My other early birthday present.

Thanks to a joint gift from my mother and sister, I have two new Hawaiian shirts in my collection. A collection that is getting increasingly tattered as time goes on. There are several shirts that I no longer wear to work because they’ve started to develop holes.

The favorite shirt of fat men everywhere.

Isn’t it pretty? I got two of this same shirt so it’ll take twice as long to wear them out. I’ve added a number of Hawaiian shirts to my Amazon Wish List from different manufacturers so I could figure out which would be my favorite so I could add a bunch more. These shirts are made by Pacific Legend and are 100% cotton. They were a bit starchy when they arrived so I ran them through the wash once to soften them up. It’s still a little itchy, but I’m hoping additional washings will help to make them less so. That said, the material is thick enough that I’ll probably find myself wearing these year-round. Also, this company has some of the more beautiful prints I’ve seen.

I also have shirts on my wish list from La Leela, and Johari West (whose webpage appears to have been hijacked so I won’t link to it). La Leela’s shirts are available in both 100% cotton and something they call Likre material, which is some form of artificial silk. The patterns tend to be more of the cliched sort for Hawaiian shirts, but I’d like to try one made of Likre just to see how comfortable it is. Johari West’s shirts are 100% cotton and have some bold designs similar to Pacific Legend’s.

I’ve mentioned before that my chest and back are really picky about the feel of the shirts I put on to the extent that even the weave of the fabric can determine if I can stand to wear it or not. Buying 100% cotton is no assurance I’ll be able to tolerate wearing it. I’ve got three Hawaiian shirts that I generally only wear in cooler weather because I have to wear a t-shirt underneath them or I’ll itch all damned day. Right now I’m on the fence about this Pacific Legend shirt. I’m hoping to find a few more companies offering Hawaiian shirts on Amazon, but these are the three that come up most prevalently in a search.

Anyway, another early birthday present that is well appreciated.

Spotted at the local Meijer store.

ballerinabatman

My birthday has arrived a little early.

I’ve had my eye on a new gaming monitor for awhile now. If you had snuck a peek at my Amazon wish list in the last 6 months or so you might have even seen it. I listed it as a pipe dream because it was very expensive. It was the Acer XG270HU Gaming monitor and it was going for $429.99. It’s 27 inches of beauty with a 144Hz refresh rate, a 1 millisecond GTG response time, WQHD resolution (2560×1440), with AMD’s Adaptive-Sync technology. Not cheap, but oh so nice.

It's so sexy! Click to embiggen!

It’s so sexy! Click to embiggen!

On Friday I got an ad from Newegg in my email that had another 27″ monitor on sale. It was only 1080P and 60Hz, but it had AdaptiveSync and a 2ms GTG for $175, which is considerably more affordable. I figured it was worth a shot to ask the wife if I might be able to get it.

She looked at me and said, “But that’s not the one you really want.” No, I admitted, but it’s got most of what I want and the size is the same and it’s cheaper. “Why don’t you just get the one you want?” My heart skipped a beat.

Still, I felt a little guilty at spending that kind of money so I tried to come up with a couple of reasons why I probably shouldn’t. The Radeon R9 390 video card I bought awhile back is more than capable of driving the monitor, but I’m still rocking an AMD FX-4170 quad core processor at 4.2Ghz so I was worried that maybe my CPU wouldn’t keep up with it. She asked me how much a better CPU would cost. The AMD FX-8350, which is the maximum my motherboard would take, is $150 so she told me to add that in. Eventually, I did. First I double checked the price of the monitor on Newegg’s website and it turns out they had it for $379.99 — a good $50 cheaper — so that’s where I bought it and the FX-8350.

On Saturday I got to thinking about it and realized the new CPU was going to put out a lot of heat and my system already is a blast furnace when it’s going full-tilt. Perhaps a new case was in order. Then I remembered that I literally had to wedge the R9 390 into my current case because the cooling system for it abuts right up against the drive cage of the CM Storm Scout case I’ve been using the past few years. So I did some digging and decided on a Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow case as a future purchase. I showed Anne on Sunday and she told me to go ahead and order it as well.

It's much more impressive than it looks.

It’s much more impressive than it looks.

So today it all arrived while I was at work and it was terribly difficult to not rush home to check it out. I’ve hooked the monitor up already and it’s stunning. I was telling someone at work about it and when I sent them the Newegg link I noticed that the price had shot back up to $469.99, $40 more than at Amazon at the moment. It was a stroke of luck that I got it at the price I did. I’ve booted up four of the games I’m playing the most right now (Call of Duty: Black Ops III, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and Overwatch) and they all look fabulous on this monitor. Even with my lower-end CPU I’m still managing 65 to 74 FPS in CoD so I expect that’ll only get better once I get the 8350 in this weekend.

