Almost tired of the holiday

I suppose there’s a term for holiday burnout.  Perhaps that’s the term right there.  When you get to the point that you really, really want it to be all over with.  A little peace and quiet, and no one wishing you Merry Christmas, or expecting you to be happy all the blessed time because of the holiday.

Certainly (I think at least) it’s worse for those of us in retail.  When you have to be ‘on’ all the time, smiling and helpful to people who may be having a bad day and they (perhaps inadvertently, perhaps not) take it out on you, because they can’t get something that they’ve been wanting, planning for etc.  So, sometimes you have to bear the brunt of their ire, shrug it off and plaster a smile on your puss for the next person.  After a couple of months of that (think Thanksgiving and Christmas) one can get a little frazzled.

Then of course there’s the music.  Stores play over their sound systems music that people over the years have termed ‘Elevator Music’, it’s Muzak, but more increasingly it’s not just instrumentals, but what might be called ‘contemporary music’, ie it’s somewhat current, but it’s subdued, to keep the din of the shopping experience somewhat muted.  So you don’t have a silent store, but there’s something to mask the sounds of what goes on in a typical store, from chattering of the patrons, to other sounds that are normally heard in any brick and mortar retail establishment.  Of course, when you work in such a place, since the music is fairly predictable, eventually you know what song is coming next because you’ve heard it tens of thousands of times.  The music companies aren’t really all that unpredictable with their playlists, only every now and again do they change things up, and with some of them, they have contracts with companies that individual stores can ‘choose’ what playlists they can have piped into the stores, but the contracts generally are for several years in length.  So what you get is what you get all the time.  Try listening to the same playlist for a couple of years straight, 8 hours at a clip.  Try it, I dare you.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas music begins in earnest.  At least in my store.  One solid month of Christmas music.  Old ballads, newer versions, but of course after you’ve heard ‘Santa Baby’ by fourteen different artists in different arrangements, you start to go a little nutty.  Frosty the Snowman, or Jingle Bells are nice songs, but when you hear them played 3 or 4 times in the same hour, you start to wonder if you’re going to make it through the season.  I have to admit, after 30 plus years in retail, I wonder sometimes if I’m going to manage the rest of my time in the same type of job when the wonder and merriment of the season is being sucked out of me.

Sadly, it’s become more and more apparent that I’ll be glad when Christmas is over.  January can’t come soon enough!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings.  Thanks for reading.

Repurposing

For many years, I was going through a lot of cellphones.  A lot of it had to do with cellphones coming out with new doodads, new bells and whistles and wanting to be there to take advantage of them.  Only not necessarily the ‘new’ ones, the ones that people were reselling because they wanted the brand spankin’ new ones.

At present I have about 8 or 9 old cellphones here at the house.  Many of them are unusable because they’re just so old that connecting them to a carrier would be cost prohibitive, at least for me.  One of the less ancient ones is a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 that I purchased from somewhere.  I had another one, but I’m fairly certain that I sold it on Swappa.com a while ago, so obviously that one was no longer available to me.

As I have every year for the last couple, I asked my girl what she wanted for Christmas.  I remembered that she had been coveting an air fryer, and I had already been looking for one at retailers off and on for several months, but not really finding the right one for my preferences.  None of the ones I’d been looking at had the right features, or doodads, and I’d been remiss in just buying one at random.  Which is a good thing, since she informed me that she would very much like a new cellphone for her holiday present.

Oof.  That’s a bit of an outlay if I was to purchase something new or even used, but I thought back to the pile of old cellphones on my desk and got to thinking.  She uses StraightTalk, and if I could get the right SIM card, perhaps she’d have the right type of phone, with the right coverage as well as a stylus, which she’d been coveting.  So, I went shopping and investigating online to see if this was possible.  We’d tried something similar before, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work.  Swapping the SIM card from one of her phones to a Note 4 didn’t connect to the network, so we gave up on that enterprise.

