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Fuck the EU requirements...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Political Days

Politics are wearing me out.  Everyone wants to say the issues are all black&white with no nuances.  Everything is more complicated than THAT!  Any issue has a dozen sides, not just two...  I watch a lot of political discussion on TV.  Politicians won't even answer a "yes or no" question, just repeat some answer they have memorized that doesn't pin them down to anything.

It's like...

Moderator:  What is your favorite color, Senator?

Senator:  Plaid.

M:  What is your favorite ice cream?

S:  Chocolate/Strawberry/Vanilla.

M:  Is there "climate change"?

S:  It was cold this Winter.

M:  What do you think about minorities?

S:  Everyone is a minority somewhere.

You get the point.  Getting an actual answer on anything is like pounding your head on a rock.  So I understand why more and more voters are drawn to politicians who DO say definite things even when those things they say are stupid.  And that goes on both sides.

But Trump has developed that to the maximum.  On that basis alone, he should be removed from office.  I mean, We The People don't deserve to have the ultimate in deception and ludicrousness inflicted upon us.  Let's just say we BLEW the 2016 Presidential Election and do what is lawful to replace him with anyone at least competent as a President.  And forget he ever happened.  OK?

How bad is he?  Vice President Mike Pence brought greetings to our European Allies, and the silence was deafening.  Not a single representative from Europe even applauded politely.  Pence tried a second time to get some applause in his mention of Trump.  The results?  Crickets...

Biden spoke and got applause...

OK, that's enough...

Monday, February 11, 2019

The New Old Computer

I meant to post pictures of the new old Windows computer with the previous post, but I had over 100 various pictures to process (and I do a lot of resizing, cropping, and light/color adjustment*).  Feeling lazy, I didn't.  Now I have.  Mainly, I took the pics to document the unboxing process in case of damage, but since I had them...

The box was perfectly sized.  I mention that only because it seems to be a generic box.
It was very carefully enclosed in bubble wrap.  
For an old Windows 95 machine, it was in very good shape.
The A drive (the minidisk) doesn't seem to work, but since I don't have any of those it doesn't matter right now.  I could get it replaced if I needed to.  It makes a lot of noise when booting up, and I don't remember if that is normal.  But it gets quiet again afterwards.

I love the way old Windows towers label the basic ports.  It was nice to see ports labeled for the mouse, the keyboard and the monitor.  Unfortunately, I didn't have those old mouse and keyboards, but it did have ports for the newer mouses (mice?) and keyboards.  An old monitor (I keep stuff) did work (one of those funny old multi-pin plugs).

So I plugged a mouse and keyboard in the USB A style ports right below the labeled ports.  And rebooted it.  Neither worked, but the monitor did, so at least I got messages about that.

I mentioned I keep stuff.  Well, sadly, I had gone on a moderately serious decluttering binge a few months ago and threw out most of my "old never useful again" cables.  I bet I tossed a few adapters that would have worked! 

So I visited a computer store, a Best Buy, and a Walmart.  None of them had the adapters OR any mouse or keyboard with those old PS/2 input cables**.

I went to Amazon.  Bless Amazon, they had adaptors.  Anxious to play the old Civ2 game, I ordered a pack of 2 adapters AND a dedicated old PS/2 mouse (just to be sure).  I could have ordered a PS/2 keyboard, but after I dug around in the computer room closet I found an old one.  It was large, it was complicated by dozens of specialized buttons, it was dirty, the letters on the keys are faded.

But it worked... 

So the adapters and the PS/2 mouse arrived in a week (3rd party seller).  The mouse works perfectly.  I cleaned the old keyboard ***.  I loaded the game and started at the easiest level (its been a while).  After about 16 hours, I am WAY ahead (and only about 1/2 way through).  I guess I still remember the basics. 

It is like being addicted to some uncommon game (like Stadium Checkers) and meeting a new friend who also loves the game and has it (I do).
1950s vintage Stadium Checkers board game w/ glass marbles ...
Can you guess I love games?

