Tag Archives: United States of America

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.

From Rebecca: Happy 4th of July 2018

Happy 4th of July to everyone who is celebrating our nation’s birthday! Happy Wednesday to all the readers from other nations! I hope all our readers are having a great day.

This is a stressful and chaotic time for the United States of America right now, but today is a reminder that our country started with a brave and daring gamble that people would govern themselves. It required individual states to work together to form one nation, with a balance of power. This country has had ups and downs, times of great strife and times of calm harmony, and through it all we keep heading toward the promise of that beginning, the promise of freedom for all of us.

Happy Birthday, the United States of America!

From Rebecca: Happy 4th of July next week

Greetings, Joe’s readers. The 4th of July is next Tuesday. We will celebrate the courageous and breathtaking chances our first leaders took when setting up the United States of America, and the people who carried forward the promises of a free and equal country. Our nation is experiencing a time of conflict and anger now, as it has many times before, and, like each of those times before, I expect the county will emerge from the struggle closer to freedom for all.

Our first leaders, coming from an experience of monarchy and long reigns for rulers, decided to base their new government on elections by the people being governed, and to have a peaceful transfer of power. No overthrowing (or killing) one leader to install another, but a voluntary giving up of power. That was such an amazing concept for a brand new country to even try. It is still an amazing concept even today. We see it play out on all levels, from school board members to state legislators, to governors, to federal legislators, to the president. That much turn-over in leadership, and it has made our country among the most stable governments in the world. That is something to celebrate.

We also have something to celebrate in these words from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I was a child in school, I was taught that the word men in this statement meant mankind, and included women and children in the unalienable rights too. I was also taught that when the country began, voting rights applied to only white men, aged 21 years or older, who owned land. That shiny ideal that all people are created equal and endowed with certain rights was a long way from practice when our country started. In fact, with slavery, indentured servants, and class systems, the country was as far from the shiny ideal as it could be. But it was a beginning.

Every day, month, year, decade, generation, and century that goes by we get closer to equal rights for all. With non-land owners getting the vote, the official end to slavery, black men getting the vote and then getting elected to offices, women getting the vote and getting elected to offices, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legalization of same-sex marriages, and every other step small and large, The United States of America has moved closer to that beacon in the distance. Social change is slow, even at times when it comes in big bursts. But no matter the speed, social change is always headed towards that awesome ideal given to us all at the beginning of this nation: That all are created equal with certain unalienable rights.

Happy July 4th everybody. Have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Donald Trump has ruined the country I love

Greetings, readers. I am a nervous man. I read the headlines on the internet news pages and I am seeing things going horribly wrong. What’s worse, President-Elect Trump is not even in office yet. He is making choices that I highly question, such as appointing people to head government departments when they oppose the work of those departments, and he does not intend to get daily intelligence briefings. Today I learned that four Republican electors might change their vote to change the outcome of the election. The problem is, who would go in next? Vice President-Elect Pence is no better than Donald, in some ways he is worse. What I would love to see happen is to allow the American people, who overwhelming gave Hillary Clinton the nod in the popular vote, their choice. Is that going to happen? Hell no. Why? Because that would be the right thing to do, and the United States of America hardly does the right thing anymore.

We need gun laws, but no, that interferes with our right to bear arms. So, teenagers and children can get shot up in schools and drive-by shootings. Sorry parents, that’s the Constitution for you. The American dream has become the American nightmare. When I was a kid, the American dream stood for enough money to buy a house, at least one car, and to be able to pay your bills without worry, and maybe even have a little left over for a week’s vacation at the beach. Now, both parents have to work at one or more jobs that don’t pay much, and between child care costs, bills, and grocery bills, people are lucky if they have any savings at the end of the month at all. I’m 51 years old, and for the first time in my life I look around my town and I am scared. There has been an increase of homeless people here, folks who just can’t seem to make it anymore and have given up.

The economy has grown somewhat, as I understand it, but to me those are just numbers. It seems that a lot of people have not seen better times yet. I don’t know how well off we really are, and I certainly don’t think we should have changed the political party in charge at this particular time. Although President Obama had his flaws, the economy did seem to pick up and we have a skeleton health care program which can be improved on. The Republicans wish to scrap it and begin again, leaving everyone who benefited from the Affordable Care Act in the lurch.

