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Living Comfortably Numb

Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2019

Dave!Blergh.

Today I had to run into The Big City to have some dental work repaired. Going to the dentist is never fun, but today's trip was made worse by the brutal cold front that descended into the valley last night. It was so cold out that the windshield wipers fell apart after ten minutes on the road.* Which is dangerous when road-slush is fusing itself to your car...

Ice Fusion to My Car

Fortunately I was able to crank the defrost and drive carefully enough that my windshield stayed mostly-clear. At least long enough to drop by the auto parts store for new wipers.

And then it was dental reconstruction time.

Which was a piece of cake.

I can't believe how anesthesiology tech has advanced over the years. Used to be they shoot you up with novocaine and you're uncomfortably numb for an entire day... then you have that awful taste in your mouth as the drugs leach out. Gross. Then everything hurts for a while as your body recovers. Even once novocaine was replaced in the 80's, the new generation of numbing agents seem like they're improving.

Now? You feel nothing. You taste nothing. The numbness fades in hours. There's no residual discomfort or pain. The work was completed just six hours ago and I can barely tell that anything was done. How cool is that?

And speaking of cool...

There's a musician named Simon "Blanks" de Wit in the Netherlands who reimagines popular songs with his own musical arrangements on YouTube. The results are fantastic, especially when he takes contemporary music and turns it into 80's pop with a "StyleSwap"...

The result is often something I like far more than the original...

The guy is incredibly talented, posting "One Hour Challenge" videos where he attempts to remake songs in 60 minutes...

He composes his own songs as well...

His sound is still developing, and it will be interesting to see where he goes as a musician. If he can come up with an album that's 80's pop inspired, I'm so there.

   

*Note to self: Not replacing your windshield wipers for six years is probably not a good idea.

   

Bullet Sunday 498

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Dave!Don't the mistake of clicking that back button now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Carnivore! I choose to be vegetarian because humans can adapt to vegetarian/vegan diets. Cats and dogs were not designed to be vegetarian/vegan, and forcing them on this "diet" is unhealthy... even deadly. If you won't feed your pets the meat they were built to eat, then get a pet that is made for a vegetarian/vegan diet. Like a hamster or something. Better yet, don't get a pet at all if you don't have their health and well-being as a priority.

   
• Salty! After it was announced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was retiring from baseball I started to write a blog post about it, but could never figure out what I wanted to say. I'm a huge fan...

Jarrod Saltalamacchia by Keith Allison
Photo by Keith Allison @ Flickr

I'm such a fan that I ended up bidding on (and winning) his dugout jacket from the 2013 World Series...

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

I first became a fan when he started playing for the Red Sox (of course), but I kept up with his career as he moved on to Miami, Arizona, Detroit, and Toronto...

Saltalamacchia Dugout Jacket

Best of luck in retirement, Salty!

   
• Taxable! Heaven only knows I'm not 100% onboard with the current taxation scheme that we're subjected to here in the US. And I don't much agree with many of the proposed alternatives either. That being said, I'm getting increasingly pissed off with those politicians who are lying assholes about how tax brackets work. Forget what you're being told and watch this short video...

It's pretty simple, yet people are incredibly stupid when it comes to what they choose to believe. No surprise there.

   
• Stop Doing That! Samantha Bee's Full Frontal had a segment on the challenges that deaf persons have in dealing with the police. If that's not enough to get you to take a look, Nyle DiMarco stops by to help out... and take his shirt off...

If only those who can hear will take the time to listen.

   
• Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! Now this takes talent...

When I was in Wales, I had trouble pronouncing the four letter words. Attempting to pronounce this would probably kill me.

   
• Infinity Paint! And, lastly, this is my favorite thing on the internet this past week.

   
And... life goes on even though Bullet Sunday is over.

   

Caturday 95

Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Dave!As I've bragged many times, my cats are remarkably well-behaved.

They don't bother me when I'm sleeping. They don't scratch or chew on things they shouldn't. They rarely go where they're not supposed to. And they really don't try to get at my food while I'm eating it. Even Jake has the manners to wait until I'm finished before sniffing my dishes for crumbs. Jenny, on the other hand, doesn't seem interested in people food at all.

