First World Problems

This is not a post about my stupid YouTube channel, although I’m not gonna lie: it’s related. Part of the reason I started the channel with Little Nightmares II specifically is that LNII is a game that isn’t especially challenging on either my PS5 or my computer. I wanted to start off with Sekiro, but I couldn’t get the Elgato and the computer to play nice with each other, and any time I tried to stream or record anything complicated it came off really blurry and ugly with tons of frame drops and stuff like that. Little Nightmares II recorded very smoothly, so I figured I’d start with that, and then I embarked upon this ridiculous stream of minor and major upgrades to my system to get everything working the way I wanted. New HDMI cables were the first move– I have learned so much about cables in the last two weeks that it’s flat-out absurd. I had already been looking for an excuse to upgrade my desktop’s memory, since it shipped with only 8gb, so I fixed that next, upgrading to 40gb. When that didn’t make any difference, I spent last night researching the USB standard.

And … Christ.

Long story short: there are a mess of overlapping standards for USB, both the ports and the cables, and then there’s Apple’s own answer to USB, which is the Thunderbolt standard, and even that has a couple of different versions out there. As it works out, my computer has a spare Thunderbolt port available, which supposedly can push 40gb a second? That’s … a lot, so I decided to upgrade the USB cable today.

And I don’t think the story’s funny enough to recount in full, but doing that required the following steps:

  • Ordering a proper 6′ cable from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering the same cable in 3′ length from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering a 6′ cable from Staples to pick up in-store, then buying it and noticing in the parking lot that it was clearly not the right cable, as it advertised “up to” 500mb per second, and I don’t know how much you know about computer measurements but 40gb is literally eighty times faster than that;
  • Deciding I did not have the willpower to return the cable today (I’ll do it tomorrow) and checking Target again to see if they had a specifically Thunderbolt cable, as I realized that that was going to be something completely different;
  • Getting a yes, according to their website;
  • Going to Target and discovering that 1) they did have the cable I wanted; 2) the cable I wanted wasn’t the cable I wanted, as Apple sells both a USB-C male-male cable that isn’t rated for Thunderbolt speeds and one that is, and that one of those is called a USB-C cable and the other is called a Thunderbolt (USB-C) cable;
  • Ordering one from the Apple store on the other side of town for pick up in-store, then realizing they want appointments for in-store pick up and calling the store to 1) make sure they had the cable before driving across town and 2) making sure that I can actually come get the damn thing before my appointment, because I was doing all this while the boy was at camp and the earliest available appointment was right when I’d have to be picking him up;
  • Driving to the mall and picking up my cable, and then getting home and having just enough time to make sure it worked and did what I wanted it to before having to go pick the boy up. I’m quite happy to report that it looks like I’m going to be able to stream and/or record basically anything I want now, although there’s still some weird color issues with Sekiro that I haven’t figured out yet.

Slightly separate issue: the Apple store also has curbside pick-up, and in fact has designated parking spots in the mall parking lot for same, but the Apple store itself is deep enough inside the mall that getting to it from (I think) the closest available external door(*) is a 5-minute walk. Not a lot in the long term, but I wouldn’t want to be the employee who got tasked with spending all fucking day lugging shit from the store to those two parking spots. Not without, like, a Segway or something like that. It’s not remotely as hot here as it is in a lot of the country (particularly the West Coast) right now, but it’s about as humid as I’ve ever experienced, and that would be an “I quit” moment real quick for me, particularly since you know those curbside pick-up people are going to be impatient as hell.

(*) I mean, it would have to be, right? That’s where the parking spaces were. Surely they wouldn’t put their designated curbside spots next to the second closest door, although that might be giving mall management too much credit.

In which this isn’t fair

It is an unbelievably perfect demonstration of how fucking perverse all of existence is right now that, literally less than ten minutes after telling my wife that I was getting (hah!) stir-crazy and wanted to go out and impulse-buy something, I went outside and checked the mail and found a brand-new Goddamned Best Buy card waiting for me. The card currently carries no balance at all; I typically use it only for large purchases (really, the only reason I ever enter a Best Buy nowadays) and the last thing I bought was my desktop, which is a 2017 model. I could use a new laptop, as the battery on the old one is starting to go, or I could make the smarter choice and just replace the damn battery. Similarly, for the first time since my initial upgrade I’ve cast an eye at the new Apple Watch, but there’s just no good reason to do that either. In either case it would be spending money just to spend money, and I’m trying to be smarter about that crap nowadays.

(I do expect to have to shell out the money for the laptop battery pretty soon, which will be a couple hundred bucks. But the thing is … six? seven? years old and there’s no speed issues at all, and if I bought a new one it would be north of two grand. The only problem is the battery, and since I don’t go anywhere I can keep it plugged in most of the time. I even still have my work laptop at home in case of emergencies.)

(Checks to see if BB has PS5s available)

(They do not)


In general, the election has failed to improve my mood. Other than the presidency, which is all over but the shouting at this point, I went from “it looks like I’ve lost every other race I care about” the other day to “I have lost every other race I care about” today. The School Board race was especially heinous; not only did the plagiarizer not lose her seat to the crank, but the other district seat up for reelection, another person who voted to return, also won, and the teachers lost their best advocate on the Board in favor of an imperious ass who I am not at all looking forward to having to deal with, ever. My personal interactions with her when she was with the district were never good, plenty of people have much worse stories than I do, and her husband was fired for incompetence.

And yet, because this is South Bend and we hate education here, she actually got the most votes of any of the At-Large candidates. So. Dandy.

