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.

 

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.

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.

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.

second thoughts, and other distractions

So after spending $300 on NYCC tickets yesterday, today I stumble across this article: Coronavirus wave this fall and winter could potentially infect 100 million, White House warns. So, yeah, that October con in New York is sounding like less of a good idea.

I found that article while going down a slight rabbit hole at work. I took a quick break to look at Hacker News, which led me to this notice on Jason Kottke’s blog that he’s taking a sabbatical. That led me to follow a couple of links at the end of his post, to Dave Pell’s and Craig Mod’s sites. And something at one or the other of those led me to the aforementioned CNN article.

I say all that to illustrate the fact that I’m easily distracted, and I’m trying to get better about that. I’m finding a little guidance on that in some of the stuff I’m reading right now, and in some of the guided meditations I’ve been doing recently. But I’m still really distractable. I think maybe I need to get back to using a pomodoro timer. I blogged about distraction about a year ago, and did the pomodoro thing for a while, but didn’t stick with it.

Oh, and to follow up on the financial stuff in yesterday’s post: that’s getting even worse too. See here: Wall Street, dragged down by tech stocks, racks up more heavy losses. So, yeah, maybe I should just live in the moment?

NYCC 2022 and other comics stuff

In addition to the random programming stuff I was working on earlier, I also decided to jump into the queue for NYCC tickets today. The pre-sale started at 10 AM today. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to bother with it, and I did want to go to the farmers market this morning at 10, so that won out. I came home with some radishes, carrots, and pickles around 10:30, and I checked in on the pre-sale at 10:45. They hadn’t sold out, so I jumped in the queue, just out of curiosity, to see how long it would take to get through, and whether or not they’d sell out of tickets before then.

Well, I just left the queue open in a browser tab while I did other stuff, and noticed that I’d made it through around 11:15. By that time, they’d sold out of “VIP” tickets, but regular 4-day tickets were still available. They were also priced at $210, which was a bit of a shock. (But, looking back at my post from last year, I realize that it’s actually a little cheaper than 2021, when they didn’t sell 4-day tickets, so you’d have to pay $240 for four $60 single-day tickets.) I was prepared to close the tab and say “screw it,” but some wild optimistic impulse got me to go ahead and buy a 4-day ticket anyway.

With a t-shirt added on, plus tax and shipping, my total was just under $300, which seems kind of crazy to me. Especially since I’m not even sure if I’ll go. I’m still pretty nervous about COVID and large gatherings. I did go in last year, but only for one day, and I got sick afterward. (Though probably not sick with COVID.) And I got sick after my trip to Albany in March. (Again, probably not COVID.) So I might punt on actually going to this thing.

We’re nearly at one million Americans dead of COVID now. NYCC is in October. I don’t really know what the COVID situation will be then, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be gone, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of people still won’t be taking it as seriously as they should. So going in to NYC for this will be a bit of a crapshoot.

I guess I’m not as worried about losing $300 now as I would normally be, since I looked at my Merrill statement yesterday. Without getting into specific numbers, let’s just say that I lost more money in April than my  total yearly salary in 2010. And May might be even more volatile. So $300 seems like a fairly minor loss, seen from that perspective. And, with inflation, that might not even be enough money to fill my gas tank at this time next year. So why not spend it on a comic book convention that I might not even attend?

(And yes, I know that I didn’t really “lose” any money on my Merrill statement. My total portfolio value dropped. I still have all the same mutual funds I had at the beginning of the month. The value will likely go back up again before I retire. And I’m not retiring for at least ten years, so I’m not cashing in any of those mutual funds any time soon. But still…)

In other comics news, I was saddened to hear of the deaths of two of my favorite artists, Neal Adams and George Pérez, recently. Adams did most of his most famous work before I was reading comics, so I’m familiar with his best work mostly through reprints. I’ve got the nice hardcover volumes collecting his Batman work, and I really love that stuff. I’ve seen him at conventions a number of times, but never thought to get anything signed by him, and I never actually talked to him, though.

Pérez did his most famous work when I was really in that “sweet spot” as a young fan, in the 80s, with enough money to buy a reasonable number of books, enough time to read them, and the right mindset to really get blown away by his work. I really loved his Teen Titans run, with Marv Wolfman, that started in 1980. and I loved his Avengers run, with Kurt Busiek, in the 90s. And so much of his other work was great too.

