Not too long ago, a friend of mine told me that I should write a self-help book. I don’t know where that idea came from, and I’m not sure what he was smoking at the time. Writing a self-help book seemed like the worst possible thing I could write. I’m not popular, I’m not rich, I’m not what one could call healthy, and I’m certainly not influential. So, I sort of put that idea in back closet of my mind.
Then, while making dinner one night, it occurred to me: I will never have to worry about botching my Oscar acceptance speech. That’s right. I will never have to worry about getting up in front of a bunch of people, making a speech, and then make mistakes by not thanking the correct people, or pronouncing names incorrectly. I’m not an actor or a director. I don’t have a job in Hollywood. I don’t have any ties to the industry.
Okay, that’s not strictly true. I mean, I did say that I met the partial cast of The State in McDonald’s, once. Although “met” is a pretty strong word for seeing them and talking (briefly) to one of them. I also went to school with Jane Krakowski, technically. True, I only ever saw her once (that I remember), and probably never talked to her. But I did date a woman who acted with her in some community theater plays. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I once saw Jonathan Frakes in a nearly empty Chili’s restaurant in Parsippany, NJ sometime between seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some astute readers may remember that Parsippany was also mentioned in the film, The Karate Kid. Finally, and this is this is really stretching it, I might have seen Dick Cavett playing Zaxxon in a tiny arcade located in a small mall in Lafayette, La. in the mid-1980s. Why would Dick Cavett be in an arcade in Lafayette, La.? I don’t know. But if it wasn’t actually him, he could have made a killing as a Dick Cavett look-alike, if there were any call to have such a thing. He even sounded like him and I know this because after he lost his final ship he turned to me and said something about how neat the game was.
It was then, while putting my dinner together and being smug in the knowledge that I would never look like a fool on national television goofing up an Oscar acceptance speech that I realized I had the makings of a self-help book: Things You Probably Don’t Have To Worry About.
Instead of being fixated on things like: How am I going to pay the bills this month?, I think instead about how I don’t have to worry about the fuel pump on my Ferrari 328 going out. Okay, it’s not inconceivable that I could own a Ferrari 328, but it is incredibly unlikely. As I keep trying to point out to people, having enough money to buy an exotic sports car is a lot different than being able to afford to drive and maintain an exotic sports car. I don’t see it happening any time soon, though, so I think it’s safe enough to not worry about. And, even if I did end up getting one, I could just think about how I’ll never have to worry about replacing the tires on a Ferrari 288 GTO.
There’s a near infinite amount of things I don’t have to worry about. Like, being old, overweight, and not named William Shatner, my chances of going into space are near infinitesimal so I’ll never have to worry about running out of oxygen in my space suit.
I’ll never have to worry about the trials and tribulations of being married to a super model or taking care of a 28 room mansion. I’ll never have to worry about being abducted by aliens.
Probably. I mean, it’s probably a pretty slim chance that aliens will come around to pick me up. I think I’ve already said how I feel about aliens. Maybe. Either way, I think it’s unlikely so I won’t worry about it.
Like I said, there’s oodles of things I don’t have to worry about, which is a big break from all the things I feel like I should worry about. And there’s no reason why you can’t do the same thing, when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
If you’re fairly young and reading this (and I have to ask ‘why?’), I hope you get something from these writings. One of the things I would hope you do you get is the sense that you shouldn’t waste an opportunity. If life throws something good at you, grab it and use it for all it’s worth; don’t think, “Ah, well, there’s always tomorrow,” because sometimes there isn’t. Or you keep pushing it off until the tomorrows run out. I’d ask you to trust me on that, but, who am I, besides some rando on the Internet?
I used to work in New York City. Manhattan, in fact. I didn’t live there, though, so the experience wasn’t all it could have been. Mostly because I commuted and lived pretty far away. Relying on public transportation also meant that I had to do things on their (the public transportation people) schedule, which was not flexible.
The commute to work wasn’t too bad, although it was long. A lot of people in New Jersey work in NYC, so the train I took stopped at every conceivable stop along the way. I don’t remember exactly when it left my station (which was the beginning and end of the route), but it was somewhere between 5:00am and 6:00am, I think. After the long train ride, I took the PATH train from Hoboken to either the 23rd or 33rd street stations. Once there, it was a jaunt on the subway to a station closer to where I worked, whereupon I would hoof it the rest of the way.
The first job I worked at had a place on the way that sold bagels and coffee in the morning. On the way in I would always grab a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and an extra large hazelnut coffee. When I say “cream cheese,” I don’t mean they took a dab and shmeared it around with a knife. I mean they used a knife to cut a half-inch slab off a block of cream cheese and slapped it between the two toasted halves of the bagel. It was glorious.
I didn’t have any co-workers at that job, really. I was basically on my own. There was a McDonald’s right on the corner, so I almost always went there for lunch. I also ordered the same thing. Every day. If that’s not a waste of being in Manhattan, I don’t know what is. But, it was easy, it was mostly quick, so it was done and done.
Not that it didn’t have its advantages. There were times when I would walk through the door on a busy day and see a cashier waving a bag over their head and gesturing me up to the front of the line. Or the times when the manager would give me my lunch for free if I filled out a survey. Or the time when I was standing on line and looked to the left of me and saw the cast of The State. I even talked to Joe Lo Truglio (I think) for a moment, telling him I really liked the show, but MTV was making it difficult to watch because they kept changing the time slot. He agreed, saying they weren’t happy about it either. And that was that. My brush with fame.
