Heat Wave

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in New Jersey. And I haven’t been doing well with it. I started feeling bad Wednesday night, then had to call in sick on Thursday. I already had Friday off for Juneteenth; if I didn’t, I would have had to take another sick day. It’s Saturday now, and I’m feeling a little better, but honestly, just doing my laundry has pretty much exhausted me.

I had my groceries delivered from Whole Foods today. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. (I think the last time was in March.) I definitely wouldn’t have had the energy to go over to ShopRite today. (Well, I probably could have managed it, if I had to, but I’m better off resting, I think.) I didn’t leave the apartment at all Thursday or Friday. I might try to venture out briefly today, maybe to get a croissant from the bakery or something like that.

I’ve been thinking about why I’m sick and whether or not I could have made any different choices on Wednesday that could have prevented this. We had an IT Town Hall meeting on Wednesday at work. It was a 90-minute in-person all-hands meeting. I wore a mask, but there were likely a lot of germs going around. Then, later, we had an “ice cream social.” That was outside; they got a couple of ice cream trucks to set up on the patio. I got in line for that, but it was so hot I gave up and went back in. Someone had left a birthday cake in the break room, so I had a slice of leftover cake instead. So now I’m wondering if I picked up the cold from the town hall meeting, the ice cream thing, of if the leftover birthday cake did it. And I’m wondering how much the heat had to do with it.

Honestly, I’m wondering if I can do large (or relatively large) in-person stuff at all anymore now. And/or if I should avoid any kind of shared/leftover food that might have germs on it. I guess it’s good that I gave up on NYCC this year. Garden State Comic Fest is happening today in Morristown. I’d been thinking about going to that. It’s much smaller than NYCC, so I was thinking that I could probably survive it. But I’m definitely too sick for it.

Meanwhile, at work next week, I’ve got continuing fallout from the big project that went into production a couple of weeks ago. I think I’m managing that well. We also have an “agile transformation” project going on. We had an in-person training class on that on Thursday that I missed. And we’ll have two more in-person classes next week. I’m hoping I can make it into the office, and get through those in one piece. But I’m worried about it. Of course, I probably know more about agile and scrum and all that stuff than the people who are running the classes. But I need to show up and engage and figure out whatever hoops the new management wants us to jump through.

To refresh my memory on Agile, I started reading Clean Agile by Robert Martin last week. It’s not bad, so far. I read Clean Code a couple of years ago, so I’m familiar with Uncle Bob’s writing style and his various quirks. His style probably isn’t for everyone, but I’m OK with it. I’m curious to see how far we really go with agile at work this time. There was a big push for scrum a few years back, and we never really did it right. It’s easy to be cynical about this stuff. I hope we “do it right” this time, or at least close enough to right to be useful rather than just an additional layer of meetings and paperwork, but we’ll see.

I also started reading a fairly random book by John Maxwell recently. There was a push at work a while back to learn and embrace the Maxwell leadership style. This was back when I was still a manager. I haven’t heard much about it lately, but then again, I’m not a manager anymore. I noticed this book in my Kindle library, and decided to give it a try. I acquired it in 2009. apparently. It must have been a freebie. I have no memory of buying it, and it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I would have spent money on. It’s a self-help book on achieving your dreams, which is definitely not something I’m worried about right now. I’m just hoping to make it through the day, one day at a time, at this point in my life. But the book is interesting enough, in the sense that it’s giving me some insight into a mindset that isn’t my own.

I guess I’m taking a break from the Wheel of Time right now. I finished Crossroads of Twilight about a week ago. I think I’m going to try to read New Spring next. It’s a prequel novel, and was published after Crossroads of Twilight, so it’s next up, if I’m reading in “publication order.” It’s also a lot shorter than most of the main WoT books, so that’s nice.