At least that's what I thought... until she made a bee-line for my chip dip...

Jenny Tries Dip

Once she smelled garlic, she was over it in a real hurry, however.

Instead she and Jake decided to stare me down in the hopes of getting an early dinner...

Jake and Jenny Want Dinner

In other news, Jake has started snuggling up with me since his sister has been getting more and more annoyed with him trying to snuggle up to her...

Jake Looking

Jake Looking

Jenny, who has always loved watching television, has started getting interested in computer videos now. Last night I was watching an otter video when she leaped up on the couch behind me to take a look...

Jenny Watches Otters on YouTube

She must really like otters, because she came in for a closer look...

Jenny Watches Otters on YouTube

Guess I need to install YouTube on the cats' iPad.

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Digitalization Proclamation

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019

Dave!Are you converting your DVD/Blu-Ray library to digital? Upgrading your SD DVDs to digital HD?

Yesterday I talked about my Blu-Ray player and how I rarely use it. I haven't bought a DVD or Blu-Ray in years, preferring to purchase everything digitally. And mostly on sale. Few movies are worth paying full price for,* (usually if you wait a couple of months they'll drop to $10 or less). I do still have bunches of old DVDs and Blu-Ray discs hanging around. Those I watch over and over again I repurchased digitally for convenience... but most movies aren't worth buying twice.

Until Vudu joined up with Movies Anywhere, that is.

Movies Anywhere is an alliance of digital media stores and movie studios which allow you to buy a film from one store... then watch it at any other. Buy a movie from Google Play and, so long as it's a part of Movies Anywhere, it will show up in your Apple iTunes (or whatever).

This also goes for DVDs/Blu-Rays converted by Vudu, so long as...

  1. The movie is available digitally at Vudu (some aren't).
  2. The movie in question is participating in Movies Anywhere (some aren't).
  3. The movie is available for conversion (some aren't).

Assuming these conditions are true, you're in luck!

  • DVDs will covert to SD Digital for $2. Most of them can also convert to HD Digital for $5 if you prefer.
  • Most HD Blu-Rays will convert to HD Digital for $2. For some reason there are a few titles which will still cost $5 for HD.

Since I want to play everything on iTunes, here's how I've been converting my DVD/Blu-Ray library...

1) Look up my disc on MoviesAnywhere.com. If they have it, scroll to the bottom for the title info and verify that it's a part of Movies Anywhere...

Vudu Purchase

2) If the movie is eligible, I grab my iPhone and point its browser to Vudu.com/disc (GPS location and camera are required). From there you can scan the UPC code off of you DVD or Blu-Ray and see if it's available for digital conversion...

Vudu Purchase

3) If it is, you select SD or HD, and off you go!

For older movies I own on DVD, I mostly choose the cheaper $2 conversion. Many modern televisions will upscale the SD picture to something that looks just fine, even on a large display. But if it's an older movie I love which underwent remastering or it's a more recent movie which will benefit from the HD image, I spend the $5. Weirdly enough, Vudu will only allow you to convert 100 movies per calendar year. After that, you have to wait until January 1 in order to convert any more... just in case you're flush with cash and have a huge DVD library.

It will take me a few years yet to be able to afford to convert all the titles I want into digital format, but it's sure nice not having loads of DVDs taking up space in my home. It's also handy to have movies I like in digital format that can be watched anywhere. There is a drawback to conversion, however. Most digital movies don't have "iTunes Extras," so those DVDs which come with "extra features" will likely be lost. If that's something important to you, be sure to check what features iTunes has before spending your hard-earned money.

And now, if you'll excuse me, my biological clock is ticking like this... =stomp stomp stomp= so I've got My Cousin Vinny to watch.

   

*The exception being all the Marvel Studios movies. I buy those the minute they go on sale.

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Categories: Movies 2019Click To It: Permalink  5 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Hairy Obsolescence

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Dave!This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.

This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.

And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...

Undercover Blues Movie

True Lies Movie

The Abyss Movie

Strange Days Movie

   

The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).

So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.

Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.

   
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.

