Really On The New Computer


Despite all the attempts by friends to help, my new computer arrived and I got it unboxed and everything. I wasn’t sure if I should unbox it without taking photographs but then I remembered I have never looked at any unboxing photograph, my own or anyone else’s, and neither has anybody else. Also I think my camera was eaten by that tangle of wires exposed when we replaced the TV set. It has been a season of consumer electronics suddenly breaking around here and I’m not looking forward to what summer has to bring. My guess: the oven declaring it’s done with this “making stuff more warm” job and going into business as a breakdancing instructor. This will be inconvenient for us, since we often like to eat food that’s more warm. But it will save the neighborhood rec center, so there’s that.

The tangling and twisted mass of power cords, power bricks, and dust that was behind our TV stand. It's quite the mess.
Do you see the digital camera in there? Really? Could you e-mail me with directions?

My new computer is lighter than the old, and thinner too. That’s just what people look for in laptops. I thought my old one was respectably light and sleek, but in comparison, it’s a kitchen appliance. The new computer is made of modestly compressed yawns encased in soap-bubble foam. It’s prone to floating as much as two inches in the air above the USB cooling fan base that I have, and I lost the power cord for that like six years ago. Often it’ll slide down the table a couple inches when I give it a heavy glance. I’m keeping it on a power cord so it stays tethered, and when it gets back to window-opening season I’m going to attach a kite tail and see how high I can sail it over Ralph W Crego Park.

It’s not the newest model MacBook Pro. I bought refurbished. I’ve gotten into that habit, on the grounds that the extraction of the metals needed for electronics is so brutal to people and the environment, and the actual assembly of these parts is no less foul, that it’s irresponsible to require more new stuff than necessary. You see, unlike most people, I like turning everyday actions into smug superiority. Also it’s cheaper and so am I.

This model MacBook Pro doesn’t have the name MacBook Pro on it. Nor the name Apple anywhere I noticed. (I didn’t check by the vental fin, as I don’t wish to offend its modesty and I don’t need to check that unless I want to breed it.) This is part of the minimalist design Apple’s gone crazy for. The current model MacBook Pro, besides not having the product name on it anywhere, also does without keys, a screen, any plugs, a touchpad, a box, or any physical existence. You just go to the Apple-authorized retailer, give them some money, and return home to ponder the nature of computing and what the networked world is like. It’s not the best hardware for gaming, but the three-year AppleCare extended warranty for your wholly imagined computer is a very reasonable $49.99. I’m hoping to pay for that with the sound of a jingling bag of quarters I can use for pinball league later. Yes, I know, you’re calling that a scam, but wouldn’t you like to be in Apple’s position right now? I understand if you say no because you have hay fever and don’t know what the pollen count is at Apple Master Command. But if you don’t, then, well?

Since getting it up and running I’ve spent a lovely week setting options on things. That’s the good part of a new computer, going around and breaking up with old typefaces and installing new ones and figuring out what window sizes just work for stuff anymore. That last is a Mac thing. Experience with coworkers suggests that Windows users think whatever program they’re using has to use up the whole screen. Of all the human behaviors I have encountered this is the one I understand the least. It’s at least eight percent more baffling than how the house down the street throws out a sofa every two weeks and how someone else apparently takes it. You know a house like that, and you don’t understand it. How can I understand this? Anyway I’m thinking I could make my fortune by selling cheap disposable computers which do nothing but let buyers set options on things. Once they’ve got it set, they throw the finished computer out and start again. If we can retail these for like thirty bucks I bet it’ll be a hit.

The dangerous part of this is I have an excuse to fall behind my Internet social obligations now. Normally I’m just awful. Somewhere along the line I got to thinking, you know, if I answer that e-mail they’re just going to answer back and I’ll be right where I started, so why not stay there? This is fine for trivial stuff like work e-mails but it hurts hanging out with people I know because I have common interests or stuff. And now? People can’t fault me for not writing back when I’m going through the trouble of setting up stuff to write back. I could probably milk this one for months while people gradually forget I even exist. And then where will I be when I send out an urgent e-mail warning about the oven having gone off on its own? Ignored, correctly. It’s no fair, if suffering the obviously foreseeable direct consequences of my own freely made choices is no fair.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose one more point, to another all-time high of 212, prompting investors to get all panicky that now this means it’s just going to plummet to like negative 112 and balance all this out and even promising people that negative numbers don’t make sense in this context doesn’t help. “Have you seen 2017?” they reply. “We’re going to be lucky if the index doesn’t drop to four blue squares all labelled `red’.”

