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The Keys of Onaconda Farr

Posted on March 26th, 2019

Dave!The first thing I did when I bought my house was to rip out the door locks so my keychain would be two keys lighter. My new locks are opened via keypads or via an app on my phone... no key required.

In case you haven't guessed, I am not a fan of keys. They are (literally) ancient technology that isn't necessary in this day and age. And yet I have loads of them. Most of my keys are at home in my safe. The only two I lug around with me are my car key and my office key. To carry them around more easily, I bought a minfig keychain at The LEGO Store. It looks like Greedo from Star Wars, but it's actually an ambassador from Greedo's planet named Onaconda Farr.

That was years ago.

After a while Onaconda Farr's face and clothes rubbed off. His antennae and ears also wore down. And, last week, one of his legs fell off(!).

So I found a replacement on eBay for $5 and ordered it last week. And now he has arrived...

LEGO Keychain!

So cool. Almost makes me not dislike keys so much.

And, oh yeah... today I drove back over the mountains from my Birthday Weekend celebration with my friends.

I was happy to see that there's still plenty of snow in the mountains. Perhaps it's enough that we don't have to worry about drought this summer? I certainly hope so...

Winter Mountain Pass!

Winter Mountain Pass!

Winter Mountain Pass!

And now back to Real Life.

Such as it is.

   

Miss Kitty Gold

Posted on March 25th, 2019

Dave!I'm not much of a gambler despite being luckier at gambling than most.

Sure it has some entertainment value, which is why I'll throw some money on the table or drop some in a slot machine when I'm out with friends. But gambling is not something I seek out, nor do I use it as a cure for boredom when I'm working in a place like Las Vegas. The odds are just too stacked against the player for me to find much joy in it.

For this birthday weekend with my friends at the Tulalip Casino Resort, I decided to set a gambling budget of $100. I ended up spending $0 of it because I was awarded "free play" money by the casino for staying at the hotel on my birthday. It was $50 in credit which I ran up to $78 in real money which I then used to gamble with (and ultimately lose). Perfect. Hours of entertainment that cost me nothing. That's a kind of "gambling" that I understand.

What I don't understand is people who gamble away more money than they can afford to lose. And yet it happens all the time. People have the expectation that they're going to win, when they really should have is the expectation that they are going to lose. Winning is just a happy accident... if it even ever happens.

While I was getting my $100 out of the ATM yesterday (that I didn't end up spending) there was a guy on his phone screaming at his bank because they "took his money." Except they didn't take his money... he had probably been gambling all morning and kept taking more and more out of his account. Before he knew what had happened, it all added up, and his money was gone.

Oh well. Hopefully he had enough left for rent. But, if his screaming was any indication, probably not.

The $78 in "real money" I got was won playing a slot machine called "Mega Meltdown." As I started to lose it all, I switched to a machine called "Miss Kitty Gold"...

Miss Kitty Slots!

I never truly understand how multi-line slot machines pay out... stuff flashes and you win or stuff doesn't flash and you lose. But it had cats on it, so I figured it was an entertaining way to finish off the last of my "free money" winnings.

Next thing I know, my screen is filling up with flashing pink cats and I'm up to $60 again.

It was at this point I heard a kerfuffle going on behind me and saw some woman stomping off. I must have looked puzzled because a guy standing there said "She was mad because she was going to play that machine." Now I was really confused. "There was nobody here when I started playing." And there really wasn't. "I wouldn't worry about it. If you had really stolen the machine from her there are cameras everywhere and she'd be asking for security.

Alrighty then.

One more reason to take a pass on gambling, I guess.

Well, that... and the fact that I still have my $100.

   

Bullet Sunday 504

Posted on March 24th, 2019

Dave!After a week of sunshine, of course it's raining on my birthday weekend. But I'm not complaining... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Change. This is my first birthday without my mom. It's also my first birthday without one of my oldest friends. I thought I would be overwhelmed with sadness, but I just feel numb. I guess you reach that point in your life when your friends and family start to go and that's just the way it is. You can either trudge on in life and make the best of what you have left... or you give in to the sadness and stop living altogether. I'm trying for the former. And if being temporarily numb to everything is what it takes, then I guess you do what you gotta do. For five decades death was a rare event for me and I suppose I'm thankful for that. Now that I'm on the back-end of my life, that's changing. I'm doing my best to accept this new reality. I'm doing my best to find new ways to be happy. I'm doing my best to keep doing my best every day. It's the least I can do to honor those I care about who aren't here any more. Life shouldn't be wasted on the living.

