-flow can be used to push a scarf through some clear pipes...

Imagine! Museum Air Hankey

Young kids won't get the air pressure science that's being demonstrated... but they sure have fun chasing down those scarves! Pretty slick. Though I guess nobody at the museum has ever heard of a fart before...

Imagine! Museum Glow Puzzle

It's a museum built for kids, but no worries... the adults were able to have fun as well...

Imagine! Museum Thermo Photo Fun

I got to be a chef with plastic food...

Imagine! Museum Fake Food

I got to play with glow-in-the-dark puzzle pieces...

Imagine! Museum Glow Puzzle

I got to milk a giant plastic cow...

Imagine! Museum Milk a Cow

I got to shoot water-guns at balls...

Imagine! Museum Water Guns

Imagine! Museum Water Guns

I got to play with wooden monkeys...

Imagine! Museum Monkey Puzzle

I got to build some interesting architectural structures...

Imagine! Museum Wood Puzzle

And I also got to watch kids go nuts at the rooftop play-space, which is pretty great...

Imagine! Museum Rooftop Playground

They even have a dinosaur dig!

Imagine! Dinosaur Dig

Kids absolutely love this place and, if you've got young ones and are in the Snohomish County region, it's worth a visit.

An aside here... I was surprised that they allow you to take photos inside the place. I was careful not to get kids in my shots and, for those photos where kids were in them, to never photograph their faces. I'm pretty sure most people who were snapping away with their mobile phones were not so careful, and this raises some privacy concerns. Yes in this day and age you can pretty much be photographed anywhere at any time but, in a space that's exclusively meant for children, you'd think that it would be in everybody's best interest if photography was not allowed? I dunno. Perhaps I'm just overly paranoid.

Though the paranoia may not be entirely my fault.

There are statues with creepy eyes right out in front, so the museum kinda puts you in a paranoid state before you even step inside the place...

Imagine! Creepy Statues!

Imagine! Creepy Statues!

Imagine! Creepy Statues!

It's a nice enough artwork, but the white eyes make grandpa look like a pervy child predator or something. And is it just me, or does the little girl look like she's possessed by demons?

Probably just the paranoia again. I should probably look into that.

   

EARTHQUAAAAKE!!!

Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

Dave!And so there was an earthquake near me early, early this morning. I was semi-awake at the time and thought that somebody had dropped something heavy in the kitchen above me. I didn't really think much of it until I woke up and saw the news.

The epicenter of the 4.6 magnitude quake was at Three Lakes, which is about 15 miles from where I'm staying...


Earthquake Map by the USGS

This should probably be cause for concern, given the earthquakes that have been hitting California lately. Maybe the Pacific Ring of Fire is getting ready to blow? I guess we're all doomed.

Of course I checked on my cats to see if they noticed.

I don't know if they were able to sense it, but they were definitely active. At the time of the quake, Jake went running to the stairwell and started staring up there...

Jake looking upstairs

A couple minutes later, Jake left and Jenny ran downstairs...

Jenny running downstairs

After that they just kinda wandered around until sunrise. This is fairly odd, because usually they're sleeping...

Jake and Jenny at Sunrise

But no worries. I'm sure they will make up for it by sleeping all day.

Unfortunately the West Coast is not alone in natural disasters. I've been gutted seeing the photos of the flooding that has hit New Orleans due to Tropical Storm Barry. My favorite American city can't seem to catch a break.

And neither can I. I'm Heading back home a day early to get to an appointment I had to make yesterday. For my next vacation I'm hoping to be air-dropped into a place with no internet and no mobile phone service.

No people would be icing on the cake.

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Caturday 117

Posted on Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Dave!I was only away for two nights, but my cats seemed more bothered than usual by my absence. This has me a bit concerned for my upcoming travel. Fortunately, I have security cameras everywhere to look in while I'm gone and can call a neighbor if they need help... but since they are so afraid of strangers, that would probably just add to their anxiety.

Which is the reason I don't hire a cat-sitter any more. Jake and Jenny just run and hide, so what difference does it make? Unless I'm going to be gone long enough that the Litter-Robot will need emptying, it's probably better to just let them be.

Heaven only knows I wouldn't want to interrupt their busy day of sleeping and lounging in the catio...