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On Not Having Any Idea What To Dress As For Halloween


I stand in the midst of the Halloween store, trapped.

It’s one of those temporary stores, of course. What strip mall, however luxurious, could support having a Halloween store all the year round? With the collapse in the costume rental industry after that time in 2011 someone spread a rumor Netflix was opening a line of costume distribution by mail, anyway? OK, there was that spot in Worthington, Ohio, that had one going in May. But that was probably a fluke. They weren’t there the next year. Maybe they were just having too much fun selling fangs to stop that one time.

But what to buy? What to wear? What to go as for Halloween?

Halloween should be a great Halloween for me. There’s all kinds of things it’d be more fun to be than me. Someone who knows what to dress as for Halloween, for example. Or someone really confident wearing costumes for the sort of stuff I might be doing on a Monday, like going to the bagel place for lunch and reading the alt-weekly there.

My unsureness about what to dress as for Halloween goes way back. I think it does. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember a lot of the costumes I wore for Halloween as a kid. I don’t think we made very many of them ourselves, because there were four kids in the household and my parents had a limit to how much time they were willing to spend collecting parts and sewing stuff so that we could dress up as something called an “Artoo” for three hours. Even if they got pictures.

I should explain this was the late 70s and early 80s, when photographs were something that took effort. You had to find that weird little camera that looked like a harmonica, and find where that flash bulb plug-in was, and find that it was totally spent. Then you had to wait to get to the store and buy a replacement. That would give you four or maybe eight flashes, good for up to six pictures. And then you could get the photos developed by driving around until you saw a teeny tiny little bitty house sitting in the middle of a parking lot. Then Mom drives up next to it, gives a roll of film, and then sometime later gets back dark, blurry pictures out of focus that clearly show some figures in the state’s fourth-place finalist, Most 1974 Kitchen Ever Contest. The one wearing the worst imaginable outfit in the picture? That’s me. And then we lose the photos in a minor basement flood. So it’s hard to tell what I was wearing back then.

At least a couple years we went to the Toys R Us and bought those licensed figure packages. You know the ones. You get a plastic face mask with eyes that don’t line up for some figure like The Incredible Hulk and then a T-shirt showing The Incredible Hulk going off and lacking credibility. It’s a surprisingly old model of costume, going back to the ancient Greeks and the year everyone went as Narcissus. People loved that outfit, especially Narcissus. But the costume industry learned the wrong lesson from that and figured we wanted to go as people who were fans of themselves. That breaks down when you’re someone like me who isn’t sure he can even be a fan of someone with enough self-esteem to be a fan of themselves. What you’d get is maybe me going out as The Incredible Hulk I Guess, if he wanted people to think he was always thinking about The Incredible Hulk while being confused and faintly disappointed in what I’m doing. I’m confused and faintly disappointed in what I’m doing all year anyway, so the costume always felt a bit hollow.

One year we got a new washing machine, and I seized on my rights as the eldest to claim it for myself. And I also grabbed as much aluminum foil as I felt like I could get away with. So I know one year I went as the ever-popular Kid In A New Washing Machine’s Box Wrapped In Aluminum Foil. I think it technically qualified as a robot costume. It taught me many things, like how I should have cut arm holes, and that absolutely nobody in the neighborhood would get that they would “input” candy to the big slot labelled “input candy”.

Then we moved, to a new neighborhood where they didn’t much like kids, and even if they did the neighbors didn’t much like us. And then I got into high school and even if I were invited to costume parties it was very important I spend every night watching The Wrath of Khan on videotape. In college it was more important I write incredibly detailed reports of what the student government was up to for the unread leftist weekly paper. It’s only the last few years I’ve tried getting into costumes again.

I grab a $4 raccoon mask and hope things will work out all right.

Me, wearing a raccoon mask, standing in front of our Tri-Zone pinball machine.
The weird part is that my natural beard hair looks like the mask’s grey fur. It’s a little unsettling.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Index traders would like to ask just how you know that bigger numbers for it are better? What if a lower number is better and then being down below 90 would be way better than being up above 140? Golf works like that, so why can’t the Another Blog, Meanwhile index? Huh? Is your mind blown yet?

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