I think the most exciting thing I did, at that time, was see Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden, which was right down the street from where I worked. I didn’t have to worry about getting home, because the group of us threw in money for a limo ride home.
And that, really, was the biggest problem I had: NJ Transit stopped train service relatively early in the evening, so going out with friends just wasn’t possible. I didn’t live where there was bus service, so that, too, was out.
The second job I had was less exciting. There were no good bagel places on the way there. There was no McDonald’s nearby. I don’t actually remember what I did for lunch there. I don’t even remember there being a cafeteria. I do remember that my boss took me out to lunch at a nearby strip club, once. I didn’t make a habit of it, though.
So, you know I pretty well wasted my time being in New York City five days a week. I haven’t really gone into much that would make it seem exciting, and that’s because it mostly wasn’t. True, I was on two trains that had minor derailments. Also, I’d been stuck on the tracks for hours because the coolant fell out of the engine. Stuff like that.
There is one thing I really miss, though. I’ll use the moment to say that I wish I had brought a camera with me, every day, and I will never knock someone for taking oodles of pictures on their phone. When waiting for the train home, I would sometimes walk around Hoboken. Sometimes, during the winter, I would step outside the station and look at New York from across the river. The Empire State building was prominent, sometimes lit up in special colors for different occasions, reflected on the water.
I had read the book, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, while riding the train. In it, Helprin mentions Hoboken and a place called the Clam Broth House. During one of my walks around the town, I saw it. A lit up sign for the Clam Broth House. I thought it was made up, for the book, but it was a real place. I always wanted to go in, just to see what it was like. But I never did.
And that’s me, really. I got into photography late. I wrote a lot, but not about things that I was doing or feeling at the time. There were a lot of things I wanted to do, but never got around to it. I regret it. Regretting things late in life is a terrible thing.
Everyone loves an underdog. Except for the people who don’t, which is why we have underdogs. I am a fan of two underdogs. One is mostly overlooked and considered to be not useful, due to the environment it’s in. The other is vilified because of things that happened in the past.
Haiku is an operating system. In simplest terms, it is the interface between you and the computer. The best way to understand Haiku is to understand its predecessor and inspiration, which was an operating system named BeOS. Other people have written better things about BeOS that I can, so if you’d like to read about the history of it, please do so. I’m going to rewind a little bit.
I used my Atari Mega ST until it was impossible to continue with it. It couldn’t be networked and couldn’t get onto the Internet easily. I resisted using an IBM compatible computer for as long as possible. I didn’t like dealing with DOS and the weird way it handled memory (do mouse drivers go in high memory, or upper memory?). Or messing around with IRQs and addresses for serial cards and the like. Giving up the Atari was difficult, but necessary.
Along with DOS, there was Windows. Windows didn’t thrill me, either. However, for playing games, it was the only way to go. Macintoshes were expensive and I didn’t much care for the Macintosh operating system, either. One mouse button? No thank you! I know that doesn’t have much to do with operating systems, but it still annoyed me.
Eventually, Windows and DOS gave way to Windows 95, then Windows 98. Games started working better under DirectX. Life got a little better, if you didn’t have to deal with device drivers that much.
Linux came around, also. Which, at the time, was only for people with technical expertise and a desire to overcome all obstacles to get it to work. There was also OS/2 Warp, which had some things going for it. But, since I was a game player, neither of those really worked for me and they weren’t something I wanted to use on a day-to-day basis.
BeOS had been in the works during this time, but I hadn’t heard of it when it was running on Hobbit processors. Then it was released for PowerPC computers, which I also didn’t have. By 1998, it was released for Intel compatible processors, and I was able to try it out. And I loved it. No DOS to worry about, it was fast, it was easy to use. It could play MP3 songs backwards, in real time. It could play videos on all faces of a rotating cube. The part that I loved the most, the title bar for the windows was a tab. A tab that you could move back and forth across the top of the window. Such a simple thing, but it made it easier to lay windows on top of each other and still get to them easily if you moved the tabs to be able to click on them. It didn’t play a lot of games, but I loved using it as my day-to-day operating system. Not that it didn’t have any games. In fact, the only copy of Civilization: Call To Power I ever bought was for BeOS.
At this point, I’ll give an example of one of the reasons why BeOS was a joy to use.
I had bought a new video card. Before installing it, I went into Windows and removed all the old video drivers, which was not an easy task. Some of it could be done easily, other parts meant manually deleting files and then going into the registry, to remove entries there.
Then I installed the card and went back into Windows. The resolution was set to the lowest it would go. I installed the new drivers, which required rebooting. Then I changed the resolution, which required another reboot. Then I tried a game, and it didn’t work. There was a problem with DirectX. I went and manually removed a lot more files, changed more registry entries, rebooted, re-installed DirectX, rebooted. Eventually, I got it all straightened out and it was working again.
Then I booted into BeOS and it just worked. It was the same resolution I had left it at. It still ran the few games that I had. I didn’t have to do a damn thing. It was a beautiful moment.
Be Inc. eventually went out of business. Despite their best efforts (and Microsoft shenanigans), BeOS never caught on like it should have. Much like with the Atari, I used BeOS until it was no longer feasible. Around that time, the Haiku (then called Open BeOS) project started.
Haiku was to be an open sourced BeOS compatible operating system. After twenty-one years of development, it’s gone through a few changes. One of the larger ones being a 64-bit version, which loses BeOS compatibility (the 32-bit version still keeps it). It supports most modern things, such as USB and SSD drives. There are still a lot of things that don’t work, completely, because of closed source drivers, so getting a computer that fully works (sound, networking, etc.) can be an exercise in research. I’m lucky in that I have one computer that is fully supported, and it is now running Haiku full time. I have another computer that mostly works, but I’ll get to that a bit later.