Cats in the Catio

Surprisingly, despite how hot it's been out, bot my cats are still spending a lot of time in the catio. During the day, it's for napping and bird-watching...

Jake in the Catio

Or just watching me while I work...

Jake Staring from the Catio

As the sun sets, it becomes all about catching bugs (yuck) and eating bugs (double-yuck).

Here's Jenny observing a bug before Jake literally pushes her off the perch...

It's hard to tell from the camera angle... but I was watching it happen, and Jake absolutely put his paw around her and shoved her off while she was leaning over.

Jake seems to like poking and pushing Jenny for no reason other than his own amusement...

Jake Pokes Jenny

Fortunately, Jenny is not shy about poking back when she's had enough of Jake's crap. You can see in the above photo what she looks like juuuuuuust before she's about ready to snap.

Fortunately, my cats mostly get along, so the poking is kept to a minimum.

And so long as they're not poking me, it's all good.

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Bullet Sunday 620

Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Dave!I'd rather be anywhere else today, but escape is not in the cards... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• MADness! It was announced this past week that MAD magazine will end its original-content run with the August 2019 issue. After that, it's all reprints with new covers that will only be available by subscription or in comic shops. Despite not having picked up an issue in years, this is more than a little sad to me, because MAD was a huge part of my past. I bought occasional issues in the latter-half of the 1970's, but became a MAD addict after the December 1978 issue (the Star Wars musical parody issue)...

I purchased every single issue from No. 203 through No. 250, at which time I went back to only buying issues that had material I was interested in. I also purchased every reprint book I could get my hands on, scouring the local News Agency to obtain as many as I could find by my favorite MAD contributors... like Al Jaffe, Sergio Aragonés, Don Martin, and Dave Berg... and, of course, Antonio Prohías, who was the guy behind Spy vs. Spy. It's not just my favorites that are burned into my brain... contributors like Mort Drucker, Dick DeBartolo, and Jack Davis did a huge amount of work for the magazine and were a big influence on how I saw the world.

   
• Mushu? A gorgeous trailer dropped for the live-action version of Mulan...

It looks like Disney put some serious money into this remake! But where's Mushu? Is Eddie Murphy coming back to voice Mulan's dragon? Is Mushu even going to BE in the film? I will be sorely disappointed if he is not. Characters like that are what make it a Disney movie.

   
• Blown Away! I've never blown glass myself, but I love the art of it and I've been to many, many glassblowing shops. Including my idol Dale Chihuly's shop in Tacoma (and many of his installations) plus I've traveled to the "glassblowing island" of Murano in Venice so I could see the famous shops there as well. I love glass and have circled the globe to see the best of it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I learned that Netflix was developing a show called Blown Away...

Fortunately it's a show like Forged in Fire where the focus of the series is on the artistry rather than the shitty manufactured personal drama (ala Ink Master), which makes it fun to watch. The contestants are pretty great... the massive 10-furnace facility they built to host the show is amazing... some of the pieces are truly remarkable.... and the tension and drama from breakage is high. I do have some problems, however... A) Why aren't there enough tools for everybody that they have to wait for somebody to finish at a critical juncture? Also find it strange that they have to share hot-boxes. B) I don't get how the host got this gig. What experience does he have in order to be qualified to weigh in on the judging? According to his site, he's a professional rollerblader and organic chemist? WTF? C) Why can't we hear the judges deliberate? This would go a long way towards understanding their decisions. D) Why the time limit for a GLASS art competition? I'd much rather give them enough time that they can take risks and not be finished if they break late in the game.

Despite all that, Blown Away is still a great show if you love glass... or art... or demonstrations of skill.

   
• Blank! Netflix keeps blowing up their original entertainment, and Blown Away is not the only thing that's new this week... we also got a movie called Point Blank, a remake of a French film starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo...

The concept is good. Mackie and Grillo are good. And money was spent on getting the action scenes right. Which is why I'm kinda puzzled as to why I feel so "meh" about the film. Perhaps because the most memorable thing about it was some truly bizarre 80's music choices. I guess I'm glad I watched it, but it didn't really grab me as I would have expected.

   
• Aziz! And Netflix isn't done there! They also released a new stand-up special by one of my favorite comedians, Aziz Ansari...

