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In the past 48 hours, at least 35 people were shot in Dayton, Ohio and another 46 were shot in El Paso, Texas. Those are the headlines, but they're only the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg that is gun violence in America.
Excluding suicides, over 26,000 people have been shot in the USA this year to date, which puts us on pace for 44,000 by the end of December. By those numbers, an American has a roughly 1 in 74,000 chance of being shot each year. That's only slightly worse than the odds that you'll die in a motorcycle accident. Except, of course, that to die on a motorcycle, you have to first be *on* a motorcycle. The person who shoots you will generously donate the necessary bullet.
Right now, it seems there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid getting shot. Night clubs, bars, and retail stores seem to attract shooters, but so do schools and churches. Outdoor festivals are popular, and your workplace is a death sentence waiting to happen. Sadly, you're most likely to get shot in your own house by a member of your family, so staying home is no help.
About all you can do for sure is stay away from other people entirely, and even that is no guarantee. My friend Randy, who lives a good fifteen minutes from anything I would call civilization, has had people shoot into his house from the street 100-yards away, apparently just to see if they could. Guns are cool!
Personally, I love attending live sporting events. So far, those have been generally bullet-hole free, but that's clearly only a temporary condition. I hope I don't get shot at a football game. I probably won't; many people ride a motorcycle their whole life without dying on one. But if the worst does happen, know that I was shot doing what I loved: running in panic from someone shooting people. U-S-A!
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Last night while behind the wheel dodging deer and listening to DJ patter, I was inspired to consider what my oldest memory might be. They say that the average person's memories begin at the age of three. That might be about right for me, too.
I remember that the master bedroom in our house in Stone Mountain had green carpet and a split level with black railing along the single step separating the bed from the sitting room/attached bath. (What can I say? It was the late 70s when even builders had bad taste.) I recall looking up through the bars of the railing at my mother in bed with my baby brother. I must have been about three years old.
Is it a real memory? I think so. It seems to me that most of what I remember of my childhood comes from pictures and videos my family took. Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, all of these are things I remember secondhand from pictures and film, seen again much after the fact. To the best of my knowledge, no such pictures were taken through iron bars at my mother and brother in bed.
If that's not my oldest memory, I'm not sure what is. Playing with Kenner Star Wars toys in my sandbox? Going with my neighbors to see Raiders of the Lost Ark? Listening to Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n Roll record? My memories after 1981 get very good. Those are real, but they aren't my earliest.
Honestly, I don't think about the past much. It's a habit I've cultivated. Most of what I do remember is the unpleasant stuff, so it's best to avoid it. Live in the present, knowwhatimean?
I see deer everywhere these days. Literally every day. Deer here, deer there, deer everywhere. That's not paranoia talking, either. I have pictures!
Ok. That's not a great picture. But that really is a deer, and it was only the first of four I saw last night!
Even if you go to bed at sundown, you probably know that after dark suburban neighborhoods are teaming with raccoons, possums, and armadillos roaming between the religiously maintained lawns and hedges. Owls can be heard marking their treetop territory, and it's not summer without bats overhead hunting gnats and mosquitoes. Those critters are everywhere, but they're small. Deer are big, larger than dogs. You think you'd notice if they were around. Don't be fooled.
I've been letting Dad's dogs out at about 2AM for the past two months. Almost every night, I see deer. This week alone, on Sunday, I spotted a pair of does napped by a fence. On Monday a family of four walked calmly across the road in front of my car. On Tuesday another grazed at the end of the driveway without regard for my presence. The dogs chased it away briefly; then it came back and finished its meal. That was a determined, hungry deer.
Where do these deer go every day? Do they have a lair? Do they retreat to their secret underground deer cave? Do they squat in abandoned crack houses? (Dad watches a lot of Ancient Aliens on History Channel. He'd probably insist they go back to their spaceships.)
I'm not trying to be an alarmist about this. It's too late to build a wall. Deer. Are. Everywhere. It's time to stop fighting them and learn to live in harmony. And build bigger gardens: deer eat a lot of greens.
What? I skipped a post again? Dammit.
In my defense, I've been busy these past few days. As you know, I've been supervising Dad's medications and dog-sitting Rambo and Scarlett (and trying to make July not jealous). Also, there have been issues with our commercial rental property, including an AC failure and an (unrelated) fallen tree that damaged the roof and destroyed the gutter over the back door that has a bad tendency to flood. Add to those that I have an end-of-July deadline on a coding project. And I helped one friend build some shelves and another fix her cable system. And my own ISP was down for most of Friday and Saturday. And I've been trying to find time to write more. And and and and.
But that's all just excuses.
On the up side, I did just recently discover that my phone takes great panoramic photos, a feature which I have been using exclusively to take photos of clouds.
So that's good. And that's enough.
I don't usually run movie posts back-to-back like this, but Dad's still his own part-time job. (There are only so many hours in a day, you know.) Add to that the fact that I've lost sleep because I left my phone and wallet in a Ted's Montana Grill yesterday, and, yeah, another movie review post is all you're getting.
97. (1536.) Night and the City (1950)
I found this hard to watch because I didn't sympathize with the protagonist at all. However, it has some pretty good cinematography, especially the shot of the protagonist caught by headlights in an alley as the mob closes in on him. Good noir.
