My first computer was the Commodore 64 (C-64) built and sold by Commodore Business Machines. It was the successor to the Commodore Vic-20 and the Commodore PET that I used in the computer science lab at my High School. I remember having to punch cards to write our first program on the PET. A ball that dropped from left, bounced three or four times before rolling off the right side of the screen. Once that was done we got to program using the keyboard although most of us just snuck in copies of the adventure word game Miser. I also had a friend who owned a Vic-20 and based on his experience I convinced my parents that I needed one of these new and improved 8-bit machines for Christmas.
I remember the big breakthrough in graphics that the Commodore 64 brought to the computing arena. The term used to describe the programming marvel was sprites. Essentially it was the first time that objects, characters, etc could move past each other fluidly in a computer video game. before the C-64 it was one character against a static background only. I know what a stunning breakthrough for the time considering the open 3D worlds we play in today.
For all that computing power all I ever did was play an Olympic Sports game and Tank Battle. Tank Battle was literally two tanks on opposing hills with randomly generated terrain between them and a wind strength and direction indicator across the top of the screen Each player took turns setting the angle of the turret pitch and the firing strength in an effort to blow your opponent’s tank up first.
Every now and then someone tries to resurrect these things and I am sure they stoke some sort of nostalgia in the people who buy them. My friend who I mentioned earlier who owned the Vic-20, C-64 and the last of the Commodores, the Amiga now seeks these antiques out and restores them as his hobby. Me, I just write flash fiction on WordPress using a modern computer or smartphone!
Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…
“Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?“
While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.
The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.
It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!
But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…
Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.
As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.
The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.
An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.
Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.
I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.
For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.
Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!
Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?
Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, or months where you just didn’t feel like doing anything? Crawling out of bed seemed like an insurmountable task. It’s like there is a weight on your shoulders pinning you in place. That is the only way I can describe this week. It’s not stress or anxiety or anything like that, just the winter blahs!
It certainly doesn’t help when the first thing you have to do each morning is dig out from under another eight to ten centimetres (three to four inches) of snow. The snowbanks on the driveway are almost too high to throw snow over. Keep in mind that there was no snow on the ground at the beginning of the week. Just the dreary brown, grey and beige of mid-winter. I am so over this winter thing and ready for spring to SPRING!
It hasn’t all been bad. Despite the winter blahs I have been able to keep up with my exercise routine and although the scale looks the same I do feel and see some effects of the effort taking effect. That has to be a good thing, right?
Of course, my sloth has meant a certain neglect for my blog as well. Reading and writing have taken a back seat to vegetating on the couch and binging TV that I probably wouldn’t watch otherwise. A problem compounded by the fact that I end up staying up until one, two, and three in the morning and then waking up at seven again to get the rugrat ready for school. Certainly a subtle form of self-destructive behaviour.
It may not be the most exciting week in review but here goes…
The Funny Farm | Bitchin’ Chickens | I’ve been wanting my own chicken coop for some time but space and my wife have put a damper on any such ventures so I’ve come to follow this blog to get my chicken fix. If only it came with fresh eggs each morning!
Out of January and into the bleak mid-winter, let’s see if the groundhog brings us a February present. Here’s what to look at Greg’s Blog this coming week…
Look for another Five Word Weekly on Monday and the launch of Four Line Fiction on Thursday. #GB4LF is a weekly photo prompt challenge and I hope everyone finds time to participate. In addition look for T-Shirt Wisdom (now moved to Wednesday) and Part 11 of the Revenge Series.
Imagine that it’s the afternoon again when I’m finally getting to the Morning Dawdler. I do have my Afternoon Tea – Earl Grey in hand though! No cucumber sandwiches and scones though. Here are my responses to Rory’s Morning Dawdler for January 29th.
Should we fear the arrival of more progressive AI [Artificial Intelligence] or embrace it?
