I got a SodaStream a while ago. Whichever model it was that they don’t make anymore. The OneTouch. This thing:
It makes club soda
And that was okay, for a while. Because, sometimes, I get sick of drinking MisterPibb or whatever; and making coffee in the Keurig next to the SodaStream is something more of a hassle. So there’s this, as an option.
Until Sunday night—four days ago—when it suddenly sproinged.
When it sproinged, it just kinda emptied out the carbonation canister all at once and didn’t really make the bottle of water all fizzy. So that’s not really good anymore.
The problem at the time was that it was Sunday night, so there was really no one to talk to about it. At least, no one at SodaStream.com. They’d be open the next day.
Meanwhile, on their site, they’re boasting that, if I get a new model of SodaStream right now, from them, it comes with a warranty of three years.
That’s actually bad news. Because I’ve had the one that just sproinged for more than three years. Which means that it’s just broken now.
Took the thing apart to see what actually broke in there. Turned out to be this ridiculously tiny gasket—a little ORing thingy maybe 250 microns wide.
Look around to see if those are available anywhere….
Maybe. Grabbed a pack of something like a hundred of the little things for about ten bucks. So, on Sunday night, that’s on its way…eventually.
But the world isn’t really shut down on Sunday night. So let’s see what we can find out….
We can find out that target.com has the new model of my sproinged model for about a hundred bucks. Okay. Gaskets on the way, which might work on the old one; and I can just get a new one delivered by 6pm from Target if I jump on it now.
target.com slightly lied: in fact, they’ve got the new model as a starter set, which comes with an extra carbonation thingy for an extra thirty bucks.
Order placed. Offer; consideration; consent. Plus/Minus a couple hours, because now it’ll get here by eight.
Go back to playing videogames for a while, with whatever club soda I currently own.
Until we get a text. It’s from a personal shopper that Target apparently hired to go into Target three miles from here and get this SodaStream thing I just paid for; the personal shopper wants me to know that Target lied about having this model at all, but he can get me a different one if that’s okay.
So now I don’t have a SodaStream, and Target pulled some guy into their store on a Sunday night to impart that they’d lied to me.
Cancel the whole damned thing. I’ve got gaskets coming in the mail.
Nah. I want my thing, damnit. Hit amazon.com, where they always have everything ever. Hit me.
Order the SodaStream I wanted, along with a carbonation canister I really don’t need, and get that probably by Wednesday. Today.
I don’t need the canister because I use a lot of canisters. And therefore I set up a subscription service thing recently, wherein a local company just brings me a few canisters at a time and picks up the empty ones. It’s like fifteen bucks a month instead of thirty bucks a canister like you’d get in a starter kit. It’s not even somehow an offbrand thing; it’s just local refills, which cuts out a few middlemen and ridiculous shipping fees for mailing what amounts to explosives.
Anyway: I’ve got a SodaStream on the way from amazon.com. Sometime.
It’s now the next day. Monday. So SodaStream are in the office or whatever. Call them just to see if we guessed right about the gasket and to let them know that their thing broke after something like five years.
That’s tragic. But they can’t fix it for me, because the warranty ran out a while ago. The best they can do is let me get a starter kit thing for fifty percent off.
Oh I see….
Okay. Hit me. Sixty-five bucks instead of a hundred and thirty. Why the hell not.
So now that’s on its way. Also.
So, go back to amazon.com; cancel the order which hasn’t shipped yet.
Just so this is never overlooked, don’t overlook this:
amazon.com, for the first time in the history of ever, cannot cancel an order that hasn’t even shipped yet.
I know: it’s like a sign of the apocalypse. It’s just weird.
But what amazon.com say I can do is to bounce the order back when the guy tries to deliver it; then amazon.com will get it back, and I’ll get my hundred and thirty bucks back, and that’ll be that.
The gaskets show up. They don’t fit. I don’t have a SodaStream.
What also shows up is sorta weird, and theoretically unrelated. A rack system I ordered the other day for my synth, because I’d ordered one a year ago, from NewEgg.com, which showed up broken; and then NewEgg.com didn’t care that it’d shown up broken, and they just made me keep the broken one and they kept the last money I ever gave them.
Now I’ve got this new, better thing I’ve been meaning to get to replace the stupid NewEggy broken one for a year.
The new, better thing shows up broken.
Wait: it’s not broken; it’s just banged up to the point of satire. But the stuff inside the remains of what might once have been a box are fine. So let’s put that together and retire the broken NewEggy one for good.
Hunter mentions to the place sending out satirically trashed boxes that it was satirically trashed.
Too Small; Didn’t Read: ‘sorry; keep it; have your money back.’
So, let’s process all this: SodaStream broke; ordered a new one; didn’t get it; ordered a new one; ordered a new one; tried to cancel the unshipped one; couldn’t; got a hundred bucks back because an unbroken, unrelated thing looked broken. I could just about come out ahead on all this….
Later That Day
Too Stupid; Didn’t Believe: The SodaStream coming from SodaStream.com hit an unidentified delay; it remains delayed; it remains unidentified.
Christ on a Mexican SitCom….
Hunter, who’d ordered the thing from amazon.com after cancelling the order from target.com before ordering the thing from SodaStream.com whose SodaStream is now unidentifably delayed, gets hold of UPS to cancel the order from amazon.com: when they get the thing, just give it back.
They say they’ve got to deliver the thing, and then we can just give it back to amazon.com ourselves.
So, now, we’re gonna get something we tried to cancel before we get something unidentifiably delayed. Like…sometime.
And that was Tuesday.
Today, a little over an hour ago, UPS show up to deliver this SodaStream from amazon.com that we’d cancelled.
Le’me just…it’s not worth uploading the video. So I’ll just tell you.
EXT. FRONT OF HOUSE. DAY.
A UPS GUY waddles up the path and sets down a large box.
He rings the DOORBELL.
He hurries away.
DOORBELL: We’re sorry we’re unable to answer the door right now; but, if you’d like to leave a message, you can do it now.
In the distance, a dog barks.
HUNTER opens the door and goes out to get the abandoned box she can’t refuse to accept in the absence of the UPS GUY before someone can steal it and complicate things further.
So. Now we’ve got a SodaStream in the house that’s broken; we’ve got gaskets that don’t fit; we’ve got a box presumably containing a SodaStream that we don’t want; we’ve got no way to bounce the box we don’t want back; and we’ve got a SodaStream somewhere in Unidentified Delay.
Hunter, who technically ordered the thing, goes back to amazon.com to mention that UPS delivered the thing they weren’t supposed to deliver, having accepted the thing on Monday after we hadn’t been allowed to cancel it.
Something called Deepak is very sorry to suck, but the SodaStream cannot be returned.
Okay. Cool. Be we tried to cancel it and couldn’t. And woulda refused to accept it, if anyone had fully delivered it. And we don’t want this thing.
Very sorry to incompetent cannot let to be returned.
It disconnected the chat. The thing called Deepak. So there’s no record of how unresolved the issue is now.
So that’s where we are, on Wednesday night: broken SodaStream; useless gaskets; halfprice SodaStream missing in action; fullprice SodaStream sitting here for however long it takes for amazon.com to ever want money from us again; a 24pack of club soda I grabbed at Safeway because I haven’t got a SodaStream.
And, no: I’m not recycling the cans of club soda. I’m murdering spotted owls with them. I was pushed to this.
Later on Wednesday
UPDATE: After I showed this to Hunter, she asked if I thought it would help to just refuse amazon.com’s chatroom and demand to speak to a meatbot in person. So, let’s do that.
Chatting with…?Charmelle. Maybe. She’s primarily composed of accents.
Hunter explains all the relevant parts of this entry.
Charmelle looks at the order on her end, and regrets to inform that the unopened SodaStream is a food item that cannot be returned.
All she can do is refund the money and let us keep the thing.
Oh. Oh I see. Okay, then.
So, that’s where we are now: we’ve got a SodaStream we couldn’t not get, that we could now open and use; we’ve got a SodaStream unidentifiably delayed somewhere on the planet; we’ve got twenty-three and a half cans of club soda from Safeway; and we’ve got however many spotted owls already died.
I’d call it a win, overall.
Have a webcomic:
I’ve heard it argued that tapeworms and human embryos are different because reasons; I just haven’t seen those reasons mentioned in any proposed legislation yet.
Back again. Possibly within a month. Ish. Six weeks, maybe. Feel free to be impressed.
But not for long. Because I’m really only back for a couple minutes, writing something of a placeholder entry. For reasons that…it’s hard to call them reasons; they’re more of a convoluted set of circumstances. But you’ll get it in a minute. Probably around the same time that I get it.
It’s like this….
Back in September, I had a few minutes free from sitting around marvelling at my free time—primarily because we had people out assailing the house with hammers to install new siding and stuff. And that made it impossible to think, inside the house. So, in the absence of thinking, I turned more to shopping. And I happened across…well…this:
This, as an antecedent, was a weak attempt to point a smartphone at an XPPen24Pro and record what happened when I played with the demo version of Rebelle4 [current at the time, I gather]. And of course there’s behammered zombies trying to get into my house throughout. But that’s okay. I filmed what I did, and uploaded the footage to facebook.com just to mention that I was looking at this thing.
That was about six months ago. Since then, I’ve been busy with other forms of free time.
But I remembered the other day that I’d been looking at this thing, back in September; then I sought it out online and discovered a couple important things.
One: Rebelle5 is out; it came out about three months ago, about three months after I looked at Rebelle4.
There are a couple versions of Rebelle5, and the one that looks more worth getting is a hundred and fifty bucks; but, if I mention somewhere that I want this thing, I can knock thirty bucks off of that. Which sounds fair enough. But which also sounds a bit nonlinear, since I haven’t got a lot to say about it just yet—except that I liked the demo for the outdated version six months ago and getting the newer and better version for $120 sounds okay to me.
Having explained that as well as I’m capable of explaining absurdly nonlinear events, I can go live with this entry now; then I can let EscapeMotions know that I broke the timespace continuum a little; then I can get thirty bucks off some software; then I can play with that; then I can come back here and add more information into this entry, having acquired the thing I’m currently trying to write about without really knowing what it is.
So, for the moment, that’s what I’ve got. Once I’ve got more—and I’m setting up to get more at the beginning of the final hour of Friday night when no one at EscapeMotions.com is likely to see it before Mondayish—I can come back and continue with this entry, likely uploading more videos of playing with the new, full version of the old, demo version.
See ya then….
So, that got a little strange. Like, I’m still not sure what exactly went so wrong. But it worked out in the end.
First, having written this to have this to show this to people, I EMailed people a link to show that I’d written this to have it. Because things are weird.
Then, immediately, nothing happened at all.
Then a bit more nothing happened.
Followed by nothing happening.
Mostly nothing with scattered happening.
Saturday. Then Sunday. Nothing at all.
Finally, on Monday, I got an EMail back:
So far, so corresponded.
The problem arose a couple minutes later, when I got back to EscapeMotions.com to punch in the code I’ve erased above. Because, though I’d subscribed to the newsletter, I hadn’t apparently created an account. Which might be okay, all things being equal; but, to add some inequality, I tried to buy this thing before learning that I hadn’t created an account.
