Bally Bazaar: a memory of my favorite pinball machine

Before computer games, there were pinball machines. If I had a nickel for every time I played one of those beasts in the 60s… well, I’d have all my nickels back. And it would be a significant pile.

We’re not going to talk about my addictive personality at the moment – that’s a given, something the Goodwoman of the House never tires of reminding me. But of all the pinball machines I ever played – and there was a pile of them – this one was indisputably my favorite. It showed up at the Jigger Shop (Cheshire Academy’s hole-in-the-wall luncheonette and post office) and was an instant favorite.

The full specs of this game are here at the The Internet Pinball Database – I’ve culled one or two photos to give you a feel for what it looked like.

bally1

Full view, photo by Tim Brady

bally2

The playing field, photo by Tim Brady

bally3

The back glass, photo by Alan Tate.

bally.jpg

Bazaar flyer from Bally.

bally4

Closeup of the reward schema.

This one was the first machine to have the feature of closing the flipper gap when you hit a certain bumper (in this case, the “U”), which allowed you to keep a single ball in play much longer. If you lighted all the L-U-C-K letters, you would light up one of the crescents at the top of the back glass. In addition to replays for certain score levels, you were granted a free game for lighting crescent 5, and another for lighting crescent 9. Those replays were accompanied not by bells or whistles but by a loud mechanical “snap” which was unique to any machine I had ever played.

Nowadays, modern pinball machines are totally electronic, with amazing graphic displays and what seems like THX-quality sound, and frightfully complex playing fields. If you’re not from the generation that was addicted to these machines, the old ones operated with magnets and solenoids and mechanical relays, long before printed circuits became ubiquitous. Despite being simple by comparison to today’s machines, many of them were frightfully clever, and all of them were designed to be maddeningly captivating.

I imagine that being a pinball repairman was a full-time career back then. Lots of moving parts to break, lots of resistors to fry.

I haven’t played a pinball machine in decades, and I was no “pinball wizard,” but I keenly recall the blood-pumping hours I spent in front of these machines, and this one example in particular.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Incredible Shrinking Data Storage

In the beginning was paper.

4.5 megs data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

4.5 megabytes of data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

tlqSeko6BlUABWIUP9FF8PMPVZdOBb4udh_gebTaRW8

132 MB on floppies on the right. 128 GB flash drive on the left.

gates

“This CD-ROM can hold more information than all the paper that’s here below me”
– Bill Gates,1994

1024px-8_bytes_vs._8Gbytes

8 GB memory resting on 64 magnetic cores that hold 8 bytes.

post-4828-0-70084000-1404521894

10 years = 1 order of magnitude.

Kingston™ is now planning to release a HyperX 1 TB thumb drive.

Where do we go from here? Science is playing with SMMs (Single Molecule Magnets) and SAMs (Single Atom Magnets.)

Are we on track to replicate “Ms Fnd in a Lbry“? Only time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Trump’s narcissistic language

This is a comment made at reddit by /u/C250586. In it, (s)he explains how Trump’s use of language exhibits the traits of a sociopathic narcissist, and how his words have no objective meaning, but only subjectively mean what Trump decides they mean.

I wish everyone could read this. Sadly, the ones who really need to will not, and those who do will most likely dismiss it as “fake news” or the ravings of a “libtard.”

This is posted by permission, with only one small Bowdlerization.

Why do people get so hung up on what Trump says? The words he uses? Why do people constantly try to frame his pure subjectivity in an objective way? He views the world as an extension of himself… so every word he says needs to be in that context. I’m not sure people recognize how profound this revelation actually is…

When Trump is talking about anything (for example, “The Swamp”), he is not speaking about things in the same objective way that (most) of the rest of the world would – he views things from an entirely non-objective frame of reference so every sentence out of his mouth is a subjective label that is a reflection of this personal closed off frame of reference he lives in. Using the above example, he uses the term “The Swamp” to describe a non-specific group of people/entities that have blocked him from getting what he wants throughout his life (aka, FBI, DOJ, EPA).

He would never talk about a tree as a thing – an objective entity – it would be a “really great tree that he likes” or a “terrible tree”. Does “Crooked Hillary” ring any bells? Have you ever heard Trump speak about Hillary in a way that doesn’t involve him projecting his own frame of reference, his own view of her onto her? He isn’t capable of it because his brain is flat out not wired to do so. Nothing exists outside of his frame of reference where he is the center of his own personal universe.

Think about it. Listen to the man talk. EVERY SINGLE WORD out of his mouth is a label… an adjective… he only speaks in pure subjective rhetoric and hyperbole. Every word is an extension of his one dimensional perspective – intended to label everyone and everything in line with his own personal world view. Everything is an extension of himself, and how he views the world. Textbook narcissism at its absolute worst and most infuriating.

