Thursday, July 29, 2021

Storm



For the 22 years that I lived in Utah, I never experienced weather of this intensity.  However, it seems pretty common in Indiana, with at least one nasty thunderstorm per year, if not several.

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Saturday, July 10, 2021

How Does Film ACTUALLY Work? (It's MAGIC)


For most people, film is obsolete.  I remember having a camera as a kid and there was something magical about cameras before technology came along.  

As best as I can recall, I didn't really bother with cameras from my college days onward.  It wasn't till sometime in my early 40's I got the most primitive digital camera possible, that only took 640x480 pictures, which matched some early computer monitor resolutions. I actually had fun with this camera despite the pretty low quality.  Eventually, mobile phones could take pictures even before smartphones.  

In 2008, I got an iPhone 3G which had a 2 megapixel camera.  
In 2010, I got an iPhone 4 which had a 5-megapixel camera.  
In 2012, I got an iPhone 5, which had an 8-megapixel camera.  I still own this phone.  The metal bands around the edge of this phone made it pretty tough, which allowed it to survive a pretty big accidental drop onto the pavement.  This will be relevant below...

In 2014, I got an iPhone 6+ which also has an 8-megapixel camera.  When I tried to participate in an Apple battery replacement program, something went wrong with the phone, so they gave me a free replacement which I still have.

Years later I got an iPhone 6S+ on a Black Friday sale.  It has a 12-megapixel camera.  Because the wi-fi died on in, I bought another one of these on another Black Friday to replace it, which is still my primary phone.  

Today I dropped my iPhone 6s+ and the screen cracked, but I managed to get it repaired the same day for $89.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

House littered with computers

This is an update to an article I wrote 2 years ago...

Around 1984 there was an article with a prediction that went like this: "Someday you will throw away computers. Your house will be littered with them. You will get computers in cereal boxes." Thirty-seven years ago, that day seemed like it would be pretty far off.

How exactly has this prediction faired? Well, how many computers do I own? Here is the list...

1. One of the more powerful computers in my home is my iPhone 6s+. It is a powerful computer masquerading as a phone. I bought a second one when the wi-fi on the first failed, so technically I have two. I also have a couple of older iPhones in storage. These could easily be thrown out since they are not very useful anymore.

2. I have an iPad 4. The only reason I bought it was because my iPad 2, which I loved, was stolen when someone broke into my home in Salt Lake City. However, I don't really have much of a need for it. The iPads were originally touted as book readers to compete with the Amazon Kindle tablets, but I don't think that reading books on a full-size iPad is a great experience. You can do all the normal internet stuff with them, but I have plenty of devices that can do that. I think that my iPad's best use is to play audiobooks.

3. About 11 years ago I bought a Microsoft Tablet on a Black Friday sale for $200 because this seemed like a fantastic deal at the time. At the time, it probably was. However, this has been the most useless piece of crap that I own. One could use it to browse the internet and read email, but it is way out of date, and it was never very useful to begin with. It is less pleasant to hold than an iPad. I doubt that I can get any software for it.

4. Recently, I bought an Amazon Fire Tablet, normally $150, for $80 on a Black Friday sale. It is a pretty nice tablet, but there is not anything I can do with it that I can't do on other devices. I bought it so that I could attempt to write Android apps and test them on the tablet.

5. I'm typing this on my 2017 27" iMac. This is a replacement for my late-2009 iMac that has several problems, such as the display repeatedly shutting off. I occasionally still use this machine just for analyzing chess games, which is processor intensive, although my new iMac is plenty capable of doing that.

6. Four years ago I was given a Raspberry PI 3, which is a very cheap small computer the size of a deck of cards. It can run Linux and do normal computer stuff, although it is not very powerful at all. However, I configured it to be a game emulation box that can be hooked up to my TV.

Newer, more powerful versions of the Raspberry PI are available.

7. I own both a NES Classic Edition and a Sony PlayStation Classic. These are both game emulation boxes. Both are good for playing games and both can be hacked to play even more games.