* I don't mean like Photoshopping them, but Mac Preview allows some pretty good fast adjustments.  I routinely crop all my pics first, then increase the "definition" to 90 of 100, then increase the lighting (brighten the pics) and lower the color (so Marley doesn't look Neon Orange, LOL).  But it is still 1 picture at a time.  I wish I could do the settings in groups.

** I don't want anyone to think I just know all the hardware stuff.  I had to look up  all the kinds of ports to figure out what I needed.  Searching "computer port images" was very helpful.

*** I spend a lot of time outdoors so I sort of live around dirt.  I learned the best way to clean a keyboard is 1) Unplug it.  2) Vacuum it with a brush nozzle.  3)  Turn it upside down and tap the back gently several times.  4) Then spray a glass cleaner on a soft cloth and WHILE holding the keyboard upside down, (so no cleaner gets into the keyboard innards) wipe the keys in all directions.  Works for me.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Old Computer Game, Replayable

This is long, and the last parts are more important that the early parts...

In 1998, bored with discussion boards and playing old established games like Monopoly and chess and scrabble and backgammon, and missing complex strategic games by Avalon Hill like Gettysburg and WWI Origins, I went searching for a good computer game to play.  I finally read about a game called Civilization 2.  There was a Civilization game where you build cities with buildings and military, etc, but the sequel was more highly rated and complicated.  There were competing civilizations, more buildings, economics, and military units and even spaceships to land on Alpha Centuri toward the end.  Players raved about it.  So I gave it a try.

I bought it on a Friday.  I played it 36 hours by Sunday night.  I was addicted.  I was near the top of my career then, and while there were challenges and problems to solve every day, I was bored.  The only step up was into management.

Quite frankly, I don't like having to tell other people what to do (Forgive me, but self-starters like me don't quite understand why anyone needs to be told what to do).  Management had long before stopped bothering me with instructions and I thought we good worker types needed fewer managers.  So I didn't want to go into management.

It's like the old observation:  Those who can't DO, teach.  Those who can't TEACH, administrate.  Those who can't Adnimistrate, join the School Board.

The money would have been nice, but I had more than I needed.  So I enjoyed my little kingdom getting "outstanding" ratings each year and wasn't bothered by anyone.  All that Management cared about was that everything I did worked.

But I digress...

Civilization 2 was addictive.  It was like chess on steroids.  Many more possibilities and the game was far more varied.  You never saw the whole board unless you got a spaceship near the end of tye game (and most games did not get to spaceships).

You start on a randomly-constructed world of land and sea.  You can choose 2-6 other AI competitors (and they are very good).  You choose to face "no barbarian tribes" to "Raging Hordes".  You can play at 5 levels of difficulty.  The game starts and all you see is a Settler and 10 squares of about 10,000.

You build a city at first in a square you choose.  There are valuable land squares scattered around, and the terrain is grass, plains, forest, hills, jungle, etc.  Then you choose how to construct a civilization with more cities, technical advancement, military units, useful buildings, etc according to your choice.

Eventually, you come in contact with other civilizations.  You can deal with them with diplomacy, war, trade, etc.  The other civilizations have their own personalities.  Some are militaristic, some peaceful, some traders, some diplomatic, etc.

There are also Wonders Of The World to be constructed (more than the traditional 7).  Some provide storage for food in all cities, some increase military strength, some increase technology discovery.  It can get maddeningly complicated.

The goal is to either get to Alpha Centuri first or destroy the other civs or at least be more advanced of all the others at the end.  The game goes from 4000 BC to around 2100 AD (I forget).  But like I said, It is a long complicated game.

A typical game view:

It was just what I wanted.

And then the awful day came!  As Windows computers advanced, Civ 2 was no longer playable (bitspeed complications).  I tried Civ3 and hated it (it introduced "spheres of influence" where adjacent civs could just absorb your city into their civ, and I hated the loss of control.  And my old Windows computer literally fell apart and stopped working.  In hindsight, I should have just brought it to the local Windows repair shop.  Sometimes, the blinding obvious escapes one...

Several years ago, I tried playing Civ V (said to be similar to Civ 2 but with better graphics).  All I found were choices that were SO complicated they were nearly random, and enemy units that could be reduced be almost never eliminated.

