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Dave18

Posted on December 31st, 2018

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

As you can imagine, 2018 was the worst year of my life so far. Just surviving it feels like a major accomplishment. All I can do is hope that 2019 is better.


JANUARY

• This year was largely about my cats and the hijinks they got into. So... no change from last year...

Jake the Statue

   
• Found out that Google thinks I look like Ryan Reynolds when I have the right haircut...

Dave Photoshopped to be using a Flowbee hair cutter.


   
FEBRUARY

• Another year, another traumatic trip to the vet for Jake and Jenny...

Vet Visit Two Point Oh

   
• Saw the best movie of 2018: Black Panther.


   
MARCH

• Finally bought into the SONOS smart speaker ecosystem...

Sonos One Speakers


   
APRIL

Said good bye to long-time blogging friend Kelly "Hot Coffee Girl."

   
Took my new macro lens to The Keukenhof in the Netherlands...

Macro Flower

   
Another day of Keukenhof wonderment at macro level...

Macro Bee

   
• Finally made it to lovely Budapest...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

   
• Finally made it to lovely Vienna...

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum


   
MAY

• Returned to St. Louis and its Gateway Arch...

Gateway Arch St. Louis

   
• Headed to Jefferson City to hunt ghosts at the old Missouri State Penitentiary with Coal Miner's Granddaughter and the Tennessee Wraith Chasers...

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

Ghost Hunt Weekend at Missouri State Penitentiary

   
• Jake gets a new favorite toy...

Jake and Moose the Mule

   
• Saw another amazing P!NK show in Seattle...

P!NK !!!

   
• Had to rescue another bird from my savage kittehs...

Catio Bird Rescue!

   
• Started organizing my souvenirs from around the world...

XXX


   
JUNE

• Spent my weekend building a flower bed in my front yard...

Flower Bed Construction

   
• Upgraded Jake and Jenny's catio with a ramp and a massive climbing pole...

Catio Pole Installation

   
• Had the worst day of my life when I said good bye to my mom...

Mom and Me

   
• Remembered my many travels with mom...

Travels with Mom

   
• Took a look back and wrote about The Elephant Out the Window...

Mom, Mickey, and Me


   
JULY

• Wrote about finding inspiration amongst the heart-crushing tragedy of dementia...

Travels with Mom

   
Built my cats an indoor feeding station...

Cat Feeding Station!

   
• Another trip to Maine... this time with a torrential flood of rain.


   
AUGUST

• Saw an amazing show by one of my long-time favorite bands, Erasure...

Erasure Seattle 2018


   
SEPTEMBER

• Installed a mesh network with Google WiFi.

   
• Remembered back to the AIDS crisis, which wasn't that long ago.

   
• Flew to Salt Lake City to catch a show by The B-52's, Boy George, and Tom Bailey with Marty from Banal Leakage...

The B-52's

   
Wrote an obituary and buried my mom when her marker finally arrived from the VA...

XXX


   
OCTOBER

• Was gutted when Jake got seriously ill...

Jake Hospital Visit

   
• Had to make a short one-day trip to Hawaii and back...

Oahu North Shore Beach

   
• THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT! THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT!

Dave Loves the Red Sox!


   
NOVEMBER

• Was forced to remodel my remodel.

   
• Remembered my trip to Antarctica on my one year travelversary...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica


   
DECEMBER

Back to Maine again.

   
Happy birthday, Mom...

Mom Climbing Glaciers in Alaska


   
And there you have it... my 2018 year in review.

Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through the not-so-great times.

Here's to a better 2019, everybody.

   

Snow Day Home

Posted on December 26th, 2018

Dave!Driving in the snow and ice is not that tough if you have experience and good tires.* I've been driving in this stuff for decades and my tires (which I originally purchased for my mom) are the best money can buy... so not such a big deal.

What is a very big deal is other drivers on the road. A significant portion of which are total idiots and raging assholes.

They drive too fast for conditions. They drive way too aggressively. They follow too close. They don't pay attention. They pull out in front of you. They cut you off. All of which is bad when the roads are perfect and dry... but when they're covered in ice and snow? Disaster. You may be able to drive in the stuff, but your ability to do so safely depends on how others are driving.

