Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bye Sucky 2016, But I'm Scared...

With messages to the general public like this, I think we're getting a little peek at the true black heart of Trump. Woe to all in 2017 when he in just a few days assumes the most powerful post in the world.

And we thought 2016 was bad.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

PLANET COASTER: IOA Part 1

The Plan:

As you can see from the pic, I've been quite busy. Some areas are complete, others mostly done, some only fleshed out. And yet another category would be those rides and attractions which I completed, but I want to go in later and make some refinements.

So here's the layout...and remember...this is just CityWalk and IOA, I have the whole original park to complete as well.


1. CityWalk Entrance (Bubba Gump, The Groove, Cineplex, Pat O'Brien's, etc.)
2. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Hard Rock Cafe
3. IOA Port of Entry including the Lighthouse
4. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
5. Doctor Doom's Fear Fall
6. A decorative feature symbolizing Popeye's and the entrance gate for Jurassic Park
7. The Cat in the Hat Ride
8. The Seuss Trolly Ride
9. Hogwart's Express Hogsmede station (incomplete)
10. Dueling Dragons Dragon Challenge Dual Coasters (incomplete)

And future spots of:

11. Hogwart's Castle (Don't think I'll be able to fit the dark ride though)
12. Hogsmede Village
13. Jurassic Park Discovery Center
14. Jurassic Park River Adventure Water Ride
15. Ok space is at a premium...could either be Dudley Do-right's Ripsaw Falls ride or Kong: Skull Island. Since I've never even really seen the later, it might be the former.
16. Mythos Restaurant
17. Can I squeeze in Poseidon's Fury?

My computer is holding up okay but with thousands of guests milling about littering up my beautiful park it's showing just a bit of lag now. So that, as well as sheer space available will mean some things will not make it into this version of the park. And since I find a lot of the other park rather ho-hum, we may see quite a bit dropped from there as well.

Here's a couple of videos I made of Hulk and Cat in the Hat respectively. These are two rides that'll be tweaked later on so these show the preliminary results of my initial efforts.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

PLANET COASTER: CityWalk Part 3


Maybe I'm finished CityWalk? Yeah, I guess. Except for a tweak or two here and there. I gotta move on. As you ccan see from the pic above, I finished all the content on the left and showed that off already. Now I have added from right to left: Hard Rock Cafe, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and the iconic IOA Lighthouse. Oh yeah, baby, we've only just begun!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

PLANET COASTER: CityWalk Part 2

This game!

I start it up, sip my coffee, get totally immersed in building the park of my dreams and look up at the clock thinking I've been at it for a few minutes and BAM...it's been FOUR HOURS!

I don't remember when I've fallen so deeply under the time-destroying spell of a sandbox game such as this.

Anyway, here's the fruits of the most recent hours upon hours of my life. I think I'll call the CityWalk area of the park done. Of course most of these shots are night since that's when the real-life version pops as well.









Now, onward to IOA or Original Park? Hmmm. Oh, shit! How about the other side of the "lake" where Hard Rock and Blue Man Group are? Damn, I guess I still have more CityWalk after all...

Friday, December 16, 2016

PLANET COASTER: CityWalk


As you can see in the shot above, I've started out on a very ambitious build. So far I've got some of the very beginning of the main drag of Universal Orlando's CityWalk. But the build won't end with just CityWalk...I've allocated space for the whole shebang...CityWalk, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios!

Now, let me say this though, I'm not gonna sweat out every painstaking detail to scale and to super-realistic standards. I'd go nuts with the barrage of obstacles and the immense amount of time and patience that'd require. Instead, as you can probably already tell from the screenshot above, I'm gonna add things organically and with a heavy dose of artistic licence and imagination. It'll end up being a pastiche or homage of the real park, not a true-to-life perfect rendition.

But I do want some things to be echos of their real life counterparts, in name and similarity if nothing else. Like above where I have the AMC Universal Cineplex with a hint of those circular constructs. Also already built, Bubba Gump's, Pat O'Brien's and Pastamore. Yeah I found out in doing research last night that actually Pastamore isn't there anymore, its building has been rebuilt and three new restaurants are there now. Ah well, shows I haven't been there in a few years.

Watch for more from this ambitious undertaking as the no-doubt months that it'll take me go by.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SeaWorld Not On A Dime

Almost seven years ago exact to the day I posted about an impromptu little trip I took to SeaWorld and remarked how I was able to enjoy the day at the park on the cheap since I'd already had the Fun Pass and walked to the park from a nearby hotel saving parking fees.

