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iPhone 11 Pro

Posted on Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Dave!Look, I'm just going to say it... if you've got an iPhone X or XS, then the only reason to upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro is for the camera update, which is significant. Everything else is hardly a revolutionary step up... and, in one case, Apple even takes a step backwards.

And so, I'll just run through everything quickly before getting to the camera, which is why we're all here isn't it?

PRICE
Still $1000 for the 64GB iPhone 11 Pro. It's too much. But that's the price you pay for tech like this. I can barely fill up 2/3 of the smallest memory configuration, so 64GB is plenty for me. If you use tons of apps and store a bunch of movies and stuff in local memory then you'll want more... and pay more. There's the bigger iPhone 11 Pro Max, which wouldn't fit in my pocket (or my budget) so I took a pass. The good news is that my monthly payment in Apple's iPhone upgrade program is unchanged.

PRETTY
Make no mistake, this phone is gorgeous. The new frosted glass back has a nice matte feel (assuming you don't put it in a case) and the overall design is elegant, polished, and feels solid. I went for the new "Forest Green" color, because it's just so pretty. In most light, it looks more grey than green to me, but it picks up the light enough to give a hint of green that looks great. Alas, when paired with my Project (Red) case, the back is covered up, but you can still see a hint of the color in the camera cut-out. Maybe a clear case is a better way to go? But then you lose the matte glass, so I'm good.

STRONG
There's all kinds of videos showing the durability of the iPhone 11 Pro. They are impressively tough. But since I'm on the iPhone Upgrade Program (the only way I can afford these things) and I have to return the phone in pristine condition, I can't risk it. I've got a screen protector and case on at all times.

BATTERY
Apparently I should get (on average) 4 hours more battery life over my old XS. I guess that's awesome, but I barely used much battery on my old phone. Maybe when I travel or use maps for driving, but I'm not going to complain about having more time with my iPhone before charging. And speaking of charging... you get a nice 18 watt charger to fill the battery faster, which is a big improvement over the tiny 5 watt charger we used to get. Alas, Apple is still married to its Lightning connector for charging, but the end of the cable which plugs into the power adapter is USB-C. Go figure. Most of the time I'm using wireless charging so it's not a big issue for me.

DISPLAY
Still has the annoying notch at the top. That being said, the fidelity of the display is stunning. I mean, the old display was beautiful and all, but this is next level stuff. If you download a high quality movie at full resolution, you are in for a treat. The image simply does not fall apart and the color and brightness is phenomenal. Photos look as amazing as you'd think they would. Everything about the display is as good as it gets and worthy of Apple's flagship iPhone.

SOUND
Apparently the iPhone is now rocking Dolby Atmos sound, which is cute when you consider it's still pumping it through two tiny little speakers. To be honest I can't tell much improvement, but I thought the old sound was pretty great for a phone already.

3D TOUCH
Here's the thing about 3D Touch. It's gone. Apple removed it. This is surprising from the standpoint that newer phones should have more features, not less. It's not surprising from the standpoint that Apple rarely promoted or took advantage of the feature. I've read on a few sites that removing 3D Touch helps contribute to better battery life. That (along with the newer, larger battery and more efficient A13 chip) is probably true. But I really, really miss it. I am slowly getting used to Apple's replacement... "Haptic Touch"... which is essentially just a long-pause as opposed to a harder pause... which isn't terrible. But it's not the same. At all.

FASTER
And speaking of that new A13 chip... Apple claims it's up to 20% faster than the previous generation A12. I have no reason to doubt this, but I really don't notice it. My previous phone was plenty fast and day-to-day speed improvements (if they exist) don't really register for me. That being said, the speed boost is undoubtedly crucial to improvements behind the scenes, like the new camera's jaw-dropping abilities. And so... thanks, I guess.

PHOTOGRAPHY
It's not hyperbole to say that the camera in the iPhone 11 Pro is a quantum-leap improvement over the iPhone XS. It's a bit less of an improvement over the camera in the Google Pixel 3 (which I have limited experience with, but really liked) and the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S10 (which I got to use for three months and was underwhelmed with). Regardless, Apple's latest camera in the iPhone 11 Pro is (currently) unmatched. It's an artful symphony of hardware advancements and incredibly smart and clever software which pushes it ahead in (most) all areas. Which is where I'm at now.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA
While other cameras are pushing 16 megapixels (and higher!), Apple seems content to stick with 12 megapixels. This is understandable on many levels... primary of which is that they take less storage space. But it's also questionable if we really need more than 12 megapixels on a phone. It's plenty of resolution to print a fairly large hardcopy photo, and way more than enough resolution to look at on a phone screen. Where higher resolution comes in handy is when you want to crop into a photo. THEN it's kinda a big deal. And yet... ideally you'd just want a longer (telephoto) lens so I dunno. Would I like more? Sure. Do I need more? Probably not.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA LENSES
The iPhone 11 Pro has cameras lenses (not including selfie cam), as follows...

A photo of the camera array on the back of the new iPhone 11 Pro.

They're all good and have great optical quality. And, thanks to Apple's fantastic Camera App, you zoom between them without even realizing it. You just compose your shot and iPhone picks the correct camera/lens as you zoom in or out. The big news here is the Ultra Wide Angle Camera, which adds a lot of image area. So much area that I have to hold my camera in a new way because my fingers are in the frame if I hold it like I used to. Just look at this comparison... starting with the telephoto...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

And here's the wide angle...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

And here's the ultra-wide angle...

Seattle skyline as seen from Alki Point across the water.

Granted, where you'll most likely be using the ultra-wide is not shooting things that are far away, it's shooting things closer to you...

Inside the Seattle Public Library.

In which case it's a very big deal...

Inside the Seattle Public Library.

Alas, the Ultra-Wide Angle doesn't have image stabilization and can't use Night Mode (see below), so there are some limitations there, but boy is it a handy thing to have. I find myself using it far more than I thought I would, and quickly realized how critical it is not just for travel, but for everyday use.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA NIGHT MODE
The iPhone 11 has decent apertures for its three cameras, which allow you to get pretty spectacular shots without any long exposure trickery...

A shot of kayakers paddling in Elliot Bay at sundown while a bird watched from the top of a pole.

The Ultra-Wide Camera is f/2.4 which is darn good and allows for gorgeous shots as well...

A wide shot of two posts out in the waters of Elliot Bay at sundown.

Color fidelity is epic...

A beautiful shot of the Ray's Boathouse neon sign glowing while intense colors of sundown light up the sky behind it.

There are limits of course. Once things get too dark, everything can be lost in the shadows. This is nice for artistic purposes, but not what we want most of the time...

A photo of my catio encloser at night. The sky is glowing with a deep blue hue, illuminated by the moon, and a yellow light serenely glows inside the catio.

So what happens when there's not enough light for a shot? Glad you asked!

Google's Pixel 3 had a revolutionary "Night Sight" feature which I was extremely jealous of. I was so jealous that I borrowed one from a friend so I could try it out for a day. My iPhone had decent low-light ability, but it was nothing like what I got from the Pixel 3. Night becomes day and it was an incredible thing. Apple being Apple, they've taken the ball and ran with it. iPhone 11 Pro has automatic "Night Mode" which kicks in without you having to do a thing. It's essentially a long exposure which is assisted by image stabilization and some nifty software processing. The results are pretty amazing.

Here's my back yard with Night Mode turned off...

A photo of my back yard, though you can't see it because it's dark out.

And here it is with Night Mode on automatic which, of course, is activated given that it's pitch black out...

A photo of my back yard with far more detail visible, thanks to Night Mode.

Now, before you think "hey, that's still pretty dark," keep in mind that this is what I got straight out of the camera. I can still go in and make adjustments...

A photo of my back yard... which now looks like it was shot in the early evening instead of in near total darkness.

This level of color fidelity and detail would be impossible with any iPhone prior to this one. It looks like early evening instead of the middle of the night! What's surprising is how often Night Mode gets applied. I thought shooting through a bright window in darkness would fail to trigger Night Mode because the subject in the center is illuminated, but it was triggered anyway...

A photo of my cat Jenny who is staring at me intently through a window.

Curious to know why I needed Night Mode for such a shot, I turned it off and shot again...

A photo of my cat Jenny who is staring at me intently through a window, but this time everything is much darker.

Welp, I guess that's why. I'm getting a much, much better shot with a longer exposure. This is Apple's remarkable "machine learning" at work. Diagnosing shots so you don't have to. I dare say that even the most amateur photographer is going to be able to get pretty amazing shots with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro thanks to Apple helping them out behind the scenes.

"Night Mode" is not magic, however. It's a long exposure. And while image stabilization and camera processing will help keep static scenes in focus, you're fresh out of luck if the subject is in motion. A long exposure of motion is just going to make a blur out of it all. And be careful... the telephoto lens does not support night mode. If you zoom in further than 1× the resulting photo will be shot with the standard wide angle camera and be digitally zoomed.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA APP
Apple's new camera app is pretty great. It's still got an "automatic" mode which will even out the lighting and correct the color tone... usually in a way that's better than what you have without it... but it's the new manual controls they've added to the list which makes the new app so compelling...

  • Exposure
  • Brilliance
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Contrast
  • Brightness
  • Black Point
  • Saturation
  • Vibrance
  • Warmth
  • Tint
  • Sharpness
  • Definition
  • Noise Reduction
  • Vignette

And of course all those tools are "live," so even if you don't know what they mean, you can still play around and see what they do. Sharpness and Noise Reduction have been a long time coming, and I'm particularly impressed with how well Sharpness works. It feels like it's more of an "Unsharp Mask," which provides superior results. The Noise Reduction, however, is pretty basic. It's more of a "LET'S BLUR OUT THE NOISE!" tool than anything else. Here's a shot with no noise reduction applied. It may be tough to see here, but there's quite a bit of noise in this image because I turned Night Mode off. You'll just have to trust me, as you will still see the blurry mess that Noise Reduction makes...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television with noise all over her.

Here's 50% noise reduction...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television with noise a little blurred.

Not bad, but you can see that edge definition is being lost. To see what's really happening you have to turn up Noise Reduction to 100% like this...

My cat Jenny sitting in front of a television, but she's blurred.

Is the noise gone? Sure! But your image is so blurry that even sharpening can't save it. Professional noise reduction tools you can purchase for Photoshop try to eliminate noise while leaving detail. They do a much better job than this, and they do it by not aggressively removing every speck of noise... but finding a way to figure out where noise can be reduced without rendering the image a blur. Since this is Apple's first attempt at the tool, I'm going to give them a pass here... because that they even tried is a good thing... but I sure hope they work on improving it for next time.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA VIDEO
I don't shoot a lot of video (which is probably why I can get away with the 64GB model phone), but what little I've shot with iPhone 11 Pro is pretty great. Especially using the Ultra-Wide camera. As if the new lens wasn't enough to make videographers start drooling, you can now edit video in ways you couldn't before... like actually being able to crop it. No idea why this took so long, but editing 4K video in realtime is no small feat, so I guess it was worth the wait. Especially since I can now make adjustments and apply filters in the editor... without having to wait for the results to render. That's pretty crazy.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CAMERA SELFIES
I don't do selfies much. But the new front-facing camera got an upgrade to 12 megapixels and does a better job of getting great-looking shots. The "big new feature" for the selfie-cam is the "slofie" which is a slow-motion video capture. Whee.

