What I’m Watching This Fall 2016

After a one year absence I’ll once again post the TV shows I’ll be watching as the new fall season starts. This list is really just the stuff that’s scheduled to be DVR’d in our front room. Trish and I have other shows we DVR in the back room, but those have either not started yet are on a rotating schedule with other stuff.

The times I mention are Eastern time, so if you don’t live in the Boston/New York time zone you’ll need to check your listings for starting times in your area. With that said…

On Monday’s it’s just Scorpion at 10pm on CBS. I have tabbed this show “What else can go wrong?” as the entire run of episodes follows the same exact formula of bigger hurdles following smaller hurdles until one of the characters, usually Walter O’Brien (played by Elyes Gabel), comes up with an implausible solution that always saves the day. Trish and I watch it for the pure silliness of it.

Tuesday is the only program I try to watch as it airs, NCIS. Been watching it since it spun off from JAG and it’s easily my favorite show. Its 8pm start begins three hours of CBS programming we watch. At 9pm is the new show Bull, staring NCIS alum Michael Weatherly. We saw the premier episode last week and the first half wasn’t really that good, but the second half looks like it might be a tone setter for the series.

At 10pm it’s Trish’s favorite show, NCIS: New Orleans. We were surprised to see Zoe McLellan was not returning to the series, but that doesn’t seem to have done much to hurt the story line so far. They’re using the standard “antagonist joins the cast and will eventually join the team” plot, but it does fit the current story like and they probably didn’t have much choice. Also at 10PM it’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Trish and I used to “binge watch” these, but with so many friends talking about episodes after they air we’re going to try to watch them soon after they’re on.

Wednesday it’s Blindspot at 8pn on NBC. It wasn’t what we expected to see when we started watching last fall, but it’s a very well written show and we’re both hooked. We’ve usually liked the shows Marianne Jean-Baptiste (who plays Bethany Mayfair) was on and were surprised at her character arc. Trying to avoid spoilers here, so I’ll just say we’ll keep watching. At 10pm on ABC is new show Designated Survivor staring Kiefer Sutherland as the “designated survivor”, who assumes the presidency after an attack kills the entire line of succession in front of him.

Thursday is just The Blacklist at 10pm on NBC. James Spader is incredible in this series, and while the plot is a bit over the top it is truly “edge of your seat” TV. It’s one of the best shows on TV now, and has a spin off coming called The Blacklist: Redemption. That will be an instant addition to the DVR list.

We originally didn’t have anything on the DVR for Friday, but at the last minute I added MacGyver. No idea if we’ll actually watch it or not.

There’s nothing on Saturday we’re DVR’ing, and on Sunday we’ve got two post-NFL shows on CBS schedule to record. NCIS: Los Angeles moves from Monday nights to Sunday with a scheduled 8pm start, which is usually the kiss of death for a TV show. The series started as a top-10 show on Tuesdays, then in season six moved it to Mondays, and now in season eight it’s Sunday. Next stop is cancelation, which is too bad because it’s a very good show.

Also on Sunday is one of the best written shows on TV, Elementary. It’s another show that looks like it’s not going to survive on Sunday as the ratings plummeted when it was moved there from Thursdays mid-season last year. Jonny Lee Miller (Holmes) and Lucy Liu (Watson) are great in their roles and truly believable in the modern setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. The show might actually be too smart for network TV.


Everything That’s Wrong With Society In One Post

It’s time we all discuss the elephant in the room. We’ve reached a point in our society where ignoring this issue will only cause harm to millions and millions of people, and because it’s obvious no one is taking up the charge I have decided to step forward and lead the masses to right a wrong that has started to permeate our otherwise peaceful lives.

This pumpkin spice thing has to be brought under control.

Now I get some claim to like pumpkin spice, but I see it more as how someone “likes” heroin. Truly no good can ever come of this. It’s gotten to the point where it’s impossible to avoid products that contain this foul flavoring. It’s so bad that these products have started appearing on shelves in August. In August, I say! Although I shouldn’t expect any decorum from peddlers of such trash.

To be clear, I am not including pumpkin pie in my product rant here. No, that’s a fine thing and should never be messed with. Pumpkin pie is as American as, well, pumpkin pie, and I for one will never mess with one of the pillars of our great country. But most of the rest of this pumpkin-based crap is a drain on our society and it has got to go.

Look at these products, and guess which ones are real and which are fake.

If you guessed the Oreos and Twinkies, two of the more perfect foods ever created, are the real products you’d be right. Which is so wrong. We’ve damaged our society so much that we’ve literally destroyed two incredible snack foods by adding that terrible pumpkin spice to them. And we should not stand for this.