I feel like hopping on the ship Queen Mary II, or the Queen Victoria, and doing the immigration trip in reverse. I could visit my family in Holland for four years. Would I move there permanently? No. But right now the U.S. of A. is leaving me with such a sour taste in my mouth that even Listerine isn’t helping. I suppose I’ll be forced to give Donald Trump a chance, but I won’t wait long to bail. My nerves can’t take it. Do I want the President-Elect to drop dead? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. But it would be nice if he just left office on his own. No other President-Elect since I’ve been born has made me this jittery. Time will tell if my mind eases.

Until tomorrow when we will have another blog entry for you, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

The United States of America has chosen their President

Greetings, readers. I never thought it possible that a person with no political experience and no military service could obtain the White House, but that’s exactly what happened. Shortly after 3AM, Donald J. Trump became President-Elect of the United State of America. When sworn in, he will be the country’s 45th President.

I knew things were brewing at 9:20 last evening when I saw on a man’s laptop at Denny’s, that Trump owned the entire part of the country known as tornado alley. That’s when I knew Hillary Clinton was in for a dog fight. I still believed she would win.

By the time I got home at ten o’clock, the electoral college was 163 to 109 for Trump, and my hopes of being able to say that I was alive when the first woman President was elected were fading fast.

I watched the NBC broadcast from 10:00 until 3:15, when Donald Trump made his acceptance speech. Even though it pains me to say it, his speech was gracious and eloquent. He thanked Mrs. Clinton on her hard-fought campaign, as well as his family and all the workers who helped him. After the, “We’re going to make America great again,” part of his speech, I went to bed.

What does a Donald Trump Presidency mean to our country if his temper and mouth explode? Well…, it will mean loss of allies for certain, and in the worst-case-scenario, a war with an angered foreign country. Let’s hope that does not happen. Please, President-Elect Trump, let cooler heads prevail. War is never the answer.

We’ll have to see if Mr. Trump can make good on his promises to the people. I’m not sure he can. I just don’t think he can ‘play together with others’ well enough. We’ll see how he responds the first time he doesn’t get what he wants. Time will tell.

Until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care and happy reading.

Happy Thanksgiving

Greetings, readers. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the United States. Happy Thursday to all of you in different countries. If all goes well, Traci and I will be sitting with my buddy and brother Dave and his family when this is published.

Rebecca and I are trying something we haven’t used before for this post. We wrote it last week and set it up to publish on Thanksgiving. We are excited to see if it goes smoothly. Posting in the future is a feature of the WordPress program, so it should work, but it is new to us. Wish us luck! (Although, if you are seeing this to wish us luck, it worked! If you see it tomorrow, oops!)

I hope you are enjoying time with your friends and families today, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not. I miss a lot of people in my family, which is why it means so much to me to be sharing the day with Dave and my extended family, and my girlfriend. If you can’t be with your family today, I hope you are spending time with people you care about.

This might be the only post this week. If so, I will be back next week with the usual two entries.

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

The blog’s new look

Greetings, readers. I thought it was time for a change to the look of the blog. We had the previous style for quite a while, and as people say, change is good. The new theme is called Big Brother. I really don’t know why it is called that, but it is. I was drawn to its simplicity, great look, and, being a Penn State fan, the blue on white color scheme.

I wanted to try to put a picture of Keekee back on the home page at some point. I don’t think that I’ll do it with this choice. The colors would clash. Also, without a picture, the latest entry is visible on the screen without scrolling down. I was afraid that Rebecca wasn’t going to like the choice, but she did. We are both very happy that all the tabs for other pages are clearly visible up top, and no one has to search for them.

Another reason for this blog entry is that I am considering taking a personal day tomorrow. So if I do take that day off, we will have our quota of two weekly blog entries. It’s very important to me to do this. I enjoy relaying what goes on in my life, and Rebecca has told me that some blogs start strong but don’t get added to for months at a time. Although the comments are few and far between, I do have a nice number of followers. Never having any negative comments, I must be doing something right with my choice of topics.

I mentioned before that I was going to discuss topics a little more controversial at times, such as news and politics. In a previous post, I mentioned the Washington Redskins and their team name offending people. I can also see the same thing happening with the Confederate flag. I do not like racist people and do not condone it in any way. I learned that the suspect shouted racial slurs before and during his shooting spree in the church in South Carolina. Today I saw in the news that TV Land is pulling the reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. The show’s famous car the General Lee had a Confederate flag on the roof, and that flag is extremely taboo right now. In 1865, when the civil war ended, both sides of the conflict became once again the United States of America. The Stars and Stripes is our national flag. People in this country should learn to put their differences behind them. There is enough hatred in this world, why don’t we show the rest of the globe that the color of our skin means nothing. It’s a person’s heart, mind and soul that is important.