If that’s the DOJ, FBI, or any Mueller, he/they are going to label them all as “spies”, “swamp”, whatever it takes to turn public opinion against these entities. Just like he calls investigations “witch hunts”, and The Washington Post “Fake news”… it’s just an endless sociopathic stream of manipulation, on a massive and very public scale.

Of course Trump hates the DOJ, FBI, and EPA – these entities have all been trying to shut him down and stop him from getting what he wants for his entire life. It’s pretty clear he figured he would become president and finally get rid of them. All his supporters are the same kinds of people who would see the EPA/FBI/DOJ as just red tape that is stopping them from getting rich. These people (and Trump specifically) cannot view these agencies in an objective light. Aka… Yes it costs money to NOT dump your uranium waste in the river, but it also prevents the people downstream from dying of radiation poisoning.

It’s pretty well understood in psychological circles that Trump is textbook sociopathic narcissist. Kinda like a corporation with no soul in human form, who somehow convinced a bunch of people to elect him. Trump is “capitalism”, for lack of a better term, at its absolute pinnacle…. get rich by whatever means necessary, no matter who or what he has to destroy in the process. Zero empathy.

Trump’s mouth is a 24/7 gish gallop of falsehoods, slander and libel, leaving an absolute [imbroglio] of rational people scrambling to attempt to counter him in his wake.

Here’s hoping that the US has a strong enough backbone to prove that indeed no one is above the law, and there are enough checks and balances in place that corruption can’t exist at this level.

Asking for health advice is a slippery slope

Diet Dr Pepper has been my poison of choice for decades. I drink the stuff by the tanker-load. In fact, if I could do this, I probably would:

Dr Pepper Do It Right

The other day, I posted this on Facebook:

facebook

I elaborated:

I know I’d be healthier without sugar, aspartame, caffeine, or carbonation. Plain water gives me terrible heartburn. It’s a puzzlement. (Note: I’m already on an H2 blocker for the GERD, which keeps the fire mostly put out, but it tends to flare up during the day on occasion.)

There are reasons for wanting to make a change.

    1. Sugar: Sugary drinks contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounces, or about 150 calories. If I were to drink four or five of those each day, that’s an additional 600 to 750 calories a day on top of my normal caloric intake – and that adds up fast. I’m already about 30 pounds heavier than I would like to be, and I’d hate to tip the scales at over 300. Not only does it pack on the pounds, but it contributes to the development of insulin resistance via blood sugar spike and crash, and most of it comes in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is well-known for its deleterious health effects.
    2. Artificial sweeteners: My wife wants me to give up diet soda and switch to regular, claiming that Aspartame is worse for me than sugar. Scientifically, the jury is still out on that. The health-food world will tell you that it accumulates in your liver and takes six months to purge, or that it turns into formaldehyde above 86 degrees, or that it stimulates your appetite and makes you want to eat more, or a host of other very scary things. The FDA says its perfectly safe. Some of those claims have been soundly debunked, others are not so clear. Thus far, I’ve noticed no adverse effects [twitch twitch] other than those stubborn 30 pounds that don’t want to come off, so there may be something to that last one; the only two times I ever successfully released weight in my life, I had sworn off soda altogether.
    3. Caffeine: as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco are proscribed. But there’s an old joke that goes,

      “What’s the difference between an active Mormon and a lapsed Mormon? The temperature of their caffeine.”

      Caffeinated sodas are not officially taboo, although there are some in the Church who will tell you that you’re going to Hell if you enjoy the occasional Coke – these are the “Nazi Mormons.” But as much as I like that energy buzz, caffeine does tend to flog the adrenal glands, which can lead to adrenal fatigue syndrome. I know that I’d be better off without it.

    4. Carbonationbelch I love fizz. I find it refreshing. I was really hoping that YO₂ would become a commercial success, but apparently the rest of the nation didn’t resonate with the idea. 😢 The health buzz tells you that carbonation will leach calcium from your bones as it acidifies your bloodstream, but that claim has been largely debunked. If anything, it probably contributes some to my heartburn and some increased flatulence pfrrt. So if I were going to be 100% committed, carbonation would be off the menu as well.

Many people responded, and before anything I need to state that I’m grateful for their taking the time to share advice and suggestions. They did so (mostly) because they care – and I appreciate those sentiments. On the other hand, the value of some of those suggestions is questionable.