Fearing AI itself is pointless, it’s here and it is not going anywhere. We need to embrace it and push our political and business leaders to use the technology ethically. There is great potential for AI to solve many of the problems humans and our planet faces but we have to be the ones to make that happen. If the internet is any indication, we have a lot of work to do. The key technology of the last half of the 20th century should have ushered in a new era of enlightenment. Instead, it has become a vehicle for misinformation, scammers, trolls and some of the vilest pornography. IT has brought out some of the worst in us. Furthermore it has polarized us more than at any time in history. While we squabble over our difference the enemies of freedom (Countries like China, Russia, and Iran, or politicians like Trump or Erdoğan) exploit us and undermine democracies and our way of life.
AI learning algorithms are a large contributor to the problem. The reason the chasm between left and right is so large is because AI has eliminated the middle ground. Everything AI feeds us tries to push us to the fringes. When someone tells you they’ve never heard about issue X there is a good chance they haven’t because the algorithm may have never presented it to them. Meanwhile, your feed is filled with content on issue X leaving you flabbergasted and suspicious that the other person could be unaware. It’s hard to have civil discourse when you find it impossible to trust the other person. Sadly all it takes is a few clicks for the AI’s algorithm to start pushing you one way or the other. Sometimes even innocuously. You watch a comedian do his shtick on gun control then your feed is flooded with gun control posts. You click on a couple of the links and your feed begins to populate with more radical posts, and so on and so on… Before you know it the other point of view becomes too far removed from the algorithm’s parameters to ever show up in your feed. Your personalized feed tells you that those other issues or positions must be on the fringes because you never see them and we end up isolated in our own little boxes.
Even scarier, the Google’s, Apple’s and Meta’s of the world aren’t even sure how the algorithms work. They have taken on a life of their own but none of the AI players care because the algorithms keep lining their pockets with gold. AI will be what we let it become. If there is anyone to fear it is ourselves.
What is your proudest accomplishment?[Having children not included]
Surviving the crazy shit I did in my youth! I look back now and wonder how I’m still alive.
Are/Were you the youngest, middle, oldest or only child?
I was the oldest of three and the only boy. We didn’t always get along but I lucked out. Both my sister are great people. I wonder if they’d say the same about me?
Do you write directly on a device? Are you old school, do you write on paper first?
While the process is the same I don’t always use the same input method. That said, pen, paper and any notion of old-school writing being romantic is long a thing of the past. The only thing writing on paper ensures is dead trees. I know they were dead before I started but I tend to edit and re-edit while still writing and that means a lot of crumple, toss, re-write, rinse and repeat.
Writing electronically is much more forgiving. For example, this thought sounds better in sentence six – go back and edit sentence two immediately before I forget. It is so much easier to edit electronically and paper is so much more majestic and relaxing in its natural state.
I still prefer the computer over my phone but have become more cognizant of the fact most readers are using their mobile devices so I find I’m checking formatting, image placement and aesthetics all the time.
I use several applications for writing drafts including Word, OneNote, Google Keep (especially for jotting down ideas), and the native WordPress editor. They all have advantages and disadvantages. For example, Word is excellent for writing challenges that have word counts attached. The count is always visible in the bottom right of the screen.
More and more I find myself using Google’s voice capture technology to write first drafts. It is quicker and easier to get initial thoughts down on electronic paper than typing but does bring back some of the pitfalls of pen and paper if you want to edit. Plus I find myself sounding like Victor Borge’s phonetic punctuation skit.
Do you re-draft? If so, how many times?
It depends but I do tend to get into the weeds when I re-draft, agonizing over the small stuff and rewriting over and over. Thank God for the undo and/or redo buttons on most editors. Editing ends up eating up a lot of time and effort.
The one thing I do have to watch for is my habit of dropping the d and s from words that should be past tense or plural. I read and re-read to make sure I have them right. It used to be I’d have to wait until the next day to re-read the piece and catch them but I have gotten better over time. Plus MS Word and Grammarly are very good at catching those types of spelling and grammar problems.
What is your method? I would love to know.
From above it seems my method is all over the map. It’s not really though. The process generally follows the same patterns – inspiration, write, revise and re-write as necessary + a few more times for good measure, and finally publish – regardless of the methods used to record it.
