OK, Zoomer

The following is a true fact: I am an Old. I have written before about how I’m at an age where I straddle the line a bit between Gen X and Millennials; my preferred nomenclature is the Oregon Trail Generation, but that’s not exactly what the cool kids call it. All that said, one thing I definitely am is Old. Yes, the oldest Millennials are old now. They have mortgages– some of them, anyway– and cars and kids and are starting to worry about paying for their college, and whether debt is going to be declared inheritable before they die.

Anyway. My wife and I were out doing some running around today, in two cars because one of the jobs involved bringing the last carload of stuff that we’re keeping back from my father-in-law’s apartment, and I told her that I was going to stop at a local gaming shop that is up by his place. The place is far enough away that if I drive past it I’m probably going to stop, just because I’m not up there very often. Anyway, I puttered around for a bit and decided to buy something and got behind a couple of high school-aged kids who were also checking out. Both of them, as it turns out, were buying card booster packs of some sort; Magic, I think, but I’m not sure and at any rate it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the booster packs were expensive, and I heard the cashier quote a hundred and seventeen dollars to one of the kids, who pulled a handful of twenties out of his pocket, counted them carefully, and handed them over, receiving his change in the expected fashion.

And then the whole world went sideways, as the kid looked at his friend and said “I love these things. The money doesn’t come out of my account, so it’s like I’m not really spending anything.”

There was a moment of frozen silence. The cashier, a man of about my age, made eye contact with me, as both of us realized at the same time that this young man had just used the construction these things to refer to twenty dollar bills as if they were some sort of exotic and rare form of shell- or bead-based barter, and I don’t think either of us really knew what to do for a second. The kid’s friend saw the look we shot each other and also saw that I was either having a stroke or trying not to laugh, and rolled his eyes at his friend without saying a word and ushered him out.

I walked to the counter and placed my purchase in front of the cashier.

“Credit or … these things?”, he said.

And then I ceased to exist.

Achievement unlocked

If you have been around a while, you might remember me buying this car. At the time I took a 72-month loan on it, which I’ve been told is an unwise decision under nearly all circumstances, but whatever. 72 months from the purchase of the car would have been July of 2023.

It is currently March of 2022 and as of today my car is paid off. $237 a month back in my pocket. Awesome.

I am still waiting for my student loans to go away, which is likely to take a bit longer, but will still probably be done by the end of the school year. That’s another $545 a month. After that I pretty much just have the house and a personal loan to take care of (and “take care of” is a bit of an understatement, if I’m being honest, as they’re both pretty sizable amounts) but once those two are dealt with I will be debt-free, and getting rid of the car and the student loans will make an enormous difference, especially since I’ve been channeling every spare dime into paying for the car for the last six months or so and don’t have to do that any longer.

God help me, but that almost feels like cause for optimism. Time for the entire frame to fall off my car!

New hotness, again

Pictured above: my original, loyal Das Keyboard, which provided me with seven years of service before something underneath the left half of the keyboard cracked while I was trying to fish a piece of debris out of it. Underneath: its replacement, which arrived today and is effectively the 2022 model of the same keyboard, except specific for my Mac and also featuring Cherry MX Brown switches instead of the Blues that were in the original keyboard. While I am a big fan of clicky keyboards, and Blue switches are the clickiest keys currently on the market, the fact that my wife and I are still frequently in the office together when one or both of us is in a meeting means that my preferred kind of keyboard is actually kinda rude compared to the standards of way back when I purchased it.

(Discovers, accidentally, that the crescent moon button in the upper right actually puts the computer to sleep. Whoops?)

Anyway, the media stuff has been moved to the top right there, away from the function keys, and I think I actually prefer the volume wheel, and the top layer of the keyboard is actually aluminum instead of plastic, and the riser that lifts the keyboard up to a proper angle is magnetic and has a ruler molded into it for some reason, but other than that, it’s still a keyboard! I’ve only typed the words you’re seeing on the screen right now with it, so it’s not like I’ve put the thing through its paces, but it’s not like it takes a lot of breaking in to decide if you like a keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are still the way to go for me, and I hate wireless keyboards– this one also has a USB 3 hub built into it, so that’s an improvement too, but it means the wire is required– but the key travel and bounce are both pretty damn good and the sound, while not as loud, is still pretty pleasing, and I don’t feel like I’m making a lot of errors while I’m typing, so everything’s doing what my fingers expect them to be doing. I just took a couple of typing tests and they came out at 85 and 91 wpm, which is a trifle slower than I’m used to, but it’ll do.


It is possible that I have made my last student loan payment. Not guaranteed yet, mind you, but possible. My loans have officially been consolidated, meaning that the current worst case scenario is that my payments are eventually around $330 a month instead of the $545 I’ve been paying since 2005. Since the government has my loans now, I’m automatically part of the suspension of payments program that’s been going on for the duration of the pandemic, so I won’t have to make that first payment at the new amount until May.

