Never mind me

I’m Sundaying hard today– there’s lots to do, but it’s not getting done as efficiently as it should be because I’m too busy stressing about the fact that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I have a four-day weekend and a Wednesday out-of-building training in October, so I’m trying my damnedest to get through September without deliberately taking a day off after missing a couple in August. That said, I’m really jonesing for a mental health day right now. My student observer starts this week, so I need the kids focused and ready when he comes in; no days off for me this week unless something really stupid happens.

Now if I could just accomplish something. I have, like, a whole list right here, and my wife’s already been out to accomplish shit and been back again, so I have some catching up to do. I guess I’ll cross “write a blog post” off the list and go vacuum something.

Parenting level +1

My exhaustion level for the last couple of days has been extraordinary even for the first (full) week of school, and today we had to get the boy ready for his upcoming first day of school– which included a meeting with the band director so that he could pick an instrument to play this year and then meeting with the local instrument rental folks to remortgage my house set up a rental plan for the new instrument. My wife, who you may remember makes considerably more than I do, generally handles any sort of payments that school requires, but I’m taking care of instrument rental, more or less because it’s my turn. And after 32 payments, we’ll own an alto saxophone!

Super exciting.

Actually, I am excited, if only because the boy is out of his mind about the idea of getting to play the saxophone, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I have attempted to play a host of instruments in my time– violin, French horn, trombone, ukulele and harmonica come to mind without thinking too hard, and the closest I’ve ever come to being a competent player of an instrument was getting good enough to consistently 100% anything on medium difficulty in Guitar Hero. Once I had to start moving my hand to pick up that blue fret, though, I was done. I think I have a passable, or at least not embarrassing, singing voice, and that’s as close as I’ll ever get to being a musician. My wife is staggeringly more talented than me in that department, so we’ll hope the boy follows in her footsteps and not mine.

What this means, of course, is that there are fourth grade band concerts in my future. I will grit my teeth and clap and be supportive while dying on the inside, like a good dad’s supposed to, and hope that he sticks with this long enough to become legitimately good at it.

We’ll see, I suppose.

In which you’ve got to be kidding me

We have had, despite global climate change and all that, a pretty damn mild summer here in Northern Indiana. So naturally now that we’re going back to school and I have to spend all my time around smelly-assed unwashed 8th graders the heat index has shot up to 105. I wish I could find someone specific to blame this on so I could have them shot. Genuinely. And that’s before they give everybody Covid. It’ll be a great first day.

That said, I’m as ready as I’m going to be; tomorrow’s session is going to be only partially improvised, which is about as good as I can hope for given that I spent most of the day only barely able to remember how teaching actually works. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight, too. I think. Maybe.

Expect me to be quietish the next couple of days, as most of my life activities are going to involve coming home from work and dying. For now, I’m going to stay in the air conditioning and curl up with Jade Legacy and see if I can finish it before bed. If Fonda Lee hits the dismount as effectively as I’m expecting her to, this series instantly becomes one of the greatest triumphs of fantasy literature I’ve ever encountered. I have high hopes.

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.

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.