Mother Earth’s processes ebb and flow over long periods of time – centuries, millennia, eons. Man on the other hand does not have that kind of time or patience. We are nothing more than a cosmic blip. As such we have developed ways to speed up those natural processes for our own exploitive gain. It represents many of the problems we have created when it comes to pollution, plundering the planetès resources, and global warming.
It has also allowed us to unlock the beauty of the planet, often hidden in plain sight. This week my son and I began a passive science project. For Christmas, he received a STEM certified National Geographic mini rock tumbler. The kit included several different types of very plain (I wish I’d have taken a photo) looking rocks. My son put the rocks into the tumbler along with one of the grit packets provided and water into the tumbler drum. We then placed the drumontop the tumbler base and let the spinning begin. The first step would take five days of spinning with us stopping taking a look after day one and again after day three. He was so excited to see the changes along the way.
At the end of the fifth day the rock edges had been smoothed considerably and the stones were beginning to show their colours. After he played with them for a while the stones along with the second packet of grit and clean water all went back into the drum for a six to eight day tumble. Each phase, four in all will continue to smooth and polish the stones. I am amazed at how it has held his interest as he asks about his tumbling stones every day.
As for the blog itself, I’ve introduced a new header image but I think it needs tweaking. Not sure it’s effective on mobile. If anyone could let me know what they think or how it looks on the mobile experience it would be greatly appreciated.
No Energy | Fandango at This, That and the Other Fandango found himself in the hospital this week. Hhere’s hoping the hip responds and it gets easier as the days pass
We shall see, I am trying to update my WordPress theme but I am so damned concerned it will eff everything up. Some of the new themes look like they have advantages that make blogging quicker and simpler and less labour intensive but only once I’ve figured out how they work. We shall see.
Look for this week’s Five Word Weekly on Monday and hopefully Part 10 of the Revenge Series. Beyond that its a crap shoot at best!
You are bang on the money Cyranny, who would ever consider using a vending machine for such things…
Who me? What? Come on, you don’t think I’d lower myself to vending machine eyelashes. Don’t be ridiculous, these babies are all natural darling!!!
I hate to say it Cyranny but the world has gotten so shallow there ain’t nobody drowning no more!
To check out Cyranny’s original WTF? post click here or on the vending machine image above. If you are wondering, this response post does include my sexy eyes and a lot of work on Photoshop to get my vending machine lashes to fit just perfect!
I read an interesting article about those meddlesome Ukrainians spoiling Putin’s plans for world domination. It was titled ‘Ukrainians anger Putin by learning to shoot down Russian missiles and drones.’
Mr. Putin, do you know what angers Ukrainians?
You and your military invading their sovereign lands, bombing and burning their cities and towns to the ground, levelling entire communities, pillaging agriculture stores and destroying countless families by murdering their loved ones and burying them in mass unmarked graves like livestock.
If your drones and missiles are so precious maybe you should keep them out of Ukraine. Better yet, set a playdate with your generals and the oligarchy. You can play with all your toys together at a big Kremlin milieu. If Ukraine and the rest of the world get lucky it will turn out to be one explosive party!
Welcome to the inaugural Greg’s Blog Sunday Digest. Think of it as a wrap-up post for the week that was. I hope to make it a weekly feature that will include the week as I saw it play out. I hope to include some of my blogging highlights, any featured posts from Greg’s Blog challenges (currently Five Word Weekly but there will be more challenges to come), and some links to interesting posts I have found as I’ve clicked my way around the blogosphere.
It’s hard to believe but we are already through the second week of 2023. It has been a quiet week on the blog front. Work and home life have taken precedence over my creative pursuits. It happens that way sometimes. Along with a minimum of published content this week, I must admit I haven’t done much viewing or reading of my favourite blogs either.
I must admit I hate when that happens because there is so much great content out there. I will try to do my best and catch up but with all the great content out there it is hard.
Earlier in the week I published a post about becoming more healthy. I promised to not turn this into a health-nut blog but I will provide brief updates here. I hope the small updates will help keep me on track. I have started a new light workout routine that I am happy to report I did manage to complete all week. No results yet of course, I’ve actually gained a couple of pounds, discouraging but it is early days in this process.
