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Annie
Nov 1st, 2022 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Annie, you silly, silly pup!

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She was the most beautiful spaniel and not because of her coat or posture but because she took to my wife Melissa and was her “protector” and my wife was her favorite person. Annie was originally dropped off at a vet in Nebraska because she had breast cancer. I think her original family gave Annie up, but I don’t know. The vet that removed the cancer was Melissa’s cousin. So now they have this cancer-free dog around…

Well, Melissa and her cousin have the same grandfather. Who lives in Nebraska! And was living alone and wanted a dog, so Annie went to live with Grandpa in his assisted living home. The two were inseparable!

Annie and Grandpa would golf together and walk to Walmart together and basically lived together. I know now what a wonderful companion Annie was.

About a year after this, Grandpa passed away. Grandpa fell at his assisted living home and was bleeding on the floor for hours and nobody knew. So poor Annie was inside the home and witnessed this. Someone eventually did notice, got Grandpa to a hospital – where he died a few days later. Melissa drove to Nebraska and brought Annie back to us. I believe I was with Roody in Milwaukee when Annie first came home. So from her perspective, Annie had a couple of days with Melissa and then THIS GUY (me) shows up. We drove to Grandpa’s funeral in Nebraska and brought Annie along for the ride. Thus began my life with the absolute sweetest, silliest, most caring, most loving dog I’ve ever known.

Annie decided that Melissa was now her person and she never left her side. I worked from home each day in 2020 and Annie would curl into a ball underneath my computer desk for work. We spent 12 hours together but she would race upstairs when my wife was home to see her. She was her person!

She went waterboarding, on car rides, and on all manner of walks in the mountains. She would figure out when we were leaving and get in the mud room. Waiting, hoping that she could come with us.

“Okay Annie, you can come with for the ride!”

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She didn’t want to be left behind. While our Golden retriever, in her old age will do a circle to go back to the house if she sees a car, Annie always wanted to join us. Freddy’s, the burger joint, would give her a pup cup!

She died on Wednesday. She had been shivering while she was breathing and we tried to get her a biopsy and surgery and a CT scan and all the other stuff we needed to have done. We got her all the medicine we could to try to help for this last month. (There is a need for streamlining in the lung surgery process for dogs, let me tell you.) I spent Tuesday with her. I had to leave that night for corporate onboarding in a different city for a few days. Melissa had Wednesday off and Annie got much, much worse. Melissa comforted her the entire day — but on Wednesday, Annie stopped moving on her own and stopped drinking water. She wasn’t getting air very well and had a high fever. We brought someone to the house and she got to sleep and take a (literal) nap and then passed away, cradled by the one she loved most.

“Annie! Silly, happy girl!”

But look.

When dogs or kids came over, she made sure they did not get too close to Melissa. If other dogs were around and started playing, a lot of times she would break it up. We called her “the sheriff” because of that. We also called Annie-Banany and then sometimes just “Banany” and Mel got her a collar with little bananas all over it but I’ve never known a dog that knew her name so well and would come to you when called. And while she loved my wife more than anything, Annie’s tail would go a million miles an hour when she saw me and she would (confident that Melissa was safe asleep at night) inch her way towards curling up to me every night when I slept. I have woken up in my bed every day for the last four years with Annie laying on me.

When we first got her, she threw up on the floor while we were in the room and went to the corner of the kitchen like she was going to get yelled at. And I just went over and said, Annie, look. You can’t get in trouble here. You just can’t. For anything. And she wagged her tail and I cleaned up the mess and I don’t know what happened to her before Melissa’s grandfather got her, but I hope we were everything she wanted out of people for the four amazing, glorious years we got to spend with her. The earth is – I’m sorry but the earth is a demonstrable worse place now than it was a few weeks ago because this beautiful angel has left us.

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One last thing. A few months ago, Melissa had taken both of our dogs and gone to her sister’s house, where there are two dogs. Some neighbors of her sisters brought their dogs over. All of the dogs are just running in and out of the house, having a wonderful time on a summer day. I arrived hours after Mel and Annie got there. After a day of playing and being surrounded by pup chaos, Annie saw me and stopped what she doing and came over, tail wagging with the biggest smile. She could SMILE. I have never seen a dog truly smile as she did. And for me! Reader, I’ve got some self-worth issues. Goddamn it is nice to have a dog be happy to see you like that.

Annie, I am going to miss you, sweetheart. I did not get enough time with you. I thought I would have years more. This is why this hurts so badly, I just thought you being here was normal and we’d have years, Banany. You are the sweetest pup there has ever been and all I want to do is live my life from here on out like the person you seemed to think I was. I will be the one to protect Melissa again, I promise. She’ll be safe. I love you, baby girl. I love you and miss you so much.

