BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in May, 2021.

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Monday, May 31st, 2021 Alive 18,297 days

An early morning moon over Las Vegas

Couldnʼt sleep this morning, so I took the new lens out to the balcony. I didnʼt bring the tripod because I didnʼt want to wake everyone in the house. Next time.

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Nice can

Sunday, May 30th, 2021 Alive 18,296 days

Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu coffee from Mod Cup

Todayʼs coffee is Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu from Mod Cup Coffee in Jersey City, New Jersey. Why would anyone buy coffee from New Jersey? Thatʼs a tale for another page of the calendar. For today, letʼs just focus on the coffee.

Iʼll start by saying itʼs bad. Not bad in the way that James Brown was bad, or the way that playing hookie from school was bad. I mean bad as in I brewed two cups and threw the rest in the trash. And this is coffee that costs four times what I ordinarily pay for coffee. I didnʼt just want to stop drinking this coffee. I wanted to divorce this coffee, move to a new city, get plastic surgery, and change my name to get away from this coffee.

Mod Cup has a very long web page championing this coffee which starts out by proudly declaring that this is “A coffee so rare and revered that in 2016 even Starbucks could only get one small harvest of it.” Well then, it must be good, right?

No. Iʼm convinced that the reason Starbucks only got that small harvest is because it didnʼt want any more.

Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu (Weʼll call it “Ezzy” for short) is described as “Citrus and floral.” when I drank it, I didnʼt get any floral, but I got an awful lot of citrus. Like lemon. Like someone couldnʼt decide if they wanted tea or coffee to drink, so the made both in the same pot at the same time. And then threw in some Halls cough drops because it wasnʼt lemony enough. And then threw in an actual lemon.

What kind of Citgo refinery fumes are wafting through Jersey City that someone thought lemon coffee was a good idea? This coffee reminds me of some of the women I dated in New Jersey: full bodied, sour, and likely to key your car for not noticing their new shoes.

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Oh, like you have seven friends

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 Alive 18,295 days

The Atari and Sears versions of Super Breakout

I got two new cartridges today, with the same game: Super Breakout. Both the Atari and Sears versions.

As games go, Super Breakout was a massive hit. When it was released in 1980, the Atari 2600 was fully mainstream, so for a lot of people, this was their first exposure to Breakout in any form, and everyone wanted it.

The Sears version is notable because it has the game title on both the end label, and the top label. And the game name on the top label is off-center, as itʼs an unbulleted part of the bullet list of game variations. And since Sears is using the Atari name for this game, the label also has a trademark disclosure.

This is one of those games that exemplifies that playing video games used to be a group activity, whether at an arcade or at home. The Atari 2600 version of this game can have up to four players. The Atari home computer version could have up to eight players.

Today, if you want to play a video game with eight other people, you do it in your momʼs basement, all alone, hooked up to the internet. Itʼs not the same thing.

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Itʼs a Frogger cart, not a Foghat 8-track

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 Alive 18,295 days

The most annoying thing about the 1970ʼs: People who would call Atari cartridges “tapes.”

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Summerlin hot dog: $24.95, ketchup extra

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 Alive 18,295 days

The blandly-named Las Vegas Stadium, seen from my balcony

As I write this, I can hear the announcers at the baseball stadium a block away announcing the starting lineup. Itʼs the Las Vegas Aviators against the Sacramento River Cats. I hope thatʼs a fish, since generally speaking, cats and rivers get along like hydrogen bombs and Pacific atolls.

A big league baseball team, the Oakland Aʼs, was here all week inspecting the stadium and the city and the showgirls. Since Las Vegas stole Oaklandʼs football team, it seems natural to try to steal its baseball team, as well. The move would happen before Las Vegas could built a real stadium, so until one can be erected, the Aʼs would play… wait for it… a block away from me. What could possibly go wrong?

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Spidey sense

Friday, May 28th, 2021 Alive 18,294 days

A male black widow spider trying to sell me solar panels

I went for a walk to Starbucks today. No more masks. Not even signs for masks. Clearly there is a hazard, since the employees are still masked and hiding behind toll booth-grade plexiglass. But the rest of the store? Come on in! Sit and and stretch out! Stay all day! Go ahead and take your boots off and dig at your blackened toenails with a Bowie knife, weʼre all friends here!