I was fairly lucky on my way home today. Had a dumbass pull in front of me once and had somebody following way too close, but it was a pretty easy drive because the plows were out keeping things clear.

Here's a short 30-second video of me at the top of the pass...


Music by Ikson

Fun stuff.

And now I'm home safe and sound where I have two cats who are very happy to see me.

Though Jake is slightly more interested in the snow that's been dumping down in buckets. After making sure it was really me, he bolted outside to watch the flakes fall...

Jake in the Catio Looking at Snow

And that's that. My last trip of the year.

   
*Want to know what is tough to drive in? Slush. Especially deep slush, which can easily suck you in and pull you off the road in a heartbeat. I'd drive in just about anything before I'd drive in slush, and 90% of my driving horror-stories have slush involved.

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Categories: Travel 2018Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Christmass Eve

Posted on December 24th, 2018

Dave!Apparently squatting down to apply and remove chains to my car for the drive over the mountains yesterday worked some muscles I haven't used in a while... because my gluteus maximus is all kinds of sore today. Guess I need to look into assercize or something like that. Or, I dunno, just exercise at all maybe?

And speaking of chains...

Yesterday after I made my way through Tourist Town, there's a sign before you head into the mountains advising you as to road conditions and closures and such. If the roads are impassable, there's also an arm-block that drops down to keep people from going any further.

This was the sign which warned me that chains were required over the pass... 21 miles ahead.

Some people decided that they didn't want to wait 21 miles and were pulling over to apply chains for driving on bare roads. Since the roads were bare, everybody with chains was driving way too fast. And so... chains were flying off tires and being busted to shit left and right. Which meant that some people wouldn't have chains for the pass and would be ticketed if caught.

Welcome to the hazards of winter driving.

But it was worth it to spend the holidays with friends...

Christmastime

Bring on the jolly fat man!

   

Bullet Sunday 493

Posted on December 23rd, 2018

Dave!Let the yuletide merriment begin... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Chain Me Up! My drive over the mountains this morning took 3 hours and 40 minutes instead of the 2 hours and 15 minutes it usually does. Partly because traffic was insane, but mostly because chains were required and the max speed was 30 mph. You'd think that my frequent drives over the passes would mean that I've had to chain up a lot. But that's not the case. The last time I chained up was over a decade ago because my studless winter tires have been sufficient. Other than slowing things down, the chains themselves are no big deal. I bought these easy-wrap "chains" a few years ago that are crazy simple to apply...

This was the first time I used them and it was a total piece of cake. So much easier than the old-style chains that are a nightmare to apply and ride so rough.

   
• Google Trips! When I last looked at Google's answer to TripIt, I was not impressed. Now? Pretty darn impressed...

This is an ideal arena for Google to play in, and I'm absolutely going to give it a shot in 2019.

   
• Ad Man! I do love me a good ad. Especially when it's so wonderfully inclusive as this one...

Way to step it up, Macy's!

   
• Roxette! After Pretty Woman was on for the hundredth time, I had Alexa play Roxette's Must Have Been Love from the soundtrack. It's a beautiful song and was responsible for my buying the Pretty Woman CD. Much to my surprise, the Must Have Been Love that played was different than the one I was used to, having the lyrics "And it's a hard winter's day" instead of "And it's a hard winter's day"...

At first I thought that they must have changed the line to make it a Christmas song, but it turns out it's the other way around. It was originally a Christmas song and was altered for the Pretty Woman soundtrack. The more you know...

   
• Super Intelligent! There are some articles that make their way around the internet in cycles. They'll find you. You read them. And then every time they come around you read them again. One of my favorite articles like this is The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence by Wait But Why. It's all at once very exciting and terrifyingly scary.

   
• Dyson! One of my favorite science fiction concepts has been beautifully imagined by Kurzgesagt...

This is quickly becoming my favorite YouTube channel on the internet.

   
Happy Christmas Eve Eve, if you celebrate that kind of thing!

   

Seventy-Four

Posted on December 19th, 2018

Dave!   
Happy Birthday, Mom.