The case has a dual chamber design with all the big heat generating components — motherboard, video cards, SATA hard drives — on one side and the power supply, SSDs, and optical disks on the other along with all the cables. Passthroughs spaced around the motherboard tray allow you to keep most of the cabling behind the motherboard allowing for unimpeded air flow. Two 140MM fans in the front and a third in back should push enough air to keep things cool, but there’s room for another five fans if needed. Plus there are mounts for radiators for water cooled setups on the front and top of the case.

A shot of the back with the secondary chamber revealed.

A shot of the back with the secondary chamber revealed.

It’s a bit on the big side and a little unwieldy, but I’ve not lugged my PC to a LAN party in a long time and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. This should help to ensure my system doesn’t fry itself once the new CPU is in place. Plus there’s more than enough room to accommodate my video card.

So, yeah, a bit of an upgrade to my system for my birthday. My wife’s only concern was that I’d be upset at not having anything to open on my actual birthday. Somehow I think I’m going to be OK with that.

 

What it’s like to work in I.T.

This is my job. Every day is just like this. This is a wholly 100% accurate depiction of what it’s like to be an I.T. Jedi:

You’re welcome, America.

Cargo shorts are another sin I’m guilty of.

As if it weren’t enough that I don’t take a proper cold shower, apparently I also routinely engage in a major fashion faux pas by wearing cargo shorts. If the Wall Street Journal — always on the bleeding edge of fashion trends — is to be believed, I could very well be destroying my marriage by wearing my bright blue cargo shorts:

Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa – WSJ.

Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they’re comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors say they’ve been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly.

I don’t give a flying fuck what the fashion industry and its aficionados think is cool when it comes to clothing. I’ve long given up on trying to be stylish and my rule is “if it feels good, wear it.” Hence I tend to wear t-shirts with a pocket on the chest and Hawaiian shirts at all times of the year and mostly jeans for pants.

cargoshortshj

When it comes to shorts I don’t have a lot of them because I generally don’t spend a lot of time outside in the summer and I can’t wear them to work (it’s bad enough I wear jeans everyday). As a result I only own one pair of bright blue cargo shorts that have some insignia on them that looks like they were aimed at surfing fans or something. If I’m going out in public in shorts then these are the pair I’ll probably be wearing. They’re comfortable and they have lots of pockets to carry things like my phone, glasses, and whatever the fuck else I need to carry. According to some folks, I should be tarred and feathered for being a middle aged man who dares to wear such an atrocity:

Around 2010, slimmer men’s shorts started to replace baggy silhouettes. By then, the backlash against cargo shorts was well under way.

Fashion guru Tim Gunn said in a 2007 interview with Reuters that cargo shorts were the least fashionable item of clothing in his closet. British tabloid Daily Express called cargo shorts “a humiliation for any man over 21 and should be sold only after proof of age has been presented.”

Leading the charge against the humble cargo shorts are the wives:

Jen Anderson, a 45-year-old freelance writer in Brooklyn, N.Y., said she used to tease her husband gently about his fashion choices, until he made a purchase that crossed the line: denim cargo shorts. That was “just too far,” she said.

Through what Ms. Anderson described as “strong mocking,” she convinced him to return the shorts. She said she doesn’t like the idea of being seen in public with her husband when he’s wearing cargo shorts, which make him look like “a misshapen lump.”

“It’s a reflection on me, like ‘How did she let him out the door like that?’ ” she said.

I’m fortunate that my wife is more concerned with my happiness than my fashion sense. Honestly, I think she’s happy if what I’m wearing only has one hole in it someplace (some of those Hawaiian shirts are getting pretty tattered). The WSJ article I linked to above talks about a number of wives who are throwing away or donating their husband’s cargo shorts when they’re not around which seems like a pretty duplicitous thing for a wife to do.

Besides, fashion tends to be cyclical. It won’t be too long before cargo shorts are all the rage again. The damned things have been around since the 1940s. Bell bottom pants made a brief comeback in 2014 that made absolutely no sense to me having had to live through them in the 1970s. If there’s one silver lining to the current backlash against cargo shorts it’s that it appears to make them relatively cheap so I think I may have to add a couple more pairs to my wardrobe.