I should have known it was a bad idea when I opened the door to my apartment and there was a black widow spider standing there. Not a female like we all know from the Batman TV shows. But a male black widow, which is larger, skinnier, and looks like a homeless crab with a hangover.

On the plus side, itʼs hard to get killed by a male black widow unless you disturb its web. Which means I should stop messing about with random spider webs I see on the way to get the mail.

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Seed round

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 Alive 18,293 days

A ludicrous sunflower

The two sunflowers Iʼm trying to grow in three-inch terra cotta pots have gone from silly to ludicrous. Oneʼs about four feet tall, the other about three-and-a-half. The seed packet said theyʼd grow to between 12 and 20 feet tall. Theyʼd better get a wiggle on if they want to reach that height before I move.

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Too bad CentOS is dead

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 Alive 18,291 days

An advertisement inside Ubuntu

Just when I thought that Linux was the last operating system without built-in advertising, along comes Ubuntu.

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Any second now

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 Alive 18,291 days

A progress notice from iPadOS

And by “0 seconds,” iPadOS means “Several minutes.”

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Excuses

Monday, May 24th, 2021 Alive 18,290 days

A game of Space Invaders

I didn't want to spend two hours today playing Atari games. But I had to. They were invading my space.

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Nice woody

Monday, May 24th, 2021 Alive 18,290 days

A Sears Tele-Games machine in situ

Today I noticed that the imitation wood veneer of my Sears Tele-Games machine is different from the imitation wood veneer of my TV stand. I guess Iʼll just have to buy new furniture.

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Inky fingers

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,289 days

Mise en place

Coffee and seven newspapers (thereʼs a Chicago Catholic under there somewhere). My day is set.

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Was it marked “Fragile?”

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 Alive 18,288 days

A crushed USPS box, mangled by UPS

This is what happens when you recycle a Postal Service box to send something via UPS.

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Mr. Sandman

Friday, May 21st, 2021 Alive 18,287 days

Sandstorm weather forecast on an iPhone

Day two of the dust storm. Houston has crap air, too, but at least thatʼs just chemicals and not Mother Nature trying to bury the city.

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Hunker in the bunker

Friday, May 21st, 2021 Alive 18,287 days

A quick forecast from iOS

Today I learned that iOS has an icon for “sandstorm.”

Also, that I should say home today.

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Itʼs half way to cheese

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

Expired milk from Safeway

Oh, good. The milk I just bought at Safeway is only a week past its expiration date. Safeway is getting better.

Considering that milk has a pretty long shelf life, I wonder how long this carton has been sitting in the cooler. A month? Two months?

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On Dean Martin Drive

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

A newspaper clipping listing locations to get a COVID shot

If you get a COVID shot at a strip club, you might live in Las Vegas.

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Records still work fine

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 Alive 18,285 days

An error message from Apple Music

If the single largest company on the planet canʼt keep its services from fudging their Huggies, what chance do I have?

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Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 Alive 18,284 days

I used to blame myself and feel bad for not checking the expiration dates more closely when Iʼd end up with expired food from Safeway.

Now Iʼm just mad that Safeway willingly and repeatedly sells me expired food.

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Youʼre gonna need a bigger ladder

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 Alive 18,284 days

Inflatable pool novelties at the supermarket

“Giant inflatable novelty pool sharks? Aisle 19."

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Nerd alert!

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

A new M1 Mac Mini

My new media server is here!

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Home brewed coffee is safe coffee

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

Starbucks in half-cootie mode

Theyʼve taken down the sign at Starbucks requiring everyone to wear a mask, so naturally, none of the customers have a mask. Somehow they assume that the lack of a paper sign means everything is OK.

Clearly, everything is not OK, or the employees wouldnʼt be wearing masks, and there wouldnʼt be plexiglass between the customers and the employees.

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Left, right, left, right

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

I went for a walk today. And like a basset hound with a thyroid condition, I can use all the walkies I can get.

