Sunday, February 21, 2016

2015 Projects Part 1

Project Name
 Annual family photo pages - 15 pages for years 2000-2014, printed and digital versions
One page per year from 2000.  A carefully selected few photos from that year, with a typed in list of highlights.  In the future, it's easy to look back to remind ourselves of how we've changed over time.  
Template built & photos tweaked and "assembled" with Photoshop. Printed on A4 Photo Paper by colour inkjet
100 Days of Childhood memories, which spun out into Drawings of Childhood memories
Diane gave me the idea, and I started with making a list - with one item for each day, and was amazed at how many things I had forgotten, and how over time, one memory led to another and another.  This project left me with a sense of gratitude, some sense of loss, and a better appreciation for my relatives and family members. 
Which led me to want to capture some of these in the form of drawings, that might help my daughters  better understand the world I came from. 
Paper by 53 on iPad 3, Pencil by 53, with drawings posted up to my tumblr blog

Photo references from Google Images, Fact Checks from Wikipedia and many blogs on reminiscences, recipes, geography, history and wildlife.
Select a photo management application to use on a dedicated windows Notebook for our family photo collection
The focus for me was really on the photo management aspect.  Editing features was nice, but I needed a robust and reliable method to sort, file away and tag thousands of digital photos from 14 years of photo taking, and then to later handle scans of the printed photos from the days before my switch-over to digital cameras.  The Tags had to be written into the image files themselves.  Lightroom won out over the other apps I was considering, and after making the selection, the real work of organising the huge mass of photos - gathering them from various PCs, memory cards, USB hard drives, email (as attachments), sorting, de-duping, naming, dating, filing away, tagging - began. 
Choose between Picasa, Photoshop Essentials, the Photo app MS provides in their "Live Essentials" family & Lightroom.
"Audiophile" PC
A dedicated PC, tuned/optimized for good clean audio playing mostly lossless files stored on the local hard drive.  The basic idea is that all unnecessary system processes are disabled, leaving only what is necessary for the PC to playback audio.  After evaluating two possible solutions, I settled on Audiophile Linux running on a basic intel pentium CPU A1018 with 4G RAM and 320G HDD.  I plug my Thinksound ON1 headphones into my HotAudio BitPerfect DAC which is connected via USB to the laptop, and am very pleased with the audio quality. 
Evaluated Audiophile Optimizer (running on Windows Server 2012 R2) and Audiophile Linux (running on Arch Linux)
Home Server
Central location for file shares, potentially media streaming.  FreeNAS was a very powerful contender, but I was forced to re-install plug-ins quite frequently when sync broke, and unhappiness with dlna and  itunes supporting plug-ins. Linux Mint 17 was so much more easy to configure and update, and for my purposes, the file transfer speed was good and the lack of high end data protection features that FreeNAS is famous for were not needed.  
Evaluated FreeNAS 9 and Linux Mint 17. 
On Linux Mint, I'm using SAMBA for file sharing to Windows PCs and Android tablets/smartphones, and Syncthing for file syncing (see next section).  TeamViewer allows me to easily remote control the server from any of my windows PCs. 
Sync Photos, Music, eBooks from respective dedicated PCs to a central server
As I carefully filed away, tagged my media collection, I keep a copy in a USB HDD, but I also wanted a copy sync'ed from the source PC to a central server from which I or other family members could access that content from any laptop, tablet or smartphone.  I settled on Syncthing because of what I was reading in the user forums, and gave up on BitTorrent Sync when they introduced an upgrade that made it impossible to run an unlimited number of sync partnerships with a free account. 
Evaluated BitTorrent Sync (proprietary) and Syncthing (open source) running on FreeNAS, Linux Mint and Windows
Clutter Clearing and Tidying
Clothes, Documents, Books, Magazines, Electronic Gadgets.  I had made good progress but hit a plateau until I encountered the Marie Kondo Method.  My clothes cupboard now contains 25% of what I started out with, arranged so that every single item is easily visible.  With documents and old articles and magazines, I have reduced down to 15% as well, and freed up a great deal of storage box and cupboard space.  I have more work to do on electronic gadgets, but most of the pieces from my bedroom have now been given away or discarded. 
Marie Kondo Method
Windows 10 upgrades
Performed extensive use and testing prior to the final release in July 2015.  Worked out lots of issues in terms of drivers and how best to upgrade from W7/8/8.1 home/pro have activated status after clean installs. Also, what features to disable (danger!) and services/startup apps to disable. 
Early Adopter/Insider access to builds for testing, and working out how best to upgrade the large number of PCs at my disposal to Windows 10
Speed up scanning of paper photos
To save time, I wanted to scan 4-6 photos at a time, using the scanner of my mid-range HP all-in-one inkjet printer.  The scan settings could be set for good quality, and experimentation was needed on how to place the photos, whether white or coloured backgrounds was better for the software that separates the photos from the single scanned page and saves out each photo as its own JPG file.  The Gimp + Divide Scanned Images script combination worked best, and was also completely free.  It would accept multiple scanned pages of 4-6 photos each, against a white background, all in one folder, and then output the individual photos into a different folder. 
Tested Photoshop's built in capability, and the "Batch Divide Scanned Images" script for Gimp.  Both had issues, but I found the latter achieved much better results, so that is now my tool of choice, with manual photoshop work as my back up for difficult pages of photos. 
Checking all HDDs for bad sectors, and moving out data from suspect drives
After discovering that a 2TB drive in my FreeNAS server was suffering from an increasing number of bad sectors, I gathered all my external USB HDDs and tested them, finding two 500G and one 1TB HDD also had many bad sectors.  I purchased two new 2TB USB hard drives and consolidated the data from my old USB drives into these new drives.  I use Hard Disk Sentinel regularly to check on the SMART readings of my internal and external drives, in order to get early warning of future drive misbehaviour. 
Hard Disk Sentinel, Sea Tools for Windows, DiskPart (windows command line), Chkdsk (windows command line)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Who Would You Choose and Why?

