Tag Archives: Microsoft Flight Simulator X

X-Plane 11 vs. Flight Simulator X

Greetings, readers. Yesterday morning I purchased the game X-Plane 11, the newest Flight Simulator. If I had a more powerful laptop or a top of the line desktop, I could max out the graphics and make it look awesome. Right now I have a choice. Have it look awesome and run slow as molasses, or make it look average and have it actually perform correctly. The sim I was playing before was Flight Simulator X, from Microsoft. What follows is going to be my comparison between these two major flight simulator games.

Let’s start with Flight Simulator X, which I’ve used for years. I must say at this point I prefer it better, for you can actually choose a flight plan in the game and load it. Also, I’m quite used to this game and have accumulated many mods (aircraft, scenery, etc.), and have gotten the settings just so. I can fly almost any aircraft with relative ease. Take-offs are a cinch. Landings … well, that is a different story. I’ve made a few, but if they had been real flights, the maintenance crew would have had a lot to clean up. Lol.

Flight Simulator X, or FSX as it is known, to me is easier to use, and it is easier to designate commands and functions on the keyboard. Also, I know exactly how each aircraft’s switches and knobs are used and what they are for. In the other simulator I am still learning. I give Flight Simulator X a solid score of 9 out of 10.

Now for X-Plane 11 and I am going to be brutally honest folks so here we go. The graphics are stunning, even when set to medium. But in the $60 base game, there aren’t that many aircraft to choose from. When downloading after the purchase, the computer prompted me with this question, how many countries and continents would you like to load? The more I clicked the longer the download was going to take. I decided to run a test and choose all. The download was going to take 12 hours. OMG! I canceled that download and simply went with Canada, the United States, Mexico, and South America. That in itself took 3 hours. So far so good.

Now for ease of play. As Norman Thayer would say in the movie On Golden Pond, “Good Gawd!” To load a flight plan takes a PhD. Thirteen-year-old YouTubers make it look so easy, yet this 53-year-old dude can’t figure it out. To be honest, I prefer loading the flight plan in the plane’s computer page that pop’s up, for in real-life pilots load their flight plans that way. It gives it that extra realism and I will learn it so help me, I am determined.

I actually got a plane off the ground yesterday starting from a runway. I was so happy with myself. And noticed that even with medium graphic settings, the sun shone off the airplane’s dashboard and moved across the control panel with the turning of the plane. That I thought was extremely cool. It also has a feature to have an artificial intelligence, or A.I., pilot that can fly the plane for you. I think you actually need a flight plan for this to work. I tried it without a flight plan and the plane took off from State College’s airport and nose-dived into the downtown streets. Oops. The graphics were wonderful as the alarm bells were sounding: Too low terrain, too low terrain. Crash. Obviously, I’m still learning how the A.I. pilot feature. It’s got to be more simple than that. How I think it works, folks, is that you choose an airport and a gate with engines off, file your flight plan in the computer properly, key word properly, and when all the ground vehicles have left, click A.I. Flies Plane for Me. Click it any earlier than that, and who the hell knows what is going to happen.

My preliminary score for this game, and yes, I will update this score in a later blog entry, is a very respectable 6 1/2. I’m going to talk via Facebook page to a couple of YouTubers I know to see if they can help me. Here’s a little something about me. Once I get determined to do something I won’t quit until I do it. I will get this game to run and I will play it.

Finally, prayers go out to all the victims and families in the California fire zones and also continued prayers to families who lost loved ones in the recent shootings. I’m praying that one day soon that the insanity will stop.

Well, there you go. That is today’s blog entry. Hope you enjoyed it. Here is what is happening the next two Thursdays. Moderate snow is expected in our area, so I am giving Rebecca a work from home day tomorrow. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, an obvious day off. So one of us will have a blog entry up tomorrow, we will work together next Wednesday as usual, and then have a Thanksgiving blog post up on the holiday.

Until then, have a great weekend, love one another and give hugs, take care, and happy reading.

