Let’s do a stupid Facebook list thingy.

I’ve been meaning to post something for awhile now, but between working from home and the fast pace of news I’ve just not been able to compose my thoughts. So instead I’m doing one of those stupid “How Many X Things Have You X’ed” lists that make the rounds on Facebook. Only I’m doing it here so I’ve at least posted something. Feel free to play along in the comments.

Photo of old TV set.
Source: Rene Asmussen

You never realize how much/little TV you watch until you fill this out. Put a ✔ by the shows you have watched more than 10 episodes of. How about you?

1. Grey’s Anatomy:
2. Stranger Things: ✔
3. The Vampire Diaries:
4. The Walking Dead:
5. Fear The Walking Dead:
6. Dexter: 
7. American Horror Story:
8. Orange is the New Black:
9. A Million Little Things:
10. This is Us:
11. The Simpsons:  ✔
12. New Amsterdam:
13. Manifest:
14. How To Get Away With Murder:
15. Breaking Bad:
16. Sons of Anarchy:
17. Scandal:
18. Riverdale:
19. The Good Doctor:
20. House of Cards:
21. Once Upon a Time:
22. House: ✔
23. True Detective:
24. Dr. Pimple Popper:
25. Power:
26. Empire:
27. One Tree Hill: 
28. Supernatural:
29. Family Guy: ✔
30. Santa Clarita Diet:
31. Shameless:
32. Pretty Little Liars:
33. Secret Life of an American Teenager:
34. Bones:  ✔ *
35. Criminal Minds: 
36. The 100:
37. Chicago Fire:
38. Chicago Med:
39. The Resident:
40. Game of Thrones:
41. The Big Bang Theory: ✔
42. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
43. Lost:
44. The Sopranos:
45. NCIS: ✔ †
46. NCIS Los Angeles: 
47. NCIS New Orleans: 
48. Law & Order SVU: 
49. Gossip Girl: 
50. How I Met Your Mother:
51. Blue Bloods:
52. Two Broke Girls:
53. The Office:
54. Blacklist: 
55. Full House:
56. Fuller House:
57. Downton Abbey:
58. Hawaii Five-O:
59. Big Mouth:
60. Last Man Standing:
61. Six Feet Under:
62. Wentworth:
63. Friends:
64. That 70s Show:  ✔
65. Girlfriends Guide to Divorce:
66. Heartland:
67. All-American:
68. Greek:
69. Yellowstone:
70. Better Call Saul:
71. You:
72. Rescue Me:
73. Scrubs:
74. Community:
75. Letter kenney :
76. Kitchen nightmares :
77. The Masked singer:
78. Robot Chicken: ✔
79. Vikings:
80. Mind Hunters:
81. New Girl:
82. The Good Place: ✔
83. Black Mirror: ✔
83. Lucifer: ✔
84. Peaky Blinders:
85. iZombie:
86. Parks and Rec:
87. Brooklyn 99:
88. Handmaid’s Tale:
89. Modern Family:
90. Smallville:
91. Seinfeld:
92. Gilmore Girls: 
93. Charmed: ✔ *
94. Private Practice:
95. Lost Girl:
96.True Blood:
97. Roswell:
98. Haven: ✔
99. Mad Men:
100. Arrow:
* Not by choice, but because someone else was watching it and I couldn’t be bothered to find something else to do.
† This is the only one of the NCIS shows I could stand.

As you can see, there’s a lot of “popular” television that I largely ignore. Add in shows like Happy! and Doctor Who and then my count would go up. Most of my TV viewing these days consists of movies I missed in the theaters and YouTube channels I’ve subscribed to. After cutting the cord, YouTube has scratched my channel flipping itch by having dozens of different short videos I can go through on all sorts of topics. And, unlike the text that starts this trivial exercise, I’m actually quite aware of how little TV I watch.

How about you? How many shows do you keep track of regularly?

Once you’ve eliminated all other possibilities…

I just had one of the oddest tech problems I’ve ever encountered come across my desk. One of the folks here at the office who just got a brand new, out-of-the-box Lenovo laptop with a fresh image on it was having an issue where it would go into sleep mode randomly every few minutes for no apparent reason. This was happening even though Windows was configured to never go into sleep mode whether on battery or plugged in. When she’d bring the laptop to me to try and fix it would stabilize and work just fine. When she took it back to her desk it would start doing it again.

I poked around through system settings, looked to see if there was any obvious malware, updated drivers, installed some Windows updates, ran a troubleshooter, did all the standard stuff. Nothing changed. When she used it it would randomly go to sleep. When I used it it ran just fine.

Time to turn to Google. Typed in “windows 10 goes into sleep mode when typing” and started poring through the results. First few pages all offered the same troubleshooting tips I’d already tried. Kept digging through Microsoft’s answers forum and various tech blogs and everyone kept suggesting the same solutions. Then I came across a post on Quora about the problem which had the following comment by a Max Ddos on it:

This is an older post but I’l like do add some new information as I had the same problem and maybe it would help other people.