On the way home, my watch pinged me with “It looks like you went outside for a walk. Congratulations!” I pushed the wrong buttons trying to take a screenshot, and the message went away. If a smart watch is a jerk to you in a crosswalk and nobody sees it, can you still rant about it?

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No more squishy chairs

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

I went to Starbucks today. I havenʼt been to Starbucks in 18 months. They spelled my name wrong, and screwed up my drink order, so really the only thing thatʼs changed is the furniture.

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Good day for a book

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

A rainy day at the market in Seattle in January, 2011

The atmosphere is having a nice little hissy fit in Las Vegas right now. A touch of rain about an hour ago, and now a windstorm. More interestingly, we had some thunder. We hardly ever get thunder here, because with the effort involved in getting over the mountains, thereʼs usually not enough energy for lightning. Itʼs the same story in Seattle.

People talk about all the rain in Seattle, but itʼs almost always a very calm, gentle rain. What the Navajos call “female rain.” I donʼt know what the Quileute in La Push, Washington call it. But when we visited, Darcie took a smooth rock home from the beach, and didnʼt find out later that youʼre not supposed to do that. We ended up having all kinds of bad luck right after that. Go figure.

Thereʼs a Door Dash guy trying to deliver something soggy and greasy to my neighbor, and the wind just made off with his big red bag. Run, Dasher, run!

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Sayonara

Saturday, May 15th, 2021 Alive 18,281 days

A talking electronic translator

Today I said goodbye to one of the most promising, but least used, gadgets in my travel kit. Itʼs a talking electronic translator.

It translates English words into Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. That is, it would have if Iʼd ever used it.

The problem is that I donʼt ever have the need to translate single words when Iʼm traveling, which is about all itʼs good for. It has some built-in phrases, but theyʼre very few, and getting to the phrase you want can take a minute or more. By then, the person youʼve flagged down on the street for help has gone on with their day.

A better version of this might have been a good aide for learning a new language, but the screen resolution is too low to make sense out of the displayed glyphs, and the speech sounds like itʼs generated by a Texas Instruments TMC0281. Think “E.T. phone home” on a Speak-and-Spell. In Chinese.

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So… primitive Minesweeper

Saturday, May 15th, 2021 Alive 18,281 days

A Sears Memory Match cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs Memory Match, the Sears Tele-Games version of Atariʼs A Game of Concentration. When it comes to the battle between Atari titles and Sears titles, Sears wins here.

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Dent Arthur Dent

Friday, May 14th, 2021 Alive 18,280 days

A delivery notification for Zaphod Beeblebrox

Today I learned that delivery apps donʼt care what name you put in them. I think Iʼll be Ford Prefect tomorrow.

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What about “ʼnʼ?”

Friday, May 14th, 2021 Alive 18,280 days

A Sears Maza Mania cartridge

Today I got a new Atari cartridge. Itʼs Maze Mania: A Game of Cops ʼn Robbers, the Sears version of Atariʼs Maze Craze: A Game of Cops nʼ Robbers.

Whatʼs interesting about this cart is that while Sears changed the name from Maze Craze to Maze Mania, it kept the subtitle. Mostly.

Sears contracted “and” as “ʼn,” instead of using Atariʼs “nʼ.” I wonder if that was a deliberate decision, or the result of carelessness.

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Have Spock show you how to play

Friday, May 14th, 2021 Alive 18,280 days

An Atari 3D Tic-Tac-Toe cartridge

I got a new Atari cartridge today. Itʼs 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe.

This is a game that everyone seemed to have, and nobody seemed to play.

Iʼve tried it, and itʼs hard. I think a lot of parents had visions that this would being out some kind of high-tech futuristic whiz kid in their children. But all it did was make them feel dumb.

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Good for me, not for thee

Friday, May 14th, 2021 Alive 18,280 days

Apple spamming my iPhone

iOS Apps are not allowed to use push messaging for advertising. Unless itʼs an Apple app. Then itʼs perfectly fine.

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Howʼs the gift shop?