8. I bought three Arcade1up machines. These are 3/4 scale arcade games that you assemble yourself. They are essentially emulation boxes that come with classic arcade games. I like my Star Wars Arcade game the best.

9. Back in the early 2000s, I bought a joystick that can be hooked up to an old-style TV and it plays 10 classic games. As a game system it is not that good, but I still occasionally use it because it does a great job with one game in particular, which is Pole Position.

10. I have an old Sega Genesis with some cartridges that I plan on selling. Over thirty years ago the 68000 processor in the Genesis was considered a mainstream computer processor. I have seen really old mainframe computers that cost a fortune that used this processor. By the 1990s the 68000 processor was only really used in game systems.

11. I was able to fix an old laptop that I gave away to a chess player in need. Then I was able to purchase a refurbished laptop very cheap that is vastly superior. This computer proved very helpful as a backup computer while my iMac was in the shop, but otherwise, I don't really need a laptop anymore.

So I count 18 computers. My house *is* littered with computers, some of which I could easily throw away.

I am not going to count the three electronic chess clocks that I own. I don't know if they use a CPU or just dedicated logic chips.

I didn't count the Star Wars Storm Trooper Robot that I got in a package deal with my Star Wars arcade game.  This device can interface with your smartphone and play games.  I have been trying to sell it for a year.

I also didn't count my robot vacuum cleaners.  I own two, one of which is broken.  I have had these for well over a decade, and the one that works is starting to have problems.

If you own a calculator, which I don't, it has either a 4-bit or an 8-bit processor inside.  It is also a computer, although very limited.

As far as getting computers in cereal boxes, I saw a little handheld game that came in a 2007 cereal box.  It was pretty primitive, probably using a 4-bit processor.

--
Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Aphantasia: The People Without a Mind's Eye | 'Out of Mind'

The first three minutes of this video talk about how a few people can't visualize things in their minds.  


This is an interesting condition because I have always been kind of the opposite.  Very often I close my eyes and visualize things in my mind.

I have played chess in my head many times although with a great deal of difficulty.  I think that I was better at this when I was younger.  Under the right circumstances, I might get a good visual of the board in my head.  It helps to have no distractions.  Even when I play chess normally I am easily bothered by distractions.

Every time I have written a computer program I've tried to visualize ahead of time the different parts in my mind.  Some people might do this on paper but I might spend hours just thinking about it before I write any code.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Housing prices

Although the Zillow estimate on housing value might not be perfect, it is a pretty good judge of which way the market is going.
The housing prices in Salt Lake City have gone through the roof. The house that I paid $130,000 back in 1999 is now estimated to be worth $647,000. I sold it for a fraction of that.
Indiana is not as bad, but it seems recently that prices have taken off. The home I purchased less than 3 years ago is up by 25% from what I paid. My previous home in New Whiteland that I paid $120,000 for six years ago is now estimated to be worth $220,000.
The key point is that I could not afford to move if I wanted to. I would have to sell my home first or make my next purchase contingent on selling my home first.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Columbus, Indiana

I just heard on the radio that Columbus, Indiana is going to celebrate its bicentennial. I was in Columbus when they were celebrating their 150th anniversary. I attended a parade. What a way to remind me of how old I am getting.

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Friday, June 4, 2021

Columbus Chess Club anniversary of sorts.

I first went to the Columbus Chess Club 46 years ago *today*. The club started in either 1972 or 1973.

Half a century seems to go by pretty quickly.





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Thursday, May 27, 2021

What exactly are mushrooms? What are they made of? They're not vegetables?

I am not thrilled with the idea of eating a fungus.  They are pretty good on pizza.  While I was in college I would occasionally eat deep-fried mushrooms, but it has been at least 35 years since I last did that.  Why eat deep-fried mushrooms when you could eat french fries or onion rings?