I did happen to (finally) go to the Straight Talk website and used the chat portal to speak to one of the assistants. I informed them that I had a compatible GSM phone (unlocked) and needed a SIM card for a location that was not my own. I didn’t go into detail why, I just made sure they understood it was a former AT&T phone and I needed the appropriate card that would connect where my girl lives. Otherwise, they would have sent me a card that would have a phone number that’s more local to me. Even so, I should have remembered to look at the actual phone, because when I powered it up, I re-discovered that it was actually a SPRINT phone, not AT&T. Since it was unlocked, either I at one point had used it as my own phone, or had simply forgotten that it was a different carrier.

The SIM card arrived a few days after I ordered it. After futzing around with it a few times, it finally connected to the network and began running updates. It works just fine now and I need to be able to ship it to my girl so she can be using it for the length of time before the one month no-contract contract expires. Doesn’t do much good sitting here on my desk.

But it works! Go me.

Trash Can Roulette

I just missed the trash pickup.  Again.  And it’s ironic since I’ve been up since 5:45 this morning.  Plenty of time to get the cans and recycling out, only I’ve been doing other things, and a little procrastination since getting up.

Since moving here in 2001, we’ve had 2 different trash haulers.  The first one was sort of the ‘big dog’ in town, pretty much the one almost everyone uses.  They have multiple trucks, they expect you to separate your recycling (paper, cans, plastic) and pick up different parts of town on multiple days.  Of course, since they are the one most often used, they charge a bit more than anyone else.  They provide the bins that you use for trash, and if you use a different can, bin or box, they won’t empty it.  In that, they’re preferential.

About 5-6 years ago, my wife found someone else that’s also local, but they were just getting into the business and needed customers.  They just happened to be friendly with a former co-worker of my wife’s, so we switched to them.  They’re cheaper, they’re not so picky about what can or bin you use, and they (a bit maddeningly) even though we separate out our recyclables, they toss everything together into the back of the truck.  I’m thinking it may not make a difference at this point, that it’s entirely possible at the local landfill it’s all sorted, so this method is acceptable.  I never bothered to explore further, figuring if it wasn’t kosher, they would have been called out on it by now and we’d have gotten a message with our bill saying ‘please separate’.  Which we still do habitually regardless.

The only thing is, they don’t really pick up at the same time every week.  It used to be they’d come at 9, then 10, then within the last six months they’d show up at 11 or later.  Since they’ve become a bit lax, I’ve been allowed to do so as well.  Except for days like today, when they showed up early.  I only knew that, because having finished gathering all the trash and stuff to put out, I heard a large truck coming down the street, and peering through the blinds, I spotted their truck passing us by and turning the corner.  So we missed out again.  Fortunately, its cold outside, so going another week with 2 more bags of trash in the cans isn’t going to be a hardship.  In the summertime…different story!

Need to get back in the habit of putting out the trash earlier.  Or the night before.

One of the many reasons I despise Facebook…

I rarely use Facebook.  I used to use it a lot when it first came out, but as time has worn on, I’ve been using it less and less.  When I first signed onto the service, I was using it for keeping track of family and HS friends, with the occasional kinky friend thrown in for good measure (most of my kinky friends are located on Fetlife, so there’s not too much crossover honestly).  I’m a member of a group that makes mention of things in the town which I grew up, so I can keep track of things that happen there, for the most part.  It’s a notable town/village, of historical note and being 90 miles north of NYC, there are a good amount of people from there that have purchased property locally and attempt to co-opt some of the local ways and means, sometimes succesfully, sometimes not.  (Add in some celebrities that live in the vicinity, and it makes things a little more eclectic)

Around the holidays, generally one gets memes and things that are shared to your account by friends and family.  Some are cute, some are overly political and yes there are many that are downright idiotic. Try as I might, I make every attempt to ignore the stupid ones, but every now and again I get caught up in one and it grates my teeth thinking I should have left well enough alone.

The current one is the ‘what do you open first’ riddle.  It has had many iterations over the years, but the current one goes like this:

It’s 7:00 am. You are asleep and there is a sudden knock on the door. Behind the door are your parents, who came to have breakfast. In your fridge: bread, milk (pasteurised!), juice, and a jar of jam. To answer, what will you open first?
Send me a message in the form of a PM to reply.

