Yet another failure of a hockey plan

I just read the article about the Sanford Complex proposal in today’s pioneer. It described non-profits pushing for a vast investment from public governments for hockey-specific buildings that will magically bring in a lot of money. This sounds suspiciously like 2007. Except, instead of the WCHA and Bemidji State University, we have Sanford Health and Greater Bemidji pushing for a costly hockey boondoggle.

Also similar is the knowledge that this complex won’t come close to covering its own bills. To ensure that it can operate and advertise throughout the region (with the Amateur Sports commission, another seemingly private, non-government entity), they want visitors and citizens to pay a 2% a city-wide hospitality tax. This would allow them to burn through $750,000 a year keeping the complex open. Of course, there’d be extra left over from that tax, and it’s so kind of these two non-profit entities to allow Bemidji to keep $500,000 of its own taxes to put toward the other unprofitable ice rink in town.

I’m against the idea of private firms asking for taxes to cover buildings and to run a business in perpetuity. I’m also not a fan of a hospitality tax. So perhaps, in order to find a middle way that displeases everyone, we have a hospitality tax that raises $500,000 (a tax of .8% vs. 2%) and we let the non-profits find other methods to fund poor business ideas. After all, we do still need to cover the costs from the last time we let hockey interests dictate public policy.

Video Game Treadmills

So, as I’ve talked about before (or at least I did on facebook/twitter), I kickstarted a project making Video Game Treadmills. They’re known as the Virtuix Omni, and I’m one of the first fifty to get mine. It’ll be delivered this week, hopefully on Wednesday.

I’ve been planning since the kickstarter happened to hopefully open up a gaming/arts arcade using that, the oculus rift (or a similar headset), and computers. It’s been a long two year wait. But it’s almost here.

So, if you’re in Bemidji, and you hear loud cheering and excitement coming from down by Luekens South, it’s just me. I’ve gotten a piece of tech that I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for.

This is the treadmill: Virtuix Omni

house of cards

A person spends a lot of time trying to shout down the voices in their head: not good enough, you’re never going to make it work, why would any one listen to you. Maybe my voices are just louder than others. I don’t know. But you couple that inferiority with the massive student loan debt I have and the lack of any teaching jobs available that pay me enough to live where the jobs are, well. That $204k isn’t going anywhere very fast.

But you manage to put on a good face. You argue the voices down. You try. You joke about your situation.

And all it takes is one snide remark from a family member to bring the entire fucking thing crashing down…and validate those voices you were trying to shut up.

Tablets ‘n such

So I’ve had my tablet for over a year now, a Kindle Fire HDX 7″ that I bought on sale last year, with the 64gb built in memory.

I’m not sure what other folks buy their tablets for, but this one was bought specifically so I could read digital comics. I’ve tried playing some games on it, but they’re not really great (since Amazon locked the store, and it’s not hooked up to Google Play). Watching movies on it is fine, through Prime or by transferring movie files over. Still, I don’t tend to watch many movies on a 7″ screen.

Kindle books, of course, work really well. But I’ve got a Kindle HDX for those, and especially for pdf files. I like reading short fiction on it, or novels that read fast. Hence, the enjoyment of reading comics.

I buy them through humble bundle mainly, because they’ve usually got some stellar deals. That has lead me to purchase a few through Comixology (which works well on the fire). I’ve read more comic books in the last year than most other years combined. I had used Marvel Unlimited for a while, but wasn’t reading as much on that so I cancelled. Tough to justify $10 a month for a partial catalog, and very poorly organized comics. I’ll stick with comixology and the humble bundle.

Was the tablet worth $150? For me, I think so. This year’s crop of tablets are WAY cheaper, but would probably work well for what I needed. Buy what you need, not necessarily what you can get. A 10″ would have been nice, but as I’m finding on my Asus Chromebook (the kind that can flip over so you can use it as a tablet), it’s not significantly better…and it is more unwieldy.

The marathon has begun…

The two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years is always a bit of a long haul. I’m not, by nature, a social creature. Once or twice a month is fine for me. I see who I want to see, hang out when I want, and have plenty of time to recharge.

I’m not going to claim introvert/extrovert, as those labels have largely been over-used by today’s internet culture. Folks are trying to find out who they’re like, and that’s fine, but it’s not a label I necessarily need. Depends on the day, I suppose.

Anyway, the weeks around Christmas see me hanging out and socializing more than I socialize for months at a time at other times during the year. Today marks the first day, and I’ve got three social visits (though technically one is for business) to take care of today.

Bleh. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it…but it is very tiring. The goal this year is to have plenty of rest and good dietary choices to avoid the January crud I get every year.

Contract is over

Overall it was a solid teaching experience. First time I’d ever done team-teaching both in the classroom. Before, out at Ventura College, I had to split a class with a fellow adjunct because they had a limit of 9 credits per term (and each class was 5 credits). So basically, I taught 4/5ths of the course, and he jumped in for a fifth about in the middle.

This time, it was live teaching for an honors class. The first couple weeks were a little awkward as I was trying to figure out how/when I could step up without feeling like I was interrupting or stepping on toes. All in all, it was a good experience.