The bulk of the information is in the first half of the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkaJoIIBAVA

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

What Are You Doing With Your Life? The Tail End

This video seems particularly relevant to my life, and prophetic.  It is more of a casual observation, but the shoe fits.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Coroner identifies man found deceased under Anderson bridge | News | heraldbulletin.com

I worked with Eric at two different companies in Salt Lake City. We were friends and sometimes ate lunch together. He once did me a favor by getting something for me at Sam's Club when I didn't have a membership. However, over a decade ago it seemed like he was starting to have mental health problems. It is surprising that he passed away in Indiana. I wouldn't have recognized him from the picture. He was normally clean-shaven and I remember him from when he was much younger and doing well.

At this point, it would be hard to count the number of people that I have known who have passed away.

https://www.heraldbulletin.com/news/coroner-identifies-man-found-deceased-under-anderson-bridge/article_bd9ee9b0-b980-11eb-98aa-176e8afedd83.html

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Playing The Playstation 5 On A Sony CRT TV

Get a load of this TV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2EQ8gZ9BgM

I had a couple of 33 inch regular TV's that I got for free and they weighed 156 pounds. Two of us had extreme trouble lifting one of these. I decided that they weren't worth the trouble and gave them away.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Robison Crusoe

The book Robison Crusoe is a little over 300 years old. I read it as a teenager.

It is one of the most widely published books.


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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Can't Focus? It's Not Your Fault, You're Being Tricked. This is How.

https://youtu.be/h6bIhubBA_k

I have a problem with YouTube addiction, which I am trying to manage.  My problem is that YouTube has a great deal of content that I find interesting.  I suppose that any form of entertainment is an escape from reality.

It's not you. Phones are designed to be addicting...

https://youtu.be/NUMa0QkPzns  

The following uses very crude language, but he is not wrong:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t53Y8eBfzI

I'm not sure if this is helpful...

https://youtu.be/q_xm5Weu3nE




Saturday, April 24, 2021

#15 puzzle

I used to be fond of the #15 puzzle, and even Bobby Fischer was fond of it. The 19nth century puzzle maker Sam Lloyd claimed that he invented it, but it was actually invented by a 19nth century postmaster named Noyes Chapman.

It seems to me that the puzzle is a precursor to the Rubicks' Cube. Both involve sliding pieces in a limited way. It is possible to take apart and reassemble both in a way that can't be solved. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15_puzzle

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cataract

I went to a new optometrist in Columbus, who recommends that I have a cataract in my good eye removed.  I'm supposed to make an appointment at South Emmerson in Indianapolis to be evaluated.  I have had a cataract in my good eye for at least ten years.  Since I only have one good eye, Doctors in Salt Lake City recommended that I do nothing until this condition got worse.   According to the Optometrist, I have progressed from stage 1 to roughly stage 2.5.  I am only seeing about 20/40, whereas in the past I was correctable to 20/30, which is about as good as my heavily nearsighted eyes can get.  It appeared to me while driving, especially at night, that my vision was a little off.

I don't know yet when the operation will be, but I am holding off on some other plans I had until I find out.  I am told that this operation might correct my much of nearsightedness.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Remember warming up the TV before watching it?

For those who don't remember, on powering up really old televisions the image would start as a dot in the middle of the screen, and then expand. It might only take a couple of seconds to a few seconds to reach full size. The reason for this is that old televisions used vacuum tubes instead of transistors, and these needed warming up. I remember going to a repair shop that had dozens of different types of tubes for replacement parts.

Sometime in the mid-1970s, manufacturers began to advertise televisions that were "Instant On". Since many of these TV's still used vacuum tubes, I noticed that these TV's kept some of the vacuum tubes powered up even when the TV was "off". I could tell because most vacuum tubes glowed. Many old televisions had heat vents toward the back and an orange glow would emanate from these vents. It would light up the wall behind my television.  The TV also put out a great deal of heat.