I tried hard to "get" the game, but I never did.  And my own units FOUGHT me in the direction they would move (apparently, the AI was over-ruling my decisions).  I gave up on Civ 3.

So I searched for ways to play Civ 2 on newer Windows and Mac computers.  There were a lot of suggestions.

One was to partition a Windows drive to act like that part was an old Windows 98.  I couldn't make that work (and I am good at following computer instructions).  Another was "How to play abandonware games".  I couldn't make that work either.   A few other suggestions on Civ 2 discussion sites were no more successful (most comments were "that doesn't work" so I was not alone in my lack of success).

2 weeks ago, I went to Civ 2 discussuon site and someone said her Dad loved the game so much she bought an old Windows workbook for him to play it on and he was thrilled.  DUH!  Why didn't I think of that before?

So I went to the local PC repair shop and asked about an old Windows PC and showed him the requirements on the game box.  His look was of disgust...  But he said he might be able to find the parts in a week, but had I checked eBay?

I checked eBay.  Bought one (no returns allowed).  It arrived.  Took some work to find old cables, but I eventually had everything I needed.  Turned it on.  It rattled for a few minutes, and told me there was no keyboard.  Of course there was.  It just was recognizing it.

I have a junk closet.  Stuff I want to keep for possible future use.  I found an old Windows keyboard WAY back in there.  Ugly thing with command buttons all over it.  Close to this but worse (a series of dedicated buttons on a curve over the top). 

I had an old mouse but needed a USN to round port connector and got one from Amazon in 2 days.  I connected both and turned the computer on again.  It got me to

It worked!  I loaded the old Civ2 dick into the drive and continued.  It recognized the disk.  I went to "escape" to boot to install, and that worked.  The game loaded!

I played it briefly to make sure it worked and shut everything down...

Now, if you will forgive me, I have a game to play.  You might not see me again for a while...

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Google Earth - Previous Residences

Do you ever use Google Earth to look at past places you've lived?  I do.  Because I wonder how things have changed.  Even when I was young, I recall the houses and yards.  Dad used to do a lot of work in the yard and I did in my own places later.

So I decided to actually look at each today and show the changes.  Some are minor, some are drastic.  I won't give details, who knows what SOME company might find useful, LOL!

1. It was a 2 story old house when I was there.  It has been utterly replaced.  The 20'x30' sandbox Dad built is gone.  The grape arbors are gone.  The outbuilding party building is gone.  The  field of wild blackberries (where we kids stuffed ourselves in Summer) is gone.  The slope where we sledded most Winter days is now full of trees.  
I drove past the old place in the early 80s on business in Boston.  I stopped and looked.  It was the same place.  I didn't go knock on the door.  I wish I had.  The owners might have been thrilled.  I really regret that.

The next place I lived was in Petersburg.  Quite a surprise moving from Massachusetts to Virginia in the late 50s.  We had to study Virginia History (mostly how evil the North was to the South).  We were the only kids in in school from "The North" and were not liked. 

The house is the same.  Dad built a massive roof over the sunken patio using tranluscent plastic.  I see it is shingled now.  The part covered with trees in the right back used to be a putting green Dad set up (of golf Course quality).  Mom and Dad both loved golfing, so they practiced there often (drive for show, putt for dough).  There used to be a fence he built around the back yard and I see it has been replaced with shrubs.  Apparently the lawn has become Zoysia grass.  Awful stuff; green in Winter but brown in Summer.  The trees in center left cover what was the gravel driveway Dad and I build to Roman quality roads.  As a mechanical engineer, he never did things halfway (much to my dismay as a teen converted to serf labor).  There were gardens and borders of strawberries when we left.  Those are all gone now.
We moved to MD after that.  The house looks about the same.  My room (my first ever own room) is the left back window.  The yard is ruined though.   Dad and I and my brother spent a Summer building an below ground swimming pool from a massive kit when I was 15.  Worst Summer of my life! 

