giving up on NYCC

I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not I really wanted to go to NYCC this year. The show is next weekend, so I really needed to make a decision now. I’m sick this weekend, and I was sick last weekend, so I decided this morning that assuming I’ll be well enough to go into NYC next weekend was maybe not a good bet. And, if I am well enough to go in, assuming that I’ll get through the con without getting sick again was probably also a bad bet.

So I went ahead and returned my ticket. NYCC uses a service called Lyte to handle ticket returns and resales. The process was pretty simple. Four-day badges are sold out and there’s clearly still demand for them, so my “refund” was for basically the full value of the ticket. So I’m only out the $20 delivery fee. (And I still get to keep the $30 shirt I bought.) Lyte seems to be reselling the four-day badges at about a $50 markup.

I guess Lyte is tied into ShowClix, which handles tickets for NYCC, and automatically invalidates the badge. Still, they required me to fill out a separate Google Form and upload an image of my badge, cut in two. I’m assuming an actual human being will need to review that and click an “OK” button somewhere to validate the return, so it’s not a completely automated process.

The refund should be issued through PayPal on October 10, right after the con. PayPal wouldn’t be my preferred way to get that money back, but it’s good enough, I guess.

In addition to worrying about COVID, and my “general health” thing, I’ve also found that I’m just not that enthusiastic about anything going on at the con this year. I haven’t really fully read through the panel schedule or scheduled guest list, but from what I’ve seen, nothing is really a must-see for me. I’d probably find more than enough fun stuff to do, if I went, but there’s nothing that’s really calling out to me.

So now I also have three scheduled PTO days that I need to decide if I still want to take or if I want to cancel those too. I actually feel like I could use the time off, so I guess I’ll keep those, and just spend some time puttering around the apartment, catching up on some reading, and watching some TV.

 

Router and iPhone Follow-up

A few follow-up notes on my new iPhone and new router:

The iPhone is working well. Setting up MS Authenticator was a pain, as I knew it would be. Other than that, very few problems. My trade-in seems to have worked out. I just checked my Apple Card, and I see a $149 credit from yesterday, so that must be the trade-in. (There was a weird thing last week where it looked like they charged me $149 instead of crediting me $149, but I guess that was a temporary glitch.) I’m glad that this got done before end of month, since this means my Apple Card statement for September will include the credit.

As for iOS 16, I haven’t done much with it. I did create a custom home screen, but it’s just the astronomy one, with the moon showing, and a single weather widget. So nothing fancy.

I hooked up my new router today. That went pretty smoothly, except for one big issue. I have about 16 different wireless devices on my network, and I had no trouble with any of them except for my Sonos speakers. I jumped through a lot of hoops to try to get them working. Long story short, they eventually did, after doing a router reboot. But there was a lot of mucking around before I got to that point.

I did a before & after speed test, on my iPhone, and the new router seems to be a little faster than the old one (116 Mbps down vs 94). But of course there are a lot of variables there, so who knows if that means anything.

So that’s about it for today. Nothing too exciting. Time to watch some for football.

A Busy Day

As previously mentioned, I got my COVID booster shot today. I also picked up my new iPhone 14 from CVS, though I had to make a separate trip for that, since it hadn’t arrived yet when I went for the booster. I guess the phone had gone back to the depot on Friday, then sat there all weekend, then got put on a truck this morning for delivery to CVS. Sigh. Well, I’ve got it now, so all is well.

This booster is my fifth shot, overall. The last shot was in April. I’m hoping I don’t get any side-effects from this one, since I’ve got a pretty busy week at work, and I don’t want to have to take a sick day. (But I will if I need to.)

The iPhone setup was relatively easy. I think the only major thing I still need to do is the MS Authenticator setup, which I’ve previously complained about. I’ll try to do that in the office tomorrow, where I’ll have access to my work desktop PC and my office phone, just in case any of my accounts still have the office phone number as a backup. I’m anticipating that’ll take about an hour.

Meanwhile, I had also ordered a new router this weekend, and that showed up today. I ordered this one, from Amazon. It was $80. I didn’t do a ton of research, bit it seems to be a successor to one that had been recommended by Wirecutter. I also found a good CNET review of it. I don’t have much to say about it yet, since it’s still in the box, and will likely remain there until this weekend.

I bought my current router in 2017, so it was time for a new one. The old one still works, but it doesn’t support some of the more modern features and standards. Honestly, I haven’t kept up with all that stuff, so I couldn’t even tell you which ones are which, at this point, but I know I was time for a new router. So I’ll try to get that set up over the weekend, probably, and I’ll have more to say about it then.