The windowing system has changed a bit, too. I no longer have to manually stack my windows and move tabs about, as it can be done automatically using “Stack and Tile” (Stack places windows on top of each other and adjusts the tab position, while Tile sticks windows together at the edges). It’s the little things that I enjoy the most.
At this point, Haiku is good enough to use on a daily basis, depending on what you need to do. Well, for me it is. In fact, I’m writing this using Haiku right now.
When most people think of an operating sytem that isn’t Windows or macOS, they usually think of Linux. One day, I wish more people would think of Haiku, instead. It’s fast, friendly, and easy to use.
Atari, the fifty year old company that wouldn’t die. The company that made their name synonymous with “TV games” and made a billion dollars, and then lost it the next day due to gross mis-management. Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole. It didn’t take a day, sort of. Well, maybe it did.
Anyway, Atari used to be at the top of the heap. They made arcade games, home consoles, and home computers. Their logo appeared in the movie Blade Runner. When someone wanted to play a home videogame, they said they were going to play “Atari”, even if it wasn’t an Atari. They were the top dog.
And then they lost it. They went from a videogame Godhood, to a struggling computer maker, to a game publisher, to a free-to-play mobile app pusher. As times got more desperate, they survived by licensing out their name and intellectual property to anyone who asked for it (so it seemed).
People who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s seem to mostly hate Atari, now. They aren’t the company they remember. Which I think is a little unfair, given the company they remember wasn’t the “real” Atari, either.
From top of the heap to bottom of the garbage pail, that’s why they’re underdogs, today.
Despite growing up on Atari video games, at home and in the arcade, it was their first computers that really hooked me. Like many other things, it was based on the 6502 processors, but unlike many other computers, it had custom processors for graphics and sound. Arguably, it was the first home computer to have a GPU. But, again, a lot of other people have written more informative and accurate things than I will right now.
Suffice it to say, Atari were at the top of the heap, and then at the bottom of the landfill.
They coasted along for many years and then decided to come out with a new console. Originally, it was being called the AtariBox, but the name soon changed to VCS, in honor of the original 2600. Some people were probably offended by this, but, to be fair, the new VCS is more of a Video Computer System than the 2600 was. This was because of Atari’s promise that the console would also be able to be used as a computer. Which is why I can write this blog post on an Atari VCS with Haiku.
Originally, I wasn’t going to participate in the Indiegogo campaign to raise money to create it, as I questioned Atari’s ability to deliver. But, then I thought, it might be my last chance to own an Atari branded computer.
I’m glad I did. I’m glad I got my unit with the wood grain face. It’s a very nice looking machine, and very welcome in this age of ugly block-like cases.
A lot of people wanted to compare it to the Ouya, but there is no comparison. The VCS uses an AMD R1606G at its heart. It’s not a massive powerhouse, like the PlayStation 5 or XBox whatever, but it’s a very capable system. Capable, even, of running Windows 11, if you wanted to do such a thing.
If one were struggling to own a computer, the VCS would be the thing to get, especially at the prices it’s been available for, lately. If you wanted to play games and do some computing, this thing can do it. If you needed do to some work using Google Docs, Office 365, or iCloud apps, you can do that, too, without needing another operating system.
So, yes, it’s also a console and it is capable of playing games. Several games are from indie developers. One can also get the full suite of Atari’s Recharged titles, too, among many other things.
Lately, Atari has done an about-face. They’re concentrating more on the game side of things, which is good. I believe the current incarantion is really looking to bring the Atari name back, when it comes to games. Unfortunately, I also think they lost interest in the VCS, which I find sad.
In a near perfect world, I wish Atari would look at Haiku and convince their AMD partners to write drivers for the few things that don’t work on the VCS, such as Wi-Fi and sound. Maybe see how nice, simple, and friendly it is and adopt it as the operating system for the computer side. It’s a fool’s dream, but I’m a fool and willing to dream it.
In a more perfect world, Atari would have been managed properly from the beginning. It’s not hard to think that, had that happened, they’d still be the company everyone likes to remember, probably being in a similar position to where Apple is, now.
I don’t remember the first video game that I played. I think my earliest memory of playing anything was Space Invaders. It was, I think, in a pizza parlor in Denton, TX. If I remember right (which I probably don’t), there was also an AtariFootball game, as well. One other thing I remember, was that the place sold a pizza called “The Wagon Wheel.” It was an enormous pizza, at least to a kid about ten years old.
Like I said, though, it was a long time ago and I’m somewhat sure I’m not remembering it correctly. Or in the wrong place. Or something. I don’t really remember video games being all that important to me at that particular moment. Maybe I was already past Space Invaders? I don’t know.
We used to go to Seaside Heights fairly frequently. There were several arcades, there. It seems they never got rid of stuff, either, because I would find the newest games spread out across the different arcades, as well as old games that most people wouldn’t remember. Like Stunt Cycle. Or Maneater.
Not only did they have video games, but they had mechanical games that were the precursors of video games. Games where you drove a car on a stick on a roadway that was belt driven. Or shooting gallery games. Or Skee-Ball.
When our sister would go there with our dad, we’d walk over to, I think, the Casino Pier. I will always remember the smell of salty air and tar on the piers during a hot day. Anyway, the Casino Pier had a carasoul, there, along with arcade machines and Skee-Ball, along with a lot of other things, I think. Also there was a lunch counter. Dad would make us sit there and eat something before letting us go all higgeldy-piggeldy around the place. He wouldn’t let us eat funnel cakes, which smelled really good amid the hot tar, but we could get a hot dog or hamburger at the lunch counter. It’s strange to think that, back then, it took effort to get me to eat something, but I was all fired up to have a go at the games.
