I Have a Problem

My latest additions, the Blade Runner 2049 collection.

It took me years to buy my first Pop! because I knew that once I did, it would become an addiction. And it has.

Next weekend it’s a trip to IKEA to buy two more LACK shelf units because the collection has now officially outgrown the three current shelves it occupies.

I suppose I could have a worse addiction…

I Need To Get Out With My Camera Again

Still working on organizing 50 years of photos.

And it’s making me realize I’ve taken a lot of shots I really like, (a few from 2008-2009 follow) but for some reason have never been posted, either here or on Flickr. I guess maybe at the time I didn’t think they were that good, or perhaps required more Photoshop tweaking than I had skills for. Or maybe I was just lazy. But it’s showing me that I miss making photos and really need to get my lazy ass out there again…


I have an app on my phone that tracks my sleep. After the initial novelty wore off years ago I deleted it, but lately I’ve been wondering if my sleep patterns have become truly as awful as I’ve suspected from the way I’ve been feeling upon getting up in the morning, so I reloaded the latest version.

The old version required that the phone be placed under the pillow on the mattress itself to track motion. I can only surmise there were some overheating incidents, so now it’s designed to sit on the nightstand and instead of tracking motion it listens to your breathing.

While I can understand how the previous version of this software would track your sleep stages via mattress movement, how this works now simply by listening escapes me (especially with more than just me in bed, the ceiling fan, the gurgling aquarium, and the humidifier whirring in the background.)

Even not understanding how this works, seeing this data has been—pardon the expression—eye opening. It verifies that I do often wake up—and remain awake for some amount of time before falling back to sleep—anywhere from 3 to 5 am almost every night. The fact that I almost immediately fall into deep sleep after going to bed explains why I’m almost never aware of Ben coming in later. It also shows the times I get up to use the bathroom.

What’s less clear is how “Sleep quality” is computed, because it seems the higher the score on that, the less rested I feel upon waking. Of the data I’ve posted here, the 67% night was subjectively the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks, while the 91% night was among the worst.

Blog Hosting

I’ve been with my current blog host for a little over four years now. I originally switched because I had issues with the service and reliability—not to mention the corporate philosophy—of my previous host. I don’t think I need to name this Phoenix-based company; they’re infamous.

My current host, while not cheap, has been rock steady, lets me post whatever the fuck I want (obviously), is very WordPress friendly, and when things have infrequently gone sideways, they’ve been fixed almost immediately.

That being said, they are a business whose job is to sell, sell, sell. Their website is confusing as hell to navigate and find what you’re looking for. My current hosting plan was due to expire in two days, so Friday night I logged in to renew my plan for another three months as I have been wont to do for these past four years. This time, however there was no “renew” button available, just “upgrade.” Oh great, I thought, they’ve changed their pricing structure.

Sure enough, clicking “upgrade” took me to a page with horrifically priced plans, all billable only on a yearly basis, none of which was in my budget.

I didn’t relish the plan of switching hosts because of the hassle of actually moving the website, but I asked Ben what host he was using because I couldn’t afford to stay where I was if these “upgrade” plans were my only choices.

I checked out their plans and they were dirt cheap in comparison to what I had been paying. I got signed up with them and with Ben’s help we transferred the domain name and hosting without issue. We ran into a problem, however, when we engaged the company to actually move my WordPress installation. I received a very curt email from their technical support:

Hello Mark,

Thank you for contacting [Hosting Company] Support Team.

Per our check, the voenixrising.com website violates our Hosting Acceptable Use Policy that you may find at https://www.[Hosting Company].com/legal/hosting/aup.aspx , namely Paragraph 8, Prohibited Activities:

‘By using any Services, provided by [Hosting Company] You agree: not to use [Hosting Company] services to host any website, other content, links or advertisements of websites that contain nudity, pornography or other content deemed adult related’.

Thus, before we assist you with your website migration, we would ask you to delete the content that does not comply with the above.

Feel free to contact us back anytime.

Well fuck thatI replied to the email telling them that was their prerogative and it was also my prerogative to spend my money elsewhere because of it. I asked that my hosting be cancelled. They responded with a link to cancel the service (which of course turned out to be a hot mess), but I eventually found what I needed and cancelled the hosting. I understand I’m stuck with the domain registration through them for 60 days because of ICANN rules, but I can live with that.

Seeing that I was growing increasingly angry and frustrated, Ben discovered another host that didn’t limit what could be posted. I checked them out, but they were the same price as my original host’s new plans and also could only be billed in yearly installments.

Reluctantly I returned to my original host’s website and looked at my renewal offer again. This was when I noticed that next to the “upgrade” box, there was also a link under what was showing as the price of my current, soon-to-expire, bill-3-months-at-a-time hosting.

When I clicked on that, it took me to a page that gave me the option to simply renew my current plan. Clicked and done.

Why couldn’t that have been on the original landing page, clearly marked?

Because they’re job is to make money. That’s why.

America, We Have a Problem

Reposted in full from Riding On:

So, I saw this article this morning and thought I’d talk about it a little.  America, we have a problem.  You see we have something called the First Amendment and there are a number of people out there who don’t like it.  They believe we should have a National Religion, which would happen to be theirs.  They call themselves Social Conservatives and they represent the ugly head of selfishness.  You see for them, their most favorite pronouns are “I,” followed by “my.”  For them “you” can be a really negative word because “you” is about someone else. These Social Conservatives have allowed their beliefs to evolve to a stage where “you” is not even secondary.  Since they don’t believe in evolution they would never understand this, but evolve they have.  And they like the Constitution, but only as long as it lets them be as selfish as possible.  They don’t like it when “you” means everybody.

These Social Conservatives want to change rules and create regulations that benefit themselves, alone.  They want to be able to say that “my beliefs say I can fire you from your job because my beliefs are more important than you as a human being.”  The truth is they don’t care about human beings at all, unless those human beings share the same beliefs.  These Social Conservatives want to be able to discriminate, not only against sexual orientation, but against race and nationality.  They don’t want to give immigrants the chance to possibly dilute, either socially or culturally, the purity of their own beliefs.  You see, it’s not just the jobs they claim immigrants will take, it’s the very blood coursing through their veins which these Social Conservatives need to keep out.

They will never understand how wrong they are, to even consider such an action would be to challenge the very soul of “I.”

A Masterpiece

When I first heard a Blade Runner sequel was in the works, my initial thought was, “For the love of all that is holy, WHY?!” Blade Runner stands as a cinematic masterpiece that needs no followup story, no re-imaging, no retelling.

And yet, after seeing Blade Runner 2049 yesterday, I take it all back. Admittedly I softened my stance somewhat by seeing the various trailers that came out over the past year and the reviews of the advanced screenings. But nothing prepared me for the tour de force that greeted me yesterday.

Every frame is an absolute feast for the eyes. If Roger Deakins does not walk away with an Oscar for cinematography, there is no justice in the world. The story answers many of the questions posed by the initial film and raises enough new ones to occupy your thoughts for quite some time. Twenty four hours later 2049 is still swimming in my consciousness as probably one of the greatest sci-fi films I’ve seen since the original Blade Runner in 1982.

The score—written by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch and not by Vangelis—retains enough of his influence that you’d think was the composer.

IMHO, definitely worth the price of a full admission and having to put up with the today’s increasingly unpleasant movie-going experience in order to appreciate it fully.