Nearing the Wire



There are times when I worry about my inability to think of a good story. I look back at the days when I was younger and I was writing all kinds of things right off the top of my head. Going through English class notebooks from high school I’m often amazed that I’m reading my own writing. It’s like two different people: one who is young and creative and smart and one who is old, cynical, uncaring, unfeeling, and has no imagination at all.

So I wonder if this is just a facet of getting older and not exercising my creative side, or is it something more biological?

Nobody likes to think of medical problems or, for that matter, brain problems. I only just recently got over a scare of thinking I had an issue with my noggin fillin’s.

I’ve noticed that I forget a lot of things. Well, not really a lot of things, but enough that I notice that I do it. Mostly it’s in the realm of go to the kitchen to get something and walk out of kitchen with something else and not getting what I wanted to get in the first place. Or forgetting where I put something down after just a few minutes. Things like that.

Or, maybe, it’s just that I don’t care enough to think of something to write. I don’t know how true that is, though, because there are times when I really want to write something, but can’t think of anything. Many times I can’t even think of something to write for this blog that few people read and nobody comments on. What’s the point, right?

Maybe I just don’t enjoy it enough to do it for myself.


Pants on Fire


If I do go ahead and commit myself to writing something next month, it’ll be pretty obvious that I won’t be doing any planning this year. Unless some kind of miracle occurs and a Muse visits me in the night to heap tons of great ideas onto me I’ve got nothing to plan for. That means whatever I do come up with will be as hot a pile of garbage as the first one I did.

I’ve never been much of a planner, really, but some kind of roadmap is nice to follow. When I can start ticking off boxes I can feel like I’m making progress other than just a word count. Because, let’s be honest, by the end of November I’m just making up sentences to fill the space to keep up the quota.

Without that, the whole thing feels like I’m tossing stuff in just to keep pace. That’s why I really wish I had some kind of idea of what I wanted to do. I wish I had the ideas and mental ability I did way back when I was younger. I wish I could think of something even halfway decent.

And that’s why I do what I do rather than being an author and making millions of dollars on movie deals.

NaNoWriMo – Steppin’ Out

During the one year that I really participated in NaNoWriMo I liked one particular thing: the Write-Ins. I left the apartment and went to unfamiliar places and wrote with a bunch of other people. It was nice.

I mean, nobody actually talked to me or anything, but it was nice being around other people for a change. Doing (roughly) the same thing.

See, I won’t leave the apartment if I don’t have to. I don’t have much of a reason to. I don’t have a lot of people to see, don’t get invited places, and don’t particular care to hangout at places by myself. These days I even have my groceries delivered.

So these write-ins gave me a reason to get out, amongst the people, and sort of mingle without actually talking to anyone. I think it was good for me.

Which would be a good reason for doing it again, if I could convince myself leaving the apartment would be a good idea.

Wishful Thinking




Do you know what I think would be great? If Apple bought Atari. What’s left of Atari. As much as they can buy.

Even if Apple did nothing with the name, they could at least retire it with a bit more dignity than what it has now.

Some people might be thinking that this idea comes from far out left-field, but it doesn’t, really.

Back when Steve & Steve made the first Apple computer, Jobs approached Nolan Bushnell (a founder of Atari) to invest in Apple. Jobs also worked at Atari. So there’s some historical context.

Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Atari’s R&D departments were working on a number of things that Apple is doing now: Atari stores, medical devices, and phones (granted, they were working on landline phones but cell phones were being looked at, also). In a way, the Apple of today is the non-mis-managed Atari of an alternate universe.

Another reason for doing so would be gaming. Apple is not terribly interested in gaming, except for how it pertains to iOS (iPhone and iPad) customers. When it comes to macOS, it seems more like an afterthought. Which is a shame, because there are a number of people who would like to play games on their Macs. I think Apple is concerned that their main customers are ‘professionals’ and don’t want to taint their computer’s images by being a game machine.

Buying up Atari would give them the ability to market game-oriented computers with a recognizable game-oriented name. Market the Apples to the professional fuddy-duddies and re-brand some computers and macOS for Atari and the gamers. Also, it would be neat if I could get an iMac that was Atari-branded and had the monitor stand shaped like the Atari Fuji logo.

Like this, only way (way!) cooler.

Even more interesting would be if they made Atari computers that used their own ARM processors along with a version of macOS that ran on them.

Currently, Apple is positioning their Apple TV as a sort of cut down console. That isn’t going to go too far until the get rid of the requirement that cames have to be controllable with the included remote. But if they want to concentrate on the Apple TV doing what it’s supposed to be doing best (showing TV shows and movies) then it might be better concentrate less on the game playing aspect.

Instead, if they buy Atari they would get whatever weirdo thing Atari is currently (supposedly) working on. Apple’s last console didn’t do too well (that would be The Pippin), but a new console with the Atari name backed by Apple might fare a whole lot better.