But yeah: I’ve been waiting for that moment when it feels like the weight falls off my shoulders, and apparently Biden at least theoretically clinching the Presidency hasn’t done it yet. In theory the rest of the networks (particularly the AP) getting the fuck in line and making the call might help, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to relax until the fucker is hauled out of the White House by his hairpiece, preferably to be tossed directly into jail to die alone in a deep pit. Apparently the AP is waiting for Biden’s margin to exceed half a point before they call Pennsylvania; I’m not sure what the holdup is otherwise. Either way, I thought I was going to feel better about all this by now.

On the new newness

After several years where I was reliably getting a new phone every single year and basically coming to terms with the fact that I’d become That Guy, I waited three full cellphone generations– from the iPhone 7+ I’ve been carrying around forever to today– to upgrade my phone, and finally caved and came home with an iPhone 11 Pro Max in the Midnight Green color. I told myself I was going to wait until I could walk into the store and walk out with a phone, and that happened today. What ended up getting me to jump was the massive improvement in the cameras– I’m super psyched about getting to play with the new triple-camera setup, and the damn phone is gorgeous, to the point where for the first time I’m getting a clear case. It’s currently in my bedroom transferring all of my settings and apps and photos from the original phone, a process that was originally projected to take two hours, then 24 minutes, so I figured I had time to come out into the living room and write a blog post before going back and checking on it.

This was a long and interesting week; I was out of my classroom for two days at that rarest of beasts, a really interesting professional development opportunity, and I had parent-teacher conferences Wednesday night, which was the busiest I’ve ever been at PTCs– I had a line out my door for two hours and fifteen minutes– and then I had a parent-teacher conference for my own son on Thursday. Today most the kids actually had a recess as a little reward for surviving the first quarter, and a dozen or so of them organized an honest-to-God, flag-waving-and-chanting impromptu gay pride parade (!!!) on the soccer field. This is the first year of my career where I’ve had more than one or two kids who were conspicuously and un-selfconsciously out of the closet– there are a lot of 8th graders in my building who are somewhere on the QUILTBAG spectrum and don’t seem to give a damn who knows it.

A genuine oddity: they exist alongside the rather large contingent of more typical 8th-grade straight boys who enjoy nothing more than ceaselessly calling each other gay, and yet I have never once— and I’m watching, God damn it– seen any anti-gay bullying of any of the actual gay kids, and there are at least two boys in the 8th grade who are gay at twenty feet, if you know what I mean. I’ve never seen anyone call either of them names, even the kids who are quickest to toss “gay” at any of their straight friends.

So there may be several posts this weekend, is what I’m getting at, depending on whether I decide I want to talk about these things more. The training, at least, will probably get a post tomorrow or Sunday.

In which I am a supervillain

This picture is either a testament to Apple’s utter dereliction in terms of innovative design over the last eight years or a sign that they believe they’ve achieved actual perfection in the iMac’s form factor. From where I’m sitting, the 2011-model iMac in the middle and the screaming beast I purchased today to finally replace it look exactly identical. From the side, you can tell that the newer one is much thinner, but if I’d simply replaced one with the other and not told my wife I’d bought a new computer I doubt she’d ever have noticed.

If you were reading this and thinking Luther, weren’t we just talking about your tendency towards poor financial decisions earlier this week? that’s not unfair, but: I submit that I got this computer for fifteen percent off because it is actually the flagship of last year’s model and not this year’s, that I have enough cash on hand to pay for half of it at a single go, and that with all the overtime I’ve been making at work lately paying it off by the end of the summer is a very reachable goal despite the nice chunk of change I dropped on it. Am I going to do that? Probably not, actually, because it’s not strictly necessary– but as I’ve also said this week my initial desktop has been making worrying noises at me and generally behaving in a somewhat untrustworthy manner and I’d rather replace the computer at a time of my choosing and not because it decided to go away.

The third monitor on the right is just a monitor and will be remaining on the desk; I mostly use it to display TweetDeck and iTunes while I work on the primary monitor. I may look into if I can just use the older computer as a secondary monitor– I don’t think I can, at least not in the same plug-it-in-and-don’t-worry-about-it fashion that I can the actual monitor does. I can’t convince it that it’s just a monitor and not a computer, in other words.

Next step: move my actual keyboard and the touchpad over to the new computer. I’m typing this on the bullshit tiny wireless keyboard they included with it, and while it’s a substantial improvement over any other wireless keyboard I’ve used, it’s also tiny and ridiculous and I demand size and a number pad and high degrees of clickiness from my keyboards, and the Das Keyboard that I have on my desk is perfect for me. The wireless mouse also has to go. I don’t use this as a gaming machine, so I don’t need a mouse at all, and the touchpad is wonderful.

Welcome to the new hotness, I guess.

Same as it ever was

UnknownMeeting today was surprisingly productive, honestly.  I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that, but it was nice to go to an all-day teacher meeting and, other than introductions in the morning running a trifle longer than they needed to be, not feel like my time was being wasted at any point.  I think I’m going to like this job.

Also, the whole day was a constant whipsaw between “holy shit, nothing ever changes around here” and the odd feeling that by being gone two years I had missed out on everything changing.  At the same time.  Which was deeply weird.

Also, my day started at eight, and I’m tired as hell.  Morning coffee is going to go back to being a high priority for me, I think, after a couple of years of it not being especially essential.  Also returning to my daily lifestyle: my laptop bag, which as of today contains not only the Macbook Pro and iPad Pro I already owned but also a Chromebook.  Because I need to be a nerd across multiple operating systems, dammit!  But Google certification for my Clark Kent identity is in my near future, and I’ll be spending a lot of time screwing around with Chromebooks this year, so I figured I ought to pick up a relatively inexpensive one.  So: new hotness.  I will be The Master of The Googlez by the end of the month.

And then I got home and no dog greeted me at the door and everything was sad again.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before I stop noticing she’s gone.