Re-post of an entry about my Cerebral Palsy

Greetings, readers. As I wrote yesterday, I have a shift at my job today and left the blog to Rebecca. She said she would either write a new post or re-post a little-read-but-worthy one just like she did last week, and it turns out she chose to re-post. She picked one from the end of my second full year of blogging, where I wrote about my Cerebral Palsy and how it worked in my life. Thank you for reading. I’ll be back next week.

CP and me

November 15, 2013

Greetings, readers. This is my one and perhaps only blog entry dealing completely with my affliction from cerebral palsy. I have been looking at blogs and websites about CP for a project, and have connected with a couple of people in the same boat, and I now have my own case on my mind. I have mentioned my CP in this blog here and there, but I have not done a post about it and how it effected my life.

I have had it since birth and will die with it. However, thanks to my well-meaning but over-protective parents, I didn’t know I had it until around the age of 16. Up until that point, I was simply told that I had a weak left side and the whole topic of being different from other people really didn’t come up at the dinner table.

Let’s start from childhood. Vivid memories of Tuesday evening swimming lessons at the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania YMCA conjure up images of cold swimming pools and a little boy trying not to drown. I remember thinking to myself that I should be able to do what all the other kids were doing – swimming. I could just barely tread water. I knew it was time to quit when my favorite part of the evening was when it was time to leave, and I could put my quarter into the vending machine and get my plastic NFL helmet for my collection.

Around the age of 10 or so, I suffered what I still call to this day my klutz year. I was a normal active boy enjoying Nerf football and Whiffle ball, but in the span of twenty-one weeks I suffered three broken fingers, one smashed elbow, and a broken wrist … all on the same arm. The arm that I tended to fall to – the left. I was cast-free for one week before I smashed my elbow, then for one day before I clobbered my wrist. Not deterred from wishing to feel normal, I continued to play outdoor sports.

In my 20s, I remember playing racquet ball, with my friend from high school, which can be a brutal sport. We created our own game and called it Tenaquet. We served overhand and we gave each other two ball bounces rather than one. That aided my bad balance and Jim’s bad knee. What fun we had. When my knees and my back started to go haywire, I had to officially ‘retire’ from sports.

Around this time, it was becoming painfully obvious that attending Penn State University day classes was not for me. I was having a very hard time with taking notes and I was a horrible test taker. Later I figured out why. Even though I can read, my retention isn’t quite up to par. I had to withdraw and never did finish. I think Mom understood, but was in denial that her son couldn’t finish college. Just a couple of years ago, I found out from my Godmother that Mom had the measles when she was pregnant with me. This could explain why my brain didn’t develop correctly. Perhaps in some strange way she felt responsible. Which of course was ridiculous. Things happen.

As I briefly mentioned in other blog posts, things like my balance and fine motor skills are effected; not to mention the fact that I have seizures. But every day I do the best that I can do. I can just give people 100% of all I’ve got on any particular day.

On the positive side of my mild CP: I can walk, I can jog, I can drive a car. I can write. And I can give a fairly proficient air guitar show. Also, with the help of Flight Simulator X, I can even be, in a way, what I always wanted to be growing up as a kid, which was an airline pilot.

Overall I would have to say that my life has been good and I have learned to live with my mild disability as best I can. Having the knowledge as a child that I have CP may or may not have made a difference. Who knows, I might have been worse off. Unless someone invents a reliable time machine, I will never know.

Until next week, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps 2016 was one of the best ever

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe I’ve been home almost a week. Time is flying already. In the early morning hours I’ve had time to reflect on this past vacation. I have so many fond memories. Were some things different? Yes, and even though I don’t love change, I must admit, I enjoyed the changes.

For the first time since I’ve been going without Mother to Bear Spring Camps, I traveled up with Dave Trost and family in their minivan. I was still able to take most of the things I always took, and seeing the sights as a passenger again was welcomed. We did leave for Maine, and leave from Maine, early in the morning. So the first few hours were in the dark. We had to pick up David’s daughter Emily’s friend in New York City; that was most interesting. We drove right by Newark International Airport. As some of my regular readers know, I am a flight simulator hobbyist, and have “flown” out of that airport many times. Everything looked so familiar.