Well, I guess that’s enough rambling for now. It should get up to 97 later, so I should probably give up on getting anything else done today. Time for a nap, maybe.

new cubicles and other changes

This week, at work, my group moved back into our old space, after having it basically gutted and refurbished. I mentioned last week that I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. Now that I’ve been working in it for a few days, I guess it’s not too bad. I still don’t like it, really; the cubicles are smaller, the walls are lower, and there’s not much storage space. But I’m getting used to it.

Overall, it’s been a rough week at work. We started using a new process this week that I designed and wrote (mostly) on my own, and we had some hiccups. I was hoping things would have smoothed out by the end of the week, but we’ve still got some issues that I’ll need to tackle next week.

One other random issue we’ve been having at work, which has been getting worse over time, is that Verizon cell phone reception keeps getting worse. It’s obviously a saturation issue, since it’s fine early in the morning, then gets worse over the course of the day. My cell phone is basically unusable by noon. It seems like AT&T works better, so now I’ve starting looking into switching carriers. That would be a big step for me; Verizon is the only cell carrier I’ve ever had, going back to when they were Bell Atlantic Mobile.

I’ve successfully made a few changes to long-standing accounts recently. (See previous posts about YouTube TV, my renter’s insurance, and my new Marcus account.) So that’s emboldened me to look at even more stuff, like maybe switching some stuff around with my phone plan. The first thing I’ve decided to do, finally, is to park my old home phone number. Verizon cut the copper in my building several years ago, so I switched to their wireless home phone service. I’ve had no problems with it, but at this point, I’m really not using it. But I still don’t want to give up the home phone number that I’ve had for 30 years.

So I’m moving it to a service called Park My Phone. They have several options for what you can do with your number there. I’m choosing their $6/month call forwarding service, so I can continue to get calls on the number. I initiated that today. It may take a week or three to complete. I’m pretty sure Verizon will put up some stumbling blocks. I did remove one myself, by logging into the Verizon site and unlocking the number, so the transfer won’t be blocked. I’m sure there are other weird little details that might get in the way.

I initially tried moving the number to Google Voice, which wouldn’t have had any monthly fee, just a $20 one-time fee, but that didn’t work. (And, Google being Google, there’s really no one to reach out to for help.)

Once I’ve got the home number off the Verizon account, then I’m going to think about moving the cell number to either AT&T or Consumer Cellular (which uses the AT&T network, I think).

Consumer Cellular actually has a wireless home phone service similar to Verizon’s, so I thought about moving both home and cell lines to them, but I decided it was really time to retire the home phone. It’ll feel weird not having an old-fashioned phone in the apartment, but I guess I’ll get used to it, the same way I’m getting used to a cubicle with no bookshelf and only two drawers for storage.

priorities, part two

OK, a quick follow-up to this morning’s post:

  1. I watched nearly all of the Roland-Garros men’s final. It was fun! Spoiler: Alcaraz won.
  2. I took a break from tennis at 10 AM to walk over to the Somerville farmers market, and bought a bunch of stuff, so that was cool.
  3. And I got myself into the NYCC ticket queue at 10 AM too. When I came back from the farmers market, I was still in the queue. I didn’t get out of the queue until noon. At that point, all ticket types were still available. I briefly considered buying a four-day pass, but then I saw how much it would cost: $250. (And that’s before whatever taxes & fees they add on.) I could afford it, I guess, but since I was on the fence about going at all, the price kinda pushed me over the edge into “nope” territory.
  4. And, at some point, I realized that I also wanted to watch the Phillies/Mets game from London today. That was set to start at 10 AM, and I thought about maybe switching back & forth between tennis and baseball, but honestly the tennis was good enough to keep my attention, so I stuck with that. I thought about watching the baseball game later, from my DVR, but I’ve already seen the headline to this article, so I know the outcome, which makes me a little less enthusiastic about watching it.
  5. And I usually like to make some progress with the Wheel of Time on Sundays, so I should take some time this afternoon and do that. So that’s likely what I’ll be doing for the next hour or two.

