Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Bingeing Disney Animation 10

  

  


With one exception, this is a forgettable batch of films in the post-Renaissance slump, just before the Disney Revival.

Brother Bear (2003) - You can tell that at this point, Disney was still working hard to produce a classic animated film. Set in the pre-historic Alaskan wilderness, the hand-drawn animation is as beautiful as usual. The story involves an Inuit youth who is turned into a bear after his revenge-killing of a mother bear and is in turn hunted by his own brother. Ironic, right? The themes of family and the futility of revenge are okay, but it's a tired story. Of note, Second City's McKenzie brothers appear as a couple of moose.

Home on the Range (2004) - Like The Emperor's New Groove, this is another attempt to capture the spirit of Looney Tunes, but, unlike that film, fails on a number of levels, including that the heroes are cows. (An ambitious choice that doesn't work.) This is likely the only movie you'll ever see that stars Roseanne Barr and Dame Judy Dench(!). The story is short, straight-forward and not that interesting, although kids might like it. The last traditionally animated Disney film for the next five years.

Chicken Little (2005) - This is the story of a young chicken who cries "The sky is falling" when it clearly isn't. Years later, he's still living that moment down when it turns out that he was right, and that aliens are responsible. This is mildly entertaining, but the plot is derailed when it inexplicably veers into a cliched sports story, with Chicken Little redeeming himself by winning a baseball game, before returning to the main plot. This diversion is obviously to pad out the run time and it's padding the film doesn't need.

Meet the Robinsons (2007) - I LOVE Meet the Robinsons, the story of a young, genius orphan, and master inventor, who finds his family in the future. The script is funny and touching and clever. Ironically, the only thing I don't love is the Robinsons themselves, who are a little too quirky for my taste. Still, this tale of time travel, an appealing future, shattered childhoods, and villainous headwear is one of my favorites, and features my favorite Disney villain of all time, The Bowler Hat Guy. Plus, the ending always brings tears to my eyes.

Bolt (2008) - I totally didn't realize this was a Disney film. Bolt is the story of an actor dog who plays a superhero in his own TV show, but doesn't realize he's in a show. Casting John Travolta as the dog was a weird choice. When Bolt gets lost and separated from his owner, he must face up to his lack of powers, and find his own strengths to return to her. Some fun, with the standout being a crazy hamster in a plastic ball, I thought this was mostly forgettable. It's not bad, it's just not great.


Friday, October 08, 2021

Prostate Update - Post-Treatment

WARNING:  TMI BELOW!

I started radiation on September 7, and had my last half-hour session on September 20, for a total of five, approximately one every three days. The procedure involved wearing a hospital gown, the insertion of a rectal balloon to help hold the prostate still, and me lying on my back, not moving while the "cyberknife" machine rotated around me, imaging the prostate and blasting the cancer with radiation. 

The procedure was very similar to getting x-rayed, so when the first session was done, I went home and shrugged the whole thing off. Later, I realized the power of the dosage as I started to feel the side effects. This involved an increase in the frequency and urgency of urination, and uncomfortableness in my rectum. There was also some burning when I urinated, which became more pronounced after each treatment.

The sessions were a mixed bag. The first and second were easy (I actually fell asleep during the second), and the third and the fifth were very uncomfortable. But the staff were great, I just had to lie still, and they passed pretty quickly. After the third session, when I mentioned my discomfort, my Oncologist told me to start taking 800mg of ibuprofen, which I did several times a day. That helped a lot.

Since then, the side effects have been gradually subsiding. Some days are better than others, but there's definitely been a fast improvement. I have a follow up phone call in a few weeks, and then a six month appointment. In the meantime, my regular Urologist will order regular blood tests to tell if the cancer is gone.

All said, radiation seems to have been the right decision for me. The treatments were tolerable, passed quickly, and the side effects temporary and manageable. I'm very lucky.

Over the next few months we'll see if I can call myself a cancer survivor.

What's in the Bill?

American media sucks at political reporting. Not only do they "both sides" two parties where one wants to help the American people and the other wants to end American democracy, they also focus exclusively on the price tag of legislation, while ignoring the benefits.