I’m not sure how much that had to do with what happened next, which was more nothing. Because I tried to create an account, which remained pending until I’d confirmed something by clicking on something in an EMail I told the system to send me; and then it didn’t send it.
So now I’m not sure what to try to do about this.
I tried other EMail Addresses, figuring maybe I’d just burned the one I’d wanted to use by buying things before existing correctly. But that didn’t help.
So, ultimately, I looked at the EMail above and hesitatedn’t to contact Veronika.
Which led to more nothing for a while.
Admidst vast swaths of nothingness, the mailman showed up and delivered a creditcard. Which creditcard? The one I wanted to use to buy this software. But newer, and shinier, and with a new expiry and supersecret code. So now I wonder if part of the problem is that I’d been trying to buy something with a marginally expired card all day. Though, I also grabbed a game from SteamPowered.com using the same card, so it might not be that at all.
Nothing, for a while….
Then, ninety minutes after midnight, I got another EMail:
And that prompted me to notice that EscapeMotions.com are somewhere in Eurasia; and everything made a little bit more sense.
Whatever: I never sleep.
So, the account I was trying to create, so I could buy this thing, has been created; she just did that on her end. That just leaves trying to buy it again, with a new expiry and code and whatever.
So, despite the EMail Address I use with PayPal.com being different than the one I’m trying to use with my newly created account, I gave that a try. And then, in the absence of precedent, something happened:
It’s a 1.30AM Miracle.
Okay. So, now, I’ve managed to pay for this thing; my discount for talking about it all nonlinearly is applied; I can download it and see what it really does.
Download it. Look at it a bit. Using a trackball. Because, while I’ve got an XPPenArtist12Pro tablet connected to this tower, it’s buried under more things than I wanna look at.
Do some other stuff for a while….
Eventually install it additionally on my laptop, to which is connected an XPPenArtist24Pro. And, where that’s concerned, I recorded a few minutes of playing with it:
If you’re wondering why there’s no audio: that was Morti the Cat’s idea. Or, really, it was her idea to scream interminably the whole time I was playing with the tablet, so I just cut the audio out before uploading the footage.
You’re not really missing a lot. It’s pretty evident what I was doing. Also, what I was doing mostly was dicking around to see what I could do if I were doing more than dicking around.
Opened the software—which isn’t all that obvious, since the splash loaded up on the laptop’s screen instead of the tablet; but the interface ultimately went to the tablet, where I could use it.
Changed the canvas. Just because I could.
Oil paints a bit; acrylics; watercolour; pen; pencil; pastel; marker; airbrush. In whatever colours I poked at to switch things around.
Zoomed in and turned NanoPixel on and off to see the difference. Which is profound.
Looked at Stencils. Figured that out eventually.
Played with paint a bit more, just to make a large mess.
End of Part One.
And Part Two is just that thing where I’m funny and a product of the Eighties.
There’s obviously going to be more to this software, once I understand more about it. But, so far, overall, I dig it. Like, calling it a hundred and fifty bucks, I’d say it’s worth it. Once I get the hang of it, I’ll be able to do some useful things with it.
Really, for $150, it’s worth it just as a software toy with watercolours dripping down the screen. And of course I got it for $120 instead.
There might be some minor downsides. I’ve got the canvasses I’ve got. I can get other ones, but they’re not free.
This could be good, if I wanna spend another ten bucks to get it.
On the other hand, looking at the canvasses the software came with, they really look like relatively basic bumpmaps. So I might be able to just make whatever I want on my end.
Something to play with later.
The interface is mostly just the same hotkeys as Photoshop, though not entirely. So, either I’ve got to notice the differences, or I’ve got to find a way to remap some things. But that’s really just how software tends to be.
But, to go PassFail with it, I’d call it good. And, if I play with it enough, I’ll probably be good too.
Until then, I’m still doing stickfigures. Like this:
Not only are we evidently living in a simulation: it apparently operates on a random access array.
Sunday 6th February 2022 19.21Published by Gremlin
Hey, look: I got back here within a couple weeks this time.
So, until just about exactly now, it’s been absurdly warm around here. Here being Denver. Where the mountains are. With snow on them. But, until just about exactly now, it’s been sixty-odd degrees every day since sometime in October.
Until just about exactly now. It just finally started getting cold around here, and snowy, and a good time to stay inside.
So we went shopping online.
It wasn’t as impulsive as it sounds. It was a little; but it’s not like we suddenly heard that eBikes were a thing, and grabbed the first one we saw in the wild. In fact, we suddenly heard they existed about five years ago, down at Southlands Mall, when a new store opened up with these bikes for five thousand bucks operating on a principle similar to a couple ZBoards I already had in the house.
But, because we were just hearing about the things for the first time, we didn’t leap into throwing five thousand bucks at one. Or ten thousand, in the event that we might have grabbed two of them.
We’d probably have grabbed two of them. Two ZBoards, so we can each ride one around at the same time. More recently, we got a couple OneWheels for the same reason. Always two there are, or whatever.
But we didn’t leap into buying anything, five years ago. We did however leap into testdriving the things. One thing. And really only Hunter. Mostly because I didn’t care all that much right then; also because I wasn’t gonna get into all the paperwork and helmetwearing they required before I could roll a bicycle around in the OfficeMax lot for a minute.
But Hunter gave it a try, with a borrowed helmet; and she liked it.
Then we chatted about how totally we’d think about it overnight and likely come back in the morning. And then we didn’t go back in the morning.
But that’s okay. It didn’t seem like a significant priority right then.
So, five years later, we’ve been rolling around on the OneWheels. A little less, just about exactly now, when there’s anything from six inches of snow to six inches of pavement between instances of shadowsnow—that thing where it’s fifty-odd degress in a city lacking oxygen, so any snow protected from direct sunlight by the shade of a fence is frictionless ice until it isn’t. And ice appearing under a single cheaterslick on a board requiring balance in four directions is upsetting.
So we’ve been doing less of that sort of thing, however unfortunately.
Which loosely reminded me, about a week ago, that motorised bikes were a thing. Once. Which led to wondering whether they still were. Which led to Hunter somewhat eagerly telling me they still exist, and cost less, and weigh less, and go faster, and she’d show me a website, and there’s a screenshot up there somewhere.
So, we contemplated that for a minute or two; then she EMailed the people behind the website, just to ask if they happened to do anything for disabled vets; then she called the people behind the website because disabled vets need to do orders over the phone to get things matched correctly to an EMailed JPEG of a DD214.
Pick a card; agree to authorise; done.
The disabled vet thing was a bit negligible: instead of $999, the thing was $949; with salestax, it was back up around the listed price. That being the $999. So far as I can tell, watching videos of people talking about these things, it’s always $999; the crossed out $1099 thing is something of a scam. it’s like when fridgepacks are officially $5.99, but they’re actually never more than four for twelve bucks or whatever.
Since she was buying this thing over the phone, she was able to ask silly questions—like Now What.
And the answer was that they’d likely get the thing in the mail, as it were, within a couple weeks; and then it’d probably be in the mail for another week or two; and then we’d need to be here to sign for it, because it’s heavy and it costs a bit. And that was okay, because just about exactly now there’s all this snow on the ground.
So that was that. Until, the next day, Hunter mentioned that she already had something of a tracking number. So: okay.
The day after that, it was awaiting pickup by FedEx.
So that’s bad news. Because FedEx are useless morons. They just are. I’ll probably be able to prove it, over the next week or so.
So, whenever FedEx get around to dropping by to pick the thing up, it’ll be in transit. Okay.
Another day, and they picked the thing up. Now the waiting begins.
Another day, and it’ll be here tomorrow.
Tomorrow, and it’ll be the next day, because there’s a Shipping Exception.
So, another day, and the thing we’ve got to be here to sign for gets delivered.
That’s seriously it. Some lump with ShipEx yanked this dilapidated box outta the ShipEx Truck, scooted it up the driveway, squished it into a hedge twenty feet from the front door, and ran away. Because ShipEx are useless morons.
The Elusive ShipEx Moron
Whatever. It’s Special Education Express. It’s what happens when people fall for using them to deliver things.
I limped out to grab seventy-odd pounds of battered cardboard and whatever might still exist inside, and carried it in here. Then I dumped it on the floor next to the BoFlex thing I also recently whimsically grabbed because just about exactly now there’s snow out there.
The box isn’t even open yet, and El the Feral KittyMonster is already scoping new real estate.
As for opening the box: we did that; but, by that point, I’d swapped my smartphone for the GoPro Hero10 thing I bought recently…on a whim.
I buy things on whims a lot, really.
And that’s pretty much the story. Bought an eBike, nearly on a whim; expected it to show up around the end of the month, until it was gonna show up on Saturday, until it showed up today, once I bothered to go out and grab the thing that never actually got delivered. The usual, I suppose.
The good news is that no one hates the thing. Hunter likes it well enough: it’s a bike, which she kinda wanted; it’s motorised, which is neat. She’s not sure about my hasty storage solution—just kinda folding it up and stashing it near the BoFlex until she wants me to pick up sixty-four pounds of metal and carry it out the door for her. Or maybe for me: I might occasionally hop on the thing to ride around a little. Once it’s warmer than it is just about exactly now.
I’m not sure what I didn’t get covered in the video itself, if anything. It’s a relatively heavy bike, of course; but that’s not really news, to me: my first bike was this massive 1961 Schwinn thing with three speeds and a gravitational field, and I was shorter then. It seems pretty tight for something that folds up; it’s not as marginally rickety as a RazorScooter, for example. Again: the brakes as they came preinstalled are a bit spongey; but that’s easy enough to fix whenever I get around to it.
And the thing where it just takes off, rolling its way from zero up to twenty at the speed of eight hundred and fifty watts of whatever that translates to through horsepower and torque and iciness: that’s kinda neat. It can carry 330lbs, presumably in addition to itself; so it might be a simple means of rolling up to the supermarket and filling up a backpack with fridgepacks of soda which don’t really cost $5.99 each.
I’m probably supposed to settle on whether I’d recommend it. And I don’t exactly know. I don’t regret getting the thing, whimsically or otherwise; but…it’s a bike. And there are so many factors in matching bikes to people that I’m not really sure where things meet up. It probably is a little small for me, at five and a half feet long and four feet tall. But I’m used to that. I think the last bike I got that seemed exactly big enough for me was this Fuji 12Speed I got in 1982. For, incidentally, a couple hundred more than this Lectric thing cost. Three and a half times as much, in adjusted dollars.
Which is probably another topic to address: it’s a thousand bucks. To my thinking, it’s probably worth that. Like, if I wanted to ride this thing instead of driving a car, it’d probably pay for itself in…whatever fuel costs these days. Four bucks a gallon? Divided by driving in the city? Call it twenty-five cents a mile, if you’re careful with the accelerator. Four thousand miles riding around on something that can carry you and pretty much whatever you could carry out the door without tipping over. For something that can roll that much weight up a hill without your help, four thousand miles could happen in less than a year. Probably. At a guess.
