Things I miss, Part 27

  • My beard. I sort of have a stubbly version going right now, because when it’s really short the white doesn’t stand out. The reason I don’t have a full beard is because it would be white and I don’t fancy the “distinguished gentleman” look. Yes, I’ve thought of growing a beard and dying it. I think it would be weird, but I’m more open to weird these days.
  • 10 cent candy bars. This is the lowest price I can remember, circa 1970 when I was six or seven years old. This is not a bad thing, though, because if they were still 10 cents apiece, I would weigh 300 pounds.
  • A full head of hair. I shaved my head seven years ago, and I’ve made peace with never having a proper head of hair again, but I still kind of miss having hair on my head.
  • That section of my National Novel Writing Month novel that got eaten when Scrivener didn’t sync properly. My fault, I’m sure, but I’ve never experienced that “afraid to lose stuff” with software before and it is always in the back of my mind now when I use Scrivener.
  • My original copy of The Ever-continuing Saga of the Round Balls comic I wrote back around 1984 or so. I did 11 issues of varying length and at some point tragically lost them, probably left in a box under the stairs of a townhouse I used to live in.
  • Not completing my swimming lessons in 2007. Technically I can swim, but it’s more accurate to describe it as “not drowning.” Living on the coast it always seemed like a good skill to have. But water kind of terrifies me. Probably because I can’t swim.
  • That childhood sense of time, where the summer stretched on forever. Now it goes by in a blink. There’s actual science behind this.
  • World peace.

Rejected blog ideas

Because sometimes I’m lazy, sometimes I’m not timely enough, and sometimes my ideas stink.

  • Depends squirmy legs ad and Meta user Michael Strahan’s poo dance
    • Reason for rejection: I used to see these two commercials a lot and wanted to riff on them, then they stopped airing them.
  • Video games of yore (home)
    • Reason for rejection: I actually mean to get around to this one. You can read the arcade version here.
  • Reality TV shows I actually like
    • Reason for rejection: There aren’t that many and it just didn’t seem that interesting. For the record, a few I enjoy are Forged in Fire and The Curse of Oak Island.
  • Apple Watch revised review with pictures and stuff
    • Reason for rejection: Lazy, waited too long. Who wants to read a review of a watch that is two generations behind? Not me!
  • Google maps, now with melancholy
    • Reason for rejection: I actually quite like this idea. I’d use Google Maps’ Street View to “visit” my hometown and lament the loss of old corner stores I went to as a kid and so on. I felt there wasn’t enough there to work with, but I may revisit this.
  • Amusing photos from my phone camera
    • Reason for rejection: It turns out I have very few amusing pictures on my phone
  • Best and worst super powers
    • Reason for rejection: This seems like such an obvious thing. Maybe too obvious. Every time I thought about it, I found my mind wandering on to other things. Kind of weird.
  • Internet of Things comic: standing at the fridge saying “Open the fridge door, HAL.”
    • Reason for rejection: Too much effort for a pretty lame joke
  • Bad design: glossy keyboards
    • Reason for rejection: Pretty think subject for a blog post, but for the record, glossy keyboard are bad because they reflect light back at you, and are fingerprint magnets
  • Places I’ve lived
    • Reason for rejection: After some thought, I didn’t find it interesting enough to pursue, but I was thinking too literally. I may come back to this someday, because I’ve lived in a few places that might be worth talking about.

The best things about 2019 so far

A short list. I mean, we’re only two days in.

  • No nuclear war
  • No snow
  • Ultima Thule revealed in the greatest detail yet
  • Did I mention no snow?
  • No donuts so far
  • Days are very slightly longer
  • All resolutions still on track (hey, I’ll take it, even if it’s only 48 hours so far)
  • This list
  • Finally, no snow

