Archive for the ‘Oddities’ Category

Quilting History

From Mrs. Observer:“>

Categories: Oddities

To Speak Freely

This is a test. It seems to me that many bloggers are using voice to text.  I just want to see how that works on Windows system and I want to see how easy it is to edit afterwards.

When I speak to my computer, I see a small text box in the top left corner, and all the text appears there. I then have to click on a box that says insert and it is added to the browser editing screen.  Or I can just say “insert.”  This seems to work OK, but I have noticed some small errors. Part of this is my fault -I tend to stammer a little bit while thinking of something to say. Sometimes it just gets a word flat wrong.

But it seems like a real time-saver, and it will only take me a couple of moments to go back and correct the small errors. So I may well do this, both while blogging and while writing. I just need a room to myself.


Categories: Oddities, Technology, Writing

Tap, tap, tap

Hello?  Is this thing still on?

No excuses, just got distracted by many things:

It is winter in the home heating business.  Add to this, we got a new dispatcher the first week of December – and guess who had to train her.

We are trying to renovate the house.  The world seems very slow to let us impoverish ourselves.

Raccoons in the attic.  Oh, wait!  One learned to tour the house through the walls and ceilings.

Add a Boston Terrier, following said raccoon.

A trip to the vet with an aging Boxer.

A trip to Mackinaw Island.  Murder mystery in an old hotel.

A trip to Europe – Germany and France, primarily.  Basically, two weeks of heavy drinking and eating.

Minor health emergencies.


Various work projects.  Hope to have an online customer application done soon.  Next up?  Invoicing.

Nope.  No writing.  Maybe soon.  If I remember how.

The New Time Machine

If you have ever used Google’s Street View, which shows you 360 degree views taken along just about every major road in America, many side streets, and many streets around the world, they have added a new function on the latest Google Maps: time travel.

Go into street view at your favorite major intersection.  Look in the top left corner of the display for something that looks like a clock and click on it.  You will be shown a UI that will let you select any of the past pictures taken at that same spot and angle.

So, for instance, you can go to 202 West Rockrimmon Blvd, Colorado Springs and click on street view.  I used to live in this complex.  The building at this address burned down some years ago and had to be replaced.  The latest picture, which is the current default, shows the building in 2011.  If you click on the clock dingus, however, you can see three pictures from different months in 2009, the first two showing a fenced-off hole in the ground (sometime after the fire and demolition) and the third showing the new building under construction.

Leave it to Google to find a reason to need even more disk server farms, but with a little thought, you can probably think of a few ways this functionality could be useful (“I can assure my fellow homeowners that I did not, in fact, have a pink flamingo in my yard in June of 2010 and here is photographic proof from a disinterested party”).  Some really clever people are going to think up great and –  potentially – profitable uses for this technology.  Going farther down the road – so to speak – today’s children are going to be able to show their own children exactly what the old neighborhood looked like when they were young.  We will all be able to look back and remind ourselves what was in the store next to the pizza place in 2009.  It will be a boon to those doing historical research.


Categories: Oddities, Technology


I guess this is Google’s April Fools joke this year, though it is dated yesterday.  Not really up to the standards of the past few years.  Maybe they have to focus on, you know, work or something.


Categories: Oddities


I find it rather odd that, whenever I use the word “texting” while texting on my smart phone, it gets one of those red squiggly lines under it – misspelled word.  That seems rather odd.  Even if it is not in a recognized dictionary, it is a word we all use.

In fact, WordPress also underlines it.

Texting (v): the act of sending a text.

Come on, dictionary makers.  Learn it, live it.


Categories: Oddities, Pet Peeves

Tropico’s Mt Sucio – How I Climbed It

One of my favorite time-wasters is Tropico, a 2001 computer game from Pop Top, where the player takes the role of El Presidente’ on a small Caribbean island.  The citizens of Tropico are autonomous and live their lives the way they want – get married, have babies, change jobs, go to school – without any real direction from the president.  All the player-president gets to do is spend the money, when there is any, and decide what gets built and when.  Oh, he can also make a few edicts and have people arrested, but he needs to avoid coups, rebellions, and being voted out of office.