Doughnut Versus Donut | Fandango at This, That, and the Other I must admit I began to wade in on doughnuts myself but ran out of time and never finished the post. I will say this, if you from Canada, Tim Horton’s is the place. I mean they drove Dunkin’ out of business and only one Krispy Crème location has survived up here.
I am a fat guy. There I said it. Worse yet I store it right up front. I like to think my washboard abs are toasty warm under all that extra insulation. I’m sure it has settled in some other undesirable locations like my chins, legs, and ass, but it doesn’t show there. Seriously if it is important that a guy can fill out the back of his Levi’s then I’m not the guy for you. I have no ass to speak of for a fat guy, it’s flat as a f@ckin’ board.
I am happy in my skin. I carry no emotional or self-conscious baggage around about my weight. What I do know is that carrying all of that visceral fat is unhealthy, especially for a 50-something guy with a stainless steel stent inserted into one of the arteries feeding my aging heart. I know, it could be worse. I could have required them in several arteries or worse been cut open stem to stern for bypass surgery so I am not complaining.
Back to the unhealthy bit. You see, all that visceral fat packed around my organs is worse than if it was hanging out on my arms, thighs, or cankles. I have a friend we call Baconhead because he wears his on the back of his neck like the layer of fat you’d find on a pork belly. Healthwise that’s still better than rolls of whale blubber around the gut. Fat is toxic and having it encasing your vital organs can lead to a plethora of health issues.
I don’t look like a fat guy other than the ‘beerless’ beer belly I’m sporting. I say that because I don’t drink enough beer or any other type of alcohol. For me, heavy drinking can be classified as 6 to 8 drinks per year. And other than the bulge upfront I am a fairly strong and agile dude. The problem is, now that I’ve crossed that half-century mark I can feel the extra weight in my hips, knees and ankles. It has also wreaked havoc on my sleep cycles. I have the Darth Vader mask and tire inflation unit to prove it.
Now is the time to try and set things straight. Actually, the time was some 10, 20, or 30 years ago but unless you know of a time machine that’s not an option. Hell, in my state I might block the wormhole if I tried to pass through it anyway. So now in 2023, shedding 70 pounds would be ideal but the reality I’d be happy with some modest gains. Ummm, that sends the wrong message… rephrasing… modest losses). Every pound I can part with will ease the stress on my joints and improve my health exponentially.
So how does one go about doing that? Eat better — more veggies, less meat, better portion control, and cut out the snacking between meals or at least modify the types of snacks I choose to cram into my pie hole. Ooooops, I did it again… salad hole. I need to stop eating out so much too. My wife and I have this terrible habit of grabbing fast food every time we go shopping or on road trips to visit family or friends who are going to feed us anyway. The countless times rationalized ordering something small only to drive away with a full Big Mac meal. I swear that stuff is laced with crack cocaine. Seriously though that stuff is deadly to the mid-rift but so hard to avoid when she’s less concerned about her weight. Crazy since she is diabetic but at the same time not fat in the same way I am. Will power, self-control, buzz word, buzz word, buzz word.
Intermittent fasting seems popular these days and I could stand to skip a meal or two but who knows if that voodoo really works. I do believe fasting occasionally does help reset the hunger gage in our brains but skipping meals every day is counterintuitive to everything I’ve ever been taught.
What about dieting? Keto, Atkins, South Beach, Paleo or any of the myriad of others out there. Everything they espouse seems completely unresearched hooey. All this talk of prehistoric diets that lean heavily on meat as our main food source does not seem realistic. Yes, we may not have been big farmers but I still believe wild grains and berries played a large role in our diets. I suspect present us put too much emphasis on the hunter part of the hunter/gatherer equation. It seems more realistic that our ancestors were gatherers/hunters. Primitive weaponry and only our legs for transportation would make hunting dependent on the timing of migratory herds and would expend a lot of energy in the hunting process while creating maximum risk for injury and death. Meat was likely a smaller portion of early human food consumption than current diet culture would have you believe. It makes sense that grains and berries played a substantial role in our diets. I suspect there is a linkage between similar hominid species, such as Neanderthals, who relied heavily or exclusively on meat diets and their eventual extinction.