98. (1537.) Hidden Figures (2016)
I'd categorize this as Bubblegum Biopic: a history of American popular culture punched up for mass consumption. (That's not an insult. My favorite musical, 1776 would fall in the same category.) I really enjoyed this, too. In hindsight, I'm glad it was nominated for an Academy Award so that more people will be encouraged to see it.
99. (1538.) Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Quakers! Civil War! Church Organs! Girls! Geese! If this sequential series of unrelated events was supposed to have a point, it went over my head. (*Someone* must have gotten it. It was nominated for Best Picture in '57. Quakers must have been a big Academy voting block back in the McCarthy era.)
100. (1539.) Destination Wedding (2018)
Recommended by friend Otto, this romantic comedy has only two roles, played by Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as two mismatched, unlikable people destined for one another. Or not. Otto's right, it's got some funny in it, especially if you like the actors.
101. (1540.) Till the End of Time (1946)
Have you seen The Best Years of Our Lives? Yeah, this is that, but much more boring.
102. (1541.) Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)
Have you seen Vanishing Point and Sugarland Express? Yeah, this is those. It's pretty good, actually.
103. (1542.) Outlaw Blues (1977)
Peter Fonda was the embodiment of 60s-70s counterculture on celluloid, here playing a felon who goes on the run from the law while simultaneously becoming the Next Big Thing in country music. It has its moments, in no small part thanks to Susan Saint James.
More to come.
Horrible person that I am, I was in 15-items-or-less line at the grocery store yesterday thinking disparaging things about the food choices of the people in front of me. My primary antagonists were an elderly couple who still had a hankering for soda and sweets and an inability to count past 15.
That's when it occurred to me that I was in no position to throw scones. My cart was filled with 5 cans of pork and beans, 5 jars of mayonnaise, and 4 six-packs of Coke. Party time!
You know who probably doesn't judge people on the contents of their cart? Clark Kent. That's a good example to follow.
From now on when standing in a check-out line, before casting aspersions on the sugar junkie in front of me, I'll ask myself "What Would Superman Do?"
He'd probably study the cover of the National Enquirer as he calmly waited his turn. Even Superman wants to know why George Clooney is taking the twins away from Amal.
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WorkWise software has taken the unusual step of blogging about Google searches for ice cream flavor by U.S. state to drive traffic to their website. It's a great idea because it works. I was just there looking at their breakdown of flavors to see if any states preferred my personal favorite flavor, mint chocolate chip. (Answer: only New Jersey.) It turns out that exactly one state loves Superman.
That's right. According to Google Trends data, the flavor that citizens of Michigan search for most is Superman. Technically, this doesn't mean that anyone in Michigan is nuts about tri-colored blue/red/yellow dairy treats, just that a whole lot of people were curious enough about it to type it into Google. My guess is they were actually asking "what flavor is Superman ice cream?"
I've seen Superman ice cream in the wild, though I'm not remotely adventurous enough to have tried it. I'm pretty sure that "blue" isn't a flavor, and whatever it tastes like, I can't imagine that it goes well with lemon and cherry.
Interestingly, Edy's/Dreyer's makes a DC Comics-themed line of ice cream flavors which naturally includes a Superman variety. You might think it would be Superman flavored. It's not.
Personally, I'd stay away from Krypton™ Cookie Dough ice cream. Everyone knows Krypton explodes.
While "cookie dough light ice cream" might seem like a missed opportunity for a Superman-branded flavor, the most popular Google Trends search was far and away cookies and cream (the favorite in 13 states, including Georgia). If cookies are the American way, then I guess it makes sense that's what Superman should be selling.
I have a new computer. My five-year-old machine had been feeling sluggish for quite some time, so I finally upgraded. I was very reluctant to spend so much money, but it was pointed out to me that since I spend most of my time programming video games, I should have a computer than can actually play them.
To that end, I picked out a new machine with four times more RAM than I used to have. It's a noticeable difference. I can now goof off much faster than before.
The new machine also has a terabyte solid state disk memory. Remember when a terabyte of memory was something that only Microsoft possessed? I do. That was 22 years ago. I shudder to think what my computer might be capable of in 22 more years. By then, it will probably be programming me.
The only real problem with the new computer is its High Definition 17-inch monitor with accompanying 144GHz refresh rate. Those aren't the problem, exactly. My eyes are. I have to sit much closer to the machine to make out the fine details. At least I know I can spend less money on my next computer (estimated 2024). That, or a lot more money on new glasses.
My favorite new feature is the backlit keyboard. It pulses (in solid red) in a pattern that the manufacturer has called "breathing." At least I think the manufacturer named it. Maybe the self-programming has already begun. I'd give the machine a name, but I think I'll wait and see if it chooses one for itself.
I made this poster as a first draft for a client's event. The final product focused less on the Star Wars and more on the car show, but I still like this one. So I'm sharing.
Enjoy your Star Wars Day.
Some people craft quilts or give soup to the homeless to feel better about themselves. I painted some miniatures.
Believe it or not, it was not something I had done before. I wish I could explain how satisfying I found the experience.
I think maybe I need to paint more often. Not houses or canvases, mind you. Just tiny little pieces of plastic.
I'm sure it's what Renoir would have done if he'd known about Dungeons and Dragons.