New Year Resolutions 2018: This time for real

First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each. First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Grade: D. I ended the year at 168.1 pounds.
  • 100% donut-free. Grade: A. I stayed donut-free, though it didn’t help much, weight-wise. Alas.
  • No farmers tan. Grade: C+. I didn’t run as much, so not as much of a farmers tan. Kind of a dumb resolution.
  • Write 250 words of fiction per day. Grade: D. Total fail, unless you split the 22,222 words of NaNoWriMo into 250 word chunks and spread them out over the year (and I’d still be way off the 91,250 total).
  • Run at least three times a week. Grade: C. Knee problems slowed my running in the first half of the year and weather/laziness took over in the second half. My worst year for running since I started in 2009.
  • Read at least 32 books. Grade: A. I read 40 books, woo!
  • One drawing per week. Grade: D. I did a few drawings the entire year.
  • Win the lottery. Grade: B. I won $10.
  • Eat better. Grade: D. Not a good year for self-control when it came to (comfort) food.
  • Curb my web surfing and put my WoW sub on hold. Grade: C and A. The C is for web surfing, which I have not really reined in much, though I think the quality of the content I read is higher now. I dropped my WoW sub.

Not exactly a banner year. For 2019 I am slimming down the list:

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Third (or whatever) time is the charm?
  • Write something every day. No minimum limits should make this possible.
  • Run at least once per week. Again, lowering the bar, but it could lead to more.
  • Read at least 52 books. Yes, a book a week. I think this might be possible if I cheat with some really short books.
  • Eat better. For real this time.
  • Learn and practice meditation. I think this will help a lot if I can take it seriously.
  • Stretch. I am stiff as a board and it’s not good. I need to get more flexible.
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I’ve regressed on the no-complaining thing and need to do better.

We’ll see how things look in just 12 short, zany months.

December 2018 goals

Here are my goals for the month:

  • stay sane
  • stay the same weight or hopefully lower–as mentioned before, December is not a great month for weight loss
  • continue working on my currently unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, The Journal
  • to generally write more; last month was a rare off-month on the blog and I will work to correct that
  • read at least a few more books–I am at 36 read so far this year
  • to take more photos of things interesting and mundane
  • get a new computer desk and set of drawers to store computer-y things
  • run and walk as weather permits. I don’t mean walking as in walking around the condo or walking to the store, I mean exercise-type walking where I move almost as fast as a 17 year old girl texting on her smartphone
  • to stay donut-free
  • to do more cleaning and organizing, getting rid of more unwanted and unneeded stuff
  • to start putting together parts for a new PC
  • to make an extra effort to not complain, to remain positive and offer constructive feedback and suggestions where appropriate
  • to make more lists
  • indulge in sarcasm just a wee bit from time to time

Things I would not expect in late October

  • So much sunshine (not a complaint)
  • Being able to walk comfortably outside wearing only a t-shirt (well, and pants, too)
  • Flowers still in bloom (I never paid much attention to their seasonality until I started taking pictures this year)
  • Snow (I’m not expecting any to happen this October, though I remember at least one Halloween with a few idle flakes falling on the trick or treaters)
  • Valentine’s Day promotions (still hasn’t happened–yet)

iPad Pro update correction

9to5Mac has an article speculating on a possible October event by Apple in which they might reveal updated iPad Pros. I noticed one error in the article and have corrected it below.

You may accuse me of being cynical, to which I would offer:

  • The pricing of the MacBook introduced in 2015
  • The pricing of the redesigned MacBook Pro in 2016
  • The pricing of the iPhone X in 2017
  • The pricing of the iPhone XS Max in 2018 (also candidate for Worst Smartphone Name 2018)

All of these products saw hefty price increases or were introduced at high prices.

You might counter with a few examples, like:

  • 2017 iPad dropping from $499 to $329 vs. previous gen iPad Air 2
  • AirPods at $159 being priced competitively with other true wireless ear buds
  • Apple Music for $9.99 a month
  • Mac Pro got improved specs at the same price in 2017

To which I would counter:

  • The iPad was cost-reduced to create an artificial distinction between it and the “Pro” line of iPads, with several features made worse than the previous $499 iPad Air 2, notably the 2017 model being heavier, thicker and with an inferior display. The base line iPad may cost less now, but it’s also worse than what Apple offered as the base line previously.
  • AirPods is valid. I think Apple really wanted to carve out market share here. They will offer upgraded AirPods in 2019, with an upgraded price. The original model for $159 will go away.
  • Prediction: In two years Apple Music will be $11.99 per month, eventually rising to $14.99 in five years. Every other streaming service will match Apple’s prices.
  • The Mac Pro is still overpriced and outdated

The rumored improvements to the iPad Pro seem to be extremely thin bezels and Face ID. I don’t find the bezels overly big now on my iPad Pro 10.5″, but sure, make them a littler slimmer if you insist, as it makes the display larger without bumping up the physical size of the unit. They’re also said to be adding Face ID. This also seems like a step backward. On the iPhone I rarely unlock it without also holding it up. I often unlock my iPad when it is laying flat on a desk, a situation that will not work with Face ID.

