So, it’s time to rock out a little bit on the brand new Chromebook, put it through its paces, and see how long it goes with some writing before the battery starts to crap out.
I’ve been waking up these mornings during this particular Central Texas summer and feeling the pull of the anything-is-possible future, but taking it with a grain of salt. I know how the days go…the middle of the day is too hot to do anything outside except fry, and if you get your expectations for the day really going, you will be depressed by mid-day at how little you’ve gotten done or will be able to get done.
The usual response to this lack of activity has always been to write. Write anything at all, just start writing, and stuff will pop out. Eventually, either something that feels like insight will start to flow, or you will have at least hammered out another artifact that proves you made something while you were alive, even if it is just whining and obsessing over your past, present and future.
In this present old house, there are few good outlets for the laptop, and its batteries always seemed to be running out. Plus, I had to add a huge dongle to the side of it to pick up the 5Ghz wifi, since the baby monitor was messing with the 3Ghz wifi. So, I am always balancing it delicately on my lap in a chair or on the bed to prevent the dongle from snapping off. The battery inevitably runs out after about 30-45 min, even when it says it will last for 2.5 hours.
You try to close everything except your Chrome window and just write, but you find yourself running down the damn battery, and then you have to plug it back into the jack in the office, where you can’t use the computer when you are at home alone with the baby, because you either can’t hear the baby in the other room when he’s up, or you will make too much noise hammering on the keyboard on the desk while he sleeps.
The kiddo has gotten better about needing to touch the computer every time he sees me using it, but I still can’t get anything done unless I sit in an adjacent room where I can hear him while he bangs around and watches Daniel Tiger. Then, he gets mad when Daniel Tiger gets mad and throws his milk on the floor, and I have to go in there and pick it up and scold him.
So, really, the writing mostly happens in the evenings, and this is often interrupted as well. Ideally, I should be able to sit here well into the evening hours on the bed typing, but the battery was always wearing down. I finally broke down and bought this Chromebook because I had been thinking that one would likely remedy most of the issues I had been having, plus a 17 inch laptop is a little large for classes, and my wife may want to use the big laptop while I am in class.
The large laptop was purchased for doing a lot of web dev work on it/using Photoshop was a must, and a 15 inch Macbook was out of the question.
The gamut of laptops I have been through at home and work has led me to think that Dells running Windows will always be rather slow and eat up a lot of battery power. I guess my only reservation for buying this Chromebook was that we didn’t completely need another laptop–we could have gotten by with our tablets and the one that we have for my classes. If it turned out to be a piece of junk, the $250, which wasn’t much of anything while I was working, would turn out to be a piss-poor investment.
So far, I am pretty pleased with the thing. The screen display is great, the computer is fast, light and the keyboard feels pretty good for typing. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted one much smaller than 15 inches, though, as I do like the bigger screen and keyboard for writing and my old eyes can’t really keep up with the smaller screens.
As computers and technology go, I have had a kind of mixed relationship with them my entire life. Most kids my age didn’t get a personal computer in their homes until they were in middle school, and they mostly used them to play games. My dad was a computer programmer, and I really didn’t want to end up as a computer nerd during my teenage years. However, the pull of the early web was too strong, as the web started while I was in college, and the idea of making a lot of money doing easy HTML coding was too appealing. But, I regretted a decision to go that route pretty quickly, and regretted it more and more as I became the most technically-proficient person on the sales and marketing teams–relegated to being a web monkey of sorts, pushing buttons for others who weren’t especially creative, but prided themselves as creative, strategic thinking people.
Once you demonstrate that you are fairly proficient with technology, unless you have a true coding background, you can become the indispensable bitch at just about any office. Your head never gets the cut during layoffs, but you are never considered for promotion, either. You’re the web bitch. And, technology never gets any easier. People who are really passionate and good at designing web pages want to keep changing the rules, and it is hard for someone like you to keep up.
The truth is, I probably only have a mild aptitude with technology, and I would have been better served to admit this pretty early on after getting out of college so I could go back to school and get a Master’s degree in something where I could basically use the computer as a typewriter and internet machine, and let other people take care of all the issues with the technology and website not working correctly.