So, for anybody, who wanted to know more than anyone needs to know about what I’m doing with my Sunday, you’re all set now.

priorities

I normally try to take it easy on Sundays. I get most of my chores done on Saturday, so I can rest and goof off on Sunday. I don’t usually have much of a plan on Sunday. I realized this morning, though, that I have a few conflicting priorities. They’re all basically leisure priorities, so I’m not complaining, but I thought it might make a fun blog post.

First, there’s the Roland-Garros Men’s final. That’s starting at either 8:30 AM or 9 AM, depending on who you believe. The NBC/Peacock coverage starts at 9 AM. But the Roland-Garros app says it might start at 8:30. I tuned into RG radio a few minutes ago, and they were airing a repeat of a previous match, so that’s no help. I guess I’ll tune into RG radio at 8:30 and see if the match has started.

I resubscribed to Peacock recently, since they had a deal where you could get a one-year sub for $20. I assumed they’d have more coverage of Roland-Garros than airs on NBC, but they really don’t. I guess that’s all just on Tennis Channel.

My second priority is the Somerville farmers market, which runs from 10 AM to 1 PM today. I have a few things I want to get there today. I also know that there’s going to be a tent there collecting donations for the people displaced in last week’s fire, so I want to give them some money too.

My third priority is the NYCC ticket presale, starting at 10 AM today. I’d kind of decided to give up on NYCC entirely last year, after getting COVID right around the same time that NYCC started. I’ve found myself considering it again though.

And finally, the Pathfinder campaign that my brother tried to put together in 2023 fizzled out, but someone else who was going to participate in that has decided to take the bull by the horns and organize a D&D campaign, so I’ve been invited into that. They had a “session zero” last week, which I missed, because the info got sent out on WhatsApp, and, while I was on the chat thread for it, I’d turned off notifications on WhatsApp a long time ago, due to spam. I think they’re probably doing a session today, though I’m not sure. I feel like I should reply to the WhatsApp thread and see if I can get in on it, but since I missed the “zero” session, I’d be a little behind the curve. And since it’s D&D instead of Pathfinder, I’d be dealing with a slightly different set of rules. I’m not sure I have the mental energy to deal with it right now.

So, wow, even typing all of that up tired me out a bit. It probably makes sense to prioritize activities that involve interacting with other humans, since that’s probably better for my mental health than sitting in front of the TV. But I’m not sure I have the mental energy for any of that. I think I’ll turn on NBC at 9 and watch some tennis, then head over to the farmers market at 10 or 11, depending on where we are in the tennis match.

And maybe I’ll click on the NYCC presale link at some point, and get myself in the queue, just for yuks. Maybe it’s better to just stay out of it though.

I started thinking a bit yesterday about the idea of “listening to my body.” I took two naps yesterday, mostly because I just felt like I had to. As I get older, I think I need to pace myself and be more careful about things. I shouldn’t feel guilty if I decide I need a nap, or take a day off, or whatever. I need to think about keeping myself healthy, overall, for the long run, which, at this point in my life, probably requires more napping that it used to. And fewer comic-cons.

disarrayed thoughts

My head has been a bit muddy lately. There’s probably a bunch of reasons for that, but I think a lot of it comes down to lack of sleep, which I think is mostly due to allergies. So this post might be a little dizzy.

First, here’s the latest on the fire. Main St is now open to traffic again, though the sidewalk in front of Mike’s and King Tut is still roped off. I’m guessing that Mike’s isn’t coming back any time soon, if at all. That’s a bummer for me, since I got food from there at least once a week. (And, yes, I know it’s a bigger bummer for the guy who owns Mike’s, and the people who lived above it, and so on…)

And here’s a couple of fire-adjacent topics: First, looking for news on the fire has reminded me of how broken local news coverage is. I’ve gotten info on the fire from a combination of sources: TapInto, Patch, MyCentralJersey, and NJ.com for “regular” news. All of those sources are, shall we say, flawed, though. And I’ve picked up bits and pieces from the Somerville town Instagram and Facebook accounts, and other Somerville-related social media accounts. But it’s hard to piece all that together, and there’s so much cruft to wade through. I guess what I’m saying here is that, if somebody wants to start a good local newspaper or news site, that would be nice.