--
Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

My long distant past keeps catching up with me

My long distant past keeps catching up with me, especially on Facebook.
Leroy Watson
Facebook
You're not friends on Facebook
New Facebook Account

1:12 PM

Leroy sent Today at 1:12 PM

Are you the one that wrote the BASIC compiler from JRC Software? If you are I just wanted to say I really liked that program and learned a lot from it.
Seen by Leroy

2:40 PM

You sent Today at 2:40 PM

Yes. That was me. I wasn't terribly happy with that program because I thought that I could make it better but I didn't have the time. I am trying to explore the 2068 computer again because I am retired and I have the time. I have an idea for a video game that I want to write. I worked for videogame companies in Utah from 1993 to 2000.
You can now message and call each other and see info like Active Status and when you've read messages.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Amish Facts: These Amazing Facts Will Teach You More About Their Culture

https://definition.org/amazing-facts-amish-will-make-appreciate-culture/22/

According to this article, the Amish population in the United States has increased rather dramatically to about 300,000.  I find this number surprising because it means that roughly one in a thousand people in the United States is of the Amish faith.  

There is or was a community of Amish people living somewhere between Scottsburg and Salem, Indiana.  I was born in Salem.  When I lived in Scottsburg back in the 1980s, I saw some of them in a buggy while driving to Salem, even though I didn't take that trip very often.  I would on rare occasion see a few of them in Scottsburg, and I met and talked with an Amish young man in the mid-1980s.   My impression of him was not very favorable.  He seemed to me to be remarkably ignorant, but I assume that his faith does not encourage knowledge beyond what he needs for life in his community.  Because of this, I feel like his faith is repressive, although he no doubt chooses that lifestyle.

Friday, April 9, 2021

How Crash Bandicoot Hacked The Original Playstation | War Stories | Ars Technica

I find this interesting as a former videogame programmer.  When the game came out, some programmers thought of it is as not true 3D, although actually, it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izxXGuVL21o

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Denny's

It took me 3.5 days to drive to Salt Lake City in 1993.  I would stop at restaurants that were familiar to me, especially, Denny's, because I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to get.  So I used to really like them and associated them with a good dining experience, but I went to one in Fort Union, Utah around 2014 and I was disappointed.  I had fried chicken tenders and french fries, but this seemed to be the typical type of thing on their menu.  Plus the booths were small and crowded together.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

TV Resolution

A couple of months ago I decided to temporarily swap my 4K 55" smart TV with my Step-Dad and Mom's 40" dumb 1080P TV that I had purchased for them as a Christmas gift.  They need a bigger screen more than I do.  I watch most stuff on my computer anyway.

Comet TV is one of the few broadcast stations that I can get.  It broadcasts re-runs of Sci-Fi TV shows and mostly terrible Sci-Fi movies.  I occasionally watch shows on it.

Unfortunately, Comet TV broadcasts only in 480i, which is also the same resolution as videotape and CRT televisions.  On my 4K TV, it looks absolutely terrible.  Surprisingly, on the 1080P TV that I am now using, it doesn't look so bad.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Unlucky last night

I was unlucky last night because I either hit something on I65 that destroyed my tire or I had a blowout. While driving southbound on I65, I heard a loud bang. I didn't see any debris on the road that would have caused this. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road. There was a policeman in the median right where I pulled off, apparently trying to catch speeders driving northbound. I thought that he might volunteer assistance, but I'm not sure that he even noticed me. I was going to call my Geico Roadside Assistance anyway.
I got out of the car and looked at my tires, and none appeared flat. So I thought that maybe the car is still drivable and that I could make it to the Edinburg exit three miles down the road, but after driving another half mile it was obvious that something was wrong with the car.
However, I had a problem with my Geico Roadside Assistance. After calling people for 25 minutes and keeping me on hold, they couldn't find anyone on their network to help me. So they told me to call 911. I called 911, which gave me a number of a wrecker service in Edinburgh, but they couldn't help. They gave me a number of a wrecker service in Columbus who also couldn't help, so the Columbus service gave me the number of Graham Wrecker Service in Franklin which came and helped me by changing the tire. I got home safe after a 90-minute delay.
Fortunately, I have a road hazard warranty on all my tires. The last time I had to wait days for the replacement tire, but I have an appointment for 3PM tomorrow for a replacement tire and an oil change.
What lessons can I learn from this? I felt pretty vulnerable stranded at night on the side of the Interstate with hundreds of cars and trucks going by at deadly speed. It was very frustrating that my Roadside Assistance service couldn't help me. (I'm going to call them back to complain and likely get a reimbursement for my expenses.) It might be wise to know a few wrecker services in your area and have them programmed into your phone. I am also going to investigate whether it is worthwhile to get a different Roadside Assistance service.

