Addendum

Speaking of going to a different school in junior high… I’m not sure why this popped into my head, as it’s something I haven’t thought of for decades probably, but all the talk about vintage computers apparently sparked another hidden memory.

While the school in general did have several C64 computers, mostly in the library, I was also part of a small selection of students that were chosen for what they called “Computer Lab” … a small room full of Apple II computers. πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I just remember how awful they seemed compared to the Commodore computers… with The Oregon Trail running on both for comparison. πŸ˜… No contest.

Their computer lab with all the Apple computers also served as a room for a typing class later in the afternoon, but I knew that after we left the room was empty – and only the teacher would be in there doing whatever it was that she did with her free time. 😏 Everyone else in the class had basically zero computer experience, although they were the smarter kids in my grade. πŸ€“ Me, at least I had poked around on my own VIC-20 at home, and then the C64s in the library… so… I had learned a little bit of BASIC. 😎

I actually helped some of the other kids in the class at times, so it wasn’t odd that I’d be away from my own computer and messing with someone else’s, and that made me realize that I could pull off a pretty good prank. For a nerd, anyway… πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I mean, we were learning to code, so…

You could turn off the monitors while leaving the actual computers on, so… and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact details about this… but somehow I was able to go around to each Apple II in the room and quickly type in a program. There were probably only a dozen computers, and they were situated against three walls of this small square room, just so you can mentally picture it…

But I was able to bang out this little BASIC program on each of the computers right before class ended, as we were all finishing up and supposed to be getting ready to go to our next class. Apple computers only had an annoying beep generator in them, but that was perfect for my prank. 🀑 I think it wasn’t even more than four lines… telling the computer to wait a certain amount of time, ten minutes in this case, and then start rapidly beeping until someone stopped the program. 😁

(I mean, this is a demo created in 2015 and listen how bad even it is… heh)

It’s so weird though… because I’m sure that it worked… which meant that ten minutes after we left, one computer would start beeping – and then in about 10 seconds the next one, and the one after that in ten more seconds… until all of the computers were either beeping all at once or the teacher would be tracking around the room, killing the programs as they started. πŸ˜‹ But it’s strange because the next day – even though I anticipated getting in some kind of trouble – the teacher didn’t even mention it, didn’t change anything about what we did… it was just strange. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Well played, teacher… 😏 pretend like I didn’t just school you with my junior high BASIC programming knowledge and I’ll pretend like I didn’t do it. πŸ˜„ Hell, maybe she was impressed. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I’m pretty sure she knew who did it though… none of those other shlubs had any idea of what they were doing yet. 😁

More Nostalgia

I live in the past more than I probably should, but the past day or two have been nice… old memories being brought back to life as I texted back and forth with Dad last night. πŸ™‚ I can’t even remember how we got on the subject, but around my junior high years we moved to a house in the country – significantly different in almost every way from our former place, and of course with me going to a new school. 😳

Oh, I remember… we were talking about all of our various kitties over the years. And while living out on the hill, the strays apparently came with the house. 😏 But because they weren’t really pet pets, and I don’t say that to belittle their worth in any way, but between that and me being rather young – I had forgotten a lot about them. 😟 But once Dad mentioned their names, all these memories instantly popped back into my head. Weird how the brain can have stuff stored away that well, where you can’t even access it by just trying – but an outside influence can provide the key. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

But yeah, memories of the outside kitties, memories of the bus driver forgetting that a new kid now lived in that house – and therefore blowing past me as I stood in the dark, in the snow… πŸ˜„ I remember more about the bus rides and the time spent with my couple of good friends at that new school than I do about the time actually in school. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Moving was a pretty big deal, so it was nice to go back to the town where I originally started school eventually. But another pretty kewl memory… getting a portable little B/W TV one Christmas, that I could take in my bedroom to watch broadcast TV at night as I went to sleep. (Man… I’m old… lol) I’m not sure if I was supposed to be watching TV, but yeah…