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Updated download links for my games
Jul 13th, 2022 by Ice Cream Jonsey

In chasing a weird Linux issue, I wanted to download some games through this very site.

I discovered that Brave wouldn’t let anyone download the games that I had posted on my “Games” page because the links were HTTP instead of HTTPS. The people that work on and design browsers are making very silly and pointless changes and it negatively affects people who are trying to independently post their games to download.

Part of this is why I have used Steam twice (for Cryptozookeeper, Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos, and Cyberganked. And honestly, I’ll probably put other games I’ve created on Steam as well).

Here’s the link to go to the landing page for JC Games: https://www.joltcountry.com/games

Frobozz
Jan 23rd, 2022 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Frobozz died three years ago.
Here is a picture of him.
I miss him every day.



Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos is now on Steam
Dec 27th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

“Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos” is a game that I created with Mike Sousa and it’s now on Steam. We hired Nikos Chantziaras to help with a beautiful front end that is new to the game and gives the player easier control to change fonts and colors. Mikey “Jizaboz” Phipps helped us get the game working on three different operating systems (Windows, Macos and Linux) so this is by far the easiest way to play the game.

(A brief aside – I find navigating the soul-crushing user interface of Steam (“Steamworks”) from a developer standpoint to be excruciating. I hated it when I got Cryptozookeeper on Steam and I hated it just as much trying to get our new game up. I’m not kidding when I say that it is the single worst workflow I’ve ever been forced to deal with in my 25+ years as a computer professional. I hired Jizaboz to work with it and I highly recommend contacting him if you are easily angered about alien UX like I am. Mikey is doing a real service here.)

Mike and I started Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos over 8 years ago and we had many large stretches where we weren’t working on it, but we always wanted to collaborate again after initially doing so in 2001. I’m happy with the result, I think that this game contains the best jokes and bits I have ever come up with and it is the first game I ever sat down and completely plotted according to something resembling a writer’s fiction framework (Dan Harmon’s Story Circle in this case). I feel that one of the pleasures of text adventures is the ability to go off the rails and make your own emergent narrative, I think that this game benefits from a guiding literary force in the way that none of my previous games have.

So I hope if you’ve made it this far you check it out or Wishlist it. I get it, most of us have dozens or hundreds of games in our backlog but, gun to my head, I’d put this game up against any of them if you are looking for a quick adventure that might put a smile or two on your face. Also “putting a gun to your head” is one of the required steps on the checklist to get a game on Steam, so please add “Steamworks” to the Skills section of your LinkedIn profile if you ever successfully got Dad’s firearms safe unlocked as a kid.

Dad
Sep 16th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My father’s memorial was this past weekend.

One of the earliest memories I have of my father was when he packed the family into the car to visit a dealership on a Sunday. On Sunday the regular salesmen were not there, so he was able to freely look at the new automobiles in peace.

An extremely large guy named Stu lumbered over while Dad was driving us around the lot. “Hey there,” said the big fella, “I’m Stu, I’m from the dealership down the street.” He spoke with my dad for a few minutes about cars, which my father could do with anyone. It was a little unethical to walk a competitor’s lot on a day off.

“Well, here’s my card,” said Stu, eventually, all jolly at maybe poaching a sale. “Come on down to our lot next week.” My dad took the card.

“Stu,” my father said, repeating the guy’s name.

“That’s right,” Stu said, “Just come on in and ask for Stu!”

Dad then he turned to the back seats where my brother and I sat. He was grinning. “BEEF STU!!” he said to us. And then he did a thing he did many times, he cackled like a man possessed.

* * *

My father married the prettiest girl in town, my mom, in Portville, New York. They were married in 1965. We never knew how he managed to swing that, as he had a nose like a troll straight out of the Monster Manual. He wasn’t always like that, he told us that when he was young he was at a bar and was leaving and someone just shut the door in his face and broke it. Many years later, like when we were in our forties, he told us that he was actually in a bar fight. My brother almost developed the same nose – when he was probably 12 years old, he was trying to catch a football in the backyard. My brother was focused on the pass and it went into his hands and then – BAM! – he busted his own nose on the above-ground swimming pool that was our next door neighbor’s.

My dad waited a few days and then asked Mike a question he would ask people many times.

“Hey Mikey, does your face hurt?”

Mike said no, it didn’t.

“Well it’s KILLING ME!”