One more comics-related tidbit: I went to my local comic book store yesterday for Free Comic Book Day. It was pretty crowded, despite it being a rainy day. They limited people to three free books each. I got Red Sonja, Doctor Who, and Donald Duck! The Red Sonja book was a reprint of an old Frank Thorne story, so I grabbed that, even though I’m sure I already have it in a reprint collection somewhere. And you can’t go wrong with Doctor Who and Donald Duck. Marvel and DC, of course, had multiple FCBD books.  But I have no idea what’s going on right now in either the Marvel or DC universe, and I really don’t have the spare time (or the inclination) to get up to speed on all that. It looks like a few of the other FCBD books are available digitally on Amazon/Comixology now too, so maybe I’ll pick up a few more that way.

Fifty-five years

Well, I’m 55 years old today. Here’s a link to some posts from my 50th, 45th, and 35th birthdays. (Not actually “on the day” for those, but on the day before or after.)

In my post from yesterday, I mentioned that I might consider going into NYC this weekend, if the weather wasn’t so bad. Well, I only just barely left the apartment yesterday, and I’m thinking that today will be much the same. I briefly toyed with the idea of going into NYC and doing my usual museum visits today, but it was 20º out this morning, with a “feels like” temperature of 10º. And there was a stabbing at MoMA yesterday, so they’re closed today. So it’s not a great day for going in to the city.

I guess I’ll watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade from my window here in Somerville. I’m hoping one of the restaurants on Main St will have a corned beef sandwich special today, so maybe I can have a nice Irish lunch.

Last day of vacation

Today is the last day of my planned NYCC vacation. Several months ago, I put in a PTO request for Thursday and Friday of last week and Monday (today) of this week, thinking that maybe I’d try for a “normal” NYCC vacation: going into NYC for all four days of the con, maybe staying at a hotel, and using today to get my laundry done and rest. In reality, I went to the con on Thursday, came back home that evening, then spent Friday through Sunday mostly sitting on my couch, watching con videos, watching random stuff on TV, and not much else. I was low-level sick on Friday and Saturday, and started feeling better yesterday. I feel mostly “back to normal” today, and should be fine for work tomorrow.

I was surprised yesterday to realize that I was thinking of this as a “successful” vacation. I didn’t really do much, but at least I got into NYC for a day, and I got the chance to avoid thinking (much) about work for several days and relax. And, while I was a bit sick, it wasn’t that bad. I don’t know if this is a sign of my admirable zen-like equanimity, or if my soul has been crushed by everything that’s happened over the last few years, so just “going into NYC for a day and not getting COVID” counts as success.

Getting back to the MacBook issue that I mentioned in my post from Saturday: I thought I’d fixed it, since it didn’t recur at all yesterday. But the MacBook crashed again this morning, while I was watching an NYCC video, so I guess I didn’t really fix it. My current theory is that it’s got something to do with the battery misbehaving and/or the CPU overheating. It seems to happen only when I’m watching video, with the MacBook unplugged from A/C power, and only when I’ve been using it for awhile. I got a full Carbon Copy Cloner backup done on Saturday, and it didn’t crash, and of course I had it plugged in to A/C power for that. And it hasn’t crashed at any point when all I’ve been doing is browsing the web or working in Evernote or whatever. It’s always when I’m watching video (or have recently been watching video).

So I don’t really know what to do about it. I could bring it into the Apple Store for service, but it’s out of warranty. so it’ll cost me some money, and they might not even find and fix the problem. I could assume it’s software-related, and do a full wipe & re-install of the OS, but that’s a lot of work, and might also be pointless. I could trade it in for a new MacBook, but it’s only three years old, and I don’t really want to buy a new MacBook right now.

I guess I’ll live with it for now, and see if it gets better or worse. Maybe the macOS Monterey upgrade will fix it? (Or maybe Monterey will be a good excuse to get a fancy new M1 MacBook Air, as some features of Monterey will only work on M1 Macs.)

I’ve also (reluctantly) considered switching from Firefox to Safari on the Mac. Safari is supposed to be much better at managing CPU usage and battery than Firefox, so maybe just switching would solve the problem. But, since I use both Mac and PC, that means dealing with different browsers on the two platforms, which will create extra work and frustration for me. Well, I’m going to try to postpone any decisions on that for now.