This will help with that. It's definitely worth a minute of your time.

 

Sounds pretty damn good to me. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

Happy Birthday, WDW



Today is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, which opened on October 1, 1971. When I was seven years old, my family visited Disney World during its first year, which consisted of two hotels and the Magic Kingdom. Since then, my family and I have visited every few years, most recently in 2017 and again in Fall 2018, and watched it expand to four amazing theme parks, two water parks, hundreds of restaurants, a wonderful shopping district, more than two dozen hotels and more. We were all booked to go with Ben in June of 2020 as his college graduation present, but that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

I am very aware that it is a privilege to go to WDW and we are very lucky in that regard. It's expensive as hell and way too many people will just never be able to afford to do it, which sucks. There are ways you can go to WDW without spending thousands of dollars, but to experience everything it has to offer is beyond the means of most people. To some degree this is entirely understandable, because high demand means higher prices, but that reality is unfortunate. I'm also aware that Disney underpays its employees and really needs to do better.

The entrance to Be Our Guest restaurant.

While we've usually gone with our kids (now adults), Carol and I also went by ourselves in 2018. Lots of people say they don't understand why adults would go to Disney World without children. For me, it's because Disney is my happy place. It's immersive, fun, exciting, and just plain awesome. I have never had a bad time there. 

Space Mountain loading zone.

The sheer volume of experiences available at WDW is staggering. The parks have dark rides, roller coasters, more traditional carnival-type rides, simulators, walk-throughs, and cutting edge attractions no one else has. The parks, hotels and restaurants are wonderfully, meticulously themed, whether to existing Disney IP or not, and excellently staffed to maximize guest immersion in the fantasy, whether it be Africa, Hollywood of the 1940s, the Old West, colonial America, the future, or countries around the world. I've been to other amusement parks and most are haphazardly themed. The closest another park comes to the Disney standard are the two Harry Potter areas of Universal Studios, which are excellent. But the rest of Universal Studios park doesn't even come close. Disney is just the best.

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Sanaa Restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge, at Kidani Village.

In the lead-up to the 50th anniversary, Disney announced plans for major ride refurbishments, and the creation of new rides, restaurants and hotels. While some of those plans have been finished, and some are under construction, some were abandoned due to the pandemic. It's not entirely clear why Disney changed their minds.

Unfortunately, Disney has taken the opportunity of the pandemic to make some less than welcome changes. For example, their Fastpass system allowed anyone with a park ticket to pre-reserve a place in line for three rides at a time, allowing you to skip long lines. Disney has announced that the free Fastpass is no more, replaced by a paid system. If you want to skip lines, now it will cost you. They've also made changes to beloved perks you'd get from staying at Disney hotels like free Magic Bands and Extra Magic Hours, which allowed you to stay in the parks after hours. Going forward, the extra hours are restricted only to those staying in the most expensive Disney hotels on property.

We've seen this behavior before, during the 1990s. Pulling back guest perks and terminating announced plans is a sign that Disney's penny-pinchers have taken control. Keep in mind, this is a company that makes $1 billion every time they release a Marvel movie. Now that they seem to be entering "cheap mode", things might be dicey for a while. (And, yes, I'm aware that they have invested a ton on the parks over the past five years.) But cheaping out was a big mistake in the 90s, and it's a mistake now, especially on the 50th Anniversary.

Still, there's lots we haven't seen yet, including Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, and we can't wait to go back.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Owning the Libs - to death!

 

This means that the more Republican a county is, the higher the COVID death rate. Despite how hard the Administration, public health officials, and rational people are trying to save their lives, they'd rather die than admit they're wrong.

Like most of the vaccinated, at this point I'm out of cares to give. If they want to kill themselves and their family, then so be it.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A Start

Last week, the city of Richmond, Virginia, took down a huge statue of a traitor to the United States, erected in 1890 to remind Black Virginians that they were inferior to White Virginians and powerless to stop the daily terror and murder to which they were being subjected.

Ouch!

The removal was long overdue and, really, we have statues commemorating slave-owning, racist traitors who took up arms against the United States? (Rhetorical question because we're idiots.)

