There and Back

So after some discussion yesterday morning, I sent my roommate and his relatives off to Rampart Range Road in his jeep while I enjoyed a quiet day at the house – for the most part.

See, it’s typically not a good idea for both of us to be away from civilization at the same time because something always comes up at work and needs our immediate attention, and yesterday was no exception… At about lunchtime my boss calls and says theres a surprise data collect going on at the office and the wifi isn’t working – so everything is pear-shaped.

The “problem” is that we don’t run the building wifi on weekends for security, and haven’t for years, but no one thought to mention the data collect to I.T. so we could enable it.

An easy fix, and as I needed to get a MAC address off of the new HP Z8 for the mac-locked software they need to run on it before Monday morning, I just drove in to take care of both birds.

As soon as I arrived at the office, my roommate calls and had both managed to get lost in the Pike National Forest and declined to top off the tank in the jeep before hitting the trails; so he had about 20 miles of gas left and no idea where he was.

This was another easy fix once he enabled “Find My” on his phone so that I could see where he was from here at the office. I used that to guide him back to the proper road and they made it into Woodland Park with about four gallons left in the tank.

Once I had the office back up and running, I went and washed the car and then decided to go get dinner at Hickory House in Parker…

As I was leaving the subdivision I was flagged down by this older lady who was in a panic; she was at the community mailboxes and looked to be having an issue with someone in a nearby car.

I stopped and she very apologetically explained that she had a terrible fear of spiders and there was one on her car door… I chuckled, pulled over, and got out to face down the pencil eraser sized wolf spider on the glass of her driver’s side door.

With a suitably super-hero flick I sent the monster flying off into a nearby bush – and bid the relieved citizen a nice evening.

The rest of the day came and went, and ended with the roommate’s relatives gushing over how amazing their day was and showing me all the pictures they took.

Colorado is really quite photogenic. 🙂

Listening to "Don't Want to Change Your Mind" by FM-84 

Out and About

Today my roommate’s sister and her husband arrive from out of state for a short visit. I’ve been volunteered to take the lot for a tour up in the mountains tomorrow (Sunday), so I’m sure I’ll have something to post about (and a photo or two) that evening.

We’ll be taking my rocket-barge I guess, as it’s a bit more comfy than the roommate’s Jeep and actually gets slightly better gas milage – as long as I drive it like I’m retired.

Other than that, not a lot to report. Over the last week or two I’ve pretty much just hunkered down and tried to save money wherever possible in expectation of a $1000+ tags and title fee for the 300.

I’ve re-textured a friends avatar in Second Life, which took several days… The avatar is a zebra sort of thing, and 3D stripes suck – but I got it done and said friend is happy, so yay me.

Today I unboxed, configured, and loaded a new computer for the biometrics department at work… I wanted to get it done yesterday, but FedAxe was running late and didn’t drop the machine off at the office until 5pm.

It’s a new(er) HP Z8 G4 workstation, meaning it’s somewhat on-par with my old gaming rig that my roommate eventually sold to work to pay off his new Mac Studio. It’s a dual 6136 Xeon machine with 512 gigs of ECC DDR4, and a Quadro P6000 in it… Not too shabby for a bit over $4000.

It’s a ‘refurb’, and being as we need it for science-y stuff I had to do a full hardware certification on it once I got it configured and loaded, which took about four hours this morning. But it passed and I’m back home for the remainder of the day.

Listening to "Escaping the Void" by Timecop1983

Cheap

Given the insanity in the world right now with spiking energy costs, ill-conceived federal spending, and generally piss-poor state government timing, I’m once again cutting a lot of my usual expenses to weather the storm. This ranges from shutting down / cancelling fun stuff I do online to adjusting my grocery spending and even how I run appliances here at the house.

For example, I’ve trimmed my weekly grocery bill from around $120 to around $60 by clipping coupons, taking advantage of in-store deals, and only purchasing essentials… No more deli salads, fancy lunch meats and cheeses, flavored seltzer, and pre-made meals; it’s all about five dollar tv-dinners and long-term storage things like canned goods now.

I’ve got about 90 days of reserves food-wise, and just recently finished eating all of the “expires in 2022” stores so everything in the pantry is good to at least mid-2023.

Interestingly, King Soopers (my local go-to for groceries) recently started a service called “Boost” which is a $95 / year thing that’s intended to offer cheap grocery delivery and in-store deals – but it also offers double the gas points for groceries. So, today I put twenty-two gallons of $3.39 high-test in the 300 after taking advantage of the $0.90 off a gallon for buying groceries.

If I time it right, I can tank up my gigantic planet-destroying hemi for pre-Biden prices and either save a few bucks or drive a bit more for the fun of it.

Speaking of that gigantic planet-destroying hemi, I need to mention that the only reason I have it is because I live five miles from the office and only go in every other day during the week. So, compared to someone driving a hybrid back and forth to Boulder every day, I’m not even moving the carbon footprint needle.

My utility costs have also gone up quite a bit thanks to the state government deciding to turn off 90% of all fossil fuel use by 2024 – but not really having a plan for how they will do that without everyone freezing to death or lighting the hundred year old power grid on fire… Regardless of hoi polloi problems, they press on and the expense of “going green” is showing up on everyone’s bill… Which is fine, because inflation and recession have been redefined away and spiking PPI is a myth or something – so why not raise everyone’s utility costs?