Another option is to look at health plans that consider altering one’s entire lifestyle. We can look at the cultures where people tend to live the longest. These places are known as the blue zone and none are as well documented as the islands of Okinawa, Japan. It is the place on Earth with the greatest concentration of confirmed centenarians. Many of whom still lead full active lives. The region’s centuries old practice of recording births and deaths make it the ideal place to study the long-term effects of nutrition and lifestyle on health. What’s the point of living to 100 if you can’t remember anyone around you or you’re a vegetable locked away in some nursing home. That is not living, it’s surviving as the living dead.
Several books have been written about Okinawa and how their diet and lifestyles differ from our own. I must admit these types of plans have great intrigue. They tend to incorporate balanced and wholesome approaches to health with positive long-term outcomes. You may not take the grand prize on season xx of “The Biggest Loser” but it seems likely that you will be the big winner over the long haul. The only thing I have to question is do I really want to eat miso for breakfast every day?
What about exercise. Surely this is the magic bullet. The problem is many of these plans look to push you harder and harder. High intensity interval training (HIIT) or high volume weight lifting sound great but they lead to a greater risk of injury and burnout. If you can’t work out you end up stopping. The workout you can do consistently benefits you more than the one you can’t. So what if there was a plan you could work into ten minutes each day. Moderate exercise that allows for daily consistency but still provides maximum benefit. Many of these plans exist such as “The Simple Six”, or “The Body Weight” workout. The nice thing about these options is you can do them at home with a minimum of equipment, a small set of dumbbells, two or three sizes of kettlebells and your own body weight.
The last time I lost weight I attribute most of the success to monitoring caloric intake and walking. Never underestimate how healthy walking is for you. If only I really did look like that! On that diet, I got my weight down to 204 lbs (93 kg) and then we went to Disney World on a family vacation. Disney, well actually my own willpower and self-control put 14 lbs back on these bones in 10 days. The portions of ridiculously rich and delicious food were too much to resist. I ate everything in sight. Even walking through seven theme parks for several hours each day over seven days couldn’t compensate for the calorie and sugar-induced overdose. It didn’t help that the vacation broke my routine and the disappointment of gaining so much back so quickly meant I never started again when we got home.
This time I think I have settled on a moderate course of action that will reduce (not eliminate) the amount of meat I eat while increasing vegetable intake and including some moderate exercise options. A program that will include five or six daily exercises and incorporate cycling, rowing and lots of walking. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple method of determining optimal body weight. If you are fat like me you’ve probably heard your doctor mention it at some point, My BMI calculation suggests I should weigh between 180 lbs (82 kg) and 190 lbs (86 kg). As I write this post I weigh in at a whopping 270 lbs (122 kg). Yikes!!! Hence the reason it’s time to act.
Unlike last time when it was all diet and walking I am looking to add weights as part of this plan. Any weight will be manageable and in keeping with the sustainably of the program. I won’t be deadlifting hundreds of pounds of weight or running cardio until all that’s left of me is a puddle of sweat. Again think sustainable. I am also not looking to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home gym equipment. Any equipment needed will be fairly inexpensive, maybe a couple of kettlebells, a set of dumbbells and the least expensive of all, simply my own body weight.
I feel it is important to add some weight-based training this time around because as we get older we lose bone and muscle mass. Weight training is one of the best ways to ensure good bone health. They say a broken hip is pneumonia’s best friend and a death sentence to us old folk. The thought of drowning in my own mucus is terrifying so anything that keeps the bones strong and healthy is an absolute must.
Finally, I am posting this and will endeavour to provide occasional updates (do not worry I do not have any plans to turn my blog into a health nut site) because everything I’ve read says that writing it down and telling people makes you more likely to stick with it and succeed. Something about the fear of failure, blah, blah, embarrassment, blah, blah… I am not a psychologist but I’m certain it can’t hurt. Although it may have hurt you if you chose to read to this bitter end. It is a few minutes you can never get back!!!
Anyway wish me luck, send words of encouragement, or simply breeze past and forget you ever saw it. Either way, I hope the future me is healthier than the current me.