BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in January, 2021.

Cats dig skills

Sunday, January 31st, 2021 Alive 18,177 days

Annie ignoring a game of Pong Sports

Annie is not impressed by my mad Pong skills.

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Yes

Saturday, January 30th, 2021 Alive 18,176 days

Annie in silhouette

“Does this sunlight make me look fat?”

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Saturday, January 30th, 2021 Alive 18,176 days

When rich California celebrities like Annie Lennox, who can afford to stay the fuck home, get a COVID vaccine shot, they should also be given a piece of paper with the name and photo of the 70-year-old working barrio grandmother whose shot they stole.

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A ton of Newtons

Friday, January 29th, 2021 Alive 18,175 days

The New York Times web site incorrectly locating Newton, New Jersey in Kansas

This is what happens when your mapping database doesnʼt have coordinates for a town. It puts the town in Kansas.

In this case, the New York Times map jammed Newton, New Jersey in the middle of Kansas. It probably thinks other towns are there, too.

Never trust any data. Always check for NULL and improbable values.

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Friday, January 29th, 2021 Alive 18,175 days

Millennials: “We must embrace all cultures equally.”

Also Millennials: “Iʼm witty and urbane because I think all Texans are backwards hillbillies.”

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Thursday, January 28th, 2021 Alive 18,174 days

Millennials: “We must respect all religions.”

Also Millennials: “YOLO, Hindu guy!”

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Gnarley

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Analytics from my HomePod

Today I learned that not only does my HomePod run Apple TVOS, its firmware has a “Bogus Field Not Actually Ever Used,” and a “Bogus Measure Not Actually Ever Used.”

The use of “bogus” confirms the “Designed in California” label.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Me: “Hey, Siri, turn it down.”

HomePod: “Sorry. There as a problem adjusting volume.”

This is what we used to call “Not ready for Prime Time.”

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Today I learned that Appleʼs HomePod canʼt play the music you own, stored on your own Mac, in your own home, even with so-called “Home Sharing” enabled.

After 10 years of “Rip, Mix, Burn” can you imagine someone telling Steve Jobs, “We have this new music gadget, but you canʼt play any of the music you own on it.” Only rental music.

Someone would be fired before he even finished that sentence.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 Alive 18,173 days

Millennials: “I donʼt believe in God.”

Also Millennials: “Donʼt let the universe hear you say that!”

So which is it? There is no supreme being, or there is a supreme being that listens to what you say and acts accordingly?

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E A S C

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 Alive 18,172 days

Rubbed keys on a MacBook Air

Using a MacBook Air as your main machine for almost 10 years really gives you a sense of which letters you type most often.

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Suddenly… Winter!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 Alive 18,172 days

Winter weather in the outskirts of Las Vegas
Snow clings to a mesquite tree in the elevations west of Las Vegas
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No shit

Sunday, January 24th, 2021 Alive 18,170 days

Unnecessary instructions on a stick of butter

“Open here?” Thanks for the tip, I was about to drill a hole in the side!

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Canʼt be good at everything

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,169 days

A few sprouts in a big pot

I'm trying to grow lavender on my windowsill. It's been a month, and this is all I have to show for it.

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Saturday, January 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,169 days

Fill a bunch of goblets with wine, and youʼre gonna have a good night.

Fill a bunch of goblins with wine, and youʼre gonna have a bad night.

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Wing, please

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

Thing nobody at an airline asks anymore:

“Smoking or non-smoking?”

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Weʼre all damaged goods

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

A friend of mine is mad at me because I wouldn't go have dinner with him when he was in town last week. Too bad, the COVID positivity rate in Vegas is through the roof. Iʼm not going to just hang out in a casino like nothing is wrong.

His entire family had it and recovered, so he thinks it's OK to take everyone to Vegas for his daughter's birthday. In his mind, if he's safe, that's all that matters.

Never mind the maids, bartenders, airline staff, janitors, and everyone else that has to risk their lives so he can have a good time. He should know better, because he's a scientist. Then again, as I've learned getting older, being smart at one thing doesn't make you smart at everything.

