Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

01/11/17: One of the podcasts that I've been listening to on my commute is Antic - the Atari 8-bit podcast and I've really been enjoying the nostalgic feeling of listening to people talk about my first computer, an Atari 800, which I bought for $529 in January 1983. I mostly played games on it, but it was a gateway into working with computers, something that became a hobby and a career for me.
     I replaced my trusty 800 with an Atari ST in '88 or '89. Listening to this podcasts got me thinking about why I'm not as nostalgic about the ST as I am for the 800. The 800 was my first computer, but I used the ST longer and for more productive things. Yet as I think back, I was more fascinated by the 800. I bought more books about the 800 than the ST. I bought many more magazines covering the earlier computer than the latter. And I bought more games and programs for the 8-bit system. Granted, there seemed to be more material available for the earlier system, and it was easier to find. I bought Atari-specific magazines off the newsstand, and games and hardware were available at big retailers like Sears and Venture. Plus, I was living at home with my parents when I bought the 800 and with Stephie when I got the ST. My brothers were way more interested in computers than Stephie ever was.
     The big thing these days regarding classic computers is running emulators on current systems. I've dabbled a bit in the past, but recently I've been playing with a few emulators with good success. I have Altirra running in my Windows partition and Atari800 available in my Linux environment, and both work really well. The games I've been playing are not as deep and graphically detailed as most of what you can run on your smartphone, but there's some kind of a thrill to be able to play a few levels of Miner 2049er or some of the great Synapse Software games like Fort Apocalypse or Pharaoh's Curse. I'm actually thinking of getting an adapter so I can use my Wico joystick to play the games exactly like I remember them.
     But with all my interest in emulation, I find I'm not so eager to get an ST emulator up and running. I mean, I've had an ST emulator for years, the excellent Gemuator, but all I've done with that is occasionally bring up the emulated desktop, nod with approval that it looks like I remember it, then shut it down and move on. I think that by the time I was using my ST, I was treating the computer as an appliance rather than a toy. I had more utilities and text editors loaded on my ST than games. I used it to dial into the System36 at work from my ST to monitor batch jobs and troubleshoot issues from home. I used a Supercharger with the ST to emulate a DOS machine. I spent hours on Compuserve forums and on Delphi. I used an ST desktop publishing program to lay out the first few newsletters for the user group I belonged to. Almost everything I did on the ST can be done in Windows or Linux, and usually faster and easier, so why bother with the ST?
     As we become adults, we lose the sense of wonder at the world that we had as children, when we seemed to be always finding things that are new and interesting and exciting. As I think about it, at some point I lost my sense of wonder with computers. Maybe that's why I have trouble understanding why people get so excited about getting a new computer or a new cell phone. In a way, I just see it as another chore, more work I need to do to set the new device up so that I can use it the way I used the old one. But back in the '80s, every computer magazine I bought showed me new and exciting ways to use my Atari, whether it was a new game to buy or a new programming language to try or just a new BASIC program to type in from page after page of code. I think I need to get back that feeling. I think I'll start by playing some Mountain King. Anyone want to join me?

01/01/17: Good riddance, 2016. As I started the year, I was facing a layoff, but I had a generous severance coming, so I thought, "I'll take a couple of weeks, then get a job. Maybe we can take a nice vacation on the severance money." Little did I know that it would take the better part of the year to find someone to hire me. In the meantime, we watched the checking account dwindle down, my favorite aunt passed away, the oven crapped out, the TV almost crapped out, our sister-in-law did something to her ankle that put her out of commission for most of the year (but thankfully no surgery needed), Stephie's tummy problems came back, we couldn't afford a vacation, the leak in the veranda ceiling when it rains got worse and worse, and we lost our beloved Kisu. And this was all before the election! Then, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were effectively canceled for financial reasons. And it was the first year we didn't even get a tree or decorate for Christmas. I'm thankful that I still have Stephie, we're mostly healthy, and we have a roof over our heads, but c'mon!
     Now the year that Alasdair, the announcer for Pseudopod, refers to as "the dumpster fire that was 2016" is over, and things are looking up. I'm working, Stephie's feeling a little better, and we're talking about adopting another dog in the spring, after the winter slop is done. I'm optimistic about 2017, and I hope you are, too. Happy New Year!