   

Mom Climbing Glaciers in Alaska

Mom Climbing Glaciers in Alaska

Mom Climbing Glaciers in Alaska

   

   

   

Homeward Tuesday Bound

Posted on December 4th, 2018

Dave!Originally I was to fly home on Thursday. This "buffer time" was in case weather caused me to arrive late or there was a problem at work that delayed my leaving by a day or two. Well, there were indeed problems at work (we started four hours late) but, fifteen hours later, I was free.

Exhausted to the point of feeling like my brain had melted. But free.

So instead of waiting until Thursday night to fly home, I rebooked my return trip for tonight. I lost my premium seat, but I'll take getting home two days early in a coach seat any day.

After two days without sleep, I managed to sneak in a four-hour nap at my hotel before they kicked me out. Then there was a 45-minute drive down to Portland for dessert for lunch...

Apple Crisp

Followed by shopping for new Dr. Pussum's Organic Maine Catnip toys that my cats go crazy for...

Cat Toys

And, no, I decided against buying a President Trump toy. If Jake and Jenny want to play with something like that, they can dig in the litter box.

The remaining 100 miles to Boston Logan International Airport blew by in two hours and... viola... here I am flying home... TWO DAYS EARLY! Can you believe my luck?

Sure I'll get home after midnight and still have to go to work in the morning, but still... home.

   

Breakfast Mondays in Maine

Posted on December 3rd, 2018

Dave!When traveling in the winter... especially a place with the possibility of a notorious winter like Maine... I always add a day before and after my work dates so I can be sure I'll still make my start-time if there's a weather delay. This time I got my start-date too late to have much choice in my flights. This means there was no getting here a day early. If a problem pops up then I'm probably screwed.

So of course air traffic into Seattle last night was slowed down, which meant I'd be landing late and might miss my connecting flight to Boston. Then they moved up the flight to Boston, which made it even more likely I'd miss it.

Lucky for me, my arrival gate was right next to my departure gate and I managed to make it onboard ten minutes before they closed the door. Thankfully I didn't have to check any luggage.

After landing at Boston Logan International Airport, I retrieved my rental car so I could drive 2-1/2 north to the job site. But first? Breakfast.

Usually I just stop at McDonald's for an egg & cheese biscuit. They aren't great, but they are edible (unlike Burger King's shitty Croissan'wich). My biggest problem in eating at McDonalds is that most of them don't know how to ring up an egg & cheese biscuit. They ring up a bacon, egg, & cheese biscuit and remove the bacon. This is hardly fair because I end up paying for meat I don't eat.

But here in New England, Panera Bread restaurants are plentiful. This means I don't have to eat at McDonald's and can get one of Panera's "Egg Over Easy with Cheddar on a Brioche Bun"...

Panera Bread Egg & Cheese Brioche

So far as breakfast sandwiches go, I've found nothing better...

  • The brioche bun is incredible. Light, airy, and holds up as you eat it. Unlike the McDonald's biscuit which falls apart easily, gets gummy when the moisture from the egg hits it, and sits like a brick in your stomach.
  • The over-easy egg is gooey and creamy and has fantastic flavor. Unlike the McDonald's eggs which are reconstituted powder that taste spongey. You can substitute a better "round egg" at McDonald's (which is an actual egg), but it's hard-cooked and rubbery.
  • The white cheddar that Panera uses is a bit sharp so it has a nice "bite" to it. Pairs wonderfully with the egg and isn't the least bit waxy. McDonald's, on the other hand, uses a lower-quality American cheese which is kinda bland and waggy. It doesn't add much to the flavor profile and, if the egg is overcooked (which happens all the time), it actually makes things worse because it's so flimsy.

All-in-all, my highest possible recommendation if you're near a Panera and are hungry for breakfast!

I had a few hours before work started, so I took a nap. Or, more accurately, I tried to take a nap. It was one of those bizarre situations where I was so exhausted that I was having trouble sleeping. No idea how that works, but it's incredibly frustrating.

And now... I'm at work.

Where the internet is broken, which means that this will have to be posted when I get back home.