PHOTOGRAPHY: DEEP FUSION
Later this year, Apple will push out a camera update which includes "Deep Fusion," a technology which uses machine learning to assemble the best parts of multiple photos shot in rapid succession to pull out detail and color like never before, as demonstrated at Apple's keynote last month...

It's kinda a "smart HDR" technique which uses pixel shifting to enhance detail (I talk about HDR here). Naturally I can't wait to give it a shot. Or a hundred shots.

CONCLUSION
The iPhone 11 Pro is pretty much the iPhone I've been waiting for... and not for the phone part... it's for the camera part. No, it's not going to take the place of my DSLR camera, but it is so vastly improved for photography that I will likely be using my DSLR much less than I already do. This new model is just so incredibly capable of getting fantastic shots that I don't need to be lugging around a big heavy camera everywhere. And it has me wondering what iPhone 12 will bring to the table. Probably more incredible camera features that I can't live without. =sigh= I really would like to be able to skip a year of upgrading... but this was definitely not that year. I will likely be posting more photos as I explore the iPhone 11 Pro's capabilities more, so you've been warned.

   

Luxury Potatoes

Posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Dave!This afternoon I had to leave the office early so I could run home and wait for the people to come clean out the dryer vent so my home doesn't burn down in a lint-related disaster. It is a lot of noise as a metal wire with a brush on the end reams out the pipe leading to the vent (which is all the way across my home). Jake and Jenny were not happy about this intrusion on their nap time. At all.

After that was over, I boiled eggs and cooked Simply Potatoes so I could make potato salad. I then proceeded to eat potato salad for the rest of the evening because, let's face it, I make pretty dope potato salad.

But let's back this up for a second.

If you are not aware of Simply Potatoes, they are pre-peeled, pre-diced potatoes that cost ten times what regular whole potatoes cost. I refer to them as "luxury potatoes." Usually I don't have the money to be throwing away on such conveniences, but they were on sale for only five times what regular whole potatoes cost, so how could I say no to not having to peel and dice them?

A Bag of Simply Potatoes pre-peeled and pre-diced for your eating pleasure!

I could not.

Hence the unnecessary expenditure and the loads of potato salad I've been eating...
   

Dave's Potato Salad Recipe

Cook one bag of Simply Potatoes Dices in a 2-1/2 quart covered dish for 10 minutes, 20 seconds with 1/2 cup of water in the microwave on high. Microwaves vary so you will need to adjust the cook time accordingly, as you do not want tough, gummy potatoes.

Peel 4 hard-boiled eggs, then slice into small cubes in a large-ish bowl... then blend together the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl...

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Dill Pickles (diced small)
  • 1/2 cup Purple Onion (diced small)
  • 3/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tps. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Celery Seed
  • 1 or 2 tsp. White Wine Vinegar (to taste)

Add cooled potatoes to the bowl with the eggs, then gently fold in the dressing until everything is evenly coated. Garnish with paprika and diced scallions (green onions) or chives.

NOTE: Some people who have tried my recipe like less onion or... God help us... prefer something totally gross like celery instead. Or they want no crunch and leave the onions out entirely so they can use onion salt and garlic powder for flavor. Some people prefer dill weed instead of celery seed. Some people prefer sweet pickles instead of dill pickles. You do you, of course, but this it the recipe I've developed after trying countless others and I loves it just like it is!

Hmmm... now that I think of it, I really should have bought Luxury Eggs instead of fresh eggs. Pre-hard-boiled and pre-peeled, and only double the cost of boiling them yourself!

A Bag of Egg-Land's Best pre-hard-boiled and pre-shelled eggs!

Or I suppose you could just skip making potato salad entirely and buy pre-made at the grocery store. Except... I don't know about where you live... but pre-made potato salad where I live is a grotesquely bland excuse for food which I avoid at all costs. I mean, sometimes they put celery in there! Yes, abhorrent celery... IN POTATO SALAD!

If your potato salad has celery in it? Then YOU, dear reader, are what's wrong with this country!

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She’s Gotta Have It

Posted on Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Dave!It is easier to set my Alexa alarm to 7:04am than to reset the clock on the cat auto-feeder which has been gaining time and drifting a little bit later and later every day. So that's what I did last night. There's no sense messing around with the feeder until stupid Daylight Saving Time ends on November 3rd.

This morning Jenny was NOT having it.

At 7am ON THE DOT she was on my bed meowing her head off wanting breakfast and was very cross indeed that Alexa hadn't chimed in on that. Can you imagine what my life will be like in November when I have to set the clocks back and she has to wait ONE HOUR?!? No extra hour in bed for me... I can guarantee that. Actually it will be two weeks of no sleeping in, because I change their clock in 15 minute increments over time until they are off DST. Apparently it helps them adjust easier...

Jenny laying on my bed forelorned with a paw and claws out while waiting for the Alexa alarm as I scratch her belly.

In other news... I was very nervous testing my blood sugar this morning. After all the potato salad I ate last night... and the huge bowl I had just before bed at 1am... I was sure it would hit 300. But nope! My spleen totally had my back and was a chipper 117 this morning. IT'S A POTATO SALAD MIRACLE!

Not a bad way to start my Thursday.

I am celebrating by having a bowl of potato salad for breakfast.

   

Going Down in Flames

Posted on Friday, October 4th, 2019

Dave!

And so the murderer of Botham Jean has been convicted and sentenced.

I have many, many thoughts on this matter.

Primary of which is that 10 years for murdering a man in his own home while he was sitting on his couch eating ice cream, then not administering any kind of first aid, then lying your damn ass off about what happened... is not nearly adequate punishment. Not even close. I also feel that a judge in a court of law handing over a Bible to her as she's carted off to prison was fucking abhorrent. Does the judge do this to everybody, regardless of what faith they may already be keeping? Is it really her fucking job to try and convert people to Christianity in her courtroom? So much for the separation of Church and State.

But setting all that aside... Trevor Noah, not surprisingly, has a beautiful take on all this. He is one of our great thinkers, and has a way of looking at things and discussing things which is entirely on-point. Just watch this...

I can't really add anything to that and sound like I'm being rational, so I'm just going to let that be the end of it. A plea for compassion really should be the final word here, and I hope one day I can get to that point. Peace and healing to Botham Jean's family and friends

And then there's everything else that's going on. I mean, holy shit are things fucked up right now.

I don't even want to get into the whole impeachment issue. I'll just say this: If it were President Obama who did these totally illegal acts... illegal acts which President Trump has fully admitted to and confirmed ON LIVE TELEVISION... what would the reaction be from Republicans? They wouldn't stop at impeachment, that's for sure. They would be calling for a firing squad on the White House lawn. The hypocrisy here is beyond my ability to even conceptualize. There is hard evidence that President Trump has abused his office multiple times, but in every case people continue to believe his lies and bullshit. The same people who call themselves "patriots" and claim to want to "drain the swamp." PRESIDENT TRUMP AND HIS ADMINISTRATION IS THE FUCKING SWAMP!

Oh well. Maybe it's for the best he stay in office and (hopefully) get voted out next year. Because I fully admit that the idea of a President Pence scares the shit out of me. That vile moron is fucking insane. And that is not hyperbole. He is certifiable. I honestly believe that it is 100% a possibility that he would order a nuclear strike on the Middle East because he thinks Jesus will protect the United States. That's the kind of bat-shit crazy stuff he literally believes. Along with government-sanctioned persecution of anybody who is not a straight white male Christian. Mustn't forget about that. Of course now evidence is surfacing that Vice President Pence was up to his eyeballs in the Ukraine scandal, so maybe they'll both be removed?

One can only hope. The entire fate of this country is at stake.

And speaking of which...

President Trump has threatened more than a couple times to declassify "devastating" information on the Democrats in yet another quid-pro-quo situation... this time to stop Democrats from investigating him (which is totally what an innocent person would do). Can I just say that I totally hope he's not lying (again) and this information exists and he will actually release it?

One can only hope. The entire fate of this country is at stake.

Selective outrage at illegal abuses of political office along party lines is worse than no outrage at all. If there's one thing Americans should be united on, it's that ALL these corrupt mother-fuckers need to go down in flames. Sure that may be the vast majority of politicians in office, but they can be replaced. So bring it on.

   

Caturday 129

Posted on Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Dave!I try to keep a clean home at all times. Partly because I never know when people will drop by, but mostly because I just like living in a clean home.

When it comes to cleaning, it's mostly about my cats. They drag toys everywhere. They leave fur everywhere. They track kitty litter everywhere. They bring dead bugs in from the catio. That kind of thing. I'm not saying that I don't make messes of my own, but I am saying that most of the cleanup requirements are not because of me.

Carl the RoboVac helps. He does a very good job of sweeping up kitty litter and fur day-today. But he has his limits, so I end up having to vacuum things like stairs and moldings manually once a week.

And then there's the deep-cleanings.

I used to "deep clean" every other month. Then it was four times a year. Now it's twice a year in March and October (or possibly when I have company staying with me, especially if they have cat allergies). It just doesn't make sense to be cleaning all the time when my cats are just going to get fur over everything. The most important deep cleaning is the Spring. So much dirt gets tracked in over the winter that it's pointless to do any thorough cleaning after the snow falls. So I just wait until March when the snow has gone and things have dried up.

My October deep cleaning is happening over the next couple weeks. Everything gets moved and taken apart. Everything gets scrubbed. Everything gets washed. Everything gets cleaned. It's a lot of hard work, but worth it because I know that my house is free of filth. For a few days, anyway.

The problem is that Jake and Jenny always want to "help."

Deep cleaning is something different and new for them to get excited about, so they are always all over anything that gets moved and investigating every little thing I do. Unless there's noise involved, at which time they run and hide.

Which is why I always vacuum first. It's just easier that way.

I juuuusssst finished vacuuming five minutes ago.... Annnnd they're back already. Apparently there's something happening outside that they simply must look at...

Jake and Jenny sitting on the cat scratcher lounger and looking out the window.

Used to be I could count on them to hide for at least an hour when the vacuum comes out. I guess those days are gone...

Jake and Jenny take a break from staring out the window and are now staring at me.

Jake and Jenny bored now and wandering around the cat scratcher lounger.

It was probably Fake Jake, who has been hanging around ever since I put the heated winter shelters out for him. Real Jake isn't quite so threatened any more, but Jenny is still mostly terrified. She hisses at him even when she knows she's not in danger...

Jake sneaking up to the front screen door to visit with Fake Jake.

Jake at the front screen door visiting with Fake Jake.

There was a part of me that hoped I could eventually bring Fake Jake inside, but it's just never going to happen. He's horribly aggressive towards other cats and I Would never risk him hurting Jake and Jenny. So... my neighbors and myself do the best we can to take care of him and make sure he has shelter and food. The heated kitty igloos are a favorite spot for him to hang out when it's cold or raining, and I still have cameras inside so I can see if he's hurt or sick or needs help...

Fake Jake cuddled up on the heating pad in his kitty igloo sleeping with a smile on his face.

My cats are happy inside now that I've turned the heat on and put out the kitty beds for them to sleep in... or half-in...

Jenny is hanging out of her kitty bed and yawning.

See you next Caturday!

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Bullet Sunday 632

Posted on Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Dave!Sunday is travel day but I'm not depressed at all, because an all new Bullet Sunday LIVE FROM NEW ORLEANS starts... now...

   
• Spider-Fan. It was being reported that Tom Holland himself was responsible for getting Disney and Sony back to the bargaining table and keeping Spider-Man in the MCU. This was then confirmed by Bob Iger on Jimmy Kimmel Live! To say I'm thrilled is a gross understatement...