12/28/16: The new job is going well, but the 68 mile round-trip daily commute is a little wearing. At least I have a reliable vehicle, and plenty of podcasts and old-time radio shows to keep my mind off being stuck in traffic. Many people have worse problems.
     I saw an interesting sight outside my office building as I approached today, and I had the presence of mind to get my phone out and take a picture. As I rounded the corner toward the door, I saw this little cutie peeking in the window. I snapped a couple of pictures before she spotted me and took off. The building is sort-of built into a hill, and she ran up the hill, stopping at the top. She looked back at me as if to give me one more chance to take a picture, then bounded off. The picture here is from when I first saw her. If you click on it, you can see the last shot I had of her. I've set that one as the wallpaper of my computer at work.

12/12/16: The nightmare is just about over. After ten months of unemployment, I start a new job today. I'll be in a similar position, but in a completely different industry, so while the job might be the same, the place and the people and the actual work will be all new. The last time I started at a new place where I didn't know anyone was 1991. Wish me luck!

12/08/16: Back when I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows that I rarely got to see was Thunderbirds. The reason I rarely saw it was that it was on channel 32, and the TV in my room only had VHF channels (yes, they did make 'em like that!) I could only watch Thunderbirds on the family TV, and my pre-teen self was not allowed to touch that one for fear I'd damage it. (One vivid memory of my youth was trying to watch Thunderbirds after my brother found what I recall as the dozen of knobs on the back of the box which controlled the color. Dad was steamed, and was trying to reset the colors to normal while I just wanted to watch my show. I had a flashback to that event when I got to that particular episode on the DVD set.)
     Back then, I had Thunderbirds toys, Thunderbirds model kits, even a Thunderbirds board game that I got one year for St. Nick's day that I couldn't wait to get home from school to play, although I don't remember ever actually playing it. Years later, I got a Thunderbirds game for my Atari ST, the Thunderbirds game for the Game Boy, and, of course, the complete TV series on DVD. I still haven't watched the final episode on the last DVD because once I do, it'll be done and I won't have any more. I even bought the live-action version from 2004, which was not too bad for what it was.
     This all comes to mind because of a YouTube video I saw this morning. I knew of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore well before Moore's Hollywood success, after I picked up a copy of their "comedy" record, Derek and Clive Live, which is one record I made sure I never played when my parents were around. (Probably still wouldn't.) At the time, I was in the market for Monty Python records, and it may have had a sticker on it that indicated that it was more British humor, or I might have heard of Pete and Dud in relation to the other people that the Python guys worked with. In any case it blew my young mind.
     But as funny (and filty) as that record was, I like this clip even more. It seems like some of the best parody sketches on the original Saturday Night Live or SCTV. It looks like there are more Cook and Moore clips on YouTube. I'll have to check them out.

11/29/16: Tonight we watched the last episode of the current season of Longmire on Netflix. I'm just starting to warm up to this streaming model for TV shows (which is hard for me because I have so much content sitting on our DVR) but I still don't like binge-watching. I don't do that when I have a season of a show I like on DVD, either. I always like to enjoy a show for as long as possible because when it's done, it's done, so I rather space out my watching. The episodes were released back in late-September, and it's a miracle that I kept Stephie from watching them all in one shot. (Or maybe she did that when I wasn't around.)
     Overall it was a good season. Maybe not up to the previous ones, as this lawsuit against the sheriff is seeming to drag, but we love the characters and the setting. And is it just me, or does Jacob Nighthorse remind anyone else of the "Mac Tonight" guy from the old McDonald's commercials?

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