On another subject, there are a lot of changes going on at my job right now, and it looks like one of them may snowball into a pretty big change for me. (Or not. Hard to tell.) Either way, I think I need to learn a lot more about Dynamics 365 and Power Platform and stuff like that. I’ve made some efforts at learning that stuff in the past, but I never wind up actually working on anything real with it, so the knowledge doesn’t stick. And of course everything changes, so the stuff I picked up two or three years ago is different now anyway.

A lot of the changes we made in April are getting, well, changed. I wouldn’t say “rolled back,” but I am back under the boss I had before the big changes in April. But she’s under a different boss. And we seem to be backing off on our enthusiasm for scrum a bit. And, as mentioned above, I guess I’m going to need to learn more about the Dynamics 365 side of things. Which is good, I guess, but right now, my head is spinning.

COVID boosters, iPhones, and NYCC

After dithering back and forth on whether or not I should get another COVID booster shot, I decided today that I should. I read this article in the NY Times this morning, and I guess that’s what convinced me. That, plus reading the replies to this tweet from Tom Tomorrow, where he asked about people’s recent experiences with COVID. Yikes, yeah, I don’t want that. I made an appointment for Monday, at the CVS in Bridgewater.

Meanwhile, my iPhone should have shown up today. The UPS guy came and went and just left a sticky note. I’m pretty sure he didn’t ring the doorbell, though my doorbell is a little iffy so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. The sticky note says that I can pick it up at… the CVS in Bridgewater! So maybe I can pick up the iPhone and get my booster shot at the same time!

Honestly, if the iPhone is available there tomorrow, I’ll make a special trip and go get it. But I know it might not be available until “next business day,” so that would be Monday.

Monday is about two and a half weeks before NYCC, so that should be a reasonable amount of time for the shot to take effect. So if I decide to go to NYCC, I will at least be as vaxxed as possible.

waiting on my iPhone 14

I went ahead and ordered an iPhone 14 last week. It should be here on Friday. I ordered the 128 GB “PRODUCT(RED)” version. My iPhone XR is also the PRODUCT(RED) version, so I guess I’m a PRODUCT(RED) guy now. I like the shade of red used on the iPhone XR. I saw a photo comparison of the XR and 14 red though, and I’m not sure how i’ll like the 14 red. I guess I’ll find out on Friday. It’s hard to tell from a photo.

I also bought the PRODUCT(RED) silicone case for the phone from Apple. I’ve never bought an Apple case before, since they’re so expensive, and it doesn’t seem like they can really be that much better than the generic cases you can get from Amazon or wherever. But, after spending way too much time looking at cases for a day or two after ordering the phone, I just gave up and decided that the Apple case was the safest bet. Of course, then I had to decide between the clear case and the red one. After spending way too much time thinking about that too, I basically flipped a coin and decided on the red one.

The case should show up today, and the phone should show up Friday. Apple generally uses UPS for deliveries, so I’m not sure if I’ll actually get the phone Friday, or if I’ll get one of those UPS sticky notes telling me that I need to pick up the phone at the UPS facility in Bound Brook. If it’s the latter, then I probably won’t have the phone until Monday or Tuesday.

The last time I checked, I still couldn’t sign up for UPS My Choice, since UPS thinks my address is a business and not a residence. If I could do that, then I could probably get some control over what UPS does with my packages, but I wind up having to drive over to Bound Brook to pick up stuff more often than I’d like.

And after typing that last paragraph, I decided to try signing up for My Choice again and… it worked this time! So maybe I will be able to get my iPhone before Monday.

I’ve also started thinking about how much of a pain it will be to move from the old phone to the new one. I think this will be the first time I’ve switched phones since I switched from backing up my phone on my Mac, the old-fashioned way, to backing it up via iCloud. I know that Apple makes the process as easy as they can, but I know there will still be a few pain points.

I’m really not looking forward to redoing my MS Authenticator setup again. I had to do that in January, after removing and reinstalling the app to fix a notification problem. Maybe migrating to a new phone will actually move the setup, and I won’t need to redo it? That’s probably wishful thinking. I think I actually have even more accounts in Authenticator now than I did back in January. I think I’m up to nineteen accounts now.

On a different subject, the Dark Sky app recently started showing a warning that it’s going to stop working at the end of this year. I’ve known that was coming for a long time, but I’m still kind of sad about it. I’ve never found a weather app that I like as much as Dark Sky. I know that most of the features from Dark Sky will be in the iOS Weather app in iOS 16. And, finally, the Weather app will be available on iPad too, with iPadOS 16. So I guess I’ll get used to using the stock weather app.

I’ve also got WeatherBug installed on my phone and iPad, and I like some aspects of that app, but the layout is too busy. I like the clean design of Dark Sky more. And I tried out Hello Weather for a while, and kind of liked it. I may have to give that another try if the iOS/iPadOS 16 weather app isn’t good enough for me.

Old Habits, follow-up

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s Old Habits post.