Well yesterday I finally got together with Ric after a long hiatus and he suggested we take advantage of a special where the Fun Pass would be good through to March of 2018 for $99. I thought about it for only a second and realized it was a good deal and since I really have been a bad friend in neglecting him for months on end I bought his pass as a Christmas gift. So although it was my choice entirely, the SeaWorld visit was hardley "on a dime."

But that's not the end of the expenses, of course. Parking was $20 and so it will be through the next year since the Fun Pass doesn't cover that. We ate at the buffet place that's been good in the past but yesterday pretty much had one selection, poorly made fajitas which were really just minced meat saturated with chili powder and cumin served with tortillas. More like tacos really. And pretty sucky ones at that. How much? $16.99 for the least expensive option of chicken. As we later walked through the park, it looked like there were far better options for dining throughout other areas of the park. Damn. Oh, and the beers. And this was anywhere in the park...$7.99 for a 16oz. aluminum bottle of domestic. Fuck!

But costs aside, we did have fun. He especially. Since it was pretty dead, he got to ride 4 times on the new Mako coaster, twice on Kraken and once on Manta. I on the other hand am too fat for any of them. Oh man this has to change. The new Mako especially looks really fun. I just have to ask myself throughout the next year...Do I want to drink beer and eat fattening foods and sit on my ass all day or do I want to ride Mako?

Well here's the obligatory pics.









Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Rewarding Three Years

So I was doing my budget, paying bills and such tonight when I discovered that it was exactly three years ago today that I last used my debit card for a purchase. Sure enough, when I pulled out the actual card from my wallet, there are very faint scratch marks likely made when inserting the card into the local branch ATM in order to either get cash (I think I withdrew some cash before going to Vegas in January) and depositing the Pinecone checks.

The last purchase was at 7-11 on December 10, 2013 for $11.60. According to what I can tell from my Microsoft Money records, I'd been diminishing the use of the debit card dramatically since that summer.

So what happened? Simple. Credit became king.

Back in the Koyo days, I had neither credit or checking so basically cash was king. A pitifully scarce king but a king nonetheless.

Once I got back on my feet in the mid to late aughties, I transitioned to checking and debit was king. And though I was struggling to repair my credit, I was still a long way from using credit cards exclusively.

But by mid 2013, I had shored up that credit score nicely and stuffed my wallet with several pieces of plastic. But I didn't shift from debit to credit just because I felt like it. It was the rewards, baby. The rewards.

By using my credit cards for more and more of my purchasing needs, I realized they could become yet another revenue source. It's literally making my money work for me. There are key factors to keep in mind though. First, I need to be sure all purchases can be paid off based on the statement balance total each month, otherwise the Frequent Flashers, the cards I use for everyday purchases, big and small, will accrue finance charges and that's a big no no. Second, I had to be more cautious of this back in '13 as opposed to now but I have to keep credit utilization low. And third, I know what card to use for what merchant. Publix and Winn-Dixie? Whip out AMEX Blue. Its whopping 3% back on groceries is boss!

Do the rewards really add up?

Well, I earn about $200 to $250 a year in statement credits. Not bad. Of course it's not really income per se since of course it's a percentage of what I spend, but it's definitely a big savings.

Oddly enough, my debit card actually does have a rewards program attached to it so I do get something when, and if, I ever use it. but here's the rub. It's total shit. The points can only be used to buy crap from their catalog full of way over priced junk and you only earn points by shopping at selected retailers that they pick...and I don't even think it's a 1% rate either. Totally worthless.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Bitter Ambrosia

When I was a kid I suffered from so many childhood allergies it was nearly intolerable trying to manage what I could and couldn't eat or breathe. The allergy symptoms seem, in retrospect, to have been mostly mild when it came to foods but pollen, man, I remember every spring and fall pollen outbreak to be sheer torture.

Luckily, virtually all the allergies fell away as I grew older except the ragweed allergies. Yes, good ol' hayfever. I remember taking this OTC shit called A.R.M. back in the seventies. It had antihistamines and decongestants that made me incredibly drowsy as well as super amped-up so I couldn't function well at all. It dried up my nasal passages so bad I'd get bloody noses.

