TBT: Zelda Game & Watch

Last year I picked up a nifty little from Nintendo with both of the classic NES Legend of Zelda titles, as well as the Gameboy LoZ game.  I proceeded to spend a good chunk of the summer playing through and beating all of the games, and tried to avoid guides as much as possible in an attempt to replicate the feel of playing these games at the time of their release.

At that time, you could only get tips from three sources:  an expensive 1-900 hotline (not a realistic option); friends on the schoolyard or at church; or Nintendo Power.  That last one was worth its weight in video gaming gold.

When it came time to play through Zelda II, I broke down and used a guide to navigate the final temple.  I remember my brothers painstakingly mapping it out on graph paper one summer, but there are limits to nostalgia.  The Internet exists for a reason.

I haven’t picked up the old ZG&W much since beating all the games, but it might be time to dive back into it.  With the newest Zelda game out on Switch, it’s a great time to revisit the classics.

With that, here is 31 May 2022’s “Zelda Game & Watch“:

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TBT^2: Disincentives to Work

The Great Resignation rolls on, with an ever-shrinking number of competent people shouldering an ever-growing load of the work to be done.  If you’ve noticed that everything seems a little less generous or efficient than it used to be, it’s because fewer and fewer people are willing to work for abysmal wages, long hours, and dehumanizing treatment.

What I can’t figure out is why employers have not woken up to the reality of this situation:  if you’re facing massive labor shortages, the only solution is to offer more money and/or benefits to employees.  Granted, some employers have caught on, and are offering higher hourly wages and more flexibility.  I also recognize that some employers, especially smaller companies, simply can’t afford to pay more than they already are.

Still, I can’t help but notice employers are obstinately trying to get one over on their few remaining employees, trapped in thickets of corporate bureaucracy and New Speak that refuses to acknowledge the shifting tides of the labor market.  Often their stringent leave policies stay on the books but go unenforced.

For example, a friend of mine works at a big box hardware store in a tony suburb of Charleston, South Carolina.  She informs me that the store’s policy is that missing work without notice twice is grounds for immediate dismissal, but the policy is no longer enforced because the story is already so short-staffed, they can’t afford to fire employees for playing hooky.

The problem is that the employees who do show up to work bear the strain of their absent colleagues, and the corporate management shrugs its shoulders.

It may be that we’re entering a phase where large retailers and other companies will simply have to stop providing all services to all people.  My same friend told me how the store stays open until 10 PM, but there are virtually no employees at that hour.  I suspect the thinking is, “we have to be accessible to customers for as long possible; if we don’t our competitors will.”  Yet the same store doesn’t open up its pro contractor’s desk on Saturdays or after 5 PM on weekdays, so that doesn’t necessarily track.

Large companies aren’t exactly known for their logical consistency, but it seems that many workers are getting fed up with the lack of it.  Of course, employees aren’t off the hook, either:  we have all encountered plenty of braindead or discourteous store employees that turn shopping for a wing nut into a baffling ordeal.

Regardless, our attitudes about work are certainly changing, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse.  It’s probably good that we’re not ceaseless strivers competing against Bill from Accounting for The Big Promotion.  But we need to reiterate the idea that work is ennobling for its own sake—and hiring managers and their ilk need to treat their employees as human beings.

With that, here is 26 May 2022’s “TBT: Disincentives to Work“:

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TBT^2: SimEarth

The school year is grinding down at an agonizingly slow pace, which means my mind increasingly is turning away from serious matters and towards video games.

As a grown man with too many responsibilities and not enough time, I don’t indulge in video games much anymore.  I’ve always been more of a casual gamer in the sense that I play in short spurts for fun of it, not necessarily “beating” (finishing) a game, but enjoying playing with its mechanics or discovering some bit of its story.  I play games that would be considered “serious” among gamers, but I don’t do so with the intensity of those more committed gamers.

Increasingly, though, my gaming habits have turned towards more casual games—puzzle games and the like.  I don’t do a ton of gaming on my phone, but there are a few that I enjoy.

One of those is TerraGenesis, a game in which you take on the terraforming of a planet.  The game starts you with Mars, and by the time you read this post, I should have completed my first successful terraforming of the red planet.  The game draws heavily from the style of the board game Terraforming Mars, which is one of my favorites in the “make-this-planet-habitable-for-humans” genre.

Playing that got me thinking about the granddaddy of all terraforming games, SimEarth.  I wrote a loving tribute to this DOS classic a few years ago, and it seemed like a good time to give it another look.

With that, here is “TBT: SimEarth“:

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TBT^2: Egged Off

Longtime reader fridrix commented a couple of weeks ago that was “[l]oving how you nest these annual pieces like matryoshka dolls.🪆”  While casting about for a TBT post, I couldn’t resist more matryoshka-esque nesting, and eggs seem quite similar to the pear-shaped Russian dolls.  Surely we’ve all nested little plastic Easter eggs into bigger plastic Easter eggs, no?

This post was itself a throwback to a 30 April 2021 post about excessive officiousness in the enforcement of laws that, while they may serve a purpose, are typically of no great harm to anyone.  The original post dealt with two little girls who in Texas who had their roadside egg stand shut down due to lack of proper licensure and oversight from the local government and the State’s health department (if there is any government more odious than various departments of health—the dreaded SC DHEC here in South Carolina—I can’t think of it).