I think it’s okay. But I spent twice as much on a OneWheelXR a few weeks before FutureMotion announced the forthcoming GT. So it might be okay in a relatively whimsical way.
Meh. it’s okay.
Have a webcomic:
‘Denver is Mountain Time, right? Because we’re driving to Billings in the summer, if you want to meet us there.’
Tuesday 25th January 2022 16.24Published by Gremlin
As something of a warning, I haven’t really got a lot to mention at the moment. Except that I happened to notice what day it is, despite time having no meaning under the best of circumstances and also there’s this pandemic.
It’s January the Twenty-fifth.
And that means that, ignoring the coding I’d started doing three weeks earlier, and changes to the domain a few months later, it was twenty-five years ago today that I pulled the proverbial trigger and went live with this site.
I remember, back then, when this was all farmland, as far as the eye could see….
Actually, that’s not even much of a joke. At the time, I was living on the other side of town—really pretty much downtown, in a house I wasn’t thrilled with just south of Colfax. It was walking distance from everything Denver really has to offer: tall buildings and some diners and getting mugged and Union Station and I wasn’t real impressed. Especially given what rent cost. At the time. Which was then. I think it’s more now.
I’ve since moved out into the suburbs here, which were in 1997 at the edge of town and a few metres from actual meadows and things, into a better house, where the only thing preventing me from OneWheeling around out there in the middle of the night is the six inches of snow we’ve got thus far today.
That just looks unreasonable.
Otherwise, it’s fine.
And of course the site’s bigger now, too. I don’t have any screenshots or anything of how it looked back in 1997—at least, not where I can really get to them right now. Back then, I was mostly uploading things from an Amiga4060T; I’ve still got the thing, but it’s kinda not working. Apparently, RAM can get flaky after about thirty years. Literally flaky. Like, bits of metallic coating flaking off. I can fix it; i just haven’t. And therefore whatever remains of the site as it was back then is trapped on JAZ Discs formatted for a computer that was extinct by five years even at the time.
I also uploaded things through a PCMCIA Card from any of a handful of palmtops—which, now that I’ve written that, would be one palmtop per handful. But I used those to go mobile with things in the Nineties, since laptops had the batterylife back then of…laptops now. I recently got a new laptop with an RTX3060 in it; it’s a laptop because it closes up when it’s off—otherwise, it’s got the longevity of a Buffalo Bills lead.
You tell me this now….
But that’s okay: there’s a pandemic. Also, I’m making up for the 15″ screen with a connected 24″ screentablet thing that doesn’t really fit in a backpack. I gave the whole setup a coffeetable to live on.
And…that’s twenty-five years, apparently. Twenty-five years of awaiting that first Star Wars Special Edition and ignoring The Book of Boba Fett because I don’t wanna hear from Disney that, somehow, he returned. Twenty-five years of five different presidents competing for Largest Global Joke. That sorta thing.
And some other stuff. I wrote a book in November. If memory serves. I actually haven’t even opened the file since then; I’ll look at it sometime and decide if I’m okay with releasing it. I might be.
Then there’s this other thing I’m looking into.
Specifically, at the moment, I’m looking into a couple types of software. One’s Blender3.0, since LightWave has reportedly become abandonware [amusingly, the Cinema4D thing I happened to be using for a minute, twenty-five years ago, has gone more industrystandard than that stupid 3DStudio thing you only hear about from people who were forced to buy it at FullSail.edu or whatever]; the other’s Unreal5.0, which is leaving Early Access sometime between now and whenever the sun explodes.
I’m looking into them because I’ve got a project in mind. I just need to be sure that I’m comfy with the digital tools the project relies on. Otherwise, I’ve been thinking about this for a while.
But we’ll get to that. Probably. It’s not impossible that I’ll sorta forget about it for a few decades; that’s happened before. But, as of now, I really kinda wanna do it. And there’s not even any laws against it. Probably. To date.
Might do it anyway….
In yet other news…there really mostly isn’t any. I’ve been fairly busy with a lot of stupid, disinteresting, irrelevant things for the last six or eight months; I’m still a little busy with a couple of them, but only inasmuch as I’m waiting for the results of my busy-ness to lead to everything being over with. It all might even wrap up about the time Unreal5 comes out once and for all and everything becomes easier. I’ve got pretty much everything else I need for this thing.
So, yeah: twenty-five years. Presumably the first twenty-five. Why not. It’s not like I’ve got a reason to stop, or anything. Probably. To date.
Anyway: I’ll probably disappear again for a bit; then I might come back in here more often, as I always suppose. I guess we’ll see how it all works out.
Have a webcomic:
Amusingly, my house actually has jumped up by about 250% since I bought in in 2004—largely because someone decriminalised weed here in Denver about a decade ago.
Tuesday 23rd November 2021 14.45Published by Gremlin
I know: I’ve been away again. No huge reason for it, except that I’ve been really busy this year. Well…not really busy—I’ve probably been less active than the average tollbooth worker operating part time. But I’ve had a lot going on, and little of it was adding anything to this site.
Then, today, something happened. And we need to talk about it. Because it’s bad.
This is a film of, by, and for morons.
The sort of imbeciles who make films like this assure me that a picture is worth a thousand words. So let’s write a novel….
I don’t know anything about this film, except that it’s of, by, and for morons. So everything I can determine from that trailer is derived from chyrons and from knowing more about the Mesozoic than the morons who made this thing.
On which topic….
From the morons who brought you Jurassic Ana to the Infinite Power in 2018.
Let’s get past the logo, and—
It’s worth noting that this all occurs on the Mesozoic Tryhard Continent—because it didn’t happen anywhere that ever actually existed.
Now that the logos are actually outta the way, we open on…this:
I’m not sure which mountain range is partially blocking the rising sun, but the camera is west of it.
We’re a few seconds into this thing, and I’m already suspecting that the mountains are meant to be the Rockies, as seen from, like, Las Vegas. I kept an eye on the sun: it’s absolutely rising in this shot; and it’s on the other side of what’s probably not meant to be the damned Ozarks.
It’s worth talking about this because—pretending for the sake of simplicity that this is happening in the Maastrichtian Age—the Rockies were a little less mountainous back then. They really didn’t exist at any altitude until the completion of the Laramide Orogeny, around fifty-five million years ago. So I’m not sure what the message is here; I just imagine that it contains the word morons.
It’s funny because the titanosaur is sinking upwards of a metre into the mud; in fact, it should be sinking ten times that far.
This is where I begin to get confused again. Unless we focus on the word morons—then I’m just slightly annoyed that these people are getting paid for something. Because we shouldn’t be seeing titanosaurs in the Greater Las Vegas Metro Area. The farthest north into the continent that I can think of a titanosaur ever wandering would suggest that we’re looking at Alamosaurus sanjuanensis—which, as the name might suggest, occupied the space between the Alamo and Puerto Rico.
They might be Argentinian Dreadnoughtus schrani, since they’re suicidally dreadnautical.
Say the line….
‘This thing doesn’t live in a swamp!’
[mocking laughter ensues]
Then we move over to see a flock of azhdarchids near what I’m convinced is the same little rock that’s a few metres south of the house I built in ARK: Survival Evolved. Last I looked at it, there was a cybernetic hadrosaur living on it. Because ARK.
Is it furry? Should an azhdarchid be furry?
But let’s move on through the Continent of Morons until we find something I could point out on a map: Ankylosaurus magniventris….
I could walk to a place these have been found; they spanned from here in Denver up into Alberta.
And then we see a few more pterosaurs flying over what I almost hope the morons are pretending is the early aeons of the Grand Canyon.
According to Scorched Earth, there are dragons living in a chasm just over that hill.
Having established that we’re sorta generally in the Canadian Puerto Rican area of Las Vegas, let’s go look at Outer Mongolia….
Oviraptor philoceratops, which died out five million years before the end of the Cretaceous, and stuck largely to the other side of the planet.
Why in all of hell are we looking at an oviraptor? I mean…okay: it could be a caenagnathid; and, if we want it to be in the Canadian suburbs of Puerto Rico at the end of the Maastrichtian, we could imagine that it’s an Anzu wyliei. But then it eats an egg:
This seems vaguely racist.
A.wyliei were what we palaeontologists call Very, Very Small. Upwards of five feet in height. About the size of Ben Shapiro. So, here’s the problem: we’re in PuertoRicanada, and looking at some pretty tiny eggs. Which are in a cave. Which, unless that’s a really small A.wyliei, isn’t cannibalism: that animal didn’t produce those things. I’d like to try to narrow down what did, but PuertoRicanada’s a big place.
Oh, you bothersome morons….
So, at an educated guess, that’s an Avaceratops lammersi. Which is awesome, because you nailed its geography. It totally lived in the Judith River Formation. It just did it about a dozen million years ago.
You can’t have A.wyliei and A.lammersi coexisting. It’s like having Taylor Swift meet an Anoiapithecus brevirostris.
That face you make when she writes a song complaining about you.
And then we wander off to the whole point of this idiocy, which is this:
I…dunno. It’s a hatchling. I think. It might be an infant rex, but its head is smaller than I’d expect at that age. It looks really tyrannosauroid though. I’d almost think it looks like an adolescent Dryptosaurus aquilunguis that’s in town, having swum across the inland sea from New Jersey. But what the hell ever: it’s probably a tarbosaur, here in PuertoRicanasia.
EDIT: It’s reportedly a Moros intrepidus, like you’d see in Cenomanian Utah.
Generic Hadrosaur #3; it might get paid scale, or it might get paid scute.
Some idea. It’s an ornithischian; I think it’s an ornithopod; it’s probably a hadrosaur. Given this region of PuertoRicanasia, I’d think maybe Edmontosaurus annectens. Or it might be a hypsolophodont—I dunno.
Oh what the entire hell….
Okay: no. I’ve thought about it, and I’m saying No. You can’t—that’s not—it’s—what is wrong with you stupid, stupid people….
So, what we’re seeing here is, somewhat doubtlessly, a carcharodontosaurid. Probably not actually Carcharodontosaurus saharicus [guess which continent that’s from]; my first hunch would be Concavenator corcovatus, which it’ll look more like in a minute. But, ignoring all known science and instead imagining what morons would do, I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that it’s a Giganotosaurus carolinii and some major artistic licence.
The problem with that is that C.corcovatus lived and died in Barremian Spain and G.carolinii was Patagonian—it was found in Cenomanian Argentina.
Neither of these animals should be stomping around the Maastrichtian anywhere near this thing:
Manospondylus gigas—Cope, 1892
Hang on. Moderately stunned. Its hands aren’t all pronated. I need to know who slapped whom to get this on film.
So, the presence of a T.rex narrows things down significantly. Because it coexisted in timespace with A.magniventris and E.annectens. So this is in fact the Maastrichtian, and it should be—yeah: right around here. Denver. Maybe Wyoming. Possibly Montana. Potentially Alberta. But somewhere just north of my driveway, within a thousand miles.
