Tag Archives: wild fires

What the heck haven’t we talked about?

Greetings, readers. As we approach our 800th blog entry, Rebecca and I are beginning to become stuck in the mud for new blog topics. This is sad to me. I hoped to go on forever. Am I telling you I am shutting down? Perish the thought. But I’m not going to bore you with construction updates, weather forecasts, my failing writing career, or daily trips to Panera. It will soon be time to go outside the box and push the envelope.

I promised myself that I would not blog about politics, but I might have to break that promise. Rebecca and I spent an hour today discussing how much we both dislike President Trump and the current partial government shutdown. Heaven forbid that it takes years to resolve. Rebecca keeps going on about the GOP in Congress needing to grow a spine and stand up to their leader. I agree. People are getting hurt by the shutdown, mostly federal workers who are not deemed necessary to pay. Some people even had to postpone giving their children Christmas gifts. With the change of power in the House of Representatives but not quite in the Senate, change will not be as quick as it could have been. A new bill will have to be written, passed in the House and Senate, more than likely vetoed by President Trump, and when the Congress overturns the veto, the government can open up again.

What really angered me the other day, is when I read on the Microsoft Edge start page that high-ranking government officials, “gladly accepted their $10,000 a year raise.” I just love it that they can take their money and run while some federal workers have to do without.

I know I have friends, family, and other readers on opposite sides of the political coin, and I do not wish to offend any of them. This may be a sticky wicket. But when I am talking about the government shutdown for an hour and then trying to come up with a blog topic that seems less offensive, none of the alternatives seem to be as pertinent.

Other topics we could discuss are all the senseless mass shootings, or careless folks starting wild fires. Children who play with matches or someone who tosses a cigarette out in the wilderness need to be set down and spoken to of the dangers of dry brush. Now I know things like lightning strikes can be causes so it is not always the human factor involved. After blog #800, I’ll see just how large I can grow my grapefruits and will begin to go outside my comfort zone and blog on other topics such as conspiracy theories, the government, alternative lifestyles, and other so-called taboo subjects. We’ll see how that goes. Lol.

I’m going to try to put a blog entry up this weekend. Rebecca caught a couple of editing blunders in the entry I did last Sunday, and we fixed them this morning. I promise I will try to be more thorough in my editing this time around. Until then, take care, be safe, spread love around if you can, and, as always, happy reading.

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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: Bad weather is exhausting

As Joe wrote yesterday, he had a doctor’s appointment today, so I am writing to you again today.

It has rained for what seems like forever in Pennsylvania, though it has only been a week or two. The last couple of days the entire state has been deluged, with flood warnings in most counties and weather radar maps full of green. Anyone going outside gets wet, even with umbrellas, it is a fact of life right now. Yesterday, I came home from work with wet slack legs, a soaked umbrella, and damp bags. Last Tuesday, Darren and I unloaded his mom’s groceries from the car in a downpour. It was a relief to get indoors and a grudging acceptance of the weather when we went out.

Despite all our trouble and discomfort, I also know we are lucky. State College has areas of flooding, but not rivers of water through our streets. None of us need to be rescued, or are completely blocked off from home or work. It is possible some of the commuters from outlying areas might have those problems, and I wish them well. I look at pictures on the news of cars, homes, towns destroyed by rising water, and I feel grateful and blessed to be dry inside. I see pictures of the wildfires out west and cannot imagine running from a home that might be ash the next time I see it. What does their air smell like, taste like? How do they build a new life from the destruction? There are areas of the country in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit; I cannot conceive going about my life in those conditions either. As inconvenient as constant rain has been for us here, it could be so much worse.

So, wherever you are reading this, I hope you are dry, and cool, and comfortable. I hope you have electricity, and good food, and dry feet. I hope you are as lucky as we are.

Until next Wednesday, as Joe would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

I am way behind in my yuletide preparations

Greetings, readers. It is quite bizarre how fast this Christmas season has flown by. I could swear I just woke up on Thanksgiving morning and watched the Macy’s parade with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. I blinked my eyes twice and it is December 20th. I’ve only listened to a hand-full of Christmas carols, and my apartment is not decorated at all. Bah humbug to me.

There have been a number of things that I believe has caused this delay in decorating. First of all is my job. I come home from it tired and needing to sleep. I don’t seem to get much done on the days I have a shift; it is work, eat, and sleep. On the days I don’t have a shift, I have work with Rebecca and errands to do that can’t be done on job days. Second is the time I have spent proof-reading and editing Four’s a Crowd. Apparently I am the last of the readers to finish my editing. Shame on me. Luckily I know the material like the back of my hand, especially my part of it. Once I get rolling, it won’t take me long. Lastly, when I could be reading at 4:00am, I am playing Out of the Park Baseball 18. Today was game 5 of the completely fictitious Canadian Baseball League World Series. Somehow my brain isn’t engaged for activities like reading and editing at 4:00 in the morning. Fear not, Darren and Rebecca, it will be done.

After the holidays, I plan to revamp my schedule. Whether that means taking some time off from work, or changing my job schedule, has yet to be determined. I’m certain that everything will fall into place. It always seems to.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected in the Amtrak train disaster, as well as in the tour bus accident in Mexico. So sad. The California wild fires, although I’ve heard they have been partially contained, will probably burn for another several days. I’ve been calling my aunt, who lives near one of the fire areas, and she is uncomfortable from the smoke but holding her own.

Finally, very soon two of our long-time establishments will be going out of business. Not because of the economy, but rather the sale of the building in which they are housed. Spats Café and Speakeasy has been around for 30 years and the Rathskeller Bar has been underneath the cafe in the same spot for many decades. I always hate it when establishments go bye-bye, especially the ones I remember as a youth or a teenager. The State College area is not really effected that much from the recession because there are a lot of college kids who attend school every year and need books, Penn State clothing, souvenirs and anything else Penn State they can get their hands on.

I wish everyone good luck with their holiday shopping. Enjoy your plans with family. And until tomorrow, take care and happy reading.