I know a doctor in Chicago who thinks drinking his own pee will help him live forever. I know a TV anchor in Phoenix who doesn't believe in dinosaurs. Not as a religious thing. They just don't fit into the way her brain works. My old neighbor is an international airline pilot, and doesn't believe COVID is real.

I guess everyone is crazy in their own way. I wonder what my major malfunction is.

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Busted bars

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

DoorDashʼs web site asking the impossible

Sure wish I could order Dairy Queen through DoorDash, like the web site says I can.

But DoorDashʼs web site insists that I pick a size for a box of Buster Bars, which only come in one size.

I wonder how many other sales Dairy Queen has lost because of DoorDash.

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Click that wheel

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 Alive 18,167 days

Ms. Pac-Man running on an iPod Video

Sixteen years later, this is still one of the best Ms. Pac-Man ports ever made.

It takes a couple of minutes to get used to controlling her with the click wheel, but once you get the hang of it, a 2005 iPod Video makes a great ultra-portable gaming machine.

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It wanted some frybread

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 Alive 18,166 days

A package tracking status report

One of my wifeʼs inbound packages has made a stop at the Big Rez. Iʼve never seen that before.

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Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 Alive 18,165 days

A screenshot from the WTTW web page

Being unemployed leaves you with no money. Not having money means youʼre poor. That was easy.

This feels like a think piece put together by a Northwestern grad whoʼs never been poor.

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Good idea

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 Alive 18,165 days

Annie inspecting our supplies

“I see youʼre got enough toilet paper to last for the rest of the year. How about stocking up on kitty treats? The good stuff, none of this house-brand Safeway crap.”

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Funny, funnier, funniest

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 Alive 18,165 days

The funnies section of the Albuquerque Journal

My Sunday paper came with three comics sections. I shoulda bought a lottery ticket, too!

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Sunday, January 17th, 2021 Alive 18,163 days

If President #Trumpʼs financial situation is as dire as the New York Times reported last year, does that mean heʼll get a #stimulus check from Joe Biden?

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Broken apple

Saturday, January 16th, 2021 Alive 18,162 days

An error message from Appleʼs web site

It looks like I broke Apple again.

Can someone turn Apple off, then turn it on again?

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Saturday, January 16th, 2021 Alive 18,162 days

Today Annie sat in the bathroom doorway and watched as I cleaned my toilet. So naturally, I felt obligated to clean the cat box next.

I think just got guilt-tripped by a cat.

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Go go Desert Truckster

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 Alive 18,160 days

I drove to the drug store today, and realized that I'm still using the same tank of gas I bought in July. And it's still half full. Itʼs hard to believe I used to drive across the country, bounding through the dunes and mesas and tumbleweeds just a year ago.

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Shout out to Sony

Saturday, January 9th, 2021 Alive 18,155 days

The Art of Noise album Paranoimia

In 1986, the idea of a television that fit in your hand was so futuristic and dystopian that The Art of Noise used it in the art for an album cover.

Today, we have supercomputers in our pockets and on our wrists that can access video in real-time from any country on the planet.

What happened that itʼs not considered scary anymore?

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It says so on the box

Saturday, January 9th, 2021 Alive 18,155 days

A fragile box

A box arrived for my wife today. Itʼs marked fra-gee-lay. It must be Italian.

I wonder if Italians are sick of that joke.

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Drink it in

Friday, January 8th, 2021 Alive 18,154 days

Sunrise between two buildings

The planet has moved into that special alignment which allows me to see the sunrise for a couple of weeks each year.

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Bullʼs eye!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 Alive 18,152 days

I was reading the paper on my balcony when a hummingbird decided to use the feeder above my head. So I thought it would be a good time to try out my telephone's slow motion video function.

Then he pooped on my head.

Also in slow motion.

