I had a funny dream the other day. In the dream, I was getting ready to play a game on my Sega Master System, but when I was about to plug in the controller I remembered that I had already sold my Rapid Fire Unit and wouldn’t be able to use auto-fire in the game. The funny thing is how I remembered in the dream that in real life I had already sold the Rapid Fire Unit, but not the console itself.
At this point I don’t think I have anything related to the Sega, not even a memento, or a trinket. It’s hard to keep track of it all. It would have been nice to keep a single item, maybe something like my first game, Hang On, but it seems I was too obsessed with moving forward. 2017 really was a whirlwind of life-resetting, but now I’m learning that it doesn’t happen instantly like pressing reset on the Sega.
I effectively had my Sega for over three quarters of my life. As I’ve mentioned before, there was a transition from PAL to NTSC, but otherwise in my mind it was the same system. Damn, it’s hard getting over losing something you had for that long, even though for a long time now you haven’t actually used that thing. It’s the same story for a lot of the other things I sold, donated, or trashed in 2017. Why is it so hard? Was there anything I could have done, last year or in the past, that would make it easier?
I don’t know the answer, though perhaps part of it is that maybe it’s not supposed to be easy. I do know that putting up these museum posts helps, so I will try to keep doing them. I’m also glad for the manual scans I made last year, and also the random videos and sounds I’ve recorded over the years. Little bits and pieces of the Sega are still with me. It’s the best I can do given my life’s circumstances, and I don’t think anyone could ask for more than that.
As always, I hope you enjoy this museum post.
This portable console was one of my favorite devices. I already had a Game Boy Advance, but it wasn’t back-lit and somewhat bulky. The Game Boy Micro changed all that, with a beautiful screen and small form factor. The Super Mario 20th Anniversary design looked cool and felt great, considering the plastic bodies of regular Game Boy Micros. One of my favorite memories is binging on Advance Wars during a Christmas trip to Hong Kong in 2006.
So, why sell it last year along with all my other stuff? At the time, we were planning on moving back to Hong Kong, and space was limited. Add to that the fact that I hardly ever used the Game Boy Micro anymore, and the answer seemed clear. Looking back now, however, maybe it wasn’t so clear. One of the reasons I stopped using it was that my eyesight got worse and it was no longer comfortable looking at the screen. The difference was magnified when compared with my PSP, which also has a GBA emulator. Another reason was I didn’t really play GBA games anymore.
What bothers me about it now is that there were some things we brought back to Hong Kong that we haven’t used at all, like a Google Chromecast. I could have left the Chromecast and kept the GBM. I mean, it was so small, how much weight would it have added? Also, since I’ve bought reading glasses here, I no longer have an issue with seeing small things in front of my face. When I use my glasses before bed to look at my devices, I am reminded of my Game Boy Micro. Lastly, now that we have free time and are no longer focused on getting rid of all our things so we can move, I’ve found myself playing a lot of older games – games that would be awesome to play on original hardware.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I know that the decision to sell the GBM was the right one at the time. Like losing anything in life, it takes time to get over. The reality is that very few people have the space to keep every single thing they’ve ever acquired – a fact that I’ve been coming to terms with this past year. I will be happy to see these photos in the future when I’m randomly reviewing my website.
Game Boy Micro Special 20th Anniversary Edition – bought April 18, 2006 from Circuit City Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California. Sold September 5, 2017 via eBay.
It was my third week on the job, a Wednesday. Up until this point, I had spent a week in training and two doing simple tasks like swapping keyboards and mice, learning the culture, and meeting various people. But on this day, which also happened to be an anniversary with my wife, I got my first major test, a desk swap.
On the surface, a desk swap sounds simple: unplug a bunch of cables, move the hardware, and connect them again. But these workstations were neither simple nor single; each desk had two machines connected with KVM switches; one had four heavy and thick (for LCDs) 21-inch monitors, the other had six. All the monitors were attached with heavy metal arms to rails on the desk. The traders had his or her preferences for which machine displayed on which monitor. These were also SBFI trading desks, which means that the cables are built into the desk, and that if they’re not properly labeled, it’s a trial-and-error process to figure out which cable is which. At the time I didn’t even know what a trading desk was, and I tried to pull out individual cables, which complicated things.
I was given fifteen minutes to do the job, starting at 18:45, with my scheduled off time at 19:00. Of course, knowing what I know now, fifteen minutes is not a realistic time in which to get the job done. Even at my peak, after I had mastered this job after a year, it would have taken at least thirty minutes, barring any unforeseen issues. This was a test from my manager. How would I handle it?
Of course, my manager did not know that it was my anniversary, and that I was planning to have dinner with my wife. We weren’t supposed to do overtime without pre-approval, either. With these looming over my head, I had extra desire to finish quickly, but it was my first time doing this and I couldn’t rush it. And it was the only window in which to get this done: the voice guys had already come and swapped the dealer boards, so there was no going back.
In my innocence, I thought it would be easiest to physically swap all the monitors. Considering the users’ preferences and that even identical model monitors can have variations in color and viewing angles, it seemed like the right thing to do. After all, in the small office environment where I had last worked, I’d do stuff like this all the time. I quickly learned that things were different in this environment.
First, as mentioned before, these motherfuckers were heavy. The monitors were 21-inch professional-grade NEC LCDs, three inches thick. The metal arms, then, had to be just as heavy duty in order to hold up these monitors to the rails. Second, the rails are situated at the back of the desk, furthest away from you. You have to lean forward and extend your arms while holding something that weighs like a couple of bowling balls, and you have to precisely guide the metal arms into the rails, then hold up the weight while you lock them down. And sometimes the locking levers were stripped so you had to manually position them a certain way or the whole thing would come crashing down, or you’d fuck up your fingers getting them caught in the rail. Seriously, I don’t think it was even physically possible for some of my skinnier coworkers to do this.
Third, on some monitors, the cable screws would be frozen in the holes, and no amount of twisting or even using a screwdriver could unfreeze them. This was a blessing in disguise for me though because this is how I learned that moving all the monitors didn’t make sense. In the end, I just moved the two over to the other desk and arranged both to match their originals.
All this time, I’m sweating profusely in my wool slacks, cotton undershirt, and button-down dress shirt, the standard uniform for this company’s IT staff, regardless of the physical demands of the job. On the third day of this job, three weeks prior, my 15-year-old pair of dress shoes gave out right in the middle of training, and I had to run down to the mall to get a new pair. Unfortunately for me, this was a luxury mall, and even the cheapest pair of shoes ran several hundred US dollars. If I was going to spend hundreds of dollars on shoes, I figured I’d at least get a pair that I thought looked good. Somehow, in the end, the shoes I bought cost nine hundred dollars, and I walked out of the store in a daze.
So here I am in my nine-hundred-dollar shoes, crawling and squatting underneath desks, pulling out wheeled trays with sharp metal edges on which 50-pound metal computer towers sat. These shoes were meant for going to a wedding, or a ball, or perhaps wearing to work by those whom I was moving these workstations for, not for physical activity. But I needed to bend my feet to get under the desk, and the leather was hard. Well, I had to do it, and when I finally sold the shoes on eBay last year the crease was still there.
Now, it was 20:30, and with the workstations physically configured, it was time to test and make sure everything was where they were supposed to be. Fire up each workstation, confirm they are displaying on the correct monitors, confirm the KVM number matches, and confirm they can ping the Exchange server. Yes! Time to go, time to have a nice dinner with my wife, and time to worry about the true test tomorrow morning when the traders come in to work. Welcome to life in frontline IT support, investment-bank style.