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

All you have to do is watch the post-credits sequence of Spider-Man: Far From Home to know what a huge, huge, massively huge benefit it is to have even the smallest ties to what Marvel has built... it's not just the big players like Nick Fury and Maria Hill. So bless you, Tom Holland.

   
• FalCap! And speaking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this fantastic piece of art appeared this week...

Sam Wilson in a Captain America costume sporting Cap’s shield with The Winter Solder, Bucky Barnes.

If Marvel Studios puts as much effort and money into their Disney+ series as their movies, we are in for a real treat.

It looks like Falcon Cap still has his wing pack on? I would hope so. Since he doesn’t have Cap’s Super Soldier serum, he’s going to need something to give him an edge. Could make for a very interesting fighting style.

   
• The Horror. This GEICO insurance commercial slays me every time it appears on my television...

If all commercials were as clever as this, I wouldn’t have to fast-forward through them. But most commercials are stupid and so annoying that I really HAVE to fast forward through them.

   
• Predator. Speaking of horror... holy crap! Maybe it’s because I buy cheap cars that I actually pay off that I was so oblivious to just how horrific and predatory the auto industry is when it comes to selling their crack cocaine! I mean cars. I had no idea.

   
• Real Fake. This video explaining the cinematography of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4 is absolutely fascinating...

While a part of me bemoans the impending death of hand-drawn animation, it’s nice to know that 3D computer animators are not resting on their laurels, and continue to push for ever more amazing work in their films.

   
• A9. Hey, if anybody has $4,500 laying around, you could totally buy me the gorgeous new Sony A9 Mark II camera that’s being released later this year. Just sayin’.

   
• Enjoy Your Inequity. In what should come as a shock to absolutely nobody, the IRS admits that they audit poor people because it’s easier and cheaper than auditing rich people. And make absolutely no mistake... the wealthy people who own this country designed it to be this way. They get all the loopholes... they get all the breaks... they get everything. And meanwhile, you get to take the shit sandwich they’re feeding you.

   
See you next Sunday... but probably not from my favorite American city.

   

New New Orleans

Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2019

Dave! New Orleans is my favorite American city...

...to visit. I don’t think I could ever live here, because the heat and humidity would do me in. I dunno. Maybe I could eventually get used to it, but I do not handle sweating non-stop very well.

Yesterday on the plane I tried to count up how many times I’ve been to The Big Easy. My first trip was in 1983 for a DECA convention when I was between my junior and senior year in high school. It was my first trip outside of the state by myself. And I mean really by myself, because my chaperoning teacher couldn’t make the trip. New Orleans is probably not the best place to be 17 years old and totally unsupervised, but I lived to tell the tale. And here I am on my 11th... or maybe 12th or 13th... trip to New Orleans. It’s hard for me to remember all the trips I took before I started a record of my travels at Blogography (yet another reason to keep blogging, I suppose).

Dinner last night was at Coop’s Place...

The sign for Coop’s Place which features an Alligator drinking a glass of wine and licking his lips.

This is one of those dining establishments which makes me feel sorry for people eating here who don’t know what to expect. The food is excellent, but everything else is a bit rough around the edges...

The bar at Coop’s Place, which looks pretty much like every other dive bar you’ve ever seen.

You’ll be eating your veggie burger when all of a sudden a group will ask their server if they can split the check. Then you’ve got the server screaming “HEY! DO WE SPLIT CHECKS HERE?” And everybody in the establishment will then scream out “FUCK NO!” or just “NO!” If they’re being nice about it. And you can expect the same treatment any time you ask for anything special or even think about hassling the staff. They are simply not here for it. Which is part of the fun, I guess. I was here to eat, drink too much, and watch The Saints game on Coop’s battered old CRT television...

Looking up at the old television which has The Saints football game on. Everything is a bit grunge-looking.

Every time I eat here, I am shocked that I don’t end up with some kind of food poisoning from eating mayonnaise that’s not refrigerated and has been sitting out in a warm bar all day, but I never have...

A bar top with four kids of hot sauce and other condiments, including a bottle of generic mayonnaise.

My veggie burger at Coop’s Place... looking delicious next to some HEAVILY seasoned fries.

I ate and drank too much considering I had to work this morning, but that didn’t stop me from walking down Bourbon Street as I made my way back to my hotel...

The madness of Bourbon Street at night... people acting crazy and having fun under the neon lights from the signage.

The glowing neon sign for Willie’s Pizza with a glowing Willie’s Chicken sign behind it.

A woman about to fall on her drunk ass as she embraces the madness of Bourbon Street at night.

The madness of Bourbon Street at night... people acting crazy and having fun under the neon lights from the signage.

The Hard Rock Cafe New Orleans, all aglow in neon lights as people walk by.

I then worked on my presentation materials until I fell asleep around midnight.

And today it was a brand new day. I had set my iPhone to wake me at 6:30am so I had time for breakfast before work. I was surprised that the alarm actually woke me until I realized I am still on Pacific Time, so it’s 4:30am to me. Oh well. It was a glorious morning out, so I decided to take a stroll before eating. Jackson Square was beautiful as always...

Looking at St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

Zooming in with iPhone 11 Pro’s telephoto lens to see the creamy morning light reflecting off St. Louis Cathedral...

Looking at the cathedral of Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

And here’s using the amazing wide-angle lens...

Looking at the cathedral of Jackson Square which looks a slight creamy yellow in the morning light.

That wide angle lens is just so nice when shooting in a city. Here are some comparisons between what I can capture without it vs. with it...

An artillery canon monument from the standard camera lens.

An artillery canon monument in wide angle.

Cafe du Monde from the standard camera lens.

Cafe du Monde in wide angle.

Interesting to note that new wide angle lens has prompted apple to add planar adjustments to the editor in Photos. It’s very cool, assuming you have enough image to work with. Not so cool if you don’t...

The Apple Photos editor showing a distorted view of St. Peter’s Cathedral due to the wide angle lens.

Unfortunately I don’t have enough image for my desired crop, so the top of the church is cut off.

That could be fixed by switching to a square or vertical crop, however, so still... pretty darn cool.

After 20 minutes of exploring my New Orleans morning, I headed to Restaurant Stanley for my second-favorite Bananas Foster French Toast in the city, which was phenomenal, as expected...

Bananas Foster French Toast with a scoop of ice cream and some banana chips on top.

Alas, then it was time to head to work. But I got to walk down Bourbon Street on my way back, which is a very different scene in the daylight hours...

Bourbon Street in the daylight... looking abandoned and freshly-cleaned.

But it’s nice to see some of the amazing signage there in good light...

A sign for the Olde NOLA Cookery... with a crab chef and fishing boat plus the words AUTHENTIC NEW ORLEANS CUISINE underneath.

Then it was time for work.

And now I’m waiting on two work meet-ups this afternoon before this trip is officially a wrap!

See you on the West Coast next time, sports fans!

   

Old New Orleans

Posted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Dave!Having been to The Crescent City many times, I know how crucial it is to pack minimum 2 changes of socks and underwear and 3 changes of shirt every day. When the heat and humidity makes you sweat like I do, anything less is just being irresponsible.

Work yesterday ran me pretty ragged and I had been eating all day long, so my ambitions for dinner were low. I made my run to Cafe du Monde and that was all I needed...

Beignets... square donuts caked with way too much powdered sugar.

When I sat down to eat, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that something was wrong. Something had changed. After a minute I realized that the painting “It seemed like an ordinary day, until I had coffee with Jesus at the Cafe du Monde” which had been hanging on the green-stripes wall was missing. Just a blank spot there now...

Inside the Cafe du Monde where there is indeed a blank spot where the painting used to hang.

I’ve blogged about the painting and how much I like it two or three times now...

A painting of Jesus standing in front of St. Louis Cathedral while people are at the Cafe du Monde.

I asked at the counter and all they would say was that it had “been moved to a new location.” I hope that’s the case, because I will be sorely disappointed if some religious zealot asshole complained and they had to take it down.

Then I just wandered so I could take a few photos with my iPhone 11 Pro to see how it handles things when the light is fading. And to play around with that magnificent wide-angle lens, of course...

A photo of a beautiful New Orleans building with wrought iron railings and massive ferns hanging on the balconies.

This time a wide-angle photo of a beautiful New Orleans building with wrought iron railings and massive ferns hanging on the balconies... with people in the street in front of and around it.

St. Louis Cathedral at dusk.

A wide-angle shot of St. Louis Cathedral at dusk as seen through Jackson Square with its beautifully manicured lawn and greenery. A statue of Jackson on a horse is in the middle of the park.

A beautiful gold-covered statue of Joan of Arc, which was a gift to New Orleans from the people of France. A French flag can be seen on a pole behind it.

Statue of a woman in brass sitting on the edge of a fountain with a painting of New Orleans behind it.

St. Louis Cathedral at dusk sitting behind Jackson Square with beautiful green lawns and a statue of Jackson on a horse in the middle.

Another shot of St. Louis Cathedral at dusk with a lovely green glow on the sides of the building.

An old cement building with a pointed roof which has been converted to a bar (of course) and it awash in a neon glow.

A yellow building with a spooky purple glow coming from the balcony where a skeleton monster is peeking out and there’s a spider in a giant web hanging over.

Alas, I’m old now, so I was headed to my hotel just before 9:00. I was past my limit of sweating for the day and didn’t feel like drinking my way into a coma. Sure it was an early night, but I got a great sleep in, so it’s all good.

This morning was spent in bed working. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to enjoy my air conditioned hotel room until they kicked me out. I am on my last pair of underwear and socks, so going out and having nothing to change into after sweating through my clothes was the last thing I wanted to do (you are welcome, people on the plane sitting next to me).

With three hours to kill, I decided to have a leisurely lunch at Attiki. They have a fantastic falafel wrap, which sounded all kinds of amazeballs. Then I couldn’t resist one last stop at Cafe du Monde for dessert...

Beignets at Cafe du Monde, covered in entirely too much powdered sugar.

This time I had a guest...

A pigeon scrounging around the floor of the Cafe du Monde looking for something to eat, I’m guessing.

A pigeon scrounging around the floor of the Cafe du Monde looking for something to eat, I’m guessing.

After second lunch, I stopped by the Hemmerling Gallery to ask about the painting that used to hang in the Cafe du Monde (which I mentioned above). They told me his painting was moved across the street to a general store owned by Cafe du Monde. They also told me that the painting was inspired from when Bill was sitting at the Cafe du Monde drinking a coffee and a man sat down at his table who looked like Jesus. This scared him, so he got up and moved to another table, finished his coffee, and left. As he was walking away, he started feeling bad about the way he had acted, so he went back to apologize. But the man was gone. As he was walking through the square, he saw the man again sitting on a park bench. He sat down and tapped the man on his shoulder and asked him if people tell him he looks like Jesus. When the man turned around, he had the most beautiful face Bill had ever seen. He went to his preacher and said he thought he met Jesus at the Café du Monde... then painted it.

So I walked back to the store and, here it is. So sad they moved it from its rightful place at Cafe du Monde! Mystery solved though...

The Bill Hemmerling painting about seeing Jesus at the Cafe du Monde.

And now I am waiting for my shuttle to the airport for my flight home. Hopefully we land in Seattle early, because I’ve still got a long drive ahead of me after the flight.

And there are cats at home waiting for me.