It’s become obvious that this pumpkin spice epidemic has gotten out of control, and only those of us that have the physical and moral strength to not been charmed by such trash are pure enough to overcome the propaganda of the pro-pumpkin spice lobby. It’s time for all of us true Americans to finally take our society back from the heathens that would destroy all the generations of greatness that’s been created before us.

And I hope you all notice how silly this sounds…

Just The Tip

I spent more time debating if I was going to make this post than it will take to type it. The problem is I want to make sure the person I’m about to talk about doesn’t get into trouble. I don’t think they (intentional use of a gender-neutral pronoun) will even if it can be figured out who I’m talking about. But they’ll know, and that’s what’s important.

Trish and I were out recently on a night we generally don’t go out on. It was late and we both had the tiredness of a busy day behind us. There was plenty of stuff we could have made for dinner, but we decided to go out. The plan was to swing by one of our usual haunts and provided it wasn’t too busy eat there, and if it was crowded we would head on to another spot. As luck would have it, it wasn’t that busy.

When we go out we tend to sit at bars and counters, so we were happy to find a spot at the bar. We even got to sit in the spot we like. We both knew that night’s bartender, which was one of the reasons we decided to swing by. It was a good night out, even though we didn’t stay much longer than it took to order a couple drinks and some food. But it was long enough to piss me off about something.

At the other end of the bar sat a guy that obviously thought he was the coolest guy in the room. Everyone knows the type: loud, takes part in any conversation he hears, tells jokes that aren’t funny (and often off color)…pretty much wanting to be the center of attention. A buddy would have referred to him as the “bar captain”. It was after he left that I got the most annoyed.

You could see something was up as soon as the bartender looked at the check. It was not hard to tell they had just gotten shafted. After a few moments they headed toward the back, muttering “I hate this f—–g place”. A couple minutes later they came back and told Trish and I what happened. The loudmouth jackass’ tab came to over $130, and he left a $10 tip. A whopping 7.7% gratuity.

What possesses someone to leave that kind of tip? You just dropped $130ish dollars at a chain restaurant and can’t be bothered to tip the bartender 15% (which would have been like $20)? Especially after being a loudmouthed jerk for the entire time I was there? The worst part is if that POS comes back that bartender who just got screwed has to smile like they’re happy to see them.

I wish I’d known how bad that tip was while they were still there. I would have loudly embarrassed his ass until he coughed up a respectable amount.

Another similar story, this time at another chain restaurant where old friend RM used to work. Almost exactly the same story too. Two people ordered enough food to feed a freaking army and drank a huge amount of mixed drinks. I don’t recall the amount of the bill but I remember the tip was $5.

Best part was one of them forgot their hat and came back, and RM (being the better man) yelled after him “Thanks, come again!”. Of course he said something else to his regulars sitting watching the ballgame. What he said would make George Carlin blush, so I won’t repeat it here.

I don’t get not tipping servers. I truly don’t. I know how hard they work and Trish and I tend to over tip because of that. But even if you’re not a person that automatically starts at 20% for a gratuity you really need to be tipping 15%. If you don’t plan on doing that, have the guts to tell your server beforehand you won’t be. That way you’re both entering the exchange on an even footing.

And if you can’t afford to tip your server, you can’t afford to eat out.

Like Spam?

So I decided to take a few days off after my 30-in-30 attempt, and penciled in today as the day I’d come back to start making posts again. Over the last few days I’ve been catching up on some reading, finishing a couple books and starting a third. I’ve also started to pay more attention to the blogs I follow in reader, and I also have a few “tags” saved there so I can look at posts that use the tags I pay attention to.

This means that I virtually always find posts I like on blogs I don’t follow. Not so surprisingly, when I like a post I “like” the post. It just seems like something you should do. The author put time and effort into writing it, and I figure if I really do like the post the absolute least I can do is, well, “like” the post.

But it seems others do that to get people to look at their blogs.

To be honest the thought of that never occurred to me. I “like” the post because I liked the post, not in an attempt to get people to look at my blog. It’s the same when I comment, if I have something worth saying about a post I make a comment. While I’ve seen people include links to their blogs in comments I’ve never done it, so it never crossed my mind that was a reason some were doing that.

If it hadn’t have been brought up in the comments section of a book blog I follow I never would have known it was a “thing”. It must not really be an issue with the people who like my posts because while I don’t get a ton of them considering the number of page views I get, it’s usually the same group of people. And most of them I either follow their blog directly or see a lot of their posts because of the tags they use.