I had a brand new Dell Laptop and it also went into the standby mode while I was typing. After several attempts to solve the problem, I bought a new one (or rather, my company).

But the new laptop had the same problem.

Now I found the solution: I was wearing a bracelet with a magnetic closure, and this magnet was causing the problem.

Source: Quora

There was no way this could be the problem, I thought to myself. I can’t even begin to imagine what a magnet could be interfering with to cause this issue. However, I was at a loss as to explain why it was happening for the user and not me because she even filmed it happening with her phone to prove she wasn’t crazy and I’d been working on it for at least 20 minutes without it so much as slowing down.

So when she came back around to see if I’d made any progress I just had to ask, “You don’t happen to have any jewelry on your wrists or hands that uses a magnetic closure, do you?”

Turns out that she did. Her watch band had one. I explained that, as crazy as this theory sounded, it was the only thing that appeared to match her situation. I told her to go back to her desk and try working on it again with her watch on. If it started going into sleep mode again then I wanted her to take her watch off and place it on the other side of her cube and try it again.

Fuck me. That was actually the problem. Almost immediately it went into sleep mode when she started working on it. She took her watch off and it’s been stable since. I have no freaking clue why this is a problem. The best guess I can come up with, and I’m sure it’s wrong, is that maybe the magnet is strong enough to cause the system’s fan to stop and it’s overheating the laptop enough to force it into sleep mode. This is the first time in my 30 plus years as a tech support guy that I’ve had to tell someone to take their watch off to fix the problem they were having.

An actual chat I had at work today.

You are the master.

No, I'm just pretty competent. I try to keep expectations low for those days when I inevitably fail.

Good plan.
Click to embiggen.

Coffee tribulations.

We have three different blends of coffee in the break room here at work. I am fine with drinking two of the three (dark roast is blech). So you’d think, given that I’m fine with two-thirds of the offerings, that more often than not I’d be able to waltz in and grab a cup without needing to start a new pot. You would be wrong. For the second day in a row I walk in to find that only the dark roast is made and the other two carafes are bone dry.

A photo of a cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee. Pic by Julius Schorzman.

If I were the superstitious type I’d consider this a bad portent for the year to come, but instead I just think I have shitty coworkers who NEVER MAKE A POT OF COFFEE AFTER TAKING THE LAST DAMN CUP.

I realize that with Donald Trump starting a war with Iran in the headlines that this is probably the epitome of First World Problems, but I am so fatigued by the Trump administration at this point that I find it hard to muster enough outrage to say much about it. Instead, I am complaining about having to make coffee at work because that’s about all the irritation I can manage this morning. Probably doesn’t help that I’m running on about four hours sleep (interrupted in the middle) so I could really use several cups of coffee this morning.

Welcome to 2020.

We made it. Not sure how, but we made it. It’s the 2020’s and we can look forward to finally getting those jetpacks and flying cars we were promised, right? Nutritious meals in pill form for the hungry person on the move. Fully automated kitchens. I’ve been really looking forward to that last one.

Not the mention all the self-improvement we’re going to accomplish this year. You know the saying, right? “New year, new me?” I mean, just take a look at the New Me:

Oh boy, we’re in trouble still aren’t we? That’s OK. We’ll be in trouble together. I’m not sure how this year can be anymore of a shitshow than last year was, but with Trump still in the White House I’m sure it’s still a good possibility.

But let’s not end on a note of cynicism even if it is on brand for me and this blog. Let’s try to be positive. The mess up above can be vastly improved with a shower and some coffee. The mess that is this country headed into the 20’s can also be improved with some effort. Let’s try and find the motivation for both and see where we end up next year.

Merry Christmas 2019 from SEB.

This won’t be a super long entry as this is the second year in a row that our budget has been tight enough that the wife and I weren’t able to get gifts for each other or much of anyone else. I’ve struggled with the holiday this year with depression setting in and the stress of my mother in rehab from breaking her hip. That said, I did get a couple of nice gifts from both my mother and mother-in-law that I am sure I will enjoy well into the new year.

Hopefully things are a bit more festive and joyous for you and yours. That is our wish to you this year. May the coming year be even better. For all of us.

The viral #chairchallenge video isn’t a fair fight.

So you’ve probably had this video pop up on your Facebook newsfeed a few times now and you’re wondering what the hell is going on:

Is this really an example of something women can do that men can’t? Well, technically, it’s not a fair fight.

This is an issue of where the center of mass and the fulcrum point is when you bend over. Most men have bigger feet than most women so they are a bit further back from the wall when they bend over. That shifts where their center of mass is away from the fulcrum point and that makes it impossible for men to lift the chair. You’ll note that most of the men are leaning forward to put their head on the wall so their legs are at an angle whereas most of the women’s legs aren’t. It’s only a few centimeters at most, but it’s enough to make all the difference.