I don’t think my sister ever understood the attraction. She asked me, once, what was so great about video games. She was a Skee-Ball girl, though. She’d spend a lot of time racking up points and getting tickets. She thought that was better, because she could take all her tickets and redeem them for something. Like, glow in the dark vampire teeth. Or rubber balls that would bounce higher than a house.
It’s been too long for me to remember, exactly, what I told her and I probably didn’t articulate it very well. Honestly, I probably called her stupid or left it at a lame “it’s fun” kind of explanation. In her eyes, her dimes gave her entertainment and something physical to take home, where my quarters got
Were those experiences worth more than a set of glow in the dark vampire fangs? Yeah, to me, they were. I’ve never been any of those things in real life, except, maybe, the last thing. You can never tell with pickles, just by looking at them.
As I got older, arcades became more prevalent and also became more important, socially. Friends would show up and we would hang out. There were times when I would walk four or five miles to an arcade. If nobody I knew was there, that was all right because I could just play games. Then I would call my dad to come pick me up, which, surprisingly, he was never happy about. You’d think he’d be glad that I got the exercise.
When I was old enough to have a driver’s license we’d go more frequently. After work, we’d head to the arcade for a while then go to a diner and get a late night breakfast. These were probably the best days of my life.
A lot of people talk about the games from back then. To me, one of the best things was walking into an arcade, which were usually dimly lit, and I would stand at the entrance waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light and I could listen and tell what games were there by the sounds. I think of all the things I miss about arcades, the sounds are at the top. A cacophony of Pac-Man, Defender, Jackal, Operation: Wolf, and so many others.
It’s strange that now, with a disposable income and ready transportation, I don’t make use of the arcades that around me now (and there are several). But I guess that’s part of the curse of getting old.
This was the post that was going to say that I was going to post something every day for a year. Again. Because I keep saying that. This year, it’s even better because I missed the first day.
It’s pretty obvious, then, that it’s not going to be an every day thing. I think I’m going to try something different, though. I think I’ll actually write about myself. Because I know you’re all absolutelydying to know more about me.
The first thing you should know (because it influences almost everything that goes on in my life) is that I have a hard time making up my mind about things. It’s what turns a fifteen minute shopping trip into a two hour ordeal. That is not hyperbole. I’m sure there are people who are really happy that laundry detergent comes in twenty different fragrances, but I’m not one of them.
When I’ve got too many choices, I tend to shut down. I get overloaded in decisions so I just give up. What does this have to do with writing a blog? It’s like this: I love my Mac Mini, so I try to use it to write as much as I can. But, I like the mechanical keyboard on my Windows computer, so I think I should do my blogs on that. But, Haiku (if you don’t know what Haiku is, that’s OK; you’ll find out, soon) just got a web browser that works with WordPress, and I have mechanical keyboards for both of my computers that run Haiku, so I feel like I should use that, because it’s been a long time since I could. Worse, one of the Haiku computers is an Atari and it’s been forever since I could write a blog post on an Atari computer (which is also a console; if you don’t know what the Atari VCS is, don’t worry).
And I can’t make up my mind, so I stop and figure I’ll pick it up later and write something. I never do, though, because trying to figure out what I want to use just keeps looping, so nothing gets done.
If I’m trying to do this more frequently, though, then I think I can figure out a time sharing schedule for it. That should fix it.
That’s not counting all the times I think, “Do I want to write a blog entry? Do I want to play a game? On the game computer? On the VCS? Do I want to read a book? Watch TV? Teach myself Unity? Teach myself how to use Inkscape? Re-learn C++? Oh, so many things to do.
Maybe I can make a resolution to have less brain-lock when it comes to making decisions and deciding what I want to do.
We’ll get started with the rest of the junk in a day or two. Stay tuned.
Have you ever sat around, perhaps with friends, and start wondering what you would do if you could go back in time? I know I have, mostly when sitting in traffic. Of course, the usual things are brought up: watching the pyramids being built, seeing if Jesus was a real person, killing Hitler, and whatever. Or, maybe, going so far back that the Earth had plants, but nothing else and just standing there, looking up into the night sky, the only person on Earth. Unless, of course, a bunch of other time travelers had the same idea and showed up at the same time.
Is time travel possible? Yes. We all move forwards in time. It’s kind of a cheap way of doing it, but it is possible. Although, there is a school of thought that says all of time has already happened, it’s just the way we perceive it that makes it look like it’s happening now, or, for the youngsters, “on demand.”
Back in 2009, Stephen Hawking, arguably the smartest person ever, did an experiment where he had a party for time travelers and then, afterwards, he sent out invitations. Nobody showed up, thus ‘proving’ that backwards time travel wasn’t possible.
As I have said, I am not a scientist. Neither am I particularly smart. It seems to me, though, that nobody thought to ask the obvious question of, “Why would they?” Presumably, people from the future would get their invitation (how?), have already researched the ‘party’ and found out it was a trap. If they weren’t going around telling people in the past they were from the future, why in the world would they show up to a party that would ‘out’ them as people from the future?
Giving it another minute of thought, if I were a time traveler from, say, 2750 and managed to come across this invitation. I would look it up and see that nine years after the party happened and the invitations were sent out, an article was written saying that nobody from the future showed. This would make me think that I should definitely not go, because nobody showed up before. If I showed up, it would mean that I changed the future. And that’s probably against some kind of rule.