So, for the record, if I like your post and “like” your post, that’s the reason I “like”ed your post. It’s the same with comments. If I say something, it’s because I had something relevant to say. And if I follow your blog it wasn’t so you’d follow me back, it was because I liked the posts I saw and wanted to make sure I saw more of them.

Like, OK?

So, Almost Did It

Today is, by my count, day thirty of the “30 posts in 30 days” challenge/contest. I managed to make 28 of the 30 posts, and would have had 29 had I properly scheduled a post a couple of Saturdays ago. I missed yesterday for a pretty simple reason: I just didn’t want to make one. I posted my Bravehearts awards and then decided instead of posting something here to go visit a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile.

Seemed like a better use of my time.

It wasn’t like I needed to go see him, odds are good I’ll see him on Thursday. It’s just that I got some depressing news about another friend and I just wanted to get out of the house for a bit. While it wasn’t late when I got back home I just decided to not post anything. Instead I caught up on some paperwork I’ve been avoiding, read some other blog posts, and then looking up how to make a pouting emoticon on Facebook (only one person gets that joke, but he’s laughing at it).

Barring something really odd happening I’m going to finish almost exactly in the middle of the pack in the “scoring” for this challenge/contest, which is a whole lot better than I figured would happen. But I didn’t do it to win, I did it to see if I could. And for the most part, I did. Doing this also pointed out to me a few things I thought were important that turned out mot to be, and how much a couple things i put aside to do this I really need to make time for.

So will there be a post tomorrow? Maybe. I’m not sure yet. But there will absolutely be more here posts than before I started the 30 for 30.

Sunday Funday: Recap and Tidbits 4

We’ve reached the fourth, and last, Sunday of my 30 in 30 challenge/contest. I plan on making posts here after the 30/30 is done, although I’m near certain they won’t be every day. That kind of posting schedule took away from doing a few of the little things I like to do. I’m not reading as often, and because I really like doing that I’m going to make sure I return to reading every day.

With the summer coming to a close that means my TV shows will start up again, so that will take a bit of time away. Although now that I have really gotten used to blogging from my phone perhaps I can squeeze a bit of time to blog using that. But I guess we’ll all find out how it works out as time moves on.

Now, on to a few tidbits…

YouTube ads are really beginning to bore the heck out of me. I never buy products based on ads so there’s no chance they will be selling me anything. There are some ads for movies and TV shows, and while I do often seek out those ad/previews to decide if I’m going to watch I pretty much never pay attention to them on YouTube.

And while we’re on the subject, what makes websites think I’m interested in watching a 15 or 30 second ad to be able to watch a video that’s only a few seconds long? I’m more likely to boycott the product in the ad than buy it. I know websites aren’t free to run, but a long ad in front of a short video is a great way for people to give up on your site. Just sayin’…

Not sure why two of this past week’s posts show the same posting date because they did go up on different days. I’m pretty sure I didn’t save either as a draft beforehand. If it was really an issue I would look into it, but I don’t care that much. I would edit the date to the right one but that changes the URL, and with me Tweeting and Facebooking the stories those links would end up on a dead page.

I’ll add that to the “someday I’ll figure it out” list with all the other things I wanted to know a tad more about but never got around to looking up.

US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte might be the dumbest athlete ever. Every interview with him, even before his latest stupidity, makes me wonder if the dude has a functioning brain cell. He graduated from the University of Florida, so in theory he has to have some sort of intelligence. And yet when he opens his mouth it’s like an underdeveloped seven year old is speaking.

Sally Jenkins, a columnist for The Washington Post who I read every chance I get, called Lochte “the dumbest bell that ever rang”. I wish I had said that. That’s nothing new, she says a lot of things I wish I’d said

My favorite headline of the week: “Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokemon teens” – TheLocal.se …Didn’t click as I didn’t want to ruin the hilarity of that headline.

For last week’s recap, just in case you missed any of my posts from the last week…
Monday: Let The Chips Fall Where They May
Tuesday: Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday
Wednesday: HorhiroCon 2016
Thursday: Most Common Denominator: Food
Friday: The Walk Won’t Kill You
Saturday: Spoiler Alert: Some People Never Learn

And finally, your moment of Zen…

Spoiler Alert: Some People Never Learn

A couple of years ago I blogged about spoilers, and while it was specifically about a TV show it really is about anything in this digital age. And now with the Olympics winding down the issue of “spoilers” has once again rearing its ugly head. I simply don’t understand how people can’t figure out this one easy rule to follow:

If you don’t want to know about an event (TV, sports, book, whatever) don’t go to websites where that event will likely be discussed.