As we approached New Hampshire in the daylight, I anticipated seeing the Piscataqua River Bridge and my favorite state of Maine. The Trosts take a different route than I do when I am driving the route to camp, and shoot off from I-95 to I-295. Somehow the Lord must have awakened me at the proper time, for just as I opened my eyes, we were passing Portland and I got to see the baseball stadium, the East Deering Swing Bridge, and the B&M Baked Bean factory. It was like someone plucked me from the vehicle and put me back in my train simulator. What a thrill!

We arrived at camp in time for dinner, the noon meal, and right away I noticed a major change. The wooden dining table chairs, which I had seen since childhood, were replaced with brand new metal chairs. Oh, my. After the shock of “I hate new things” wore off, I accepted Dave’s logic that they will be much easier to clean. Before the vacation was over, I must admit, I actually liked them better.

The first few days were quite routine, picking right off where we left off, visiting friends, taking the boat out, and doing all the things we did 52 weeks before. As I mentioned in my first camp book, it truly feels like you never left. We pushed the play button and continue the movie. An odd but wonderful sensation.

Mid-week brought the heat wave and Thursday’s happy hour. Tallie, a Mosher family relative, came for her annual visit and boat ride. It was a gorgeous day. Tallie and I took many pictures with various views of the lake.

The rain came on Friday. That was fine with me, for we got our morning fishing in before it really came down, and then the afternoon was for packing anyway. I must say, I was grateful for the rain; it was way too dry in New England. Leaves were already turning.

Before departure evening, allow me to share what I consider the highlight of the trip. Dave’s nephew Cole had the fishing day of fishing days. He caught a couple of white perch, several bass, and his prize, a 24 inch pike. He had that for supper, before he ate his lobster, and enjoyed every bite. Cole was using top water lures for the most part and got extremely excited when a good fish was on his line. He’ll even agree that he sounded like a little kid, whooping and cheering, and yes, shaking. After the pike was reeled in, he needed help to get the fish unhooked, not only because the fish was biting the net, but Cole couldn’t control his shaking hands. So yay, Cole, on the best fishing day I have seen in quite a while.

Finally, the last night was bittersweet. Packing preparations were made with the checks and double checks to make sure nothing was left behind. Then it was time to wait. Dave and family leave early in the morning, so I slept from 9:30 until about 2am. I sat patiently until they arrived in a driving rain to pick me up at 3:30. I went back to New Jersey with them, for what they call lobster fest. It was delicious. I then took a bus from Harrisburg back home.

Overall, I consider this one of my finest Maine vacations. It was relaxing, stress-free, I walked a lot, and eat like a horse. I give this vacation a 9 and a half out of 10. Had there been more Yahtzee, it would have been perfect.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

My latest simulation craze: iRacing

Greetings, readers. I have written about hobbies like Flight Simulator and Train Simulator before. Thanks to search engines and YouTube, I have found that in the last few years there is a simulation game for almost everything. Granted, some are more realistic than others. There is Farming Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and my new personal favorite, iRacing.

Today let’s talk about iRacing. Oh my goodness. It is a pay site, and for approximately $12 a month you have access to driving in virtual race cars (with accessories), on real tracks that are perfect in every detail. You can also do things like host races, create your own racing team (and color your cars any colors you wish), invite friends to join your racing team, watch others race, and practice in the virtual vehicles. Yes, you do have to purchase additional cars and tracks, that is how iRacing makes its money. It is definitely worth it, however.

The graphics are absolutely amazing, and new tracks and cars are being developed all the time. Coming soon is the legendary Nurburgring test track.

I should not get into iRacing, because I will have to purchase a steering wheel, shifter and pedals. It is impossible to play this game with mouse and keyboard only. The controller package ranges from $60 up to $200 or more. That is a chunk of change.

Right now I think I shall be content to watch people practice. I might cancel my subscription after this month, and watch all the enthusiasts on YouTube that are into iRacing. I can just see myself in a couple of years driving a virtual stock car around the Daytona International Speedway. And knowing my luck, crashing it horribly. Ha ha.

In weeks to come, I shall watch YouTube videos of Farming Simulator, Construction Simulator, and any other type of simulator I can find. If I deem them exciting enough to blog about, I shall certainly do that.