Apparently showering is another thing I’m doing completely wrong.

showerheadIt seems the list of ways-I’m-failing-to-live-my-life-properly grows with each day. The latest addition the the list? Taking showers. I take very hot, almost scalding, showers every weekday morning and I love every minute of it. It’s one of the few things that make getting up to go to work every day tolerable.

Alas, more and more I’ve been seeing articles saying that what I should be doing is taking cold showers instead:

Cold showers are hard. That’s why you should take one. : TreeHugger.

The scientific evidence is there. Studies have shown that cold showers stimulate blood circulation, act as an anti-depressant, improve athletic performance, and can help with weight loss by burning off stubborn brown fat deposits. (See 5 reasons why you should take cold showers.) Despite knowing the benefits are real, however, very few people are willing to turn off the heat and stand under a stream of cold water. In the words of Carl Richards, a financial planner from Park City, Utah, “There is still this daunting gap between knowing I want to (and should) take the cold shower and actually doing it.”

I can tell you right here and now, that ain’t gonna happen. The whole reason man discovered fire is so he wouldn’t have to take cold showers anymore. You could tell me that taking cold showers every day cures cancer, makes me look like Brad Pitt, and will make me a financial genius and I’d probably try it once or twice and go back to being an ugly, destitute sloth who will die young from every cancer ever and I’d be happy about it because at least I’m taking nice hot showers.

The article I linked to above, however, says even if I don’t do it for the health benefits I should still do it preciously because it’s so hard to do it:

In an article for the New York Times, Richards explains that there’s another reason for doing turning the tap all the way to cold or jumping in a lake when you’re still cozy warm from bed that goes beyond the health benefits. He believes you should implement a daily cold shower precisely because it’s the hardest thing you can do first thing in the morning. Once you’ve got that under your belt, everything the day throws at you will seem easy by comparison.

Fuck that. Taking a hot shower is what enables me to face the day’s trials and tribulations. Also, making what the day throws at me “seem easy” is not the same as making it easy. Maybe if it actually made things easier I might consider it. Possibly. Perhaps.

OK, no, not really. I lurvs me my hot showers.

Go ahead. Ask me anything.

Just when it seemed like my blogging was picking up I go and slack off again. I tried to write a couple of things about the RNC and DNC, but the truth is I thought the former was a stunning shitstorm and the latter — so far — has been impressively optimistic, but then that probably goes without saying so I didn’t say it. Well, I suppose I did just say it, but I didn’t write a big blog post about either one.

I’m not sure how many folks are still checking in with SEB regularly, but I thought I’d take a chance and start a thread where I encourage those of you who are still here to ask me any questions you’d like me to try and answer. Anything at all. I can’t promise you my answers will be particularly insightful, but perhaps they’ll at least be mildly entertaining. More importantly, I thought I’d give the responses as a vlog so you can see my fugly mug and hear my melodious voice in all its sarcastic glory.

So, what are you itching to ask?

Adam Savage’s love letter to Cosplay.

I’m a huge fan of the show Mybusters and, in particular, Adam Savage and I’m sad that the series has come to an end. Thankfully, Adam is still quite active with his own YouTube channel and other projects that keep him putting out content. Recently he gave a TED Talk that was an open love letter to Cosplay and the people who participate in it:

My days of attending anime conventions are well behind me, but I remember well being impressed by the cosplayers who attended each one and the time and attention to detail in their costumes. There was more than one time I contemplated making my own attempt at a costume, but I never could decide on a character or concept and had neither the space or the skill to have done a proper job of it. To this day, however, I love watching YouTube videos of cosplayers from recent conventions around the world as well as the various galleries that get posted to the geek related blogs I read. To hear Adam speak so highly of the community makes me think perhaps I should have given it a go back in the day.

I’m on vacation.

introspective-catTechnically, I’ve been on vacation since a week ago and now it’s almost over. As a result I’ve not paid too much attention to what’s going on elsewhere and as such that’s why I’ve not blogged in a bit. That said, there’s been an awful lot of police shooting people who didn’t deserve to be shot in the news as of late and now we’ve had 5 police officers killed in Texas. Even when you don’t look at the actual news some of it still filters through on Twitter and Facebook.

I’m not going to spend any time on those topics right now because I’ve made my feelings pretty clear on this in the past: Stop shooting each other, you fucking idiots.

Instead, I’m going to go back to wasting what little vacation time I have left playing video games.

My employer wants me to drink more water.