This is why I am a little reluctant to promote myself as a person with a web background when I go looking at the part-time jobs the seminary will have available. These jobs will surely pay better than working in the cafeteria, but I might actually be happier working in the cafeteria or perhaps calling alumni and asking them for money or working the front desk of the welcome center.
It’s a seductive trap, money is. During one certain period of my life, I had to pay something like $700 a month rent and $300 a month car payment while making about $24500 a year before taxes. This was the period where I drank up all of my credit cards and then managed not to declare bankruptcy. I even got a better, more expensive apartment and a slight raise, and managed to still do okay but never save any money (I was paying for huge amounts of interest on the cards on top of the debt). I was three months away from paying off the car when I decided to trade it in for a used Mustang that started falling apart almost immediately. Car payments were $100 higher. Yet, I still managed to get by. The salary continued to go up, as did the rent, and so did my ability to start going out and drinking and eating out more. During the period where I almost hit bankruptcy, I had reduced my life to being one of a bottle of wine on the weekend with the lady friend and one meal a day during the week of a can of tuna, box of pasta and can of vegetables.
As the salary greatly increased, I also managed to be more and more careless with money, though I was never quite so bad with the credit cards. I hit one more kind of bad patch with them, got out of it again without going bankrupt or defaulting on payments (which I didn’t do the first time either), and without asking Daddy for a loan, but I still managed to spend the entire paycheck. Every single paycheck was zeroed out by careless expenses. Too many meals eaten out of the house, too much booze, too many books from Half Price and off of Amazon. But, plenty of other careless expenses–letting the remaining money in the HSA get drained by the greedy bank and its fees. Not worrying about extra expenses incurred on vacations or overpriced trips to mechanics.
In short, I’ve always managed to get by on whatever income I had. When I had no income but a small allowance and the tepid savings from a summer job, I managed to have enough cash to buy booze most nights of the week while in college.
Of course, things are a little different now that I am married with a small son. If I was still single, I would probably pay the fee for not having health insurance if I found that the cost of health insurance was too high, and my employer wasn’t providing it. The school I am going to requires it, but I can see myself in some other situation where I would likely just let myself get sick and die if the illness or injury cost too much to fix. Now, I do have to be responsible, and think about keeping myself alive, not just worry about health insurance for my family, but for me.
They are different now, but the principle is kind of the same. I have a fairly decent idea about how much extra a kid costs, and aside from health insurance which can be somewhat recouped through the tax break I get for having him, he doesn’t really cost that much at all. The amount we spend on food and medicine for him isn’t that significant–it is a lot less than I spent when I was single and ate out and drank all the time. His grandparents buy him a lot of his clothes, and we have filled up his room with books and toys. Until he’s a little older, he won’t really care much about what he’s wearing or what his toys are. By then, I hope to have an actual job as a minister, and my wife will have a job of some kind as well.
Really, the significant sacrifice comes in curbing my spending habits around books, booze and food, which were starting to sneak up again, and also to face the fact that we probably won’t be traveling to anywhere more interesting than Galveston and perhaps Florida for the next several years. The books won’t be needed–I have plenty of unread ones already, and will be having to purchase many more for school that will occupy most of my time.
The desire to go out and eat instead of stay at home and cook a meal has been mostly curbed, but I do still hit periods where I kind of just want to get Starbuck’s in the morning, junk food during the day, and eat a meal with two beers at night. Sometimes I can have this desire for two or three days in a row, but I am getting better about not rationalizing why it would be okay to spend money on that stuff. In truth, until my wife gets a new job, we probably shouldn’t be going out to eat anything more fancy than Wendy’s, and that kind of food only once a week.
A lot will depend upon the kind of people we connect with when we get down there, and whether or not we find work fairly soon after arriving. If we happen to befriend a bunch of people who want to eat fancy meals that cost fifty dollars a person every week, then we might be in trouble. That has been the issue in the past. The work gang simply won’t let me save. If I decline too many invitations to go out, the work gang no longer invites me to anything. I just hope that a lot of these fellow students I befriend are as poor as the ones I met during the visitor’s weekend claimed to be.
Well, after some significant amount of basically running my mouth in text format, I can see that the battery has dropped maybe fifteen minutes or so–close to the actual amount of time that it’s spent unplugged. It claims to have over eight hours left on it, which remains to be seen, but it does appear to not be draining nearly as quickly as the Dell/Windows machine does.