Sunday, 11 December 2016

Plasma, PC Games and Penny-Pinching

The word of the week is trepidation.

Dec 5 – Dwindling

Thank you for sticking with me.

A few years ago, there were close to 100 people in my private blog group; that numbers down to 68 now, and while I don't like to see people leave without knowing why, there's no reason to stay if what I'm saying doesn't interest them.

It still hurts a little to see the numbers drop over time, but that's life.

Every Monday, before I go to bed after my day, I check in to see who might have stopped by to read the blog, as well as to edit what I've written the night before to catch any errors I might have made if I was tired( as any good writer should ). As you can see from the stats below, I don't get a whole lot of traffic, but every person who does drop by is important to me:

You're here, you're interested, and you're listening.

For that, I'll always be grateful, for when I was first writing this blog I was doing so from a place here in BC where I knew almost no one at all; I'd left my entire world behind in Ontario for chance to start fresh. While the road since then has been just as rocky and rough at times as the road leading up to the shift from ON to BC, this blog has been a source of strength and stability for me, to tell the world how I'm doing.

Thank you for dropping by, to have a look in while I travel.

Dec 6 – Being More Creative

Where do you get your ideas?

This is a question quite often asked of creative people by those curious as to where ideas form from... and the answers are as varied as there are artists out there in the world.

In the main, however, being creative in the first place is the hardest part: how does one go from ho-hum mundane to Superstar Creative Idea Space?

John Cleese has some thoughts on the matter:

And to summarize:

It's a simple breakdown of what can be a complex and challenging thought to follow: how does one come more creative, to produce more and keep the cycle going? You can read more of the article here, and get creating on your own.

Dec 7 – Bob: Boom To Bust

It was the hottest new thing on television in the mid-1990s.

ReBoot, the wonderful CGI animated kids show was nothing like anything that had come before: every single thing we saw on screen existed only inside a computer, which was the entire conceit of the show... and that made it special.

Yet few people know the full story of how ReBoot made it onto the air, and how it failed in the end.

What could have been... concepts by Matt Rhodes

I've always wondered how such a great show could simply fall by the wayside, and the Canadian studio that spawned it go from everybody's darling to something that nobody wanted to bother with anymore, and that vanished altogether a few years later.

You can read this fascinating and detailed article about how Mainframe Entertainment made ReBoot into the darling of children's television, and how they squandered their opportunity to do more... and eventually imploded, which is a shame, as it meant there would be no more stories set in the ReBoot universe.

That makes me sad.

Dec 8   – PC Top 100?

I have many, many PC games languishing on my computer, as well as on my shelves.

Some of those will remain unplayed until they're re-released by places like, with remastered editions for five or $10 that will work with modern operating systems like Windows10. Others will see themselves dusted off once a year or so for me to have another go at either beating them, or more likely just to have another go through to relive some of my fonder gaming memories.

But which ones belong in which category?

This week, the industry old man PC Gamer released the best 100 PC games you can still play today, which contains some interesting, and nostalgic, choices. Going over the last, I see many of my favorites, but many more are missing, and in reading the article, I get the feeling that it was written by people in their 20s who understandably grew up with console gaming systems that are just as capable as PC systems... which wasn't at all the case when I first got into video gaming.

Have a look at the list and see if you agree with what they came up with.

Dec 9 –  Dino Tails?

People find the most amazing things - under their noses sometimes!

Just this week, and incredibly well-preserved dinosaur specimen was discovered, in all places, in a market in Myanmar. The specimen is that of a dinosaur tail preserved in amber, but not just any tail: this one has feathers!

It's concrete proof that the prevailing theory of feathered dinosaurs is in fact correct, and a fascinating point to begin re-imagining what we know of these ancient giant's appearance.

Of course, someone's going to have to remake Jurassic Park with feathers now...

Dec 10 – Deal of the Decade!


After looking for over a year, I finally got lucky this week!

For some time now, I've been looking for a plasma television locally, to hook up to my laserdisc player. Unlike LED / LCD televisions, plasma TV's are eminently suited to displaying laserdisc pictures: their black levels are a TRUE black( when the plasma pixel's OFF, it emits no light! )and the extremely bright colors of the plasma elements make the usually muted colours of the laserdisc really pop.

However, plasma TV's were never popular, due to several factors, the primary being heat and weight. Plasma screens are power-hungry and thus generate a lot of heat, and to ensure a good image the picture elements are quite substantial, such that 42-inch TV's usually weighed around 60 pounds or more.

Weight also meant that I could forget buying one on eBay: shipping costs would be insane, not to mention the high likelihood of damage to fragile components in transit.

Still, I looked. Finally, my long hunt paid off and I found a plasma TV locally... for a mere $50.00!!!!

The irony: using the HOT plasma TV as a fire, in FRONT of a fireplace!

Incredibly, the TV was in great shape, owned by a retiree in Langford who had just replaced it after years of ownership with a new, larger curved LED screen. He had a wall mount for it, plus the original remote and manual... and it was in perfect working condition, with no 'burn-in' of the pixels that early plasmas were known for. I was so happy I almost danced a jig right there in his living room... but I didn't want to have him suddenly raise the price, so I contained myself to just a silly grin. The stunningly low asking price was due to the fact that the TV didn't have a stand, due to being wall-mounted for all those years... which is likely why I was able to snag it before anyone else. As well, most of the local plasma TV's that I've seen have been listed for $200 or more, which is way above my budget right now.

My lady generously helped me a lot the ungainly TV( 84lbs!!!! )to the car, athankfully short trip that I managed with my still-somewhat-achy leg, and we carefully transported it to my parent's place for storage in a safe spot in their living room until such time I can find the space for it here. That will also give me time to source a replacement stand, though I have a feeling I'll end up going with a universal one, which I hope I can get for around $60.00 on sale sometime in the next year or so.

Ending with: Happy, happy day!!!!!!

Dec 11 – Winding Down

Finances are pretty tight right now.

My sister's hasn't been working a day job since the summer, and while this month is a three-pay month for me, it's still not all that fun to keep adding budget numbers and see the lower totals-than-usual staring at me from the page. It's a good thing that my family's not that big, nor really into the material side of Christmas, or I'd be writing out a fair number of IOU's this year.

However, you have to look at other factors than finances, to see the better things.

My sister's far, far happier than she was at her previous job, and her current endeavors will certainly lead to as-good( or better )income in the future. While the now may be somewhat unnerving day to day, it's the future that counts.

For myself, I'm pulling back( as I've already mentioned in previous blog entries )to enable me to focus on a few things to get 2017 off to a good start in a few weeks. I'm doing just three things in the next few months: completing work on the fourth draft of my first novel, putting the finishing touches on my business website details for my GlowForge, and buckling down to send out some solid resumes to apply for better( or even lateral )positions in government, on the advice of a few people in the know who are telling me that now is the best time to be doing so.

Other than that, I won't be up to much in the next while: it's all about focusing.

I'll leave you with this amazing video mashup combining super Mario with TMNT, which really tickled my girlfriend's nostalgia funny bone:

For some unknown reason, the older lady upstairs has decided that a nice quiet Sunday night is perfect for moving all sorts of stuff around.. and her footfalls are the quietest to begin with. Normally I just put on my headphones and ignore things, but after an hour straight I turned on the stereo and upped the base just enough so she would know that we're listening to music at a good volume down here, which we almost never do. After about 20 minutes, she finished doing whatever she was doing and I went back to my headphones again. Hopefully that's both the first and last time that has to happen, as she's normally a lovely and considerate lady, albeit one with extremely strong ankles from the way that she walks around, which makes it hard to edit inside my apartment sometimes.