Like many companies the one I work for has a vested interest in healthy employees. Too many people, myself included, are overweight and inactive and we contribute to the higher rates all of us pay for healthcare. As a result our HR department has been trying to motivate folks to be healthier.

This manifested back in the Fall of 2014 with the Fitbit Challenge where the company offered to give us a $99 Fitbit Flex for free if we managed to walk 8,000 steps a day for 20 days in a single month. I took on this challenge in the hopes that at the end of it I’d be well on my way to a habit of walking regularly. I successfully completed the challenge and even kept walking regularly and then winter set in and it all came crashing to a halt. The Fitbit got packed up when we moved last year and I have no idea which of the boxes it’s still stuffed in. Still, it was a valiant effort on the part of my company.

I don’t recall what they they tried last year to get people motivated to be more healthy, I’m not even sure they bothered, but this year they have a new challenge: The Water Challenge!

Are you ready for a new challenge?

Did you know that roughly 70 percent of the body is made of water? Brain 75%, Lungs 90%, Bones 24%, Blood 85%, Skin 80%, Muscle 75%.

Drinking enough H2O has numerous benefits to the body. Are you drinking enough water per day?

Challenge: Drink 64 ounces of water per day for 25 days during the month of July (1 – 31). Only water intake counts, any other beverages such as coffee, juice, sodas do not count!

This is their big idea for this year? Let’s all drink more water? It doesn’t help that the email is written in Comic Sans which makes it impossible to take seriously. I also don’t know what the little factoids at the start have to do with this challenge. Those organs are also made of protein so I guess we need to eat a shitload[1] more protein than we are too?

Don't leave home without it.

I never leave home without it.

My hatred of water is well document on SEB. As is the fact that it’s what I primarily drink these days. I have a mug or two of coffee in the morning and then it’s water from my trusty 32oz Contigo water bottle that I keep with me everywhere I go. I hate every fucking sip of it, but I drink it just the same. On average I go through 3 to 4 full bottles throughout the course of a day and some days it’s even more. So I’m already doubling this challenge on a regular basis. It turns out the recommendation for males is 16 8oz cups of water a day which works out to about 4 of my water bottles. Keep in mind that the average diet includes sources of water other than drinking it straight so you don’t necessarily have to drink 16 8oz cups a day to hit the recommendation.

Needless to say, I’m underwhelmed by this challenge. I fucking hate drinking water and I’m already exceeding the challenge by quite a bit. They want us to track our intake using our Fitbits, smartphones, or just an Excel spreadsheet, but there’s no real way to verify that anyone is actually drinking the amount they’re claiming. Up for grabs are four $100 Dicks Sporting Goods gift certificates which is something I have absolutely no use for being that I don’t exercise and have never set foot inside a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.

To be fair, I have no idea how many glasses of water the average American drinks in a day and it’s entirely possible that most of us are probably relying too much on extracting water from other foods over drinking it straight. I know I’m guilty of that in my youth where most of what I drank was Coca-Cola, which does get you some water along with a whole bunch of stuff that counteracts anything good about the water in it. A quick and dirty Google search provides this CDC article on the National Cancer Institute’s 2007 Food Attitudes and Behaviors Survey:

Overall, 7% of adults reported no daily consumption of drinking water, 36% reported drinking 1 to 3 cups, 35% reported drinking 4 to 7 cups, and 22% reported drinking 8 cups or more. The likelihood of drinking less than 4 cups of water daily was significantly higher among participants aged 55 years or older than among those aged 18 to 34 (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.3), among residents of the Northeast than among residents of the South (AOR, 1.4), among participants who consumed 1 cup or less of fruits or vegetables per day than among those who consumed 4.5 cups or more (AOR, 3.0), among participants who did not exercise than among those who exercised 150 minutes or more per week (AOR, 1.7), and among participants who were neither trying to gain nor lose weight than among those trying to lose weight (AOR, 1.3).

So it sounds like there’s more than a few folks who could benefit from drinking more water, but 2007 was a long time ago so it’s possible things are better (or worse) today. Still, maybe this water challenge is just what my coworkers need to be better hydrated. As for me, I’m already running to the bathroom more times in a day than I’d prefer. It’s that use of the Comic Sans font, however, that makes me want to start drinking pop again just out of spite.

[1.] I wasn’t sure if it’s spelled “shitload” or “shit-load” or “shit load” so I looked it up and was pleasantly surprised to see that Merriam-Webster actually has a definition for it. It’s spelled “shitload.”