But I needed something. My springtime pollen sensitivity decreased with age but by my mid-twenties, the first cold snap of fall would be a time to truly dread. Chronic and severe sneezing, often occurring in multiple machine-gun blasts as well as runny-nose, dry and itchy eyes and even fever and weakness only to be somewhat squelched by the then-preferred OTC med Benedryl which, for the purpose I still use it, just makes you want to crawl into bed and sleep, sleep, sleep.

I got prescription Claritin when it became available in the nineties but it too made me drowsy. What's more, I would only take it when I felt the onset of symptoms. Well by then it was too late. So I suffered.

I thought I'd just have to suffer with this scourge every year until my first fall after moving to Florida. Having a lot more plant-life here, I braced that autumn of '97 thinking I'd be in for a holy shitstorm of an allergy season. But nothing happened. not a sniffle. Apparently either the humidity or lack of really cold temps or the strain of the plants involved...whatever...it didn't trigger my allergy attacks.

And so I've lived in renewed clear-headed bliss year 'round for decades. Ah, the fine weather of Florida and my compatibility with its pollen spores. The annual dense green carpet of springtime pollen here didn't faze me a bit other than having to clean that shit off my car. And the fall season...a pleasant, beautiful, euphoria, cooler, sun-shinier (less T-storms) and drier...all without the slightest hint of allergies.

I've seen other northern transplants like myself go in the totally opposite direction. Mild or sometimes non-existent allergies when they lived up north to monster symptoms when they moved down here. My father was one of them. I used to chuckle at their dilemma and feel lucky about mine.

But then, about five years ago. Maybe it's climate change? Maybe it's northern strains of plants invading our flora biome? Maybe it's my physical condition, slowly worsening over the years? Who knows. All I know is the fall allergies started making a comeback. At first, mild varieties of the suffering of old. But last fall and, it seems, especially this year, I'm getting full-on resurgences of the devastating fits reminiscent of the mid-nineties.

Ragweed pollen is in the genus Ambrosia, but for me it's no food of the gods. It's the Devil's Dust. I'm currently at work but would love to be at home in bed. The Benedryl in my system is wearing off but the heightening allergy symptoms are surging in its place, also making me drowsy from the massive symptoms which tonight are joined by a ranging headache. Perhaps from all the sneezing, or the contraindication with my blood pressure meds...something I didn't have in the old days.

The end of a good nearly two decade run. I guess I should consider myself fortunate to have gotten away with that. It doesn't make me feel any better though. Not one....

*AHHHHHCHOOO-OOO-OOO!

...bit. *SNIFFLE.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Veruca Report 2016

Money...it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

Money - Pink Floyd

Major Credit Cards:

BankAmericard Cash Rewards VISA
Credit Limit: $10,000
Opened 8/11
Current Balance: $477.18
APR: 17.24%
Annual Fee: $39


Fairwinds Credit Union Platinum Rewards VISA
Credit Limit: $5,000
Opened 3/12
Current Balance: $0
APR: 18.00


Chase Amazon.com VISA Rewards Card
Credit Limit: $2,000
Opened: 6/12
Current Balance: $41.64
APR: 21.49%


DISCOVER Card
Credit Limit: $11,500
Opened: 9/12
Current Balance: $1,798
0% BT rate ending 12/2017
APR: 23.24%

Citi Simplicity Card VISA
Credit Limit: $5,800
Opened 12/12
Current Balance: $0
APR: 17.24%


Citi Double Cash Rewards MASTERCARD
Credit Limit: $5,700
Opened: 11/14
Current Balance: $0
APR: 19.24%



First National Bank of Omaha AMERICAN EXPRESS
Credit limit: $5,500
Opened 12/12
Current Balance: $0
APR: 16.24%

Barclay Bank Choice Rewards VISA
Credit Limit: $10,000
Opened: 2/14
Current Balance: $0
APR: 20.24%



AMERICAN EXPRESS Blue Cash Everyday
Credit Limit: $12,500
Opened: 10/15
Current Balance: $569.73
APR: 13.24%

Walmart MASTERCARD
Credit Limit: $8,000
Opened: 10/15 as MC
Current Balance: $0
APR: 23.15%




Merchant Lines of Credit:

Dell Financial Services
Credit Limit: $3,000
Opened 11/11
Current Balance: $0
APR: 0% if paid in 12 months.