Is it possible to go back in time, though? As I understand it (and I am not a scientist), it’s technically possible. Or, at least, there’s no reason for it to not be possible. Doing it is an entirely different thing, though. Nonetheless, it can be an interesting thought experiment.
Would I, then, go back in time and watch the Great Pyramid being built by aliens slave labor? It sounds like a fun thing to do. But, me being me, would start worrying about things. Like, I don’t speak ancient Egyptian. What kind of diseases might I catch that don’t exist now? What if someone lopped my head off for being a sorcerer when I used my lighter? Seems like it could be dangerous.
That’s the type of thing I would worry about, because I can’t even fantasize properly.
But, there is one thing I would most probably do. To understand that, we need to take a side trip. I have lived alone for many years, so I have gotten used to cooking. I like cooking. I don’t like cleaning up after cooking, but the cooking part is fine with me. Sometimes I’m lazy, and I just make the same things over and over until I get bored. When that happens, I start fishing around for new recipes. When I get really bored I go fishing for old recipes. Doing searches for old recipes inevitably leads to finding old menus from famous restaurants in the past. For example, after watching episodes of Night Court, something called “Rumaki” was mentioned a lot. Looking it up, I learned it was an appetizer made of chicken liver, water chestnut, and bacon. It was probably invented at Don The Beachcomber in Palm Springs during the early 1940s. A quick search later and I found a menu for Don The Beachcomber from 1965, where I saw ordering it would cost a whopping $1.40. I don’t know how much Rumaki you would get for that $1.40, though. Adjust for inflation, $1.40 in 1965 would be $12.51, today. Gosh! Perusing further, I found Cantonese Pork for $4.95. King Crab Chun King? $5.50 per person, and only made for two or more people. So, $11.00. $11.00! And, yes, I would argue that I would want it, even if it was just me.
Going further back, say, Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York in 1917, one could dine on a Saddle of Spring Lamb for $8.00. What’s a saddle of spring lamb? It’s the loin area. If I wanted to buy a saddle of lamb and cook it myself, how much would it be? For 2 pounds, it would be around $60.
So, obviously, if I had a time machine I would be going back in time and eating at famous restaurants for cheap. Assuming that it wasn’t too expensive to operate a time machine, it would only make financial sense to stop buying groceries and eat out every night at the most expensive restaurants throughout time.
Not only would you be eating like a king, but you could act like one. Imagine ordering everything on the menu, which would probably cost less than $100. JP Morgan’s eyes would pop out of his head. Provided, of course, you went during a year in which he was still alive.
Even better, maybe you can go back in time and learn how to make such things and then using it here, in the now. Imagine, if you will, going on Hell’s Kitchen. While the other people are making things like turbot with mashed parsnips or braised short ribs, you can tell Chef Ramsey that you’ll be making Couronne de ris de veau aux champignons. The man would explode.
Not only would you get to eat fancy dinners in famous (and probably long gone) restaurants, but you’d be eating food from a time when people didn’t care about health. When they didn’t know the difference between trans fats and saturated fats. Foods cooked in butter, lard, and bacon drippings. Sure, you’d probably die, but it would be a tasty death. And certainly better than being hanged as a witch because you forgot to leave your cell phone in the present.
This leads to the question of money, though. It would look pretty suspicious if you paid for your meal in modern money. You’d have to do something like cash in your 401K and buy gold and gems, bring those back, and then sell it for local time currency. I have no idea what that would do to the timeline, since you would be duplicating things.
If you were wanting to ‘set a trap’ for a time traveler, then, it would make more sense to me to stake out restaurants and look for people that are far too comfortable paying for absurdly high priced meals. If you choose to leap out and accuse very rich people of being time travelers in high end restaurants, please, do record it.
When I was growing up, I was very big on science fiction, aliens, and UFOs. I was also into fantasy, magic, monsters, and other unknown things. As I got older I began to realize that the ideas that I held so dear weren’t all that mysterious. The light at the end of the crawlspace under the house wasn’t a subterranean city, just the back of the house; the wonders that lay on the other side of distant hills were just more roads and suburban homes; the red light flying high overhead during the holiday seasons was not Santa Claus, but an airplane. Every year of living stripped away another layer of magic and wonder.
Ideas about UFOs and aliens, though, went in another direction. Or, rather, two directions: one for, and one against. As I learned more about time, distance, speed, and space the less likely it seemed, to me, that Earth had visitors from other star systems. On the other hand, if our solar system had an older civilization that pre-dated us, then things could be different. But where were they located? Why is there no definitive evidence that they existed?
I spend a lot of time thinking on such things. I no longer have a close knit network of friends that I hang out with to discuss these things with. I work from home, now, so I no longer sit in traffic for hours to ruminate on these topics. So, now I’m going to unleash them on you. Feel free to poke holes in anything I say because I’ll try and patch those holes and that keeps my brain busy.
On Alien Visitations
I was always a fan of aliens coming for a visit. Project Bluebook was one of my favorite shows. If I didn’t own books about alien abductions or contact, I would get them from the library. As I got older, I realized that random visits from other star systems just wouldn’t be that likely, unless they were already close. Even assuming that aliens may be immortal and have methods of travel that circumvent the speed of light, the basic question of, “Why would they come here?” would still persist. It’s not that I think anything is wrong with Earth, or that it wouldn’t be a lovely place to visit, but why would an alien civilization from far away come here?
