My neighbor, while showing me how to fly the drone I was borrowing from him, asked me casually, “Would you like the old plasma TV I’m Freecycling?”
Curious, I followed him out to the curb of his house, where a 42 inch Panasonic plasma sat waiting for someone to pick it up. He told me the HDMI wasn’t working but that the component inputs were all functional, so I figured I’d toy with it first and then Freecycle it if I couldn’t get it working. We hauled it back up the driveway and continued the drone lesson. Later, we heaved it into his van so that he could drive it over to the house. It’s just shy of 100 pounds, so it’s almost impossible to carry by oneself. I was leaving for Paraguay the following day, and Jen wanted it out of our hallway, so she and I hauled it upstairs and onto our dresser, where it sat like the Monolith in 2001.
When I got back from the trip, I hooked an HDMI cable up to it and confirmed that it wasn’t sensing input. Then I tried my XBox with component cables, and…there was no input. I haven’t gotten any farther than that, though I need to try a camera with a component cable, or maybe our ancient DVD player which predates HDMI to confirm. But I’m pretty sure it’s a 42″, 100 lb. brick that I need help hauling back down the stairs.
We have found a house in Delaware that will be our vacation hideout for 2017. It’s up the street from 2014’s rental, and this one is actually across the street from the beach, but there’s access within a short walk and the view from the porch looks beautiful. We’re taking two weeks this year to get our full rest on, and we’re sharing the house with friends to offset the cost and make sure Finn has playmates to hit the water with.
Santa brought me a technological upgrade for Christmas this year. I’ve been using a base model Kindle Fire since last Christmas, when a rock bottom sale made the purchase a no-brainer. It’s a decent bit of gear for the money but I found it lacking in a lot of ways, especially after comparing it to the iPad it replaced. The battery life is short, which is no surprise given its size. The touchscreen is less responsive. And the interface, while functional, lacks some basic features–like a file system that lists files alphabetically. Santa took advantage of another sale this year and got me a Fire HD, with a bigger screen, faster chip, and better battery life. These small improvements have finally presented a useful replacement for the iPad; it’s faster, the battery lasts longer, and the screen is more responsive. It’s cheap enough that if it gets broken I’m not going to cry about the cost, but it’s powerful enough that it does the main things I need it for. Plus it’s got a mini SD card slot so I can add storage space when I need it.
This means my old Fire is available for Finn to use in a limited fashion; I’ve been reading up on how to lock it down for child-friendly use. Amazon has a couple of different approaches available for parents, from setting up a household account and making a user profile for your kid, to using an app called FreeTime which essentially locks the Kindle down to only what you want them to access. I haven’t figured out which one is better yet, but I’m going to get this sorted out in the next week. She’s asking to play Minecraft, because pretty much everyone else her age is already doing so, so I’m going to have to read up on that as well.
And speaking of games, I installed Steam on my work laptop over the break, mainly so that I could play Firewatch, which was available through a holiday sale. I initially tried to run it on my personal laptop but it was so choppy as to be unplayable–not surprising for a 7 year old machine. (This also raises the question of a new laptop sometime this year). I was excited about this game when I saw the previews; it’s produced by an indie game developer and funded by the company that makes several Mac apps I use on a daily basis, and it got excellent reviews when it was released. I played about an hour of it after installing, and immediately was hooked. It’s a first-person mystery exploration game, so there’s no running and shooting, and all of the information you get is through a walkie-talkie with an offscreen female voice or what you pick up along the way. I’ve played about two hours of it now and the mystery portion is just setting in. I will have to ration it out so that I don’t play through the whole thing in one sitting.
Meanwhile I started archiving photos from this year and making room for 2017. We’re running out of space on the basement server, so I bought a 4TB drive to replace the cramped media storage drive that holds our movies and music. I began reorganizing the miscellaneous files there to free up space, but it’s obvious I’ve got to rethink the whole situation, especially in light of the gigabytes of photos I’ve got from 2016.
Satan’s Hairy Armpit is upon us, with temperatures in the mid 100’s, and all of our air conditioners are cranking. Jen asked me to haul them all outside and clean them out earlier in the summer, and I’m glad she did; they were all disgusting inside, full of black yuck and gunk in the bottom. I disassembled each, sprayed them with mildew killer, hosed them out, and sat them to dry in the sunlight. Now they’re keeping us cool without spraying our lungs full of tuberculosis as we sleep.
I’m considering taking out a home equity line of credit before the election, as I don’t think the new bathroom will be completed without it. We can’t seem to get any traction going in there, and now that I’m not freelancing as much as I used to, I don’t have extra cash appearing magically to throw at it. I have no idea what the markets will do if either candidate wins (but I can guess what will happen if Trump is elected) so I think it’s time to get a fixed APR locked in before everything goes in the shitter.