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now

First day of spring! I celebrated with a lengthy bike ride. I am optimistic for the future. I can see clearly now the rain is gone ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FscIgtDJFXg

Friday, March 12, 2021

The #1 Factor For Achieving Success (Online)

I really like this video.  Although the speaker is talking about online success, I think that his advice applies to any type of success.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6esv0ceuV64

Monday, March 8, 2021

Re: Koreans Try American BBQ For the FIRST TIME! Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork & Brisket

Speaking of which, I went to a BBQ place in Salt Lake City that had breaded french fries.  I have never seen breaded french fries anywhere else, but they were delicious.

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 10:14 PM John Coffey wrote:
I find this amusing.  I've tried some different kinds of Asian foods, although I don't remember if Korean was one of them, although I think so.  I tried Vietnamese, but I wasn't thrilled with it.  I sometimes would eat at a couple of different Japanese restaurants, one of which had a lot of fried tempura, which tastes great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kEXWjMo3dY

As far as I am concerned, the best food I ever had was at a Persian restaurant in Salt Lake City.  The restaurant was in the back of a Persian grocery store.  I also really like beef brisket.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

there will Never Ever be another Simpsons episode like Homer's Enemy


I had seen at least part of the episode "Homer's Enemy", but never gave it much thought.

I only on rare occasion watch the Simpsons, but I enjoy it, and I especially enjoyed the early years.  I had never seen the show until I had a chance in the 1990s to work a little on a Simpsons videogame, so I took an interest in it.  

There is an almost universal consensus that starting with Season 9 Episode 2, "The Principal and the Pauper", with an absurd storyline about Principal Skinner being an imposter, the show went into decline.  

I am amazed that the show has lasted 32 seasons.  In one of the episodes celebrating something like the 500th episode, there is some text in the end credits that says, "Think of all the things you could have accomplished if you hadn't watched this show."


Monday, March 1, 2021

Happier times, maybe

Our family used to go to this place, and I loved it.  I remember the food being pretty good.  Sometime between 1974 and 1977, while I was in Jr. High School, there was a tornado that hit Columbus, Indiana.  I remember it well.  It tore the roof off of the King's Table building while people were inside dining.  The restaurant reopened (I think) but eventually went out of business.  That location is now a gas station.



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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Letter to a national Timex Sinclair Computer User Group.

Hello,

My name is John Coffey.  I was a Timex-Sinclair enthusiast in the 1980s.  I wrote some utilities and things that I sold. Around the beginning of 1986, I finished and self-published a videogame called Diamond Mike.  I no longer have a copy of this game, although if one were to turn up someplace, I would love to get a copy.

Also in 1986, I ported the Diamond Mike game to the Atari ST, with slightly better graphics, and I do have copies of this, although I don't own either computer anymore.

In 1993, I went to Utah to work for a videogame developer.  I would eventually end up working for a company that made satellite communication systems.  I retired from this company and returned to Indiana.

I am currently trying to learn software development on iOS and Android.

Just as many people are still enthusiasts for the 8-bit era, including writing new games for the Atari 2600 or the Nintendo Entertainment System, I feel that the potential of the 2068 was never fully realized, and I have ideas for 1 or 2 games that I want to develop for it.  This is not for profit.  I only want to do it because I love the 2068 computer.