   

Gone New Orleans

Posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

Dave!I had no work yesterday, but my choices were either a very early flight or an early evening flight. I probably should have taken the early one, but I would still be on Pacific Time after only one day in The Big Easy, so I made the easier decision.

Though, if I'm being honest, the real easier decision would be to add an extra day as vacation. But that would have been on my nickel, so there would be none of that.

As an up-side, it was a pretty sunset as we took off... and... there were sweeping views of the causeway which spans the entirety of Lake Pontchartrain!

A pretty sunset in reds, yellows, and oranges out my plane window.

Looking out an airplane window at the bridge which spans Lake Pontchartrain.

I've actually driven it once. It was nice. And buggy. My windshield was entirely covered with dead bugs by the time I got to the other side.

Before takeoff, the plane captain announced that the mountain passes were a mess, so anybody heading East (like me!) might want to check on things before leaving the airport. Well I did, and ultimately decided I'd rather handle the snow and ice in daylight, so I stayed on the westside last night.

Then, early this morning, it was time to brave the mountains.

Except... it wasn't a big deal at all. The roads were completely clear. Just pretty scenery, as usual, for this time of year.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

Driving through the mountains with snow-covered trees all around.

And now what I'd really like? Potato salad! Which is why I stopped off at the store to buy some luxury potatoes and sour cream.

My dinner is going to be better than your dinner.

Unless you're in New Orleans having beignets at Cafe du Monde. There's really no topping that, is there?

   

Just Another Thursday Morning…

Posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Dave!As usual when I return from a trip, my cats have been taking turns glomming all over me. Poor Jake acts like I've been gone for years, and will sleep on my bed for two or three nights before things get back to whatever passes for "normal" in my house.

Though at some point in the middle of the night, he left me long enough to go downstairs and grab Mufasa and Moose the Mule and bring them upstairs. I went to take a photo of them when I woke up this morning and was surprised that iPhone decided to use the flash instead of Night Mode. The flash washes everything out, so I turned it off and Night Mode kicked in, giving much better results. Apple needs to work on this. Maybe the camera should know how to cut back on flash and create some kind of “Half Night Mode” for cases like this? Just a little flash on top of Night Mode would have cut down on grain, but preserved color fidelity and detail. Oh well. Until that day, I’ll just keep the flash turned off. It just seems to ruin things...

Mufasa the toy lion and Moose the Mule toy mule on the floor of my bedroom... taken with iPhone flash and is all washed out.

Mufasa the toy lion and Moose the Mule toy mule on the floor of my bedroom... taken with iPhone in Night Mode and looking all gorgeous.

I don't know what's going on with my cats and their toys. When I got home from work yesterday, I walked in the door to this...

Mufasa the toy lion laying on the floor with a long, long stream of packing pillows strug out behind him.

I don't know what chain of events led up to it. Maybe Jake did Jenny wrong, so she took Mufasa away from him and was going to ship him back to Africa? Silly cats.

Yesterday I made potato salad (again) and it was the first thing I thought of for breakfast when the cats' feeding alarm went off...

A beautiful scoop of my homemade potato salad with paprika on top sitting in a bowl and ready to be eaten.

As I was taking my tater salad back to bed so I could go through my email and get some work done, I noticed that my thermostat was glaring at me. Apparently it's time to turn on the whole-home humidifier...

The display on my smart thermostat telling me that the indoor humidity is only 24%.

I would have turned it on right then, but all my woodworking tools are piled in front of it, so I guess that will have to wait until the weekend.

When I managed to get back up to my work, my laptop let me know that the final version of MacOS X "Catalina" dropped while I was in New Orleans (I've been running the betas since they were first released)...

My MacBook Pro telling me that it's downloading the final version of MacOS X Catalina.

There goes my morning productivity. Fortunately Jenny came up after her breakfast and kept me company while I waited...

Jenny laying next to me as I wait for my laptop to finish updating its operating system.

As usual with Apple, first there's a time to download screen... followed with a time to install screen... followed with a time to update screen. Which not only made it so I couldn't get any work done, it make it so I was late to the office. Yay.

Just another Thursday morning.

   

Humidity for Days

Posted on Friday, October 11th, 2019

Dave!Sometimes having a house that's smarter than you are is a real pain in the ass.

As I mentioned yesterday, my "smart home" keeps nagging me that the humidity is low, but I've been too busy to move all the tools and junk that are piled in front of the whole-home humidifier so I can turn it on. Then come the afternoon my house got even more freaked out about its precious moisture levels and was all "ZOMG! I'M AT 22% AND I SHOULD BE AT 36%! DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS HUMIDITY ALREADY!!!" And so I moved just enough crap that I could use a stick to poke the "on" button...

Thanks to the steam that immediately started blowing through my vents, the humidity reached acceptable levels in just four hours. And now my house is happily maintaining the humidity it wants and no longer bothering me...

I left work early today to take down my DirecTV satellite dish, patch the holes, paint over the holes, cut down the flowers and trim the shrubs, clean the security cameras, disassemble the Liter-Robots for cleaning, hose out the catio, bake bread, clean the guest room, wash clothes, steam clean the cat feeding station, make a grocery list, wash out the garbage and recycle bins, dig for winter clothes I can donate, clean out my tool boxes, and gather books for the library book sale.

Instead I took down the DirecTV dish, filled the holes... then watched El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix. Not long after, I heard that Robert Forster, who appears in El Camino, had died. He's had many notable roles but my all-time favorite is in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, where he's fantastic at conveying so much without even saying a word...

Amazing. And now I have to go watch that movie for the 100th time. Rest in peace, sir. You will be missed.

BUT BEFORE WE GO...

Though I would take Elizabeth Warren over President Trump (hell, I'd pick Pee-Wee Herman over President Trump)... I don't know that I would want her as President of the United States. But then I see how deftly she handles homophobic bigotry, and have to wonder if she might be the person for the job...

Kinda the perfect video to land on National Coming Out Day, isn't it?

   

Caturday 130

Posted on Saturday, October 12th, 2019

Dave!Today after work I was hungry so I ran to the local drive-thru to get some fries to hold me over until dinner. Then I drove home and ate them in my car in my driveway because I didn't want to eat in front of my cats. I would have pulled into the garage and ate them there, but my cats run to the door and wait for me when they hear the garage door opening. The last thing I want to do is get them excited and have them sit there waiting for 15 minutes while I scarf fries.

I mean, come on, this was Jenny staring at me this morning until the breakfast alarm sounded, how can I eat in front of that?

Jenny staring at me from the cat tree in my bedroom.

Though perhaps I am being too kind. According to science, Cats Know Their Own Names, Even if They Pretend Not To. I'm telling you right now... Jenny DEFINITELY knows her name. Jake seems to sometimes, but I'm not 100% sure. In any case, yes, they pretend not to... unless it suits them. The little scoundrels.

Speaking of scoundrels, this is me when I hear a skirmish: "HEY! WHO INSTIGATED THIS?!??? Let's go to the tape!" — =watches camera feed=JENNY! YOU INSTIGATED NOT ONCE... BUT TWICE!!! =sob= I'm so proud of you, my tough little lady!

Little poo-heads!

Though they can also be the most adorable things on earth too. My cats are rarely on my bed at the same time. They take turns... and if one sees the other on the bed, they will leave and come back later. But the electric blanket seems to be a big enough draw that they will make exceptions now...

Jake and Jenny laying next to each other on my electric blanket.

If you remember from previous years, Jenny's favorite thing in cold weather is the electric blanket, which means she will be there a lot.

Jenny walking up to me on the electric blanket looking for the perfect place to lie down.

Though this time of year both of them spend plenty of time using my body heat as a source of heat too...

Jake laying on top of me for heat.

Jenny sitting next to me for heat.

Though, these are cats we're talking about, so everything is not all perfect. Lately Jake has been copping me some serious attitude. Here he is when he couldn’t get a pretzel out of the box and I wouldn’t help, so he turned his back on me. This is despite my calling his name. AND WE KNOW THAT SCIENCE SAYS HE CAN TOTALLY UNDERSTAND MY CALLING HIS NAME...

Jake sitting on the couch with his back to me while a box of pretzels sits next to me.

Jenny's not innocent in all this. Earlier this week she came into my bedroom meowing for treats. I told her no, that she just had breakfast. She threw herself down on the bed and just stared at me with a look of 100% derision...

Jenny looking at me with an air of complete derision.

JUST LOOK AT THAT SMIRK! SCOUNDRELS, I SAY!

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Bullet Sunday 633

Posted on Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Dave!I've been catching up with preparing my home for winter this weekend, but I had to make time for blogging, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Compare. I am putting this video here because I just can't believe it exists. Arun Maini (who has a great YouTube Channel) compared all the iPhones ever made for quality and features, plus showed and unboxing of each as well...

One of the most shocking parts of this video is the end where he compares the cameras. I maintain that the camera in the new iPhone 11 Pro may be the best camera I've ever owned. No, it can't really compare my Sony DSLR... but, in some ways, it actually eclipses it. First of all, it fits in my pocket and is with me at all times. Second of all, it has capabilities you could only get from a device with a massively powerful computer in it... like Night Mode and the forthcoming Deep Fusion. Aside from all that, it's just capable of taking amazing, amazing photos.

Of course the biggest shock is the benchmark escalation...

All the iPhone models lined up with their benchmark scores overlayed... starting with the original with a score of 710 all the way up to the iPhone 11 Pro with a score of 699,988!

I mean... wow. As an aside here, I've owned the following: 2G (The Original), 3G, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, XS, and 11 Pro...

All my iPhone boxes lined up on a table... with the exception of iPhone 7.

I kept all the boxes (except I can't find the box for 7). I think the only actual phone I kept was the 5 (it's in the shadows up there in the corner) because I loved the look of it so much (the 4 is a close second). I also have a 2G Original around here somewhere. The other phones I donated because the trade-in value is always worth less to me than helping somebody out... or, as of the iPhone X, I returned it to Apple as part of their iPhone Upgrade Program.

   
• Vieux Carré. They are building a Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans at the Northeastern corner of The French Quarter. I was staying just around the corner from the construction site, and walked by while I was there to check things out. Unfortunately I couldn't see much... and, even more unfortunately, there was a horrific accident which has left two workers dead and one still missing...

As the push to get things done ever cheaper and faster escalates, worker safety seems to be pushed aside. I sincerely hope that's not the case here.

   
• GROUCH. I do not care how many accolades that the Joker movie gets... I have zero interest in seeing it. The "real" Joker was a career criminal who was driven insane when he dropped in a vat of chemicals. The key takeaway being that he was always a criminal. In this new movie, Joker becomes a criminal due to mental illness, and I'm not here for it. The film is a completely unnecessary revision that simply doesn't interest me. Maybe one day when it's free on HBO or whatever, I'll give it a try out of boredom... but I'm not rushing to the theater to see it. Last night on SNL, there was a parody for Oscar the Grouch which brilliantly captures how I view Joker...

Perfect. THIS IS PERFECT!

   
• Three. It came out a short while back that Kevin Smith had finally manages to get Jeff Anderson onboard for Clerks 3. He had written a script ages ago, but Jeff didn't want to do it. Apparently after some discussion, Smith decided to write an all new script inspired by his heart attack that Anderson could get onboard with. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic...

Kevin Smith has made some of the favorite films. He kinda lost me when he took a detour into Cop Out, Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers... but the idea of getting another Jay & Silent Bob movie this month followed by another Clerks? Too good to be true.