Three people took the opportunity to flog their multilevel products (and, concomitantly, business opportunities). One was iGalen’s “Emulin E”, made of skin of the grape, skin of the onion and green coffee, and gallic acid – claimed to be a “carbohydrate manager,” and very expensive. Two others recommended Prüvit, a costly ketogenic diet system. Both of these, in my assessment, are pure pseudoscientific woo, as are most multilevel health products. Also, in the MLM world, any time you can get someone to buy your products, you’re opening the door to recruiting them as a new distributor. I will give my friends credit for being truly concerned for my health, and for a firm belief that their products are God’s answer to everything that ails me, but there’s always that little bell ringing in the back of an independent distributor’s head that says 鴨が葱を背負って来る (kamo ga negi wo shotte kuru), a Japanese proverb that means “Here comes a duck bearing onions,” or rather, “Here comes a sucker ready to be parted from his money.” I drank that Kool Aid for far too long, which is the subject of another essay altogether.

Two people, despite my clarification, suggested switching to plain water. Either they didn’t read my comment, or ignored it. Yes, it’s really the healthiest solution, but clearly the most boring.

One suggested taking a cod liver oil pill or two for the heartburn, based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience. I’ve done that in the past, and it didn’t seem to help much.

One suggested a less sugar-intense cherry drink, since cherry (according to him) is an essential element of the Dr Pepper flavor. But even “soda light” will probably have more sugar than I want.

One suggested the new flavors of Diet Coke appearing on the market. I tried these and found them an improvement over plain Diet Coke, which tastes like panther piss. Another suggested Coke Zero, which I have drunk in the past and which is better than Diet Coke. But these are still diet soda with artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

A friend of mine who is a longtime resident of Japan suggested mugicha, or barley tea. According to him, it’s easy enough to make yourself if you have the ingredients. Lots of flavor, no sugar, caffeine, or carbonation. My first wife lived in Japan for a year and a half, and her endorsement of mugicha was less than ringing if I remember correctly. But it sounds like a good option to add to a repertoire of more healthful drinks, and I will definitely look into this one.

A cousin said, “A glass of wine cures everything!!! Oh I forgot you don’t drink!!!” I’d get some of Uncle Carlo’s fat black home-made wine as a kid (cut with water, of course) at my Italian grandmother’s home, and I definitely developed a taste for it. Darnit. I wish I could take her advice.

One long-time friend suggested Sprite Zero or Diet Sunkist. I’m sure they are tasty, but still diet sodas.

Two people suggested San Pellegrino, Perrier, or LaCroix. Things of this nature may be my ultimate solution, or at least an intermediate step.

One friend of long standing suggested lime juice in cold water, which helped him through soda withdrawal, and another suggested water with a dash of lemon juice as a less-boring alternative to plain water. Maybe. I’ve thought along these lines, but I’ve noticed that citrus tends to increase the heartburn.

Another colleague suggested rooibos tea, either hot or cold. No caffeine, many flavored varieties available. Definitely worth a look.

Two friends suggested a healthy soda that uses stevia. Not a bad idea, but in my experience stevia is just not very good tasting. I’m looking for something that makes me want more of it.

One friend suggested Dry Soda. Looked at their web page – it looks like it has potential, but does not seem available anywhere close to where I live.

Another colleague suggested kombucha. I have reservations about this one. A physician at the poison control center wrote, “There are no scientific studies to support the many health claims made for kombucha tea. There are many reasons to be concerned about the safety of kombucha tea, despite its long history of traditional use.” Probably a pass, especially because kombucha can be mildly alcoholic and is often combined with green or black tea.

A knitting colleague suggested iced herbal teas. A good possibility, since there are so many flavors that I already enjoy, including peppermint, chamomile, and numerous blends.

The last suggestion was chai. Sadly, this one is out for me because of the Word of Wisdom.

Trying to find something that has neither lots of sugar, artificial sweetener, caffeine, or carbonation – something that tastes good – has proven to be a challenge. Right now, I’ve found some nice flavored seltzers at Hannaford that are refreshing and tasty. I’ll live with the carbonation issue for now. I might even consider getting a spritz bottle like I had in Austria in the 70s with those little CO₂ cartridges, but those aren’t cheap. Whatever I drink has got to be cold – that’s part of the deal. So at work, a thermos full of something good will hopefully help me stay away from the vending machines.

I’ll report back as time goes on if I find something really spiffy.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No, I didn’t ask to cancel my Gmail account

Scammers

Subject: Request to Terminate Your account has been accepted
From: AccountUpdate qAvmWq4@zbikfv.uk via physics.metu.edu.tr
Date: Apr 26 (10 days ago)
to _To: millions of people

Dear Gmail Customer,

You submitted a request to terminate your Gmail mail account and the process has started by our Gmail mail Team, Please give us 3 working days to close your mail account.