Credit Utilization:

Total Credit Line: $79,000
Total Credit Debt: $2,886.55
Credit Utilization: 4%

Credit Scores:

TU FICO: 714, EQ FICO 722, EX FICO 718, EX Bankcard Score FICO 731
Credit Karma: TU: 788, EQ: 804

Assets:

2013 Chevrolet Spark, 14,850 miles, Cond. Very Good
Kelley Blue Book Trade-In Value:$5,000

Investments:

OneAmerica 403b: $20,816.55

Savings:

Fairwinds Credit Union @ .05% APY: $300.14
Discover Bank @ .95% APY: $2,752.75
Total Savings (as of 12/5): $3,052.89

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Well Tempered Reality

So as I mentioned, I'm on vacation (really a stay-cation) and being such I get awfully conflicted about sleep patterns to the point that I basically don't have one. The days have been absolutely gorgeous here in Central Florida this past week and like today the skies are sunshiny and clear and the temperature is in the mid-seventies. So it lures me on to a day-timer sleep pattern. But then I just want to do the shit I always do, watch Exodus or Netflix and either surf the internet or play games on the computer. Perfect night-timer shit. So the last post at around 1:30 in the morning was really yesterday for me since I'm tending to sleep in chunks rather than a full eight. So like today so far I went to bed around 2:30 am and woke up at 7:30 am. Five hours. Hmm. But maybe that explains the experience I had soon after waking.

First of all, let me tell you, I had (and have had the past few days) a really weird dream. In it it seems I'm sleeping with someone...no, not having sex just sleeping fully-clothed in bed beside someone. Gender of this person: I don't remember. Whoever it was I felt very uncomfortable. It felt like they chose to sleep beside me without my permission and perhaps in spite of me. IDK, it was a jumble of awkwardness and shame and discomfort and revulsion and rage all rolled into one. But this isn't the weird part. I then realized I was in a dream, so I said to myself, well just wake out of it. And I tried, but instead I sprung out of my dream bed right back into another dream bed! And I kept trying, and it kept happening! This is some Inception shit going down here! I can't say I was really freaked out though and as my fifth or sixth try finally succeeded I kinda smirked and shrugged, "Well that was different." chuckled and got out of my REAL bed and started my REAL day.

And what a day it's been so far.

I got up and as per my usual routine I went to my computer. No fucking phone for me. It's there and I checked it for messages but that's the extent of its usefulness. Call me a dinosaur but I like desktop computers. I doubt I'll ever change. In the year 2033 when everyone else has long gone to inter-ocular implants I'll still be with my fellow ol' timers typing away at a clickity keyboard sitting at an old fashioned piece of furniture called a desk. Ah, who'm I kiddin'? I'll long be dead by then.

But seriously, I checked out the front page of reddit and there was a post about tonight's upcoming episode of Westworld. It was postulating what the significance might be of the title of the episode: Well Tempered Clavier. Of course my fellow geeks were all ablaze with their replies imagining all sorts of ways that could be pertinent to the show. I swear these guys pick apart every freakin' piece of the show and analyze it for clues to the larger arc of the show's premise. They're fucking obsessed.

But anyway, it got me fondly remembering the set of pieces this title was named for, harpsichord "preludes and fugues" by the great Johann Sebastian Bach. Back in the early eighties I had a subscription to Time-Life's Classical Favorites collection of cassette tapes. The commonly played pieces of the most famous composers covering the whole "Classical" genre including Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic categories. By the way and for the record, I'm pretty sure that technically the term "Classical" only applies to the Classical period in this timeline but you know how the public is...like Trump voters they fuck everything up.

Well this series, which by the way was really, really good, got me into "Classical" music big time. When my peers were listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and even Flock of Seagulls...so was I...I loved them, but the deepest part of my heart went to Classical. Of course, as I've mentioned before, my favorite movie of all time "Amadeus" which debuted during these same years was only the wholehearted vindication I needed to continue my "different drummer" path and more-closely embrace the genre.

So I scoured the music stores (Yes, back then there were many little corner music stores that sold...well, music. On physical things like 8-track tape, cassette tapes or vinyl records.) and picked up many. many more cassettes to add to my collection. And since "Classical" was decidedly out of vogue, they were marked down. Yeah. Oh, if you're thinking why I didn't buy vinyl records instead of cassettes since the quality is so different. Well, frankly, cassettes were cheaper, you could play them in your car and average stereos of the day were not the audiophile art pieces of today when it came to playing vinyl. Back then, records sounded the same as cassettes and being as they were more expensive, required a turntable and were prone to scratches or cracks, yeah, cassettes were the bomb.