I'll bet this one day becomes part of a self-administered personality test that you'd take to better understand yourself:

Daphne or Velma?
Lois or Lana?
Betty or Veronica?
Gwen or MJ?
Wilma or Betty?
Bailey or Jennifer?
Lucy or Patty?  

Monday, February 15, 2010

Common Endings – a fiddle, a song in the night, and the security only love can bestow

Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.

The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees.  As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods.  There were no houses.  There were no roads.  There were no people.  There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them. 

LHBW So begins the first chapter of the first of several books Laura Ingalls would write, books that have a special place in my heart and those of my daughters, Diane & Laura. 

Back in 1973, I was selected to take part in an inter-school (primary) competition of sorts.  Thanks to this contest, I would be teamed up with 3 other boys I’d not met before that, despite our being in the same school and the same level for 5.5 years prior, boys who would later be my classmates in secondary school.  I suppose we were among the few that our teachers figured were reasonably avid readers, because the contest involved reading 3 books, and then sitting for a multiple choice test to gauge how much we recalled and comprehended.  (I vaguely recall the test being held in a school in Chai Chee, back when the western end still had the main road running along a ridge, and a large chinese cemetry populated the northern slope, and kampong houses dotted the hills). 

One of those books was Laura Ingalls’ Little House in the Big Woods.  This was not the kind of book a nearly teenage boy should dare to admit liking – it was told from the point of view of a little girl, and was about life in the wild woods of Wisconsin, living among the wild things, living a life of self reliance and mostly, living a life strongly nourished by the love in her family. 

I would read this book to Diane many years later, when she was around 4, in a small cabin somewhere near the Canadian Rockies during a holiday we were having there at that time.  We had purchased the book in a delightful children’s store in Seattle called the Imaginarium.  It was the ideal setting, and being much older than the pre-teen who first read the book, found myself taken by the simplicity and good naturedness of the story, and the humble, self-depreciating way in which the author presented herself.  It wasn’t long before Laura came along, and we had acquired most of the books in the series.

Lately, I’ve been taken by how the books end.  In “Big Woods”, Pa is playing his fiddle on a winter evening, in a darkened room lit only by firelight and Ma is swaying on her rocking chair knitting.  He’s just played and sung Auld Lang Syne.

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said.  “Go to sleep, now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods.  She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle.  She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting. 

She thought to herself, “this is now.”

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now.  They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now.  It can never be a long time ago. 

At the end of the second book, Little House on the Prairie, the family has left the home they built behind them, preferring to pull out on their own before being forced to do so by federal troops out to drive settlers away from land the government had allocated to the Indians.  Pa is understandably angry and upset that his own government has caused him and his young family to flee west like outlaws toward an uncertain future with only the possessions that would fit into their wagon, and the animals they took with them.  They’ve camped out on the prairie for the night, the children are in bed in the wagon, and Pa is playing his fiddle and singing. 

