On cars and Hogwarts, again

If you’ve been around for a while, it’s possible that you remember this story: my son attends a pricey private school, one that my wife and I are affording with financial assistance. When we first started sending him there, I was driving a Ford Escape that had a six-figure mileage and was, itself, old enough to have a drivers’ license. My current Kia Soul is an upgrade. However, there was a day, several years ago, when I was picking my son up during the winter in the Escape and experiencing a bit of class anxiety. I comforted myself with the existence of what looked like a station wagon in the parking spot next to me that also was covered in salt and muddy snow and looked kind of shitty, only to discover that I was comparing my $2000 Escape to a fucking $100,000 Porsche.

He’s at summer camp right now, and I just went to pick him up, and I found myself in the car line behind a Tesla– I don’t know exactly which model, but not the one with the weird doors. One kid got in that car and they stayed in their spot, possibly waiting for another kid. My kid came out and got in my car, so I waited for the lane to be clear and pulled out to drive around the Tesla that had been parked in front of me.

Only to find myself behind another fucking Tesla.

My wife and I do just fine, I swear, and I see the effects of actual poverty every day at work, and again, no one in this building has ever been anything other than perfectly nice, but damn, there is just no faster way to make myself feel broke than to look around at the cars any time I’m near Hogwarts. It’s ridiculous.


I suspect we’re going to be back up over 100,000 new cases a day nationwide by the end of the week, (EDIT: Ha, it happened today!) and the CDC just announced that everybody should start masking up indoors again. I just ordered a new pack of filters for my favored mask. I was really hoping to not have to teach in a mask again this year, but apparently only about 20% of 12-15-year-olds are vaccinated nationwide and I’m sure that number is lower in my district, so I really don’t have any choice. Indiana’s numbers are going up, but they aren’t spiking to the degree the nation’s are yet and St. Joe County isn’t as hot as the rest of Indiana, so I’m pretty sure the school year will be starting as normal this year. That said, I don’t think I knew on July 27 last summer how this year would be starting yet, so who the hell knows? I suspect everyone will just close their eyes and pretend Covid has gone away, but we’ll see.

In which I am falling apart

I had my first dentist appointment since before the pandemic started yesterday morning, and while I don’t have any new cavities or anything worth talking about– it was just a cleaning, after all– it was a cleaning after about a year and a half when normally my hygienist likes to see me every three months so that she can keep an eye on my gums. She did not quite resort to a circular saw to clean my teeth, but it bloody well felt like it, and then I fucked around and had a chicken sandwich for lunch that ripped up the roof of my mouth, so I spent all day yesterday with my teeth and the inside of my mouth aching in a way that wasn’t necessarily bad— like, on that 1-10 scale they like, it’d have been a one or a two– but in terms of sheer persistence was making me absolutely nuts. I had cottage cheese and some loose deli meat last night for dinner last night because the notion of eating anything I’d have to spend much time chewing just seemed entirely unacceptable.

Today I had an eye appointment; those I’ve stayed current on, since they don’t require people to stick their hands in my mouth, which seems safer, but I’m starting to think that I need to go back in time and prevent myself from getting LASIK. The punch line is, at least according to my eye doctor, who was the person who did the LASIK, this was probably coming anyway, and at best might have been faintly aggravated by the LASIK, but I’m having annoying issues with keeping my tear films properly hydrated, despite the fact that I spend half my day every day pouring liquids into my eyes. She flat-out admitted that she doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with me right now, because my vision is varying widely depending on, well, something, but we don’t know what. Like, on one visit I’ll be corrected to 20/10, and then on this one I was at 20/40, and I was at 20/30 on the last one, and the only things that seem to be consistently different are the tear film thicknesses. Today ended with me walking out with two new sets of eyedrops (one medicinal in a fashion that I’m not 100% clear on, another simply an upgrade to the artificial tears I was already using) along with a heat mask that I’m supposed to wear for 15 minutes before bed every night and tiny little plastic plugs inserted into my tear ducts, which were supposed to help me in some way that she explained perfectly clearly at the time and I can no longer repeat. So all day today my eyes have been bugging me.

She was also horrified that my insurance company turned down the sleep study, which … yeah, that’s a whole separate other thing. I feel like I’ve got enough medical issues going on right now without tossing sleep apnea on top. (And suddenly I’m wondering if you can just buy a CPAP, and how expensive such a thing is.)

Anyway, my point is that my everything aches right now and maybe spending all day staring at screens isn’t the smartest move I could be making with my life right now, but, well. We all know how good I am at making decisions.

Scam alert

Don’t use Noom. Don’t go to their website and don’t download their app. I have never encountered a more blatantly money-hungry service in my life, and this thing went from “this might be useful to me” to “this is the 30th time you’ve offered me something in return for additional money, I’ve said no, and you’ve instantly discounted it and asked again five seconds later, and you still haven’t shown me this personalized plan you’re supposedly crafting” in no time flat. There’s already one unauthorized charge on my card and they were doing their damnedest to railroad me into another when I backed out of the whole thing and demanded a refund. I’ll call the bank tomorrow to contest all of the charges.

In other news, my back hurts, I was in a training all day (and will be for the next two as well) and I am not in the mood for this.

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.

My mid-life crisis

Honest truth: I didn’t mind the white at all, and if you’re looking at this wondering why I’ve posted a bathroom selfie, it’s because my glorious white beard is now a glorious beard something closer to my actual— uh, no, let’s say original— hair color. I’m going to be 45 in a couple of weeks, so this is probably more of a 2/3 crisis than a midlife crisis, but I bought the gel dye quite a while ago just for the sheer hell of it and then never used it, and for some reason tonight turned out to be the night.

I shoulda gone green.