Answers, the Second!

Time to answer some more of the questions from Ask Me Anything!, the February 2014 edition! These are from a couple of readers who wished to remain anonymous.

How much time do you spend out of doors in winter? Do you find that you get through winter better when you spend more time outside? What do you like to do outside?

Well…I suck at getting outside in the winter. I really need to, and yet every year, I don’t. Ugh. This is something that needs to change…next winter. (Too late this winter, I suppose.)

What would I like to do? Well, when I tried them in the past, I enjoyed both cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. I suppose I wouldn’t completely rule out downhill skiing, but I’ve never done that before, and in any event, I’d be limited by what I can spend on gear. I’m really not the type of person to have tons of gear around.

So, yeah: I need to get outside more in winter, and I have things I’d love to do. So what’s the holdup? Who knows. So I think that’s a good goal for next year: come up with something to do outside. For one thing, I can buy a pair of quilted overalls!

How often do you have to buy a new computer? Do you budget in advance for technology purchases by saving up for them?

For cheaper tech stuff — like my tablet — I buy that sort of thing when I have the money to buy it straight-up. Ditto the videogame systems: I find that if I know I’m going to want something, it doesn’t take too long to sock away the money to get it, especially since I’ve long been in the habit of saving a chunk of each paycheck.

Computers are more expensive, obviously, so those I tend to buy on payment plans, currently through Dell for the existing computers at Casa Jaquandor. This doesn’t tend to be terribly painful, as in a lot of cases I don’t need a new monitor or whatever. Frequency of purchase? Well, I tend to be really resistant to Ooooh shiny! as a factor, because there’s always a new batch of Ooooh shiny! to contend against. Today’s state-of-the-art machine is hopelessly outdated so quickly that trying to stay caught-up makes no sense. I know people who have literally owned every incarnation of iPhone, and I think, why?

I tend to treat computers as cars: I use them until it is simply no longer tenable to do so, when performance suffers to a high enough degree that there’s not really a choice anymore. The shortest period we’ve managed to get out of a computer is two years (a real lemon of an HP desktop we got four years or so ago); the longest is five, and we tend to get at least four. I got five years out of my first laptop, and in reality, it was still functional when I replaced it — in fact, I still have it, so I could probably still use it as a strictly writing machine. It was getting really slow for Web stuff, but running Open Office was just fine. It’s a Windows Vista machine, and in honesty, I might have kept it going even longer than I did but my hand was somewhat forced by the arrival of Windows 8. I knew that Windows 8 was likely to be problematic at first, and I didn’t want to jump on board the new OS so soon after release, so if I wanted a Windows 7 machine, it was then or never.

In terms of future computers, who knows…hopefully this machine lasts me until 2016 at least, and by then, who knows what will be out there. I love using a laptop this size, and I hope that the constantly-predicted “death of the PC!!!” doesn’t come to pass. But who knows? When I get my next tablet, probably next year I guess, I’ll likely get an eight-inch model (my current one is seven inches), and then maybe I get a USB keyboard to use with it, if there’s an OpenOffice app by then.

From a different reader:

Don’t you feel weird wearing overalls when they’re out of fashion?

Well, obviously I don’t! Fashion is a pretty dumb concept, really — just taking overalls as an example, they were common in the 1970s and the 1980s before they became really popular in the 1990s, and then they disappeared in the 2000s, a casualty of the sudden decision by the fashion world that clothes are supposed to cling and reveal. Baggy and big went out the window in a pretty big way.

But here’s the thing: I’ve never bought into the idea that something can “look good” one year and then “look bad” the next. I get that tastes change and we get tired of stuff, but the idea of clothes becoming laughable is downright silly to me. I have zero interest in adhering to what the “fashion” people tell me is OK to wear. And besides, the fashion people are telling me that overalls are fine now, anyway. So there’s that…but really, do you actually need societal permission to wear what you want, anyway? Sheesh!

Funny, though: I recently bought a bright yellow fleece pullover that I like a lot. My preferred winter attire is a nice warm fleece under a pair of overalls, topped with a scarf. Warm, but no pesky heavy coat to remove every time you go in our out. But then I realized that I can’t wear that particular yellow fleece under any of my pairs of blue overalls, because then I end up looking like a long-haired hippie version of one of these guys:

Hey, I love the Minions as much as the next person, but I’m not doing Minion cosplay.

A third reader:

How does a pie in the face not hurt??!!

Heh! Well, I suppose it could hurt, if you’re getting hit with a frozen pie that you didn’t thaw. Or maybe you didn’t close your eyes just before impact. Or maybe someone put some kind of caustic chemical in the whipped cream. Or maybe the person hitting you is a dumbass. Geez. You should never have to say “Ouch!” in the course of being pied.

Now, if you’re asking just why a standard-issue pie in the face doesn’t hurt, well, I don’t know. It’s probably something to do with physics and stuff, the force of the impact being absorbed by the cream and custard as it smooshes all over. I’m sure you could do all kinds of math and stuff, with coefficients of the viscosity of whipped cream and that sort of thing to figure it out.

More to come! And feel free to ask more questions, either here or on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. I’m always open to queries!

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