Well, it’s been another year of the blog! I think we can all agree that 2020 was a pretty big freaking dumpster fire. Thankfully, 2021 has been looking a bit better, although the jury is still out on many facets of the year (what with the Delta variant and all that). Anyway, on the subject of good news, I have two things to report.

Job Change

Firstly, I have recently started a new teaching job. Of course, I’ve been teaching for the past few years as a licensed teacher with a social studies endorsement (not counting my 5 years in Japan as an English teacher because that wasn’t a licensed position). So this isn’t a career change, but what is different is the environment. Starting this school year, I am going to be teaching social studies and English/language arts at a middle school. I won’t go into the details, but what this means for this blog (along with the podcast and the various other projects I’m working on) is that I anticipate having less time to devote to it. Why? Because starting a new job is very stressful and it’s going to take time to work myself into a manageable routine where I can balance working, reading, researching, blogging, and life-ing. Middle school teaching is like herding a bunch of squirrels who are high on sugar and energy drinks. (High school is sort of like that, but instead of squirrels, it’s cats who drink energy drinks and are frequently zombified by their smartphones.)

Pictured: Your average middle school (6th – 8th grade) student. Don’t be fooled by their cute, beady eyes. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On the upshot though, my school doesn’t have vending machines, nor does it allow students to drink anything other than water! There is a snack bar in the cafeteria, but students need to earn points to buy stuff from there and any food (apart from water) needs to be consumed in the cafeteria. (YESSS! I’ve strongly advocated in the past that schools need to get rid of junk food!) So basically, students may only have water in the classroom. No food and no other drinks (THANK GOD!).

I do want to emphasize that even though I will be juggling all sorts of insanity balls in this new job given the change of scenery and clientele, I have NO intention of abandoning this blog. In other words, I WILL continue to write and post on this blog, as well as continue work on the other projects (podcast, wargames, etc.). I’ve put far too much energy and time into creating this content that it would be foolish of me to just consign it to garbage heap. In many ways, this blog stands as my current contribution to the field of history. What will change is the frequency at which I post. Although I’m trying to continuously build up the backlog of scheduled posts, there may be a stretch of time where the only posts on Sundays are book reviews. Even at that, don’t be surprised if this blog goes for a while without having much of anything new posted. It’s not because I don’t care or that I’m gone, it’s simply because I’m really really busy.

Completed PC Build!

The second piece of good news is that I was finally able to finish my new computer build back in July! It’s been a real struggle given the chip shortage and the inflated prices on computer parts, specifically on GPUs (graphics cards). I’ve been following some of the Youtube tech channels, such as Paul’s Hardware, but they all speculated that we wouldn’t see the prices for GPUs normalize back to MSRP until sometime in 2022. (I was hoping the rumor that GPU prices would come down sooner would turn out to be true, but that appears not to be the case, and as with any rumor, you can only put so much stock in it.) I originally anticipated completing the build around March or April of 2021, but due to components scarcity that date kept getting pushed back further and further. The massive spike in graphics card prices and scarcity (a result of silicon shortages, chip shortages, ethereum miners, crazy high demand, etc.) led me to revise my estimated time of completion to sometime in 2022!

As a result of this continuously altered time table and the inability to get graphics cards for anything below 2 – 3x the MSRP (i.e. what scalpers ask for on ebay), I’ve been religiously entering the Newegg Shuffle everyday for several months, for a chance to buy a graphics card at a “more reasonable” price (i.e. less than what the scalper ask for on eBay). I finally got selected in mid-July!

Now, I only recently became aware that there was previously a workaround for the Newegg Shuffle using the “build a PC” feature on their website which placed items into your cart individually. In this way, you could get rare/high-demand items without waiting to get lucky on the Shuffle. An 11-year old boy used this method to get an RTX 3090 card, however, Newegg has become aware of this exploit and fixed the glitch.

“Just one second there, professor. WE FIXED THE GLITCH! So, it’ll just work itself out naturally.”

As with most Newegg Shuffle products, the item that you want comes bundled with something else which may or may not be useful to you. I ended up being selected for a MSI Geforce RTX 3080 Gaming Z Trio LHR graphics card bundled with two 8GB sticks of OLOy DDR4 3600 CL18 RAM. As a result, the total price for the bundle was $1,200+. (The GPU was about $1,160, minus the price of the bundled RAM.) While certainly not ideal and more than what the graphics card is worth at MSRP, I’ll take the Newegg price over scalper prices any day. At the very least, I have a graphics card and a completed computer.

Ultimately, my completed build (in late-July 2021) was:

  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro tempered glass ATX full tower
  • Motherboard: MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WIFI AM4 ATX  
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 4th Gen 6-Core
  • GPU: MSI Geforce RTX 3080 10GB GAMING Z TRIO LHR
  • RAM: Team T-FORCE Dark Z 32GB (2x16GB) DDR 3600 CL18
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12A
  • Storage: Crucial P2 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD & Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD
  • Power Supply: Corsair RMx 850W 80+ Gold fully modular
  • Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD writer
  • Monitor: LG 27GL850-B (27” QHD, Nano IPS, 144 Hz, 1ms)
  • Keyboard: Logitech G413 Silver (mechanical keyboard w/g-romer switches)
  • Mouse: Logitech G402

Total Cost (not including the mouse): $2,950

All in all, my originally planned budget for this build was no more than $2,500, but as you can see, I ended up going over budget by several hundred dollars due to the price of the graphics card. Had I gotten it at MSRP, then I would’ve been within my budget. Oh well, that’s just the state of building computers in 2021, right now.

As you can see, my desk is in the corner of a room, and just so happens, it gets really dusty there. Although my floors are hardwood, I’d like to move my case up off the floor a bit more. Partially for ease of cleaning, and to keep cool air flowing into the bottom of the case, I’d like to prop up the case on some risers of some sort to give a cushion of air beneath it.

Another thing to note is that, apart from the graphics card and a few lights on the motherboard (which you can’t see), there is no RGB lighting setup on this computer. Let me explain. Although RGB lighting has some aesthetic appeal, I find all the visual sensuality that comes with it to be pointless. Hence, why I didn’t buy any lighting strips or components with RGB lighting. Simply put: when I use my computer, I’m spending my time looking at the monitor! I’m not staring at the case and drooling over all the lighting inside it.

Other Updates

So that’s basically what’s been happening on the career and computer side of my life. In other news concerning this blog, I intend to get more content out in the future concerning the Imperial Japanese Navy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write more on different ship classes and perhaps Japanese strategy and/or tactics. It would also be interesting to do more research and writing on some topics related to trade history. I’d like to write some posts on the Suez and Panama Canals at some point.

In addition, some fun-looking PC games are in the works which may be good additions to the Youtube channel (simply playing Command: Modern Operations does tend to get boring after a while because it’s not the most exciting game to look at). As many of you know, I’m currently following the development of Task Force Admiral. Other games I’m keeping an eye on are Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter, Sea Power: Naval Combat in the Missile Age, Carrier Command 2, and War on the Sea. Those last two games are already out, and I’ve bought Carrier Command 2, but I’m just trying to find time to play it. Once I feel more comfortable (i.e. skilled) with the game, then I’ll start recording and posting videos.

When it’s all said and done, I greatly appreciate the continued support and readership of those who follow this blog! The maturity and insight that everyone has displayed is proof positive that we all derive some benefit from the content and it’s plenty of motivation for me to continue to work hard for you.