Aziz Ansari on Netflix

I'm not going to lie, it was an awkward show to watch. Aziz addressed the sexual misconduct allegations which were brought against him at the very beginning. But not really. He more "acknowledged" it than really "addressed" it. But he does seem sincere about having regrets and having learned something, so I guess that's better than nothing. From there Aziz goes on to deliver a varied set covering a range of topics, and most of it is pretty funny. What's not so funny is his delivery, which is subdued and kinda sad as he sits on a stool and sometimes speaks so quietly you can barely hear him. This is a wild departure from his previous stand-up specials which were crackling with energy... but he has moments of poignancy which wouldn't have worked otherwise, so I guess it was necessary. If you're a fan, Aziz Ansari: Right Now is worth a look. But don't expect what you've been conditioned to expect from him.

   
• Tacumentary! Last up on my parade of new Netflix shows? Las Crónicas del Taco. A documentary film on one of my favorite dishes... tacos! This trailer is in Spanish, but the documentary series has subtitles in English and French available...

Even though I'm a vegetarian, I still found this meat-based-documentary series to be fascinating. And depressing at times when brief glimpses of the animals are shown, because the conditions they are kept is not ideal. And with six different episodes exploring the history and preparation of six different style of tacos... Pastor (shepherd-style pork), Carnitas (slow-cooked pork), Canasta (basket-stacked tacos), Asada (grilled beef), Barbacoa (barbecue pit-style), and Guisado (stew)... there's more than enough taco here for your viewing pleasure. Worth a look if you're a foodie... or even if you're not, really.

   
• IN THE NEWS: TRUMP TAX PLAN LEADS TO $54 BILLION DECLINE IN CHARITABLE GIVING. "Many Americans want to give generously to charities, but they may not be able to afford to do so now with the changes implemented in the 2018 tax law." — The charity I work with knew that there would be a hit. Nobody had any idea it would be this bad. What's so horrible is that many charities fill in the gaps for people who are just trying to survive. As more and more people lose government assistance thanks to Trump Administration cuts, the number of people who will rely on charities increases... all while donations to these charities decreases. It's a recipe for disaster. But, hey... billionaires got tax cuts so they could gold-plate the toilets on their private jets, and that's what's important, right?

   
• Boys from the Dwarf! If the truth be told, Red Dwarf went on longer than it should have. Things started to go downhill with Series VI, and everything that came after that was really hit or miss. But, man, those early seasons are some of my most favorite television ever, so I'm always glad to see "The Boys from the Dwarf" again... even if it's just in a commercial...

And now I want to go back and watch the show all over again.

   
Bon Voyage, my Sunday bullets.

   

To My Health And Back

Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

Dave!Growing up I was plagued with allergies and ended up sick constantly because of it. If there was even a hint of a cold going around, I'd catch it. I had horrible growing pains that were so bad I could end up incapacitated. I was always battling some kind of infection, and ended up having my adenoids cut out twice. I was on allergy shots for years. It was a non-stop parade of awful, and I sometimes wonder how my parents managed to deal with it all.

I'm pretty sure if I were my kid, I'd have abandoned myself.

Then one day, as if by magic, all my health problems started to disappear. Before I knew it I no longer needed allergy shots and had a fairly healthy life (Accutane side-effects aside).

Fast forward to today...

Given the rise of nasty preventable diseases (like measles) which have come roaring back thanks to all the anti-vax idiocy, the charity I work with is requiring those of us of a certain age (ahem) who travel for the organization to get re-vaccinated. Fortunately my mom kept detailed records of all my various health-related issues from childhood so I have a reference point to discuss things with my doctor...

Reading through all the crap I had to endure as a kid is a sobering experience.

Partly because I was so accustomed to being sick from allergies that I didn't truly realize how negatively they impacted my life. Partly because I'm so incredibly lucky to have outgrown all the health problems that plagued my youth. But mostly because I'm so grateful that my family had insurance and could afford to care for me. More and more it seems that this is increasingly rare as US healthcare continues to deteriorate into a pile of shit.

But hey, billionaires got tax cuts that are bankrupting the country, so at least we're focusing on what's important.

   

Burn Down the Internet

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Dave!Ask any blogger what the bane of their existence is, and they are certain to answer "Broken links." Well... not really... if you were to ask me what the bane of my blogging existence is, I'd answer "Hate comments and death threats," but I blog about politics and cats and stuff, so I bring that on myself.