As Republicans are apparently incapable of reading history books or going to a museum, they of course bitched about this. Among other reasons, they whined that liberals are trying to eliminate the teaching of history as well as destroying our "heritage and culture", which is code for white supremacy.

A specific Republican dipshit issued a long statement. See if you can guess who it was. My thoughts interspersed.

Just watched as a massive crane took down the magnificent and very famous statue of "Robert E. Lee On His Horse" in Richmond, Virginia. It has long been recognized as a beautiful piece of bronze sculpture. To add insult to injury, those who support this "taking" now plan to cut it into three pieces, and throw this work of art into storage prior to its complete desecration.

Yes, this was a magnificent, very famous, and beautiful sculpture of an asshole sitting on a horse. We don't have enough of those.

Robert E. Lee is considered by many Generals to be the greatest strategist of them all. President Lincoln wanted him to command the North, in which case the war would have been over in one day. Robert E. Lee instead chose the other side because of his great love of Virginia, and except for Gettysburg, would have won the war. He should be remembered as perhaps the greatest unifying force after the war was over, ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation and imploring his soldiers to do their duty in becoming good citizens of this Country.

So much stupid to unpack here. The Civil War would have been over in a day if Lee had been in command of the North? Truly he was a genius who could also break the laws of time and space.

Lee chose the "other side" because he loved Virginia? He also loved SLAVERY or he wouldn't have violated his oath of loyalty and fought to preserve it. 

The South would have won the war except for Gettysburg? Nope. Even had they won there, the South's only hope (and the whole point of the Pennsylvania campaign) was to encourage the North to give up the war *politically* and that was unlikely. The South was already outmatched militarily. 

Lee was a good citizen *after* he led an insurrection against the U.S.? How noble of him.

Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can't let that happen! If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don't have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!

And there we have the white supremacy buzzwords. Taking down statues of traitors and racists isn't destroying anything worth saving. No civilized nation should have statues of such deplorable people. 

Robert E. Lee would have commanded us to victory in Afghanistan? Yeah, I'll give him that. Lee is well-known for his expertise in the use of air power against an entrenched terrorist insurgency in inhospitable terrain.

One final note. The human hemorrhoid who wrote this was the Commander in Chief of all U.S. armed forces for four years. Is he admitting that he couldn't end the disastrous war in complete and total victory during that time? Is he admitting that someone is actually superior to him at something? I thought he knew more than all the generals, or is that only the living generals? If only Genghis Khan had been available!

That's enough on this moron.


Wednesday, September 08, 2021

America's wang does its best to live up to its nickname

Heckuva Governor you've got there, Florida. He's really fulfilling one of the basic duties of a Governor, which is protecting the lives of his constituents.


For the record, Florida's Governor is Ron DeSantis, an anti-mask, anti-vaccine, Presidential wannabe, and he's doing his best to emulate Trump's standards and policies in order to suck up to the stupid Republican base, who are willing to die in order to "own the libs".

Florida will have a better choice next year. Let's hope they take it.


And now for something nice . . .

 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Great Vaccine Advice


Click the title to read the article. You'll be glad you did.

Spending

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We’ve got a really screwy way of drafting, evaluating, and passing legislation. We pretend that the federal government needs to budget like a household. We think of taxes as something the government needs (i.e. revenue) instead of remembering that taxes are there to subtract spending power from the rest of us so that the government’s own spending doesn’t push the economy beyond its full-employment limit. We hamstring legislation by demanding that the government “pay for” new spending, even when the economy could safely absorb that spending without the need for higher taxes. And we do all of this because we’ve decided that these household budgeting practices somehow serve the public interest. They don’t.

Link


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Prostate Update - September 2021

WARNING: Graphic details below.

As I reported in my last post, prior to the start of radiation therapy, I was awaiting my procedure to insert three gold tracking fiducials into my prostate, and place a hydrogel insert to protect my rectum. I had that procedure a few weeks ago, and while it wasn't overly pleasant, it was quick and I got through it just fine. (Being in the "stirrups" for the whole procedure gave me additional sympathy for what women have to go through all the damn time.)