   

Potato Chip Hauntings

Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Dave!Lay's potato chips were on sale at the grocery store so I bought a couple bags. And while I love them plain right out of the bag, I was craving the chip dip that my mom used to make. It was the same dip that my grandmother used to make. I think she got the recipe from the mother of one of my mom's friends. Since both my mom and grandma are gone now, I guess I'll never know for sure where it came from. One of a million things I should have asked about but never did.

Here's the base recipe...

  • 8oz. cream cheese brick, softened.
  • Two heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  • Splash of lemon juice.
  • Garlic powder to taste.

It's good just like that, but there are optional add-ins if you're wanting something more exciting...

  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (for non-vegetarians).
  • Two heaping tablespoons of sour cream.
  • Ground pepper to taste.
  • Cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Minced garlic to taste.
  • Dash of hot sauce.
  • Chopped scallions (or chives) and paprika as a topper.

   
Tonight I just made the base recipe with a little cayenne. It was exactly what I needed.

And everything I didn't.

It's been seven months since my mom died and there's always something there to remind me that she's gone. If it's not the pictures of her on the wall or cream cheese dip, it's something else.

Everything else.

There doesn't have to be a ghost for you to be haunted. All it took for me was a bag of chips.

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Categories: DaveLife 2019, Food 2019Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Flat Flat Super-Flat

Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Dave!The weather has been exceptionally nice these past couple days, which is both good and bad. Good because I can park outside and do some light woodworking in my garage. Bad because I worry about us having enough of a snow pack in the mountains to avoid drought this summer.

Yesterday when I got home from work I started experimenting with making cabinet doors and drawer facings. What I want are simple shaker-style pieces which look like they would be easy to build. And, relatively speaking, they are...

Jake Perching
These are the doors and drawers I want... almost exactly. Photo from HGTV.

But getting doors and drawers that will look great takes great patience, attention, care, and time.

Take the drawers in the above photo, for example. It looks like you just saw off a piece of wood, paint it, slap a handle on it, then crack open a cold one because you're done. But it's not that simple. Every edge has to be routed because a sharp corner has little strength and will be nicked up and dented in no time. But you can't overdo it or else they won't look like they're meant to look. And then there's the biggest issue I face... having flat, flat, super-flat boards to work with.

This is a surprisingly weird thing to have to worry about.

You'd think that the boards you buy would be cut flat (which they are) then processed in such a way that they remain flat. This is not even remotely the case. After the wood has been cut from a log it's usually dried so it doesn't warp too badly, but temperature, humidity, and other factors work on the wood over time and cause it to bend. Every single "true-wood" board I have ever bought has been warped in some way. Every board. This is a huge problem when you are trying to build something that's supposed to be flat. Like a drawer face or a picture frame.

So... what to do?

Option A is to use a material like MDF (medium density fiberboard) or hardboard. It's real wood fibers mixed with resin and heat-pressed into sheets for building. It's inexpensive, smooth, flat, won't warp, paints super-smooth, and is easy to work with. In the past it was fairly weak and lacked the strength of true wood, but now-a-days it's pretty durable stuff and can be almost as strong. As a bonus, it's easy to work with as well. The downside is that it can chip or come apart easily if you're not careful about how you use nails and screws. Since I'm painting everything white, this may be a good choice for me because you'll never see the material. I also like the idea that it's cheaper and won't warp or split.

Option B is to use "true wood" and buy a planer. Running everything through a planer will provide the super-flat boards I need to build nice doors and drawers. This is wasteful and time-consuming, but you get the durability and strength that's made wood the material of choice since cabinetry began.

Option C buy fresh-planed wood from a cabinet shop. Not really an option because it's far more money than I have to spend.

My plan is to build a couple drawer faces and cabinets with MDF and see how it goes. Once I get them built I'll beat on them a little bit to make sure they're not going to fall apart. If they hold up well, then I guess I've found my material. If not, I guess I'm getting a planer. Which is something I wanted to buy anyway, but my kitchen remodel is such a huge deal that I am not thrilled with the time involved in having to use it.

For the most part I am anxious to get started on my kitchen and excited to tackle such a challenging project. But there's a small part of me who is very aware that I don't know what I'm doing yet and no amount of YouTube videos will prepare me for the real thing. Which is why it's nice that the weather has been so good and I can experiment. I'll be a lot more confident about my plans if I have some experience under my belt.