   
• Vileness. You will be absolutely amazed what Portuguese street artist, Vile, can do with cans of spray paint...

Tom Holland in his Spider-Man costume.

Check out the story over at My Modern Met for more of his mind-blowing graffiti art.

   
• Apple and TV. I absolutely loathe the way Apple handles the video media they peddle. They charge more money than any other provider to sell you something you are forced to watch with their shitty, shitty apps. AppleTV is a grotesque mockery of interface design that barely works. The iPhone and iPad apps are missing so many critical features (LIKE SORTING YOUR HUNDREDS OF PURCHASES) that they're a heinous burden to use. And now there's the TV app for my Mac that came with their new Catalina MacOS. It is the very definition of crap. I never thought I'd be longing to go back to iTunes, but at least it was functional. The TV app is fucking garbage. They regularly send you to places that have no content... THEN DON'T GIVE YOU A FUCKING "BACK" BUTTON TO GO BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE!

And just try searching for stuff you want to buy. I dare you. I double dare you. I am so fucking embarrassed for Apple that I feel like vomiting. And if Steve Jobs were alive today he'd probably burn the company to the ground. After he strangles all the dumbasses who thought that "butterfly" keyboards in MacBooks was a good idea.

   
• Stellar. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a movie that I didn't like at first but, as time went on and I gave it another chance, I came to appreciate it as pretty good sci-fi. The high-concept science behind it is fascinating. Yes, the way that Nolan tried to inject "humanity" into it was a kludge, but it's still an entertaining story. And while I found everything pretty straightforward (despite some glaring plot holes), I found this cool (spoiler-filled) graphic which explains the time shifts in a great way...

The complex timeline of the movie Interstellar showing all the characters and their journey through the film.
Click image to embiggen.

Of course I ended up watching the movie again last night just to follow along. I like it even better the third time through.

   
See you next Sunday, buckaroos.

   

Somebody’s Got a Case of the Mondays!

Posted on Monday, October 14th, 2019

Dave!Ugh. Where do I even start?

Bad enough that I didn't get to relax this past weekend. Bad enough that the Fall Harvest movie marathon on Hallmark are all movies I've already seen. Bad enough I have to put up with shitty people trotting out "HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY!" not because they care about Christopher Columbus, but because they want to piss off people who know the brutal truth: the guy was a mass-murdering psychopath, sadistic butcherer, serial enslaver, and overall fucking horrendous bastard who didn't "discover" jack-shit.

And, oh yeah, bad enough that I didn't get much sleep last night.

But that was just a warm-up for what was to follow...

A scene from the movie Office Space where a woman is shouting SOMEBODY HAS A CASE OF THE MONDAYS!

Here's my Monday morning, assuming you care to read about my series of misfortunate events...

  • At 7:00 I got up and fed my very anxious cats. This is the last good thing that would happen this morning.
  • Caught up on Facebook for 15 minutes before starting my morning routine. There was a nasty reply left on a comment I made, but I let it go. Life is too short for Facebook shenanigans.
  • Had my beard trimmer battery die half-way through grooming my face. It won't work while plugged in for some reason, so I had to plug it in before hopping in the shower only half-groomed.
  • Forgot that I used the last of my bar of soap after I've already shampooed my head. Use shampoo for the rest of my body (as an aside, Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo makes your balls feel fresher than they've ever been!).
  • Trimmer still dead. Climb on Facebook for ten minutes until I have enough charge to finish my face. Another two people have jumped on the bandwagon calling me nasty names. ALL I SAID IS THAT EVERYBODY WOULD BE A LOT BETTER OFF IF WE STOPPED FINDING NEW WAYS TO HATE TO EACH OTHER! But apparently they're happier when denying LGBTQ persons basic human rights.
  • At 7:45 I go downstairs to take the trash out. Now that it's dark out so early, I wait until mornings instead of at night after cleaning up from dinner. I very nearly step in what I'm assuming is cat puke.
  • Worried something is wrong with Fake Jake, I run to the security cameras and can't get a good enough look to know if it's him or not. I adjust the security camera to a better angle, then go looking for him. When I find him in the back yard, he looks okay. He's so happy to see me that he scratches my hand wide open.
  • I go to hose the cat vomit off my sidewalk when I see that the hoses I connected together are leaking (when I repaired the holes where my DirecTV dish was, I had to use a double-hose to reach). I let go of the spray-trigger, go to screw the hoses together tighter, then realize that's not the problem. One of the hoses is split. I turn the hose to see how bad it is only to have it bust wide open. The highly pressurized water blows into my flower bed, which ends up throwing dirt and water all over me.
  • I decouple the hoses, toss the bad hose, then hook the spray-trigger on the good hose. Turns out the spray-trigger is now cracked and leaking water. But at least I managed to clean off the vomit AND hose myself down so I don't track dirt in my home.
  • I take another shower. Of course I didn't remember that I forgot to put soap in the shower, so Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo is once again delighting my balls.
  • After throwing my soiled clothes in the wash... AND CLEANING UP THE WATER I DRIPPED EVERYWHERE WHILE CARRYING THEM TO THE LAUNDRY ROOM... I decide to have some toast before heading into work. When I open the refrigerator to get the butter, I see that the bottom has blown out of my sourdough starter jar and it's leaking everywhere.
  • It was a clean break on the jar and I have plenty of starter left that's salvageable, so bread in my future is assured. I strain everything through a fine strainer to be sure there's no glass fragments, then start cleaning up the disgusting mess in my fridge. When I get to the bottom shelf, I see that I have no Coke Zero left, and I really need a Coke after all I've been through. I do have beer, however...
  • After spending 20 minutes cleaning, I see that I have smeared starter on my shirt. And why not? Doesn't everybody go through three shirts in the morning?
  • I pack up my stuff, feed the cats a treat, then head out the door. Half-way to work, I remember that I left my work drive at home. I go back to get it and OF COURSE Jake and Jenny forgot that they just got a treat 5 minutes earlier! They want another one! And because I'm too tired to argue with cats, I just give it to them.
  • I pull into work and see that one of my wheel covers has broken. No idea how or when it happened. Probably when I got my snow tires put on and I am only just now noticing.
  • I walk into work a half-hour late. Yay.

Guess these jars aren't as tough as they look. I didn't even close the lid tightly...

The Ball canning jar for my sourdough starter which has the bottom blown out and sourdough starter remnants in it being held over my sink.

   
And if you think that this was the end of my Monday woes, I got news for you... it wasn't. Now that it's getting colder, I am getting more and more worried about Fake Jake, who isn't as young as he used to be. I worry that the cold might be harder on him as he ages, so I've been trying to find a door for the igloo shelters I put up for him... thinking it might keep more heat inside. Alas, I haven't been able to find any, even though the shelter has holes drilled for one. This morning I finally got a reply from the company who makes it...

We offer a door for your Petmate Kitty Kat Condo, but it's out of stock until December 18. Here's a link (link to frosted door flap).

Wait... FROSTED?!? Surely they offer a flap in CLEAR, right? Alas, nope. So I wrote back...

Thank you for your reply. I am, however, dumbfounded that the only door flap you make for the Kitty Kat Condo is FROSTED! It’s already hard enough to get a cat to go into a shelter with only one exit because cats don’t like to feel trapped. The only thing that makes it tolerable is that they can look outside if they hear something out there. Your door flap being opaque makes this impossible, and has me wondering why anybody would buy it when a frosted flap will just make cats reluctant to go into the shelter in the first place! Oh well. Guess I get to try and make something myself.

I suppose I know what my next project with be when I finally get some free time. Assuming I manage to get some free time.

And keep in mind that all this happened before I started work! The rest of my day was shaping up to be no picnic, I tell you what.

Lastly, just because people apparently need a fucking reminder...

And that's a sanitized version of all the sociopathic shit he did.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, everybody.

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Tears at the A&W Drive-In

Posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Dave!I'm an adult and I get to do adult stuff whenever I want... like having a hamburger for breakfast!

Back when I was very young, my family lived within a short distance to the local A&W hamburger drive-in. We didn't eat out a lot... eating out is expensive... but this just made the burgers all the more special. And boy were this burgers special. Sometimes, especially after we moved to a neighboring town and had to drive there, we'd eat in the car. I vividly remember sitting in the backseat with my brother... waiting for the car-hop to attach that big metal tray with the webbed orange liner to the driver-side window... then waiting for my parents to pass back that magical foil bag which had my burger in it... and a big frosty mug of A&W root beer, of course.

A&W had PapaBurger, MamaBurger, TeenBurger, and BabyBurger... and the foil bags used to have a cartoon printed on the front to tell you what was inside. You can still find them floating around eBay for sale...

Two vintage foil hamburger bags from A&W... a Momma.
Photo taken from WorthPoint whom I'm guessing took it from eBay?

I started with the BabyBurger, which had a smaller burger patty on it. Then one day I felt I was grown up enough to graduate to the TeenBurger, so I ordered that. It came with cheese and bacon on it and it was the best thing I had ever eaten. And even though I use a veggie burger patty with soy "bacon" now, I still love cheese and bacon on my burger and I owe it all to the A&W.

Sometimes we wouldn't eat in the car... especially when we lived close-by and could walk there. We'd sit inside the restaurant on a big orange booth seat at one of those wooden-looking laminate tables with the metal edges on it. On those occasions when I was still very young, I wouldn't be handed over a magical foil bag... mom would instead take the BabyBurger out of the bag, cut it in half for me, set it on the bag, then slide it across the table.

I don't know why.

If I could handle a whole burger when eating in the backseat of the car, then why couldn't I handle it when dining in the restaurant? Why cut it in half for me then? Just one of many, many things which will remain forever a mystery.

Isn't it terrible how many things you think of to ask somebody after they're gone and you're no longer able to ask?

This morning when I was an adult and having a hamburger for breakfast, I looked at it sitting there on the plate... took out a knife... and cut it in half, almost without thinking about it. Something I don't think I've ever done before in my entire life...

My morning breakfast hamburger sitting on a plate, cut in half.

And suddenly I'm not an adult any more.

I'm just a little kid sitting in the A&W restaurant with my burger wanting his mom.

   
I don't know why some memories are so vivid in my mind where others have faded. I don't know how it is that I am able to remember something that happened when I was so young. I don't know what it is about eating at the A&W that makes it so unforgettable. I guess how our minds choose what to archive is just another mystery.

As is what happened to my old battered A&W mug that was bought for a quarter and sat in my cupboard for... like... forever. Did it break? Did I lose it? Did I throw it out? Did mom throw it out? I dunno. But I do know that A&W has an online merchandise shop where I can probably buy another one.

And, holy crap, did you know that it's their 100th anniversary this year?!?

A mug of frosty A&W root beer with a 1919-2019 logo on it, showing a giant '100' that's cut into an outline of an A&W drive-in.

Boy, I could sure go for a frosty mug of A&W root beer right about now.

   
UPDATE: While I was trying to fall asleep, I Googled for an image of the old A&W that I used to eat at when I was a kid. One photo came up, but it was from an expired Panoramio account and Panoramio has shut down... so I have no idea if this is actually the restaurant, who to credit the photo to, or whom to ask about it. This would be the view looking away from the restaurant towards the drive-in stalls and the parking lot. It certainly looks like it could be my old A&W...