On the E-ZPass thing: I’d posted a request on the E-ZPass website, asking them to keep the account open, and surprisingly, they responded, and told me that they’d keep it open for another year, but would close it in a year if there’s still no activity. So now I guess I have a year to drive through a toll plaza at least once. I guess if I go another year without driving on the Parkway or Turnpike, then I should just admit that I’m not the kind of person who drives on the Parkway or Turnpike anymore.

On NYCC: I activated my badge today. It was less annoying this year than in previous years, since I only had the one 4-day badge, rather than 4 one-day badges. Badge activation is still a pain though. (See this post from 2017 for the full rant. Most of the stuff in that post is still true.)

On football: The Giants won! And it was a pretty exciting game. So, yeah, I guess I’m going to be watching football this year, at least for a while. If the Giants collapse and wind up on a six-game losing streak or something like that, they I’ll probably stop.

Watching the NFL is a little more complicated than it used to be, but most games are still on regular broadcast TV, so I shouldn’t have any trouble watching them. Thursday night games are now on Amazon Prime, which I do have, so I can watch those too. Monday Night games are mostly on ESPN, which I don’t have, but some of them (including tonight’s game) are on ABC, so I can watch those. This article has some details on the schedule. (Of course, I may just stick with the Giants games, and skip all the random Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday night games.)

I’ve noticed that there a lot of clickbait articles out there with titles like “How to Watch X Without Cable”, where X is baseball, or football, or tennis, or whatever. And they’re all basically just trying to drive traffic through affiliate links to DirecTV, Hulu, and other services that offer cable channels over the internet. There must be a lot of money in those affiliate links, since so many people are posting these articles. And very few of them actually have any useful info in them. They mostly just seem to be copy & paste from a template, then tweak for a particular sport or event. Oh well. I guess that’s how folks running web sites make money these days. Can’t blame them for doing that.

Old Habits

I’ve been thinking lately about old habits, and inertia, and what I should be examining and rethinking. A lot of this is due to the change in seasons.

And a little is due to a letter I got in the mail from E-ZPass last week. Apparently, I haven’t used my E-ZPass since 2019, so they’re going to close out my account. I was a little surprised by this, but when I stopped and thought about it, I realized that it’s true. The last time I drove on the Parkway or Turnpike was June 22, 2019, according to my E-ZPass history. Looking at my Day One journal, I see that I’d gone down to Whiting on that day, to visit my old friend Gloria’s family, and to visit the cemetery. And I haven’t been down there since. I’ve thought about visiting the cemetery on multiple occasions over the last few years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

I guess I can keep my E-ZPass account active if I use it within the next couple of weeks. So maybe I should drive down to the cemetery and say hello to my parents. Or I could just give up on E-ZPass and return it.

Another thing I’m thinking about, and this one is definitely related to the change in seasons, is football. I haven’t paid much attention to the NFL the last few years, but I’m going to give it a try again this year. Today is the first Sunday of the season, and I’m currently watching the Jets game. I’ll watch the Giants game at 4 PM too, and maybe the Sunday night game on NBC after that. Or maybe not. I’m not paying a lot of attention to the Jets game right now, but I’m getting a nice feeling of comfort and familiarity from it. Just the sound of the game in the background is kind of nice, especially on a rainy Sunday in September.

I just googled “comfort of the familiar” and found some interesting stuff. It can be a good thing and a bad thing. I don’t think there’s any harm in getting some comfort from the sounds of a football game. But if I find that it’s not doing much for me, there’s also no harm in turning it off and reading a book.

On another subject, I just got my badge for NYCC in the mail. I still have plenty of time to decide if I’m actually going or not. I haven’t made a hotel reservation. If I go, I guess I’ll just take the train in each day. And if I don’t go, I’m out $210, unless I can resell my badge to someone else, but that’s not a big deal if that’s the way it goes. I’m fine either way.

I just looking at Evernote and Day One, trying to figure out when the last time I’d been in NYC was. When I went up to Albany in March, I spent an hour or so in NYC, to switch trains. But the last time I really did anything in NYC was October 2021, for last year’s NYCC. I’d thought about going in for some museum visits on various weekends this summer, but just never got around to it. So I’m wondering if I should keep paying for my Met and MoMA memberships, or let them expire.

I’m starting to wonder if my life is ever going to get back to what it used to be, pre-COVID. And I’m wondering if I actually want it to, or need it to. Part of me is fine with my “new normal” of spending a lot more time in my apartment, and a lot more time closer to home, in general. I need to think about what I should hold on to, and what I should let go of.