It is all done with a lot of humor and the game has many scenarios, some more challenging than others.  The hardest one I have come across is Mt Sucio, in which a volcano has spewed mud over large chunks of the island, mostly destroying the economy, and El Presidente’ is given fifty years in which to generate large profits in not one but five sectors.  I would repeatedly lose this scenario, giving up after a time, only to take it up again a year or two later.  This past week, I took it up yet again and started having some success.  Today, I finally made it work.

For anybody looking for a solution to this nightmare, here are the discoveries and strategies I found:

The biggest problem was the distance involved.  The most difficult things to accomplish are the goals in lumber and mining, because they are farthest from the original village.  After taking years to build mines and logging camps, they become unproductive, because most of the workers still live in the village or at the top of the hill.  After a short stint at the job, off home they would go, not to return (in game terms) for years.  The construction workers and the teamsters (required to move the product to the docks for sale) were even worse about this.  Product would just build up at every mine and lumber camp and, despite a large number of teamsters offices built and workers hired, nobody came to get it.

The solution I found for this was, of course, to build tenements and apartments near the new job sites.  Yes, anybody who has played the game more than a few hours would have thought of that and I tried many variations on housing.  Problem was, people just don’t want to move.  Sure, I could track down each worker in the job sites and find out where he lives and decide whether or not to evict him, so he will move closer, but that would have taken hours to have an effect.  What I did instead was to wait until I had a fair amount of lodgings where I needed them, then freeze the game and very quickly evict everybody on the island (except the soldiers, who tend to be temperamental).  Once I unfreeze the game, everybody looks for a new home and many, though not all, choose a home near their job.  Productivity went up dramatically, especially with the teamsters.  Naturally, I did this mass eviction just after an election – people forget if you give them enough time.

This got me most of the way there, but it still wasn’t quite enough.  I got a terrific backlog of product at the docks.  I had built a dock (freighters only) at the bottom of the hill below the forest and the mines, but they just couldn’t get it out fast enough.  Year 2000 came and there were hundreds of items still waiting for export.  On my winning run, I simply built another dock right next to the first.  That was all it took.

Food is very important in this scenario.  There never seems to be enough and workers wander all over the island foraging, instead of doing their jobs.  I built no less than ten fishing docks plus a number of farms in order to try to keep this in check.  Also built a fair number of restaurants near where I wanted people to stay.

Never seemed to make the religious faction happy in any of my attempts and when the military staged a coup, it was usually for this reason.  Even when I gave them a church, a cathedral, a newspaper, and even a religious movie theater, it was still long faces in church-land.  Likewise, there was never enough health care to keep people happy, despite building two clinics and two hospitals.  Part of the problem was the size of the population.  Most scenarios have you going from around fifty or a hundred people to maybe two hundred people by game’s end.  In this one, you can easily have more than five hundred people at the end of the fifty years, so you need much more food, medicine, and other support than normal.

One other hint on this scenario: avoid the gold mines.  They are just too far away.  There are two veins of bauxite that are enough to make your goals.  I only had three mines and four lumber camps and it was enough, if you can get them going early enough.

So, to start I had a couple of coffee farms, which made a lot of money early on.  My industries were a lumber mill, a furniture factory, and a cannery.  Then I went on a building spree, building mines, lumber camps, fishing docks, and lodgings, after first building about six construction offices.  Oh, and an immigration office – you need people.  Once you get that all built, wait till after an election and then stage the mass eviction.  Build your docks.  Build one dock near your hotel (the free one you built – the big one left over from the disaster will never make a profit) with two workers only and make it yachts only.  All other docks need to be freighter only.  Now build about twice as many teamster offices as you think you will need.  Make sure you build enough lodging for everybody – the population is rising quickly.

Now work on support stuff, police, guard station, restaurants, cathedral.  Once you are done with most of the construction, fire all of your male construction workers (hey, the game is sexist, not me) and don’t leave them any slots to fill elsewhere, so that they will take the teamster and logger jobs you are having trouble filling.  The further a job site is from the old village, the higher the wage you want to set, to attract worker where they don’t want to go.  Oh, and once your industrial goals are nearly met, bulldoze the lumber mill and the furniture factory, so that all the lumber heads straight to the docks.

That should be enough to get you there.  If you have been as obsessed with this as I have been, I hope this helps.  To everyone else, my apologies.


Categories: Economics, Oddities