It truly is that easy. You don’t want to know the results of a sporting event that was streamed live but will be shown on TV later, don’t visit ESPN, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, or any of those types of places because the information as to who won will likely be found there. You don’t want to know about a movie, going to websites that review and talk about movies seems like a place you should avoid.

I don’t get the arrogance of people who get angry when they go on social media or forums and find out things they didn’t want to know about. How about you show some willpower and don’t go to those sites. It’s different if you stumble into that information in a place where it probably shouldn’t have been, like someone you follow on Twitter that never talks about sports suddenly starts tweeting results. But to actively go to sites that talk about the very thing you’re trying to avoid is stupidity to the Nth degree.

You have a responsibility to avoid information that will spoil the enjoyment of watching an event, movie, or TV show. People don’t have any responsibility to avoid discussing those things, especially in places where discussions of those topics is what usually takes place. It’s one of the reasons I don’t follow on Twitter or “like” on Facebook many TV shows; they talk about those shows seconds after the episodes air. I tend to DVR stuff, so I need to avoid the places that talk about those shows until I get around to watching them.

Spoiler Alert: It’s so easy to do I never have an issue.

The Walk Won’t Kill You

At this very moment, or at least at the very moment I begin this blog post, I’m watching some of the second shift people arrive here in the parking lot at work. The jockeying for “prime” parking places is beyond comical. It should be noted that as they do this those spaces are still occupied by first shift people, and they won’t be leaving for over a half hour. And these second shifters are more than an hour away from beginning work.

They are queueing up to grab the parking spaces right near the door while there are empty spaces within seven spaces of them. Seriously, two spots are empty just seven parking spots away. How much time in their lives are they really saving if they have to show up at work over an hour early to save less than 15 seconds of walking? If it was raining I’d get trying to park as close as possible, but it’s a beautiful sunny day.

You see behavior like this everywhere. How many times do you see people circling parking lots looking for a space right near where they’re going. They have no problem walking for hours in a mall, but there’s no way they’ll walk for a minute to get through the door after parking.

Sure, if you have some medical condition that makes walking taxing and you don’t qualify for a placard I get wanting to park close. But what’s everyone else’s excuse? It’s not like they’re walking through hip deep snow or mud, or being pelted by hailstones, you see this silly behavior on even the most gorgeous of days.

And besides, if you park far away from the building very few people will know you aren’t a good enough driver to park your car correctly within the space.

Most Common Denominator: Food

Over the last couple of days the boys at work have given me a bit of the business over my hatred of Ruby Tuesday. Well, one of them was and a few others have joined him. It’s all in good fun.

But it was another post I made that inspires this one. I posted of my addiction to potato chips, and a few of us were having some laughs over that as well. They all often eat bags of chips at lunch and I’m occasionally threatening to steal them. One day the joking continued after lunch, and because the young kid I’m training wasn’t in on the joke I had to briefly explain. We then continued to talk about snack food, and when the subject of shelled peanuts came up the kid went wide-eyed. Turns out they’re his favorite.

I love shelled peanuts. I don’t buy them often, mostly because I possess enough willpower to not purchase them. But when I do it’s usually the huge two (or five!) pound bag. Once I bought a huge bag and sat in front of the TV and ate nearly the whole the whole thing. The only reason I stopped was Trish yelled from another room “you’re not eating the whole bag, are you?”. Truth was it was up until that point that’s exactly what was happening. So I put the rest away for later…like three hours later.

The kid, whose English is pretty good but not perfect, mentioned he loved a restaurant “near Tacoma St” where they bring you a huge bucket of peanuts before you order. I know the place he was talking about, it’s Texas Roadhouse. For the next half hour we talked about Texas Roadhouse. It’s one of my favorite restaurants, and one of his also. From the hot rolls with the cinnamon butter to the chicken and steaks between the two of us we’ve likely ordered everything on the menu.

It dawned on me later that day that food was probably the only thing we have in common. He’s closer to my grand-daughter’s age than mine, so we have essentially nothing in common musically, socially, or pretty much any other “ly” you can think of. But when it came to good food we were both squarely on the same page. And perhaps we’ve found a way to help people settle disputes.

Just share a big bag of shelled peanuts.

HorhiroCon 2016

This past weekend was the usual summer gathering in Belchertown of some of the Total Confusion Convention Battletech regulars. It’s always a great day of conversation, food, and gaming. This year was no exception.

Belchertown is an hour or so west of where I live, so Scott and I leave pretty early in the morning to get out there by 8am or so. After a stop for some ice for the cooler full of soda I bring every year we were off going west on Route 9. Our tradition is to stop for breakfast at the McDonald’s in Spencer. As happens every year, after having breakfast there I realize why I don’t eat breakfast at McDonald’s.