Five hours down, eleven hours to go...

   

Travelversary

Posted on November 29th, 2018

Dave!I have been incredibly fortunate to have visited many places on this earth. I made travel a priority in my life and, for better or worse, that's where much of my money, energy, times, and thought has been devoted. Despite missing out on some things I would have liked to have done with my resources, I have no regrets.

A year ago today I petted my cats goodbye and drove to Seattle for the night. The next morning I would head to the airport where I hopped a flight to Atlanta, then changed planes to Buenos Aires. It was the beginning of my trip to Antarctica, a journey I had been dreaming of for decades.

So far as vacations go, it was all I could have hoped for...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

Glacier Icebergs

Whales of Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

   
There are many, many places left on the planet I would like to visit. Earlier this year I finally made it to Budapest and Vienna, which have been on my bucket list for ages.

But where to next?

XXX

I look at my travel map and think about that question often. The Big Three left are India, New Zealand, and Peru/Galápagos. I'd also like to visit Jordan/Israel, the Brazilian Rainforest, Russia (particularly St. Petersburg), Nepal, and the Norwegian Fjords. And I'd really like to go back to Africa to see gorillas in Uganda.

Except...

Now I have a mortgage. And while I could sell my home, find a place to rent, and use the money to check off the rest of my travel dream list... that's not where my head is at. Right now I'm perfectly happy staying home, doing my woodworking projects, hanging out with my cats, and leaving those big trips behind. I still have to travel for work, and that's more than enough. I can always add a few days to those trips here and there to explore new places.

Maybe one day I will change my mind and finally get to those two weeks in India. Maybe that day is tomorrow. I don't know.

But if that day never comes, Antarctica was certainly a fantastic trip to go out on.

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Fly Away Felines

Posted on November 19th, 2018

Dave!When I first got Jake and Jenny I was unable to travel because I couldn't afford to pay a service to watch my mom. When I absolutely had to travel, I would bite the bullet and hire somebody. My cats would be terrified of them, but Jake and Jenny would sneak down to the feeders after the caregiver had filled them and walked away.

Once my mom had been moved to a facility, I wouldn't think anything about travel. I had cameras everywhere to look in on the cats. I have a kick-ass home security system to keep them safe. The automatic feeders and Litter-Robot would take care their needs. And they have each other to keep themselves company. If I was gone for more than two days, I'd hire a petsitter to visit every-other-day to make sure everything was tended to. Easy.

When I went to Antarctica and had no internet to check in on the kittehs, I was a little worried about leaving them... but not overly so. Why would I be? They're fine on their own.

But then Jake had his urinary blockage which, if left unattended, would have killed him in days. And now I am absolutely terrified to leave for more than two nights. Jake has been doing better and better over the last couple weeks, so my worries about leaving him have been lessening, but I still can't shake the idea that he's going to have another problem while I'm away.

And then there was tonight.

Several weeks ago, Jake ate two or three small shreds of cheese that fell on the floor when I was grating. A couple minutes later, he puked and puked and puked. Tonight while waiting for dinner, I had myself a snack of some cubed Velveeta. When I was done, there was no cheese left on the plate. So I didn't think anything of it when Jake jumped on the couch and started licking the plate. Sure enough... minutes later he started heaving. No puke, because there was no cheese for him to eat, but the smudges of residue were enough to trigger his stomach. So apparently any amount of dairy protein is enough to make the little guy sick. Which is strange. Because before his procedure to unblock his urinary tract, he would occasionally eat ACTUAL pieces of cheese off my plate with absolutely no problem. No idea what that's about, but I now know to keep anything dairy... no matter how small... away from him.

Hopefully no other allergies pop up.

Especially when I'm away.

I'll be sure to turn off Carl the Robovac just in case.

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Categories: Cats 2018, Travel 2018Click To It: Permalink  2 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 488

Posted on November 18th, 2018

Dave!You're in for a culture treat... because a Very Special All Caravaggio Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Caravaggio! As any long-time reader already knows, I am a massively huge fan of art. All kinds of art. I can be at my happiest when getting lost in a good art museum. Or even a bad art museum. And when I first started studying art, I quickly became a fan of Caravaggio. His stunning use of deep shadow and mastery of composition is the beginning of Baroque art, which was revolutionary at the time. On top of all that, he's a fascinating historical figure whose violence came to a head when he killed a guy in Rome and had to flee to Naples. I highly recommend taking a look at his profile on Wikipedia...