Once that was done, a couple of weeks ago I had my first appointment with the radiation oncologist to scan my prostate. They use a CT scanner to map out the prostate, including the position of the fiducials so that when my radiation treatments start, they can triangulate off the fiducials and target the cancer precisely. The scanning session required that I empty my bladder and then drink a bottle of water, a process I'll have to repeat each session so that my bladder is the same amount of full each time. I also had a rectal balloon inserted, for what reason I don't know. (Maybe they were just having some fun with me). That will also be repeated. Finally, they injected a dye into my urethra, which will not be repeated. Thankfully.

Once the scan was complete, it took them about ten days to map out the radiation treatment. I will have five half hour sessions over three weeks, which isn't a lot at all. And then they monitor me to make sure the cancer is gone.

My first session is September 7, the day after Labor Day.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Bingeing Disney Animation 9

       
 


This is an interesting group of post-Renaissance films, featuring big experiments, attempts to recapture the magic, and a couple of real winners.

Dinosaur (2000) - Disney's first true computer-animated feature film (though mixed with live action backgrounds), Dinosaur is a mixed bag. The movie starts out with a great sequence showing how the titular Dinosaur gets separated from his herd. But then, one of the animals talks, and the immersion in a pre-historic time is shattered. It's interesting to think about how this might play with no dialogue. Other than that, this was better than I remembered. The movie is still alive as a thrill-ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The Emperor's New Groove (2000) - Originally developed as a full old-school Disney musical, ENG went through development hell for years until it emerged as a slapstick, Disney-take on Looney Tunes set in the Incan empire. Amazingly, it works. David Spade, who could have been terrible, reins himself in enough to be funny and the supporting cast, including Eartha Kitt(!) as the villain are great. Of course, top honors go to Patrick Warburton's hilariously dumb villain sidekick, Kronk. ENG is great fun.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) - I see what Disney was trying to do here, but it doesn't work. A 19th century, steam-punk science fiction adventure seems cool, but a non-memorable Atlantis setting, a completely predictable villain, and yet another telling of the Pocahontas, bad guys show up in paradise, story sink this. Still, it's got Michael J. Fox and James Garner leading a big roster of voice talent. Too bad the story doesn't live up to the cast.

Lilo & Stitch (2002) - Set against a galactic Federation, many different species of aliens, and advanced alien technology, Lilo & Stitch manages to be the most family-centered movie in the Disney animated library. The "broken family" at the center of the story, Lilo and her big sister Nani, are as realistic as you will find in a Disney film. Set against a water color, Elvis-inspired, version of Hawaii, the characters are vivid and developed, and the story of how a runaway alien monstrosity finds its family is wonderful. On an interesting note, the end sequence was supposed to be set in a city, but after 9/11, they changed the 747 chase through Honolulu to an alien ship racing through mountains. 

Treasure Planet (2002) - Another swing and a miss. Again, it's easy to see what they were going for here, but the film just doesn't come together. The visuals are spectacular and the world-building is really well done. Unfortunately, Martin Short, playing the robot B.E.N. is in "Robin Williams as the Genie" mode and he gets really tedious, really quickly.  Overall, despite it's incredible visuals, its characters and story are forgettable.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

This would explain his behavior

Don't be surprised that when the pandemic is finally over, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is doing everything in his power to stop COVID prevention measures by anyone in the state he swore to protect, turns out to have been a sentient super-colony of COVID virus disguised as a human all along.

Maybe someone should spray him with a can of Lysol, just to see what happens. Just saying.


Monday, August 09, 2021

We're Number One!! (Yet again, ad infinitum)



In case you need it explained: 

THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. NOR IS IT A HOAX. PEOPLE, INCLUDING CHILDREN, ARE DYING AND WILL CONTINUE TO DIE UNTIL THE ANTI-VAXXERS GET THEIR HEADS OUT OF THEIR ASSES.

 


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bingeing Disney Animation 8


                
 


The latter half of the Disney Renaissance, represented by these five films, is usually overshadowed by the first half, but there are some excellent movies here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - I had seen Hunchback once before, and had forgotten how great it is. Yes, it makes a literary classic more family-friendly, but for a kid's movie, it's dark. Frollo is widely regarded as one of the most realistic, and evil, Disney villains and his actions justify that reputation. Quasimodo himself is a sweet character but with very human flaws. I loved it.

