As one does

The boy is on his way to bed, or at least what we’ve come to call bed one, and so I suppose I can begin safely downloading his Christmas presents. Yes, downloading, and I may very well not reveal the existence of Immortals: Fenyx Rising on the PS5 until he notices it on his own. He and his mom have been reading through the Percy Jackson series together for the last several … months? … sure, let’s go with months, and it’s triggered a moderate obsession with Greek mythology, so he was all over the game. Hopefully it’s actually fun.

Other than that, well, there’s a reason it took until 9:00 to get even a short post up. This has been the least Christmas Eve-ish Christmas ever, and I fully expect tomorrow to be the least Christmasy Christmas ever, and honestly right now I’m fine with both of those things.

WARNING: Scam Alert

If you happen to be doing some Christmas shopping, and you’re at a website you’re not familiar with, and their checkout screen looks like it uses this template:

Back out immediately and do not make the purchase, as the site is likely a scam. Note that in this particular case I’ve added this item at random to create a shopping cart, but I have reversed a charge against Helli Shop, as it’s become more and more clear that they never intend to ship me the dice I ordered and upon closer examination (which I finally did today, after disputing the charge with my credit card company) the vast majority of their wares appear to have images stolen from other sites, including occasionally actually leaving the watermarks from the other sites on the image.

Why am I warning you about the template and not about the specific site? I’ve made one other order from a (different) site with this exact same template, and the item I ordered did arrive, but it was junk, and it shipped direct from China. Helli sent me tracking information six weeks ago using the same Chinese shipper, and the tracking information hasn’t moved from “item ready for shipment” since then. Those dice are never coming.

(It’s only $30, so if my bank refuses it’s not the end of the world, but I’m also changing some passwords too.)

Today, I was looking into a Christmas present for my wife, and noted that the template for checkout was the same. I backed out and did some more research on the site, and sure enough, all sorts of reports of either never receiving the items they’d ordered or in one case receiving what was supposed to be a “king-size” blanket that ended up being the size of a napkin. I also chased down a couple of the reviews from major magazines that they’d claimed to have for their product, and sure enough none of them seemed to actually exist.

So, yeah. Buyer beware, or even better, don’t be a buyer in the first place. I’d guess if I looked into it more deeply that all three sites would turn out to be registered by the same people, and they’re using this template for all of their stores. Avoid.

(Note, for those of you coming in through a link, that there is an update to this post.)


I somehow just flat forgot to blog yesterday, interrupting a streak at least a couple of months long. That doesn’t happen often; there are times when it hangs over my head all day and I put a “taking the day off” post up later in the evening when I realize I don’t have anything to say, but I swear to you that the notion that I occasionally write things for the Internet to read never once crossed my mind yesterday.

I wasn’t even that busy. Hell, I even had a good excuse for a post, since we put our Christmas lights up:

This image entertains me, because it was pitch-black outside when I took the picture, and my iPhone clearly had no idea how to handle processing the image, so it ends up looking like dusk since so much of it is artificially lightened. I actually watched the camera struggle with it for a few seconds before finalizing the image. We’ve done the projectors for the last couple of years, but the lights on the porch and the bushes in front are new for this year, and I think we might add more net lights to the tree and the bushes to the right of this image, as well as something wrapping around the driveway light post in the foreground of the image. You may know that I’m not a huge Christmas guy, but this year? Fuck it, we’re going full festive.

Watch, two years from now I’ll have inverted my personality entirely and we’ll have those damned inflatable things in the front yard.

Other than that, though, not much going on– I have eight days of instruction left before winter break, if I don’t count the twenty minutes that are left of today, and I’m about to bail on those twenty minutes, since (not entirely surprisingly) none of my students have decided to grace my 8th hour Meet with their presence yet. Back to the PS5, I guess, and trying to finish as many books as I can before the end of the year.

#goals, right?

How to be bad with money

Quick note, just because it entertains me: due to a combination of 1) some bonus money from the state connected to last year’s teacher evaluations and 2) an actual raise arriving with retroactive pay back to the beginning of this school year, tomorrow’s check is going to be almost a grand higher than usual. I knew this was coming eventually, but I just found out yesterday that it was going to be this week– and both coming on the same check was a pleasant surprise.