And that really seems to be about it. Neither of these will dramatically change what an iPad Pro (or any iPad) can do. It’ll still have the same OS, the same limited multitasking, the same everything else, just a little faster and shinier than before. And I fully expect this to cost at least $100-$150 more U.S. I would be willing to bet the iPad 10.5″, rumored to be morphing into an 11″ device with the slimmer bezels, will go from a base price of $869 Canadian to a starting price of $1099. Maybe more, especially if they dump the 64GB model and start at 256GB.

As the total sales volume of iPhone and iPad have flattened (or in the case on the Mac, declined significantly), Apple is shoring up its revenue by raising prices across the board, offering lower prices only where they are deliberately seeking to gain market share or to further justify price differentials between lines, as is the case with the iPad and iPad Pro (the iPad pricing can also be seen as Apple trying to make inroads to the education market and an attempt to shore up a shrinking iPad market). As I mentioned when the iPad Pro was first introduced, this is not sustainable, as Apple will reach a point where people will not buy. The danger there is if they go too far–even by just a little–they risk having sales plummet as people look elsewhere and begin removing themselves from the Apple ecosystem. This wouldn’t happen quickly, of course, but it has the potential to upend the company.

Mostly I don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium product, but I think Apple is starting to trade a little too much on the supposed Apple tax. They don’t need to make that much money. Some would say “let them charge what the market will bear” but the problem with that is a lot of people fundamentally lack common sense. Yes, that is cynical, but the evidence is abundant. I wish it weren’t.

If Apple raises the price of the iPad Pro 10.5/11 inch model by “only” $100 Canadian I will make a new post loudly proclaiming I AM WRONG AND ALSO A BAD PERSON.

It’s October, the Octoberiest month of the year

It’s time for a list, specifically an October list! More specifically, several October lists!

What I expect in October:

  • 31 days
  • 31 nights
  • Temperatures to be on average cooler at the end of the month than at the start
  • Many leaves on the ground
  • Rain
  • Air conditioners put away until next June or thereabouts
  • Halloween
  • Halloween candy
  • Halloween candy to share shelf space with Christmas candy
  • Thanksgiving
  • A pseudo-turkey (a real one doesn’t work well with only two people to eat it, unless you really, really like turkey leftovers

What I have planned in October:

  • To maybe drop below 160 pounds for real
  • Don’t laugh, I’m serious
  • To avoid all Halloween candy
  • To also avoid the Christmas candy
  • To probably avoid fudge
  • Mmm, fudge
  • To pick my NaNoWriMo 2018 novel and outline it in preparation for the glory of NaNoWriMo in November
  • To finally settle on what I’ll be using for writing the above-mentioned masterpiece. Still leaning toward WriteMonkey.
  • To run at least on weekends, no matter what the weather
  • To take more pictures, especially of trees and their leaves
  • To continue spring cleaning four months after spring ended

A list of failure, a list of hope

Here’s a list of things I have tried and failed to do (or didn’t do enough) that I’m thinking of trying again:

  • Typing. I mean, I can type, I just don’t touch-type, and while I’m reasonably fast for someone who uses three fingers instead of ten, I know I could be a lot faster. However, past attempts have not gone well. Still, enough time has passed that I think I’m ready to give this another shot. I may not choose Mavis as my guide this time, though. Sorry, Mavis!
  • Swimming. I live on the coast. Knowing how to swim is a good thing. As with typing, previous attempts did not end with great success. I can at least go into this knowing that I have a fear of water to overcome. Or maybe more precisely, a fear of drowning, which technically requires water (yes, I could also drown in a giant vat of chicken broth, but I’m more likely to go swimming in water than chicken broth).
  • Programming. Just kidding. This is one area where I’ve made peace with my mind just not being suited for this kind of task. I’m okay with that. I like to think I’ve helped someone else gain employment as a programmer through my diligent avoidance of programming.
  • Drawing. I am not bad at drawing, though I’m not good, either. I’d like to dabble in this more as a kind of therapy or meditation. I find doodling soothing and relaxing.
  • Stretching. I just need to do this. I used to stretch before runs, then got paranoid that I’d injure myself. Then I injured myself anyway, probably because I wasn’t stretching. So I plan to start stretching. Then I can say I have a stretch goal. Thank you, I am here all night.