But a close second would absolutely be "Broken links," and it's such a massively annoying problem for long-term bloggers such as myself that I'm tempted to never link to anything ever again. NEVER EVER EVARRRRR!

Some of it is understandable. Fellow bloggers shut down their blogs... companies go out of business... websites are lost... that kind of thing. So when I find a broken link on an entry I wrote fifteen years ago, I'm honestly not surprised. The internet is ever growing and changing.

But when I find a busted YouTube link in an entry I wrote TWENTY-THREE DAYS AGO?!?

THAT'S LESS THAN A MONTH!!!

This was from a Bullet Sunday entry where I was talking about one of the best new shows on television: Alternatino with Arturo Castro. I absolutely love this sketch comedy series, and want as many of my readers as possible to know about it.* And so I linked to the premiere episode that Comedy Central posted on YouTube.

And now Comedy Central has decided to take down the video for some reason. Which is pretty fucking stupid no matter how you cut it... YouTube is a massive platform for exposure of the show... but what makes it go BEYOND fucking stupid is that they left a broken link. Okay... you don't want to have the entire first episode available for people to watch. Whatever. But why not just overwrite the episode with an advertisement or a promo piece or something so people who shared your stuff don't end up with a broken link from your deleted video?

Some "social media consultant" making six figures probably doesn't understand how social media works and came up with this brilliant decision.

And when I scroll through my archives, I see tons of busted YouTube links. Even for advertisements! Why would you delete an advertisement for your product? I guess I can understand it if the product no longer exists or was canceled or was discontinued... but the vast majority of the time, that's not the case.

I'm not really sure how to deal with this.

For links, there's not much to do except delete the link and try to have my entry make sense without it.

For YouTube, there's not much I can do there either. I suppose I could scrape the video, re-upload it to my own YouTube account, then stream from that... but there's two problems there. ONE is that I'd probably get hit with a copyright violation. TWO is that I feel bad denying valuable clicks to the original content creator.

So I dunno.

Perhaps I just find ways of talking about the things I like without linking to them. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of The World Wide Web... but short of spending my entire life monitoring links on my blog, what else is there?

   
*Seriously. You have no idea. The fourth episode just aired and it is epic. If you are not watching Alternatino with Arturo Castro, you absolutely should be!

   

Maybe Yesterday

Posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Dave!I've taken to blogging in the early mornings before I go to work instead of late evenings when I'm done with work. It's not been working out for me. How am I to comment on my day's events when I have barely started the day? And so... I will probably go back to late-night blogging, even though I'm usually so tired that all I want to blog about is how tired I am.

In the meanwhile though? Here was my yesterday!

Last year when I learned I needed to keep my blood sugars intact, I started walking to work so I can still eat bread and pasta. It's a short walk... 7 to 9 minutes... and I've come to really enjoy it. It's a chance to plug and clear my head, which is something that's kinda rare these days. The good news is that switching to Coke Zero and walking has been working for me. I had a great checkup with my doctor, and everything is going well. And so... more bread and pasta.

On yesterday's walk I was assaulted by a rose that was reaching outside its garden fence...

Rose on my Walk

Rose on my Walk

You don't get nice surprises like that driving a car.

But the bigger surprise was later that evening when I made guacamole for the first time. It was Taco Tuesday and a nice chunky guac as a topper was exactly what I needed...

Rose on my Walk

It was phenomenal. And perfectly chunky enough for tacos (and chips!). And easy.

But not as pain-free as I was expecting.

In order to eliminate waste, I've been making a lot of changes in my house. Instead of buying single-use products like plastic wrap, I've been using something more sustainable or learning to live without it. I have one roll of Saran Wrap left and, at the slower rate I'm using the stuff, it should last me the rest of my life. And I've not stopped there. I've bought my last box of plastic straws. I've switched to reusable grocery bags. I'm transitioning from poly to paper wherever I can.

And I've eliminated single-use latex gloves from everywhere except my emergency kits.

The latex gloves I used to wear while chopping jalapeño peppers.

I (foolishly) thought that if I just washed my hands after cutting the peppers for my guac that everything would be fine.

As I found out later that night while falling asleep watching television, things did not turn out fine.