Getting away from the fact that the word ‘pasteurised’ is in the British/Canadian lexicon, the old answer to the riddle was “your eyes“. You were asleep and you needed to open your eyes to do anything else.  Of course, someone decided that this needed an upgrade, so the new answer is involved in the last line of the riddle.  “To answer, what will you open first?”  Since many people use the app Facebook Messenger in conjunction with Facebook, and they’re usually on their smartphones, the answer supposedly becomes ‘Facebook Messenger’.  Of course, not everyone has the app on their smart phone, so it’s not necessarily the answer, even though the people who have been sharing it (ad nauseam) insist that it is.  Because either they didn’t get it right because it was updated, or managed to get sucked in by their friends, neighbors and whoever.  So arguments ensue.  Bad feelings are generated and no one wins these stupid things.  It’s definitely an updated form of a chain letter, though the consequences aren’t put off, they’re right there in front of you and you have the option NOT to participate, but generally, most everyone does.

I try not to.  Though with the having been folded into the birth family 2 years ago, I’m being besot by my half sibling as she messages to our mother, and I get sucked in.  Either on purpose or by accident.  I really ought to know better, but having not been (ever) in the popular group, sometimes I want/desire to participate.  But generally I get peeved through it (like now) and regret even getting involved.

Facebook is good for its original intention.  What it’s become now, I despise.  I’d delete my account, but unfortunately, it’s so ingrained in everything web and Internet, I’d be left out.  So, I manage this way.  Mostly.

Tumbling Tumblr

Admittedly I don’t have a huge social media presence, but I am on quite a few platforms all the same.  One of the ones that I use (or have been using) almost daily is Tumblr.  Though I don’t admittedly use it for vanilla purposes, and in the next 10 days it’s going to get sidelined.  You may or may not have heard of this, but the company that owns the platform; Oath, has decided to eliminate ALL adult content on the service.  Which means, if anything that even slightly looks like porn, it gets pushed off the service.  Meaning probably deleted, along with the offending account that posted it in the first place.  As you can imagine, this is causing a great deal of bruhaha with the majority of people who have such material in their accounts.

Fortunately, I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before.  A few years ago, the website Bondage.com went under, simple because it was considered extraneous, to the company that owns AdultFriendFinder.com.  Of course, it wasn’t just the website that was going under, there was an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server attached to it as well.  And this server had been working for better than 10 years, so you can imagine there was a pretty big community on it.  IRC servers by and large predate the Internet as it’s known today.  It’s a chat service that’s considered very ‘old school’.  It’s all done by text, you must have a bit of computer know-how to get onto one, and since that’s the case, you tend to get a different grade of person that’s connected.  Very few bright eye’d sorts, think more earthy, down-to-earth, the ones’ that have been around a while and seen a lot of things.

When the news came along, there wasn’t too much time to make any sort of plans, the clock was most definitely ticking, much the way it is now with Tumblr.  More than a few enterprising folks took it upon themselves to code up new IRC servers, but without significant outlay of $$, it didn’t take long for most of them to go under.  An IRC server isn’t something you code on a whim, it takes time, hardware and moolah.  Not a lot, but server space isn’t necessarily cheap.  And dedicated bandwidth to run it also costs a good nickel, don’t let anyone fool you.  Tally in the fact that you need more than just yourself to police it, because there are going to be unsavory characters more than happy to glom onto your spanking new IRC server and drown it, just on a whim, or so they said that they did.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I’ve been sort of watching from the sidelines on this one, seeing the posts interspersed with ones giving Oath/Verizon the finger etc. telling people where to go for similar service, how to back up their Tumblr accounts (Tumblr itself is making it difficult for people to archive their stuff) while I did a little searching on the web for a suitable program or manip in order to move my account from web to hard drive.  A couple of days ago, my efforts bore fruit.  I discovered a freeware program that’s been out for a couple of years, it’s kind of a ‘quick and dirty’ program but it gets the job done.  No frills, but then again it’s free so who’s quibbling?  Once I understood how it worked, it took all of about an hour to pull my accounts off of Tumblr for good.  It doesn’t hurt that I have 16 TB (TeraBytes) of hard drive space at my disposal.