And because everyone is supposed to get an electric car, which is yet more load on the above-mentioned hundred year old grid and hit-or-miss green systems, the local utility is switching everyone over to time of day billing. This is to try and bribe everyone to turn off the A/C in the afternoon and use their dryers and dishwashers late at night so that when everyone gets home from work and plugs in the car, the state doesn’t melt down from the load.

This means I now do laundry Saturday night versus Saturday morning; not a huge hardship. But it does save a few pennies due to the reduced electric cost in the evening. I’ve also adjusted the washer to run the spin cycle longer to extract more water in order to hopefully not run the electric dryer for as long.

All in all I will survive the 2022 insanity just like I survived 2020 and 2021, it’s just getting a bit tiresome and I’m getting a headache from all of the facepalming.

Listening to "It's Not the Night" by The Cars

Mayo

I despise mayonnaise, and that goes double for the “Better Living Through Modern Chemistry” liquid fat analog that passes for mayo at a fast food place. So, you can imagine how often I’m disappointed by a drive-through – which is a contributing factor to how rarely I’ll stop at a Burger Barn.

Today I had to drive into the office real quick, and on the way back I was going to stop and get a couple of sodas. But gas station sodas are expensive, it was close to dinner time, and I drive right past a Burger King on the way home… So…

While waiting for the drive through to catch up with the Suburban full of kids, I got a chance to peruse the menu and, as I tend to prefer bird over beef, I settled on a BBQ Cheddar Chicken Sandwich. BBQ is usually safe because mayo and BBQ sauce aren’t a good mix, but just in case I asked for “no mayo” and was told the sandwich didn’t come with the stuff.

Except that it does. And they did – because everything has mayo on it these days… I’m surprised the soda doesn’t come with mayo.

Anyway, it’s not the end of the world and I’m not going to explode or anything. I just left off the top bun and the insulating lettuce layer.

But with all of the “health conscious” noise these fast food places make, you would think the first thing to go would be the 200 calories of fake mayo artery-hardener on every sandwich… But nope – it’s all about the fake burgers that they put the fake mayo on these days.

Listening to "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel 

Xanth

I guess it was about 1980 or so, on one of my routine trips to the local book store on Main Street in Longmont, that I spotted my first Xanth novel.

Back then towns actually had Main Streets and they were actually the main street through the town – as odd as that is now. And most of the stores along the street in Longmont were 1800’s era shared-wall brick hallways about a hundred feet deep and maybe 15 feet wide… Essentially two-story mercantile closets.

I need to detail the book store as well, as they have pretty much gone the way of the dodo in the current millennium… Book stores back then tended to be mostly hobby shops; someone with a joy of reading would open up a shop and fill it full of physical tomes – most of which they had read. The one in Longmont was a maze of mismatched shelves holding a visual cacophony of books in disjointed piles that constituted a “system” only decipherable by the old gnome who ran the place.

This book store always reminded me of a cave made of books; it was dimly lit via the two small front windows and a smattering of early-industrial hanging lights, was preternaturally cool even in the hight of summer, and had a pleasant smell of old books, older bricks, and pipe tobacco.

Anyway, this was where I had found my first copy of “The Last Unicorn” by Peter Beagle a few years before, and since then I had been coming in every week or two to pick up a new book to vicariously live through. I’d picked up Jack Chalker’s early Well World books here, as well as the start of John Varley’s Gaea trilogy. But for this entry it was a chance encounter with Piers Anthony’s “A Spell for Chameleon” that got me into the Xanth series.

What really intrigued me with the book was the cover art, done by Michael Whelan. It made the book really stand out in the piles and it had the look of a story being told – and I wanted to know more about that story.

Over the rest of the early 80’s I picked up the Xanth novels as they came out; The Source of Magic, Castle Roogna, Centaur Isle, Ogre Ogre, Night Mare, Dragon on a Pedestal, and Crewel Lye.

In 1986 I went into the Navy and this more or less ended my association with the Xanth series as I got into esoteric comics, girlfriends, BBSing, and the Internet, in that order. And through all of this there was my own fantasy settings for my various role playing games that I spent a lot of free time working on.

Well, here we are in the bright and shiny future, and a month or so ago I decided I’d read the Xanth series from chronological cover to chronological cover; a daunting task as there are, as of this writing, 46 Xanth novels.

So I picked up the entire series in Kindle format and have been plugging away as time permits… I’m currently a few pages into “Night Mare,” which was probably my favorite of the nine books I’d read all those years ago.

Normally I don’t re-read books, just like I don’t normally re-watch movies; my memory is good enough that after the first time through I retain all of it and re-reading/watching it is mostly a waste of time. But it’s been, what, over 40 years since I read those early Xanth novels? And while I can still recall various plot points in them, the finer details are gone. So it’s been a pleasure to dive back into the setting.

Piers also has a very simplistic style, so the novels are literary candy and generally just a lot of casual fun to read.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to outside of work, cars, second life, etcetera, etcetera. 🙂

Listening to "The NeverEnding Story" by Limahl