Apple is also trying to get into the television market by creating their own shows. I’m not sure who owns the arcade division at this point, but maybe they could leverage old IP into new shows. I think I’d rather watch a kid’s cartoon based on Bentley Bear (from Crystal Castles) than a movie based on Asteroids.

Unfortunately, I have no say in what Apple does. I don’t even know if it would be a good idea for them to buy it or not, financially. I do know, however, that it would be nice if the Atari name could come back home.

NaNoWriMo Thing


It’s nearly the halfway point through October and I still haven’t made a decision. This is completely normal. A decision won’t be reached until the last possible moment. Until then, I’ll still keep thinking about it.

It might make my life a bit easier if I indulge in some fan fiction. The only thing I’d really be interested in doing would be something in the Fallout universe. My first thought would be that it’s been fanfic’ed to death. But then I remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone else has done; this is all for me. All for me.

Then I wish I was a real writer and could actually think of things to write. And then, you know, do it.

Things I want (but can’t spend money on)


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Well, “can’t” is a rather strong word in this case. It’s more like “won’t.” But I would, because I want to, I just won’t because (as usual) I find it hard to justify it to myself.

Amiga 4000T


Amiga 4000T

First up would be an Amiga 4000T, although I suppose I would settle for a 4000. Maybe even a 3000. The reason why I want one is rather convoluted. I’ll start with by saying that it’s the latest and (I suppose) the most powerful model so it would make sense to start there. The other is that it’s more of an Atari computer than the Atari ST was. So what would I do with a 20 year old computer? I don’t have a clue, hence, why I haven’t gotten one along with the reason that they’re kind of expensive when they can be found on eBay or Craigslist.

But it would be kind of cool to have one and, maybe, do some NaNoWriMo writing on one. I could be, like, a slightly updated George R. R. Martin.

One of the key arguments against getting one is that I can just buy Amiga Forever for $30.00 and emulate just about any Amiga I could care to. So why don’t I do that?

First, I don’t need it. I can’t really come up with a really good reason for having it. Secondly, it’s not real. It can’t beat having the real hardware sitting on a desk. A desk that doesn’t have room for it.

Atari TT030


Atari TT030

This fell into the same category back in the 1990’s that the Mac Pro fits into today: A high priced computer with more power than I would’ve used at the time. But it would still be an awesome thing to have because they’re kind of rare. The reason why I don’t get one now is because… they’re kind of rare. And when one becomes available, it’s usually very expensive. Way too expensive for me to justify. Which I couldn’t anyway, just because I’m me.

Atari Falcon


Atari Falcon, the ultimate ST

Oh, I wanted one badly when this came out. Even though it looked like a 1040ST in a grey case. These things are also pretty rare to find for sale and, of course, expensive. My reasoning for not getting one is essentially the same as the other two computers up there. Expensive to get and I have no idea what I’d use it for.

Sure, okay, it’s nostalgia driven. I miss the old days of computers when things were different and companies made their own chipsets to get a leg up on the competitors. These days, every computer is exactly the same and it’s only the cellphone that gets any diversity.




Panic At The NaNoWriMo


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Besides  the usual “should I or shouldn’t I” argument that goes on in my head, there’s also the problem of what to write.

I have a lot of ideas, but they’re mostly short things more like scenes than an actual story. Trying to come up with a story around a single scene can be a bit daunting and probably require a lot of planning. Usually I take a scene and then just add to it, like a rubber band ball.

Some ideas that have bounced around in my skull for years and years are…

  • Scientists (of the future!) travel to a distant planet and terraform it using nanobots. They then create life forms using the nanobots and program them accordingly. The people that live there can use magic (or, rather, mentally controlling tiny and invisible robots to do their bidding) and consider the scientists to be gods.
  • A man is sent on a rocket ship to a distant planet while in suspended hibernation. When he arrives, he finds that other people are already there thanks to scientific advances while he was asleep, thus making his trip kind of useless.
  • A dungeon crawl where a party of adventurers wander around a subterranean environment fighting monsters and finding treasure. I tried this a while back and, while I actually finished it, I totally hated it.
  • A young man is captured by pirates, rescued by werewolves, finds out he’s the lost prince of a kingdom, hooks up with some wizards, and tries to reclaim his throne from the evil vampire wizard that controls an army of undead soldiers. I tried this last year, I believe, but couldn’t finish it. I even thought of a nice ‘twist’ for the ending.
  • Two inept criminals try to rob a bank using the drive-through. This is a great example of a scene that is hard for me to formulate a story around.
  • I wrote a story about a waitress in a desert diner meets a mysterious customer who tries to get her to leave the diner. At the time, people kept asking me to finish it and couldn’t quite grasp that it was finished. Sometimes, though, I wonder if the Waitress should continue on…
  • Something about two space adventurers named Duncan and Shipley. Because I like donuts.