Also? By starting in on cabinetry early I'll have more time this summer to work on more catio projects. Jake and Jenny are wanting new adventures!

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Poster Raising with the Amish

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2019

Dave!I have a dozen Marvel Studios posters hanging in my home. I love their movies and like using the posters as decoration everywhere. It was always my intent to have the first movie posters for the "Big Three" (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor) hanging together at the top of my stairwell. Thor was easy... I just used a stool on the landing. I built scaffolding to hang Captain America (and nearly killed myself in the attempt). Iron Man was just too high up for me to attempt it, so I hung him in my dining room and forgot about it. But now I need the dining room space for the second half of my Wall of Bloggers, so I had to find a way to hang Iron Man wayyyy up where he belongs...

Spot Where My Iron Man Poster Goes

I had no idea how I was going to do it without paying a painter to bring their scaffolding and build a ramp. I don't have that kind of money, so this wasn't really an option.

And then...

I was watching an episode of Banshee, which takes place in Amish country. Which got me to thinking about Amish barn raisings and how they manage to do it not with a forklift or a crane... but with long poles to push the frame up into place. Couldn't I do the same thing for my poster by using a Swiffer mop handle and some 3M Command Strips? The head on the Swiffer is kinda spongey, so it should have good grip on it.

And so...

First I cut some wood blocks which I mounted on the frame backing board. Then I attached the Command Strips to that. Then I nailed a piece of wood across the bottom of the posters to form a ledge. Then I stood on the landing, reached across with the poster, slid it into place, then grabbed the Swiffer handle to ease it up against the wall...

Swiffer Handle Poster Raising

   
Worked like a charm!

My Movie Posters on a Wall

My Movie Posters on a Wall

My Movie Posters on a Wall

Technically, Thor came before Captain America, but it looked better to have Cap's orange background breaking up the two blue/black backgrounds.

I'll probably leave the ledge up for a week or so just to make sure that the Command Strips have bonded to the wall properly. Each set can hold 4 pounds and I used 4 sets (16 pounds total), which means my 7-pound frame should be okay, I hope.

If not, hopefully myself or my cats won't be underneath it when it falls.

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Categories: DaveLife 2019Click To It: Permalink  4 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 497

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Dave!The Trump Shutdown may be only temporarily suspended, but don't let that get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Vax! =sigh= I was fully vaccinated as a kid, but it's been recommended that I get the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shot again because of a measles outbreak here in the Pacific Northwest. Since it's highly contagious, I never had it as a kid, I regularly climb into a confined metal tube with lots of people, and I only received one shot (not the series that's now recommended)... it's better safe than sorry I suppose. Fun! Thanks, anti-vax parents, for continuing to bring back diseases with gusto that we thought we had dealt with long ago. Polio, anyone?

   
• Just Die! And... apparently another idiot missionary is rolling the dice. If forced to choose between the death of a tribe of indigenous persons who are not equipped to handle the germs, disease, and overall bullshit that the outside world brings when it intrudes on their lands... or the death of some piece of shit missionary who KNOWS that it's illegal and KNOWS their actions can cause irreparable harm... I'm going to root for the asshole missionary to die. Hopefully in the most brutal way possible as an example to other assholes who might have similar ideas. Except that didn't seem to work the first time, because you just can't fix stupid. In the meanwhile, these Christian groups calling for the tribe to be arrested can go fuck themselves.

   
• Other Other! When I first heard that SNL alums Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider had a new series coming to Comedy Central, I was intrigued. Shows that fall out of Saturday Night Live talent are hit or miss, but the ones that hit are usually the most interesting and imaginative stuff to appear on television. And now The Other Two has arrived and it is about the funniest thing I've seen in a while...

Yes, that's Molly Shanon as the mom, and she's as good as you'd expect. And, yes, that's Wanda Sykes in there too (Lord, I wish they would find a starring vehicle for her that's worthy of her talent). It's a raunchy show to be sure, so it's not going to be for everybody... but, if you're intrigued, you can watch the first episode for free over at Comedy Central.

   
• London! I've wondered about London's airports for a long, long time. At last there are answers...

And... part two...

This guy's entire "Unfinished London" channel is gold.