We’re usually among the first to arrive at the cookout, with only the contingent from southern New Hampshire consistently beating us there. The crew from NH was just one person this time, and he beat us yet again. Once everyone arrived we began the first game, which was a series of two-man team battles on random map boards. In each of the battles we had a different teammate, and in round one I was teamed with Scott on a canyon map against John and Adam. Adam was a new player but picked up on the game pretty quickly.

(All photos are clickable to show larger photos–or at least they should be, you may have to close the tab/window and click again for my free host to show the larger version)

In this picture I’m in the center of the map, hiding behind the pillar. Scott is the red ‘mech against the wall in the center, while John is in the open at the top and Adam is to the right using the level dip as cover. Putting Scott and I on the same team is unfair most of the time so we had no troubles beating the other pair.

This battle is the other round one matchup, which was brothers Mike and Tom against Merl and Dave. I was busy playing my match (and helping to teach Adam) so I’m not sure who is who on the map (and the opposite matches of mine in the other rounds will be the same below). I’m also not sure of the specifics of the map board, but I do know that red splotch is lava.

This is my round two battle, and I thought I had a full board picture but it appears I have just this one of the battle. Adam and I are the bluish ‘mechs toward the top, Adam’s has the d6 behind it. Our opponents were Tom (directly in front of us) and Dave (on the elevation trying to use the hill as cover). Adam and I played pretty well together considering it was his second game ever, but we couldn’t overcome Dave’s firepower. We did have a chance to win the battle early with me just needing to roll a “3” on two rolls of a d6 to eliminate Tom, but a 1 and a 2 rolled didn’t help much.

Again not sure who is who on this board, but the match was Scott and Merl against John and Mike. This is an interesting board to play on because wall rise and fall randomly making planning from turn to turn very difficult. If you’re an aggressive player you can do well on that board. If you’re not, you need to get lucky. Based on some of the things I heard coming from over there, Merl didn’t get very lucky.

My third round battle I was teamed with Mike against Tom and John. This board is a mud pit, and if you don’t have the perfect ‘mech selected to fight in it you’ve got issues. As luck would have it none of us had anything that would be good to fight on this board. In this pic Mike is in the blue ‘mech in the top center heading toward John in the upper right corner. I’m toward the left, moving toward the top hex lane as fast as I could (which wasn’t very fast). Tom is sniping at us from the right edge. By the time I got close enough it was all but over for my side.

I’m not even sure what the teams were in that other third round battle. I think it was Scott and Adam against Merl and Dave. Every map board has special rules, but I don’t recall ever playing on that board so I’m not sure what the hook is on that one. I do know that at the end of the battles and the scores tabulated Scott was the overall winner. I believe I was fourth, and considering I was only on the winning side once that’s pretty good.

We then took a break for lunch, and once again Mike killed it with the spread he put out. Bacon burgers, hot hogs with chili (and I think there was some sauerkraut too), potato salad, corn…I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the stuff that was there. If you walked away hungry from that spread it was your own fault.

In the afternoon we skipped what was supposed to be the second game, AeroTech. I have no idea how to play the game. We played it at TotalCon last February and I had great fun being totally lost as to what I was supposed to do to have any chance of doing well in the game. And I really didn’t care. Despite the stumbling and bumbling at TotalCon I suggested it again for HorhiroCon. But with the first battles running a bit long (it tends to happen when you see some of these folks only twice a year) it was voted that we instead play the other planned Battletech game.

The game was supposed to be on a board the players build, with each player given some terrain to place on an otherwise blank hex grid. I suggested we use an oversized “basic” map that Mike used once for a previous HorhiroCon battle. I thought it worked out perfectly, with the scenario Mike designed on the familiar basic board. Here are some pictures of the battle. My side (Merl, Tom, Dave, and I) with the red ‘mechs, and the other side (Scott, Adam, John, and Mike) with the green units. People familiar with the Battletech will know what each of these are as they all represent the actual units played.

Now it would appear from that last picture that my team was victorious. Well, that was not the case. Scott’s team came back and defeated my squad after we made a couple of silly errors.

After that battle the event broke up, but not before Mike claimed all the grape soda that was left. I’m not sure why I buy grape soda when it’s available, because with the exception of a can or two Mike drinks it all and then takes whatever is left in the cooler. On second thought, I’m actually very sure as to why I bring grape soda.

Thanks for a great event again Mike. Despite Scott talking of holding one here in the fall and knowing we’ll all get together next February, I’m already looking forward to next summer’s cookout…