Which is nowhere near any known carcharodontosaurid. Which is a problem, because that’s the skull of a carcharodontosaurid:
‘I’m heading to Spain; I need about tree fiddy.’
But, this is a film of, by, and for morons, which hasn’t had an original idea since 1993.
The people making these things have a perverted obsession with tyrannosaurid neckmeat.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that no carcharodontosaurid could ever kill a T.rex. But only because the carcharodontosaurid in question would be thirty million years old and less than spry at that age. Otherwise, if you could moron the two things together, I don’t doubt that the tyrannosaur would be exterminated. Carcharodontosaurs were immense. Potentially fifteen metres long and possibly fifteen tonnes. Based on looking at tyrannosaurs, they’re down around twelve metres in length; and, based on cross sections of their femurs, I’d be impressed if one got over maybe seventy-five hundred pounds.
I’m in the minority there: most palaeontologists will assure you that T.rex was seven tonnes, because it sounds neat; I’d tell you that it’s about three, and everyone’s drawing the thing way too robust.
Anyway: tyrannosaurid neckmeat happens, and we’re about done with the Barremimainastrichtian Entire Damned Cretaceous.
What has been seen cannot be unseen….
Except: a bug’s gotta land on a dead thing and try to suck blood out of it:
Your server is supposed to hand you the tyrannosaur upsidedown to illustrate that it doesn’t drip.
One of the myriad problems known to exist in Jurassic Park is that no one ever finds a mosquito from the Mezozoic. There’s a whole thing where the motel clerk from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles rafts ashore in what I think is exactly the suit I have in black—six on one thing; a couple thousand bucks back then. And he’s talking to the…guy. Call it Resetti; it might as well be. The problem is that the amber the guy’s mining for, in the area he’s mining for it in, is deeply Cenozoic. Or, really, shallowly Cenozoic. Go clone a mastodon.
The whole conceit of Diet Resident Evil here is that InGen are cloning these things, albeit with sequence gaps filled in by Rana DNA, from amber containing mosquitoes of the Mesozoic. And it’s just not really a thing. The first instance of blood in a mosquito in amber on record happened this century, two decades after the first in a series of stupid films was released:
In this house, we acknowledge science; because there’s no need for belief when you can just look things up.
And then we see what’s absolutely a carcharodontosaur that went extinct in the Lower Cretaceous walk away, being all concavenatorish.
‘I’m gonna go make Fantasia less scientifically accurate….’
And we dissolve into…uh….
The fossil record shows that the helicopter first appeared a hundred and thirty million years after the damned Barremian.
Now we’re either in Modern Day; or finally to the end of the Maastrichtian; or possibly to the early Nineties.
It’s like Mister DNA, but with more factual information
I have no idea what time it is. There’s a 1969 El Camino and a 1996 TransAm. All I can be sure of is that this is after we abandoned the Stanley Steamer.
There might be a Pontiac Aztek; but we’ve decided as a group that the Aztek never existed.
Oh. Nevermind. It’s Modern Day:
The small barrel of popcorn.
So, enter Scarface:
Wait: is that thing fuzzy? It looks fuzzy to me.
I don’t get why it’s fuzzy. I mean: I get why it would be fuzzy, like the one in the Maastrichtian was; but I don’t get why this one is fuzzy:
You cloned a tyrannosaur that once fought a Barremian Carcharodontosaur; then the clone fought Aptian Dromaeosaurs. And you’re surprised that it’s cranky?
Now it’s less fuzzy, but it’s still got the scars:
There’s two of these things. This one hasn’t cut off one of its fingers to fool Hugh Jackman yet.
Okay, so…it might be roughly current year…I guess:
Who the hell runs American Graffiti with Flash Gordon? Like, next week they get Jaws and Terms of Endearment….
And, Intermittently Fluffy Scarface wanders off into the night….
‘A rampaging TeeRex!!!1 Drive toward it!!!1′
And we close on whichever Holiday Event has this moon in ARK:
National Moron Week. You can survive by eating rocks.
And…what might be a threat:
The mocking may be livestreamed….
And that’s Jurassic Something: Dismal Moron Whatever. To date. PlusMinus whatever the hell just happened, and probably some more inane dialogue like You can’t just suppress sixty-five million years of gut instinct.
Okay. Here’s the thing about all this….
Jurassic Park came out in 1993. It was…bad. Like, the effects were groundbreaking; but that could be said of TRON. Beyond the visuals—some of which were a smidge sketch—there was…nothing. Nothing good, anyway. Yeah: most people who saw it back then were kids, because that’s who it was made for; but look at it again now, magically understanding that you were wrong back then. It’s terrible. There’s this whole stupid nadaplot about the ceratopians not eating berries that just…why. I don’t care that the novel showed that they were tranquing themselves, foraging for gastroliths; I care that the film burned too many minutes dismissing all that, yet keeping the pointless setup. Imagine a film having someone announce that he was gonna make spaghetti; cut to a stove; a guy saunters in and mumbles that that is one big pan of water to I guess the fourth wall; then the other guy stands up from looking in the cupboard and mentions that, in fact, he doesn’t own any spaghetti. Well, that’s fine: let’s spielberg off to the next scene, unaccountably leaving the spaghetti culdesac in the final print. No one would ever do that. Because no one would ever care.
The whole film is Admiral Holdo bumbling around being Best Victim Evar, blathering about defensive plants which really aren’t the immediate issue. She’s like someone who classes up into a cocktail party and beleaguers everyone with tales of getting to drive the garbagetruck. She’s only there because the Best Palaeontologist on the Planet was in proximity to her after accusing velociraptors of living in Montana and learning how to fly; then a guy dressed as the lunchlady has to offer her a ticket to outside opinionate on something even more exciting than a petting zoo.
She didn’t return for the first sequel; she got replaced by Jodie Foster’s replacement so Goldblum could wax snarky in the regrettable absence of a laughtrack for a couple hours while Toby Ziegler makes mactivistic excuses for all his technology sucking. The best thing I can say about The Lost World is that I can’t figure out who Williams plagiarised for the score, so it wasn’t very good.
Jurassic Park III launches the tradition of just appending a number onto the end of an abandoned waste of celluloid—albeit the classy Roman Numeral version which…I honestly can’t remember if they pulled the animated slashy thing from ElmStreet Whichever, or just made it all rippy so you’d remember it that way. Anyway: there’s a rearprojection parasail and the guy who falls down the stairs in the remake of Psycho. And a spinosaur. Sorta.
This might be the latest version; it expires at midnight.
Then we give up for a decade and a half, until we get StarLord and a chick who’d be attractive if you didn’t know she contained Clint Howard DNA.
Science says your kids will look like this.
Oh. And an I.rex. Whatever that was. Imbecilic rex, I think. A theropod which ‘is part raptor’—not unlike an owl.
But mercifully invisible.
Followed by Jurassic Ana to the Infinite Power, about a cloned kid who presses a button and laserpointers telling a carcharadromabelisuchothingy to eat people you’re aiming a gun at.
And now we’ve got Jurassic Park: He Turns Himself into a Pickle, because filming a Hallmark Card would outsmart the demographic. It’s of, by, and for morons.
And that’s what I know. That’s what I can divine from the information I’ve been handed. A globetrotting trailer DoctorWhoing around to different geological ages, possibly all within the Cretaceous, because CG Artists are now cheaper than Writers.
I doubt it’ll make more than a couple billion dollars in China, once the dialogue is replaced with whatever motivates those people.
Have a webcomic:
I got a new trackball today and it’s really stiff, if you wanna try to keep some of your blood inside your skin for a couple extra minutes.
So, I took another six months off from adding anything to this site. However ironically, I’ve been a little busier than usual around here, despite a pandemic and soft quarantines and whatever else gets in the way for most people; for me, everything’s about the same as it was a year ago, or a decade, or slightly over twenty-four years ago when I started this site up in the first place.
Basically, I’m mostly sitting here playing videogames, and occasionally getting paid for stuff I already did.
I coulda written that sentence back in 1997, too. Though the games were smaller and slower, and I suppose I had fewer largely overlooked income streams back then. Also, I updated the site more often; back then, it was what ultimately evolved into social media: chatrooms and messageboards and technically a guestbook; a hitcounter making no distinction between Likes and Dislikes; more animgifs and less fullmotion videos; Princess Di dying instead of Prince Philip; that sort of stuff.
And I’m not just playing videogames this year: I’m also posting things to other sites and whatever. I don’t not exist; I just haven’t really been existing here.
I considered existing here more often, about a year ago. I saw someone around February last year writing up this thing from Italy, where the quarantine had already locked everything down, begging everyone else in the world to start keeping track of daily life—like, for posterity. It kinda sounded like a neat idea; it mostly sounded like selfimpressive pablum. I’m not some indispensable frontline multinational reporter getting the news out to the masses; I’ve never even lost a plane. So, to some extent, I wound up doing the opposite of that: reacting to the nigh global shutdown by writing into this site even less than before.
I suppose part of the problem is that this was never a place for microblogging. And damned near everything I’d have to talk about, regardless whether it’s worth actually writing down anywhere, would fit into a tweet. Or a webcomic. So, at the least, I’ve done another five hundred of those since this whole mess began. But…leaping into the backend of my flagship site to bang out some daily diatribe? Selfimpressive pablum. I just don’t need the attention that badly.
So. Let’s catch up, I guess. See if I can think of anything I’ve actually done in the last seven months or whatever.
Kinda went shopping. Which is actually oddly funny. In the last entry, I mentioned that I’d grabbed a Pixel4A after seeing an advert for it—despite being GenerationX and therefore basically immune to advertising. But I really kinda desperately needed pretty much any new phone, and that one looked okay. Also it looked cheap enough that, if it wasn’t okay, I’d be okay. And, if you’re curious: it’s okay; I’ve had it for six and a half months now, and nothing about it is causing me to think that need another new phone again yet.
Now it’s this year, and I got an advert I damned near ignored because it was trying to advertise something at me:
Relevant to my interests.
So, that happened.
I’m not quite sure how it happened. Apart from being immune to advertising, I’m usually immune to getting targetted adverts. I guess maybe I mentioned pianos at some point somewhere in social media. Or my microphone heard me playing something and told on me. Whatever.
It happened to show up at about the right time. Because, though I’ve got fifteen or twenty keyboards here, ranging from Yamaha to Alesis to Korg to Ensoniq to Casio, and from Pointless Toy [I still have the Casio SK1 I got for a hundred bucks in 1985] to Prosumer Instrument, none of them is quite…good. Anymore. Each has a different purpose, I suppose; but I could argue that the Yamaha DGX505 I’ve had for sixteen years now was probably the most immediately useful.
A shot from 2006, when my office was less messy.
And it’s was because, just lately, the keys have been getting sketchy. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve banged on them unreasonably forcefully every day since 2005, or because, when I’m not banging on them unreasonably forcefully, I’m letting them get dusty because the thing hasn’t got a cover. Or the cats jump on it a lot. Whatever.
I assume I can fix it. I took it apart to see what I was up against, and it all looks pretty obvious; I probably just need to take yet more of it apart and clean off whatever little connectors are in there and getting lazy beneath the dust.