A photo of an old A&W drive-in at dusk showing parking spots with the car-hop menu boards sticking out and a sign saying ALL YOU CAN EAT SHRIMP DINNER $849 FRIDAY ONLY on an illuminated billboard attached to the road-sign.

The awning over the stalls... the menu-boards... it all looks much like I remember. What gives me pause is the price on the billboard of $849 (assumably $8.49) for an all you can eat shrimp dinner. That seems high for the era that my A&W existed. The cars also look too modern. I think the local drive-in A&W was torn down before this was taken? Maybe not. Another thing I question is the entrance here... from this direction, I think the entrance would have been on the right side of the photo. And I want to say that our stalls were straight instead of at an angle like this? In any event, this is definitely the kind of experience I so vividly remember, even if it's not the actual restaurant.

   

A Washer for All Seasons

Posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Dave!When I first moved into my home, I was ecstatic about having a garage. Not only for the covered parking... but all the extra space available to me. It was a luxury I hadn't experienced before. All of a sudden I could buy stuff in bulk to save money. I could have a collection of tools beyond a hammer and screwdriver. I could store wood and other building materials. I could have my winter tires with me instead of having to beg for space from a friend. It was a Very Big Deal. And I thought I'd never be able to fill it all up.

Yeah, I was adorable back then, wasn't I?

Of course I managed to fill it up.

Which is fine when my garage is functioning as a wood shop... but not so fine when I need it to fuction as a garage. This year I had to shove my table saw, canister vacuum, table router, and a bunch of wood boards and other stuff to the front of my garage because there was no room left to put them anywhere else. Which leaves me with less space for parking, and that's tricky. If I pull in too far, I can't get around my car. If I don't pull in far enough, I risk the garage door coming down on my back bumper.

I thought I'd eventually get a "feel" for how far to drive in. But I still can't get to the right spot consistently. And so I hung a washer from my garage door opener to help out. When the washer hits my windshield, I stop. It works perfectly...

A string on a washer hanging in my garage as seen against my windshield.

I've already thrown out So. Much. Stuff... and my mantra when I run out of space is to get rid of even more. Marie Kondo's KonMari book has been a huge help in reorganizing the stuff in my life after the deaths of my grandmother and my mom, so it looks like I'll be giving it another read-through before tackling my garage yet again.

Hopefully the next thing to go won't be my car.

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Of Representative Elijah Cummings and Baltimore

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Dave!If you have any access at all the media, you've seen that Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore died early this morning.

This is devastating news for a number of reasons, and there are plenty of articles about all the ways he will be missed. But, speaking for myself, it's devastating because he was a kind, decent, honorable man in a job where kindness, decency, and honor are rare. Where integrity is rare. And getting more rare every day.

Of the many, many words being said about Representative Cummings today, my favorite were spoken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she said "He lived the American dream, and he wanted it for everyone else."

Representative Elijah Cummings looking into the camera and smiling.
Image taken from 60 Minutes and CBS News

I haven't read all the news stories. But I've read enough to know that Cummings' part in the impeachment inquiry... and the disgusting attacks on him and the city he loved by The President of the United States of America... are taking center stage. And it makes me more than a little angry. He is so much more than that. The man served as a lawyer for nearly 20 years before devoting the rest of his life to public service. He worked day-in and day-out to better the lives of the people he represented. To better the life of all of us. He fought to keep us healthier, safer, smarter, and more secure. He was tireless in trying to make government more transparent, lobbyists less powerful, and elections more fair. He devoted himself to public service and worked to make sure that future generations would devote themselves to it as well. He encouraged more diverse voices to represent us at all levels of government. He was an inspiration to legions of people for all that and much more. He was certainly an inspiration to me.

And I hope that doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

For some insight into Representative Cummings thoughts on current events and his life and service in general, there was a pretty good story by 60 Minutes on him at the beginning of the year. I urge you to watch it. He is so smart, funny, warm, and charming. He was liked and respected on both sides of the aisle. It's no accident that he became a giant in the political arena...

A huge chunk of Congress could evaporate and I wouldn't miss them. I will, however, miss Representative Elijah Cummings. A lot.

Rest in peace, sir. Your life of service will not be easily forgotten.

   

More Than You Want to Read About Tomatoes

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2019

Dave!Tuesday was payday, so last night I fired up my grocery store app and went to work. I don't buy stuff that's not on sale (if I can help it) so carefully shopping the "member savings" and the "in-store specials" and the "weekly ad" sections are how I buy food. If what I want isn't on sale, then I adjust my meal planning around stuff that is. Because if I'm not saving at least 25% (and ideally 40%) on my groceries, then I'm doing it wrong.

One thing I wanted quite badly was some whole, peeled, Italian tomatoes packed in purée. I use them to make my own pizza and pasta sauces. Naturally, what you want are authentic San Marzano tomatoes for their superior flavor compared to "regular" plum tomatoes... and, yes, you can tastes a difference. The flavor is more robust, the acidity is lower, and they've got a sweeter "vibe" to them. But finding them is always a crap-shoot. Most of the time you'll see "San Marzano STYLE" tomatoes, which aren't the same thing. And even when you find authentic DOP-certified San Marzanos, there's no guarantee that they're packed in San Marzano purée. In fact, you can almost count on them to not be. That, and rampant fraud in the industry where the can will say San Marzano but the tomatoes inside are not, is what makes them so tough to shop for... unless you are willing to pay big to get them from a reputable source and importer.

Take, for example, these fuckers...

A can of fake fucking San Marzano tomatoes.

Two things. First of all, they're crushed. Authentic DOP San Marzanos can only be sold "peeled whole." Second of all, despite bearing the name "San Marzano," a look at the fine print shows that they are grown domestically in the USA. The Italian language on the can is just for decoration. The way the assholes who sell these get away with it is because they claim to be using authentic seeds from San Marzano tomatoes. Except that doesn't mean shit, because it's not just the plant which produces superior tomatoes, it's the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius and the climate of the Naples region which makes them taste the way they do. Alas, that region is rather small, so true and authentic tomatoes from there are expensive and rare.

I don't have the money to be picky, so I just look at the three or four brands that I rely on to taste good and grab the one that's on sale. A couple of them come from the USA and are just fine. Indeed, I often end up with RedPack tomatoes which are terrific... and a product of Indiana. When I taste-tested them against a can of expensive imported authentic DOP San Marzanos, they hold up just fine.

Canned tomatoes are kinda a weird thing to be buying in the first place though.

To begin with, most stores won't have them stocked with the vegetables or the fruits (yeah, I know there's some confusion there but, technically, they're both). Canned tomatoes are in a section entirely unto themselves. That's how important a staple that tomatoes are to American consumers, I guess. When I was on my own, I just bought ready-made sauces or frozen meals. When I was taking care of my mom and wanted to try eating healthier, it took me forever looking at the canned foods aisle to realize they weren't with everything else. Most likely they were the next aisle over.

And what tomatoes did I end up with this time? Turns out that Tutta Bella Pomodoro di Napoli cans were on sale 2 for $7 (regular $3.99 each)...

Cans of Tutta Bella tomatoes in somebody's cupboard.
Image from Tutta Bella

Tutta Bella is a famous Certified Neapolitan pizzeria out of Seattle. They don't use authentic San Marzano's but instead a choice tomato from a nearby region of Southern Italy with the same properties. I like them a lot for cooking, but their price is pretty high... almost double the price for a can of RedPack... but I know they'll taste great in my pizza sauce, so I splurge when I find them on sale.

So now I can finally make some pizza!

But not really.

My rolling pin broke and so I have to wait for my new one to arrive. This time I am taking no prisoners and buying a metal pipe type rolling pin. No handles to break off!

Until I can afford a $2,500 pizza dough sheeter that will roll it out for me, it will have to do.

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Caturday 131

Posted on Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Dave!Somehow... sometime... in the middle of the night I scratched my eye. This happens two or three times a year and I have no idea how I manage it. Do I scratch it with a fingernail? Does a blanket slide across it? Do I get it stuck open when I'm laying on a pillow? Dunno. All I do know is that I wake up in sheer agony, and wishing that I had those OcuCaine drops that the eye doctor uses to numb your eyeball.

In absence of OcuCaine, all I could do is stumble downstairs for some Advil... and nearly die.

When the cats run up stairs, they take a high-speed turn at the top by digging their claws into the stair tread carpet and changing direction. Lately the edge of the carpet has come up, so I have to remember to step around it. Which is something I do by habit.

Alas when I stepped around the carpet, I nearly killed myself falling down the stairs avoiding Blue Mouse... and stepping on Fuzzy Ball Two, which Jake or Jenny apparently ripped off the cat tree last night. My vision was all messed up because of the tears my eyes were making...

Blue Mouse and a Fuzzy Ball from the cat tree tower on my stairs.

After loading up on Advil... and Tootsie Rolls... I went back upstairs to sleep for another 90 minutes before the breakfast alarms rings to feed the cats. But when I got to my bed, it was already occupied...

Any normal person would have moved a cat or two in order to get their bed back. But not me. I slowly and carefully slid in-between them diagonally so they could stay where they were resting. Five minutes later they heard a noise or something and ran off. Which meant my efforts were all for naught. But no worries, Jenny was back soon after...

Jenny laying on my bed with her paws stretched out towards the camera as I scratch her belly.

Jake waited until I got downstairs...

The weather here is that dreary, awful, wet, and grey kind of weather you get before the brisk Fall days with dry blue skies take over. Fake Jake is not a fan at all, and is usually waiting out the rain in one of his shelters...

Fake Jake laying inside his winter shelter looking outside and waiting for the rain to stop.

Or sleeping through it...

Fake Jake laying inside his winter shelter sleeping.

Can't say that I blame him. I'd sleep through these days if I could.

But, alas, it's off to work I go...

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Bullet Sunday 634

Posted on Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the short, cold, grey days get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Who Watches? Tonight was the premiere of HBO's new Watchmen series, which is a continuation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I enjoyed the first episode quite a lot, despite many, many. misgivings. Primary of which is using extreme violence against Black persons and the Tulsa Race Riots as entertainment fodder. I always worry that there are people watching not because they find the horror in it all, but because that's what they get off on watching. Anyway... the original comic book series was an epic work of storytelling genius, and having somebody like Damon Lindelhof (who helped turn Lost from a promising television show into a steaming pile of idiocy) was worrisome. But, if this first episode is any indication, we're in for a wild, action-packed ride. But, even better, it seems to be building to... something...

The new series constructs its story around racism and our ever-escalating conflict with white supremacy. While admirable, I'm going to have to reserve judgement on whether it's an effective take until the end. As for the show itself, HBO put some serious money into it, and it shows. On top of getting top-shelf talent like Regina King, Jean Smart (who was oddly absent the first episode), Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, and Jeremy Irons(!)... it looks gorgeous, and the weird world that Moore and Gibbons created feels fully realized. If you have HBO, it's kinda a no-brainer to tune in. But if that's not incentive enough, here's Dave Gibbons drawing Regina King's character, Sister Night...

Eight weeks to go until we find out where this is all going. Hopefully somewhere worthwhile. All we need is for Lindelof to drop the ball at the end like he did with Lost.

   
• A Mystery. After watching the premiere of the new Nancy Drew I cannot fathom how in the hell the conversation went at the initial meeting. But I'm guessing it went something like this...

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: My plan is to get some of the best talent available to write compelling mysteries with a modern slant. Really push boundaries on excellent storytelling and give viewers some best-of-class television to sink their teeth into.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Or you could just put a bunch of nonsensical drama in it with some gratuitous sex and not give a flying fuck about the quality of the mysteries and stories. Would be cheaper that way.