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Need $1,000,000,000,001

Monday, January 4th, 2021 Alive 18,150 days

Spam from Apple

Itʼs bad enough that Apple chooses to show ads inside the iOS Settings app, but this is the sixth time today itʼs spammed me inside the Apple Music app.

Youʼve already got a trillion dollars, Apple. Can I just use the device Iʼve already paid for, please?

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Monday, January 4th, 2021 Alive 18,150 days

“I wish Iʼd spent more time scrubbing grout,” said no one on their deathbed ever.

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Monday, January 4th, 2021 Alive 18,150 days

“The store only has red Charmin, and not the blue? Thatʼs OK, Iʼll wait till next time,” said no one after March, 2020.

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It is the desert

Monday, January 4th, 2021 Alive 18,150 days

Annie reading the newspaper

Today I learned that Annie is in the market for a whole-home water treatment system. I guess I should clean her kitty bowls more often.

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It all makes sense now

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A slightly mangled New York Times

Due to a printing error, someone somewhere is missing the first two letters from page 30 of todayʼs New York Times.

Theyʼre “F” and “o.”

Youʼre welcome.

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Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

Amazon Fresh, out of everything

Dear Amazon Fresh,

Why do you always show me what you donʼt have, rather than what you do have?

Iʼm not impressed by your selection if I canʼt buy anything. Youʼre just demonstrating the weakness of your supply chain.

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So gross

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

An activision Fishing Derby cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Fishing Derby from Activision.

Fishing is probably the one sport that involves less physical activity than bowling or even golf. So how does that translate to an inherently active medium like video games? Surprisingly well.

Fishing Derby is easy to pick up, hard enough to be challenging, and also a lot of fun.

I like this game enough that Iʼm going to buy a nice, new reproduction label for the cart, which is suffering badly from actiplaque.

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King me

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A Sears Tele-Games Checkers cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Checkers, the Sears Tele-Games version of Atariʼs Video Checkers.

Sears wins for having the better title here. Sure, it is played on a video screen, but calling it “Video” checkers is one of those “No shit, Sherlock” situations.

As checkers go, I think it must be a very good game. I say this because I always lose.

The yammering yabbos on the internet are wild about this game because it was programmed by Carol Shaw. I have nothing against Ms. Shaw, and from what Iʼve read, she seems like a very nice person. But she is repeatedly cited as — in the words of Wikipedia — “one of the earliest female programmers.” This is only true if you ignore the hundreds of women programmers who came before her.

A lot of those programmers were nuns. Nuns played an oversized, and under-recognized role in the early days of computing. There are a few reasons they were involved.

  • First, nuns were highly educated. They taught every level of education from kindergarten to college.
  • Because they were educators, they were deeply embedded in academia, which is where so much of the early development of computers happened.
  • Nuns could think and reason and plan. The average person today doesnʼt know enough history to understand that the first C.E.O.ʼs were nuns. They ran massive hospital systems and orphanages. They invented what today we call the logistics industry, because they needed to support complex systems. Even today, 26% of the planetʼs healthcare facilities are run by the Roman Catholic Church, which means there are nuns in charge of all sorts of things.
  • And hereʼs the big one: nuns could type.

In old photographs of people working in mainframe computer rooms in the 1960ʼs and 70ʼs, there are always women around. The men are thinking and looking at printouts and working with slide rules and pencils, but itʼs the women in the pictures doing most of the actual computing. Women were far more common in the computer industry in the early days than they are today.

And even before electronic computers, if you go back to the earliest day of computers, when a “computer” was a person who computes, there were women. Big businesses had rooms full of people clicking away at various mechanical tabulating machines. These people were the companyʼs “computers,” and very often those rooms were full of women. Not men.

When computers first showed up in my school in 1980, the nuns steered the girls to them, while the boys were discouraged from using computers. Why? Because typing was a skill for girls. “Boys donʼt type,” I was told.

This continued into my high school years. I wanted to take a typing class because I had a computer at home. I was told that boys werenʼt allowed to take typing classes.