   
• Anti-Social! Stepping away from social media after having been completely submerged in social media is a weird place to be. The majority of my friends don't live anywhere near me, so things like Facebook are how we keep in touch. What I've learned these past weeks of being anti-social is this: Being in constant contact with people conditions you to take them for granted. It's a sobering realization, and something I am vowing not to forget. When I return to my social media life next week (or whenever), it's not going to be like it was. I want contact with friends to be meaningful and engaging... not empty and boring. Maybe posting less... reading less... doing less... will make my online relationships special again. Like they were back when we were all blogging. Or so I can hope.

   
• Dana! One of my all-time favorite shows was Sports Night, the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin (who would go on to create The West Wing). It was incredibly good television that I became obsessed with. A big reason for that was Dana Whitaker, played by Felicity Huffman. The same Felicity Huffman who is currently embroiled in a college admissions scandal. Apparently she paid a bunch of bribe money to have her daughter's SAT scores improved, thus paving her way to college acceptance. I am sure this will be spun into a heartwarming story showing the lengths a mother is willing to go to help her child... but fuck that. Her money already provided a life of unimaginable privilege for her kids. But she felt the need to shove somebody aside who actually worked hard to earn their SAT score? This is a shining example of everything wrong with this country (and the world in general). If you have money, you get to do whatever the fuck you want. Well... hopefully not this time. Hopefully, if she's found guilty, she goes to jail. How else is she going to learn?

   
• Dumbfuckery! Of course, not all parents learn anything from a tough lesson. Take this story, for example: It Took Two Months and Nearly a Million Dollars to Save an Unvaccinated 6-Year-Old From Tetanus. The key takeaway from the story is in the last paragraph... "The story ends mostly happily for the boy. A month later, he was completely back to normal, running and using his bike again. But it seems no lessons were learned on his family’s part. Despite the brutal ordeal and pleading by the doctors, they again chose not to vaccinate him for tetanus or any other diseases." At what point do child endangerment laws kick in? After I was run over by a shuttle van in France and arrived home, the first thing my doctor asked me after saying I fractured a rib was "Are you current on your tetanus vaccination?" When I said "I don't think so," he laid out a horrifying picture of what death by tetanus is like. It wasn't pretty. Why anybody would risk their kid's life with such a horrendous fate escapes me. Thank you, Jenny McCarthy.

   
• Inappropriate! It is so wrong that I nearly peed myself watching this clip?

Probably. But that's some funny shit right there.

   
• Off! And now I'm loading up my car for a trip over the mountains to spend my birthday with friends. I've had enough of being numb for a little while.

   
The End. THE END!

   

Life in Slow Motion

Posted on March 18th, 2019

Dave!Whenever life throws a curve-ball, it feels like everything slows to a crawl and I'm trying to walk through molasses. One minute everything is a hectic mess moving at top speed... the next minute my every moment drags on and hours seem like days. It's as if some higher power is wanting me to savor every last second of misery. Which seems really cruel if that's how it works. Why can't watching a really good movie be the thing that drags on forever? Or being on vacation? Or eating a Girl Scout cookie?

Years ago I drove my mom over to Gene Juarez (a fancy spa in Bellevue) so she could have a spa-day for her birthday. It was a six hour ordeal that had three different massages, various skin treatments, lunch, hair, nails, makeup, and even a tea service. While she was being pampered, I wandered around trying to find something to do. I was bored and miserable and the six hours felt like an eternity. When I picked up my mom, I asked her if she enjoyed her day. She said that she had a great time, but it all went by too fast.

Because of course it did.

I rest my case.

It seems the answer to living forever is to just be in perpetual misery. So the next time you meet some bitter asshole trying to ruin your day, I guess you should be thankful for them trying to be your fountain of youth.

As for me? I'm going to continue using my Aveda Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Moisturizer and telling them to fuck off.