Now, remember that I just bought a TV and a Playstation 5, along with a couple of games, with the clear knowledge that this money was coming and that was how I’d pay for it. I also recently ordered a new desk chair, which wasn’t cheap either.

So this money is spent. Again, I knew it was coming, so this isn’t an issue of me just tossing funds out there and hoping, but the bonus money is spent.

And naturally, my first though this morning upon seeing how much the extra funds were going to be was Ooh, I should go splurge on something!


Possibly more later; I always like to record it when I notice I’m dumb.

In which Black Friday came early

I am officially twenty percent more of a capitalist than I was two days ago, apparently. Wal-Mart is clearly the way to go lately if you want to land a PS5, if only because they’re advertising when each batch of systems is going to go live so that you can be in front of your computer to hit reload and hope you get lucky.

And, well, I got lucky, and I hit reload at the right time, and I don’t actually physically have my PS5 yet but I can pick it up at the store (by which I mean “have them bring it to my car”) sometime between two and six days from now, and honestly I suspect it’ll be on the earlier range of that.

That’s not what increased my capitalist rating, though. What increased my capitalist rating is that I went and fucked around and now I’m picking up (by which I mean “have them bring it to my car”) a new fucking TV tomorrow to go with my new PS5. We didn’t need a new TV by any reasonable definition of that term, but the PS5 can output 4K graphics and our current, several-years-old TV cannot receive them. So.

Now, before ordering this TV, I tried to dig into TV reviews for a while to figure out what sort of TV I was interested in and what price ranges were like (and, honestly, 43″ 4K TVs are so much cheaper than I thought they would be that this is not really a major financial hit) and after a bit of reading and a bit of comparing I realized that TV reviews and car reviews are the exact same thing and I needed to stop reading them.

What do I mean by that?

I drive a Kia Soul. Two cars before my current Kia Soul was a two-door Toyota Yaris, and I need you to understand that I loved my Yaris (I traded it in when I moved out of Chicago and had a child, at which point a two-door car was not nearly as practical an idea as it had been) and I love my Kia. I plan to keep my current car until my son is old enough to drive, give it to him, and whatever car I purchase to replace it very well might be another Kia.

If you read car-people reviews of the Kia Soul, you will come away thinking that it is a garbage car, barely fit to convey one to work, because car people review cars for a living and they have standards that simply push them out of the realm of relevance to the regular car owner, who may well go decades in between cars and for whom anything that is new and up-to-date is going to feel like an enormous improvement.

And TVs are the same thing. Most people do not replace their television sets all that often, and there is simply no way that a 43″ TV at a price range that I’m willing to consider (I ended up spending $279; I could have been convinced to go as high as $500 if I’d felt the advantages warranted it, and I’m not convinced) can compare with the type of wall-dominating, four-figure monstrosities that these guys are used to. I got all worried about viewing angles before I realized that my wife and I sit maybe fifteen degrees separated from each other when watching TV and if it’s an issue we can literally pivot the screen, and it’s not going to be an issue. 43″ is the biggest screen I can get without radically reconfiguring our living room, and it’s plenty big enough. I didn’t even consider a larger size.

(Why a Vizio? The other two TVs in the house are Vizios. I’ve been perfectly happy with both, the price was right, and good user reviews. Good enough.)

Because no matter what TV I get, my standards are going to be “make my PS5 graphics look as good as they can, and don’t feel like a downgrade in any way,” and it’s gonna, and it won’t, and even if it ends up being crappy compared to other 4K TVs I don’t have any others lying around to compare it to.

User reviews appear to be pretty damn solid, especially figuring in the “people are fucking idiots” factor– that guy who literally reviewed this TV at 3/5 stars because it didn’t fit on his console (I’m not joking) is not, in fact, entitled to his own opinion, because his opinion is dumb. Good user reviews are really all I need here. So long as I can avoid the soap opera effect, which drives me batshit insane, we’re all good.

So, yeah. I spent money at Wal-Mart, and they’re the devil, and I spent money on Black Friday sales, which makes me an asshole, particularly this year, and I’m actually going to go to Best Buy tomorrow, even if I don’t plan on getting out of my car and I’m going to go in the afternoon when crowds should be minimal, so obviously I’m a failure as a person on a number of levels. But, man, is the remake of that game I’ve already played and beaten going to look great!

Finally, and in accordance with our most ancient traditions, Happy Thanksgiving.