Dad had some company dump 3 dumptruck loads of dirt in the back and then dig a pit to his specifications.  And he wasn't wasting any dirt.  He knew the dug-out dirt would match the slope he needed around the outside.  Engineers LOL...

I spent the Summer digging out soil to precise depths and tamping it down flat with a damned heavy flat weight.  My brother was younger, so not expected to do much except when Dad was there to guide him.  But I worked like a mule all Summer in the heat. 

When the hole was to specifications, we had to install 4' sections of metal panels and drill holes in them for bolts.  Drilling through metal with a handheld drill is not easy.  Bits broke constantly.  But entually we had the steel panels assembled.  Then we had to backfill around the outsides.  Guess who did most of THAT?

Finally, we installed this HUGE plastic liner.  It was AWFUL.  It had to be slid along some plastic ribs inch by inch.  And we had to do it from above because you couldn't walk on the sand layer the liner would rest on.

Dad designed and built a diving board and a pool filter and skimmer.  Too tricky for me, really.  Then came the day when a water tanker arrived to fill the pool.  Dad was fanatic about angling the input pipes so as to not put pressure on the bottom (and well he should).

When it was filled, we had to wait 4 days for the water to get to ambient temperature.    We dove in, and I thought I would freeze to death.  I seldom went swimming in it and went off to college 3 years later only daring it in the heat of August.

And after Mom and Dad moved to NH, these people who bought the house filled the pool with dirt to bury it.  It was to left of the pin...
And not only that, they completely ersaded the garden and the landscaping.  The lower right of the house had a wonderful broad patch of boxwoods and butterfly bushes I had installed to get my Boy Scout Landscaping Badge.  If they wanted a yard like a pool table top, why didn't they just buy one?

After several apartments after college, I rented a house with a friend.  It was treeless except for an old apple tree.  I was experimentig with raised garden boxes. so I built a star-shaped one in the lower left, an octagonal one  on the opposite side of the sidewalk, planted marigolds along the sidewalk sides, removed the old apple tree (with the owners approval) and grew veggies there. 

You can see the outline of the left star.  Just a few years ago, you could see the outline of the right octagon.  The trees have exploded into growth, hiding the old veggie garden.

So here I am in my Forever House.  There are fewer trees and greenery than this pictures shows.  A lot of that is wild underbrush and blackberries I cut down last fall.  The stuff at the bottom is a screened garden and 2 toolsheds.  The lower left is all cleared...
The good thing about this place is that if I ever leave it, I probably won't be capable of looking back at it...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

TV Chairs

I have 2 smallish swivel/rocker easy chairs from back when Skeeter was new here.  They are worn out and I always disliked that the back is a little too low to lean my head back.  Looking for replacements has not been successful.  Swivel/rocker easy chairs are not easy to find with higher backs in black.  The recliner chair I bought didn't work because I sit on the chair to eat dinner while watching TV and the recliner tilts too far forward and I slide out. 

So I got the idea that what I needed was a soft computer chair without the wheels installed.  I sat in a bunch and decided on one I liked.   The assembly was difficult.  The holes for the bolts that held the back and arms and seat didn't match up perfectly, but with some force applied with bar clamps, I got everything together.  I moved it into place in front of the TV.  And hated it! 

It wasn't as soft as I thought.  You SINK into an easy chair, but you SIT in a computer chair.  Not the same thing...  Yeah, that's by design, but in the store, it seemed the computer chair was soft enough.  

Naturally, I had waited too long to return it.  So I put the old chair back in place.  I suppose I could build a light wooden frame to screw into the back and velcro a pillow on it to raise the back 6" so I could rest my head back.  I might see if there is a way I can stop the recliner from tilting too far forward (without stopping the reclining movement) because it really IS comfortable otherwise.

But I think I'll keep looking for a better one...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Odd Weather

I might be a very interesting few days!

We have 4" of snow on the ground, it is above freezing, there is a forecast of a inch of heavy rain, and then tomorrow, the temperature is going to plummet from 45F to 10F with windchills near zeroF.

No one seems quite sure what will result from that.  The snow might melt adding to water on the ground which will there freeze, or maybe the ground will stay warm enough to not-quite freeze. 