I reached up to rub my eyes and... ZOMG! THE BURNING!!! From the level of pain I was experiencing, you'd have thought that I squeezed a full jalapeño in my face. I can safely say that now I know what it feels like to be doused in pepper spray. It hurt a little bit when my eyes were closed... it was excruciating when my eyes were open. I have no idea why washing my hands didn't prevent this, but now I know better. I had tried some reusable kitchen gloves but they were too thick to work easily, so I guess next time I'll use a towel or a piece of wax paper or something.

Because... yowie.

One other thing that happened yesterday? The 2019 Emmys nominations were announced. For some inexplicable reason Game of Thrones, on its worst season ever, managed to rack up 32. As you can probably tell from the wrap-up I wrote, I totally don't get it. Seven seasons of brilliant set-up that was rushed to a shitty, mind-bogglingly bad conclusion deserves 32 nominations? INCLUDING BEST WRITING?!? Um. No. About the only category I think they should win is Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, because Peter Dinklage was still exceptional. He was making all the stupid be entertaining right up until the very end. He won last year, so I'm not sure he'll get it, but I sure hope so.

There was a pleasant surprise, however. Schitt's Creek, long one of the best shows on television, was nominated for Best Comedy Series. And the awesome Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy were nominated for respective Best Actress and Best Actor in a Comedy Series. Of course I think they should win, even though this season was not as good as the previous two seasons (when they really should have been winning all the awards). Alas, Emmy voters will probably give it to Fleabag (which probably deserves it) or Veep (because it's the final season) or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which I don't like at all). If Schitt's Creek can't win it, I'd hope for Barry or Russian Doll, but those seem like longshots too.

I was happy to see My Dinner with Herve got nominated for Best Television Movie, even if Peter Dinklage wasn't nominated for Lead Actor in it (which he deserves).

If anybody is interested, I've put my picks for the major awards in an extended entry. If you're not interested, I'll see you tomorrow. Probably tomorrow evening.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Haunted by the Light

Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Dave!It's the little things that tear you apart, you know?

Last night I headed to bed around 10:00pm. That's earlier than usual, but I'm on the Left Coast trying to adjust to Eastern Daylight Time before I head to the Right Coast.

My plans were thwarted as I was falling asleep around 11:00pm because I noticed there was no glow coming from my comic book storage closet*. This is where Jake and Jenny like to hide out, so I wanted to make sure that I replaced the nightlight before I fell asleep and forgot. Otherwise it's pitch black in there, and even cats with their awesome eyesight need some light to function.

So I headed downstairs to the hutch drawer where I keep the batteries and small lightbulbs to see if I had something.

I did.

Right next to the pile of lightbulbs I bought for my mom's nightstand lamp.

As she started sliding deeper and deeper into dementia, trying to keep everything exactly the same from day to day became a full-time job. But it's something I had to do because even small changes could result in confusion that would spiral out of control. One minute her blanket isn't on her bed where she expected it to be... the next minute she's in a full-blown panic thinking that she "left it at the lake" (wherever or whatever that was).

One of the worst nights came when the bulb for her weird nightstand light burned out. It was weird because it was meant to look like an oil lamp with a chimney, but it had a second light in the base where the "oil" was supposed to go. Depending on how many times you rotated the switch, it would illuminate the upper light, the lower light, or both lights.

When things first started to go wrong she began insisting that the upper light always be on while she's sleeping. I think she felt safer that way. You can see her lamp in this great photo I took of Spanky laying on top of her while she slept...

Mom Asleep with Spanky the Cat

The lamp was small, top-heavy, and prone to being knocked over. I spent a lot of time worrying that she would knock it off her nightstand and break it. The fallout from that disaster would have been catastrophic. I'm not sure where she got the thing, but probably from her mom, and so I'm sure she would notice if it went missing.

One night as I was getting mom ready for bed, I went to turn on the upper lamp and it wouldn't turn on. The weaker bottom light wasn't acceptable, so I had her get dressed so we could go to the grocery store for a replacement bulb. Unfortunately they didn't have the right bulb (it was small and round and weird... just like the lamp itself). Once we got back home I tried explaining that we would have to wait until morning to get a new bulb.

Complete and total meltdown.