Butt Books

From How Book Bans Turned a Texas Town Upside Down:

By early August, two of the butt books and several more that had been called out by the group vanished from Llano Library’s shelves and online catalog listings, including Jane Bexley’s “Larry the Farting Leprechaun,” “Gary the Goose and His Gas on the Loose,” “Freddie the Farting Snowman” and “Harvey the Heart Had Too Many Farts,” along with “My Butt Is So Noisy!” and “I Broke My Butt!” Amber Milum, the Llano County Library System’s director, handles purchasing books for all three of the county’s public libraries. In early October, she wrote an email with the subject “Butt Books” to the commissioners explaining that the situation had been handled: “All of the books have been in my file cabinet in the office.”

It starts with the fart books, then winds up with bans on serious stuff like The Handmaid’s Tale, Separate is Never Equal, Between the World and Me, and Maus. (My local library has nearly all of these serious books, by the way, but none of the fart books, unfortunately. A general “fart” search, though, reveals that there are plenty of fart-related books in the library.)

Articles like this always send me into a spiral of anger and despair. Which I should probably mitigate by doing something useful, like donating a few bucks to the ACLU and/or the CBLDF.

COVID, and NYCC, and iPhones, and other stuff

It’s been about a month since I’ve last posted here, and I have a backlog of stuff in my head that I’ve been meaning to post about. And a number of things came up today that seem like they might be worth mentioning.

Also, I might be a little jumpy from my afternoon cappuccino, so this post might go all over the place…

NYCC announced their mask policy for this year today. In short, they’re requiring masks, but not vaccination. The con is happening in about a month (October 6-9) and I still haven’t decided if I’m going or not. I’ve been keeping an eye on the news, with regard to whether or not there will be a fall surge, and how bad it might be. I just don’t know… I know they mailed out badges this week, so I’ll have those soon. If I decide not to use them, then that’s OK.

I listened to a bit of Andy Ihnatko’s Material podcast today, and he started it out with a bit of a “sermon” on masking and COVID. He mentioned something in there about his own decision-making regarding an upcoming comic con in his area (Boston?), and his thinking seems to be pretty much the same as mine.

I was sick all of Labor Day weekend. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t COVID, and I’m not sure where I picked up… whatever it was. At work, I’m one of a very few people who are still wearing a mask around the office. I did go to a couple of large in-person meetings recently, so maybe I picked something up in one of those. But I also went out for a beer and a burger with an old friend Friday night, so maybe that’s where it came from. (Though we were sitting outside for that, so there should have been less chance of picking up anything airborne, vs. being indoors.)

I honestly think I’m getting sick more often lately. The prevailing wisdom on that seems to be that spending too much time alone, indoors, has left my immune system unprepared for normal levels of airborne… stuff. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I need to spend more time with other people?

On another matter entirely, I paid some attention to Apple’s iPhone event today, though I was too busy at work to catch everything. My iPhone XR is now over three years old, so it’s probably time to replace it. The iPhone 14 looks… fine. If I stick with the standard iPhone 14, then I don’t think it’ll be that much different from my XR. It’s the same form factor (I think) and still has the notch. It seems to have a much better camera though, which is nice, I guess. The iPhone 14 Pro has some snazzy features, though I don’t think I really need them enough to spend $200 more than for the regular 14. (Yeah, that “Dynamic Island” thing is cute, but I don’t need it.)

I also have a bunch of work stuff I want to blog about, but I really need to organize that all first. So I guess this will just be an NYCC / COVID / iPhone post.

Phish in Atlantic City

I found myself on a bit of a Phish kick last week. It started out as a Grateful Dead kick, listening to Crimson White & Indigo, the live album from their July 1989 concert at JFK Stadium in Philly. That led to me spelunking through my (relatively) small collection of live Phish stuff. Which led to me noticing that Phish were playing this weekend in Atlantic City, for three nights.

I had a brief mental flirtation with the idea of actually driving down to AC for one of the shows. Then I remembered that I’m 55 years old, we’re in the middle of a heat wave, and hanging out on the beach for three hours with 30,000 other people probably isn’t a good idea for me. I also looked at the FAQ for the event and noticed all the rules & regulations, including a notice that attendees would be subject to a “thorough TSA-style pat-down search,” which made the whole thing sound a lot less fun and more like a trip to Newark Airport.

I’ve also considered buying one or more of the shows from LivePhish.com. The set of three is $35 in FLAC or ALAC, so that’s not bad. Certainly cheaper and more convenient that driving to AC, enduring a TSA-style pat-down, then trying to get through a three-hour show with no actual seats, surrounded by 30,000 other Phish fans. (On the other hand, there’s plenty of live Phish stuff already available on Apple Music, and I’m not enough of a fan to really need more than that.)

This recap of the first show actually makes it sound like it was quite a good show. Phish.net is a fun site to browse. There’s so much meticulously cross-referenced detail, and so much nuance that just goes over the head of a more “casual” fan like me. It’s fun when a band (or a writer, or artist, or whatever) inspires the kind of devotion that results in this kind of work. Sometimes, that kind of thing gets toxic and insular, but other times, it’s a lot of fun.