Wednesday, November 3 2021

reels, wireless, and playing with guns

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Wednesday. On this chilly Wednesday morning, I'm spiritually sending you a latex-gloved thumbs up against a white background. It pairs best with coffee and silence - enjoy it responsibly.

Sip. I stole this picture from Marissa's photo stream. Yesterday, she sat on the deck photographing all the paints and tools she uses in her studio. She'd spend more time editing them together against music for an Instagram reel.

Recently, Instagram has ruffled a lot of feathers with their new, silent emphasis on TikTok style "reels". Their "discover" page now suppresses image posts, and reels go straight to the front page. Marissa tells me that lots of established art accounts - a medium that doesn't lend itself easily to videos - dislike the new direction. "Nobody feels like editing a tiny movie on your phone everyday," says Marissa. "It sucks."

Then Instagram implemented a revolutionary idea. They started paying people to make reels. Marissa is back to editing tiny movies on her phone every night, but at least now it's worth the time. If Instagram, owned by Facebook, holds up to their end of the deal, they'll owe us upwards of a couple hundred bucks at the end of the month. I've never heard of anyone getting paid by Facebook, but I have to assume that money arrives in a blood red satin envelope - white hot, but unburned, still reeking of sulfur.

How are we feeling today? I'm hanging in there, but this pesky morning dry throat rages on. I'm getting tired of listening to myself complain about this, but it's dominated my mornings and hampered my concentration. For fear these journal entries make my life sound too bubbly and positive, I'm going to level with you. While writing yesterday's entry, Miles was crying in his high chair beside me. The crying made his nose run with boogers, the boogers made him cough, the cough made him start choking, and the choking made him cry harder. This is the misery and noise machine that has been my son Miles this past week.

On a good day, I can just tune it out. But yesterday, already dealing with my own dry throat, Miles' symphony of boogers and tears got the best of me. I slammed the enter key down on the keyboard and buried my head in my hands. Marissa, keenly recognizing one of my short circuiting moments, tapped me on the shoulder and sent me outside to clear my head while she cleaned up Miles. "That's why there's two of us," she said - our catchphrase for papering over our breaking points.

Miles and I have pretty much the same ailment right now, so I should be more empathetic. It's hard to sleep with this dry throat, and when you don't get good sleep it's hard to wake up. When it's hard to wake up, it's hard to stay focused on your work. Yesterday, halfway through writing a new section of documentation, I caught myself on Wikipedia trying to learn all the names of the expressways around Chicago. I learned that there were exactly two NFL quarterbacks that hail from Schaumburg Illinois, and curiously they both have played for the Chicago Bears - Kurt Kitner and Paul Justin. I learned that Packer's tight end Robert Tonyan was born in McHenry and Kirk Cousins was born in Barrington. Don't worry - I still got all my work done for the day, even though my methodology was a little more roundabout than usual.

I'm getting there, though. I already feel better than I did when I started writing this entry.

How about this for a non sequiter - have you checked on your wireless access points lately? It's been almost three weeks since I've rewired the dining room computer. But not once while parading pictures of the cozy setup around to my tech savvy friends did it occur to me to look into why the access point's light was turned off. This morning, I realized I had it plugged into the wrong ethernet port. On top of that, even after re-seating the cable, the plastic disc blinked a few times and shut off again, which google tells me is "failed to initialize" in Ubiquity's native tongue. That's the problem when having multiple wireless access points. When you only have one, it's more obvious that it's not working. But if you have two or three, one of them could silently fail and the others will shoulder the burden. You're none-the-wiser, as long as you don't notice the wireless signal in your house becoming slightly crappier.

I'll humor any techies that might be reading this. The busted model on my desk is a Ubiquity access point. I don't know why people go nuts for these. Sure, the hardware is sleek and futuristic looking, but the software can be so stupid sometimes. As this dumb little saucer throws an electronic conniption fit beside me, my Cradle Point access point has been humbly shouldering the burden for the whole house from upstairs. It's not pretty. It's controlled by a web interface that may have been designed in the late nineties. But at least when push comes to shove, it works, and that's more than I can say about this fancy Ubiquity access point.

In other news, Rodney's school sent us a heads-up that they'd be covering some intense safety related topics. When Rodney returned yesterday, he recited the sacred rules that had been drilled into him: don't play with fire, don't jump into water without an adult, and don't play with guns.

Rodney's eyes got wide as he launched into an anecdote. "There was a boy in a GREEN sweater," he bagan (of course Rodney the outfit enthusiast noticed what he was wearing). "He found a GUN under his bed."

"No way," I exclaimed. It wasn't obvious from the way Rodney told it, but this was a video they watched in class - not real life.

"Yeah," said Rodney. "He wanted to play with it. But then this girl - wearing a PINK dress - ran in and said NO. You can't play with guns," said Rodney emphatically. "But toy guns are OK."

What better way to sign off for the morning? Don't play with guns. Credit to Rodney and his school for those words of wisdom. Have a great Wednesday, everyone.