Hercules (1997) - A favorite of mine, this tale set in Ancient Greece mimics the animation style of Al Hirschfeld. There's a lot of humor here, and the female lead, Hercules' would-be girlfriend, Meg, is more mature and world-weary than the usual Disney princess; I really enjoy her. There's a bit where Meg does a double-take that almost breaks the fourth wall and I love it.

Mulan (1998) - Mulan is well-loved and "I'll Make a Man out of You" is often called the best Disney song. That's pretty accurate. Mulan herself is charming, smart and resourceful, and the supporting characters are all fun. The battle on the snowy mountain-side is incredible. Mulan is the most popular of this particular group of films, and arguably the best.

Tarzan (1999) - The visuals are lush and beautiful, even for a Disney movie, but the story is a repeat of Pocahontas. There is some fun here, even though the talking animal shtick is a little old by this point, and the story doesn't quite break free of the beats you expect. This movie did inspire a pretty decent Broadway musical.

Fantasia 2000 (2000) - A direct "sequel" to the original Fantasia, this also failed to inspire a series of periodic Fantasia films. I had little idea what to expect and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Some of that enjoyment was due to a series of celebrities who introduce each segment. Unfortunately, the first host was the best, so each new host was a little disappointing to me, because the first guy never came back. Still, with a much shorter running time than the original, this was worth seeing.

Monday, July 26, 2021

This Week in W-T-F?

Retired U.S. General and former National Security Adviser to Trump, Michael Flynn, is a Q-addled, traitorous asshole. This was already a known known. 

Yesterday at the “Church of Glad Tidings” in Yuba City, California, Flynn was gifted a gun, a Woodland Camo AR-15, by the congregation and he said:

“Maybe I’ll find somebody in Washington, D.C.”

Yes, the traitor is making a joke about assassinating "somebody" in Washington, DC. Hmm, I wonder who he's talking about?  (Answer: It's irrelevant who he's talking about, he's still joking about murdering someone).

But surely joking about murdering someone wouldn't go over well IN A CHURCH!

Church members roared with laughter and clapped when Flynn suggested hunting humans in the nation’s capital.

Fuck these people because of course they did. After all. a CHURCH gave this asshole a GUN. Seriously, what the actual loving fuck?

Trump followers are a death cult. That cult has not only fatally infected the Republican party, but all conservative institutions, including thousands of Christian churches.

"Thou shalt not kill."

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I don't even believe in their stupid religion, but I'm smart (and moral) enough to know when they're ignoring and dishonoring their supposed "beliefs".

Can we PLEASE stop pretending these assholes have any claim on morality, much less a monopoly on it?

Oh, and somebody arrest Michael Flynn before he gets someone killed.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Maybe they were building a bank?

When I was a kid in the seventies, like lots of other kids, I watched the many TV sitcoms from the sixties that played every day in local syndication. Among the shows I watched was I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.

One of the cool things about the show was that they occasionally had story arcs over several episodes, which was unusual at the time. In one arc, Jeannie accidently got locked in a NASA safe. She was in there long enough that whoever opened the safe would be her new master. What's more, the safe was booby-trapped so that it would blow up if forced or the combination entered incorrectly. The arc ran for four episodes and the network actually ran a contest for fans to guess the combination of the safe. The ridiculous combination 4-7-9 was the winning entry. (No double digits?)

As a kid, I really enjoyed the arc, but I don't think the following ever occurred to me until this morning.

The driving tension of the story was a ticking clock to get Jeannie out. Not only because someone else would be her master if they opened it before Major Nelson, but because NASA WAS SENDING THE SAFE TO THE MOON.

If you know anything about space launches, you know that every single ounce in a payload costs fuel, space in the rocket, and money. And NASA was sending a large, extremely heavy, SAFE. For what possible purpose? Were aliens going to steal our moon stuff? Or maybe the Russians, who never made it to the moon? And NASA expected an astronaut in a spacesuit to successfully open the safe on the moon without getting blown up? It's an absolutely baffling, ridiculous and contrived storyline, when they could have just made it a locked time capsule that would be buried for a hundred years or something.