Even into the 1990ʼs, parts of the business world were still organized around the notion that men were the bosses, and women typed for them, and having the women run the computers was a natural extension of that. My mother worked in Manhattan for the vice president of a mid-sized regional bank. He never used e-mail. Each morning my mother would print out his e-mails and give them to him to read. He would then dictate the responses, which she wrote in steno, and later typed into the computer and sent the responses.

But nuns arenʼt cool today, especially on the internet, so they get ignored. Nuns are one of the types of women that otherwise enlightened people still think itʼs OK to marginalize. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was the first person in the world to earn a doctorate in computer science, but there are plenty of people on Wikipedia, and elsewhere, who try to suppress knowledge of her contributions in the field.

A complicating factor is that a lot of the work that nuns did in computing was before Atari even existed, and itʼs hard for many people on the internet to imagine there were programmers before the internet, let alone before Atari. And certainly not women programmers. They didnʼt exist until the STEM campaigns of the late 1990ʼs, in their minds.

Still, some day Iʼd like to take Ms. Shaw to coffee to hear her stories about the early days of video game programming. I think her memories are probably worth bottling and saving for posterity.

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Slots of fun

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A Sears Tele-Games Maze cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Maze, the Sears Tele-Games version of Atariʼs Slot Racers.

The game involves navigating a wedge through a maze and shooting at your opponent.

This is one of those occasions when Sears has the better title, since the game takes place in a maze, but doesnʼt seem to have anything at all to do with slot cars.

But imagine if you had slot cars that could shoot little projectiles at each other. I think that would have been a big hit in 1978.

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Out of control

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A Sears Tele-Games Race cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Race, the Sears Tele-Games version of Atariʼs Indy 500.

This is one of those games that Iʼm not very good at. I suspect there are two reasons for this.

  1. I donʼt have the correct controllers for this game. The paddle controllers that came with my Tele-Games machines will work… mostly. But theyʼre not the proper Atari Driving Controllers, which are able to spin all the way around. Not having the right controller constrains my ability to really steer wildly.
  2. I donʼt have any friends to play this game with. Even without being in a COVID lockdown, nobody else I know finds old video games interesting.

One thing I never see mentioned anywhere, and I donʼt remember from old magazines, is that itʼs pretty significant that the Atari version of this is called “Indy 500.” Surely there must have been some kind of licensing agreement with the people who run the Indianapolis 500 race, but itʼs not mentioned anywhere on the cart, in the manual, or on the box.

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Whispy

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

Sunrise

There were clouds in the sky this morning, so we had a nice sunrise. Iʼd forgotten that this area can have some pretty nice sunrises, but you need clouds to make them happen.

We even got what I call a "double sunrise" — the sun coming up turns the clouds over Arizona all pinky-orange, and when it starts to crest the eastern mountains, it lights up the clouds over California, too, so thereʼs a nice sunrise no matter in what direction you look.

On clear mornings, we get what I call a "false sunrise," which is when the sunʼs rays bounce off the bronze glass of the casino towers and make it look like the sun is rising in the west.

Most people here never see the sunrise, or the sunset. The houses have few windows, and people generally keep their shades drawn at all times. They might as well live in a steel shipping container.

Darcie and I enjoy the sun and the sky and let in all the light we can. Or at least all the light the windows will allow. They have several layers of coatings on them to keep the heat out, and it kills most of the color, too. This morningʼs sunrise was blood red in plain air from the balcony, orange from the dining room windows, and just a bland yellow from the library.

When I was starting on my career path in my 20ʼs, I made sure I went into a field that would keep me from spending all day locked in an office like my parents were. I guess I screwed that one up.

I predict that when we donʼt have to wear masks anymore, women will go nuts wearing bold lipstick colors just because they can. Equip your wife appropriately before the rush starts.

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Friday, January 1st, 2021 Alive 18,147 days

Every time someone asks me why I use something as cumbersome and antiquated as a checkbook, I ask them why they donʼt speak Esperanto.

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