They sang with a lilt and a swing that almost lifted Laura right out of bed.  She must lie still and not wake Carrie.  Mary was sleeping, too, but Laura had never been wider awake.

She heard Jack making his bed under the wagon.  He was turning round and round, trampling down the grass.  Then he curled into that round nest with a flop and a sigh of satisfaction. 

Pet and Patty were munching the last of their corn, and their chains rattled.  Bunny lay down beside the wagon. 

They were all there together, safe and comfortable for the night, under the wide, starlit sky.  Once more the covered wagon was home. 

The fiddle began to play a marching tune, and Pa’s clear voice was singing like a deep-toned bell. 

“And we’ll rally round the flag, boys,
We’ll rally once again,
Shouting the battle-cry of Freedom!”

Laura felt that she must shout, too.  But softly Ma looked in through the round hole in the wagon-cover. 

“Charles,” Ma said, “Laura is wide awake.  She can’t go to sleep on such music as that.”

Pa didn’t answer, but the voice of the fiddle changed.  Softly and slurringly, it began a long, swinging rhythm that seemed to rock Laura gently.

She felt her eyelids closing.  She began to drift over endless waves of prairie grasses, and Pa’s voice went with her, singing:

Row away, row o’er the waters so blue,
Like a feather we sail in our gum-tree canoe.
Row the boat lightly, love, over the sea;
Daily and nightly I’ll wander with thee

Laura’s third book, “On the Banks of Plum Creek” ends thus:

The wind was screaming fiercer and louder outside.  Snow whirled swish-swishing against the windows.  But Pa’s fiddle sang in the warm, lamp-lighted house.  The dishes made small clinking sounds as Mary set the table.  Carrie rocked herself in the rocking-chair and Ma went gently between the table and the stove.  In the middle of the table she set a milk-pan full of beautiful brown baked beans, and now from the oven she took the square baking-pan full of golden corn-bread.  The rich brown smell and the sweet golden smell curled deliciously together in the air.

Pa’s fiddle laughed and sang,

“I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines,
I feed my horse on corn and beans
Although ‘tis far beyond my means, for
I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines!
I’m Captain of the army!”

Laura petted Jack’s furry smooth forehead and scratched his ears for him, and then with both hands she gave his head a quick, happy squeeze.  Everything was so good.  Grasshoppers were gone, and next year Pa could harvest the wheat.  Tomorrow was Christmas, with oyster stew for dinner.  There would be no presents and no candy, but Laura could not think of anything she wanted and she was so glad that the Christmas candy had helped to bring Pa safe home again.

“Supper is ready,” Ma said in her gentle voice.

Pa laid the fiddle in its box.  He stood up and looked around at them all.  His blue eyes shone at them. 

“Look, Caroline,” he said, “how Laura’s eyes are shining.”

There’s a lovely pattern emerging as we savor the ending paragraphs.  In the preceding chapters, there’s a challenge, a danger, a trial of some sort.  It’s always night.  The family is together.  A fiddle plays and Pa is singing.  There is good humor and love.

Here are the closing paragraphs from Laura’s forth book, By the Shores of Sliver Lake.

“Now we are all snug,” Pa said, “settled at last on our homestead.  Bring me the fiddle, Laura, and we’ll have a little music!”

Grace was safely in her bed with Carrie beside her. 

Ma and Mary sat rocking gently in the shadows.  But moonlight shone through the southern window and touched Pa’s face and hands and the fiddle as the bow moved smoothly over the strings.

Laura sat near Mary and watched it as she thought how the moonlight would be shining in the fairy ring where the violets grew.  It was just the night for fairies to be dancing there. 

Pa was singing with the fiddle:

“In Scarlet town where I was born,
There was a fair maid dwellin’’
And every youth cried “Well-a-wa.”
Her name was Barbary Allen.”

“All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin’
Young Johnnie Grove on his death bed lay
For love of Barbary Allen.”

Laura drew the curtain as she and Mary joined Carrie and Grace in the tiny bedroom.

And as she fell asleep still thinking of violets and fairy rings and moonlight over the wide, wide land, where their very own homestead lay, Pa and the fiddle were softly singing:

“Home! Home” Sweet, sweet home,
Be it ever so humble
There is no place like home.” 