Until or unless I can fix it, I’m kinda lacking in pianos operating the way I might expect. The rest are either less than eighty-eight keys, or they sound wrong.
So now there’s this Casio for $549 [about six, once taxes get yarfed all over it], which I went ahead and grabbed…eventually.
First, being against advertising, I didn’t wanna get it from the people bothering me with an advert. Call it spite. Or even just not knowing anything about them.
Second, I had this clever plan of hitting Guitar Center, despite not much liking them. It’s not personal; it’s just that everyone I know has grown to hate them over the years, for what’s probably some sorta good reason. But I figured that, pandemics notwithstanding, I could probably go in and play with one of these things—just to see what I thought of it.
So, that didn’t work. Because Guitar Center haven’t got any actually in stock, let alone on the floor to play with; you can only get them through their website. Because, apparently, everyone I know is right to hate them.
I could get one through their website. And, since they’ve got whatever Disabled Veteran Discount, and I’ve got Hunter, I could probably dodge the salestax and get back down to about $550.
Except that the process of proving DisabledVeteranhood to these people isn’t worth saving fifty-five bucks. So I ultimately just hit amazon.com.
Customer since 1998, because I made it fifteen years before I bought anything on the internet.
Then I had a few days of downtime while it wasn’t all AmazonPrimal; then it showed up. And then the punchline: it was mailed out from Sweetwater. Whatever that is. Apart from the people advertising the thing in the first place:
Well, played, Anonymous Spammers….
But, whatever: I’ve got that now, all unboxed.
About that: I actually considered unboxing the thing on video, to about the extent that I considered blathering throughout a pandemic. What got in the way mostly is that I wasn’t joking: that image from 2006 up there was about as unmessy as my office has ever been.
Because one thing that this pandemic has kindasorta led to has been Hunter pretty much living with me here in this room. Which is okay, all things being equal. Except that it’s not all that equal: she’s got her laptop in here, mostly as a CPU connected to a normal keyboard and one of my thirty-two-inch screens; then the microphone’s between us and we LAN a few games every once in a while. But the result is that my office, which is a little chaotic when it’s just me, now has an extra chair and every damned thing she just kinda piles onto the floor when she’s done touching it. Also a Yamaha DGX505 kinda leaning against a wall, so I can eventually drop a Casio S350 in its place, once there’s anything resembling enough room to carry it in here.
Which brings us to the Casio, which I didn’t record unboxing. Though I could probably just link to someone else talking about it:
This is about what I thought of it, too.
Just to add to that video [or to give you something of a tl;dr]: it’s not an expensive keyboard, being under a thousand bucks; but it kinda feels like it could be. I assume the keys are as plastic as any Casio has, but they’re textured and coated in a way that makes them feel more real. Not quite ivory—the piano I had as a kid was…illegal is a strong word, but it was certainly irreplaceable. It was made of elephants, is what I’m saying. But, like, earlier. The thing was an antique by the time I first touched it, keys yellowing and cracking slightly. Middle C had a small chip on the front edge, resembling a C; the E above it had two, which looked like an E. I think that actually helped me learn things faster than I might have on more modern an instrument.
Otherwise, it was a basic, irreplaceable, priceless grand piano. Dad had someone come out and tune the thing for several hours at a time, every couple months. Which always annoyed me, since it actually sounded a little better just as it drooped down by a couple of hertz—kinda more imposing and…echoey.
Of course, that piano was something of a…you know…piano. So, if Dad was playing the thing, I could hear it from the other side of the front yard. I assume that, if I was playing it, you could hear it from Madagascar.
Being not an attentionwhore, I’m not thrilled when people can hear me playing anything.
So, the SK1, for example, allowing for headphones [those spongey things that weren’t good, back in 1985], I was kinda happier with that little toy than I was with this nineteenth-century illegality echoing from the parlour to the eastern coast of Africa.
Then there were other and better keyboards, and the DGX505 that was good until it became sketchy in the last few months, and now there’s this Casio.
It’s basically a toy. Meaning that it’s got a dozen different pianos sampled into it, and then harpsichords and violins and drumkits and cars honking and whatever Casio always include in one of these things; Ferris Bueller could use it to call in sick. But, inasmuch as it’s a toy, it’s really close to what I’m used to, even now. The keys are weighted, which isn’t uncommon anymore; but they’re weighted gradually, making the lower ones feel heavier, down where the makebelieve strings would be thicker. The first thing I noticed was that I’m actually a little out of practise on real grand pianos, because the first couple octaves requiring more force was a bit unexpected.
Apparently as a result of playing whatever piano I had at my disposal since I was two years old, I’ve got perfect pitch. So, if anyone’s wondering whether the S350 happens to be about right, being a computer in the shape of a keyboard: it’s fine. Though, freakily enough, I’ve got the option to pitchbend the thing by something like two octaves. I haven’t done that yet, because it sounds kinda terrifying. But, if you’re tonedeaf or have relative pitch or whatever allows you to tolerate that, I suppose you could shift whatever scale down to, like, Geographical C and avoid the black keys. It just wouldn’t work for me: if the thing’s off by a couple of hertz, I’ll notice; if it’s off by dozens, that’s gonna be painful.
It’s got a couple more standard things. Metronome at the thump of a button. The ability to lighten the keys from Normal to Lighter, and to Off; there’s even a Heavier mode, in case having to smash the lowest octave with a running start wasn’t resistant enough for me. MIDI and whatever.
And then there’s USB, updating the DGX505’s ultramodern CompactFlash Reader, which itself had just replaced the DGX500’s Floppy Diskette Reader in 2005. So, I think I might be able to record whatever I’m playing to a thumbdrive; I haven’t tried that yet, despite having had one in my pocket when I didn’t think to find out.
Then, also, the thing’ll USB to a smartphone, allowing you to control it from a touchscreen. Which might be good, since the DGX505’s keypad is missing from the S350: there’s just this knob you can twist to climb up through the pianos and into the trumpets and whatever. There’s a button you can hit to get quickly up into banks of things before twisting through however many types of bagpipes the thing’s got in there, but it’s not quite the same as just hitting Voice and tapping in 147 for the precise thing you’re after.
Honestly, at most, I’ve just been dialling up a couple spots to the Grand Piano or maybe one of the Octave Pianos from Stage Piano, to add a bit of weight to the thing; the rest of the seven hundred different instruments are largely needless, for my purposes.
There’s two different honkytonks, in case I want to hate myself.
On the topic of weight: there isn’t much. The whole thing’s twenty-four pounds. Or, in local terms, about one Morti the Cat. If I were a couple metres taller, I could mallgrab the thing and carry it around with me; there’s no problem at all clutching it amidships and onehanding it anywhere I’d want to go. Except for into my office. Which is messy.
The biggest issue of overall mass was in unboxing it, which I didn’t film. Because they’ve got packing these things down to a science begging for a Nobel at this point: in a shipping box full of bubblewrap and a box splitting molecules to secure the thing in styrofoam [with little hollows for the cords and musicstand and whatever] and a strip of ?plastic up against the keys to prevent less than eighty-eight of them from being depressed until it was removed. The thing doesn’t seem especially fragile once it’s out of the box and sitting on the bed where I started playing with it; packed up, it could probably be dropshipped from orbit without a parachute.
Instead, they forced the FedEx Guy to ring the bell and get a signature from Hunter. Usually, that guy just lobs things toward the house as though I wasn’t recording him being a useless lump.
Smile: you suck at your job.
As far as dust getting into the thing, that might be less of an issue: it’s actually got that furry felt bit at the back of the keyboard I haven’t seen on a digital piano before. I still might wanna cover the whole thing up when I’m not playing it, now that I know that’s a good idea.
And…that’s about what I know about it, so far. I’ll eventually get it here into the office—possibly amidst enough room to sit down and play something on it. And I might try to make more of a habit of coming in here and writing something. Or uploading a video of the thing. Or whatever.
For now, though: have a webcomic:
The rock only weighs a couple of pounds; it’s still really boring.
Monday 28th September 2020 03.23Published by Gremlin
So, I’m gonna do a couple of reviews here today—one planned for a while, and the other somewhat literally thrust upon me. And they’re not entirely unrelated, I suppose: one kinda led to the other, after a fashion.
Let’s start with the phone.
Or…let’s start earlier….
As a member of GenerationX, I’m pretty much immune to advertising. Like, adverts annoy me to the point that seeing one for something I already want can actually talk me out of wanting it anymore. I am in fact a little extreme within my generation: in 1987, I got talked into going to a Def Leppard concert by a buncha people who listened to the entirety of Hysteria in the car on the way there; by the time the damned show got started, I was ahead of my time in being sick of Joe Elliott. Advertising is a war of attrition, and I tend to win by ignoring the whole ideology.
Then, we plummet into Current Year. And, apart from everything arguably more important, a couple of things happened: my phone, which I’ve repaired and replaced and made concessions and excuses for since Twenty Somethingteen, became more and more irrevocably useless to me; and Alphagoogle, or whatever they’re called now, started spamming me from all corners of the ‘net with implorations beseeching me to buy the latest renamed Nexus6 smartphone. As what they thought was an incentive, they bragged that it was only three hundred and fifty bucks.
Still being a little uncommon within my generation, I don’t usually see cheap prices for things as more of a feature than a bug. If I want something [in defiance of any adverts begging me to stop doing that], then money is no object: if I can’t afford something I want, I can work out how to start affording it or stop wanting it; lowering the price to fix the problem seems sickeningly charitable to me.
And yet, here’s Goophabeta throwing all this manipulation at me about a new phone—the Pixel 4A—which is reportedly a newer, better, cheaper version of the Pixel 4, which was presumably a newer, better, pricier version of the Pixel 3, which probably followed a Pixel 2 that was newer than a Pixel, which—again—must have replaced the Nexus6 at some point.
All of which is to say that I didn’t really know anything about the history of this phone and its branded lineage. What I knew about it, now, early in September, was that it was basically a dollar a day for a year, ran on an octocore chipset, and pretty much necessarily worked better than my moribund LG MurderPhone.
And also that I could buy it today—today being about three weeks ago—and receive it in maybe the first week of October. Because the supply underperformed the demand, and there weren’t any actually available when I deigned to respond to a damned advert.
On that topic, I couldn’t just get one through TMobile; I couldn’t even get one by giving in and returning to Verizon. The only place I could get one at all [and this may still be true] was through DoNoEvil, Inc.
So I did. And then I waited.
A few days ago, they gave the thing to FedEx. Which, in my experience, means that they may have thrown it into an active volcano. But then, yesterdayish [Saturday, at this point], FedEx managed to get me my phone without forgetting to not eat it; and here we are.
Box is boxxy.
Doing anything really resembling an unboxing proved difficult, since the first shot I got of this thing was on my old phone; so was the second shot:
It was unbranded enough that it couldn’t even guess whether I really had a carrier.
And then I was done getting shots of the thing, because the new SIM I’d got in the mail a few days ago from TMobile replaced the one remaining in my LG and knocked the MurderPhone offline.
