Important preferences

Here they are. All very important.

  • Salt over pepper
  • Chocolate over vanilla
  • Strawberry over vanilla
  • Vanilla over maple
  • Pie over cake
  • Cake over bad pie
  • Bigfoot over Loch Ness Monster
  • Blue over red
  • Red over yellow
  • Green over red
  • Pizza over anything else
  • Fudge over not-fudge
  • UFOs over cryptids
  • Playing over working
  • Working over starving
  • Good shoes over cheap shoes
  • Underwear that’s fun to wear over other underwear. That can be read two different ways, figure it out.
  • Hot tub over steam room
  • Kiddie pool over diving board
  • Running over elliptical
  • Sun over moon
  • Stories over poems
  • Pencils over pens
  • Life over death

Random thoughts, February 2019 edition

  • After three days of non-use, my AirPods have died a mysterious death and will not charge, pair or play. This has forced me to go back to wired earbuds and it makes me realize how nice it was to not have to untangle the spaghetti of wires every time I listened to music. I will probably look for an alternative for now, rather than paying what would likely be a ludicrous repair bill from Apple.
  • We had a more traditional Vancouver snow this week. It started out like recent years, with it staying cold and several days of snow piling up. Then it warmed up past freezing and started raining. Fortunately there was a gap between the snow and rain, so we have not seen a slushpocalypse. Also, the rain stopped and the snow is just melting on its own. Yay.
  • The Lego Movie 2 was all right, but not as good as the original. Several of the new songs are catchy, but “Everything is Awesome” is still the one that got stuck in my head after.
  • Nic did not want to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, despite never having seen it. He is now DEAD to me. Or mostly dead.
  • It seems like people have mostly and finally stopped quoting from Monty Python now. I’ve watched some of the original episodes on Netflix recently (Nic will watch those) and it’s very stream of conscious, clever, funny, but also uneven, with some sketches not really going anywhere.
  • Speaking of watching things on Netflix with Nic, the Star Trek animated series is not bad at all, but the animation is terrible. Too bad there isn’t money in redoing the episodes with modern (good) animation, while keeping the original voice work and music.
  • Let’s keep talking about Netflix. Jaws just turned up and I must watch it again. Nic also won’t watch this because he doesn’t like movies about sharks eating people or something. I loved sharks as a kid (after seeing Jaws). I would draw sharks all the time. And dinosaurs. And roller coasters. But never all three at once (which I would totally do now).
  • I broke my rule of not snacking in the evening tonight and feel bad. And full.
  • I have been weirdly and correctly predicting little things lately, like I’m a low wattage psychic.
  • I have actually started working on Road Closed again. One might say Road Opened, ho ho.
  • Somehow my iTunes folder has bloated to around 50 GB. That is a lot of “onion on the belt” (old guy) pop music.
  • As always, I like lists

Six super powers that might not be so super: A short list

  • Flight: What if you had a fear of heights? Also, flying into electrical wires would be a constant hazard.
  • Super strength: Almost everything you could do (and pretty much anything fun) would get you charged/arrested or kicked out of some place.
  • Invisibility: A lot of stuff could suck if you’re invisible. You could have the type where only your body is invisible, so you’d have to run around naked to be unseen. Would not work well in the winter. Or if everything you touch also turns invisible, you’d never be able to check your watch for the time or use your smartphone. That could be an upside, too…
  • Telekinesis: Assuming you didn’t go full Carrie, the utility of this seems limited. You’d be a sort of living smart home device, able to turn on the stove or adjust the lights without having to touch anything.
  • Manipulating fire: You’d be a hit at barbecues and beach bonfires. Anywhere else, not so much. Also, probably really easy to accidentally burn down your house.
  • Super speed: Running into something would probably hurt a lot. Like, hurt you to death.

Things I may or may not believe in, 2019 edition

Who really knows?

  • God: Maybe?
  • Bigfoot: Seems plausible, but probably not
  • Loch Ness Monster: Got to say no here. We’d have found some tangible evidence by now.
  • UFOs: By definition, these exist, because people do see objects flying in the sky that can’t be identified. I’ve seen them, though they were probably meteors or distant planes, rather than spaceships piloted by grey-skinned aliens.
  • The innate goodness of people: Sometimes
  • The soul: Yes, I think there is some part of us that exists outside of the physical body. There is some scientific evidence to suggest this. Think of it as being a kind of energy that persists after the body has kicked off.
  • Ghosts: Although I can’t say they’d exist as the traditional ghosts we think of in the western world, I can see them being some form of the soul (see above). So…maybe!
  • Aliens: Absolutely. It seems silly (and arrogant) to think the only life in the universe could exist on one planet. Ancient Aliens? Not so much.
  • Alien abductions: Maybe? There is some physical evidence and I believe a lot of alleged victims are sincere, but the mind is a strange place and isn’t always trustworthy.
  • Reincarnation: Maybe. Again, this has some evidence behind it.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: No. Ships and planes crash or vanish in equal numbers all over the world’s oceans.
  • Fate or destiny: No.
  • Global warming: I’m not a right wing politician who rejects science and logic, so yes.
  • World peace: Maybe, eventually. Odds seem low right now, but the optimist in me hasn’t been completely snuffed out.

30 day check-in on 2019 resolutions

The first month of 2019 has passed. Let’s see how the ol’ resolutions are doing. Remember, I have 11 more months to make “course corrections” in the event of resolution recidivism.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Realistically, I was not going to drop 17+ pounds in a month. I did drop 0.2 pounds, though. At that rate I will hit 150 by 2026. I may need to re-examine my current diet.
  • Write something every day. I am 100% on this so far, though some days have been a struggle. I don’t have any momentum yet, but feel I am on the verge, so I expect better in February.
  • Run at least once per week. 50% on this, so room for improvement. But I am running!
  • Read at least 52 books. I’m close to finishing my third book, so a bit behind. On the other hand, I went an entire week without reading, so I handicapped myself.
  • Eat better. Definite improvements here, especially with evening snacking. More improvements to come.
  • Learn and practice meditation. I have not started this yet. I kind of feel like I need to get a few other things sorted first, but maybe I’m just stalling.
  • Stretch. I finished reading a book on stretching, but have yet to stretch. Some preliminary “stretching” left me mildly alarmed at how incredibly inflexible I am.
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I haven’t formally restarted the challenge, but I am being a lot more mindful about saying negative things to others. I want to make myself and things around me better, and I know that bellyaching–though satisfying–is not the way to do it.

Overall a mixed bag, but nothing I would consider an outright failure at this point. I am cautiously encouraged.

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.