It’s easy to see night and sleep as being a metaphor for the end of life.  Each book ends with the gradual and peaceful onset of death, a death in the company of loved ones, music, stories (in the form of song), and contentedness.  And each next book in the series is a new morning, a rebirth complete with loved ones that closes yet again with another evening, where it’s cold and dark outside, with the family all together, safe, and with fiddle and song. 

Just a week ago, I completed my reading of Raymond Moody’s “Life after Life”, and the thoughts that book has me mulling over work so nicely with the endings of the Laura Ingalls books. 

“Look, Caroline,” he said, “how Laura’s eyes are shining.”

Note:  If you’re keen to learn more about Laura Ingalls and her daughter Rose, there’s an good piece by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker entitled “Wilder Women – The Mother and Daughter behind the Little House stories

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Gaiman’s Wake for Bruce/Batman

This two part story (Batman 686 and Detective 853) by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert brings to mind lots of things.

The art style harkens back to the work of Will Eisner and Dave Stevens.  There is a “Bob Kane’ishness” to the Batman’s costume. 

The storyline makes me recall Alan Moore’s and Curt Swan’s “the Last Superman Story”, from just before the John Byrne reboot.  Moore and Swan created such a loving tribute, capturing something so genuine and true about the Superman of the 60s and 70s. 

The holding of the wake in Crime Alley, and having Joe Chill as the bartender brings to mind the classic O’Neil/Giordiano story where a visibly upset Batman goes on a rampage, beating up crooks and fiercely demanding from them information on where to find Leslie Thompkins.  I remember thinking that this Leslie person must be a real bad-assed crime boss guy – the truth at the end of the story is that she’s the social worker, now old, who comforted a young Bruce Wayne just after his parents were shot by Joe Chill, and is still working to bring hope and love to Crime Alley. 

It also harkens to the Sandman “Wake” story cycle, and I would not have been surprised to see Death of the endless make an appearance.  As with the end of Morpheus, it’s also a “not-end”, a beginning of sorts.  There is a lady character that leads Bruce to his transition, but it’s not Death. 

First up to speak at the wake are Alfred and Selina – both claiming to have been responsible for the death of the Batman, both telling stories so brilliantly inventive in the context of the relationships they’ve both had with Bruce.  These short snippets of story could each be easily expanded into graphic novel length productions.  They are that interesting. 

A quote I like from Alfred’s eulogy/confession:

“And then he began dressing as a bat.  As an Englishman, I find it difficult to identify the place that eccentricity ends and madness begins.  That Master Bruce was eccentric, I do not deny.  And I admit that it is not normal to dress as a giant bat and fight crime.”

Another quote, from the mysterious woman at the end of the story:

“Remember the goodnight book, Bruce? It’s just like that.  You remember.  It’s time for you to say goodnight.  Say it.”

Which evokes memories of that bit that Death of the Endless says in “Facade” (Sandman #20):

“When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting.  When the last living thing dies, my job is finished.  I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

The wake is held at the back of the Dew Drop Inn, which is the title of a short piece written by Gaiman, dated Dec 1995, and posted on Tori Amos’ site,

Reading this story also brought to mind a 4 part Batman story by David V Reed (and art by John Calnan) ages ago – sometime in ‘77, titled “Where were you on the night Batman was killed?”.  It’s a very “David Reed” type of story – featuring Batman as a brilliant detective rather than as a superhero.  News gets out among the denizens of the underworld that the Batman’s body is found, but no one knows who killed him.  Various villains start claiming credit for the murder, and a court is convened where 4 villains give their testimony of how they killed Batman (depositions by Catwoman, Luthor, Joker and the Riddler).  Two Face acts as the “District Attorney” debunking their stories lawyer style, and Ra’s Al Gul presides as judge.  At the end, we discover that Dent (Two Face) turns out to be Batman in disguise, and as he knew the details of the death of the person wearing a batman suit (an admirer/impersonator) was waiting for the real killer’s story to match the facts he knew.  So the whole “court” was a trap Batman had set up to find the killer in a murder where so many were claiming to be the killer.  While searching the web for references to this story arc (I had trouble recalling the artist’s name – I first thought it was Jim Aparo), I came across this very entertaining write up of another 4 part David V Reed Batman story from the same period – the Underworld Olympics 1976.  Damn – I actually remember it now – and can picture myself reading the issues on a hot afternoon, on the shaded side of the house, by the drain, close to where the watermelon vines were growing, and near where the wind blew noisily through the patch of jungle land from which snakes sometimes emerged, only to be slaughtered by yours truly. 