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Alive 18,279 days

Saint Therese Mission, outside of Tecopa, California

Today, Darcie and I went to Saint Therese Mission, near Tecopa, out on the border of Nevada and California.

Its exact location is a little weird. Itʼs in one of those slices of the desert that was platted out for homesteading years ago, but ended up only being sparsely populated with a couple of trailer houses.

Itʼs my understanding that this church is popular with the Vietnamese community in Las Vegas. But itʼs a long way to drive for Sunday services.

I like it here. Itʼs quiet. It pays homage to some of Darcieʼs favorite saints. And it has top-notch bathrooms.

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Heʼs right

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Alive 18,279 days

An error message from CARROT³

Today I got hazed by my weather app.

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You should see a doctor about that

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021 Alive 18,277 days

A misshapen hand showing off safety pins on Amazon.com

This is why “hand model” is a job.

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Watch out for Potterʼs asthma

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021 Alive 18,277 days

Today I learned that yellow fever used to be called “American plague,” and syphilis was called “French pox.”

Which is not in any way racist, though “China virus” totally is.

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Unbalanced, and hopped up on goofballs

Saturday, May 8th, 2021 Alive 18,274 days

Decaf coffee from Firecreek Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is the blandly named “Decaf” from Firecreek Coffee in Flagstaff.

I wonder if the curly flourishes on the label are supposed to be sarcasm quotes, because this “Decaf” hits me like a Reno-bound trucker hits a sleeping burro on U.S. 95. Maybe someoneʼs having a laugh, but this decaf is the sort of coffee that makes you want to take up smoking. Itʼll invite you to the movies, pay for extra butter on the popcorn, walk you home, give you a goodbye smooch at the door, and then never call you again. Iʼve slept better after being mugged. But I guess thatʼs OK because I like my coffee the way I like my women: unbalanced, and hopped up on goofballs.

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Saturday, May 8th, 2021 Alive 18,274 days

What if Apple didnʼt release a new iPhone this year? What harm would be done? Why not skip a year of inconsequential changes, and bring us a bigger change in 2023?

Does the world really need another iPhone? Maybe the iPhone designers deserve a rest.

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Date ranching date

Saturday, May 8th, 2021 Alive 18,274 days

The road to China Ranch

We went to China Ranch today. Itʼs one of those places that makes me feel calm. If I had no debts, no obligations, and no cares in the world, Iʼd try my hand at being one of the China Ranch farm workers, picking dates in the desert, living in a rusty trailer, and generally staying off of civilizationʼs radar.

Since I do have debt, obligations, and cares in the world, I relish seeing the creatures of the wilderness. The score this trip:

  • Quail
  • Two kinds of lizards, including a cool one with a blue beard
  • Ravens
  • Hawks
  • Three coyotes
  • Crayfish

The crayfish donʼt belong here. Like the bullfrogs that pollute the few water sources in the desert, they were planted by settlers who though they might be useful for food. Unfortunately, theyʼre the reason the entire Pahrump pupfish population has to live in a concrete fish prison out in Corn Creek.

Unlike the Amargosa dace and Devilʼs Hole fish, they didnʼt evolve in a hot spring, so in the winter they just kind of get sluggish and stop moving. Itʼs like aquatic hibernation. And since they canʼt flee, they are easy snacks for the big crayfish that were brought in from Louisiana a hundred years ago.

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Define “level”

Friday, May 7th, 2021 Alive 18,273 days

An advertisement for Apple Fitness+ in the iOS Settings app

In the Epic Games monopoly lawsuit, Apple claims it offers a level playing field for all developers.

Great! How do I get an ad for my app inside of Settings?

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Cooties everywhere!

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 Alive 18,271 days

Tiffany, Mauricio, and Araceli

Today I went to a work meeting. A mandatory work meeting. During COVID. In a bar.

About half of my co-workers humored me, and kept their masks on when they werenʼt actively eating or drinking. I kept my mask on the whole time, and obsessed about Las Vegasʼ 17% COVID positivity rate.

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More like “10/5”

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,268 days

Contradictory information from DirectNIC

DirectNIC is using a definition of “24/7” with which I was previously unfamiliar.

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