Socially-distant surfing

Thu Jul 30, 2020

Okay, week 21 of working from home (WFH) and trying to stay clear of hugs, high fives, sneezing non-mask wearers and large groups. As I write this, COVID-19 cases in BC have started climbing again - not unexpected after easing off on restrictions.

I’ve been keeping busy with work - doing a lot more Microsoft Teams meetings and creating fillable PDFs for an influx of paperless admin procedures. The projects and deadlines are not slowing down, but a general slowdown in the economy is something everyone has to grapple with.

Fortunately, I finally figured out how to use my mid-2010 iMac as an external monitor for my Windows work laptop. I was really missing the two external monitors I had in the office. But all it took was a $25 Thunderbolt 3 to Mini DisplayPort cable to get a glorious 27 inches of extra screen real estate.

But damn, does my iMac run hot through. The thermals in this thing are ridiculous - the feeble airflow coming out of the 3-mm vent at the top does nothing to stop it from becoming a space heater. Putting a fan on it helps a bit, especially in the summer heat.

Not that we’ve been getting much summer heat. We’ve only just started hitting the 25-degree mark - in late July. That’s the latest start to summer in the last 40 years. Lots of lingering dreary rain has also prompted the depressing Jun-uary joke to morph into the even-more depressing Jul-uary joke. This has been an anomaly year in more ways than one.

Good that we got the weather talk out of the way, cause we have lots to talk about, right? Er, no, not quite. There is nothing to talk about (hence the work and weather talk). I had some ideas for blog posts (such as: tech we were promised, but never got), but my heart just isn’t in it - maybe another time.

I’ve been playing a lot of games and watching a lot of Netflix though - let’s talk about that this month! And I bought a new pair of budget headphones, so I’ll throw in my thoughts on those too.

Ah, the joys of a personal blog - full of whimsy and vinegar. Dead and unread but still a delight - what a paradox.

Okay, so I’m writing some of this on the Ferry back to the mainland after a trip to Tofino. Thanks to the current WFH policy, I managed to put in a solid work day at the Airbnb before getting a good surf in after work. What a great way to switch up the home office!

I also get to wear shorts every day, which is unheard of (for me anyway) when working in the Summer. And shirt-untucked Fridays is shirt-untucked everyday now. Granted, the dress code at my current office is a bit more casual than other places I’ve worked. At a previous job, I remember how affronted the boss was when one dude showed up to work in shorts on one hot summer’s day. It was borderline scandalous.

Anyway, I thought I’d go with the tried-and-true trifecta - best game, TV show, and book of the month.

I’ve been playing a lot more indie titles recently (for more details, check out my pinterest page. But the game I’m drawn to the most right now landed in my collection courtesy of the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality from that came with a mind-boggling 1,741 games.

In Night in the Woods you play a cartoon cat. Indeed, all the characters are cartoon animals. But the cutesy artwork belies the sophistication of a game loaded with some adult themes. The cartoon cat is actually a twenty-year old girl who dropped out of college to move back in with her parents in the small town where she grew up.

This game is about the hardships of the working class in small-town America. It’s also a coming-of-age story about the painful transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s about mental illness. It’s about religion and small-town politics. Throw in a murder mystery with a severed arm thrown in there too.

There’s a balanced blend of lightness and heaviness in this game which offers you moments of levity in fun minigames if you ever find the main story is dragging you down. The dialog and character development is on point. It’s rare to see such fantastic writing in a game. What a welcome and much-needed evolution of the Adventure Game genre - I hope more games like this are made.

Now, I hate to be that literary writer guy who tries to tie everything together with a flimsy thematic thread, but hey, I’m that guy. So, let’s seamlessly transition from the small town of Possum Springs to the small town of Charming.

For the uninitiated, I am referring to the TV show Sons of Anarchy (that’s SOA for the faithful). Before I started watching SOA, I wasn’t sure I would relate to the members of a biker gang. In fact, when I see a group of bikers roaring down the freeway I just find them annoying and vaguely threatening.

But my old boss told me about this show back in 2008 when we were trading free DNS proxies to watch U.S. Netflix shows. Yes, you could simply alter your DNS record back then to access U.S. content, but Netflix has since cracked down on it. Anyway, he told me the show was pretty addictive but I didn’t believe it – even though another guy at work ended up buying the entire DVD set so he could binge watch it when he found out that Netflix didn’t offer all the seasons.

Well, SOA finally arrived on Netflix Canada this month so I figured – what the heck, I got the time. Major spoiler alerts ahead in case SOA is in your Netflix queue.

Having watched the first two seasons already, I can now confirm that SOA is a hardcore soap opera for guys that will hook you right after the Kurt-Cobain-lookalike protagonist’s mom (the actress who played Peggy from Love and Marriage) gives a Heroin-loaded syringe to his ex wife in hospital and tells her to kill herself after she has an overdose and causes their baby to be born prematurely in an emergency C-section but the doctor is his high-school sweetheart so his mom hates her too and oh my lord it’s so good.

I’ll give an honourable mention to the first season of Vikings because the tale of Ragnar Lothbrok is also wildly entertaining.

For book of the month, I’m giving the prize to the novel I’m currently reading: Iron Gold - book 4 of the Red Rising Saga. In The Dark Knight, one of the greatest movies of all time, Batman says: “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” And that pretty much sums up this book so there isn’t much more to say.

Look, I’ve been handing out the best book award to Red Rising books for a while now. I love that Pierce Brown just kept going after finishing the trilogy. This book is set ten years after the events of the third book which is fantastic because older more mature characters break this novel out of the YA box in short order. Hey, the hero is a Dad now.

That’s it folks, but before I go, let me give a mini review of my new pair of budget ANC over-the-ear headphones: the TaoTronics SoundSurge 90s. In short: don’t bother. They are really well made, but not as impressive as my Haylou GT1 Pros. For half the price, in-ear buds offer just as much passive noise isolation as ANC. And they sound just as good to be honest. Maybe the over-the-ears will grow on me, or maybe I’m more of an earbud person. I don’t know. That wasn’t very helpful was it?

Okay bye - have a good summer.

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