We know how telescopes work: light comes from somewhere and when you look at it, you’re essentially looking back in time. Light doesn’t travel faster than the speed of light (without a bit of coaxing), so if light took a 100,000 years to get to the telescope lens, then you’re looking at something from 100,000 years ago. Even if an alien looking through a telescope managed to find Earth (we all know space is very big), they’d be looking at a very old Earth, before anything exciting was going on. Why would they think there was anything of interest going on now? Unless they were coming to see dinosaurs, which, I guess, is a possibility.
The flipside to this would be that they weren’t relying on telescopes. Maybe they were sending out probes? Probes travelling faster than light that would slow down when encountering planets. I guess that’s feasible. Just because we haven’t figure out the science doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t.
On Alien Empires
We’ve been sending radio signals into space for a while now. And a “greatest hits” record. We’ve also been combing the skies looking for radio signals. Sometimes we see something that looks like it came from an intelligence in outer space, but someone comes along and explains it away. Since we haven’t heard from anyone, it’s safe to assume there’s nobody out there, and never has been.
Except, it isn’t. There are a few reasons why we may not have picked up alien signals.
We’re too young. The other civilizations have already risen and fallen. All the radio chatter has already degraded and we can no longer pick it up.
We’re too old. No other civilization has gotten to the point that we have and aren’t sending out radio signals. Or they just started and it will take years for us to detect their version of The Lone Ranger or The Guiding Light.
They are savvy and use compression and encryption. Would we be able to detect intelligent signals if they were encrypted and compressed? Or one or the other? I don’t know. It seems to me it would be a bit difficult and blend in with background noise.
They don’t use radio. We’re talking about aliens, here, so maybe they just plain don’t use it. Or have another method, like light. Or something we don’t know about, yet.
They straight up don’t care. For millennia, humans have been looking at the stars and wondering what goes on out there, why there are lights twinkling, why things move the way they do. We’re human; it’s what we do. But we’re talking about aliens who may not be human at all. They may not look like us, act like us, or think like us. They may even live underground or underwater and it never occurred to them that there might be an outer space, much less other galaxies and planets.
All in all, the idea that they don’t think like us is probably the biggest factor. We may think sending out signals about the hydrogen atom may be a big deal, but to an alien race it may not be. Maybe they have a big thing for the number 8, so they look for signals going on about oxygen. Or selenium. I don’t know. Nobody knows. Because to know, we’d have to have contact and some sort of insight into how they think. Anyone that claims they would know would immediately be labeled a lunatic and ignored.
Closer To Home
The “Face” on Mars doesn’t get a lot of mention, these days. The idea that it’s a natural formation that we see a face in makes sense, since humans are good at that sort of thing. We see faces on pancakes, in wood paneling, and in fog so there’s no reason to think we’re just projecting face on a pile of rock. That said, I can’t definitively say that it’s not an artificial construct. I’ve never been there. I’ve never had a chance to see it close up and do a real good study of it. No one has. At least, no on from Earth who’s going to talk about it. So to say it it’s a natural formation is just as wrong as saying it’s artificial. We can only presume until we get enough people on Mars to take a really good look at it.
Why would ancient Martians decide to build a gigantic face on Mars? Again, I couldn’t say. I have no insight into the working of a theoretical Martian mind. On the other hand, what would possess an ancient pharaoh to build a huge pyramid? A big enough ego and the ability to make it so would seem to fit. Plus, Mars has less gravity so it might be easier to build a big, creepy face gazing out into nothingness.
Where’s The Evidence?
If there were ancient Martians on Mars, or other aliens that visited Earth, where’s the evidence? Where are the hi-tech gadgets? Sure, there are ancient etchings, carvings, and, possibly, stories about them but where is the physical proof? And, really, those etchings and carvings might be of something terrestrial. We don’t have the ability to ask the original artists what they were doing. We make stuff up all the time now, it’s not inconceivable that cultures in the past were making stuff up.
Oddly, the higher we go up the technology ladder, the easier it becomes to explain away the lack of physical evidence. And, of course, there’s always the chance that things are so alien that we don’t have the faintest idea of what to look for.
Fifty years ago, you may have read a myth about a hero with an amulet that could open doors. “A magic amulet,” you might think. But these days, we have a lot of “magic amulets,” we just call them company ID cards. People wear them on lanyards all the time, and waving them in front of a box causes doors to unlock or even open.
Perhaps there’s a myth about a god writing on a tablet that could be easily erased and re-used. We have tons of such tablets, today. You know: iPads, and their relatives.
Flying chariots we haven’t quite achieved, although some people are still holding out hope for them.
And then there’s nano technology. We haven’t gotten there yet, but consider what a boon it would be for the planet if we did have molecular sized robots breaking down all our garbage and waste into their component atoms. If you can have a race of aliens that are able to bypass the speed of light, is it any more difficult to think they mastered this technology? If you scoff at the idea of teeny tiny robots, you should be aware that your body is already full of them: white blood cells would fit the description, I should think, as would viruses.
Beats me. I’m not a scientist and I’m certainly in no position to influence policy. All I can do is sit around and think about these things while other people (maybe) read this and laugh because I’m totally off base. That’s all right; my life doesn’t rely on this or how it’s taken or disputed.
It’s been a while, I know. I haven’t felt the urge or desire to write anything, lately. Even now, I’m forcing myself to write this and trying hard not to just close the window and forget about it. One thing that is really helping is that, if I don’t write this, then I have to do house cleaning.
I’m sure a lot of people are wondering about the cats. Angel is doing fine and her eye has cleared up quite a lot. She and Nazboo get along quite fine, and do a lot of chasing and playing early in the day. Nazboo is a vocal cat, though, so the playing sounds like a major battle is going on.