If you match a man’s positioning to where most women end up then we can do it just as easily. If you move a woman’s feet to match where a typical man’s feet would end up then they can’t lift the chair either. You can see this tested in this video from Science Mom:

This also isn’t new. It seems like it pops up every so often over the years and goes viral for a bit and then everyone forgets about it until the next time someone pulls it out. It was really big on YouTube in 2009 for awhile, but you can find examples pre-YouTube such as the sitcom All in the Family back on the February 9th, 1971 episode. I was 3 years old when it aired:

It’s a cute trick that’s been around for a long time, but it’s not a big mystery. How baffled someone is by it is a good indicator of their science literacy.

Bah! Humbug!

Why you should never tell your co-workers that you hate Christmas decorations.
Yes, this is from my place of work. Click to see it in its full sized glory.

SEB is now, truly, old enough to vote.

Yes, I know I said that last year, but I’m bad at maths. If you take December 2nd, 2019 and subtract December 2nd, 2001, you get 18 years. That’s how long I’ve been spitting out what some would call content. Had you told me back then that I’d still be at it today, I would’ve laughed. The only hobby I’ve had for more years than blogging is playing video games and I’m still very active at that as well.

Granted, I’m not as prolific as I once was. I’m lucky if I get two posts up a month now and it’s mostly me rambling about my life, but I’m still here. I thought Trump being president would be grist for the mill, but there’s just so much crazy shit happening all the time with his administration that I can’t possibly maintain the focus on one or two things long enough to write an entry. I’ve let my attempts at podcasting, streaming, and vlogging fall by the wayside as well, but I’m thinking of trying to get back into those on my vacation starting next week.

It doesn’t help that my mother moved in with us and, in less than a month, has fallen off our back deck and broken her hip. This less than 24 hours after I had a handrail installed on the front porch. She’s had a partial hip replacement and has been moved from the hospital to a rehab center where she’ll likely be for a few more weeks. We’ve been visiting often trying to keep her spirits up as she goes through the physical therapy she needs to regain her ability to walk.

A lot has changed with me over the past 18 years. It’s weird to go back and read some of my early entries. There’s stuff I clearly remember writing and stuff I had no idea had ever crossed my mind. I suppose this must be what keeping a diary must be like. I made a few attempts at one when I was a kid, but I never got the hang of it. Guess I needed an audience.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the blog wasn’t always called Stupid Evil Bastard. The original name was Wandering Randomly Through The Blogs as I started in part as an exploration of this new thing people were doing. Alas, the Internet Wayback Machine doesn’t have any snapshots from those days and the oldest copy of SEB it has is from May 2002:

That was right about the time my web design skills would hit their peak and stay consistently mediocre from there on out. Still, it was legible and coherent. Mostly.

So do you have any favorite posts from times past? Anything I’ve written that has stuck in your memory like a bad penny? Are you glad we’re still around? Let me know.

Then and now. Me at the end of the decade.

So I saw something making the rounds on Twitter the other day where in honor of making it through yet another decade of life, folks are asking others to share pics of themselves from the start of this decade and now. I thought to myself, “Self, this would make an excellent blog post. We should do this.” And so that is what I am doing now.

Then, in my usual tendency to overthink things like this, I wondered if I should try to find more than two pics (the original meme only stipulated two) and if I should try to get them from around the same time of year or throughout the year or whatever. I’ve decided to go with the tried and true method of just winging it.

So, in the spirit of the original thingy, here’s two pics of me. One from July 2010 and one from November 12th. I went with July because I don’t have a lot of good pics of me from 2010.

Clearly the two biggest changes are the amount of grey in my beard and the number of wrinkles on my face. I was fat back then and I’m still fat now. One other big change is the first pic was taken in our townhouse apartment in Ann Arbor where we were living at the time and the other in the basement of my home in Westland. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever manage to purchase a house, but was finally able to stumble my way through the process just before I hit 50.

We lost Melvin in September 2012 and Cuddles graduated to Official SEB Cat with Jasper as the Emergency Backup Cat in the event that Cuddles was unable to fulfill the duties of the position. Today, at 9 and 8 years old, they are quite regal in stature and are doing well.

I don’t know that I’m any wiser than I was 10 years ago, but I’m definitely older and it shows. You can definitely tell that camera technology, particularly in cell phones, has increased significantly in the past decade. The portrait mode effect alone is an impressive development.

Not really sure how to wrap this up. I don’t have any great insights to offer other than “Hey, I’m still on the right side of the grass.” So I’ll wrap up with one last selfie that I took just this morning because I thought the early morning light in the car looked pretty nifty.