With our 400th blog entry quickly approaching, if any reader has a topic that you would like me to blog about, chime in, in the comments section, and I will certainly consider it.

Until next week, take care, enjoy the early summer, and happy reading.

Of my simulated life and my real life

Greetings, readers. Since Christmas Day, I have been on my laptop computer playing the Sims 3 Deluxe game. I’m not sure exactly why the game is so addictive, but every time I start playing it I just have to continue. One more click, one more command, just five more minutes. Next thing I know an hour has gone by.

I saw that the Sims 4 is either out already or coming out soon. As you all know, computer games of any kind strive for improvements and realism. I’m certain that Sims 4 will be no different.

Last night I created a character, an adult, and I tried to make him just like me. I added a little grey hair on his head, some grey in his black mustache and chose personality traits close to my own; including absent-mindedness. I had to laugh at how close he is to my true life personality.

My gaming habits worry me though. I seem to be losing myself in not only Dungeons and Dragons, but my three simulator games. I’m going to talk to my therapist and even heed Rebecca’s advice to volunteer somewhere, or perhaps even get a part-time job. I need to feel useful.

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Day. I certainly did. I partook of the local church’s dinner which was quite good. In the future, however, I will pass on the sauerkraut. It was yummy but it didn’t agree with my system. My favorite was the brown sugar candied yams. I could have walked into the kitchen and dove into the pot. LOL.

Lastly, I’m having company this Sunday for tea and snacks. How English! I was going to use my Grandmother’s tea service but I don’t want to drop and break anything so we use mugs. Perhaps another time. I don’t generally entertain in my small apartment but my living room area and kitchen are clean enough to have visitors. Yay me. I am actually sticking to one of last year’s resolutions. Slow progress, but progress.

Until next week, when Rebecca and I will work a full three day week, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

What’s going on with me today, 10/3/14

Greetings, readers. It is a dreary Friday afternoon here in State College, Pennsylvania. Already the temperature is getting cold and the wind seems to be coming from the North. I’ve heard from at least two people already that this winter is going to be a brutal one. That news does not make me happy.

As you know, I am a spring and summer person so I naturally dislike the winter. But after being told of extremely cold temperatures with lots of snow and ice, I can see myself just staying in my apartment or the community room much more than usual from about November until April. Not a happy prospect.

The one good thing that might come out of it, with fewer trips to Panera Cafe I will be saving some money. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. With my new morning routine, I’m over to Panera around 7:15, have a blueberry muffin or some other delicious pastry, and of course have my share of coffee. When I look at the bill – $4 and change – it doesn’t seem like much until I realize that I do it 7 days a week.

Something I have failed to mention. I have recently got back my disks from Netflix. And even though money is going to be a wee bit tight, I have decided not to cancel it. I truly enjoy having all of Netflix’s library to choose from. This leads in to my big problem. One which I have already discussed with my psychologist. The problem is this:

I am a Train Simulator hobbyist, and Flight Simulator hobbyist, and as of just yesterday, a Truck Simulator hobbyist. Add that to my occasional gaming and movie watching, and I am deathly afraid that I am giving up on my writing career. I have plenty of time alone to be creative, to do something work related, and so far since camp we have several blogs to show and only one new short story for camp book 3. I was hoping for at least two more by now. The fact that I had a sinus infection for a week didn’t help matters. I do have a sneaking suspicion that when the weather turns yucky I will stay inside more, make coffee at home, and make use of the brand new internet connection provided downstairs by the management of my apartment. Rebecca is likely to come in one day and be swamped with work. Time will tell.

Lastly, for next week, as far as I can tell it is going to be a normal work week, with two blog entries and time for creation. I do have many doctor’s appointments in the next couple of months, but I have tried to schedule them around our work days. Please, readers, if you would, throw good thoughts my way for extra creativity. This new book is going to need it.

Until Wednesday, enjoy your weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Train simulator replaces flight simulator as my favorite

Greetings, readers. I never thought I’d say it but it is true. Train Simulator 2014 is my new favorite simulation program for the computer. Flight Simulator X is wonderful and it helped me immensely during my depression. Looking at the clear blue sky and the white puffy clouds did make me feel better. However, with Train Simulator you are on the ground and can see all the fantastic scenery.