About the SIM: That’s about all you can add or remove in the 4A. There’s no expansion slot for a MicroSD Card; the battery is irreplaceable in any useful sense. It’s not really a waterproofed phone, so far as I know; but, once it’s up and running, it’s a solid monolith of borderline fixability.
Meaning that all fixability is internal. Software updates. Which became immediately available:
The update took about half an hour to download and install and optimise on TMobile’s relatively disappointing 4G.
Maybe not immediately. I’d had enough time in Android10 to get the battery mostly charged and poke around the interface enough to get used to a couple of things that were about to change. In Ten, the missing AppDrawer was effected by swiping up from the southern bevel; in Eleven, the whole process got moved to swiping up pretty much anywhere on the homescreen, which is better—especially once you’ve buried the phone in a kickstand case to protect the slightly rubbery polycarbonate shell.
The plastic shell and GorillaGlass3 from 2013 were one of the common arguments against this phone—or one of the reasons cited for its inexpense. The whole device is light enough to get people thinking that Googlygoogle Cardboard might start sounding viable after all. Officially, the whole phone weighs 143g—about five ounces. In the kickstand case I’ve sealed around it, it’s still under half a pound. So that’s pretty different than the MurderPhone I’m replacing, with its massive extended battery pushing its weight up to a pound and a half.
Which leads to another difference:
I’m losing one percent of the battery per hour, unless I use the phone for the next nineteen
At this point, it’s pretty much my fault that I’m spoiled. While the phone I’m abandoning weighs as much as a Motorola DynaTAC, I’m still used to it holding at a hundred percent for the first twelve hours or so; seeing the 4A lose one percent per hour seems like a freefall, to me. For anyone else, running the phone unplugged for a total of twenty-four hours would sound pretty reasonable; but, about the time I need to recharge it tonight at 9.15, I might already be tired enough to contemplate sitting in bed until dawn on Tuesday while the thing charges up again.
One problem I don’t have—or, do, but it’s not what I’d call a problem—is that the cheapness of this phone becomes most obvious if you hope to charge it wirelessly. Personally, I’ve got a couple cats who’ll soccerdribble a phone as far as the charging cable allows; they’d have the thing off the charging platfom and onto the floor within seconds of people looking away. So, for all anyone else might want wireless charging, I have no practical use for it.
Also useless to me is the fingerprint scanner on the back. Apparently, that’s a reversion from facial recognition at a time when people are usually wearing surgical masks out in the world. I want neither: if I have my phone locked up at all, I’m fine with tapping in a PIN to get beyond the lockscreen.
My lockscreen, with a shot of Hunter from ten years ago, when she was wearing a surgical mask for reasons
The lockscreen itself is a bit novel, in that it can be always on—there’s a sorta lowpower clock mode thing telling me what time it is, and temperature, and any recent alerts, before I turn the phone on to see the time and temperature and, really, whatever else is already on my smartwatch. But, if it doesn’t hurt the battery—freefalling or not—to have the information available at a buttonless glance, then I’m good with it.
The camera’s good, as phonecams go. Apparently, what money did go into a phone costing a week of working for minimum wage [that’s twelve bucks an hour, where I live] was to keep most of the elements from the cameras in earlier Pixels. So, out of the box, the camera’s decent; then there’s a NightSight cameramode which I haven’t really managed to test much yet. Rumour has it that it’s really good at getting stars at night; but I live in Denver, where we can see upwards of one star—named Sol—during the day if the western half of the state burning down isn’t producing too much smoke at the moment. I played with video a bit, mostly to test image stabilisation and colour saturation and whatever; otherwise, Hunter’s been getting random shots of the cats while the lights are off….
Hey, El: wanna go drag phones around all night…?’
‘No point, Morti: it’s not wireless charging.’
The cats’ll be okay: they keep dragging entire pillows out the bedroom door and into the corridor beyond.
By default—and I’ve left it this way for now—the 4A lacks any softkeys along the bottom of the screen. Instead, swiping up opens the AppTray; swiping sideways from the edges goes back, though the kickstand case gets in the way a little; swiping down exposes recent alerts and things like WiFi and the flashlight thingy. That sideswiping goes back from either side is good, since swiping right to left with the phone in my left hand only works some of the time. And the softkeys can be added back in if I want them; I just don’t care that much either way.
The one really weird thing about that is that, without the softkeys, there’s no way I’ve found to cascade whatever apps are currently running in the background, and then shut them down. If I’m concerned enough, I can track down individual apps and force them to stop; but, at this point, I have several dozen things opened but never officially closed, and it’s not hurting performance at all. So it’s not really a problem until it is.
Things I’ve got that I haven’t yet used include the physical headphone port, endangered species though that is. So, if I’ve got headphones that aren’t my wireless LG Tones, or I wanna patchcable the phone into the stereo in the car, or whatever, then I should be able to do that. So, whether it’s all a bug or a feature in a phone costing my Monthly Starbucks Budget, this thing has a few retro elements that I’d say should never have gone away.
In any case, I’ve been playing with this thing for a large percentage of thirty-six hours now. I’ve never killed the battery down as low as it was when I took the phone out of the box—sixtysomething percent, I think. The screen being close to six inches at 2.167:1 makes it a little smaller overall than I’m used to, meaning that it still fits in a pocket; and the selfie camera I don’t much want is drilled through the corner of the screen in a slightly distracting spot—though, since it’s significantly wider than 16:9, stuff streamed from netflix.com is a bit blackbarred already.
2.167:1 is somewhere between Jaws and Jurassic Park—which is itself a really good way of describing this whole phone.
And that’s pretty much the whole thing. It’s a phone that I don’t really regret buying, which replaced one I was regretting using; it’s got the advantage of costing too little to come prebloated with whatever branding and undeletable apps no one ever asked for—it doesn’t even remind me that TMobile is a thing in a startup animation. There’s no MicroSD to dump bloat onto, but it’s got 128gigs of space out of the box, and I was able to clone my MurderPhone over in a matter of minutes with a few dozen gigs of space to spare. The included USBC Cable is only a couple metres long, and getting more cables for this thing means making sure I dodge anything proprietised for Samsung or whatever; but it charges quickly and apparently lasts the entirety of a calendar day through common use.
Which brings me to my secondary review.
Because I got this phone. Got it all charged up and updated and full of little activities. I and LastPass and Chrome and whatever got through the thousand passwords to get into websites and games and whatever. And then I played with the phone until I got tiredish, at which point I kept playing with it. Until I finally passed out for an hour before waking up to go take a leak.
And then I came back and stepped up onto the waterbed as a shortcut; and the new sheets we just got slid perfectly out from under me, letting me fall what amounts to four and a half feet and smash my entire ribcage against the marginally padded wooden waterbed frame. There was some cracking. And, now, a dozen hours later, I’m still not doing too well at actually breathing without triggering an intercostal holocaust.
I’ll be okay. It should stop hurting fulltime by the end of the month; I can’t imagine it won’t be healed by Halloween. But here’s my strongly worded secondary review: Gravity Sucks.
Monday 21st September 2020 23.41Published by Gremlin
It just occurred to me that it’s been six months since I wrote anything into this site. Which may actually be the longest I’ve gone to date without adding anything.
The fact of the matter is that I haven’t really had a lot to mention lately. There’s still a pandemic; there’s still something of a quarantine; we’ve gone from the CDC arguing that people shouldn’t wear masks because nurses need them to warning that not wearing three masks and a scubatank makes the Baby Hitler cry, or whatever. Things are weird, and that’s all kinda entertaining; it’s just nothing much really to talk about, overall.
Saturday 21st March 2020 18.03Published by Gremlin
Lately, I’ve been seeing people recommend keeping some sort of historical account of…something. Presumably the events to date, though they usually imply that it’s only about the quarantine itself.
I’m not sure it’s really that simple. So, for my own part, I’m gonna call today Day Fifty-nine of the Pandemic.
The pandemic, if we’re imagining that this is for posterity, is this illdefined clump of loosely related, marginally linear events leading, so far, to today. So let’s cover the backstory first….
The backstory happens to begin about where the last entry to this site ended: the webcomic for the day happened to be called 2019-nCoV.
At the time, it was still a relatively unknown thing. Which is to say that, among normal people, there wasn’t all that much talk about it. It wasn’t precisely a secret, but…neither are most things few people bother knowing about.
It may be worth mentioning, just because all the people who never fell for Y2K also never did this, that it was generally being called the Wuhan Coronavirus at the time. It’s not precisely an inaccurate name for it; it’s just not something I’d call it. Because it’s ultimately just SARS-CoV-2: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus the Second. It’s SARS again, but in a different strain of coronavirid—one which causes CoViD-19: Corona Virus Disease, 2019.
It’s a little like HIV being what causes AIDS: one’s a virus; one’s a syndrome. The syndrome here is CoViD, caused by SARS-CoV-2.
That said, it’s a bit irrelevant. Which means it’s all that a lot of people seem to care about. But we’ll get to that….
For now, it’s the end of January; SARS19 is a thing. This coronavirus. By which I mean this coronavirus; because coronavirids aren’t really all that new:
Have a glance at the Lysol you bought a decade ago and then never used.
Of course, that image was graffitied over by an imbecile: this specific coronavirus is new. Lysol will kill it; but your immune system has never heard of it. So that’s worth noting.
As people heard more and more about what everyone was calling the Wuhan Coronavirus, we started to joke about it. Because it was a thing existing or occurring, and we joke about those.
Pictured: A Joke
And that was okay. Someone, somewhere, was probably offended; but you wouldn’t expect that Best Victim Evar to spell what it was offended about correctly. Ironically enough.
You think I’m kidding. But I’ve seen people bang hammers into their keyboards to whimper that it’s not the Chinese virus, it’s the corono virus.
I’m still getting ahead of myself. We’ll come back to the subplague in a bit….
At the end of January, the virus was on the map. Literally. It can be tracked in close to realtime at arcgis.com, where it’s currently about five minutes from hitting three hundred thousand confirmed cases worldwide:
Back in January, it was still limited to the general area of China:
I posted this to facebook.com as The Good Old Days.
So, we had that. And jokes. And, largely, little concern.
Like, we weren’t done joking about reactionary morons promising a nuclear war a few weeks earlier
And then January came to an end.
It’s not easy to decide precisely when the thing went pandemic. Officially, it wasn’t until about a week and a half ago—11th March 2020—that the WHO upgraded its status from…whatever series of epidemics. But, insofar as America is the damned world, the first case was confirmed here back on 20th January in Snohomish County, Washington, the day after a thirty-five-year-old who’d returned to the US from Wuhan started exhibiting symptoms and wound up in the hospital for them. But, broadly, we were considering the thing something of a pandemic during February: across the month, the thing raged from China and its suburbs into the rest of Eurasia, down into Australia, over to Africa, and into the Americas.
It was significant enough by the middle of the month, on the thirteenth, that the people at the real VA stopped Hunter at the desk to ask her if she’d been outside the country for any reason this year. She hadn’t.