Then I wake up today, start clicking around through YouTube on the TV, and they suggested a video from 8-Bit Guy about the new “The C64” full sized Commodore 64 replica / emulator with functional keyboard. πŸ˜ƒ My first computer was a VIC-20 that Dad and I got at Hamvention. I can’t remember how much it was, but I feel like it was pretty reasonable… a big box full of VIC shit along with the computer. πŸ€“ No disk drive yet, but then later on I upgraded along the Commodore path to the C64 with a 1541-II drive – as did my cousin – which lead to lots of “freeware” copying with him and friends. πŸ€«πŸ˜„

But of course since that was such a big part of my childhood, seeing this thing instantly made me want it. 🀀

Believe it or not, I had actually already ordered one from these folks years ago. They had a crowdfunding thing going on, but then they decided to produce The C64 Mini first due to the then-fad of “mini” game consoles being released. It was probably the right move, at least to fill their bank accounts, but it delayed the full sized version – so I requested and got a refund. πŸ˜• Since then I’ve gotten the Mini though, and now, years after it was due to come out, it looks like I’ll eventually be getting a full-sized version as well. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I can use the excuse that the audio and video lag on the full sized version is less than the Mini, so not only will it be nice to have the keyboard – but technically there is a performance improvement since they’ve optimized the emulator code. (Not to mention double the USB ports, which is a bigger deal than you’d think.)

Not sure why they didn’t go the FPGA route, but it looks good enough for me.

MS Flight Simulator 2020

When I was in my late teens, one of the first things that got me interested in PC gaming (after “growing up Commodore” with a VIC-20, C64, and various Amiga computers) were the advertisements I’d see in the PC magazines for various flight simulators. Because on those pages, the screenshots from some of those flight sims made them look potentially amazing. But of course in the early 1990s, no matter how good of a computer you had, there weren’t really any flight sims that looked or performed as you’d really want.

I’m not gonna ramble much… yet… so I’ll just let this guy’s video speak for itself. Almost 30 years later, and it looks like there’s finally a flight simulator coming out that will not only amaze folks like me – but which also even impresses the actual airline pilots who do this shit for a living. This is just one of many videos posted by the select few that were invited to Microsoft’s preview event a couple of weeks ago.

If there ends up being an XBOX One version, even though it would likely be watered-down, it might actually give me a reason to turn it on and start playing games again. It’s crazy how long it’s been since I’ve really cared about console gaming, even with some decent titles sitting here waiting for me. With all the other stuff going on over the past couple of years, it’s just kinda slipped away from me… but this thing looks gorgeous.

Oh, Hai Knee

Despite all the various stuff I’ve been doing lately, I’ve managed to keep from gimping up my neck, shoulder, and back too much. But while being careful not to aggravate those areas, it seems I wasn’t paying enough attention to my right knee…Β  ‘cuz, oush. 😣 It’s been all sorts of fuckered up since yesterday evening. πŸ₯Ί Can’t even tell you what I did to it, other than just moving around a whole lot more than it’s used to, but whatever it was sure has pissed it off. πŸ˜’ Not really complaining though, because at least it’s not one of my traditional “oush points” getting worse, and also not complaining because I don’t really have any “labor-based plans” for the next couple of days, so with any luck it’ll chill the eff out and get better over the next 48 hours. πŸ€•πŸ€žπŸ»

And it’s funny that just as I’m musing about my gimpy knee, I was reminded that Hamvention is coming up again here soon. πŸ˜ƒ Not this coming weekend, but the next… I think. Now, busted knee or not, what were the odds that I’d have put a Hamvention trip on my to-do list this year? Pretty slim, honestly. 😏 I think the last time that I went was a couple years before they moved it from Hara Arena (just outside of Dayton) to the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia… so yeah, probably at least half-a-decade. (He said, dramatically… heh)

Now I’m wishing I could remember the first year that I went. πŸ€” Dad had been going for years before he talked me into it… I think I was just too young and couldn’t imagine what a “HAM radio flea market” could have to offer me. But that first trip was when I got my first (of eventually many) Commodore computer. 😊 A VIC-20 with cassette drive, tapes, and a bunch of cartridges. I was in junior high, so whatever year that would have been. After that, we continued going each year more often than not, until eventually I was even making trips on my own when Dad wasn’t quite feelin’ it that particular year. But with so many memories of it being there at Hara, with so little changingΒ from year to year, it’s just hard to force myself to make that first trip to the “new” location. 😐 I just imagine it’ll be missing half of the “feels” that make the trips what they were. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Meh… not gonna rule it out, of course, but you know how that usually goes…Β πŸ˜›