I did some mild shopping today ahead of this uncertainity.  Nothing serious, just some fruits and veggies I might miss if the roads turned icy.

But I was also reminded of why I seldom shop on weekend days and especially ahead of storms.  People go nuts.  And they get stupid.  All *I* wanted was the usual fruits and veggies ( have month's worth of meat in the freezer).

I'm looking at the carts ahead of me.  Lady, do you need TWO 12 packs of toilet prepare to get you through the next 2 days?  Hey single guy, 6 frozen pizzas?  Etc. 

All I was trying to do was my regular fresh food shopping.  Lettuce, celery, beets, beans, apples, tomatoes, etc...

And I had to stop to shop at the local pet place.  Chewy was out of several regular items (Whole Earth Farm, so I wanted to replace them locally .  I found them at Petco.  But Petco has oddly expensive aquaium fish, and none on the one I wanted, so I went to Petsmart across the street from them.

I walked into Petsmart and was subjected to an utter cacophony of screaming babies, barking dogs and upset parrots screaming words.  It was also doggie adoption day (and hurray for any adopted doggies) but it was a madhouse!  And they didn't have the fish I wanted either.

It's a serpa tetra with a high top black fin.  I found a few a month ago for $1.39 each and suddenly they are $4.39.  The price doesn't really matter to me, but I don't like big price changes like that.  I'll wait.

And there was something else that annoyed me.  If it was just the pet store asking for donations I might help.  But EVERY SINGLE PLACE I GO is soliciting donations for some cause or another on the card checkout these days.  "Do you want to support X"?  You can't escape it. 

But what concerns me is that they never say exactly how you are supporting them?  They never mention a particular organization. 

Do I want to support Vets or homeless people or pet shelters?  Sure.  But not without knowing who they are.  That's why I donate at home to several specific organizations I know to have small administrative costs and most of my money actually goes to the specific causes.

But I am safe at home with the cats' accustomed foods, my fruits and veggies, etc. 

I found what I needed and got out as fast as possible.  I seldom shop on weekend days for that reason.  But sometimes I forget the day.  Retirement will do that to you.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bad Knee

I'm not a person who sits around much except while eating lunch and reading the newspaper or at dinner.  So movement is not usually a problem.

We had 8" of snow recently and I noticed no birds at the feeder.  Bad timing to run out of black oil sunflower seed in the feeder.  But this is exactly when my bird polulation needs a little help, so I went to pull on my boots to go outside...

And my right knee said "NO".  Really, I sat down to pull on a boot and my right knee suddenly went painful.  No hint before.  I managed to lift it into the boot top and put on the other.  Ans limped to the stairs.  The stairs were and adventure.  One step down  with the left foot and follow with the right.

I limped across the basement to the metal can I keep the 40 lbs of black oil sunflower seeds in and filled the bucket marked to how much the birdfeeder will hold.

I was dreading carrying the stepladder to the feeder.  It hurt to walk to the basement door.  I undid the security bar, and turned the doorlock...

And the knee was suddenly just fine again!  I carried the seed bucket out, carried the ladder to the feeder, and opened it.  I had a twinge climbing the ladder but just for a moment.  Filled the feeder, but away the ladder, brought the bucket inside, and hours later, no problems.

I wonder what causes that to happen?  It would make sense if the knee kept hurting or that if never did.  But what would make such a temporary problem?

Getting old is weird...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mixed Seedling Soil

Every year, I mix peat moss I sift through a box I built, vermiculite, perlite, and sifted compost into a large barrel.  I love feeling the soil-less soil.  And it is good that I'm ready for the next year.

Well, you know what potting soil looks like.  The difference is that mine costs about $20 for the whole barrel and buying that much by the bag would cost about $100+.  And I really know what is in mine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bad Day

I'm not sure if I sure mention this, lest you all think I'm a crazy person.  But I'll type it out and decide whether to post it afterwards.

I get frustrated sometimes by inanimate objects.  The computer develops a problem that takes time to solve, the car doesn't want to start, old equipment doesn't want to work,  doors suddenly stick, etc.  I'm tenacious about solving problems, but that doesn't mean I don't get angry about them sometimes.