By that point, the president—which for posterity was something of a minimally exceptional playground bully somehow elected as the nation’s spokesmuppet figurehead—was locking down borders [not really a new thing for him] to prevent people leaving China from landing in the States; his opposition—which for posterity were those geeks on the playground reciting the rules against bullying instead of doing anything to stop it—whimpered dramatically about the racism [for posterity: the misspelling of bigotry among selfimpressed playground geeks who imagined that only white people were members of the human race] inherent in preventing people from entering the nation at a time when people entering the nation were more likely to be carrying the virus. Fortunately, that stopped being a concern for the playground geeks once the pandemic got pandemic enough; then they whimpered that the playground bully hadn’t done anything to prevent people from China from landing here.
Portrait of a Feckless Playground Geek
About that: throughout February, President Bully was scrambling to do pretty much whatever made the least amount of sense. Like appointing the Vice President [for posterity: a guy who pretended the universe had been created by a weirdly incompetent BondVillain six thousand years before the pandemic which was presumably also created by the BondVillain in its latest attempt at failing to rid the world of all the bad people who weren’t the Vice President] as the head of the Coronavirus Taskforce. Because the Vice President was the most qualified guy in the world for that. Or something. President Bully didn’t make much sense, really.
This neurosurgeon was just about almost as good.
Harder to lock down a date for than the beginning of the pandemic is the beginning of the quarantine—partly because, in a real way, it hasn’t actually begun yet. It’s possible that it never will. For reasons. We’ll get into those in a bit….
I might argue that the quarantine began to begin around the time the restaurants shut down. Here in Denver, that was—hilariously enough—on 16th March; it was therefore the day before half the town was planning to go to whatever Irishish Pub of variable authenticity to drink Guinness all night before threatening to give the virus what for. Meaning that, probably, it was pretty good timing.
Elsewhere in the world, and even within the US, the quarantines had begun earlier; some began later; a few probably haven’t begun at all, as of Day Fifty-nine. I do know that, elsewhere in the world, things are far more locked down than we currently are. Italy is basically offline; someone there posted a lengthy…well…Day X of the Quarantine thing, I suppose. It was a warning to nations still standing that, in the couple of weeks prior to publication, someone in Italy had seen all the same meaningless information about China and disregarded it as nothing that would ever affect him personally; now, on the day he was writing this whole thing down, he was effectively prohibited from going outside.
Here in the US, a few places are following that trend: New York is effectively shut down; California is ordered to shelter in place and stay off the streets; Texas, I’m told, is on lockdown—meaning that I’m expecting to hear a lot about most of their people stomping around with guns drawn while defying the police to do anything about it.
And, here in Denver, most places are closed. The restaurants are mostly locked up, though the drivethrough lanes are still open—last I heard. The mail is still being delivered; I actually had to get up a few minutes ago to retrieve a box from my porch after the mailman set it down and rang the bell before hurrying off to wherever mailmen go. UPS is still out there, delivering things. I don’t know what FedEx are up to; I haven’t tried to guess since they somehow took something I’d ordered from Louisville to Sacramento for a week before finally throwing it at my house and stomping away without ringing the bell to get my attention.
They never actually acknowledged delivery on the thing; I just managed to record Mister McStompy flinging it toward my doorbell camera as he was already turning to stomp elsewhere.
I wouldn’t go so far as to report that, last I saw them, the stores are all empty. Because empty is a pretty serious adjective. But, yeah: there are some kinks in the supplylines:
We hit Safeway on Sunday at five in the morning, when they opened; the Charmin Aisle was fully stocked at the time; I got a shot of Hunter walking through it five minutes later, when it looked like this.
And that brings me roughly to the present.
At present, things are…silly. But in not entertaining enough a way. Like, people are morons; but it’s less hilarious and more exhausting. It’s really just kinda boring. Which, arguably, is saying something. Partly because everything’s boring; also because little has really changed.
And I guess partly because I knew all this already. As people started posting their misspelled surprise at the lack of things to do in the apocalypse—the coronageddon—I was reminded of this zombiebook I wrote in 2004….
This is how we live now, but without the zombies.
On the bright side, I’d already had that file in memory, after I’d tracked it down a few days earlier. Because I’d predicted the map, way up above, in the same novel:
And, yeah: that’s Men without Hats, from 1987.
So that’s where we are. Somewhat. At least, it’s kinda how we got here. SARS, which got overblown by the media a few years ago, mutated; now, it’s still being overblown by the media, but actually kinda counts for something.
The media, wearing a BL4 BlueSuit, outside the BL4 Lab, in apparent terror that the unprotected cameraman is contagious.
The map, above, tracking the spread of the disease [reloading it, I’m now getting 303,180, globally], isn’t really tracking the spread of the disease; it’s tracking confirmed cases, as well as it can, occasionally backtracking and lowering the numbers for a while. And that’s partly because a presumed majority of infected are showing no symptoms yet and haven’t been tested for it; in fact, a large number of people who are showing symptoms haven’t been tested yet; and that’s partly because a large number of people who aren’t showing symptoms are being tested: a guy I know is in the hospital right now—probably dying—because he’s got unrelated pulmonary issues; but the doctors panicked and isolated him for tests, assuming he had this exciting new buzzword of a virus for them to squee their ways down the corridor and heroically submit to the existing pile. He lost out on three days, isolated and untreated, instead of getting anything done for his actual symptoms. His actual lung condition.
After countless playground geeks argued for a Universal Basic Income, the playground bully announced his intention to kick a thousand bucks to everyone who wasn’t a millionaire; in fact, it’s looking like the plan is to give twelve hundred bucks to that special group of people who made enough to pay taxes in 2018, but less than a hundred thousand that year.
Various corporations [for posterity: typically Evil Incarnate, if it had a logo] are bragging about all they’re doing for the little people: ISPs are claiming that they’re waiving latefees for a couple months, which I’m pretty sure means that, in June, when people still have no money, the ISPs expect the six hundred bucks for March, April, and May, but without interest; there’s been talk of outlawing evictions and postponing mortgage payments, but no one’s sure if that actually means anything; people are even clamouring for student loan forgiveness [for posterity: the playground geeks borrowed six figures to major in an elective and never got a job] because…like…thinkaboutit.
Events are all cancelled; musicians and comedians are livestreaming jamsessions from their basements for the Likes. Films slated for release this spring are going directly to streaming services, which was pretty much always about to happen. People are being asked, if not technically ordered, to sit at home and watch television while the last of their bread goes bad. No one’s sure what happens next, or how long next actually is.
For my own part…nothing much has changed. I’m sitting in my office, typing stuff into a website. I’m doing a daily webcomic. I’m playing videogames. I’m getting milk delivered. I’m sleeping ten percent of the time. I’m doing what I was doing a month ago, and a year ago, and a decade ago.
I’ve got food. I’d had food before things got weird, and there was little chance I’d get through it all before it spoiled. And, knowing that, I’d already stocked up on stuff that wouldn’t spoil, just so I’d have something to eat before going out for more food destined to spoil. I’ve got televisions and videogames and things to do all night. Almost nothing is really different, for me.
Then there’s Hunter; she’s insane. Like, she’s got papers. But, amusingly enough, that’s working for her. She’s gone long enough expecting the worst that, now that the worst is starting to take shape, she’s almost acting a little relieved. Like, she’s what’s suddenly becoming the new normal. She’s ahead of the curve.
Plus, she knows me. Which is about how far I wanna describe that right now. Just…look: an unrelated image….
I’m fun at Donner Parties.
For my own part, I’m not getting twelve hundred bucks for sitting here doing what I was doing last month—not if the cutoff is a hundred thousand bucks. Neither, I should mention, is a fair percentage of Denver, and a huge percentage of California and New York. We’re talking about places where the local poverty line is something like $130,000: beneath that, you’re on foodstamps. Which of course means that twelve hundred bucks doesn’t go all that far whether you get it or not.
The playground bully is pulling press conferences roughly daily, mostly to brag that no president has ever been a president on today before. His actual coronavirus expert looks like this:
‘How is this imbecile remembering how to stand upright while talking….’
The playground geeks are imagining that morality is intelligence, and that whimpering is morality:
On the bright side, once you learn that you’ve got egg on your face, you’ll get it into your mouth in no time….
And the playgrounds they’re playing on are closed. School’s out for summer; school’s potentially out for ever.
Schools are closed. What began as an early and/or extended Spring Break quickly became optional homeschooling through the end of the semester. And I’m not really seeing a reason to assume that there’ll be summer school to make up for that; I’m not aware of an indication that school will start up again in the fall.
People are talking about a quarantine as though it’s actually already begun, and as though, having begun without any real notice, it’ll last for two weeks. Keep in mind that that’s been the mood for a week already.
The police have officially announced that any crime lesser than active murder is off their radar. Don’t call them over stupid things. Which, personally, I agree with: I never do; I never have. But then I’m not sure we have the same list of stupid things. Though I do know that, in San Francisco, someone just uploaded a video of a guy walking into a shop and scooping less than $950 in ?pills into his canvas bag before walking back out to the street without concern:
Anarchy with sustainable grocerybag technology
If you’re wondering about the $950: that’s California’s threshold for grand larceny; steal less than that, and it’s a misdemeanour—and, therefore, don’t bother the cops with stupid things.
And it’s pretty much all stupid things.
The playground geeks are screeching that you can’t call a virus from China a Chinese Virus. Which raises some questions about West Nile. But which mostly raises the larger question: who do they imagine cares what they think. What they want. What they complain about with such fervent alacrity. Best Victim Evar. Words happen; stop listening if you don’t like them, you puritanical twats.
The playground bullies are back from their boating accidents and begging people on the other side of the planet to stop by and meet their Armalites. They so desperately want anyone to be afraid of them, or at least for Sam’s Club to get yeast back in stock so they can make their own bread at home like the survivors they hope one day to be. People with tattoos of Mel Gibson are sad because basketball got cancelled.
The junkjournalists don’t know which story to run anymore—the one about the Wuhan Coronavirus, or the one about them calling the Wuhan Coronavirus the Wuhan Coronavirus last month precisely the fake news they joke about being in reaction to being offended about being called fake news. FaceBook.com have tismic factchecking bots arguing that an article from The Onion is specious and snopes.com are bawling at the feet of the Babylon Bee. People are uploading videos of junkjournalists debating themselves dressed as what they were wearing in January against what they were wearing last night. And, sometimes, that seems to be a bluesuit out in orangesuit territory somewhere between Marcel Marceau being the only guy getting hurricaned in a light breeze and Gloria Vanderbilt’s kid standing intentionally in a puddle to report on flooding conditions a metre beneath the cameraman’s tripod on dry land.
It’s like everyone wants this to be anything but what it is, whether that’s better or worse. It’s like a level of boring terrifying enough to keep people awake at night.
And that’s just from what we know, which is a massive amount of information amounting to pretty much nothing.
So, I’m not sure what the hell is going on out there. Or if it’s basically the same everywhere. I gather from people online that it’s worse in some places, and even more boring in others. But then there’s a cultural bias: the playground bullies in one place will ignore a hell of a lot more than the playground geeks in another will leap online to be Best Victim Evar about.
