August 16th, 2019 by Mike Fulton

When I lived in Oakland a few years back, I once made a video of the drive from home to a sandwich shop in Alameda that has good cheesesteaks. I edited the video to fiddle with the playback speed and I thought the result was kind of interesting. I just ran across it and realized I’d never done anything with it. So… here it is.


August 7th, 2019 by Mike Fulton


If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, then , where have you been hiding? You may not want to read this, because it won’t make much sense and it will spoil some plot points for when you finally crawl out from under that rock and see it.

I was watching the last part of the movie again tonight when some thoughts occurred to me.

When Thanes put on the Infinity Gauntlet mad snapped his fingers at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, he wanted to destroy half of all live in the universe. That sounds horribly evil, but his ultimate goal was to ease the daily suffering for survival for the surviving half who would now have less competition for precious resources. Sounds like aa temporary fix to me, a but gosh, don’t expect logic from religious fanatics, am I right?

But wait! It turns out that “half” isn’t what ended up happening, precisely. It ultimately turned out to be “half” minus Tony Stark (assuming Thanos kept his promise to Dr. Strange and Tony’s survival wasn’t just random chance) and also minus himself (one presumes he did that on purpose also).

SO, we can deduce that when the wielder of the Infinity Stones releases their power, be it, Thanos, Bruce Banner, or Tony Stark, it’s clear that the result is guided by the intent of the wielder.The desired result can be reasonably detailed and specific. assuming he kept his promise to Dr. Strange and Tony’s survival wasn’t just random chance) and also minus himself (one presumes).

In fact, Thanos’ command must have been even more detailed than just “kill”. First, one presumes he also specified only SENTIENT life, since the only thing we saw getting dusted at the end of INFINITY WAR was people. Well, ok, we don’t really know about non-sentient or semi-sentient animal live, but we do notice that none of the plant life in the Wakanda forest (where the Avengers) fought Thanos dusted away after the snap, so we can deduce his “destroy” directive either had specific inclusions or specific exclusions. My guess is that killing half of all non-sentient animals and plants would have defeated the goal of making more resources available to the surviving sentients.

Skip ahead to Tony Stark using the stones at the end of ENDGAME nd we can see that his directive was along the lines of “Dust the bad guys” so again a focused, specific, targeted command.

So here’s what got me thinking about all this. When Bruce Banner used the stones in ENDGAME, we’ve all generally made the assumption that his command to the stones was something like “undo what Thanos did”

But what if it wasn’t?

After the final battle, right before Steve Rogers leaves on his mission to return the stones to their original times & places, Bruce Banner tells him how hard he tried to bring back Natasha (Black Widow). Since she doesn’t return along with everybody else, he figured he failed.

I don’t think he DID fail. In fact, such aa failure would have been inconsistent with the other times the stones were used.

As the big end battle is raging, all the returned heroes are brought to the battle by Dr. Strange and Wong, and then Dr. Strange asks Wong, “is that everyone?”

No. it wasn’t.

Here’s my hypothesis. At first it bothered me how Dr. Strange nd Wong knew WHO to bring to the battle, and from WWHERE, and for that matter how there was a battle going on in the first place. You could just say “magaic” and be done with it, but that’s too easy. I’ve another idea.

Let’s say that WONG survived Thanos’ snap and has been in NYC the last 5 years trying to hold the pieces together along with everybody lese. Before starting the whole time-travel/unsnap mission, someone (probably Tony Stark) visits Wong, and fills him in on the Avengers’ plan. Being aware of Wong’s ability create teleportation portals, as a contingency, he also gives Wong a list of people (heroes) who got dusted in case the shit hit the fan in some unexpected way after the unsnap. Wong’s mission was to collect these people and bring them to the Avenger’s HQ compound. Just in case they were needed, nd if not, hey it’s reunion time. no harm done.

After the unsnap, Dr. Strange came back into existence on Titan, then created a portal back to Earth, specifically his home in NYC. Upon his arrival, Wong quicklyfills in Dr. Strange on the plan. Also, Within a few moments, tthere probably were news reports of another alien invasion underway, attthe Avenger’s HQ. They get busy collecting the returned heroes.

However, the list of people given to WONG did NOT include Natasha Romanoff, since she was very much alive at that point, abbot to embark on her part of the mission.

I think Black Widow WAS brought back with Bruce Banner’s unsanp, but she came back in the same place she died, on the planet Vormir. Neither WONG nor Dr. Strange knew where she was or that she needed a ride home. So now she’s lost in space, trying to survive and find a way home.

I think that story might make a good Black Widow solo movie, and it’s got lots of cameo possibilities.

SO… that’s whaat I was thinking… I’ve read some other ideas about how she might have survived but none of them really fit into the existing story very seamlessly.


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August 21st, 2018 by Mike Fulton

Portillo’s makes great hot dogs and a variety of other items.  While based in Chicago, they have locations here and there around the rest of the country, including one in Buena Park near my current residence.

I am very impressed by their food, but rather disappointed in how they operate otherwise.  I can’t help thinking that there is an attitude of “good-enough” in much of what they do.

The trigger for these observations was my latest visit.  As they’ve done on many occasions, they got my order wrong.  I stopped to think about it and realized that they get my order wrong more often than they get it right.

Tonight, i was standing in line to place my order when a young lady wearing a Portillo’s uniform approached me and asked what i would like to order.  I told her, and she wrote it down on the back of a take-out bag.  When she was done, she handed me the bag and told me to give it to the cashier when i reached the front of the line.

My reaction to all this was, what was the point?   My order didn’t get into the queue any faster as a result, and we’ve added an additional potential failure point.

When I got to the front of the line, the cashier took the bag and entered the order into the register.  The register has a display screen facing the customer that’s supposed to show what’s being ordered, and in fact shows a message advertising that idea, but which doesn’t actually show such information.

When she told me amount, i knew the order had to be wrong.  I pointed this out and she read the order back to me.  I pointed out the error and she corrected it, but by this time it had taken about twice as long to get my order in the system as it should have.

Moving on to the next stage, Portillo’s doesn’t bring your food to the table.  Instead they have a pickup window where they call out the order number of your receipt.  That might not be so bad, but they regularly have orders coming in faster than they can make the food, so people have a tendency to pile up in front of the pickup window.

Portillo’s offers refills on your drinks, which is good, but you’ve got to leave your table and walk all the way to the pickup window, where you’ll likely have to make your way through a bunch of people standing at the counter waiting for their food.  I dunno why they don’t just have a soda fountain out by the napkins and ketchup dispensers.