I dunno… I really would like to take some sort of solo road trip this summer. And while Hamvention is always at least on that list of possibilities, I’ve started thinking a little more about researching some of the big ol’ retro arcades that are scattered around the midwest, and maybe finding one or two that seem worth the drive.Β  From what I remember reading about some of them, they generally just have a one-time cover charge to get in and then all the games are set to free play, no “pocket full of quarters” required. πŸ€“πŸ•ΉΒ Heh… but even now, I’m not sure if I’m actually considering it, or if I’m just talking out of my ass ‘cuz it sounds like fun but also kind of a PITA. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜‹

LOAD”*”,8,1 … READY … RUN

I don’t want tomorrow to feel like today did, so I’m gonna try my hardest to push aside all of the bad things in my mind – and hopefully do some things that I know should be fun. It’s so strange how the past few years have kinda stolen “fun” in general from me. I’ve got two current game systems, several different cameras, that Playstation VR system I haven’t even set up yet, a couple decent musical keyboards, the C64 Mini system I got the other day… and all of it just sits here.

I think the more that bad, sad, or unfortunate things started happening to me, my friends, and my family… the less able I’ve been to allow myself to have fun. Even if I have moments where I’m not feeling bad about my own shit, I guess I sorta feel like it’s not right for me to have fun when some of my friends and family are dealing with their own bad, sad, unfortunate shit. I know it’s dumb, and I kinda know how I got here… but that doesn’t matter… what matters is changing my way of thinking and letting myself just enjoy shit now and then.

I have to just accept that some people might roll their eyes or have something shitty to say if they think I should be doing “this” when I decide to do “that” – because if I live my life making sure I make everyone else happy… well, that’s just some bullshit… but believe it or not that’s how I’ve been for a long while now.

Meh… but anyway, tomorrow has to be different. I think once I straighten up the living room a little bit I’m gonna hook up both the C64 Mini and the PSVR. Who would have thought, back in the late 80s, when Mom, Dad, and Aunt C bought me a C64C, 1541-II disk drive, Okidata 120 dot matrix printer, and 13″ color TV… that almost 30 years later I’d be so excited to have a baby version of that old computer that I can play on my 50″ HDTV. Oh, and I also have that CD of scanned slides that I still need to check out.

So many things stuck with me from my childhood. The computers, the classic video games, the nerdy interest in photography, radio, musical keyboards, and tech in general -and even a lot of the music from back then that still means the most to me… all of those started as these little seeds that were planted back then, which are still growing strong in me to this day. Well, maybe not “strong” for some of them, but I still want them to be…

Tomorrow’s gonna be different. Even if it’s just tomorrow.

Unrelated to Adulting

Okay, now that I’ve got all that other shit out of my brain for the moment… now I can write about the other stuff from the past week or so. Let me start off by talking about a new toy that I couldn’t resist. 😊 It was only $80 shipped, which isn’t too bad… and considerably less than what the original (with disk drive) would have cost new. It’s called The C64 Mini, and while it’s not an official Commodore product, it’s essentially an entire C64 emulated on a teeny board, in a teeny replica of the original “breadbin” style Commodore 64.Β πŸ˜ƒ And before you ask, no… the keyboard doesn’t actually work… but you can plug a USB keyboard into it and use it as an actual computer – and the company intends to come out with a full-sized, completely working replica soon. 😁

I’ve yet to even power the thing on, because I’m waiting for a spell when I’ll be able to do nothing but mess with the thing… which will include upgrading the firmware to allow me to load any program from a flash drive, and loading it up with all of my favorites from when I was a kid. It does have 64 licensed games built in, but most people are like me and get it so they’ll have the closest thing to an actual C64 – but with HDMI output – for the best looking Commodore 8-bit computer ever. 😊

I suppose everyone has a “thing” from their generation that they loved when they were younger, and therefore want to have again once they’re old. 😏 Classic video games and Commodore computing are definitely my thing, the same way that HAM radio is Dad’s thing… and like me, he’s still got a few toys as well that he plays with to this day.Β πŸ€“ I’m even learning how to take a C64 disk image, open it on a Windows 10 laptop, add or remove C64 programs as I see fit, and then export the new C64 disk image for use on this thing. 😯 That’s how it is with me though… give me something I’m genuinely passionate about, and my brain will start absorbing everything that it needs to know about it.