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit it will be then.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Put Scott Wolf in there. That'll fix everything!

NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit with an appearance by Scott Wolf it will be then.

NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Start the first episode with Nancy really getting pounded... we're talking shaking a cup of coffee off the nightstand kind of sex pounding. But put her on top so we don't get complaints about having a weak female lead.

Nancy Drew is an iconic character who deserves far better than this crap. How it got greenlit is a mystery.

   
• Shoot Your Shot. I love this series anyway... but this episode with Mindhunter's Holt McCallany is one of my favorites to date...

What a cool guy!

   
• Nest, Take Two. I have two sets of security cameras... one is hardwired with local storage and the other is a cloud-cam system by Nest (now owned by Google). The Nest cams are really great, but frustrating because their per-camera pricing for cloud storage is way too expensive. Amazon's cloud storage has a far more reasonable single fee which covers all your cameras. I was going to switch in February when my current Nest contract runs out because the cost to buy all-new Amazon cameras would be offset after just one year. And this week I found out I no longer have to do that. Somebody at Google Nest decided to get serious about being competitive and announced all new cloud storage pricing which will cover all my cameras for one fee like Amazon. So that's refreshing.

   
• Eyeroll Territory. Not content to let their legacy as some of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema speak for itself... two old men insist on criticizing modern filmmaking, and come across as pathetic, jealous, entitled egomaniacs. Just fuck off already. Nobody who loves what Marvel is doing gives a single fuck about your asshole opinions. I mean, holy shit... Coppola acts like he never made "Supernova," one of the biggest pile of shit movies I've ever seen. What a joke.

   
• Programming. And, lastly, because I just can't help myself... something to read if you're a code-geek like me: The Lines of Code That Changed Everything. It's pretty fascinating. Even moreso if you've ever programmed before.

   
And... scene. Have a good week!

   

Skywalking to the Finish Line

Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2019

Dave!And lo after these many months, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been released.

This is supposed to be the final movie in a trilogy of trilogies which follows the story of the Skywalkers from Anakin to Luke to... Rey? Perhaps? I mean, Anakin and Luke are dead, so if Skywalker is going to do any "rising" it will have to come from somebody else, assuming they don't come back from the dead. And what else is there? Just Rey. But wouldn't it be funny if it were Rose Tico?

I dunno about the story... I haven't been terribly impressed with what we've gotten so far... but boy do the special effects look amazing! I'm guessing that there will be a space battle to end all space battles, and that will be alright with me. It's why I keep going to these things, to be honest.

The best I can hope for is that this will land somewhere above Star Wars: The Force Awaken but, let's face it, that might be a bit of a stretch when they're going to be focusing on wrapping up everything...

Star Wars Movies Ranking

Guess we'll find out in December.

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Your Heart Disease, Courtesy of Big Beef

Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Dave!I was craving French fries when I left the house, so I called in an order at the local drive-thru when they opened.

Best lunch ever.

And yet I saw something disturbing me when I picked up my order.

But first, an interlude...

When I was a kid I LOVED burgers from Rusty's (in my town) and Dusty's (in the neighboring big city). To give you a clue of just how much I loved my local joint, you should know that the last meat I ever ate when I stopped eating it back in 1986 was a Rusty Burger. Yep. When I made the decision to go vegetarian, that's the meat I wanted to go out on.

And it's tough dropping meat from your diet, let me tell you.

For years after I axed meat I would still crave it. I remember driving by Burger King where they blow the smell of flame-broiled beef out into the street and get triggered. Holy crap did I want a Whopper right then. Giving up bacon was also incredibly difficult. Any time I saw a piece, something deep inside me was suddenly willing to kill for it. Pepperoni was the worst though. Going from having an intimate relationship with pepperoni pizza... then downgrading to a cheese pizza... is what nearly broke me. It still might break me one day. Because while there are some pretty great burger and bacon substitutes, I've yet to find a truly great pepperoni substitute.

But I endure.

Partly because the allergies which plagued me as a kid vanished practically overnight when I stopped eating meat. Partly because the meat industry is literally killing our planet. But mostly because I am horrified by the inhumane, cruel, and disgusting conditions under which mass-produced meat is raised. In all honesty, I simply cannot understand how anybody could become aware of the abhorrent treatment of cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, and other animals before they're slaughtered and still eat the stuff. Which is why most people close their eyes to it, I'm sure.

End interlude...

Meanwhile, back at the drive-ins that are in my neck of the woods, Dusty's eventually added a GardenBurger. I was ecstatic at the time, but came to realize that I prefer a Grilled Cheese with Goop (burger sauce and fixin's), so it goes mostly ignored.

Rusty's, on the other hand, always held out. No vegetarian option for you. Fortunately, they have really good fries.

Then today, miracle of miracles, I saw that they are finally adding a GardenBurger to their menu. I was instantly elated because I'm sure it will be fantastic. Until I saw the price... NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS?!?? Holy crap! AND THAT'S WITHOUT CHEESE!!! Keep in mind that this is not an "Impossible Burger" which is an expensive meat substitute (but worth it)... it's a frickin' GARDENBURGER! For contrast, a QUADRUPLE MEAT, QUADRUPLE CHEESE meat burger WITH BACON is just $8.75!

Now Serving GardenBurgers! Dressed with Rustys sauce, onion, pickles, lettuce, and of course tomato! ONLY $9.20 after tax.

Jumbo Rusty Burger: Four meat, four cheese, sauce, lettuce, pickles, onion, bacon, tomato.

WHAT THE HELL?!?

Either Rusty's is jacking up the price to an insane degree because they don't want to sell many of them and only have it available because people ask for it all the time...

...or...

...government subsidies to the "Big Meat" industry are so massive that FOUR piece of meat are considerably cheaper than ONE GardenBurger. If that's the case, this is bordering on criminal. Let's check Google here... and... yep. THIRTY-EIGHT BILLION A YEAR props up the meat and dairy industry. This is despite the fact that the meat industry is literally destroying the planet. It's also widely regarded as unhealthy and should only be eaten in moderation. And yet, here we are. I guess Big Pharma is working with Big Beef to push cheap meat so they can sell more pills (eating beef daily makes you TRIPLE more likely to get heart disease). And we (and, more directly, the children) are paying the massive cost with our health and our world.

But that's our government for you. Killing us for the profit they make from being bought off by industries that don't give a shit about us.

I suppose I should be used to it, but the fact that US citizens continue to sign off on this kind of crap never ceases to amaze me. "YES! KILL US SO YOU CAN GET RICH! DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT TO LINE YOUR POCKETS! BETRAY THE PUBLIC TRUST AT EVERY TURN FOR MONEY! WE SUPPORT YOU!"

Eventually, I'm guessing that I'll cough up the NINE DOLLARS AND TWENTY CENTS that this thing costs just to satisfy my curiosity. I hope it's horrible. I don't have that kind of money to be throwing at a burger. And apparently the government is doing it for me already anyway.

   

Homestead Slipper Feet

Posted on Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Dave!Last year I slowly came to realize that during colder months my feet were always cold when I'm at home. Even with a pair of socks on, they feel freezing. At first I chalked it up to getting older... maybe my circulation isn't what it once was... but eventually came to the conclusion that it was my floors. When I'm upstairs, my feet aren't cold. When I'm downstairs, my feet get cold fairly quickly.

My guess is that it's because my home is built on a concrete slab. To my knowledge, that's never happened to me before...

  • I remember a small home we rented in The Big City and am almost positive it had a crawlspace underneath. I remember being afraid of it because there were spiders under there.
  • My family lived in a small attic apartment here in town for a while (assumably while our home was being built).
  • My childhood home had a crawlspace underneath.
  • From there I moved to an upstairs apartment in The Big City.
  • From there I moved to an upstairs apartment back here in town.
  • From there I moved to my current home, which is built on a slab.

So upstairs apartments and homes with crawlspaces apparently have warmer floors than homes built on concrete slabs. Which kinda makes sense. The concrete absorbs the cold from the earth and, since heat rises, they are cold to the touch when you walk on them. YEAH SCIENCE, BITCH!

So last year I ordered a pair of slippers for 50% off from a post-winter sale, then tucked them away for when cold days came again. After a week of suffering with cold feet, I remembered that I had them... pulled them out of storage... then put them on my feet only to find that they are too big. Like... a whole inch too big. Unfortunately, it's way too late to return them for a different size.

And so I've been wearing three pairs of socks so the slippers aren't falling off my feet... which, as it turns out, makes my feet too hot. But wearing three pairs of socks without the slippers makes it difficult to navigate stairs since I'm sliding all over the place, and so I guess I fail at life or something.

Making a note to add slippers to my Black Friday shopping list.

Cold floors don't seem to bother my cats at all. Though Jenny is sleeping exclusively in the "self-warming beds" I bought them, and Jake is snuggled up against me on the electric blanket all night now...

Me in bed with Jake, who is staring at the camera with his tail in my face under my nose like a giant mustache.

I move a lot when I sleep, but he doesn't seem bothered. At some point I'd like to put a camera on us all night so I can see exactly how mad he gets when he has to wake up and move because I've moved. Apparently it's not irritating enough for him to give up the electric blanket, because he's still there when I wake up in the morning.

The things we do for a warm place to sleep and a snuggle buddy.

   

Over. Next.

Posted on Friday, October 25th, 2019

Dave!   
Well, this was a crappy week.

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Caturday 132

Posted on Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Dave!Both my cats are pretty smart, but Jenny seems to be getting smarter than smart. She learns things.

At 7am the alarm rings on Alexa for me to feed my cats. Both cats are well aware of this and are conditioned to wait for it to sound. This is handy because they don't bother me for breakfast in the morning. The alarm sounds, we go downstairs, they get fed. I also have them trained to expect a treat before I leave each day. I did this so I can leave the house knowing they're both okay and I don't worry (as much) over being gone.

Used to be that any time I went back downstairs after feeding they would both run to me expecting a treat. Jake still does. But this past week Jenny stopped doing that. She knows that I don't really leave the house until I've taken a shower. So now she doesn't get excited about a treat until after she heard the shower running. I know this because I tested it, of course. I can go up and down the stairs a half-dozen times and she won't move unless she's heard the shower run first.

She's just that smart...

Jake, bless his heart, will come running all six times.

Speaking of Jake... have I mentioned that he likes living on the edge?

When he hopped in the cat bed, it slid. So he made the best of the situation. I got nervous about him falling, so I couldn't take looking at this and had to give him a ride back to safety...

Now that the weather is getting colder, the cats have been taking turns sleeping next to me in bed so they can take advantage of the heated blanket. This is mostly Jake while I'm sleeping and Jenny if I'm awake and watching TV or working in bed...

Whenever they are not on the electric blanket, they're in a kitty bed or sleeping on one of the self-heating pads. Though their method of sleeping varies a bit between them. Jenny must be situated in the absolute center...

Jake is all over the place. Sometimes he's half-in, half-out. Or with his head or arm sticking out...

Such is life when you're a bit "fluffier" than the rest.

Jenny has long been a bit particular about appearances, even when sleeping. Or just lounging around looking sexy...

In preparation for Daylight Saving Time (which I HATE HATE HATE!), I've been moving the Alexa alarm for feeding back 15 minutes every few days leading up to it so that there's not a shock when the time change happens. After the first couple days, Jenny expected that I could be convinced to move the alarm back again, so she sat staring at me for a half-hour...