And the second fire-adjacent topic: My renter’s insurance just came up for renewal. I’ve been with the same company (Liberty Mutual) for all 30 years that I’ve been in this apartment. I’ve never had a problem, but then again, I’ve never had to file a claim. The cost of the policy, 30 years ago, was fine, but it’s crept up, and this year, the renewal price was almost $400. So, for the first time in 30 years, I decided to shop around. It turns out that a Hartford Life policy, with AARP discount, would be about half what I was paying Liberty Mutual. So I called LM to cancel. And, of course, they offered to “rerun my quote” and see if they could get the price down. Well, they did that, and (with no change in coverage) they got the price down to $117. So, the lesson there is: maybe review your insurance more often than once every 30 years.

The fire isn’t stopping the Friday night classic car thing on Main St, but they did cancel the street fair this weekend. (If I had to choose one to cancel, I would have gone with the car thing, but that’s just me. It’s too noisy, and I’m old.)

Oh, and my last, totally unrelated, topic is this: We’re moving out of our temp space at work and back to our old (now remodeled) space. We moved into the temp space in March. We packed up yesterday; the movers should be moving our stuff over the weekend; and we’ll start working in the new space on Tuesday.

I’m not fond of the cubicles in the temp space, but I’m even less excited about the cubicles in the new space. The cubicle walls are a bit higher than the temp space, but not as high as our old cubicles. And the cubicles are smaller, with less desk space and less drawer space. (And no bookshelf.) The desks are sit/stand, with the monitors mounted on arms, so that might be cool. And we’re getting new monitors, so that’s nice. (Assuming they’re better than the old monitors.) I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to give it a shot and see how it all works out. I need to figure out if I can thrive in a more minimalist environment than I’m used to.

Fire follow-up

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I see that a section of Main St is still closed off. I had to drive around the back way when I got home from work today. Here’s a follow-up article from News 12.

Walking down there, it looks like King Tut and Mike’s Courtside are both in pretty bad shape. I never ate at King Tut, but I got stuff from Mike’s almost every week. Right now, their web site isn’t loading and I haven’t seen anything posted from them on social media. I guess they’re basically gone now. There are apartments above both of those businesses, and it looks like they’re all uninhabitable right now too. So, not good. But things could have been much worse. A lot of the buildings on Main St are basically connected to each other, so it seems like a fire could spread easily. And I haven’t heard about anyone being hurt in the fire, so that’s good.

Work-life balance

From the NYT (2022):
Why Wall Street Is Suddenly Bullish on Work-Life Balance

Some fun quotes in here:

In this second pandemic year, bonuses would reach the highest point “since the Great Recession,” the business press repeatedly exulted, overlooking the incongruities of a system that so reliably converted the hardships of the many into gains for the very few.

And:

In his 1931 essay, “The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes speculated that by 2030 we might have achieved a standard of living high enough that people would work no more than 15 hours a week, devoting themselves to relaxation, culture, enjoyment, “meaning.”

And finally:

But are we perfecting “the art of life itself” in the meantime? It would have been hard to draw that conclusion on Wednesday in Central Park when the German pop artist Niclas Castello displayed his hollow 400-pound gold cube opposite the Naumburg Bandshell, where people in parkas stood in slush to take selfies with it. The gold, worth about $10 million, had been procured by the artist from a Swiss bank after which he paid a fabricator to turn it into a box. His plan is to sell the exercise as an NFT.

Yes, I know this is an old article, but I’m only now getting around to reading it. (As usual, my “read/review” email folder backlog is daunting, and has me in Feb 2022 right now…)