Sep 112014

face1aI saw a headline in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, September 9th. The headline said: “Majority of millennials’ pocketbooks lack plastic.” My first thought was: good for them. Maybe that generation will avoid the depths of a financial crisis  like the one spawned by the baby boomer generation. But the article itself had a very different tone.

“The responsible use of credit cards is one of the easiest ways to build a strong credit score, which is essential (my emphasis) for qualifying for insurance policies, auto and mortgage loans, and sometimes even a job.”

Paying cash, which used to be a sign of responsibility, is now a risky lifestyle choice. How did it come to this? What does the credit score really mean? It means we are good little consumers. We take on an appropriate amount of debt by borrowing the “right” amount of money to buy crap we probably do not need. It’s more a report card on your consumption efforts than a report card on how financially responsible you are.

According to the article, business is using it in ways that will penalize those who eschew credit. If your insurance company, or employer, finds you do not have a credit score  – that is as much a red flag as a poor credit score. That’s too bad. I always thought you should use credit only when necessary. I always thought paying cash was more financially responsible. Guess I’m wrong by today’s standards.

Aug 052014

Last year, or maybe the year before (time moves so fast now), I took a game development course at our local community college. I had a blast. We used software called Gamemaker in the class. It was inexpensive and made it incredibly easy to put together a simple game. Now, one or two years later, Gamemaker is more expensive, more complex and far more capable. I lost interest though, until yesterday. I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to try and create a lunar lander type game. I used to love lunar lander. The time flew! I spent hours on this silly game yesterday and enjoyed every second of it, even the frustrating parts. It’s a pretty simple game, and as you can see from the screen shot below, not particularly striking graphically (most of you know I’m color challenged and can’t draw to save my life, so most of my games will probably be black and white – simple shapes). But, it works. And, it’s surprisingly difficult to land the thing correctly. Now I’m thinking of ways to make it even harder. I might add wind (I know – no wind on the moon, but it’s my game and I can do what I want).

Lunar Lander Screen

Lunar Lander Screen

I did another version, just swapping out the simple graphics for clipart to liven it up a tad. Hence, the Happy Bees version of my lunar lander.

Happy Bees Version

Happy Bees Version

I wish I were smarter, but I’ll get there if I keep making these with more features, more complexity. At least I’ll keep trying as long as the time flies like it did yesterday.

Aug 022014
Jul 302014

PalmSpringsCoverDeliveryman: Palm Springs is a short story about a world where government has been downsized out of existence. The United States is a loosely run confederation of regional corporate entities. Dylan drives a truck through both well-run and lawless regions from his base in the Great Lakes. He meets Maura, a mysterious and dangerous woman who needs transport – anywhere, fast. Dylan takes her to Palm Springs and finds out some cargo might not be worth the money.

If you like my short story, tell your friends. If you don’t, tell me. I have a lot to learn yet.

Jul 282014

I have always wanted to visit the Chesapeake Bay. Check. Done.

Jul 042014

It is a perfect day here in Illinois. The weather could not be better. Barn sales out in the country in the morning. Classic car show in the afternoon. Heard a great band just before one of the best small-town fireworks show you’ll see anywhere.

Jun 292014

We were sitting on our screen porch, reading the paper and drinking coffee. We hear a noise. The southern half of our maple tree had fallen. The tree had been sickly for years, but the northern half is the sickly half. I suppose it was just too heavy. It spared all the garden decorations – sort of wrapped around them. Cleared it away, but now I need to borrow a chain saw (can you imagine me with a chain saw???) to cut up the rest of the big limbs.

The left side of the tree is all gone. Taken from inside the screen porch.

The left side of the tree is all gone. Taken from inside the screen porch.

Jun 282014