I know that one of my problems is that I overthink things. For instance, number 2 on the list caused me great problems because I was trying very hard to think of what technology would be like thousands of years in the future. Then I tried to make it easier by having the protagonist go back to Earth. At that point I spent way too much time trying to figure out what the technology like would be there and what the general landscape of Earth would be like after that much time. Lots and lots of time and thought went into it, just to be tossed out because it didn’t seem like that’s how it would be.

It’s hard for me to just write something and say, “Screw it, it stays.” When I was a kid I read a lot of science-fiction that was written in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Stories where spaceships held massive building-sized computers to handle navigation. Only to find out by the 1980’s that they wouldn’t be that way. So the stories with artificial intelligent computers using a reel-to-reel tape drive, well, they kind of lost something. So, while I really don’t have a problem with another author writing about something that’s hard to envision (like, life on Earth thousands of years in the future where most people have already left to colonize other planets), I have a hard time with it for myself. I hope that makes sense. I’m not going to re-read it.

Not, I should add, that this is a problem only with writing. Trying to figure out which route to take home after work is also able to put me into a deadlock. As is trying to figure out what birthday present I should buy myself. Or which can of diced tomatoes I should get. It’s a chronic problem.


Random Words Placed Together

It’s getting near that time again. That time when I think I can write 50,000 words in 30 days. It starts in November, of course, but I’ll need a good month and half to start thinking about if I want to bother this year. And then to decide that I’ll give it a try. Then time to think about what I should write. This will be followed by some time to decide that there’s no way I can do it and I should just forget about it. After that, it’s all about changing my mind every day until October 31st when I throw caution to the wind and figure I can do it.

A couple of days into November I’ll realize that I don’t have the time or that I can’t think of anything to write or I’m just too tired to bother.

So it’s the time between now and November 1st that I have the most fun with stressing myself out over something that should be fun.

I can tell it’s going to turn out great because it took me two hours just to write this.

What If…



I like playing the “What If…?” Game. It can lead to some interesting thoughts. Most of the time it’s just idle speculation because it’s pretty well impossible to know what might have happened in a certain situation.

For a while now I’ve been going through old documents and videos that came from Atari from the 1980s. Atari, if you’re not familiar with the name, was a video game company that spread out into computers. For a short time, Atari was the name in video entertainment.

They were mismanaged by Warner Communications and ended up selling the home division to Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore Business Machines, who also mismanaged and completely gutted the rest of Atari. The other division, the side that did the arcade games, became part of Midway until being sold to Warner Bros. Entertainment (there’s a circle for you).

What a lot of people don’t know is that Atari had bought an engineering company in 1973 and used it as kind of a think tank. Atari had a couple of R&D departments, as well. This is the stuff that I found interesting.

The R&D departments had their hands in telecommunications and were also thinking of different medical devices. Back in 1983 they had a ‘summer computer camp’ going at Club Med that, if I understand it properly, had Atari 8-bit computers networked together. Atari never released any networking product for the 8-bit computers (the 400/800, XL and XE lines).

So I wonder what the personal electronic world would be like today had Atari been properly managed and survived the through the 1990s. Would my iPhone be an aPhone? Would doctors be hooking us up to diagnostic computers wearing the Fuji logo? Would we have had VR earlier?

Who knows? Not me. There’s no tellling what may or may not have happened even with the best of management.

It’s not a total loss. Some people left and went to Apple. Some went off to Intel. It’s probably safe to say that people went all over the technology company landscape and used their knowledge to bring us interesting things. Like USB.

Some places to check out:
Atari Museum
Atari Archives
Internet Archive


Tales Of Terror V: Destination Unknown


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“Whoah,” said Ben. “That was really something.”

“Yeah it was,” agreed Stacy, reaching for her shirt.

“I didn’t think the backseat was that roomy, before,” said Ben. He put his t-shirt on inside-out.

“I’m glad to hear you don’t get back here much,” she winked. “I think I worked up an appetite.”

He laughed. “Yeah.”

Suddenly the door locks engaged and the car started moving forward.

“Ben? What’s going on?”

“I don’t know,” admitted Ben. He leaned over the seats and tugged at the wheel and then sat back.

“I can’t control it,” he said.

The car kept moving, following the dark road.

“Hang on,” said Stacy. She leaned forward on the center console.

“What is it?” asked Ben. Even in the throes of panic, he made time to look at her bare behind.

“Ohhhh,” she breathed.

“What? What?” He hadn’t touched her.

She poked at the map displayed on the big OLED screen in front of her.

“It’s taking us to Boogie Burger,” she said, sitting back again.

“Oh. It must have heard you when you mentioned appetite.”

“I’m surprised it’s not taking us to the nearest church then,” she giggled.

“Still, it would have been nice to ask for confirmation,” said Ben, relieved.

“I know. What if I didn’t want Boogie Burger?”

“Um. What do you want?”

“Boogie Burger is fine.”

They finished dressing just as the car neatly parked itself. Then they went inside the brightly lit burger joint and they each had a cheeseburger. Ben had bacon on his, even though it cost seventy-five cents more.

He felt it was worth it.