September 28th, 2008

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How I Spent My Birthday

(Actually, as I write this, my birthday officially begins, given that I was born shortly before 9:30 p.m.)

I decided I didn't want to miss the last online race of the season, so I would buy myself a new video card -- the best that I could find for AGP.

First choice was Best Buy about 20 miles south in Gilroy. I took the wrong exit, and while I could have squeezed my way in front of people to take the main road down the "block" to where I meant to go, I decided I would be nice and just go straight on into the farmlands and cut across the farm roads to get to the right street.

After a surprisingly twisty country road, eventually I ended up back on Pacheco Pass Road where I meant to be, and turned back west toward where Best Buy is. In the mean time, I was passing the farmlands. Gilroy is touted as "garlic capital of the world", and on this bright sunny day with cool damp air, the smell was absolutely fantastic! I took some big whiffs and cleared my sinuses, yessireebobberoonie. Imagine dumping a whole heap of crushed garlic into a frying pan then holding your head over it to inhale the steam. It was that good and that strong.

Now, when you get into town on a humid day here in Morgan Hill, you also get a smell, but it's manure, which isn't as nice...! Go over the hills into Castroville, and it's artichokes, which smell even worse when they're wet. (Castroville at night in the thick coastal fog is one of the worst smells imaginable! As someone once joked about the name of an adjacent town, "Is that why it's called Aromas?")

Before stopping at the Best Buy, I stopped to eat at the Arby's there, since we don't have Arby's here. Their computers were down. It took about 15 minutes before they were able to take my order. Other people had come and gone behind me. People these days would rather walk/drive 10 minutes to some other place than wait 5 minutes where they are. Someone who arrived about two minutes before the computers were back online, after I ordered, complained and thought he should get a discount for having to wait. I had no problem waiting 15 minutes, dude; you just got here!

So anyway, Best Buy's best AGP card (nVidia-based because I'm not familiar with ATI's hierarchy at all and would rather not have to install an entirely new chipset's drivers) was a GeForce 7300 GT. I bought it and went shopping before heading home. But then I did a feature comparison check and realized that ths 7300 GT is actually an inferior card to the 5900 Ultra that I had had until it blew up Thursday.

So I headed 30 miles in the other direction to Fry's Electronics. They had the same card for $40 less after mail-in rebate, but since I wanted something at least comparable to what I had before (which was barely enough to run the current racing simulators with nearly every graphics option turned off), I looked around and the best they had was a 7600 GS. It is still inferior to the 5900 Ultra in some aspects (core clock speed, memory speed, bus width), but is superior in others (fill rate, amount of memory, pipelines), so I hope it will suffice. It sure would have been nice to find a 7800 or 7900, which are much better (and the best that were made before AGP slots became obsolete), but it was not to be.

It cost me $140 after tax, though there is a measly $10 mail-in rebate. It's a bit much but I hope it'll tide me over until penelopecat and I get our own place, at which point maybe then I'll build a new system if I can afford to (I expect to buy a new motorcycle then too so that I have a backup at all times since I'll be commuting again and public transit will not be an option to get up into the hills where I work (and currently also live)).

In between all that, I got telephone calls from my mom and, surprisingly, from my dad. I had called his phone a couple times over the last few months and got no response to the messages I left, so I wasn't sure if he was even well. But apparently he's actually getting out and about again, which is great news.

Oh yeah, and as I left Best Buy, there was a five-car bumper-to-bumper kerfuffle. One car's hood was well bent up, and the car was smoking. I heard the thump but didn't see it thanks to the big-ass SUV in front of me which I think was the first or second vehicle NOT involved, so I just rode around the scene since I'd have nothing to report.