Ms. Squeaks has decided to come indoors. She’s been coming in quite often to eat because, I think, she’d rather share her canned food with one kitten rather than six. Then she acts like she wants to go out again, so I open the door for her. She stands at the door, sticking her head out, realizes it’s cold, then goes back inside and curls up on the rug under the coffee table. Often for hours. Several times she’s stayed over night. I’m okay with this, all as three cats seem to get along all right.
I always worry about cold weather and the youngest kittens, though. Currently, there are two that stay in either the Fusion or the Challenger. I’m not sure how they decide which car to sleep in, but I invariably manage to choose the one their in when it’s time to go shopping.
Unfortunately, the rest of what I have to say isn’t all that great. We’re heading into the holiday season, and that’s never been a good time for me. This year, I lost my mother and that’s just going to make things… Maybe not worse, but certainly not better. Her passing is also the major reason why I haven’t been bothering to write, since she was 50% of my known fanbase.
Because it’s November, though, I attempted to start a novel. It lasted three days before I just plain forgot to keep writing. I think it’s pretty clear I’m not a writer at this point.
I’m not a photographer, either. I can’t even remember the last time I took the camera and went somewhere. It’s probably been over a year, if not two.
Well, I wrote something and I reckon that’s good enough.
Last month, the big news was the kittens being born. Ms. Squeaks never trotted them out for me to see, so I had to steal glances when I could. I knew where they were, but I wasn’t going to let on, because I didn’t want her to move them again. At least, not because of me. At one point, I had to cut the grass, but I made sure I left a large enough space of tall grass (and weeds) so they’d still have a hiding spot.
About six weeks went by. I saw the kittens fairly regularly by that time. They would be running around and playing in the tall grass. The “helper” cat was usually around them. Ms. Squeaks would be doing her thing, lounging on the patio.
Before I go on, I should say a few things about Ms. Squeaks. When she first came around the property, she was a horribly skinny thing. She always glared at me from a distance. She also seemed to have a hard time eating the dry cat food: taking a few bites, looking like it was difficult to chew, and then leaving it alone.
So, I, being the soft hearted guy I am, started feeding her one can of wet food a day. This bridged the gap between us. She started to enjoy getting her head scratched. And, unfortunately, she would start scratching at her in a big way. The kind of way where she would growl as she really dug in there.
This worried me, and I always wished I could get a vet to do a house call. I would have tried to get her in a carrier, but I didn’t want to stress her out, as feral cats tend to be when confined. So I let it go, and felt bad.
During this time, she developed a kind of relationship with Nazboo, the indoor cat. I would open the front door and she would stare inside, until she saw him. Then she’d get close to the door and the two would boop noses together. And then they would both turn around and that would be that. Later, the nose booping would turn to her giving him affectionate looking head butts. She went from never entering the house (except once, when she took a tour of the entire place), to coming inside long enough to rub against Nazboo. Who would then look at me, like had no idea of what was going on.
So, these cats aren’t strays, as they tend to stay on my property or my noisy next door neighbor’s property. But they aren’t house cats so, to my mind, that makes them feral. Especially since it takes a lot of time and effort to work up a trust. As an example, the helper cat still does not like to get close to me, even though he now shares wet food with Ms. Squeaks. But, I also think it’s not its job to be friendly. It’s there to make sure the kittens are safe when Squeaks is otherwise engaged.
One morning, then, when I was leaving to go grocery shopping, I was surprised to see Squeaks, the helper cat, and a tiny kitten on the porch. I looked at the kitten, and it looked like it’s eyes were stuck shut. I didn’t think that was normal, since the others had big, wide eyes, that stared at me from beyond the grass line.
So, again, me being me, I start calling veterinarians. I started with the closest ones and was told there was no availability, but I could make an appointment for one to two weeks out. I didn’t think that would cut it. One suggested I bring it to an animal shelter. I didn’t that would be good, either. Finally, I found a place about an hour away. I explained the situation to them and they said, “Hey, bring it in. I’ll give the doctors a heads up.”
Relieved, I went and got the carrier and brought it outside. I opened the front door and went to grab the kitten. She was a feisty one, but not being able to see gave me a slight advantage. She would still wriggle a lot and get loose. Being afraid of hurting her, I held her low to the ground and didn’t grip to hard, so that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I opened the top of the carrier, reasoning that I could let her drop into it and she’d be okay, since, well, she was a cat, but I also had padding in there. So I scooped her up, let her wriggle her way out of my hands and right into the carrier. I closed the top and started to close the front, when Ms. Squeaks walked right on in to the carrier. She nudged the kitten a bit, then laid down next to her.
I was surprised, but not surprised enough to look a gift horse in the mouth. I closed the front of the carrier and carried it to the car. Surprisingly, Ms. Squeaks didn’t panic. She seemed interested in the ride, and would nuzzle the kitten when she started getting squirmy.
Even at the vet’s, she didn’t seem at all disturbed. She just laid there, taking it all in. I was told it would be about two hours and they brought the carrier into the back. I didn’t see the sense in leaving, since it would be an hour going home, anyway. So I hung around.
In the end, it took four hours. I don’t blame the clinic, though. I saw it go from nothing going on, to all kind of emergencies happening at once. I know they were busy at times. The end result was, everyone was impressed with Ms. Squeaks behavior. And she got a clean bill of health, aside from some ear mites. There’s nothing wrong with her teeth or jaws, so it just might be that she doesn’t like dry food.