That, and I finally got to teach a class that focused A LOT on mythology. I’m glad I got that in before I say goodbye to teaching for the time being. I was getting pretty burned out, and its’ become abundantly clear in the last year or so that getting a full time job teaching will require me to move and to teach composition classes for the rest of my life. If it was ONLY one or the other, I’d probably be ok with it. But both combined is trouble.

Composition courses are what I’ve taught the last 10 years, with only a term off here and there due to moving/no classes (though I was still a student). I’ve done most everything to perfect the teaching of composition. Not a lot changes there, and maybe it’s a sign of burnout that I can’t see what could change. So those classes aren’t really fun any longer. Humanities, though, allows me to teach story…we even got to touch on Video Games and Comic books. That was a lot of fun, and I think the students learned something throughout the course. I also got to teach mythology, which obviously was fun.

Anyway, moving for a job isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as I found out a couple years back, it might not be affordable. I had a friend working in Miami at a university there, and the department was looking for more comp folks. At the time, I was looking for full time work (being an adjunct at a couple colleges to pay bills), so I looked into it. The rent alone would take half the pay each month. Even with income contingent repayment (which I’m on), I wouldn’t be able to pay bills down there. ON a full time salary. That’s why moving isn’t really in the cards right now: the debt load is limiting the amount of money I have to pay essentials…and being single, it’s up to my income alone. Not that it’s such a bad thing, really, as I own the house I pay mortgage on right now…and the mortgage payments (with taxes) are only $285 a month. You can’t find a two bedroom pet-friendly apartment for that nearly anywhere.

So, with the contract over, paying the bills is starting to become a concern. I’ve been working for the last year on FroydTech, LLC (started almost a year ago), so I have a good foundation to build that into high gear. While I don’t have employment in the regular sense, I do have options. It’ll be an adventure, that’s for sure.

Oh, funny aside: I started FroydTech, LLC to earn money to eventually pay for a computer or two that would work with the Omni Virtuix video game treadmills, and so that I could write those computers off on the taxes. Turns out that it was a good idea in more ways than one.

Final class was today…

And with no class next term, kind of an unreal feeling. It’s been a while since I’ve not had anything to do with school for any length of time. It’ll be good to get some other rocks a-rollin’ (like some video game treadmills…*coughcough*).

The students this term were solid, too. Very few issues either in my on-campus course or my online course. Now the grading time is a-comin’, but then that’ll be done. That’s next Monday’s trial for both classes. Should be pretty easy to do, honestly.

It’ll be sinking in then about not having to be involved with schools.

The “oh shit” moment will come out when I realize I’ve got to pay bills somehow. But I’ve taken steps for that, shouldn’t be too much of a worry…but still. It’s a scary thing when you are solely responsible for generating income as a business, as opposed to working for someone else.

All in due time, though. All in due time.

Got me a Asus Chromebook

So FroydTech, LLC has decided it can’t deal with my Toshiba laptop anymore. I can’t say I blame me for making this decision. The Toshiba works well for school, but with the teaching phase of my life ending for the time being, it is slow, loud, and unwieldy.

And, to be completely honest, my netbook no longer can hold the water. It was never meant to run a full WinXP install for this long anyway. I put in a SSD about a year and a half ago, and that helped it limp along just a bit longer. It treated me well, being the original teaching computer for me. But it started showing its age…and now even Chrome is slow as balls on the system. Downside: no more actually working on the computer. Upside: now I’ve got a portable DOS games machine.

So, in essence, that leaves me without a reasonable computer to use when traveling or heading down to the coffee shop (or the bar, tbh). Even if I chose to continue using my Toshiba laptop, it’s just too damn big. That’s one thing with laptops that I’ve grown irritated with, especially since my netbook: they’re uncomfortable to use/carry around. Desktop replacements are not for me (after all, my desktops are kick ass).

So rather than lug it around and put up with the insanely loud fan, FroydTech, LLC purchased a Chromebook. Specifically the Asus Flip Chromebook, but to be honest, the tablet side of things probably won’t be used much (but the option is kind of nice). As it stands, it’s got the same battery life of my old netbook (or rather, my old netbook after I bought a much larger battery a few years back), but much much lighter. The screen is good, getting used to the way Google’s OS works is somewhat of a challenge, but I’m getting there.

The screen resolution is passable, but it’s clear, and the keyboard (even if it is quite small), is VERY comfortable to write and type on. It’s actually enjoyable to type on, as it’s not LOUD.

So far I’ve not put the computer through the paces, but as I’ve moved most things I work on into the cloud in the last year or so, this small little piece of deliciousness seems to be made for me. Nice, light, decent set up, and small enough to actually type on in coach in an airplane. Totes sweet and awesome.

Now, obviously, this isn’t for everyone. Not everyone will be able to work through a system like this, nor will they want to deal with the lack of power to run through things. For me, though, it’s spot on.

35th Year

This is the 35th year I’ve been on this planet, as of 1am this morning. So far, it’s been very low key. Working. That seems to be how most birthdays go after the early 20s: you end up working more.

I’m off facebook so not sure what kind of shenanigans people are posting to my wall (since facebook reminds them), but that’s ok. I’ve had a few messages from folks on the phone, and I’m heading out to the chophouse this evening to have supper with the grandmother and the ‘rents.

It’ll stay low-key, but that’s ok. Maybe for the 40th, I’ll go hog-wild like I used to.

Probably not, though.