Recently, I'm been trying to download software that claims to let you play old games on modern computers.  By which, I mean that some old games programmed to work on old computers don't work on new ones.  Its usually that old games are in 16 bit processors and new ones work at 64 bit so the old ones just can't can't work fast enough.

My favorite game of all time is Civilization 2.  I understand the game.  There are versions up to Civ6 now that work on new computers.  I don't like them.  Why I don't like them doesn't really matter.

I would just like to play Civ2 again.  There are sites that claim to "upspeed" the old program to 64 bit compatibility.  I can follow instructions, but I have never been able to make those work.  There are some that claim to make it work on a Mac.  I can't get those to work.  And there are sites that discuss how to partion a part of a modern Windows computer to operate in older Windows versions to play old games like Civ2.  I can't get those to work.  Some of the suggestions involved connecting a Windows computer to my Mac (or vice versa) and those didn't work either. 

And apparently, I'm not alone.  While some posters at thge sites claimed to have made the changes work, most said they couldn't in spite of having a decent level on computer experience.

But I made a 2 day try at following the various instructions this past weekend.  I discovered that the options mentioned in the instructions didn't exist or that the options did exist and had no affect or that the downloads (loaded into partition files) were not accessible, etc.

The people who write the instructions might actually be correct, but leave out steps that they consider "obvious".  Or they might be just making stuff up to look smart on a site and never visit there again.  Who knows?

The best suggestion was from a Gen Xer who said he just bought a cheap old Windows laptop that matched the Civ 2 requirements and his Dad was successfully and happily playing Civ2 every few nights.  I'm the age of that guy's Dad...

After several years of fighting about this with the modern computers (because I would really rather not have more computers), I think I will visit the local Windows computer store and see if they have an old one that will play Civ2.  I thought of that a year ago and never followed up on that.

So what does all of this have to do with my anger?  Well, with all the rewiring I had to do connecting and changing connections between my Mac and Windows computers and an old Windows (but not old "enough"), I had this telephone cable that kept getting in the way.

Given the level of frustration I was feeling at the time, I suddenly started yanking on it to get it loose.

It eventually came loose and I lost my telephone signal!  I didn't realize that immediately, of course.  It was only 2 days later when I tried to place a call that I discovered a problem.  I tried to track it down another day.  Then I looked at the end of the ripped-out wire and saw a dozen small frayed wires all tangled.

I was getting ready to email my ISP and request a service visit.  But then a took a pair of scissors and snipped the cord clean.  My telephone service worked again immediately.

It was SO EMBARRASSING!  I'd shorted my wires...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Typical Day

1.  Moved houseplants around to where they were better suited.
2.  Fixed stewed beef short ribs from the rubbery stuff attached  and added veggies.
3.  Filled the thistle feeders in a strong cold wind outside.
4.  Shopped, getting black oil sunflower seeds, a 2nd Betta, kleenex, apple juice, thin crust pizza, etc.
5.  Listened to "Science Friday" on the laptop (from Los Angeles because the local station dropped it last year), having to hit the return button every 9 minutes for 2 hours because the damn thing WILL NOT let me set it it for more than 10 minutes "awake". 
6.  Fed the cats twice and set up the "Egg of Crunchy Dispersement" to entertain them.
7.  Cleaned the refrigerator.
8.  Cleaned the litter boxes.
9.  Washed my hands.  LOL!
10.  Read 2 days of the newspaper. 
11. Found H&R Block tax software at a great discount.
12.  Cleaned the Betta tanks.
13.  Put away some Xmas ornaments and lights. 
14.  Made dinner.
15.  Answered questions at a gardening site.
16.  Answered questions at an atheist site.
17.  Caught up visiting cat friends.
18. Took some pictures of the cats. 
19.  The forecast is 7" of snow tomorrow, so made sure the snow-blower was working, it wasn't, but then I relized there was no gas.  So added enought to test and it ran fine.
20.  Watered all the plants.
21.  And created this post...