Friday, August 30, 2013

Feeling Nostalgic

My search was a little different this time than what I usually do for these blogs.  Instead of trying to find out new information, something I hadn't heard of before, I used Google to verify the facts and make sure that I had things in the correct chronological order.  And I did have to research the correct name of some of my favorite games.  It doesn't help to say "You know, that game where the guy swung through the trees on a vine and jumped crocodiles."
The very first video game I ever played was Pong.  I was in high school and I loved it!  The only place I knew that had it was a pizza parlor that had several pinball machines and the one Pong machine.  I couldn't get to the pizza parlor because I didn’t have a driver’s license and there were no such things as home gaming consoles.  Pretty soon, other video arcade games showed up but they were pretty bad in my opinion.  It wasn't until I was in college that the good ones came out such as Space Invaders and Asteroids.  The golden age of Pacman and Donkey Kong came out after I graduated.
The first real home video game console to be released was the Atari 2600.  But we never got one before I went to college since money was tight back in those days.  So it took several years before I could afford to buy an Atari 2600 of my own.
I had to get Pong, of course, and Breakout which was a more advanced version of Pong but tipped on its side.  My other favorite games were Space Invaders and Asteroids, Adventure and Haunted House.  I had Pitfall, Berzerk, Missile Command and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Other games included Dig Dug, Pacman, and Frogger.  There was even an educational one - Brain Games.  I even bought ET the Extra-Terrestrial.  Yes, that one - the video game that was so bad they buried unsold cartridges in the desert someplace in New Mexico; the game that was so bad it almost destroyed video games before they even got started.  In addition to the games I had all the possible controllers – the joystick, the paddle and a keyboard controller.  I continued to play for quite a few years, but after one move I never bothered unpacking my Atari 2600. 
But I still have all of that stuff around someplace.  I never get rid of things.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Night Owl

I have chronic insomnia.  I have had chronic insomnia for as long as I can remember, and it has always been difficult.  I seldom get a regular night's sleep.

I remember being glad to learn how to tell time in first grade.  We had this mantle clock that chimed the hours - at noon it chimed twelve times, at 1:00 it chimed once, at 2:00 it chimed twice, and so on.  When I was awake during the night, I knew what time it was by the chiming of the clock.  But I dreaded the time between 12:30am and 1:30am.  That was because the clock only chimed once for the half hours.  So if it chimed once, I wasn't sure what time it was.  It could be half past the hour or 1:00am.  And if it chimed once two times in a row, I still wasn't sure what time it was.  It could be 1:00am or 1:30am.  But if it chimed once three times in a row, I finally knew what time it was!  It was 1:30 in the morning!  And that was in the first grade!  Now, how many of you know 6 year olds that are awake for hours in the middle of the night?

Having insomnia has wrecked havoc with both school and work, but I have learned to get by with little sleep.  However, as I have gotten older, I sometimes I wonder if it is really insomnia or if I am just a Night Owl.  No matter how tired I am, if I remain awake until 10:00pm then I am remain awake for hours.  It is as if a switch is flipped at 10:00pm and, suddenly, I come alive.  If there is no social requirements for me to get up at a certain time, I naturally fall asleep around 2:00 or 3:00 o'clock in the morning and awaken sometime around 9:00 or 10:00 o'clock in the morning.
So, I decided that tonight's Google search should be the Night Owl.
First of all, Wikipedia is not very informative.  It just defines night owls as people  who stay up until late at night and morning larks as people who get up early.  Next, there were some businesses that had late night hours: bars and lounges and, for some reason, hookah places.  I was surprised by the next listing - sales of night vision goggles.  The first page on Google ended with several blogs ranging in topics from baseball cards to hair products.  Now, I don't know how any oft that is related to being a night owl, but the next few pages were even more baffling.  There were blogs about home decor, a Christian pastor, fishing lures and pediatric urgent care.  Not what I expected when I googled "night owl".