Monthly Archives: December 2014

Artemis Prep

No post today, obviously.  It’s 11h30 on Monday night, and I’m still tinkering at my desk trying to get things ready for our New Year’s Eve party.  Since our last session with Artemis went so well, we decided to do it again!  And from the sound of things, we’re probably going to have enough to run multiple ships!  That is, of course, assuming our tech infrastructure holds up, to say nothing of being able to fit that many people in our apartment.  But we’ve spent a good portion of the past few days cleaning, and I spent most of my night playing with joystick setups and reinstalling the OS on my old desktop.  If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be pretty much ready by tomorrow night.  But given how things always take longer than expected, I’m not sure I’ll be able to post much over the next few days.  So this is my cop-out post, so I don’t feel as bad skipping out on writing.  I just think I’m going to need the time to make sure everything is in order.

It’s gonna be awesome.

Happy Holiday Eve

Well, the winter holiday season is starting to draw to a close. Just a few more days left, and we’ll be well on our way to the new year. I don’t have much to say right now; I know my posts recently have been a bit on the griping side, so I think I’ll keep whatever thoughts I have on the matter (not many, at this point) to myself for right now. Night is falling, the apartment is clean, and it’s almost time to get ready to visit with family. I’ve still got enough time I should be able to write something thoughtful in a card or two, so I’m going to do just that.

So Happy Holidays, everyone. No matter what you celebrate. Even nothing: we can all take solace in the fact that the days are going to start getting longer.

Axial Tilt is the reason for the season

via Bad Astronomy

Money For People

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a lot of anxiety surrounding holidays and gifts. And it’s clearly not just me. A huge portion of this stems, at least for me, from financial considerations. And I know that sounds bad, but it’s true. I’ve spent a good number of years recently on a very tight budget, both during grad school and while working as Costco, so my natural tendency towards frugality has been reinforced and overdeveloped. And of course, me being who I am, I feel bad about that. I feel bad that I feel obligated to spend money I’m not used to having on my friends and family, and then I feel bad that I feel bad. There’s really no way to win.

Too much about gift exchanges these days seems so transactional. Sure, there’s the chance of the awesome moment when you manage to surprise someone with something they really want or that holds some personal meaning, but far too often it seems to devolve into a rote exchange:

“Here you go, [FAMILIAL RELATION], here is a gift card to [STORE YOU LIKE].”
“Thank you, [FAMILIAL RELATION], here is a card of equal value to [DIFFERENT STORE].”
“This transaction has been emotionally pleasing.”
“Yes, I am truly a better [CLEARLY BIOLOGICAL ENTITY] for having experienced it. Let us go give a [TOKEN OF APPRECIATION] to our [SHARED FAMILIAL RELATION.”

And of course, I’m just selfish enough that I still enjoy getting gifts. But I’m nice enough that I don’t like not reciprocating gift-giving. But that makes it feel too much like a transaction, which…

You get the idea.

In an odd occurrence, I find myself envious of such a lowly scumbag as George Costanza, with his Human Fund scheme. All the good feeling of giving a gift, without the actual investment! But more seriously, I wish there was a way we could all agree to avoid the stress of choosing and giving gifts. Like if the act of saying “My gift to you is freedom from the stress of having to get me a gift.” could be seen as complimentary and not a cheapskate move. Of course, this scheme falls apart if the other person has already gotten you a gift. Then you look like a Costanza.

Impending Festivities

It’s late, I’m tired, so there’s not much of a post today.  Although the good news is I pretty much got my Christmas shopping done.  Days before the deadline, even!  So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy what’s left of my night off before the Yuletide Gauntlet finishes closing around me.

Finally Friday

Not much to say today. It was a long week, and I’ve still got a lot to do before the weekend finishes. I’m tired, overwhelmed, and ready to be done. So, you know, the usual state for a working schlub.

But hey! I did get a chance to stop by Micro Center this afternoon. They’re especially crowded this time of year; apparently remote-control drones and helicopters are big right now. I primarily went in to look, mostly at tower cases. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from Internet pics, and while there selection wasn’t great (black, black, more black, and oh yeah, some white), at least I have a better idea what scale of hulking monstrosity I’m likely to end up with.

I didn’t make it out completely unscathed, of course. I ended up, mostly on a whim, picking up a tube of thermal paste. My laptop’s been running fairly hot lately, so much so that it actually shut down without warning while on battery power within the last week or so. I figure that refreshing the thermal paste probably couldn’t hurt, and it’ll be good practice for when I have to install the cooler on my own build.

That’s all I’ve got. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be a manly man and finish sewing my undertunic for this weekend.

Getting To The Big Questions

Yesterday’s post felt awfully whiny, and for that I apologize. I guess it’s just hard for me to get into “the Christmas Spirit” (whatever that means) these days. Most holidays don’t seem to faze me, to be honest. Sure, I’m thankful for the day off or whatever, but everything else just strikes me as blasé. Maybe it’s because I don’t really have a strong sense of time; one day feels like the next, and without outside markers it can be hard to really be aware of the passage of time. Part of getting golder, I guess.

But that enough downer stuff. The good news is my PC build research is progressing! The interminable sea of numbers and acronyms is slowly but surely starting to make sense. There’s still a lot of questions that need answered, but I’m avoiding those for the moment and trying to enjoy looking at all the fancy motherboards and graphics cards and whatnot.

One of the big things I’m struggling with is the AMD/Intel question. Like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to both choices, and finding balanced, objective analysis beyond “it depends what you’re going for” online is hard to say the least. Sure, AMD chips tend to run cheaper, but Intel chips tend to be faster. I’ll admit to being a little biased by previous experience, as well: all my past computers have been Intel/Nvidia setups, so the Intel naming scheme makes a lot more sense to me. With AMD, I have to completely re-learn the naming schemes and product tiers.