Okay, gotta keep this entry short-ish. 🀨 Maven is almost completely done with her home-grooming, which means my bathroom and living room carpet areΒ covered with poofed hair for now. 😟 I’m lucky that she’s so cooperative though. In fact, for the most part she loves the process. Bri came for a visit right before Halloween, not only to hang out (she drew the face on the pumpkin and I carved it upΒ πŸŽƒπŸ˜) but to also distract from her mom’s deteriorating health. She’s actually had a couple of good days, so it was nice to see her have a little more energy. However, my friend Greg, his mother passed away this past week. 😒 She was having a rough time, so it’s one of those deals where you’re almost relieved.

Cassi came down to spend the night on one of her days off. Her life is so hectic, between all of the hours that she’s been putting in lately and then having her, her mom, and her (very opinionated) 17 year-old sister all there at her house, making noise at each other. 😏 So coming here, even if half of her time is spent sleeping… it really is like a teeny mental vacation for her.Β πŸ™‚ Plus she helped me out with some chores, including the whole de-flea-ing process with the sprays and the carpet powder, etc. (Plus the most important and helpful thing… getting Maven to swallow that damn Capstar flea killin’ pill.)

As we sat in the living room watching the new “Charmed” show, we also each had our notebooks and were fastidiously jotting down the things that we intend to work on in the next few days. It’s strange how just having her here “working” in the same way that I was, how it helps to settle my brain and let me get down to business without getting as easily distracted by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. 😡

So there ya go… just so you don’t think my entire existence is grumping and bitching. 😐 There’s always some good sprinkled in there – and even when it isn’t “good” in general, I’m thankful that I have the right kind of friends to help me through those times, and vice versa.Β πŸ™‚Β Okay, carry on…

Shufflin’

I’m sort of feeling guilty for taking a day off when I was feeling good, because today I had to take the day off because my back is fucking killing me. 😣 I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about, because it seems to happen every couple of months, but I do have to be careful how I sleep tonight so that I don’t aggravate it. 😳 Odds are good that I’ll just sack out in the recliner, which rarely fails to give me a decent night sleep… at least in so far as it doesn’t injure me during the middle of the night.

I just got back from Aunt Sharon’s though, because I told her that I’d go over there tonight to work on her PC a bit. πŸ–¨πŸ–₯πŸ”πŸ€“ Someone gifted her a spare printer, so I took one of my extra USB cables over for her – and then her BIOS was reporting that one of her fans wasn’t working, so I took it all apart to check the boards and connections. Nothing looked burnt or broken, but the rear exhaust fan simply won’t spin up. πŸ€” There’s an additional exhaust fan on the front, and one mounted directly to the heat sink on the CPU, so as long as she doesn’t leave it running day and night I think she’ll be okay.

I’m walking all gimpy due to my back, and I think it accidentally made her feel bad for having me come over in that condition… but it’s not a big deal. It’s one of those pains that I’m used to having every now and then, so at least on “day one” it hasn’t got me feeling too twitchy yet. πŸ€ͺ Now that I’m back home and settling in I’m gonna grab the heating pad and start working on a to-do list of what I want to accomplish tomorrow. πŸ““πŸ–ŠπŸ€¨ It’s almost all stuff regarding medical stuff, appointments, medication approvals and such – and I’ll have time to do all of that while I sit in my car and wait for Cassi at her doctor appointment.

I know this one is falling pretty close to her mama’s appointment, but this is her first time back after quite a while – since she got her insurance activated again and wants to make the most of it. Something that I definitely encourage. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ‘±πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ I’m also sitting here looking at the list of “free slot play” on the calendar that Hollywood sent me, and it works out that a few of them combine to be a decent amount tomorrow, so I think I’ll take her there afterwards to play. πŸ˜ƒπŸŽ°πŸŽ°πŸŽ° Plus we can use up the $30 in food credit that I’ve got as well. πŸ˜€πŸ”πŸŸ That should make the drive up to Columbus feel less like a “have to” and more like a “want to” hopefully.