It seems normal enough to me. I’m getting rumours that, if I skated over to Starbucks, they might not be open. The tables out in front of Safeway had laminated printouts a couple days ago, warning that I was breaking some quaranteeny law too stupid to call the police about by sitting there; I sat there anyway, and no one cared.
And I think that’s kinda where everyone’s landing on this. Everyone remotely sane, anyway. The playground geeks are whimpering that the end of the world affects the females who survive far more than the males who are likely to die; but everyone else is pretty much back to complaining about the same old things: that Creepy Joe stole the primary from Bernie, after Shillary stole the primary from Bernie, before Trumpy stole the election from the popular vote, after the Russian Bots gave the popular vote to NotShillary. Or something. At the moment, people are complaining that Creepy Joe is pretty much officially the nominated Playground Geek, and no one’s seen proof of life in upwards of a week; he may already have sniffed the wrong corona kid, and he’s being CoViDed to death somewhere in Antarctica—we dunno.
Even so, I get that people, however acclimated they’re becoming to all the weirdness, are all on different levels. I know a guy dying in a hospital because some idiot wanted his name on a test result so he could be one of the cool doctors; I know someone who disappeared six weeks ago after tweeting that she’d got a notice of eviction; I know people driving trucks sixteen hours a day to get Charmin from farm to table and tweeting that they’re entirely weary of the playground geeks blaming them for electing a playground bully; I know waitresses who are sitting at home with nothing to eat while trying to figure out how to get money from some unreachable DotGov when it had never occurred to anyone that their officially unskilled labour as essential personnel could ever be downsized.
If this were about me—and I guess it’s supposed to be, for posterity—I’d say that I’m fine. I’m doing better than most, in most ways: I’ve got food; I’ve got money for more food if more food exists; I’ve got a thousandscore games ranging from the AtariVCS to whatever came out for Steam yesterday. I’ve got thousands of films on disc, thousands more online to stream, and an infinity of YouTube.com to click around at. I’ve got what I’ve always had, really.
Wednesday 22nd January 2020 20.29Published by Gremlin
So, about three weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d probably be doing this on a daily basis. And then that’s not what happened. No real reason; I just got caught up in various other things, and haven’t really been back here to add anything lately.
Something to work on, I suppose….
Meanwhile, and unrelated to much of anything else, I had to take Hunter to the VA today. Sorta. Meaning that, the VA being too incompetent to treat people directly, they’d outsourced her to a semigovernmental clinic roughly within shooting distance of the Century Sixteen Cinema.
Which is either in Australia, or just in proximity to the incompetence of the Aurora Police Department
That, if you’re curious, may be what actually happens when the VA are too overbooked and understaffed to handle anything veteranadministrative and let disabled vets go to marginally private clinics after bleeding to death for the first month of abandonment. And we’d just been there a week ago, having scheduled a quick appointment, several months after scheduling the one for today, to get bloodwork done in advance of the one for today.
If that’s confusing, then you’re correct. It looks like this, in sequence:
Set appointment for the Twenty-second, months ago
Get a call, a week ago, mentioning that there’s no point coming in on the Twenty-second because blood is a mystery
Set an appointment for the next day, a week ago
Go in to have blood drawn, a week ago
Go back today to talk about blood
Which, on its own, doesn’t sound all that absurd. Like, reasonably, you could expect any given governmental worker with an IQ hovering up there near average to set an appointment like the computer says to do, then later notice that the appointment is to discuss things not yet in evidence. I mean: I wouldn’t trust these people with too sharp a spork; but it sounds good enough for governmental work.
Which brings us to today. Nearly. Unless we wanna talk about yesterday first.
Yesterday wasn’t all that thrilling; but I woke up at about noon, realising that I had to be somewhere the next day—today—at one thirty. And that’s always fun. Because I can’t just go to sleep within twenty-four hours of waking up; but, also, driving through Murderville to the outsourced clinic after being awake for twenty-six hours sounds unpleasant. So, to try to make that work, I just didn’t have any caffeine yesterday. Finally managed to fall asleep around sunrise; woke up at eleven; here we are.
Sat here not getting involved in anything too heavy for a couple hours, so I wouldn’t be locked into anything more interesting than driving into a part of town composed entirely of dust and scowls; then we left the house at about one, and got there at about one fifteen.
Unreleated funny bit: we left our neighbourhood alongside one of those Tesla Chargeycars. The cars that come out to recharge your electric vehicle after you forget how outlets work. Hunter noted that it was probably the worst job in the world: to hafta show up and recharge a car for someone who wants moral currency for buying a Tesla, and who can’t imagine whose fault it is that the thing doesn’t operate on perpetual motion.
Got to the clinic. Early. But okay. Inside; up in the lift; into the lobby of the VA’s little subdepartment.
Now we talk to a guy who looked like he’d have greeted us with Hey, VSauce—Michael here, if those weren’t big words.
Hey, Mysauce—Veekel h—damnit I almost got it that time!
Then there’s a bit of blathering, during which I give up and wander off to the chairs to sit down for the rest of time.
Eventually, someone screeches for Hunter from a door somewhere, so she gets up and wanders back; I’m still out here in the lobby, where there’s a television displaying a practical joke called Chain Reaction—ostensibly a gameshow designed to convince other nations that Americans are idiots.
You can see that they’re having a laugh with the inclusion of cocksure
And then time passes. And then it does it again. And, soon enough, passing is a habit that time has just picked up in recent years. So I go out to the car for a while.
Then I send Hunter a message, letting her know that I’ve gone out to the car:
You now know precisely what I know.
So, this seems like an unpackable moment….
If there’s a backstory to this, and there barely is, it’s probably this:
Hunter the Crazychick is—and brace yourselves for this—crazy. Like, she’s got papers. The Kennel Club confirm that she’s nuts. Not really in a bad way—at least, not for anyone else. But she’s got whatever Major Depressive Mumblemutter Syndrome Thing, which is both diagnosed by the VA and also why she would get to go to the VA for healthcare if they weren’t incompetent enough to outsource her instead to Mysauce here.
Largely unrelated to that established fact, she’s a foot shorter than I am. Which is to say that, when I make food—which is approximately always, since I’m the one who’s good at it—I make enough at a time for about a dozen normal people. Which works because, being abnormal and requiring three thousand kilocalories a day just to avoid losing weight while playing Minecraft, I tend to eat most of all that.
Then she eats a bit. Where a bit is something of a variable. Or two.
In cases, she eats a bit more than normal people would, because I’ve made a lot; in others, she’s stopped doing that because she was gaining a lot of weight.
As a result of the first instance, a couple years ago, she’d managed to get up to about a hundred and sixty-five pounds while being five and a half feet tall and female. This is what we scientists call pudgey.
So she stopped that.
Then, having stopped that, she started losing weight. Because that’s how food works.
Then, having lost weight, she went to Almost the VA and ended up sending me the messages centred above.
Not all at once, of course. As you may have divined, I went back inside to see what the hell was going on after I didn’t get a response for ten minutes. Partly because something like this happened once before, and an imbecile committed her to psychiatric observation for a weekend.
So, now I’m back inside. Veekel from Mysauce is busy turning slowly into selfloathing soy and doesn’t want to talk about big words like hostage and situation. So, and somewhat ironically, I’m beckoned over by what I’d describe as a wellmeaning hamwhale.
This is instantly awkward. Because I’m here to negotiate for the release of someone shunted off to mental health for being not a hamwhale. Ever had to talk to someone about someone else dropping down from the kurbweight of the first someone’s portside thigh? Because I have. Today.
I mention whose ride I am, and why I’m still in the zipcode and without a passenger. She looks in the computer, and we learn that the computer trusts her no more and no less with the following information: Hunter is still in the building.
It doesn’t mention whether she’s alive in the building. Or in one piece. Or allowed to ameliorate her way the hell out of the building. It’s just telling Hamwhale—and by extension me—that the molecules possessed by Hunter when we arrived remain in the area.
So, that’s a clump of words.
What the computer won’t tell Hamwhale is whether Hunter’s allowed to stop being in the building; or how long she’ll be in the building if she’s allowed to leave; or why she can’t message me back after ten—fifteen minutes, at this point. All the computer can tell Hamwhale is that she should keep assuring me that Hunter never teleported anywhere else after going through the door and into the back, where she very much still is.
It sounds like I’m joking. Like I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Hamwhale was seriously invested in explaining to me how much Hunter was still in the building. Whatever things were happening, however bad and stupid, however against Hunter’s will, the incompetence was, I was being assured, locally sourced.
So I go back and sit down for a long time; and then I go outside and mention that I got tired of having upwards of one 4G Bar on my phone; and you can probably work out the rest.
Hunter comes out, and we get in the car and leave; we head off to Starbucks, because why not.
And now I get the rest of the story. If we can call it that.
‘Everything in my bloodwork was fine,’ Hunter says, ‘So they couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with me, if anything.’
‘Right,’ I say.
‘And they wanted to do a colonoscopy to look for cystic fibrosis,’ she says.
‘Okay,’ I say.
‘And I don’t want that,’ she says, ‘so they compromise with a catscan.’
‘Ah,’ I say.
‘And then they sent me to Mental Health to talk about why I don’t want a colonoscopy,’ she says.
‘Why, that’s insane,’ I say, ‘To not want a colonoscopy. To fail to display a deep desire of colonoscopies.’
‘And then they scolded me for being unfat,’ she says, ‘Because, apparently, losing sixty pounds in two years is impossible.’
‘No it’s not,’ I say.
‘They say it is,’ she says.
‘It’s a pound every twelve days,’ I say, ‘It’d be an ounce a day, if you were made of metal.’
‘The doctor said that, if it were possible to just lose sixty pounds in two years by eating less and walking around more, she’d have done that.’
‘Like, she had an MD?’ I ask.
So I drive on, trying to imagine what in hell could be wrong with people that would allow…this level…of medical incompetence…even at Almost the VA…red light; look to the side:
You think they’ve got a medical school there?
I’m probably not supposed to phonecam things while parked at a red light. But that’s okay, because I don’t give a damn.
Anyway: we get to Starbucks. Meaning actually the Starbucks in Safeway. So now Hunter’s eating a chocolate doughnut with a glass of wholemilk chai. You know: about a thousand kilocalories. As a snack. Because she’s clearly anorexic, according to Your Social Justice Doctor.
And then we get home, where I do tomorrow’s webcomic:
Just in case I somehow don’t get back in here to write another one of these tomorrow.
And that’s what I’ve got. That’s roughly everything I know of the reasons behind Almost the VA keeping Hunter in the back for an extra hour while promising her that a Social Justice Medical Doctorate precludes the common sense that anyone could lose a couple pounds a month by eating less than three thousand kilocalories a day.
That’s the VA. Basically PelosiCare, minus the taxburden, outsourcing their incompetence to a clinic that’s better enough than the VA that they’re able to set appointments a few months in advance and tell you that losing a couple pounds a month only works for corpses.