Until next week, take care, have a wonderful 4th of July weekend, and happy reading.

Top ten list of my favorite United States Presidents

Greetings, readers. I thought this might be a fun topic to blog about today. With the next presidential election a year and half away, I started to think about all the presidents we’ve had, not only in my lifetime, but throughout history. Sometimes I like people even though they might not be called the best by experts. Let us keep that in mind for this list.

#10. Richard Nixon. [I was very young at the time when Watergate was going on. Even though he did wrong, and betrayed the American people’s trust, there was something touching about that victory salute wave he gave as he got into the helicopter to leave the White House. A little bit of style for a disgraced president.]

#9. Jimmy Carter. [Such a sweet guy. Not really a good president. When the American hostages were being held in Iran, a massive rescue attempt was mounted. As I understand it, everything that could go wrong did. President Carter had to take the blame for he was the chief of the military. Later in life, former President Carter had some major milestones including Homes for Humanity and his work in Africa.]

#8. George H. Bush. [After Ronald Reagan left office, as one of the more popular presidents of my lifetime, I really thought that President Bush could keep the country going. I thought he was well-spoken, and liked him. The economy really began to slide in his presidency. The American people were tired of Republicans after 12 years and elected my next choice, Bill Clinton.]

#7. Bill Clinton. [President Clinton did a marvelous job resurrecting our economy. For the first time I was aware of, this country was not in debt and we actually had a surplus. His extra-curricular activities left a little to be desired.]

#6. Lyndon B. Johnson. [I don’t know tons about LBJ but I heard a story about him on a documentary about Air Force One. After his presidency was over, he ordered the airplane stripped of all the “trinkets and trash” such as towels, ashtrays, and basically everything that said Air Force One on it. He also installed a hydrologic chair that he could raise above other people in a meeting, so he could sit above everyone else. To me, that is a feeling of power and authority. I like that.]

#5. Ronald Reagan. [One of the more feared presidents by other countries in the world. After he was elected, Iran, not wanting to deal with him, freed the American hostages. Instead of taking Air Force One to greet the freed hostages himself, he let former President Jimmy Carter take the flight and welcome the people back. Jimmy Carter said it was an extremely touching moment for him.]

#4. George H. W. Bush. [I felt sorry for G.W. He was a highly educated man who had a knack of looking silly and stupid much more than he should have. The day of 9-11 however, he appeared extremely strong and resilient, and vowed not to quit until the terrorists were brought to justice. Little did he know that al-Qaeda is virtually all over the world. It is much different than fighting an army of a thousand people. He had vocal quirks such as Nuc-a-ler, and his war on terra (earth) A.K.A terror. I’ll chalk that last one up to his accent.]

#3. Franklin D. Roosevelt. [This president had to resurrect a country from a depression and take us through a world war. Not wanting the country to go a different direction, he kept running for reelection every four years and kept winning. Seems that people didn’t want to change the jockey mid-race. After his death, congress passed a law limiting presidents to two terms.]

#2. John F. Kennedy. [I was not born yet when President Kennedy was assassinated. Through school and documentaries, I learned that he got our space program started. He also stood tall and prevented a nuclear incident near Cuba.]

#1. Abraham Lincoln. [He freed the slaves. He worked hard to keep the United States together. Unfortunately the north and the south fought a civil war. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.]

Honorable mention – George Washington. [The first American President, as everyone knows. Some people at the time suggested he lead the country as a king, and he turned it down. Our peaceful transfer of power at the end of elected terms started with him.]

There’s your list for today. As usual, chime in with yours in the comments if you wish to.

Take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Thanksgiving and my mom Betty Lee

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, the holiday where we celebrate the gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans to give thanks for friendship and abundance. Traditionally we celebrate it with a big meal that we eat with as many family members as possible, where we say what we are thankful for, and then after the meal we fall asleep will watching football on television. The holiday is about family, tradition, gratitude, and food.

It was one of my mother’s favorite holidays. Betty Lee was big on counting your blessings, but she also really loved that every few years her birthday was the same day as Thanksgiving. Last Sunday I had conversations about her with my father and with my sisters. She passed away almost four years ago, and we are thinking about her a lot. We aren’t going to be all together this year, instead we are having small gatherings in our own homes. I never realized how much she and my step-father did to get us together for the holidays and birthdays until she passed away. Without her calling with the time, place, and expectation to be there for family get-togethers, we just don’t get many of them arranged anymore. We do see and talk to each other a lot, so that is good. Maybe the big meal together is more for families that are far apart from one another. We are blessed to live as close as we do. We are not as close as we would like to be my step-father, but we try to keep in touch as much as we can.