   
• Out of Network! Regardless of where you land on the health care debate, this is essential reading. Now more than ever you have to be very careful about what care plan your doctor comes up with for you. It's critical that you know to question everything so as to avoid getting blindsided by outrageous medical costs.

   
• TransBan! The irony is not lost that President Trump (AKA Cadet Bone Spurs), who dodged the draft with a fake ailment, is in charge of deciding who gets to serve their country now (yes, it was fake... the daughter of the physician who signed off on his foot problem came forward). His desire to strongly curtail (or outright ban) transgender persons from serving was recently upheld by The Supreme Court. To those who understand that a strong military requires talents from all sorts of people, this makes no sense. So what is the president thinking? Not surprisingly, there's a series of tweets to explain it...

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
— President Donald Trump

Huh. Looks like our Commander in Chief doesn't know how the fuck our modern military works. But what does he understand? Let's hear what an actual fucking soldier has to say...

"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."
— Senator Tammy Duckworth

Oh, and forgive me for completely discounting his fucking bullshit about the "medical costs" being a disruption to our military. It's not like he gives a shit about the millions of taxpayer dollars our military spends shuttling his fat ass to golf courses around the world.

   
Have a pleasant week, everybody!

   

Caturday 94

Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Dave!This morning Jenny demanded belly rubs after she had breakfast. She hopped on the bed, sauntered up to me, then flopped over on her back and waited impatiently. I was happy to comply... except she was irritated at the way I was rubbing her belly. She'd grunt. She'd flop around. She'd paw at my hand to move it. She'd contort herself to get me to the right spot. But no matter what I did, Jenny was having none of it. She kept getting more and more frustrated until she meowed in disgust and walked off.

When I went downstairs to work while my bread was rising, Jenny sat next to me on the back of the couch, but refused to look at me no matter how many times I tried to talk to her...

Jenny Ignores Me

After some butt-scratches for a little while, she started to forgive me, but was still perturbed...

Jenny Ignores Me

There are times I'd give anything to be able to talk to my cats. This was one of those times.

But then, with a little patience...

Jenny Forgives Me

Jenny Forgives Me

   
In other news... my cats are still trying to kill me. Yesterday's morning tributes included Mufasa, a piece of rope I used to make the massive scratching pole in the catio, and one of my mom's rubber stamps. Made of wood. Which hurts a LOT when you step on it. Where did it come from? How did they bring it here? How did they fit it in their mouth? What does it mean? How long does it take foot pain to go away? WHY ARE MY CATS TRYING TO KILL ME?!?...

Jenny Ignores Me

   

My Philips HUE light in my bedroom lights up on "low" a half hour before I get up at 7am to feed the cats. It then keeps increasing in brightness until my Alexa alarm goes off. It's supposed to be simulating a sunrise or something. Anyway... the minute light clicks on at 6:30am, Jake has learned that this means it's getting close to breakfast. He then hops on the bed to stare at me for a half hour...

Jake Wants Breakfast

IS IT BREAKFAST TIME YET? I'M LITERALLY DYING OF STARVATION! I'M JUST GOING TO SIT HERE STARING AT YOU UNTIL YOU FEED ME. I HOPE THIS MAKES YOU FEEL BAD.

If he's feeling really frisky (or hungry) he will hop on top of me...

Jake Wants Breakfast

Or, if he's feeling lazy, he'll lay down beside me and fall asleep...

Jake Stretch

Jake is pretty much back to normal after his health scare. Still likes to sit on my lap when I'm trying to work...

Jake Laptop Cat

And he still watches for birds to land in the catio so he can attack them...

Jake Waits

But his behavior has definitely changed, because he still doesn't want to sleep alone...

Jake Loves Jenny

Jake Loves Jenny

He will sleep in the guest bedrooms alone if I'm at home. If I'm downstairs, he'll sleep in the downstairs guest bedroom... it I'm upstairs he'll sleep in the upstairs guest bedroom. But his days of being fully independent when sleeping seem to be over.

So long as Jenny doesn't mind, I guess it's all good.

Hey, maybe she can train Jake the right way to scratch her belly? He speaks cat, so maybe...

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Categories: Cats 2019Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

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