When I first purchased this game from the Steam website, I was a little leery. My anti-virus constantly fought with it for the first two weeks, which made matters worse. Once I learned that anti-virus systems include an exceptions list to blocked sites, I put Steam on this list. Finally Train Simulation 14 worked wonderfully. With my older laptop, with a not-so-great graphics card, I do have to have everything on the lowest settings. That is okay with me; it runs. So far I have run trains in England, Germany and the United States.

Now for the downside of Train Simulator 14. Unlike Flight Simulator X and its primary uploading website, Simviation, trains are not free to download. You must purchase everything. For a person like me on a budget, that can get mucho expensive quickly. So I’ve purchased everything I am going to purchase for a while. I’m done.

Let me briefly tell you about the trains that I have. I have three very fast Amtrak trains, three old-style steam locomotives, various trains powered by electricity, and a couple of old-style diesel trains complete with authentic sounds. Five stars on those.

Am I going to pump hundreds of dollars into this hobby? No, I can’t afford to do that. I have probably spent too much on this already. But it is extremely relaxing to hop on a train, choose your run, and set out. I have runs ranging from twelve miles in the Portland Maine scenario, to the northeast corridor route which is roughly ninety miles long.

To summarize, I would dearly love to see this game with its fullest graphics settings to get the sheer beauty of it. With the five-year-old laptop, I am grateful it runs at all. When it comes time for the next laptop I will make sure it has a good graphics card for my simulations.

Until next week, take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

CP and me

Greetings, readers. This is my one and perhaps only blog entry dealing completely with my affliction from cerebral palsy. I have been looking at blogs and websites about CP for a project, and have connected with a couple of people in the same boat, and I now have my own case on my mind. I have mentioned my CP in this blog here and there, but I have not done a post about it and how it effected my life.

I have had it since birth and will die with it. However, thanks to my well-meaning but over-protective parents, I didn’t know I had it until around the age of 16. Up until that point, I was simply told that I had a weak left side and the whole topic of being different from other people really didn’t come up at the dinner table.

Let’s start from childhood. Vivid memories of Tuesday evening swimming lessons at the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania YMCA conjure up images of cold swimming pools and a little boy trying not to drown. I remember thinking to myself that I should be able to do what all the other kids were doing – swimming. I could just barely tread water. I knew it was time to quit when my favorite part of the evening was when it was time to leave, and I could put my quarter into the vending machine and get my plastic NFL helmet for my collection.

Around the age of 10 or so, I suffered what I still call to this day my klutz year. I was a normal active boy enjoying Nerf football and Whiffle ball, but in the span of twenty-one weeks I suffered three broken fingers, one smashed elbow, and a broken wrist … all on the same arm. The arm that I tended to fall to – the left. I was cast-free for one week before I smashed my elbow, then for one day before I clobbered my wrist. Not deterred from wishing to feel normal, I continued to play outdoor sports.

In my 20s, I remember playing racquet ball, with my friend from high school, which can be a brutal sport. We created our own game and called it Tenaquet. We served overhand and we gave each other two ball bounces rather than one. That aided my bad balance and Jim’s bad knee. What fun we had. When my knees and my back started to go haywire, I had to officially ‘retire’ from sports.

Around this time, it was becoming painfully obvious that attending Penn State University day classes was not for me. I was having a very hard time with taking notes and I was a horrible test taker. Later I figured out why. Even though I can read, my retention isn’t quite up to par. I had to withdraw and never did finish. I think Mom understood, but was in denial that her son couldn’t finish college. Just a couple of years ago, I found out from my Godmother that Mom had the measles when she was pregnant with me. This could explain why my brain didn’t develop correctly. Perhaps in some strange way she felt responsible. Which of course was ridiculous. Things happen.

As I briefly mentioned in other blog posts, things like my balance and fine motor skills are effected; not to mention the fact that I have seizures. But every day I do the best that I can do. I can just give people 100% of all I’ve got on any particular day.

On the positive side of my mild CP: I can walk, I can jog, I can drive a car. I can write. And I can give a fairly proficient air guitar show. Also, with the help of Flight Simulator X, I can even be, in a way, what I always wanted to be growing up as a kid, which was an airline pilot.