And choosing something merely because it “makes sense” seems a really shallow approach to me. But I can’t seem to help but be influenced by it. Maybe I just need to take some time and really dig into the numbers and details, but then of course I run the risk of information overload, and being even less able to make a decision than usual.

So yeah, I don’t know. Right now I’m leaning towards an Intel setup, mostly because that’s what I’m most familiar with. And who knows: maybe familiarity is a valid concern when doing something as potentially complicated as building a computer from scratch. And to be honest, I’m probably not going to learn too much more the deeper I dig, because there is a lot of information out there, and by the time I got through it all I’d have to start over because something new and better will have come along.

I will say it’s comforting to know that there’s plenty of resources online, like Logical Increments, Reddit, and even a build generator to make things nice and easy. And while I don’t want to go with something just because I read it on a list written by someone I don’t know, I have to start somewhere.

What Do You Want?

Christmas is always a weird time of year for me.  The question that gets thrown around a lot is “What do you want for Christmas?”  And for whatever reason, that simple phrase comes to dominate the feeling of the season for me.  It doesn’t help that my answer is often “I don’t know,” or that I have to convince myself that I “deserve” presents and nice things.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have most of the things I need, and asking for socks or similar is just boring.  And the stuff I don’t have I can quite easily go out and obtain for myself.  Of course there’s stuff I want.  But these days, the stuff I want is expensive enough I don’t feel comfortable asking someone else to buy it for me.  A $30 game is one thing, but a $350 graphics card?  That gets awkward.

And just asking for money is awkward in its own way.  I know that I have a bad habit of squirreling away cash in my savings account, then not really ever doing anything with it.  But that totally defeats the purpose of the gift!  And giving someone money isn’t as fulfilling as giving them a more tangible gift.

But that’s the situation I find myself in this year.  The things I want (not that I need them) are expensive, and mostly have to do with building a new computer.  So when asked the titular question, don’t be surprised if I answer “I don’t know, computer monies?”  Because that’s all I’m coming up with.

Bah humbug.

Status Report

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s holiday stress, maybe it’s work stress, or maybe it’s some other weird arcane confluence of influences and annoyances, but something is keeping me out of sorts.

My body seems to want to wake up at about 7am. This means that I usually need an alarm to get up for work in the mornings, but the difference isn’t that bad. The unfortunate part comes over the weekend, where I still naturally wake up close to 7. It doesn’t seem to matter what time I fall asleep, either. Once 7 rolls around, even if I was up until 2am (which has happened on the occasional Friday night), there I am, sitting in bed staring at the ceiling as the morning light begins to trickle in through the window. And that’s really annoying.

So I’ve been working on a mild sleep deficit for at least a week or so, maybe more. And I’ve been extremely busy drafting this week so far, which always leaves me in a weird mood. Pile on top of that all the holiday stress of picking out gifts for people, letting people know what you want (which always makes me feel weird), and it’s a recipe for a not-so-great mood.

But hey, there’s some good news. I got a surprise holiday bonus from my work! I’m fast running out of excuses to not build a new computer. Plus, my laptop is no longer without its quirks: it’s picked up this annoying habit of overheating and shutting down without warning while running on battery power, even during such demanding tasks as web browsing. So I’ve started researching components in earnest, although not as earnestly as I might like, since I’ve been so busy with other stuff. But look on the bright side, once I start building I’ll have plenty to write about!

Oops, Oh Well

So I realized late Saturday morning, as I was on my way to an SCA event, that I had forgotten to post last Friday. And that if I thought about it, I had forgotten to post on Thursday as well. Um… oops?

I could say a lot of things in my defense. We had people in town from the home office, which messed up my usual routine. I rushed out of work Thursday night so that we could entertain our Midwestern guests at Yak & Yeti (oh, the horror). That I just completely forgot, felt guilty, then felt even more guilty for not feeling guiltier in the first place (did you follow that twisted logic?).

And then today was a weird day. I passed most of the day in a fairly productive fugue, drafting nearly my entire time in the office. But while I got a good amount done, it left me in an odd head space, poorly situated for engaging with the outside world. A hyperfocus hangover, if you will.

So that’s where I’m at. Feeling bad about not posting, but not as bad as I might. After all, blogging daily is a self-imposed obligation, one that can chafe more sometimes than others. So I’m going to try and not worry about it. I’m also going to try and not get as deep into things at work tomorrow. It’s true I’ve got a lot to do, but draining myself more than necessary doesn’t sound like a good idea in the long term.

Balancing Act

Having people visit from the home office can be nice.  Our local contingent is still pretty small, so having a few more personalities around can really liven up the place.  But with that, of course, comes the obligation of entertaining the guests.  And in the office environment, this usually comes in the form of going out to dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the people I work with well enough.  But having to go out to dinner every night and make small talk with people you don’t know that well can be quite draining.  Oh, and there’s of course the issue of spending time outside of traditional work hours on work-related activities.  At the expense of one’s own private hobbies or need for down time.

Because I treasure my down time.  I’ve been lamenting for a while how little I have, and it’s often planned out in such a way to allow me to accomplish everything I want to before whatever deadline I have.  Too many hiccups from my (admittedly loose) plan, and things begin to trudge inexorably towards failure.

Am I the only one that feels this way?  On the one hand, I feel like I should get to know the people I work with.  On the other hand, I really resent work life infringing on my personal time.  Maybe there are some people that enjoy it, but I really need to keep work and home life separate.  I don’t live to work, I work to live.  I work so that I can enjoy my hobbies.  And when work means that I have to miss fencing practice or that I don’t have the time I thought I did to finish my sewing project, I get upset.   Especially since I can’t comfortably say no.