Signs of the times…

Back on the 17th I mentioned:

I’ve been making use of the dollar store for the ‘nice to haves’ because I can get three bags of snacks, cheap frozen meals, and some flavored seltzer for under $20 there – but I’m not sure how long they can keep those prices.

Well, apparently today they announced that as of Q1 2022 everything will be at least $1.25 and they will possibly include $3 and $5 items as well.

Thus ends the 35 year run of the dollar store concept. Not that this affects me much as I only just discovered the place a couple of months ago – but it is a sign of the times.

Holiday Season

Thursday is Thanksgiving, so it looks like I’ve made it to the tail-end of yet another year.

Being as I get Friday off for the holiday, I’m taking Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off this week – so nine days off in a row for the cost of three days vacation.

Of course vacation for me is a bit of a misnomer. Vacation is simply a period of time where it might take me an hour or two to get around to fixing whatever the issue is at work.

The benefit is I get to sleep in; today I didn’t get up until 7am which is two whole hours of bonus snoozing. 🙂

Yesterday I discovered that a “Hickory Farms” pop-up store had appeared next to the local used book store, so I packed up a bunch of old RPG books I’ve not touched in years (Ironclaw and some supplements, a set of D&D 5e books, and some Pathfinder stuff) and a few paperbacks that I’d read and didn’t really need anymore – and cashed them in.

The resulting money was then spend at Hickory Farm for some holiday sausage, cheese, and a couple of nut trays.

With the costs of everything going through the roof, I’m glad I bought T-Day dinner a month ago; I ordered a full spread from Honey Baked Ham back in mid October. That same package right now is almost $50 more expensive because of various political and economic factors.

It came frozen and they said it could stay that way for two months, so I think I’m all set for T-Day.

At the current rate of things, my Christmas dinner might be mac&cheese – but it’ll be a holiday and I’ll probably splurge and slice up a hotdog into it.

Babylon 5

For the last couple of weeks I have been re-watching Babylon 5; a sci-fi show from the late 90’s that I still feel is probably the best television series ever made. And I finished the series this evening.

Babylon 5 isn’t an alien of the week sort of thing, it was written to be a 5-year arc. So there are things in the early episodes of season 1 that wrap up in season 5, and the audience is rewarded for paying attention.

This means that over the course of 110 episodes you really get invested in the story, the characters, and all of their side stories. And the characters are great as they have real motivations and tangible, impactful flaws… And this means that by the time you reach the last two episodes of season 5, it’s a real tearjerker to wrap everything up.

I caught Babylon 5 ‘live’ starting with season 2, back in 1994. I had been hearing about the show from co-workers, but hadn’t owned a television since I left the Navy in 1990 – so I bought a Sony “Trinitron” set in October of ’94 specifically to catch the start of season 2 in November.

Luckily season 1 was in reruns so I was able to catch up pretty quick.

One of the most interesting things for me was the visual effects, which were early CGI and all done on Amigas. As I had been playing with rendering on Amigas for years at that point, to see the stuff I toyed with in actual use was fascinating. Unfortunately the CGI space shots and the regular camera footage were shot in different aspect ratios, so things looked a little odd on occasion.

But it was all still very, very epic. And a lot of my graphics work for websites and software UIs through the late 90’s was heavily influenced by the CGI in Babylon 5…

I started my re-watch based on news that the creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, was working on revisiting the universe he’d created back in the 90’s in the form of a new TV series.

While I’m jazzed that Babylon 5 could be redone in some fashion, I worry that a show like Babylon 5 simply cannot exist in the modern era… That and a lot of the original series was helped along by Harlan Ellison, and he’s been dead for years.

So, while I’m hopeful it is a guarded hope because it’s {current year}.

Still kicking…

On the computer front the TPM module for the motherboard in the new PC came in and I got it installed, provisioned, and enabled easy enough. And an hour later had Windows 11 running.

Windows 11 is basically the latest attempt by Microsoft to swipe MacOS’ look and feel – and they did a pretty good job this time. Win11 is still a thinly veiled system to aggregate user data for resale, but I think I’ve gotten most of that disabled at this point.

I’ve not found anything that will truly stress the new computer, even SL doesn’t manage to do more than make the fans spin a little faster – but that’s mostly because SL programmatically can’t make use of the power.

In SL I’ve gotten the new homesteads setup and landscaped. “Eponia”, the sim my roommate is using, is a pretty basic forest with a house in one corner. “Vardale”, my sim on the other side of “Unexus”, is a bit more of a set-piece in that it has a story and several easter-eggs relating to it – and a far more detailed and setting-specific house over in one corner. 🙂

I’ve not had the time SL recently to do more than cause mountains, rivers, and forests to appear out of thin air, but I’m still managing to hang out at the various DJ events for a bit – which is always fun. Speaking of which, tonight’s DJ event is 80’s music.

I was briefly on a privately hosted Mattermost server run by an acquaintance, but it’s too isolated and tends to be overly confrontational. So I bailed and I’m back on Discord now, under a new account. This has allowed me to re-connect with a few folks I know while avoiding the dozens and dozens of people who kept me around just to do stuff for them… And the handful of problematic people I was essentially avoiding.

I also fired up a Twitter account that matches the Discord account… Twitter is even more of a cesspool of manufactured outrage and unabashed propaganda than it was when I left years ago, but it’s handy to talk with the Russian-speaking folks I know who don’t exist on anything else. I’m basically there for the DMs and resolutely ignore everything else.

In the really real world the cost of existing continues to rise. My typical weekly grocery run these days is nothing but the absolute basics – three plastic bags usually – and it’s a bit over $50. I’ve been making use of the dollar store for the ‘nice to haves’ because I can get three bags of snacks, cheap frozen meals, and some flavored seltzer for under $20 there – but I’m not sure how long they can keep those prices.

The car is doing great. I don’t do much more than drive it the three miles back and forth to work, but it’s still averaging over 30mpg even with all the stoplights. And that matters when gas is fast approaching $4 a gallon…

Other than that, it’s just a matter of continuing to put one foot in front of the other and continuing to hope that things get better.

Update

Been a busy week.

The new computer is working really well… Probably too well truth be told; it’s slightly overkill for what I do of a day. But better to have an not need than to need and not have I suppose.

I had to rearrange my office here at home a bit to better fit things like a checked luggage sized PC and an entertainment center…

The view from the captain’s chair

But the new layout works well. From directly behind the keyboard I get a good view of both monitors, so I can have my perpetual work project on the right and something like an old Babylon 5 episode on the left. 🙂

Gaming wise I’ve moved all of my free-time eggs into the Second Life basket. I have way more fun making stuff in SL than I do treadmilling in some MMO, and the current crop of MMOs are pretty insipid; I guess I’m getting old.

SL wise I’m currently waiting for Linden Lab (the folks who run Second Life) to figure out why I can’t move sims I own next to other sims I own. See, my roommate wants to move his sim next to the sim I rent to an old friend of mine, and I sold my super rare mainland island ($400, and it took about an hour to sell) because I plan to get another sim for myself on the other side of said friend’s sim… So three in a row.

The problem is that I have, at one time or another, owned pretty much every sim in the immediate area in that part of the grid. And while all of the old sims are turned off, their ‘ghosts’ are still there and the land system won’t let me put something on top of them.

So… Linden Lab has been looking into it for a week now.

I used to know several of the “Lindens” (employees of the company all have the last name Linden in-world), but none of the folks I knew work there anymore. So I don’t get my accustomed level of service these days, but it is what it is.