To do this I would need to get an emulator, learn to use it, and maybe find an assembler that I can use.  Back in the 1980s, I wrote my own assembler, and a compiler, but I don't have any of these anymore.

This project would not do me much good if there were no 2068 enthusiasts around anymore.  I want to write something that I can share with other people.  

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Friday, February 26, 2021

First COVID-19 vaccination

A couple of hours ago I got my first COVID-19 vaccination. It was the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one I wanted since I was able to make an appointment for my next vaccine just three weeks from now.

I didn't even feel the shot. This was no worse than a flu shot. However, my arm immediately started feeling sore. It still feels a little sore, but not very much. Afterward, I had to wait in an observation area for 15 minutes which was no problem.



Thursday, February 25, 2021

ATARI ST Diamond Mike v2 0 By John Coffey & JRC Software

This video shows the gameplay of Diamond Mike on the Atari ST.  In 1986, I ported the game from the 2068 computer to the Atari ST computer.  The graphics are a little better on the Atari ST.

Some of the later levels not shown here are more visually interesting and more complicated.  It is not clear if the person showing the game fully understands how to play the game.  It appears as if he doesn't.

The demo appears to be running on an Atari ST emulator.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h139l3H2rnk

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An American Original - Timex/Sinclair

In the early days of computing and videogames, magazines devoted to specific systems were very popular.  By 1986, the Sinclair and Timex-Sinclair lines of computers were a dying brand, but they had a very devoted set of followers, of which I was one.  The primary feature of the Timex-Sinclair 2068 computer was its relatively low price of $200.  Compare that to the Commodore-64 introduced in 1983 at $595, which is around $1600 in today's dollars.  Other brands of computers were higher.  Most of these were way too cost-prohibitive for me, so I went with the cheapest model, but I happened to very much like the brand.

I did an internet search for a videogame I wrote in 1985/1986 called, "Diamond Mike".  I found a magazine that I had completely forgotten about where I had a quarter-page ad on page 34 for the game, along with another quarter page of products that I was selling, most of which I don't remember selling.  I think that I had entered into some kind of partnership with another company to sell their products.  The wording of the ad looks somewhat unprofessional like it was written by me, which it was, but this was typical of these relatively obscure magazines of the time.  I think that I had the advertisement typeset by a professional printer because in those days we didn't have modern computers to help us do that.  The game was in color, but the magazine was black and white, so the advertisement is Black and White.

The magazine did a "review" of the game on page 4.  Essentially they were scratching my back for buying advertising.  The wording of the "review" isn't that different from my advertisement, and they also said a few nice words.

https://www.timexsinclair.com/article/an-american-original/

The graphics capabilities of the 2068 computer were not as quite good as the more expensive brands, and since I did my own artwork and I am by no means an artist, the graphics of the game are pretty basic.  This was typical for many computer games of the time.  What I could do well is write efficient code in "machine language", which is the internal language of the CPU chip.   An honest review of my game would have said that it was an imitation of another game called "Boulder Dash", but when "Boulder Dash" was ported to the 2068 computer months later, its code ran too slow.  They didn't do a good job on the port.  They should have gotten me to write the game.

This kind of work eventually led me to get a job in the videogame industry.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Snow

Yesterday I had to dig my car out, with some help from the neighbors, to go get some groceries. I had to dig out the tires twice to get the car back into the garage. I tried a couple of times to shovel the driveway, but it kept snowing so I gave up. I might try again tomorrow, but I have kind of resigned myself to staying home. It is supposed to all melt on Sunday and Monday, although we might get some more snow Sunday night.

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Saturday, January 2, 2021

Water Moccasin Attack

As if there aren't enough things trying to kill me, I would have to worry about fishing.

https://youtube.com/shorts/IZyD7Fy9B7s

As a child, I went fishing several times with relatives on my mother's side.