I know, I'm getting worked up over a show that had a NASA astronaut find a hot genie in a bottle and not only wouldn't let her grant any wishes, but he refused her advances for years, while another NASA astronaut (Major Healy) couldn't get a date to save his life. Ponder that. A NASA astronaut in the 1960s couldn't get a date. Realism wasn't exactly the show's strong suit. 

But still, sending a safe to the Moon?!?


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Moving boldly into the dark ages

Republicans will kill us all.

The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers, according to an internal report and agency emails obtained by the Tennessean. If the health department must issue any information about vaccines, staff are instructed to strip the agency logo off the documents.

The health department will also stop all COVID-19 vaccine events on school property, despite holding at least one such event this month. The decisions to end vaccine outreach and school events come directly from Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, the internal report states.

Additionally, the health department will take steps to ensure it no longer sends postcards or other notices reminding teenagers to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccines. Postcards will still be sent to adults, but teens will be excluded from the mailing list so the postcards are not “potentially interpreted as solicitation to minors,” the report states.

In order to paper over Donald Trump's incompetent COVID response, Republicans have now started  down the road of eliminating ALL vaccinations. This will lead to dead children.

We eliminated polio and smallpox, but Republicans now pine for the good old days of children dying from preventable diseases. 

STOP VOTING FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT YOU DEAD.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

You can feel the love

The audio from Trump in the video below is from yesterday on Fox News.  The clip is only 46 seconds long. Watch it.


 If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. 


Friday, July 09, 2021

The danger is not over

All Marylanders who died of covid in June were unvaccinated, data shows.
Unvaccinated people made up all of Maryland’s reported coronavirus deaths last month, as well as the vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations, the state reported Tuesday — data that public health officials say demonstrates the effectiveness of vaccines.

The numbers come as experts try to persuade the vaccine-hesitant to get shots and protect themselves against a virus that has killed more than 22,000 people in the region and nearly 4 million worldwide.

This really isn't difficult. Get vaccinated now. It's free. It's easy to access. It could save your life. And if everyone did it, this pandemic would be OVER.

The conservative response to the pandemic is a really good example of natural selection at work.  It's also been a great audition for winning a Darwin Award. Conservatives courting their own death to "own the libs".

Also of note, one of the excuses I've heard for not getting the vaccine is that it's untested. First of all, it was extensively tested before it was approved. Second, the damn vaccine has been injected into hundreds of millions of people. If it was dangerous, we'd absolutely know it.

Sheesh, people are stupid.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Prostate Update - July 2021

In March, I posted that I've been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I took a few months to consider my options, did a bunch of research and talked it through with Carol, and a few weeks ago decided that I would move forward with radiation therapy.

My initial inclination was to just have the damned prostate removed, with the idea that removing it would not only get rid of the cancer, but would also relieve the symptoms of having an enlarged prostate. Unfortunately, research showed that the side effects of having no prostate are very similar to the side effects of having an enlarged prostate. And since having your prostate surgically removed has a risk of severing the nerves that control, heh heh heh, I decided to go the radiation route.

So I contacted the radiation oncologist to start the process. During our telephone consult, I told him that I was due for my five year colonoscopy (lucky me!) and he told me that I needed to deal with that before I started the radiation treatments. Ugh. So I scheduled my colonoscopy and had it last month. The good news is that my colon looked better than last time, so now I don't need another colonoscopy for seven years. Huzzah!

With that finished, I take the first step for radiation treatment on July 16. That involves a surgical procedure with local anesthetic to insert three gold "fiducials" into my prostate. These pellets can be detected by the cyberknife scanner during my radiation to triangulate the position of the prostate, enabling precise targeting of the cancer. Additionally, the doctor will inject a hydrogel between my prostate and rectum to increase the distance between them, reducing the amount of radiation that might hit my rectum, making the procedure safer.

Once next week's procedure is done, there is a scanning session to map out everything, then the radiation sessions will follow with, I think, daily procedures over a couple of weeks. 