She thought somebody broke into her room and stole her lightbulb. This made her inconsolable because she thought they were going to come back and kidnap her. Then she wanted to go to her parent's house (long since gone) because she was convinced that people were going to break into her room and kill her. She was screaming for the police. It... was... awful. Eventually I took her out to the living room and had her watch television until she fell asleep.

The next morning before work I packed her up and took her to Home Depot for a new bulb. They had one left. Not wanting to go through this ever again, I went home and ordered four more from Amazon.

Then something weird started happening. Bulbs that were lasting years were suddenly lasting just a couple months. Not knowing what was going on, I ordered three more bulbs from Amazon. Better safe than sorry.

Eventually I caught her taking the bulb out of the lamp, smacking it repeatedly on the nightstand, then putting it back in. At that point she started having trouble using a fork, so I have no idea how in the heck she managed to disassemble the lamp (which had multiple pieces to it)... let alone put it back together again. Like so many things at the time, it made no sense.

When I asked her what she was doing, she told me that she was "fixing it" because the bulb was too bright and hurting her eyes.

Well, crap.

The weaker bottom light still wasn't bright enough for her, so I ordered a bunch of different bulbs in the hopes that one of them would be a little less luminous...

   
Turns out it was these weird plastic bulbs from Korea that she wanted, so I ordered a pile of them.

• • •

Once I had moved my mom to a memory care facility over the mountains and was able to accept that she was never coming home, I started getting rid of everything in her bedroom. I hired a junk hauler to take away her dresser, her chest-of-drawers, her nightstand, her shelves, her bed, her mattress... everything. I didn't want the reminder. I didn't want to spend weeks trying to sell or donate it. I just wanted it gone.

As for that stupid lamp?

I threw it in the trash and smashed it to pieces with a hammer.

The lamp had become a symbol of all the horrors my mom had to endure way too soon in life, and I thought it would be therapeutic if I were to take out my anger and frustration over her fate by destroying it. This didn't end up making me me feel better about anything, of course. And it would be just my luck that it was some kind of heirloom worth thousands of dollars. But I didn't care then. I don't care now.

Apparently I never threw out all those bulbs I bought though.

And so here they are haunting me.

Like all the things in my life that remind me of her.

Which is pretty much everything, I think.

• • •

   
*My house is strange. It essentially has two master bedrooms. The one on the main floor was for my mom and is now a guest room. It's big, has a massive picture window, a bigger closet, and a changing area. Upstairs there's a small bedroom (which my cats have claimed) with a regular closet... and a larger bedroom (mine) with a regular closet and a large storage closet behind the regular closet. That's where I keep my worthless comic book collection in case I ever want to read them again one day...

When my kittens were brave enough to come out from underneath the couch after a few weeks, I tried to keep them from going upstairs by blocking off the stairwell. I was not successful. Eventually they had explored every nook and cranny in my home, including the comic book closet (which I keep open all the time because I don't want the paper smell to accumulate).

This quickly became their favorite hiding spot, and remains so to this day. Whenever I have company over, this is where Jake and Jenny are at.

They hop on the vacuum canister, then leap up onto the stacks at the end, then hide behind all the stuff I've got stacked up on the very top (my stereo and old photography stuff). They love it there, even though it gets way too warm in the summer.

I should probably start calling it "the cat closet" instead of the comic book closet.

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OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS SHIIIIIT!

Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Dave!As I previously mentioned, the organization I work with keeps insisting that I have my measles vaccination verified. Given the way the disease has come roaring back, they don't want us volunteers ending up with it while we're out trying to do good. Since I very much don't want to get measles at this stage of my life, I'm all for it.

So I got my childhood health records together and asked my doctor if I needed to worry. He suggested a measles titer test which will check for antibodies in my blood. Cool.

Yesterday afternoon I dropped by the clinic to get a cost for the test in case my insurance won't cover it (I was told by the charity it may be as high as $60). After I make my request they have to run and get billing codes (5 minutes) then I have to take a seat while they figure out how to bill it out (10 minutes). They then hand me the quote and it's THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS!

FUCKING OUTRAGEOUS $375 PRICE QUOTE!

So I call my insurance and ask how much of that will be covered. They won't even speak to me unless I have a "diagnosis code" and an "NPI code." So while I'm waiting for my tires to be changed, I go online to see if there's a testing lab nearby that might be cheaper. Google presents an ad for a $12.95 test...