However, my application to have my loans forgiven through PSLF has already been submitted, too, and that’s supposed to take no more than 90 days for the full review, and once that review happens they’ll find that I’ve made well more than the 100 required qualifying payments. Loan payments start back up on May 22 (assuming that the program isn’t extended again) and that’s more than 90 days away. So while on paper I still owe a shitton of money, I’ll be saving those payments for the next couple of months (and putting them toward my car, which I expect to have paid off very soon) and the loans may very well be officially gone before I actually hit the day where I’d have to start paying the reduced amount.

This … is a real big deal. Real, real big.


Juuuuust in case you’re somehow not aware of it yet, I’ve got this little streaming the video games thing going over on YouTube, and I just started this cool little game called Dandara: Trials of Fear, so if you haven’t checked the channel out you have an exclusive chance to click on this link and then go be my 115th subscriber. C’mon, you know you want to. Even if you don’t really use YouTube all that often. Hell, especially if you don’t use YouTube all that often, because then it doesn’t even throw annoying videos you don’t want into the feed you’re not looking at. Go check it out.

In which I might have something, or maybe not, I dunno

I think I’ve ordered an Xbox Series X, to be picked up Friday from my local Best Buy. I’m not sure I actually believe it, though; I’m fully expecting to get to Friday afternoon with no notification that my Xbox is ready to be picked up, and the craziest bit is that I still haven’t completely convinced myself that I want one. The thing is, the new consoles have all been insanely hard to find– I literally camped at my computer and hit Reload over and over on Walmart.com to get my PS5, and for this Xbox I think I just had some phenomenally lucky timing. Assuming, again, that it’s not a hoax.

And here’s the thing: I’m going to get a Series X eventually, because of Bethesda. Microsoft bought them, and word is they’ll be exclusive to the Series X for a while, and I want to play their games. And I’m sure there’s a ton of indie stuff out there that’s Xbox-only, because I keep hearing about how good Microsoft is for indie developers. But, like, right now? Hell if I know what my first game for this thing is going to be, and it’s entirely possible that I’m going to bring it home without any plans to buy any particular games for it. There was a reason I was able to skip the entire Xbox One generation: there was never a single game that made it feel worth it to try and buy the console. Which, given that my Xbox 360 and my OG Xbox were both beloved consoles, never really made any sense to me. But, like, everything I want to play right now is on PS5. I can play Halo Infinite, I suppose, but skipping every Halo game since Halo 3 didn’t bother me any, so I think I can probably do without this one?

(Don’t come at me about which console is “better.” The better console is the one that has games I want to play. I don’t even know what a teraflop is and I don’t care which console has more of them.)

I recognize that this is the most First World Problem ever– waah waah I have the opportunity to spend hundreds of dollars of discretionary income on an expensive electronic device and I don’t know if I wannnnnnaaaaaaaaaa!!!11!11!one!!!! but it’s, like, genuinely bugging me. Right now I’m leaning more toward cancelling the thing than picking it up, which will mean that I’m not spending a ton of money right now but will still ensure that I’m spending the money later, because again, I’m going to want one of these eventually, I just don’t necessarily want it now. Like, if I come home with an Xbox Series X on Friday it’s going to have dust on it by March, I think. But … like, okay? Is that really that big of a deal? I’m taking up some extra desktop space for something that’s going to future-proof me for a while. It’s not like I don’t have the money; if anything, I’m in a better financial place right now than I’ve ever been in my life, and that’s only going to improve over the next few months unless something catastrophic happens.

At which point if they’re still hard to find I can try and flip the damn thing on eBay for $1000 or some shit like that, I suppose.

Bah.

On small victories

I promised myself some time ago that, once my credit cards were all paid off, I would reward myself with a lightsaber. Well, I’ve held a $0 credit card balance for a few months now, minus a couple of reasonable things (I paid for the hotel last weekend on one of my cards, then came home and immediately paid it off) and … well, I haven’t ordered a saber yet, because I’ve managed to convince myself I’m still in the “research” stage, thus preventing me from dropping $500 on something that is the absolute pinnacle of “meaningless nerd cruft I don’t need.” Shit, I don’t even know if I like Star Wars any longer; one of the many ways the last several years have sucked is watching a number of things I used to love turn into even more entries into the “shit that makes me tired” category.

But I don’t want this to be another obnoxiously maudlin post; I want to focus on the fact that I am remaining (somewhat) financially disciplined by 1) not wantonly ordering a lightsaber today and further 2) determining that there must be at least twice the cost of said lightsaber in savings before said lightsaber is ordered. Which, okay, isn’t going to hold me for long, but kept me from spending money today.

The above, by the way, hasn’t yet achieved the status of “my lightsaber,” because 1) if it’s a fixed color, the blade is going to be yellow and 2) I’m serious about reading a ton of reviews and doing research here, because I am doing this once and I am not about to start a collection of these fucking things. It looks like the saber I had my eyes on when I first started thinking about this has been discontinued, as I foolishly didn’t bookmark it and now I can’t find the design anywhere, but I don’t want one that looks exactly like one of the official ones. It won’t be unique, of course, as these things are mass-produced, but I don’t want a fellow nerd to be able to look at it and recognize it as Plo Koon’s lightsaber or some shit like that.

I probably ought to put the whole thing off until after I know if there’s going to be a teacher strike later this year, shouldn’t I?