Category Archives: my life

DOS Games of My Youth

Once I learned about the Archive.org MS-DOS games collection on a recent episode of Mike’s Weekly Geek News Show, I knew what I had to do. I now present to you an idiosyncratic anthology of DOS games from my youth, mostly played on our trusty Tandy 1000 and Wyse computers. For each game, click on the image and you will be taken to an Archive.org page where the game can be played within your browser.

Bouncing Babies

Let’s begin where we ought to, with Bouncing Babies. A hospital is on fire and you must save babies being thrown out the windows. Such an outrageous premise for a game.

Bouncing Babies

David’s Kong

Being already familiar with Donkey Kong, I was deeply disappointed with this game. But it was named after my brother, which was cool.

David's Kong

Empire: Wargame of the Century

Many hours of my childhood were dedicated to world conquest in the form of “Empire”. The requisite manual can be downloaded here.

Empire

Frogger

I could get past the cars, but not the logs.

Frogger

Hard Hat Mack

OSHA lawyers are your foes!
Hard Hat Mack

Janitor Joe

janitor battles space robots!

Janitor Joe

Lemonade Stand

I actually only ever played this at school, and perhaps not even in DOS, but I remember loving it so I include it here. You start with $2 and a supply of sugar, and you try to run a lemonade stand at a profit. Each day you get a weather forecast and must make inventory and marketing decisions on that basis. A basic lesson in microeconomics.
Lemonade Stand

Mickey’s Jigsaw Puzzles

Playing this again brought back strangely poignant feelings for some reason. Based on how familiar the little animations were to me, I must have spent many hours playing this, though now it’s hard to understand why.

Mickey's Jigsaw Puzzles

Midnight Rescue

Learn to read while battling evil robots!
Midnight Rescue

Moon Bugs

Defend a moon base against the titular moon bugs. Weird, weird game, but one I spent a lot of time on.
Moon Bugs

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Crashing into the Chicago skyline was never more fun. Which is good, because that’s how it always ended.
Microsoft Flight Simulator

Pitfall

You fall. Into a pit. Try not to die.
Pitfall

Qbert

Iconic.
Qbert

Scorched Earth

A game and an introductory ballistics course.
Scorched Earth

Sopwith

Soar like Snoopy in a trusty Sopwith biplane. Or just let it sit on the ground like in this screenshot.
Sopwith

Space Invaders

Kill the little bugs before they hit the bottom.

Space Invaders

Spacewar

Endless battles between David and me.
Spacwar

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Deluxe

I learned the name “Tegucigalpa” here and never forgot it.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Deluxe

Living in the Past (+Poem)

I’ve always been inclined to living in the past. For evidence, you need look no further my many-years-long effort to transcribe all of my old journals. Here’s a sample:

Part of a transcribed journal, dealing with two typical days in middle school.

Part of a transcribed journal, dealing with two typical days in middle school. Wasn’t I Mister Overachiever back then! It’s almost like I felt my worth derived from my abilities or something….

Now tell me, do you know anybody else who’s transcribing their journals? I’ve kept a ridiculous number of the darn things, too—maybe 20 official journals and 20+ other notebooks. It’s over twenty years’ worth, of which I’ve transcribed perhaps 25-30% after a decade of trying. (The PDF of all the transcriptions is 374 pages long already.)

Perhaps once or twice a year I seem to find myself consumed with the thought of “the way things were.” For a few days all I can think about is the past—the people, the events, the stories I tell myself about the people and the events.

I’ve lately come to this thought: if I’m so inclined to live in the past, maybe there’s something I need to do there.

For many of my growing-up years I didn’t feel like there was anybody with whom I could discuss events in my life. My parents were often distracted or overwhelmed by their own problems, so instead of sharing my struggles with them I often kept things to myself and soothed my emotions by writing in journals.

That’s why I can’t let these old journals go: they contain my story, as it happened, for basically all of the most significant events in my life. The story that I never shared with anyone, the things I didn’t know how to deal with in any other way than to write them down, preserving them for some future day when they could be dealt with properly.

That “future day” is today, isn’t it?

I’d like to start sharing more with people about my life story. I don’t want it to feel like a big secret that I had to endure on my own. Instead I want to bring it out into the open where it can be enjoyed, learned from, and (hopefully often enough) laughed about, in the company of the family and friends that I love.

Here’s a little poem I wrote that I think captures the sentiment. (The poem actually motivated the blog post, not the other way around.)

Living in the Past

“Don’t live in the past.”
But the past lives in me,
Its people and places,
The joys, the pains,
All inside me living their days
Over and over and over again.

“Look to the future.”
I try, but when I do
All these long-gone faces
Crowd into my view.
I race ahead, try to leave them behind.
They clutch at me, drag me back in time.
I see the future’s not for me
So long as ghosts are my associates.

It’s time to go back.
It’s time to set things right.
The darkness makes them stronger—
I must bring them out into the light.
Those wrongs that can’t be righted
Will at least be cared about.
Those pains that can’t be soothed
Will be turned to new purpose.

An Extra Day in Eastern Washington

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Wallula Gap as seen from near Twin Sisters

Due to bad weather on my intended route back to Utah I recently found myself staying an extra day at home in eastern Washington. I used the extra time to check out three nearby natural attractions: the McNary National Wildlife Refuge, the Twin Sisters / Wallula Gap, and the Skyline Trail on Badger Mountain. It was great to get out in nature and reconnect with my homeland a bit. This post is basically a photo dump plus a few thoughts on the experience.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

The Twin Sisters rock formation in Walla Walla County, overlooking the Columbia River.

Though to most people it likely seems drab and austere, to my eyes eastern Washington is incredibly beautiful. This is the land of my nativity and I think I’ll always be in love with it. There’s a sort of poetry, a sort of romance to the place. Something about the hue of the sunsets, the cadence of the wind, and the seemingly endless sky, perhaps.

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain

Sun setting in Badger Canyon, as seen from Badger Mountain. Not a great photographic composition, but a nice simulation of what it’s like to have the sun in your eyes from that low angle!

McNary NWR was surely the least photogenic of the places I visited, mostly due to my not being equipped with a telephoto lens to properly photograph the far-off waterfoul. This picture is the best candidate for “drab” in the bunch, though I think even it has its charm with the decaying road and the twisted slough in the background:

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

Part of the Burbank Slough at McNary National Wildlife Refuge

At McNary there is a bird blind, and inside the blind there were three birders. It was fun just to listen to them talk since they knew their subject well. One of them passed me her binoculars, and I simply sat and watched the mallards and some sort of geese bobbing, diving, taking off, landing on the water, while the wind whipped against cattails and buffeted the window panes.

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

Looking up the slopes of Badger Mountain

At Badger Mountain I ran half of the time as daylight was short. I went up the loop trail on the south side which gave me views of the sunset over Badger Canyon below. After summiting I descended the north face and the winds were icy and fierce, making it hard to breathe and turning my face numb. It felt like a fight for survival (though I’m sure in reality it was not.) By the time I arrived back at my truck parked down below I was simultaneously half-frozen and drenched in sweat, yet I felt deeply satisfied at coming out victorious in my battle with the elements.

If you’d like to support the further conservation and trail development efforts for Badger Mountain and its neighbors, go ahead and donate to Friends of Badger.