Since then, eggs are even more expensive, yet many municipalities—including my own—don’t allow the raising of chickens inside town limits.  I find this restriction extremely short-sighted and, well, stupid.  In broaching the subject (mildly) with my fellow councilmembers, I found some reserved support, but the one member who took the time to respond to me at length worried about—you guessed it—health concerns.

I’ve noticed something, and it’s not an original insight:  we’re not longer a society premised on “ask forgiveness, not permission.”  Everything is restricted now, and it’s always because of the worst-case scenario.  People are worried about chickens getting out due to irresponsible owners (never mind that stray cats will take care of any stray chickens quite quickly).  Why should we calibrate all of our policies to the lowest common denominator?

Sure, you’re going to have someone who will raise the chickens poorly, or not pen them properly, and it will create a nuisance.  But most people who will take the time to build or buy a coop, purchase hens, buy feed, and all the rest are not going to risk their flock with reckless abandon.  They’re going to take proactive steps to protect their investment.

The positive good of lots of cheap eggs—and the ability to distribute them liberally to neighbors—outweighs the possible risk of one or two bad eggs—pardon the expression—letting their Bantams roam the streets (if the stray cats don’t get them, the speeding motorists will—ah, the circle of life).

With that, here is 5 May 2022’s “TBT: Egged Off“:

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TBT^2: The Joy of Spring

Spring has sprung, and it’s been a surprisingly mild one so far.  It’s going to get brutally hot soon, I am sure, but South Carolina has enjoyed a bout of good weather.

It reminds me of the notorious Spring of 2020, right at the dawn of The Age of The Virus.  It seemed at the time—and I still believe this to be true—that God Delivered us good weather at that time when everything remotely social had to be done outdoors (unnecessarily, as we’ve since learned).

I now find all The Virus stuff to be endlessly boring and tedious, but it’s worth remembering how bad it was—and how totally unhinged our reaction to it was.  I can excuse some of the hysteria of the early days, but soon an entire regime of busybodies and medical “experts” (usually nurses twerking on TikTok) grew up to make the rest of miserable.

In reflecting on that beautiful Spring of 2020, we would do well to remember the tyranny that bloomed along with its flowers—a tyranny we’re now all-too-quick to forget.

With that, here is 28 April 2022’s “TBT: The Joy of Spring“:

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TBT^16: End the Income Tax

By the time you’re reading this post, I should have filed my taxes, and endured the annual reaming from Uncle Sam.  Now that my private music lessons have taken off (thank you, Lord!), I’m one of those productive members of society who has to pay through every orifice come tax season.

Hopefully those orifice contributions can pay for some poor child’s gender reassignment surgery, or to buy Volodymyr
Zelenskyy another ivory backscratcher.  One can only hope!  I’m confident my hard-earned dollars are in capable, unelected hands.

I doubt we’ll ever replace the income tax, but we should.  At the very least, we should make it less invasive.

With that, here is 14 April 2022’s “TBT^4: End the Income Tax“:

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TBT: Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2022: “Witch’s Money”

It’s SPRING BREAK!  One of my multiple cushy, extended breaks—the primary perk of dedicating one’s life to the molding of young minds—has now commenced, which means next week I’ll be inundating you with reviews of short stories, as is this blog’s Spring Break tradition.

One story I read last year was John Collier‘s “Witch’s Money.”  It’s the tale of a haughty artist who succumbs to the ignorance and greed of peasants who think that checks are a magic source of money. I read it when I was quite young—to young to appreciate its nuances at the time—and it made an impression on me.  Don’t write a check your butt can’t cash… or, at the very least, don’t write checks in lands where people don’t understand the basics of modern banking.

With that, here is 20 April 2022’s “Spring Break Short Story Recommendation 2022: ‘Witch’s Money’“:

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TBT: Inspector Gerard eBook is Coming 1 April 2021 (Out NOW in Paperback)!

I released my first self-published book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot, two years ago.  Two years on, I have finally released my second book, Arizonan Sojourn, South Carolinian Dreams: And Other Adventures.  It’s a collection of travel essays I’ve accumulated over the last four years, and it’s available now on Amazon.

Here’s where you can pick it up:

With the release of this new book, it seemed apropos to glance back at the release of Inspector Gerard, and all the excitement of yours portly at the time.

With that, here is 26 March 2021’s “Inspector Gerard eBook is Coming 1 April 2021 (Out NOW in Paperback)!“:

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TBT: Even More Little Paintings

Last week I “threw back” to a post about some of my little paintings.  I’m tinkering with the idea of applying for spots at some upcoming festivals, and it’s gotten me thinking about my little paintings.  I ordered some more of my tiny canvasses, and if I have a bit of time this week, I hope to do some more.

Several of the paintings in this original post have sold, mostly to family members, but also to outside buyers.  I sold several at a school art sale, and the remaining originals are for sale on my Bandcamp page.  Additionally, I’ve incorporated digital images of many of these paintings (and some of my doodles) into merchandise over at Society6, so you can get pillow shams, coffee mugs, and even bath mats with these and other paintings printed on them.  Eventually, I’m going to treat myself to these notebooks featuring my painting “Desert View.”

With that, here is 8 March 2022’s “Even More Little Paintings“:

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