At some flea market I stumbled across a green-colored bound collection of cassettes in pristine condition. It was the Well Tempered Clavier complete set. Books One and Two. I don't remember how many cassettes but maybe about a dozen. Hours and hours of music.

I've since found out today or, in reddit parlance, TIL, that the whole series is designed to show off the advantages of a "tempered" tuning system when maintaining harpsichords and clavichords as to the older system. Um, whatever. It's interesting, but it's not the basis of my post.

I played an excellent rendition of the whole first Book on YouTube and, frankly, I was crying like a baby...tears streaming down my cheeks.

At first when hearing it I thought, "Wow, this is a really famous piece because I've heard it so many times." But then I realized...it's not THAT famous. I mean, do you hear Bach played everywhere? Ever? Occasionally in a movie but not played anywhere to the extent one would think "famous." (Other than Toccata and Fugue in D minor...that shit is famous in every classic scary movie including Phantom of the Opera..you know...Check it out on YouTube.)

What I realized is that it seemed so familiar to me because I had heard it hundreds of times. I listened to those tapes practically every day back then. And yes, occasionally while or after smoking weed. And it was awesome.

Even without drugs, this set of music is what I came to perceive as the closest to perfection as Man could come. This was it, guys. Go ahead...try to follow this.

Oh, as you know, Mozart (who if you didn't know came after Bach) did really, really well himself. But if you ask me, it was JS Bach that reached for and achieved the pinnacle of human musical achievement in all of history.

But here's the sad part. Sometime in the late eighties, I stopped listening. The collection was stored away and I think it eventually ended up either being tossed away or left with Chiafalo. I hope it's with him. I know he'll preserve them.

I don't remember why. Why did I abandon this music? Why?

All I can think of is that listening to this music made me feel special. Like the world was my oyster. I was intellectual and strong. I would succeed beyond my wildest dreams.

And, well, then I didn't.

So fast-forward, thirty years to today, listening to these pieces of music probably for the first time in those many years, and I remembered. I remembered the dreams. I remembered the youthful optimism. I remembered the power and majesty that this music imparted to me.

And now I sit, with a twelve pack of IPA and mistily think back to those heady times...when I was going to conquer the world!

And soon I'll sleep. My sleep pattern is wonked off trail. This may all be a dream. Does not compute. Re-booting in process.

Maybe then, I'll awake in my REAL existence.

Ric's Slide To Koyo

Though we're not officially "broken up," it's pretty fair to say we really aren't "friends" anymore. Were we ever? By some definitions, no. not really. But we were "there for each other" through some tough times and around for the occasional good times.

Ric and his bestie Scott. I like Scott, I've known him for years too. I think I first met him when he came down here back around the time this pic was taken at IOA back in the Golden Age of our theme park halcyon days. Gary's here too and Barry, Scott's then-beau. They're both gone now. And yes by "gone" I mean dead.


Here's Ric this week with his bestie Scott up in "India-No Place" as they like to call it. Ric's visiting fam and him for T-Day, of course. Usually Ric would take vaca time, like I have this week. No need for him to do so now since, well, he's unemployed. Yet the partying goes on!





Oh party on, Ric. These are the somewhat fun days...the money stash from the 401k close out is still quite robust. But when the hangover comes and you realize the shit you're in, it seems like such folly. Hopefully that realization doesn't come too late for some damage control to go into place.

Ah well, at least he has his BFF to join him on his journey into Koyo. Dear Scottie's pro'ly guzzling the sauce 'cause he recently broke up with his boyfriend and at 53 it's gonna be a bumpy ride on the "elder gay dating again" ride. And unlike Ric, Scott's self-realization skill set is still somewhat in tact so he well knows it. You're right Scott, those highlights don't make you look 30 again and they're not in style anyway, outside of Indiana.

Wow, I just laughed out loud reading this. It sounds like I'm a jealous ol' bitter queen with nothing better to do than write my derisive critique on a blog no one reads.

Bitter, party of one!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

PLANET COASTER: Patriot Land

Yes I'm so freakin' in love with this game I'm creating a blog series of creations from it like I do with the Sims. Here's a park themed in conjunction with today's holiday celebrating the colonial foundations of our great country. Most of the buildings on the main island are made by me.