Chalk portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni
Chalk portrait of Caravaggio by Ottavio Leoni, circa 1621

When I began traveling in Europe, I made it my mission to see as many publicly-displayed Caravaggio works as I could. This has brought me many adventures over the years... and resulted in me visiting some amazing museums. For this (and the pleasure of viewing his work, of course) I owe a huge debt to this fascinating artist.

   
• Alive! The inspiration for this post came about when I saw "Caravaggio living paintings by Ludovica Rambelli Theater". They selected some paintings and attempted to recreate them like so...

Now that's cool. So cool that I'm running through the paintings depicted...

   
• Judith Beheading Holofernes.

Judith Beheading Holofernes

✔ National Gallery of Ancient Art -Palazzo Barberini, Rome, Italy. Odds are I would have eventually visited the museum at Palazzo Barberini just because it housed so many incredible works of art. But when I finally visited there, it was specifically to see one of the most shocking Caravaggio works in existence, Judith Beheading Holofernes. Like most of his works, this is a big painting... nearly 6-1/2 feet wide... and its impact on you is immediate when you enter the room.

   
• The Flagellation of Christ.

The Flagellation of Christ

✘ Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy. When I visited Naples, it was a cruise ship stop and I had very little time. My choice was to charter a limo and see the Amalfi Coast (somewhere I was dying to see) or take a taxi to The Capodimonte. Ultimately I picked Amalfi and don't regret it (amazing, amazing sights), but a part of me really wishes I would have seen The Flagellation of Christ, which is a powerful work.

   
• The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.

The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew

✔ San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy. The ceiling of this church is so magnificent that I almost forgot why I had walked here! This is a massive work... 11 feet tall(!).

   
• The Annunciation.

The Annunciation

✘ Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy, Nancy, France. Never been to Nancy. Would very much like to visit, not just for The Annunciation.

   
• Rest on the Flight into Egypt.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt

✔ Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Rome, Italy. I finally made it to The Doria after putting off for my first three trips to Rome. The painting is nice, but the museum is exceptional.

   
• The Entombment of Christ.

The Entombment of Christ

✔ Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City, Italy. I believe that The Entombment of Christ was the first Caravaggio I ever visited, and seeing it in it's 10-foot-tall glory was quite a bit different than seeing it in a book. Which just made me want to see more of his works.

   
• The Raising of Lazarus.

The Raising of Lazarus

✘ Museo Regionale, Messina, Sicily, Italy. I've wanted to visit Sicily like... forever, and being able to see The Raising of Lazarus in person is as good an excuse as any.

   
• Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy.

Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

✘ Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Never been to Hartford. Never had a desire to visit Hartford. No idea how Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy ended up in Hartford. Except... this painting is absolutely beautiful and I would love to see it.

   
• Bacchus.

Bacchus

✘ The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy. When it comes to my favorite Carvaggio paintings, Bacchus is not really on the list, but I was already at The Uffizi to see his The Head of Medusa (and Michelangelo's David, of course).

   
Four out of nine visited. Not bad! And then...

   
• The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Of all the Carvaggio masterpieces I've seen, my favorite is this one...

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta. Probably one of the most interesting compositions in art history, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is a stunning work that is widely considered to be Carvaggio's crowning achievement. And it's huge. 16-1/2 feet across.

   
• John the Baptist. Of all the Caravaggio paintings I've not yet seen, the one I most want to see is Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, which is relatively easy to get to in Connecticut. The second painting I most want to see is John the Baptist...

Bacchus

Museo Tesoro Catedralicio, Toledo, Spain. Not that I really need an excuse to visit Spain... I absolutely love the country and would very much like to go back again... but this Carvaggio is an amazing work that I hope to see before I die.

   
And that's enough art for the day.

OR IS IT?!? Probably not.

   

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