final impressions

At long last, it’s the one device. I don’t use the laptop for anything personal but blogging. I don’t use the desktop for anything but Zoom and YouTube. This is my preferred device for anything personal, to the point that it is the exclusive home of social media and RSS; personal content doesn’t happen on the work laptop at all any more.

Next step is for my personal line with USMobile to be convertible to an eSIM. Once that happens, this phone can literally go anywhere I go with service. No more buying random SIMs or negotiating APN settings or anything like that. I have a one-handed device with a 5-inch display that can do my music, my podcasts, my streaming, my reading, phone calls, the works. The only reason I don’t call on it for video chat is because usually there are two of us in the frame and it’s hard to lean back on a phone screen.

Which brings up the question: what would I need a personal laptop or iPad for at all at this point? Now that work requires a privileged access device, a personal iPad Air isn’t going to get me anywhere. As long as the old iMac is my permanent telepresence solution, and the AppleTV works (and doesn’t have a higher-res TV to drive), this phone can do everything I need a personal computer for. (And may have to for years, given the rumors. If there’s no new iPhone mini coming, or it goes completely portless, I will ride this little blue thing until it drops out of OS support. New battery in two years and another one in four if that’s what it takes. AppleCare until they stop allowing it. You name it.)

It’s a marker of hope, in a way. Hope for a life where an iPhone 12 mini can be taken around the world as all the computer-camera-soundtrack-wallet you need. Hope that by this time next year, the soles of my Rancourts will be thumping on London cobbles or at least the alleys of Black Spire Outpost. Hope that maybe the world will get a little better somehow. It’s an artifact of the life I wish I could live – the sort of thing that goes with my brown M-65, my flannel and Rancourts, my wool caps and short 10 oz Yeti tumbler as the pieces of my attempt to cosplay as my best self.

the Billy Martin

“What I want; what’s most important to me is that Reuben gets his share of the hotel restored. Now I’m here to give you that chance.”

“Oh, you’re gonna give me a chance? OK. Let me guess. It’s a Billy Martin? I pass.”

Joe Biden stood on the West Front of the Capitol today and offered 74 million Americans a Billy Martin…with a catch. Yes, unity. Yes, coming together. Yes, negotiation and reason. But you’re coming back to us. You’re going back to how things used to be. You have to partake in the rejection of Donald Trump, and all his works and pomps. You have to abjure the Republican mode and manner of the last quarter century. You can be Republican, you can be conservative, but you have to agree not to be dragged around by the dick by Fox News and AM radio and conspiracy theorists.

This is a bet. Joe Biden is wagering that there are enough Republicans willing to deny Trump three times to let him push forward with the appearance of bipartisanship and push the QAnons and the OANNists and the Proud Boys into a corner – and let the resulting civil war rip the Republicans apart from the inside. The bet is that ultimately, enough of the 74 million people who were willing to re-elect Trump will be shorn off to prevent Trumpism from getting the critical mass to regain power.

We’re back to containment. This is the last chance for the GOP to climb off the train before becoming the QOP. It may yet be necessary to blow up the filibuster and resort to adding states and going full scorched earth to prevent the scum who tried to overrun the capital taking a place in American politics. But for the moment, the “not all Republicans” are being offered one chance at a Billy Martin.

flashback, part 112 of n

The recent discovery of “Nemo’s Dreamscapes” on YouTube has been a boon for multiple reasons, not least because it provides an alternative to the same old rain machine for evening wind-down and slumber.  But the scratchy 30s music is evocative on multiple levels. One is 1991, that autumn when I discovered the past – not just as history, but as old yearbooks and student handbooks, as football teams from 1940 and recordings of Glenn Miller. The other is 1995 – when my imagination became an anachronistic mashup of wax-cylinder recordings in Bristol and flying car terminals in Nashville.

I was on the Internet in my apartment and listening to scratchy AM radio driving around, clear channel stations from Cleveland or St Louis or Chicago, hearing traffic conditions on the Dan Ryan or Blues hockey or just the outrage of Browns fans seeing their team shipping off to Baltimore. A history professor asserted that with modern technology and media culture in the 1920s, Elvis Presley would have passed his days as a third-rate Jimmie Rodgers impersonator. And on those rare occasions when I was back in Birmingham and not in the dorms, I was occasionally found in a basement coffeehouse called Celestial Realm, where the music was almost invariably some scratchy gramophone-type big band recording of just the sort that has surfaced 25 years later with rain and fireplace sounds superimposed on it.

It’s a reminder that I was sort of there in the beginning. When 105.9 “The Bear” was attempting to bring modern music to a stagnant radio scene. When a coffeehouse, not a Starbucks, was a thing, and in the last days before Lion & Unicorn went all in on sports cards and collectibles instead of comics and rare Dr Who toys. During the era when Birmingham seemed on the verge of becoming a soccer town, and longneck Red Mountain Red Ale at the Garages after Bulls games was the height of my social aspirations.

Had I stayed in Birmingham, unburdened by the worst relationships of my life, it’s entirely possible I could have stayed and built, and felt like I was part of what I see down there now and honor in the breach with Legion t-shirts and Barons hats and the like. But my Birmingham was circumscribed by the limits imposed on me from the Hilltop, and to get out, I had to leave the whole thing behind. I don’t regret it. I had to escape what I had, because it took more off the table than it ever put on it. But it did rip out some roots that I probably could have used at diverse times in the last decade.

Instead, I’ll settle for falling asleep with vaguely pleasant memories of lemon poppyseed muffins, black bean soup in a bread bowl, raspberry Italian soda and very black coffee.