* * *

As much as he liked cars he disliked bad management. He worked 25 years for Kodak before he went into business for himself selling cars. One year, rather than give people interesting work or raises or more time off, Kodak was trying to demonstrate some ill-conceived fake concern from upper management about how all the blue collar workers would be more efficient if they knew more about each other. I guess in the 1980s the hucksters could extract money for their snake oil solutions that way.

So Dad and everyone else he worked with was in a conference room when the consultants, trying to illustrate their point said, “Even though every one of you drive on the same roads to come in here, none of you know what any of the rest of you even drive to work!” At that point my dad raised his hand.

“I do!” And he went around the room, pointing to every person there. “1982 Chrysler Cordoba! 1981 Toyota Tercel! 1983 Volkswagon Rabbit!” He did this for every person there. He had no patience for phonies and even less for dumb bureaucracy. He never easy to manage and he actually reported to my brother for the last ten years of his working life and I have to give him credit for creating the one manager at work that could handle him.

* * *

I saw my dad break down twice. The first was when he had to put our first dog, an Irish setter named Ginger down. The second was when my mom got sick about three years ago. He loved my mom so much, his big goofy face would light up every time she called when we were out. A few years after Ginger died he did get us a puppy, a cocker spaniel named Corky. We got him one summer after he asked us to help clear the tangled mess of land out back from our home. He woke us up a couple weeks into summer vacation from school and told us that we had to dig up weeds and haul away all the overgrown vegetation.

“You two won’t have to do it by yourself,” he said.

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad then. But what did he mean by that? Would we have help?

“You’ll have some help from our south of the border friend, Manual Labor!” And then that cackle again.

* * *

He died with us holding his hand. My beautiful wife, in what was just pure coincidence, bought me a ticket home the weekend he died. He was surrounded by his family.

My father bought us a computer for Christmas, it changed my life. I work on a computer every day of my life, I knew I wanted to be a programmer when I was 12 years old. He brought home a modem which I used to get on-line, where I met some of my best friends to this day, where I am typing this now. He figured out a loophole to get me into Syracuse and after college my friends had all moved to Colorado where I joined them, started my career and met my wife.

I’m an engineering manager and in this field, nobody exactly gives you a manual on how to do your job. You start working there before other people in your group and just sort of get to manage the ones hired later. If I am good at it at all, the only thing I have over anyone else in my position is that I got a first class education in the bad management my father observed for 20 years. I know what not to do. He went to work every day doing things he couldn’t have enjoyed to help my brother and I grow up and achieve everything we’ve accomplished. Everything I have in life I owe to my mom and dad. I miss him every day and every day that I wake up I remember again that he’s gone.

M dad had something he always said about the future, something that always brought a smile to us. It was his best philosophic observation. “I can’t wait for tomorrow,” he would say, “because I get better-looking every day.”


Bob Sherwin
My dad
1944-2021

Our Visit to Arkadia Retrocade
Apr 10th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Flack's former Commando game, yesterday

I’m not going to be able to do justice to the incredible experience that is Shea Mathis’s arcade, Arkadia Retrocade. My wife surprised me with a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas this previous weekend and on Tuesday we were able to say hello and take in the wonder that is this place. I don’t know how the pandemic has been going for you, but I’ve had a substandard one, so this trip was much appreciated. I also got jabbed to hell a while ago because I donned a tiger costume and sat with my hiney in the air in the Bronx Zoo, awaiting my vaxx shot with Harvey Weinstein and O.J., and every other American criminal they were testing multiple times a year ago as the rest of us chumps obeyed the law and had to figure out if we had it or not by the science of “guessing.”

(But first! Wait, before anything else I’d like to recommend a couple articles that my friend Flack wrote so that you can get additional perspectives. Ok, then come back here.)

Flack is also important to this story because we got into Fayetteville and then drove to Oklahoma City to see Flack and his wife Susan. We were at an arcade in OKC called Up/Down and I can contrast these two arcades as follows: At Up/Down, a barcade, the pedal was constantly depressed for the blue driver in “Ironman” Ivan Stewart’s Offroad game and the girls in the game were in bikinis. At Arkadia Retrocade, a regular or “non-alcoholic” arcade, the setting was active to put the girls in dresses because it’s more of a family friendly place and the only thing depressed was me before I got inside.

It’s not possible to be depressed inside Arkadia Retrocade, and it’s the best arcade I’ve ever been to in my life.

I first met Shea in 2012 at the Oklahoma Video Game Expo and he was talking about the arcade that he was going to create. If ever one man was going to be a success in a difficult field through pure energy, enthusiasm and force of personality, it was Shea and this arcade of his. And I am delighted to say that — after getting a few hours to experience it — he did it. He realized the dream. I think every one that starts collecting games has an idle wish to one day open an arcade, but for most of us we get derailed. Not Shea and not here. In addition to games, the pure amount of retro items is almost overwhelming once you’re inside.