My mom and step-father, when they were still in good health, loved going places and talking to people. In restaurants they knew the servers and managers, in banks they knew the tellers, and in grocery stores they knew many of the cashiers. They really liked knowing about other people and had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. If someone had trouble and needed help, my mom and step-father would give that help if they could. Mom loved keeping in contact with people on the internet, especially Facebook. My sister Marjorie has inherited these traits. She also likes keeping up with a wide circle of friends on the internet. When I go to restaurants with her, she knows all the servers and managers. They stop by the table for a minute on the way by to chat with her and she cares about many of them. At one place, she is such friends with a few of the servers that for a while she was giving them rides to and from work when they had trouble with transportation. Mom would be so proud of Marjorie.

Mom also spent her life exploring her spiritual path, inner truth, and how to live her faith. She sometimes explored paths that were different from those her family, and sometimes society, were following, like A Course in Miracles. She followed her own sense of inner right and wrong, while accepting that others had different views. My sister Jennifer also explores her inner spiritual truth and how to live her faith. She participates in her church and struggles with how to follow her path and God’s plan for her. Her father, mother, and sisters are not a part of her church and that faith, but she is true to herself by choosing to be there. She also uses her artistic skills to help others who are in pain because of tragic loss. Mom would be so proud of Jennifer.

I am not sure what I share with Mom, other a love of books, but I know that her life on earth flows through us and with us into the world. I am so thankful that she was my mom. It is one of the things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving, along with my dad, sisters, step-father, nephews, niece, brother-in-law, husband, mother-in-law, my friend Joe, and my other friends. Mom was a big believer in going around the Thanksgiving meal table and saying our list of what we are thankful for each year.

I know there are people who do not celebrate Thanksgiving the same way, and see it in light of the eventual oppression of the Native people of this land by the European people. I am aware that the Natives got the short end of every deal they made with the people and nation that followed the help that tribe gave the Pilgrims that first pivotal year. But I love the spirit of two different groups gathering together to celebrate friendship, generosity, and achievement. The Pilgrims had lost so many in the ocean crossing and the first devastating winter. Then, with help, they learned to live off the land and grow crops in their new home. They had food and skills to go into another winter from a better position. In gratitude, they invited their teachers to a feast, to celebrate having an abundance to share. We honor that meal with our holiday.

So if you are in the United States and participate in Thanksgiving, may you have a good meal and great company. If you don’t celebrate the holiday, may you still have many blessings to give thanks for this year. Happy Thanksgiving.

My thoughts on the United States soccer team

Greetings, readers. U.S. soccer fans will have to wait another four years to see our national team in the World Cup. They were eliminated yesterday by Belgium. The final score was 2-1. Since Major League Soccer began over a decade ago, the popularity of soccer in this country is on the rise. I doubt very seriously though whether what we call soccer will ever be as popular as baseball or football.

The rest of the world calls soccer football. It is the universal sport. The United States just isn’t that good at it yet. We come close to moving on in the World Cup every four years but can’t seem to take that last big step forward. Many years ago we either didn’t quality at all or we would play three games and not score a goal. This year we very easily could have won all three of our first round games. Luck just wasn’t on our side.

I predict by the 2018 World Cup, we will be a foe to watch out for. Major League Soccer will have another four years under their belt and hopefully by then soccer will have continued to grow in popularity in the U.S.

My dad taught me to love soccer when the family would go over to Europe. When I was a kid we would watch soccer matches in the evenings in the hotel lobby. Sometimes we would watch the German or Dutch national teams. Then other times it might be one of the smaller league contests. Pop didn’t care. He just loved soccer. A very happy memory of mine, when Dad was in his golden years, is when I recorded the 2006 World Cup games for him, so he could watch them whenever he wanted.

Years ago, our cable provider had, and may still have if I could find the right channel, the Fox Soccer channel, which showed games, highlights, and news of soccer 24 hours a day. Dad was extremely happy to watch that channel. He would watch the German league, the Dutch league, and of course the English Premier League.

Getting back to the World Cup, when … notice I didn’t say if … the United States wins the World Cup, we will be able to say to the rest of the globe, we are mastering your sport. I certainly hope it happens sooner rather than later. Young kids today still want to be baseball pitchers or quarterbacks rather than star soccer players. Progress is inching towards soccer, but we have a long way to go. As I close this piece, I make a prediction: The United States of America will make it to the quarter finals in 2018. If we are going to think, think big.

Until next time, enjoy the quarter finals, take care, and happy reading.