To cancel the termination request reply to this mail.

All files on your Gmail mail including (Inbox, Sent, Spam, Trash, Draft) will be deleted and access to your Gmail mail account will be Denied.

If you wish to Terminate your Email Address, you can Sign Up for a new Gmail mail account.

For further help please contact by replying to this mail.

Regards,
Gmail! Account Services

Please watch out for emails like this. No, I didn’t ask for my Gmail account to be terminated, and neither did you.

If you respond to the email, you will be confirming that you are a live sucker to these people:

reply@positndor.net,
replyme@pinewbrokers.net,
reply@raintrature.com,
hello@cestaticket.com.ve,
peru@minedu.gob.pe,
marco@geturoffrsnw.win,
admin@betterwithfn.com,
comm@edukouvola.fi,
notice@myegy.com

And it’s a penny to a quid that every one of them is a scammer who will do their best to get your personal information or your money.

How do you know this message is not from Gmail? It was sent from The Gmail! account team (Gmail doesn’t use a “!” in their name like “Yahoo!” does. In addition to that, the return address is:

AccountUpdate qAvmWq4@zbikfv.uk via physics.metu.edu.tr

A double redirect, one from the UK and one from Turkey. No, Virginia, that’s not Gmail.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

#MeToo: The Court of Public Opinion

#MeToo is a powerful movement. Like #BlackLivesMatter, it’s not wrong about shining the harsh light of reason on social ills, be they sexual harassment or ongoing racial discrimination or anything similar. If there is misconduct, current or past and un-accounted for, it should be exposed and dealt with.

But there’s another side.

It’s important to remember that there are unrighteous people in the world, those who will do what they can to game the system for personal gain or attention.

I’m reminded of something I learned in my association with Klemmer and Associates: “If one person calls you a jackass, it’s just feedback. If six people call you a jackass, it may be time to buy a saddle.”

The recent events surrounding a popular long-time comedian and rôle model are a perfect example: There was a a huge body of evidence and a long line of accusers. From everything I could see, the conviction was justified.

In Tom Brokaw’s case, you have an accuser on one side and a whole line of defenders (note: female) who are bearing witness to high ethics and character: “MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski’s has added her name to the more than 60 women who signed a letter supporting NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw after sexual harassment allegations against him were published by Washington Post and Variety.” (Deadline Hollywood)

The media, in its frenzy to be first-to-publish for the sake of clicks and eyeballs on ads, is happy to embody the fictional persona of Rita Skeeter, who reminded us that “The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl.” Accusations become front-page news without the most ephemeral shred of investigative journalism, and instantly – in less than 0.68 seconds – a segment of the public has convicted someone, and a career can be ruined or eternally tainted, whether there was any truth to the allegations or not.

It’s possible for people to live dual lives, as we have seen. And if there’s a devil hiding in angel’s clothing, there’s nothing more appropriate than exposing that duplicity. But in today’s world, an accusation can leave lasting effects that are impervious to reason or fact (just look at the vaccine/autism nonsense that persists in the minds of so many).

I have long admired Mr. Brokaw’s journalism, integrity, and philanthropic efforts. I’m sorry this has blindsided him. And if, as I suspect, these allegations prove to be turn out to be the machinations of an unbalanced and vindictive individual, I hope he is able to get it sorted quickly and get on with his life.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Moment – by Jaspreet Kaur

“The moment that you realize that true contentment can be found when we serve others, all other desires will seem so small.
And the moment you see joy in another being eyes, because of your own selfless actions, life starts to make a lot more sense.
And the moment you begin to act as the reflection of the visions that you have a of a better world, things will begin to change.
And the moment that you recognize your own responsibility for the betterment of others, you’ll see such beauty in life.
And the moment that you recognize that you’ll make more of an impact by being righteous than always being right, rewards will come and fall into your lap.
And the moment that you are more concerned about learning to love, then to be loved, positive emotions of oceanic depths will engulf you.
And the moment that you are more concerned about understanding others than to always be understood, that’s when your mind will truly begin to learn.
And the moment that we realize that our enemies are not physical flesh and blood, yet they are our own thoughts, peace will begin to conquer.
And the moment that we overcome those inner enemies, rather than deflecting them onto others, merriment will come find you.
And the moment that you are more concerned about learning to listen, rather than to always be heard, you will hear languages you thought your mind could never fathom.
And the moment that you realize that life will always be about mastering and relearning, hunkering and climbing your journey will begin to feel so smooth.
And the moment that we all believe that we can change this world for the better, we will do it. Where we learn, change, grow and give, so go live your moments.”

– Spoken-word artist Jaspreet Kaur, at the 2018 Commonwealth Day Celebration