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Raccoon Friends and Gold-Plated Toilets

Posted on March 14th, 2019

Dave!Why is it that banking and commerce continues to get cheaper and more automated... but banking establishments and commerce facilitators keep demanding higher and higher fees? Probably because the CEOs of these organizations need a second private jet or a fucking gold-plated toilet or something.

In other news... I'm now fully invested in the raccoons that keep triggering security alerts on my phone. They have been wandering through my yard every night now, and I look forward to seeing them.

Except...

I'm still plagued with worry that somebody will harm them (accidentally or intentionally). The raccoons are obviously hungry if they are leaving their home by the creek and venturing across roads into residential territory, so it's only a matter of time before somebody catches them in their trash or something. My hope is that people will have a little compassion for their predicament and leave them be. Instead of shooting at them or setting a trap, why not just secure your garbage?

It used to be that there were five of them.

Now there are three.

Which is why I sit and stare at my security cameras once the first one appears...

Raccons in My Yard

The second one is usually not far behind...

Raccons in My Yard

The last one always lags, but never more than a minute. Tonight they were nearly two minutes behind, providing a bit of a panic attack...

Raccons in My Yard

As if I didn't have enough animals to worry about.

I really hope that they are finding enough food that they don't get desperate enough to attack any of the cats in the neighborhood. They look slim, but not skin-and-bones, so I'm guessing they're finding food somewhere.

See you tomorrow night, raccoon friends.

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Pepperidge Farm Remembers

Posted on March 12th, 2019

Dave!Back in September I went through my mom's recipes with the intent of throwing them all away. I ended up keeping seven of them... which was five more than I had anticipated. Most recipes are either meat-based entrées or sugar-based desserts, neither of which I eat.

What I wanted to find was her Applesauce & Walnut Bread and Spanish Rice recipes. What I actually found was these...

  • Applesauce & Walnut Bread. It was originally from an old "Spices of the World" book, but my mom revised it several times (the most important revision being the first one where she eliminated the stupid raisins). It's pretty amazing stuff with really good flavor.
  • Danish Puff. A very good pastry recipe that I'll likely never make because it's all sugar. But I like having it on hand in case I ever need to take a homemade dessert somewhere.
  • Pewter Pot Apple Pinwheels. A local restaurant in town (long since closed) had a sublime dessert that I loved. My mom got the recipe and made it for me a few times.
  • Fraternal Grandmother's Marshmallow Rolls. Absolutely sublime rolls with dough wrapped around a big marshmallow that melts when it cooks, leaving a hollow rolls filled with gooey-sweet deliciousness. These are way too carb-heavy to eat with any regularity... and I'd have to track down vegetarian marshmallows... but I will certainly make them one of these days.
  • Fraternal Grandmother's Enchiladas. I came up with my own vegetarian version by altering her recipe over the years, but hadn't made her originals decades. I finally did so back in December. They are very good... and very different from mine... which is a nice change of pace.
  • Maternal Grandmothers' Apple Crisp. It's probably the same or similar to hundreds of other apple crisp recipes you can find, but it's the only one I would ever make.
  • Maternal Grandmothers' Pie Crust & Apple Pie. The best pie I have eaten. Anywhere. Ever.

The apple pie is one of the few recipes that I have experience making with the originator. My grandmother let me help her make her signature dessert numerous times. Everybody who tasted it fell in love with it. I tried to encourage her to enter it into an apple pie contest, but she never would. So one year I tricked her into making me a pie "for a bake sale" and entered it into a contest for her.

She won first prize, as I knew she would.

Making a seriously good apple pie is more of an art than the science of following a recipe because the apples are always different. Sometimes they are sweeter... sometimes they are more tart... sometimes they are small... sometimes they are big. And sometimes the variety of apple you want isn't available so you have to use something entirely different and make it work. My grandmother always tasted the apples before deciding how she wanted to proceed. Sometimes she uses extra sugar, sometimes less. Sometimes she added lemon juice. Sometimes she altered the spices too. Decades of making apple pies taught her just what she needed to do to get a consistently amazing pie. And she tasted and re-tasted every step of the way.

In order to develop the skills my grandmother had, I would have to make a pie a week for five years. Maybe even a decade. It's a lot of trial and error, and she's not here to offer advice on dealing with the crazy-huge number of variables.

Which is why I haven't made a single pie since she stopped baking them.