I’m really not going to comment on what caused the problem, how it could have been more easily dealt with, instead of Verizon choosing the nuclear option.  I’m just glad I was able to get my things off the web and into a safe spot.  Yes, and make a little rant at the same time.  *Shrug*  I think I’m due.

 

 

My nightcap

It could be said that I’m starting to lose my hair.  To be more accurate, I’ve been (over time) losing my hair probably for the past 20 years.  I used to tease a former store manager because he has a bald spot and I started to notice it around 1995.  23 years later, my own bald spot far and away outstrips his.  So much so, at night I’ve been feeling a bit of a breeze on my pate, and it’s been keeping me from getting a good night’s sleep more than once.

A couple of years ago, the wife asked me (as she always does this time of year) what I wanted for Christmas.  I’ve never been the sort that liked accepting Christmas presents, even when I was little, it was a chore to tell my parents what I wanted.  For the most part, my mother had to watch me carefully, see what interested me and then extrapolate from what she had learned what my wish list was.  I just never really go out and away and talk about it.  So, my wife inherited that problem.  Even so, she’s managed ok, with some rather weird exceptions. (Naturally talking about the 1960s model Batmobile, the Quidditch set, and the teddy bear she got me last year)

2 years ago, she asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I’d been bothered by the breeze on my scalp and had been looking at websites that sold nightcaps.  Obviously I didn’t want an overly festive one, or one that was too sparkly, or had a big pom-pom etc, I wanted something that was subdued, useful and not gaudy at all.  Come Christmas morning, I opened a package and was happily presented with a dark blue night-cap.  I actually discovered it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to use.  I have sleep apnea and have been using a CPAP for the last 19 years.  The mask that I use is a bit unwieldy, and when one attempts to wear a night-cap as well, it makes for a little bit of an uncomfortable night.  Almost too much headgear to get a good night’s sleep.

So, for the past 2 years I’ve used the night-cap off and on.  For a time it ended up underneath the bed, and I only discovered it because we were needing to vacuum under the bed, and I stumbled upon it.  I had placed it next to my clock radio, and again forgotten about it.  I found it again last night, since the night before, my head was unusually cold and I thought about it again.  I suppose I was tired enough last night, that the whole headgear and night cap problem basically resolved itself and I slept pretty well…not to mention my head wasn’t cold!  So, it worked!  Just have to make it two for two.

Good night!

Baking up a storm (or not)

I may have mentioned this before, but I worked in a semi-commercial bakery for 12 years.  Though a lot of the work was from frozen ‘puck’ dough that was pre-formed, on occasion I was called upon to decorate cakes, and make things like angel food cake from scratch (50 lbs at a time).

Consequently, when it comes to making things for myself, I at least know how to go about it.  Too, I have the necessary tools, since my mother-in-law ran a dining room out of her home through the 1960s.  (When an Interstate was created and opened nearby, their business for the most part dried up [they owned/operated a motel] and closed said dining room)  I inherited a large part of her equipment, including a vintage Kitchen-Aid mixer.   Not one of the more modern varieties that has the hinged head, this is a beast, and it still has the Hobart label attached to it.  I don’t think I could kill it if I tried.  I expect it will outlive me, and the next 2-3 generations that make use of it.

I drag it out when I have large-scale baking to do.  Like for my slave.  She loves macadamia nut cookies (with white chocolate chips), and I found a great recipe for them.  Now, granted macadamia nuts are hideously expensive ($18/lb fyi) but being able to do a little baking for her, and hearing how much she appreciates the gesture as well as my expertise is thanks enough.  Giddy sounds over the phone (or in person, since the last time I baked them for her, I brought them with me when I hooked up with her in PA back in June) or just getting a message that says ‘I opened the last box!’ tells me all that I need to know.

Holiday baking can be a bear sometimes.  But on occasion, it can be all worth it.  Just have to know your audience, I suppose.