Things we’ll all laugh about in the future: A list

Things we’ll look back on and have a good chuckle about:

  • Facebook
  • Democracy
  • Stable climate
  • Florida
  • Internet-connected anything
  • Fossil fuels

Well, that was kind of depressing. But let me try to expand a bit on each.

Facebook. From a simple way to see what’s happening with your friends and family, no matter where they are, to a complicit force in the spread of conspiracy theories, hate speech and the undermining of democratic governments, Facebook is easily the #1 tech-based scourge. I do not believe its absence would make the world worse in any way, and would really like to see a competitor try to recapture what it originally was. But it may be too big to stop now.

Democracy. The last few years have demonstrated how fragile democracy is. It’s also shown how bonkers the U.S. system of government is. It is something of a miracle that it has stood for so long (that whole civil war notwithstanding). I don’t know what the next few years will bring, but if someone got kidnapped by Bigfoot and was never seen again, like some American president, for example, the world would be better off.

Stable climate. Here’s the thing: the climate on Earth is always changing. Just look up “snowball Earth” to see. But while the climate is changing now and for the worse (as far as human habitation goes), our blundering, polluting ways are making the changes happen faster and with more severe consequences. Short of aliens with superior technology stepping in and saying, “Okay, you dumb Earthlings, you’ve screwed up enough” I don’t think we’re going to see much improvement here.

Florida. Related to the above. It’s not a question of if Florida will be submerged under the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, but when. I wonder if there’s a plan to relocate Walt Disney World?

Internet-connected anything. It’s all a bit silly now, but I have to admit, I still enjoy barking at Google Maps on my phone to “take me home” and getting real-time directions, or using Siri to start a run, add items to a list, or even just record a random thought or idea. Maybe we won’t laugh about this in the future.

Fossil fuels. Unless we learn how to make new dinosaurs and accelerate the millions of years it takes to turn them into oil, fossil fuels are as doomed as Florida. We’ll laugh because of how crude (not an oil joke. Really.) fossil fuels will seem as we jet around in fusion-powered flying cars. Assuming we haven’t nuked the world, of course.

The coolest things ever (when I was 10 years old)

The coolest thing ever (when I was 10 years old). A weird list of food, places, objects and seasons.

  • dinosaurs
  • sharks
  • fire trucks
  • realistic Matchbox cars (I never liked Hot Wheels. I was kind of weird in how I preferred realism)
  • dioramas
  • roller coasters
  • amusement parks
  • canyons (as long as I didn’t get close to the edge)
  • summer days
  • fudge
  • Peanut Buster Parfaits
  • Filet-o-Fish
  • snow days
  • Mad magazine
  • raw peas

Now I want a time machine so I can go back to the summer of 1975 to savor these things (I’m okay with missing the snow days). Some of this list is clearly nostalgia-driven, but a surprisingly large number of these items still rank up there as pretty cool even to my sensible, more jaded adult self.

In fact, the pleasure I’d feel while eating some fresh-baked fudge while ogling a diorama of, say, dinosaurs, on a warm summer day, would be downright intoxicating.

Instead I’ll just do a GIS for fudge and lick the screen of my laptop. Or…maybe not.

Three things I like right now

Time to put a more positive spin on..a couple of things.

  • my legs are still sexy, albeit with less tone than a few months ago. But still sexy.
  • I lost almost four pounds during my kidney infection. Sure, not the best way to lose weight, but a nice (if unintended) boost to my weight loss plan. It’s also helped to steer me away from snacks or at least blatantly calorie-rich ones. I actually bought apples!
  • still no nuclear war

Not the greatest list, but good enough for now. I’ll gussy it up later. I probably won’t, actually, but wanted to use the word “gussy.”