Then I'm done and we wait to confirm that it worked.


Bird Head

We have several feeders, bird houses, and a bird bath on our front lawn. I love seeing the birds do their thing, including a flock of adorable tiny birds, some doves, blue jays, woodpeckers and cardinals.  We also attract a number of squirrels (grr), one cute chipmunk, and some bunnies. I have a hummingbird feeder up, but it seems to do little business.

A few weeks ago I noticed a dark mass in our bird bath. It was a severed bird head. Poor little guy. 

The murderer could have been a cat, but I think it was probably a hawk or an owl, both of which we have in the area. Fortunately, there have been no more victims since, at least that I've seen.

Circle of life and all that.


Thursday, July 01, 2021

Our democracy now hangs by a thread

The Supreme Court finished gutting the Voting Rights Act today, in an ongoing, anti-American project to guarantee Republican rule by flooding American campaigns with dark money, appointing Conservative justices to the Supreme Court by denying appointments to Democratic presidents, and  allowing Republicans around the country to gerrymander and enact voting restrictions that deliberately target Democratic voters. Unless Congress and the President act to fix the Supreme Court, Republicans have all but locked in permanent minority rule in America.

The burden on 50 Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden to save democracy became much heavier Thursday, and even more urgent. In a 6-3 majority opinion, the Supreme Court gutted what remained of the Voting Rights Act. This was not a shocking outcome. After all, the Supreme Court had already severely damaged the landmark civil rights law back in 2013, when it gave Republican states the green light to start enacting whatever outrageous racist voter suppression laws they wished. Arizona took them up on that offer, giving the court—with three new illegitimate justices appointed by the former insurrectionist in chief—the excuse to destroy the whole of the law.

Which means the burden on the Senate goes beyond abolishing the filibuster and overruling the Supreme Court with new laws. A federal judiciary jam-packed with Donald Trump's illegitimate judges—including this Supreme Court—will make sure those laws don’t stand.

...

The Supreme Court has to be reformed and it has to be expanded, period. Biden and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have to do everything in their power to make that happen. What's the point of having control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, along with the biggest bully pulpit in the world, if you won't use it to secure the future of democracy?

Congress must act NOW, and this has to include Senators Manchin and Sinema, or we're no longer a Democracy, governed by the will of the people.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

New keyboard to the rescue

The picture below is my workstation at home. I've been teleworking for the last 15 months and will continue until at least September. I've had two monitors in my home setup for years, but when I started teleworking, I hooked the left monitor up to my work laptop. Two computers means I also have two keyboards and two mice, one for work and one for my home computer.



This setup was messy and took up a lot of desk space, with cords all over the place. I considered getting a wireless keyboard, but while that would eliminate some wires, I'd still need two separate keyboards.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article on how to improve your home office, when lo and behold, they reported on a wireless Logitech keyboard that could connect to up to three computers at the same time! It was a revelation (and an option I'm embarrassed that I didn't investigate before). So, here's my new setup.



The keyboard is great. It's heavy, and feels solid. The keys have a great feel and I enjoy typing on it. It's backlit but turns off when you move your hands away from the keyboard to save power. When your hands approach, it very cooly lights up. 

Switching between my home and work computers is as simple as hitting the button linked with that computer. (I am still getting used to switching before I type). The only downside is the steep price of $100, which is way more than I've ever paid for a keyboard. I'd get the companion mouse that also switches between multiple computers, but that's equally expensive, so for now, I'll keep using two different mice. 

But, boy, this keyboard has made a huge difference in my workspace. I'm really happy I bought it.

Juneteenth Fail

A menu that the manager of an Ikea store in Atlanta says was meant to honor Juneteenth instead angered Black employees who called it insensitive. Many didn't show up for work on Saturday – Juneteenth – and some even thought about quitting.

The manager is apologizing.

Employees who requested anonymity due to fear of repercussions showed CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV an email sent Friday that said the special menu for customers and employees was one way to "honor the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made."

You know what's coming . . . 

The menu included items such as fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese and collard greens.
...
"None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu -- nobody was black," the employee said.   Link

If you don't understand why this was a problem, you might want to ask your "black friend".