This is something they did all the time before I got them trained on the Alexa alarms for feeding. Now most times they ignore me. Until now. Apparently Jenny seems to know that something's up.

Told you she was smart.

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Bullet Sunday 635

Posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Dave!A busy, busy week for me has ended but I'm just getting started, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Monster. I have been toning down the politics on Blogography because it's just so pointless. Unless you are living under a rock, you already know the horrific shit our president is doing, so there's really no need to repeat it here. But lately it's gotten so bad that my disbelief has escalated to a level I didn't even know I had in me. Fortunately John Oliver was back tonight to put one of the most tragically awful events into perspective...

Holy shit.

There really is no bottom. President Trump lives in a fantasy world where everything he does is perfect and everybody loves him for it. Somebody this detached from reality has no business running the country, and I hope that people are really, really scared about what damage could come next.

   
• Idiocity. And speaking of damage, I saw this headline on The Verge yesterday: Donald Trump wants the iPhone home button back. OH FUCK NO! With all due respect Mr. President, go back to using a flip-phone and leave technology advancements to those of us who know how to form complete sentences which people can actually make sense of.

   
• Good. When I was at Uluru (which the colonizers dubbed "Ayer's Rock") in Australia, there was a sign saying that it was a sacred place to the people who own it and they ask you not to climb it... despite there being a chain path to climb it. So I didn't climb it. There were also signs posted at a few points around Uluru asking you not to photograph it at that point because something sacred to people happened there. So I didn't photograph it there. I don't understand why it's so difficult to follow the wishes of the people whose land you are visiting. You're their guests, and should be grateful that they allow you to visit their home at all. I know I sure was...

Uluru at Sunset in Australia.

By banning people from climbing on it after the month is over, Australia is righting a great wrong. I hope people respect the new ban on climbing Uluru and adhere to the Anangu People's request. It literally is the least people can do.

   
• Kangaroo Cats. I ran across an interesting Facebook post this week which was talking about the "primordial pouch" which appears on some cats. I think it’s genetic. Jake and Jenny both have big pouches. When they run, the skin flops back and forth... it’s kinda hilarious, but doesn't seem to bother them at all. For the longest time I just assumed they were mutants. But apparently that's not the case...

Interesting stuff, that evolution!

   
• Rhinos! Will of Burrard-Lucas Photography is the reason I selected the Antarctica tour that I did. His wildlife photography is the most inspiring and beautiful I've ever seen, and getting a behind the scenes look at how he does what he does is about the coolest thing you'll see on YouTube this week...

Thanks to his BeetleCam invention, nobody does wildlife photos like Will Burrard-Lucas. He amazes me with each new book he publishes.

   
• Pepper. You really do learn something new all the time. My homemade pizza sauce recipe calls for green peppers. I don't normally eat them because I prefer the sweeter red peppers, but the recipe tastes so good that I do what is called for. On Tuesday I came home from work and was already too tired to cook... but then realized that I actually needed to clean my kitchen before I could cook. Double the horror. It's while cleaning that I notice something strange... WHAT HAPPENED TO MY GREEN PEPPER?!?

My green pepper in my hand... TURNING ORANGE?!?!

It's then that my Facebook friends had to inform me that green peppers aren't ripe and, like tomatoes, they will turn from green to orange to red as they ripen. I honestly had no idea. Until Tuesday, I truly thought that they were all different species of peppers.

   
• Hallmark Moment. As you can imagine, I am in full-on Hallmark Movie Mode now that their 10th Annual Countdown to Christmas is in effect. I almost never watch live, choosing instead to DVR the movies so I can jet past commercials. But the new movies for 2019 I have been watching live, and this commercial came up...

Well done. Somebody at World Market really knows their Hallmark audience. I don't understand why any company spending the huge amount of money required for a national ad doesn't put this kind of care into creating them. Most ads are just terrible and something you want to skip. Why would you waste money like that?

   
And now... time to wash underwear so I have something clean to wear to work tomorrow. You're welcome, my co-workers.

   

Pizza Perfect

Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2019

Dave!When I was a kid my favorite restaurant in the world was Gino's Pizza because they had a Pong game hooked up to a TV you could play. I don't remember the pizza at all, but I'm pretty sure I liked it. Eventually Gino's closed. Since I had video games at home thanks to the Atari 2600, I barely noticed.

That being said, my favorite pizza on earth came from Pizza Inn, which is where we ate after Gino's was gone.

The stuff was phenomenal. The crust was crisp like a cracker and had a unique flavor and texture that made it different than every other pizza I had ever had. The sauce was likewise delicious because it had a subtle sweetness and minimized the acid component so the tomato base really hit you. Also? The pepperoni was divine. It curled up like a cup and had these amazing crispy edges that you just didn't find anywhere else.

Whenever my family ate out, Pizza Inn was #1 on my list.

Sadly, they closed up shop. Then a decade ago they came back. Then closed up shop again. Then they came back yet again. Then closed up shop... and have stayed closed ever since. For a while they could only be found in Texas, but now I think they're currently all across The South.

Ever since the last closing in my neck of the woods, I've become obsessed with making Pizza Inn pizza myself. Thanks to the efforts by DKM at PizzaMaking.com, I've been able to play around with his recipe and finally come up with something that works for me.

This past weekend I decided to finally share it with some guests I had staying with me. They seemed to really like it too, so I'm pretty happy about that. Well, mostly.

My pizza stone is fairly small and I was cooking for six people, so I made the mistake of thinking that I'd just make us six individual small pizzas. I could cook two at a time and, since they only take minutes to bake, that would be the easiest way to make sure that everybody got the toppings they wanted. So on Sunday I left work at noon to go home and roll out the crusts. My arms were rubber after two. The remaining four felt like I had bench-pressed 500 pounds a thousand times. The cracker crust is tough. It's mostly flour with very little moisture, which makes it crumbly and hard to roll out. Even worse, I didn't have a little cutter pizza pan to cut the crust to size, so I ended molding around a small plate. It didn't look particularly pretty, but it sure tasted great...

My perfect pizza, sitting on a cutting board.

I cannot overstate how tough it is to roll out the crust. It's like taking a rolling pin to a rock. But it bakes up so beautifully that it's all worth the effort. Thin and crispy with no sag. Amazing air bubbles that give you perfect cracker crunch...

My perfect pizza... a close up of a slice showing the amazing crust.

The right tomatoes for the sauce are essential. There are few brands I've found that have that hearty tomato flavor without the acidic bite (which I talk about ad-nauseam here).

As I was seeing my guests off, Jake hopped up on the table and decided to lick my last piece, so I guess it was a success for my entire household...

A close-up shot of handsome Jake the Cat licking my perfect pizza.

BAD KITTY!

Except I never yell at my cats no matter what they do (I refuse to punish my cats for being cats), so all I could do was wait until his tongue got tired so I could take it away.

I don't think I could do pizzas for a group again unless I buy a $5000 pizza dough sheeter that has the power to roll out very tough doughs (most I've seen under $2000 are not rated for anything less than 1 part liquid to 2 parts flour... this crust is far less than that).

Homemade pizza sauce has no preservatives and will spoil fairly soon (even when refrigerated), so I don't usually make a full 28oz. Can of tomatoes worth. I take 1/4 of it so I can experiment with making homemade ketchup. Because boy do I love homemade ketchup. "Regular" store-bought big-brand ketchup tastes like tomato water by comparison. There are a few "boutique" brands I like... Portland Ketchup Co. is great... but even they seem lacking when stacked up against homemade. Problem is that I still haven't formulated the perfect ketchup after nearly two years of experimenting.

Right now I am leaning towards a recipe with onion, garlic, cayenne, red pepper, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, ginger, allspice, celery seed, black pepper, salt, and nutmeg (in addition to tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and oil). I'm unsure about turmeric, Tabasco, bay leaf, and oregano. I've abandoned mustard seed powder, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, cloves, maple syrup, and seasoning salt.

Maybe one day. In the meanwhile? I'm not going to complain about needing to experiment making ketchup. Even the worst ketchup I've made still tastes great!

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Bug Time Entertainment

Posted on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Dave!Happy National Cat Day!

As it gets colder, bugs are looking for a warm place to hide. This has created a flurry of activity out in the catio as creepy crawlies pass through. This has, in turn, created a flurry of activity in my cats. They just love to chase bugs... eat bugs... and, much to my horror, occasionally bring bugs inside to play with.

Unless it's too cold out. Then my cats just watch the bugs through the window...

Jake and Jenny looking out the window straight ahead.

Jake and Jenny looking out the window down on the ground.

Jenny looking out the window while Jake is looking opposite back into the house.

Once the bugs have gone, it'll be time to haul out the bird feeders. Bird Time Entertainment to follow.

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Smaller, Not Better

Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Dave!Since I'm not really supposed to have candy (I save all my allowable carbs for bread and pasta), I try to buy my candy for Halloween as close to the date as possible. This year I didn't do a very good job, having purchased it two-and-a-half weeks ago. Even worse, I picked an assortment with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in it, which is a lethal guarantee that I'll be digging into the bag almost immediately.

So when I opened it one hour after getting home from the store two-and-a-half weeks ago, I was dismayed to find that the candy I purchased wasn't "Fun-Size" like it normally is... it was more like "Bite-Sized." Today I went back to the store to get something more acceptable only to find that it's ALL "Bite-Sized" now. If they still make "Fun-Size" my store sure didn't have it. Oh well. I guess everybody showing up at my house will be getting two pieces.

Not two pieces of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, of course. Those are long-since gone.

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Ghosts of Halloween Past

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Dave!Boo?

I headed home from work in daylight hours so I could put out Dead Jake and Dead Jenny, convert my HUE lighting to spooky purple and green, dump my candies in a bowl, then leafblower all the leafs in the front of my home so they won't blow in my house every time I open the door...

Skeleton Cats with Jake and Jenny signs around their necks.

A wreath on my door filled with fake apples, real pinecones, and other Fall-apropriate stuff... with a pirate skeleton in the middle.

An eerie purple glow from my porch light illuminates the front of my home.

Rather than running to the front door and back to my living room all night long, I just stay in the kitchen and deep-clean everything while trick-or-treaters are coming. Which is a far, far better way of spending my evening than two years ago when I was doing a clean-out for my colonoscopy on Halloween. What a massive mistake THAT was. Trying to spend the entire night on a toilet while running to the door to pass out candy? Total nightmare.

And speaking of nightmares, Halloween is truly the scariest night of the year... for my poor cats. I have tried everything to get them used to people, but they just aren't having it. So having dozens of people ringing the doorbell and screaming "TRICK-OR-TREAT!" all night long is not their idea of a good time. Usually I feed them at 5:00 so they can hide before trick-or-treaters arrive, but this year kids were showing up before 5:00. Well, whatever. Maybe they are afraid of the dark or afraid of other kids and this is how they have to enjoy Halloween. But it sure would have been nice to be able to make a sandwich for dinner before people start arriving expecting a candy hand-out.

Alas, Trick-or-Treating is not the same as it was when I was young. Back then hundreds of kids would canvas the entire city and make a massive candy haul. And now? I get around 50 kids maximum. I guess it's too big an effort for too little reward? Maybe it's time better spent playing video games. And kids today have it easy thanks to global warming. Back in my day it snowed for a couple of my Halloweens!

I shouldn't complain though. More candy for me!

Plus... I've got a really clean kitchen now.

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