A last recollection before I end – one I don’t recall too well as it’s a Punisher story I just leafed through and didn’t actually read – there’s a wake at the back of a bar for one of the villains in the Punisher’s rogues gallery, and the other members of said gallery get together to pay respects and reminisce.  Turns out the bartender is the Punisher in disguise, and he uses the opportunity to do-in the collection of his enemies in the room.  Not sure I recall this correctly, but I think he blows up the bar with explosives.  Which pretty much illustrates dramatically the difference between Batman and the Punisher.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paradise Falls - Adventure is Out There

Adventure. What a wonderful word. Adventure is often associated with travel, a journey, although that need not necessarily be so. And journeys are often seen as a metaphor for growth, for life.

I'm revisiting Up! (see older post) because this film hits me at so many levels. And because it's the year end, when most human beings take a turn towards being more thoughtful and reflective.

This time, I'm focusing on one of the non-human characters in the film. Paradise Falls. Nestled deep within, and at the top of the Lost World.The real inspiration for Paradise Falls is the Angel Falls in Venezuela. It's nearly a thousand meters of unbroken free-fall, and thanks to the great height, much of the water never reaches the ground as part of a stream. Instead, it's vaporised, carried away by the winds before it reaches the base, and according to Wikipedia, the mist can be felt "a mile away".

My earliest memory of the Angel Falls is a photo, in an old children's encyclopedia (Lands & Peoples, from Grolier ..... I think). The photo, in black and white, features the falls in portrait mode, with a small aircraft flying in front of it. I've done a search on google images for this picture, but no luck finding it yet.

More recently, the Angel Falls was featured in the Freshwater segment of David Attenborough's incredible documentary series, "Planet Earth". The camera follows the streams that flow atop Auyantepui, over the edge, then turns backwards so we see more and more of the falls as the camera continues it's flight path away from the tepui. Throughout the series, Attenborough presents Earth as a system that is built up around and driven by the flow of energy, a system made up of living things and the physical aspects of the planet, and fed by the solar radiation it receives. Having this at the back of one's mind makes the viewing of the camera work, of the water plunging down through open space in the bright sunlight all the more exhilarating. That's a huge amount of potential and kinetic energy at work there.

In an enjoyable blog post by Eric Salituro (at, the writer points out that when studying a map, you'll notice that the falls clearly drain into a river at the base (Kerep), but strangely, there is no corresponding stream at the top of the Tepui. The water supplying the falls is the result of moisture from the clouds that enshroud the tepui, and there is well enough of it to generate it's spectacular result.
There's so much to learn, to discover, to see, to experience, to stir the heart. Adventure is out there. And inside.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Sandman - King of Dreams

Picked up this book (hardcover) by Alisa Kwitney from the National Library (call reference 741.5-973). It's something of a broad sweep of Gaiman's work on the monthly series, which ran from 1988 till 1996, and contains cover art, pages, quotes and a little bit of "behind the scenes" and "did you know" type information in the text.

Kwitney writes well. Good amount of wit, and a published author herself, she was one of several assistant editors at Vertigo who worked closely with Gaiman on the title. In Gaiman's introduction, he mentions that Kwitney's father is Robert Sheckley, an author of short sci-fi stories I remember enjoying greatly. Sheckley's stories had all the necessary trappings of sci-fi, but were infused with a relaxed style of intelligent humor, and the stories I remember best had a compelling build up of a problem that seemed impossible to solve, and then a clever resolution right at the end. I've not seen Sheckley's collection in the book stores in ages, but if you do find a copy, it'll be worth your while to pick one up. (and then mail to me as a gift)

Reading Kwitney's "King of Dreams" reminds me of how wonderfully enjoyable the sandman run was. I'm picking up new insights I missed in earlier reads - like when Morpheus dismisses Lyta Hall carelessly (after dismissing her "ghost" of a husband - the odd character Kirby did a few issues of) her posture is one of giving birth - and in this case, it's the foreshadowed birth not just of Daniel, but also a hatred that would lead her to the Furies in "the Kindly Ones".

