My First Computer
My first computer was a Commodore 64. I think I got it in 1983 but I’m not sure about the year anymore. I bought the monitor, keyboard, floppy disc drive, and dot matrix printer as a package. I envisioned all sorts of purposes for this computer and had high hopes.
I spent a lot of time learning the programming language that was the heart of the 64. I bought books and spent hours adding the code and modifying it to make squares change colors or maybe move around the screen. I distinctly remember spending days troubleshooting code that wouldn’t run. I checked it time and again but couldn’t make it run. After days of desperation, I was checking my code on the printout from my dot matrix printer, only to discover that I had mistakenly substituted a comma for a period in one line of code. I never did create any code that made my 64 useful for any of the tasks that I envisioned but all this experience did come in handy much later when I was an automation engineer for one of the “Big Three” automakers.
I spent a year in Alaska on a remote assignment for the United States Air Force. I dragged my 64 along with me. It was here in Alaska that I discovered the most useful purpose for my 64. Games! My friends and I spent hours flying the Apache helicopter shooting down enemy helicopters and blowing up tanks.
Shortly after I returned from Alaska, we purchased a new IBM computer with something called Windows. The 64 had been replaced. It eventually went to my mother in law. She had big dreams for it also!
Chicken Pot Pie
▢ 3 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
▢ 1 lb chicken breast meat or boneless chicken thighs (cut into 1-2 inch cubes)
▢ 1 small onion diced
▢ 1 tablespoon minced garlic
▢ 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
▢ 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
▢ 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
▢ 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
▢ 3 cups wide egg noodles (uncooked)
▢ 1/2 cup water
▢ 1 cup sour cream
▢ 10 ounces mixed veggies, frozen ((I used a mix of beans, peas, carrots and corn))
▢ 1/4 cup cornstarch
▢ 1/4 cup water
▢Set Instant Pot to Saute.
▢Once the IP is hot, add the oil.
▢Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
▢Add the cubes chicken and cook until no longer pink on the outside, stir occasionally. About 3 minutes.
▢Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
▢Add chicken broth.
▢Add uncooked pasta to the pot and gently push it using a spatula or wooden spoon so its evenly distributed and submerged in the liquid.
▢Add 1/2 cup of water over pasta.
▢Cover and seal the lid. Make sure the valve points to Sealed. Change setting to manual and adjust time to 6 minutes on High Pressure.
▢Once Instant Pot beeps to show that it’s done, wait 10 minutes and after that do a quick release, by changing the position of the valve to Vent. Carefully remove cover and stir.
▢Remove the lid and set IP to Sauté.
▢Add the frozen veggies and sour cream, stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes.
▢In a small bowl mix cornstarch and water until fully combined and add to the pot. Gently stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it thickens.
▢Turn off the Instant Pot.
▢Serve topped with chopped parsley.
▢When reheating of the stove top, either add some milk, cream or broth, to make it creamier.
While I hate to admit it, I am a senior in my 60’s. Exercise has always been recommended for healthier living and it’s been an important part of my life for the better part of my life. I played sports when I was growing up. I didn’t exercise as much as I should have in my 20’s and 30’s but took it back up in earnest in my early 40’s and have been with it ever since.
I took up running in my early 40’s and stuck with it for the better part of 10 years. My biggest running accomplishment was completing a half marathon when I was 53. My wife and my brother have both completed marathons. I don’t see how they did it. I was damn glad when I completed the half that I didn’t have another half to go!
I did yoga for several years. I should really take that up again. I did hot yoga but now I think I need to do a gentler form of yoga to maintain my flexibility. There really isn’t any excuse for not doing it. I am retired and time isn’t an issue.
Strength training is recommended 3 times per week for a person my age. The experts say that while lifting weights won’t necessarily build bulk, it will allow me to maintain/gain strength. This is one thing that I really struggle with. I don’t enjoy lifting weights but know I should be doing it. I haven’t found a way to enjoy it. Doing it makes it seem like a chore.
What do you do for exercise? How do you cope with doing something that isn’t enjoyable but necessary?
Five Things I Do for Fun
People often ask me how I fill my time now that I am retired. It seems a lot of people are worried about what they would do with all the extra time on their hands if they retired. I never worried about how I would fill the time. I couldn’t wait to retire and start doing all the things I didn’t have time for while I was working. So here are five things that I do for fun now that I have the time.
1. Reading. I love to read. I always have ever since I first learned to read so many years ago. We were allowed to stay up later if we wanted to read before going to sleep. So early on I developed the habit of reading in bed before going to sleep. I still read a book every night in bed. I also read 3 newspapers everyday (online versions) and might spend some time reading about something that interests me. This plays well with the second thing I like to do for fun.
2. Cooking. When I was in kindergarten there was a play kitchen in the class room that I liked to play with. The teacher at the time had some concerns that maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to play with the kitchen but my Mother said it was ok and didn’t see anything wrong with it. I have always loved to cook ever since I was able to. I do all the cooking in our household. I find all the different methods fascinating and will study them and practice until I get proficient. I use an InstaPot almost daily, have a smoker, a high quality grill, and now I am mastering my latest method, sous vide. I read everything I can find and then get cooking.
3. Flight Simulator. I am a licensed aircraft mechanic, a licensed drone pilot, have spent hundreds of hours flying, but never have completed my private pilot’s license. I am contemplating getting that license but it is expensive, and then it is an expensive hobby. I decided to build a flight simulator at home and see if I could satisfy my urge to fly. I also figured I could minimize my costs if I could practice flying on the simulator. So far so good. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is amazing. I really enjoy flying around different areas of the world and it keeps my brain active with a fairly steep learning curve.
4. Golf. This is a passion in my life. I could play golf everyday. I have been playing since I was 12 y/o and there are still new things that I learn about golf everyday. I play in 2 leagues and in a tournament golf association. I play about 75 rounds each year and go to an indoor facility to practice during our winter months here in Michigan. I am always up for a game!
5. Beer. I have been drinking beer most of my life but never really discovered what truly good beer was until the craft brewery industry took off. There are so many more types of beer than the lagers my dad used to drink (and I grew up on). I always enjoy visiting a new brewery for the first time. They usually have a beer they are known for. We have quite a few beer festivals here year round and those are also a great place to discover new brews and have a great time.
Snowy Day Here
It Was A Cold Weekend
Our furnace quit working Saturday morning. I noticed it around noon after being out all morning. Our thermostat automatically lowers the set temperature when we are away but when I bumped it up, nothing happened. I called our Heating and Cooling company for some emergency service but nothing was available until Monday. Having spent 40 years in various maintenance fields, I decided to troubleshoot the problem and see if I could get it running. It was 30F out and Monday was a long way off. I got out my multimeter, opened up the furnace, and checked everything. I found that I had power to the induction motor but the motor wasn’t running. Ahah! Bad motor, problem solved. This also matched the fault code flashing on my circuit board for a pressure switch not being made. I looked up the part and took off for the parts store 40 minutes away.
90 minutes later, I arrived back home with my new part in hand. Another 30 minutes and the part was installed and I was ready to give it a test run. I turned power back on and waited for the thermostat to come back online. It called for heat, the motor turned, and nothing else happened. Several attempts and still nothing. I decided to wait for the professionals now. I wasn’t sure if I had a cracked plenum or not since this could also cause the pressure switch not to make. That would have been dangerous.
Monday afternoon the Heating and Cooling tech arrived. He did some preliminary troubleshooting and ended up at the same place I had arrived at. He was sure the furnace was going to fire up and thought maybe the thermostat was bad. He bypassed the thermostat and still nothing happened. As it turned out, the circuit board was bad along with the induction motor. While this wasn’t an inexpensive repair, it was still cheaper than a new furnace would cost.
New Year Old Crud
I’ve been neglecting this blog. I was shocked to discover that it has been almost two years since I posted. This year I am determined to post more often.
The day after Christmas I came down with the respiratory infection that has been going around. I haven’t been getting any worse but haven’t been getting better either. I finally decided it was time to seek professional help yesterday. My doctor put me on Amoxicillin. I can see why the liquid Amoxicillin is in short supply for children. The pills are huge! I started the course yesterday afternoon. I do seem to feel better but that could be psychological at this point. Time will tell.
I am waiting while they do an oil change on my car. Since I retired I only drive about 10k/year, down from 25k/year when I was working. Lincoln has stepped up their game with a nice lounge and free snacks and drinks.
I opened our front door to pick up a package that was delivered. It was sitting right on the stoop so, I only had to bend down to pick it up which I did. I closed the door and went into our kitchen to open the package. As I crossed the kitchen to get a pair of scissors I looked out to the front room and saw what I thought was a bird hitting the front window trying to get in. This isn’t that unusual. We have lots of birds hit our windows. We have lots of feeders around the house. Upon closer inspection I realized that the bird was inside the house trying to get out. I ran to the front room to get a closer look. Sure enough, the bird was sitting on one of my military hats on display on top of our bookcase. I called my wife for an assist. She was raised in an old farmhouse and has lots of experience chasing bats out of the house. At first, she didn’t believe what I was telling her. After getting over her surprise, we agreed that I would open the front door, and she would try to chase the bird towards me.
I opened the door and she shooed the bird. It first flew into the window and then made a b-line for the wreath on our front door. It landed in the wreath, took a quick glance at me, and then headed in the opposite direction out the door. I quickly closed the door, and then it dawned on me. It was dusk when I went to grab the package from the porch and our porch light was on. The wren must have been roosting in the wreath and when I opened the door, I must have startled it. As I bent down to pick up the package, the wren must have flown over me as I bent down and into the house. We are now slowly opening the door and checking for birds!
The Peaceful Effect of Snow
Falling snow seems so peaceful and calming. We walk quite a bit while it is snowing. The world seems more quiet. Noises seem to be dampened just a bit. There is something about watching the snow fall around us that is calming. Does anybody else feel this way?