   
Google Ad for Titer Testing!

   
So when I message my doctor and ask for the two codes my insurance is wanting... I also ask if he thinks that a $13 online test would be accurate. He said "The online tests are accurate and if you can get that done for $13 I'd do that."

And so I did.

There's an $8 blood draw fee I have to pay... and there's no draw center near me. But there's one near the airport in Seattle for when I fly out next week, so no big deal...

   
My Online Measles Titer Test Receipt!

   
And there you have it. The test is going to cost me $20.95, which means that the actual cost of the test is probably around $10 or less. Which means that my local clinic has a minimum $365.56 markup on it. And I believe this calculates out to a THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE PERCENT MARKUP!

And it's shit like this that makes my blood boil when it comes to the American "health care" system.

Our health... our very lives... are not in the hands of doctors any more. They're in the hands of insurance companies. Hospitals have to charge insanely high prices to cover the shitload of costs involved in getting their money out of insurance companies... and then add cost on top of that because they know that insurance companies are so powerful that they'll never agree to pay for the full amount it costs the hospital. If hospitals don't charge a shit-ton of money, they'll end up losing money.

Health insurance companies are massively, massively profitable. They are so profitable that they are able to spend billions buying off our politicians to keep our "health care" in the incredibly broken state it's in now... and has been in for a very long time.

So if you're saying to yourself... "Wow. Sounds like if we'd just eliminate health insurance companies and have hospitals bill patients directly for the actual fucking cost of what they do, we'd all be better off! And that's a fair assessment. Except if you end up with a health crisis that's so incredibly expensive that even fair direct pricing is more than you can afford. Hence insurance can be a good thing.

And yet...

The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country — but not with better health outcomes.

And it's the fucking monsters at our insurance companies that took us there.

In the case of my measles antibodies test, I am grateful that I have options. Far, far, far more affordable options. But my next health-related expense likely won't have many options. Possibly even zero options. And, even though I have health insurance now, I could still end up bankrupted if the problem was serious enough. Because health insurance company profits must be protected at all costs, after all.

And what if I end up losing my health insurance one day? What then?

It's questions like this which have me advocating for a single-payer health care system. Despite the lies we're told, it works well for many other countries. Countries which have health care rated better than ours. And I am done buying the lies of politicians who would tell us otherwise when their asses are bought and paid for by insurance company lobbyists...

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Solvenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom

Our health care system IS shit. And getting worse. But we don't seem to want it fixed badly enough to do anything about it, so we get what we deserve.

And for some of us... that's a preventable death because we aren't profitable enough to live.

UPDATE: Oh here we go. This is from the UK side of the issue, but it has a scathing commentary on the lies which are being forced on Americans. Thanks to Jan for the video link...

   

Caturday 118

Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Dave!Tonight I went to see the 4:00 showing of Spider-Man: Far From Home. It was a darn entertaining flick, but it was TWO HOURS AND TEN MINUTES LONG! Which means I didn't get home until 45 minutes after their dinner time at 6:00.

They were not happy.

Jake wouldn't even let me get my shoes off before he was all over me... squawking and fretting and glaring at me for daring to delay his dinner...

Jake pawing at my feet

Jenny was a bit nicer about it. She had the manners to sit on the kitchen table and meow from a distance.

After dinner, Jenny ran upstairs. I thought Jake might be up for some belly rubs, but he ran away from me and hid in his scratcher-lounger...

Jake hiding in his scratcher-lounger

Guess I'm in the dog house for a while with my cats.

Which is the opposite from how it's been lately.

For one thing, both my cats want to be in the same room I'm in. Jenny comes after me every morning and every night to get petted and scratched...

Jenny getting butt scratches.

She really gets into it...

Jenny getting belly scratches.

Jake is actually sleeping with me now. He likes to find space around my legs after I fall asleep and wedge himself in-between. Many times I wake up to find him there, which is odd because I'm not a still sleeper. I'm all over the place. Which means he adapts as I move around...

Jake sleeping around my legs each day...

Jake sleeping around my legs each day...

Jake sleeping around my legs each day...

Jake sleeping around my legs each day...

Jake sleeping around my legs each day...

We'll see what tonight will bring. Hopefully he'll be over hating me by then.

Hope you had a good Caturday!

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