I also found a quote by Death that I've been looking for. I thought I read it in one of the "Books of Magic", but here it was, in the one issue story "Facade":
When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting.
When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished.
I'll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.
Another nice snippet of info was that one of Gaiman's early proposals to DC was to work on the Phantom Stranger, which was turned down and this resulted in the proposal for Sandman instead. My head is buzzing at what Gaiman was planning for Phantom Stranger - my first serious attempt at comic collecting began with the Phantom Stranger (by David Micheline), unfortunately just before the series was to be cancelled. The back up feature in that book was Black Orchid - which interestingly was the first work Gaiman (with Dave McKean) did for DC. While we're on the topic of the Phantom Stranger - look up Moore's take on the Stranger's origin.

This would be a good time to pen down a few "Top" Lists:

Favourite Individual Stories:
1-Midsummer Night's Dream
2-The Sound of Her Wings
3-Three Septembers and a January

Favourite Story Arcs:
1-Season of Mists
2-World's End
3-The Wake

Favourite Spin-Offs:
1-Death - the High Cost of Living
2-The Dream Hunters (illustrated version by Charles Vess)
3-Death - the Time of Your Life

I'm closing this post with a quote from Destruction, in a story within a story within a story (lost count of the recursiveness) - Petrefax's tale of the Necropolis Litharge tale from the inn at World's End. (which nicely recalls Douglas Adam's Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
It's important to have places like this. Once the spirit's flown and the spark of life has gone, then the rituals of farewell are needed. All the rituals we go through to help us say goodbye. You HAVE to say goodbye.
This quote makes me think of Departures. And on an almost cold december night in Singapore, with the ground soaked and the braddell insects singing over the drone of distant traffic on wet roads, this is perhaps a very appropriate thought.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twenty Years have passed, Boy!

Twenty years have passed, Boy
But the memory still warms me
Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar

A couple of months ago, I received my HP 20 year long service certificate. Twenty years ago, I'd just left Singapore Airlines, where I had an Engineering job and had been having a good time cavorting around the aircraft hanger and within the aircraft airframes. I was about to start a new career, in systems support for business mini-computers. The internet was just a research thing back then, but we did have a connection and got a lot of joy from the text based, terminal based apps of the day. This was well before Andreessen & Bina created Mosaic, the browser that would later become Netscape, the browser that would mark the start of the consumerisation of the internet.

The Smell of Rain......
and the Warm Earth in his Hands....

JenMei, now just starting her second year in Stanford, was born 20 years ago.
We were driving a dark metallic grey Honda Quintet back then.
Home was a 2 bedroom Bayshore Park apartment for which we were heavily (but in retrospect, thankfully), in debt.
My home PC was a IBM PC XT Clone with green monitor and an add-on mouse that required a special ISA card (think jumpers, IRQs, I/O addresses). I remember buying the mouse specifically to try out Win2.x. All the other DOS apps I was using had little need of a mouse.

...his face was mirrored in the window
And his reflection flew across the moonlit land

The Song of the Month (which is a rather odd naming convention, as I've not been very monthly about my song posts) is John Denver's "Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar", from his "Some Days are Diamonds" album. There are many great lines in the song. But what I like best about it is how it builds images of a journey, and a look back to simpler times.

Were those really simpler times, 20 years ago? George Bush the Elder was president of the US, Gorbachev was leading the Soviet Union, Margaret Thatcher was PM of the UK, Corazon Aquino was president of the Phillipines, and Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore. The Soviets were pulling out of Afganistan, fleeing fighters and weapons that were later turned on the providers of those very weapons. Salman Rushdie was hiding to save his life. Exxon Valdez committed major environmental carnage against the Alaskan coast. Solidarity joined in the Polish Elections and the country saw a non-Communist become the elected Prime Minister. Massacre in Tiananmen Square. Ayatollah Khomeini moved to the next world. Tim Burton's version of Batman hit the cinemas, with the oddly cast Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. Aung San Suu Kyi began her house arrest that carries on till this day. Nelson Mandela's party took part in elections in South Africa, signalling the last days of Apartheid. And .........Matt Groening's "The Simpsons" premiered on Fox.

And so much has happened since then. We've said goodbye to lots of people who have left the physical world. We live in a different place. Our thinking has expanded & broadened. There's bigger geographic distances between family members. We've visited many new places and learnt new things. We have grown.
Twenty years have passed, Boy
But the memory still warms me

Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar