Friday, December 3 2021

boosters, being a mac user, and things you can't have

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Dear Journal,

Morning, friends of the blog. How are you feeling today? I trust that whatever your condition was when stumbling out of bed this morning, it slightly improved when you remembered that today was Friday. We only have to grind it out for eight more hours. Eight hours, give or take. Maybe if you kicked butt this week, you can cut a little early to play video games, and it will be our little secret. But we'll have plenty of time for video games later. For now, there's code to write, emails to read, and coffee to drink. Don't just sit there, we had better get started (with the coffee anyway).

Sip. Did you get your COVID vaccine yet? How about the booster? Marissa and Rodney headed over to the vaccination site yesterday afternoon for their boosters. As soon as Rodney stepped into the house, he stomped up the stairs to show me his bandaid, setting his bright orange mango smoothie down on my desk. "I got a shot," he said. "I cried."

"I went with Moderna, this time," said Marissa. It still cracks me up that there are different versions of the vaccine, and now with the boosters people have the liberty to mix and match. A round of Pfizer, then a Moderna chaser. Hell, why don't you live a little and have a Johnson and Johnson shot for dessert. Treat yourself.

As for side effects, Rodney felt totally normal this morning. Marissa, on the other hand, awoke with a nasty COVID booster hangover. At the moment, she's sleeping it off on the couch behind me. I remain unboosted. I figured it's probably a good idea to wait until my on-call shift ends. Knowing my luck, I would feel like crap and get paged for an incident at peak levels of crap-feeling.

So how did your Thursday go? I had another busy day triaging questions, looking into alerts, and chipping away at some code. I rounded the workday off with a check-in with my friend Connor. We had to postpone our standing Thursday meeting so his computer could finish some updates. When he was ready, we opened the floor by lightly roasting our company's IT department.

"Was it the pop-up where you only have the choice to upgrade or dismiss it?" I asked.

"Yeah," Connor nodded. "And then you don't have any control over when it shows up again. I did good work today, it was three o'clock, so I decided to just do it."

"A software upgrade, as like a little treat," I laughed.

I have been dismissing that same pop-up for the last month or so. Magically, it only appears on my screen during meetings, and on quiet days it's nowhere to be seen. Either that's a coincidence, or we have an evil genius working at our IT department that likes to mess with me.

Through zoom, I watched Connor's eyes dart around his computer screen. "You look overwhelmed," I laughed.

"Yeah they changed a bunch of things," he said. "I guess I'm on Big Sur now?"

We talked about our common experience as a daily mac user. From my view, using a Mac always feels like using somebody else's computer. When the update comes around, few things improve, plenty of things change, and some little things that actually helped you are just outright broken or deleted. I got a little worked up while recounting what my upgrade to Catalina was like. They switched the default shell to ZSH, and after switching it back to bash, I had to spend a half day trying to figure out how to hide a warning that appeared every time I opened my terminal. Classic example of Apple software update tomfoolery.

Incidently, Marissa is an expert at surviving big disruptive software updates. "You just can't customize anything," she says. "Leave everything like it is - they don't want you to show any individuality."

She might be on to something. Whenever a new version of Android gets released, I seem to be the only one complaining about the widgets that broke or the settings that disappeared. Maybe trying to feel at home in someone else's software is a fool's errand. Maybe it's better to accept that you don't have control over the next update. Framed like that, Marissa's nihilistic philosophy sounds kind of Biblical, doesn't it? Store up treasures in Heaven, not on your computer or your phone where patches and bugs doth corrupt.

The end of the day came swiftly. Even though it was only 5:15 PM, something about the thick darkness outside sapped my motivation to rustle up Rodney, make a grocery list, and drive to Hy-Vee. We decided to go out to eat instead to our staple restaurant The Brass Ring.

When you were a kid, do you remember pining after things that, if you were actually given them, would be totally disappointing? When I was a kid, I remember circling a sewing machine in a Toys R Us catalog just because I thought it looked cool, assuming it shot bullets or transformed into a robot or something. Rodney suffers from the same delusions. For him, it's the pool table and the dart board in the back corner of our favorite tavern. Rodney scarfed his burger and fries in a hurry so he could plead his case.

"Can I play the pool table?" he asked.

"No dude," said Marissa. "The table is too high for you. And they don't let you play for free, you have to rent it."

"How about I play darts?" he asked.

"Those are real darts - the sharp ones," I said shaking my head. "And there are people sitting right next to the board. I trust your judgement, but not your aim."

Rodney sighed and stared down into his lap.

"Sorry, dude," I said, feeling bad for letting him down. "Hey, you're do for a fun game night. I'll take you to Dave and Busters soon."

Poor guy. He just wanted to throw some sharp darts and heavy pool balls around a crowded bar. It's tough when you can't have the things you want, especially when you feel like you deserve them.

Hey, thanks for stopping by today. Have a great weekend, everybody.