The kitten was a bit more dire. A bad eye infection. They sent me home with eye drops and antibiotics. I hope to God I did the eye drops correctly.
Anyway, I got them home and Squeaks took off to tend to her other kids, while I took the kitten inside. I didn’t really know what to do with her. I couldn’t let her run loose because her eye infection could have been transferred. I couldn’t keep her in the carrier all night. In the end, I took a spare room and put some cat toys in there and cleaned it up of the more dangerous things. I went to the store and got a small litter box and some kitten sized bowls and set them all up for her.
Her medicine required me seeing her at least every eight hours, but I tried to drop in more than that. Not that it mattered. The girl would wedge herself behind a box and not come out. To give her the meds, I had to move a giant box and pick her up. Then I put it back so she’d have a place to feel safe.
I also felt that it would be nice if Ms. Squeaks would visit. That way, they would both know that the other was still around. Getting Ms. Squeaks inside wasn’t that difficult. I opened the door, she strolled in and started calling for her kitten. I led her to the door of the room and opened it and the two met, somewhat happily, I think. Maybe too happily, because momma tried to walk out with her kitten.
Eventually we all got the hang of it, until I made the mistake of feeding Ms. Squeaks her canned food in the kitten room. I thought it was also a good idea, because it would show the kitten what could be eaten, which included the canned food and the kitten dry food I had gotten, because Ms. Squeaks is a voracious eater. What started with having the two cats have their head in the same bowl, eating the same food, turned into momma cat eating the food and the kitten trying to nurse on Squeaks.
Besides, that, though, the kitten opened up. She would start coming out of hiding when I opened the door. She’d play with me as I tossed various toys around. By the end of the week, I had become a human playground for her to crawl all over and bite.
At one point, I bought a new bed for her and Nazboo. Same bed, slightly different colors. I’m happy to say that they both use their new beds. It’s always satisfying when that happens.
Nazboo and Angel (the kitten) don’t interact. Most of it is because I keep them apart, on account of the eye infection. There was one time, though, early in the week, Angel ended up underneath the futon in the living room. I was trying to get her out, when Nazboo showed up behind me. Angel, I guess on seeing another cat, ran out from under the futon and right at Nazboo, who was surprised by this little missile. He jumped and hissed. And this started the falling apart of Ms. Squeaks and Nazboo’s relationship. They no longer have a friendly thing going.
In other news, as of yesterday, the kitten has been bolting out of her room when I open the door. She gets out of the room, and walks around for a little bit. This morning, she saw Nazboo and walked towards him. Nazboo… ran away. Angel took a few hesitant steps toward him again, but he hissed at her and tried to run into his ‘jungle gym’. This frightened Angel enough to send her running to her room. Poor thing. She hasn’t tried to leave it, except for maybe a foot outside the door, since then.
In a few days, Angel goes back to the clinic. Hopefully, we’ll find out if she’s still contagious or not. I’m also hoping that something can still be done about her right eye, which hasn’t healed as well as the left. Then, I have to decide what to do with her.
Due to personal issues, I wasn’t able to post this the other day. So you’re getting it now. Isn’t that exciting? Of course it is.
It seems like a long time ago that I found the expired opossum. I’m happy to say that another one has moved in. I guess. It’s entirely possible that the dead one was just passing through. I don’t know. Maybe I should start tagging these critters. Anyway, there’s still an opossum around, and that makes me happy for some reason.
The big news, of course, is that Ms. Squeaks had her babies. She’s allowed me to see them once, so far.
I’m a little insulted that she hasn’t trotted them out for me to see, but I guess that is a prerogative of motherhood to let people poke at your babies. They were born on April 5th, so they’re almost at a month old.
The poofy looking cat has been spending a lot of time around here. If I’m outside for a while and not moving, it will come kind of close but even looking at it will send it running off to get some distance. Unless I open the blinds. Then the thing will run from wherever it is to the window and try and look inside. Drives me nuts.
I haven’t wanted to cut the grass in the area of the newborns, so it’s looking pretty wild. God only knows what else is living in that mess.
June bugs have started terrorizing the populace. Every morning, the patio is covered in dead or dying June bugs. I don’t know much about them, other than they fly around and die. Thankfully, the neighbor’s chickens have been coming by and Hoovering them up. By early evening, they’re just about all gone. Well, that’s how it had been working. For some reason, the chickens did not come by the last couple of days.
I haven’t done anything about the leaking sink, yet. Things have gotten complicated, in general. But I hope to get that fixed soon. I could try to figure it out myself, but I would prefer it to be done correctly.
However, I did finally buy a bed. All by myself. I’m quite proud of that and am now feeling as if I can conquer the living room furniture, too.
In addition to the bed, I made some changes with smart light bulbs and created a HomeKit scene where saying, “Hey Siri, it’s sexy time” will cause the lights to come on, turn red, and put a Barry White song. I’d upload a video, but my freebie plan doesn’t allow it. It’s really neat. Too bad nobody will ever see it.
Also, the cat likes it. So, there’s that.
Life In The Kitchen
Oh, food. Last month I was really bad at keeping track of what I was making, so I’m not really sure how many interesting things I’ve made. The only thing that really stands out to me is something called “Swiss Chicken Casserole.” This is supposed to be four chicken breasts, covered with Swiss cheese, then covered with stuffing. I cut up the chicken breasts this time around and liked it a lot more than when I made it using the breasts whole.
I’ll try and keep track better in May. Maybe even start sharing the recipes that I use.
That pretty much wraps it up for April. Hopefully, this month, I can get some pictures of the new kittens.