I thought I might give it a try after she passed, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. And every apple pie I've ever eaten that's not hers falls short by comparison, so I stopped eating apple pie.

What I eat instead? Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers...

Pepperidge Farm Apple Turnovers

These things are better than they have a right to be. And, since they are frozen, I can cook up just one as a treat when I have some room for carbs available. Easy and delicious.

But one of these days... one of these days... I will make my grandmother's apple pie again. Or try to.

Because "Pepperidge Farm Remembers," but so do I. And what I remember is how amazing my grandmother's apple pies were.

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Trash Pandas on Parade

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Dave!I keep getting alerts that there's somebody on my driveway... or on my back patio... or walking along the side of my house. Sometimes they are triggered by Fake Jake or one of the other neighborhood cats, but I've tried to build my "alert zones" in areas they don't walk. This makes "cat alerts" fairly rare.

No, the real culprits when it comes to intruder alerts are the raccoons. They have no set path and end up wandering all over the place. The video below from my driveway camera shows you exactly what I mean. Early on, the lead raccoon does something that cat's do not do (at least not often)... they stand up...

Standing Raccoon!

Adorable... but his little head strayed in the alert zone in my front yard, so my iPhone lights up with a notification that I have an intruder (which is not so adorable when it happens at 1:00am).

Raccoons are fun to watch, so I combined various angles from my security system showing the three trash pandas making their way around my yard... and across the street into my neighbor's yard!

The second section is from the camera outside my catio. You'll see a raccoon stop and pause, looking inside my house. That was the point I tapped on the window so I could say hello...

Hello Raccoon!

I am dying to help them make it through the winter by feeding them... but I know if I do that they will never leave. The last thing I want is some asshole shooting at them or poisoning them or something awful like that... and so I leave them be. Hopefully as the snow melts they'll be able to find enough to eat down at the creek where they live so they won't have to wander so far from home.

In the meanwhile though? More intruder alerts... of the cutest kind.

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And Then There’s Sleep

Posted on March 6th, 2019

Dave!Well that was an adventure.

When I drove over the mountains on Monday, it was bare roads and sunny blue skies. When I drove back this morning, it was snowy roads and overcast skies. I also had ten miles of white-out conditions where traffic crawled to 20mph as travelers struggled to even see the road.

And now that I'm home?

More snow.

There have been many years of my life where winter has run well into March, but this year I'm just ready for it to be done. I need to get my garage converted to a wood shop and start in on the long list of projects I've got lined up. Several of them are going to take months of work, so the sooner I get started, the more I can get done.

In the meanwhile though?

More sleep.

When your heart is broken and you just don't want to face the world, what else is there?

   

Stuck On You

Posted on March 5th, 2019

Dave!Friends come and go. But good friends get stuck in your life.

When there's a friend who has been stuck with you for 34 years, saying goodbye is the hardest goodbye you'll have to say. Especially when you've had the adventures that we've had...

Falls

Selfie

Cave

Falls

Falls

Parasailing

Falls

Falls

Waimea Rails

Waimea Canyon

Jeep

Falls

Some of the best times of my life have you in them, and it's impossible to me that you're gone.

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Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Posted on March 4th, 2019

Dave!There are 52 weeks in a year. I just wasted one of them being sick. I am more than a little upset about that. Didn't get much done at all. Didn't get through any work. Didn't watch hardly any of the television shows stacked up on my DVR. Didn't level up my character in Diablo III. Didn't clean my house. Just slept a lot and laid around with my cats moaning about how miserable I was.

Fortunately I don't get sick very often. I mean really sick where I'm vomiting all over the place and want to die. And for that I'm grateful. But I'm also starting to worry about all the upcoming travel I've got. It's not outside the realm of possibility that I will be so weakened from being sick that I'll just cascade from one ailment to another for my entire Spring.

But boy I hope not.

I other news... I turned off Carl the RoboVac while I was home because I didn't want him waking me up from whatever sleep I was able to get. Last night I finally let him run through the house and was shocked at how much cat hair piles up in a week. The bin was completely full! I let him charge up overnight, ran him again this morning, and the bin was completely full again! Kinda amazing how much my cats shed... but even more amazing at how incredible Carl the RoboVac is at keeping up with it all. Upstairs Carl and Downstairs Carl remain two of the best investments I've made!

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