Overall I would have to say that my life has been good and I have learned to live with my mild disability as best I can. Having the knowledge as a child that I have CP may or may not have made a difference. Who knows, I might have been worse off. Unless someone invents a reliable time machine, I will never know.

Until next week, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Massive technology grrr

Greetings, readers. What a wasted morning this morning. I’m not going to mention the name of the coffee shop I was in because I still wish to be a customer there. However, they do need to revamp their wireless internet. Before I said, “Oh, the hell with this,” I tried to log on for 36 minutes. Oh, the patience I showed. With music playing under earphones, I was cursing a little bit louder than just under my breath and it got to the point where people were looking at me.

Well, I quickly changed plans, began a flight simulation program, took out pen and paper, and began to jot down some goals for myself. It took ten minutes for the flight simulator to respond. Now, granted, same old computer, but I had switched my internal WI-FI off. By this time it was quarter after eleven, and with Rebecca due to join me at noon, time was wasting away quickly. Finally I got the Russian three engine Antk Tupolev jet airborne and could concentrate on the task on hand.

As of this moment, it is only 2:15 in the afternoon. There’s still plenty of time for more technological crap to happen to me today. I don’t even want to think about my cell phone today. Knowing my luck, I’ll push a series of wrong buttons and call Hawaii. I know it sounds like I am ranting and raving. No, it’s not the sudden outburst of warm temperature. I am thrilled with the warmer weather. I must admit it takes some getting used to. But to me it is better than freezing my badoingies off.

Now that I’ve vented enough, news of the day. As I just mentioned, we went from cold to minor heat wave in the span of 72 hours. Boy I love it.

R.I.P.s go out to Annette Funicello, Roger Ebert, and Margaret Thatcher. My condolences to their families.

Well, before this computer freezes or blows up, we are going to edit this entry and post it. Until Friday, take care, stay cool, and happy reading.

Tonight’s the big night

Greetings, readers. Tonight I will have yet another small taste of what it feels like to be a writer. I have my first ever book signing and I must admit I am quite nervous. Last night I dreamt that we had ordered three hundred books and two people showed up. I woke up in a blind panic. This morning I day-dreamed that I ordered five copies of each book, figuring that no one would know me, only to see a long line of people standing outside the door waiting to get in. Again … blind panic. I suppose that having not enough books would be the bigger problem.

The book signing will be in State College, at Websters Bookstore and Cafe, from 7pm to 9pm, with copies of both my books, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, and Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories. I will also be reading selections from each book. If you are downtown tonight, please stop by and say hello to me.

After 100 entries, I decided to switch the look of this blog to another theme, called Adventure Journal. I think it looks sharp. My previous theme with the books at the top of the page was called Pilcrow. I liked it, but after 100 entries it was time for a change. We will all be viewing the pyramids of Egypt for the next several months.

This morning I started my day at Panera Bread, a local bakery, taking part in a flight simulation on my laptop. For no apparent reason, the program decided to freeze the computer and shut down. I was hoping this would not be an indicator of how my day was going to go. With this being homecoming weekend for the Penn State Nittany Lion football team, Panera got quite full, quickly. I could hear background chatter even underneath my earphones.

Before the flight sim quit on me, I was able to take some mental notes on my new Edwardian era writing project. One resource I am going to explore with this project is a website called FanFiction.net. I am going to be reading stories that other writers have written from the TV show Upstairs, Downstairs and any other such series I can find.

Rebecca began taking notes for this project at the library last week. We reviewed them on Wednesday and I found them to be quite helpful. As we were waiting for someone to join us, my mind was slightly preoccupied. Next week, I shall ask Rebecca for a refresher course. With any luck, the first draft of this new project will be underway by Halloween. I have been most upset with myself with my lack of production since my vacation. Time will tell if I can pop it in gear.

Tonight I will think of my parents. I imagine they are proud of me for my two books.

Now to close, I wish Penn State good luck in their homecoming game vs. Northwestern tomorrow. Also I wish all my readers a happy weekend, be safe, and enjoy this new blog entry and the new blog look.