Getting back to NYCC and comics: I’ve now watched a bunch of the panels from the con. Some were live, and some were Zoom-style panels. Some were really good, but a few had enough technical issues that I gave up on them. I enjoyed the spotlight panels for William Shatner, George Takei, Adam Savage, and David Harbour. I enjoyed the Ghostbusters and Animaniacs panels.

I would like to have watched more panels that were specifically about comic books and comics creators, but honestly there weren’t that many that I was that interested in. There were a couple that I started watching, but gave up on, due to sound issues and/or the fact that they just weren’t that interesting to me. I did enjoy the Brian K. Vaughn panel (though I still haven’t watched the whole video for that, since my laptop crashed while I was watching it this morning).

For TV-related panels: I still want to watch the Expanse panel, and the two Star Trek panels (Discovery and Prodigy).

It’s fairly typical for me to spend a bunch of money at a con, buying back issues, graphic novels, toys, and other stuff. At the con itself this year, I only bought one book (Love and Capes: The Family Way, by Thom Zahler). But, back at home, sitting on the couch, I wound up ordering a few other items, prompted mostly by stuff that got mentioned on panels. During the David Harbour panel, I remembered that I’d never seen his Hellboy movie, and I noticed the digital version was on sale at Amazon for $6, so I bought (and watched) that. (It’s not a great movie, but I guess it was worth the $6.) And during the Ghostbusters panel, it occurred to me that I haven’t seem either of the original Ghostbusters movies in a long time, and that I could buy both movies on Blu-ray from Amazon for $13. So I did that. And something on some panel or another got me thinking about Fables, and led me to buy Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland from Comixology, which was on sale for 50% off, and was (probably) the only major Fables book I didn’t already own (physically or digitally). So, overall, I didn’t blow a lot of money, or bring home a lot of physical stuff to clutter up my apartment, so that’s a win. (But I feel a little guilty that most of my con-related spending was through Amazon, and didn’t really do much to support the comics creators who showed up for NYCC.)

It’s now past noon, and my last vacation day is quickly passing by. I had a few more things to blog about, but I’ll stop here. I should probably try to eat something interesting and different for lunch today, so it feels more like a vacation day, but I’m probably just going to make a turkey sandwich.

NYCC and MacBook stuff

So I went to NYCC on Thursday, as planned, and it wasn’t too bad. The vaccine check-in was smooth and quick. Getting in to the con itself took a little while, but not too long. I got there around 10:30, so the initial crush of people trying to get in at 10 (assuming there was one) had subsided. It still took a while to get in, due to the usual metal detector, bag search, empty your pockets routine. (I kind of wish they could have skipped that this year, but I guess that kind of thing isn’t going away any time soon.)

I honestly didn’t stay too long, just a few hours. I bought a book from Thom Zahler in artist’s alley, but that’s all I bought. I spent a good bit of time wandering the show floor and browsing. I didn’t make it to any panels. I had intended to go to the Sandman Audible panel. I watched that yesterday, at home, and I don’t feel too bad about missing it. It was a good panel, but it was just a typical COVID-era Zoom panel. And I think it was pre-recorded, so the “live” panel at Javits was apparently just a showing of the Zoom call on a big screen.

I had also thought about going to the William Shatner spotlight. That actually was a live event, with Shatner doing his usual thing, talking about his recent projects and telling some stories. I watched that this morning. That would have been fun to go to, but I’ve seen Shatner live before, so I don’t terribly regret skipping this one either. I’ll probably watch some more of the panels today and tomorrow, from the safety of my own couch.

I started feeling a little sick yesterday, and I’m still feeling it a bit today. Hopefully, this is just my usual post-con malaise, and not COVID or anything serious. I’m fully vaccinated for COVID, of course, and I’ve also had my flu shot this year, so this is probably just the typical “con crud.”

While I was writing this post, my MacBook crashed. It’s been doing that a lot lately over the last few days. I initially thought it might be an issue with the NYCC video player, since it seemed to be happening most when I was watching NYCC videos. Then I thought maybe it was a Firefox issue, since it was only happening when I had Firefox open. (But, honestly, 90% of my MacBook usage is just doing stuff in Firefox.) Anyway, I’ve now run macOS diagnostics, Disk Utility, and Onyx. None of them found any issues. And I’m almost done writing this blog post, and the MacBook hasn’t crashed, so maybe that’s a good sign. I should probably hook up an external drive and run a full Carbon Copy Cloner backup, just in case. (And if it does that without crashing, that’s another good sign…)