But yeah, as soon as you walk in you’ll see the full size cabinet of Donkey Kong! Donkey Kong Jr.! Pengo! Paperboy! Crystal Castles! A cocktail Popeye in one corner. Satan’s Hollow along a row of classics. I couldn’t decide what to play first. Tony Temple wrote a great book on Missile Command that is heavy with lunatics. MC was on my mind due to his book and I think that was the first game I had to try. It had been a little while since I played Missile Command and it holds up so well, unlike the descending nuclear missiles in every game manned by me of Missile Command.

There is interesting detail everywhere inside the building. A local artist created a huge mural along the back wall of the second area, but to even get to that point you’ll pass so many items that will make people in my generation go, “Ooh, I had that!” or if you grew up in my town something like, “Oh, I had that, but then that piece of trash in my grade stole it when I brought it to school!” There are mini handheld arcade games on walls (the ones that Coleco made, I think? You know the ones) and Shea also has the first trackball (“trak-ball”) that I had ever encountered, the Atari 2600 one. A lifelong obsession! These are a few items but there’s hundreds if not thousands of similar items everywhere on the walls and on shelves.

But I love this view as you look over the second area in Arkadia. I didn’t bring my camera because we were on a “Frontier” flight, the airline that enlists pictures of wild animals in dark patterns to try to get you to pay them hundreds of extra dollars for this new invention called “luggage” which I guess the CEO of Frontier thinks is a fad. So these are phone pics that don’t represent me as an artist. You walk past this doorway and you get to see dozens more arcade games, the weird and obscure stuff, all ready for you at the bottom of a long walkway. If the new area was the entire arcade it would be worth it. The space on both levels is used really well, too – at no point did my wife or I think we were cramped. (That would have changed if I had gotten her in the Environmental Discs of Tron at AK, but I already played that card years ago in Colorado. And, well, she’s not stupid. She’s not falling for that again. Even though to me the absolute height of comedy is having Sark chortle at a now-angry game player awkwardly trying to expunge themselves from Environmental Discs of Tron after playing it badly and failing, you don’t do that to someone when you get married. It showed up in our vows.)

I’ve been interested in arcade games for a long time and had many of them fall on me and Arkadia had games that I had never heard of. It would have been a delight to have them fall on me, crushing my bones to powder as I said, “I didn’t know about this game. This is incredibly painful.”

I got one wish. There’s one thing I wish! The only thing I wish is that I had some way to represent Arkadia out where I live with various forms of swag. Shirts, mugs, hats, that kind of thing. I know that small business owners get a zillion people telling them what they should do, so that’s not me here doing that, just reiterating that America wants to shows its love for the Arkadia Retrocade. We had a great time and I’m trying to figure out when we can return.

Shea, thanks for everything!

The Importance of Wearing a Mask To Conceal Identity: Ripped From Yesterday’s Headlines
Jan 16th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Wear a mask, dummy There are starting to be jokes written about how the traitors that tried to overthrow the government on January 6th, 2021 are all getting caught in part due to the fact that none of the dipshits wore masks. When I was a kid my brother and I would watch the G.I. Joe cartoon or read the comic book and it’s impressive how many Cobra agents wore masks or otherwise were difficult to identify.

Cobra Commander: TWO masks – either a cloth one or a metal helmet.
Destro: entire face permanently encased in malleable, yet identity-concealing metal.
Storm Shadow: wore a mask and usually kept distinctive tattoos covered.
Zartan: can change his face at any time. How do you prosecute a man like this?
Scar-Face: called Scar-Face because he literally had scars all over his face and wore a bandana because he knew he was an eyesore.
Scrap-Iron: wore one of those Ricky Williams-style helmets so you couldn’t see his eyes.
RaptorCroc MasterFirefly… these are all masked terrorists that took precautions.

 

That leaves The Baroness, sure, but she at least had the “Clark Kent glasses” thing if she wanted. But alas, there is… Major Bludd.

Major Bludd just had an eye patch but no real mask or identity covering. The eye patch was medicinal. He wore the same clothes at work or if he was off the clock. One of the early issues of the comic book had a scene where two G.I. Joes — Stalker and Grand Slam — had to take a bus somewhere and Major Bludd happened to get on the bus at the same time. I would now like to post one of my favorite comic panels ever:

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In this panel, a terrorist that is very much not wearing a mask got his jaw kicked in and broken like a bitch by a real American hero. It is important to know that Stalker and Grand SlamĀ would not have identified Major Bludd if Bludd had simply worn a mask like his co-workers did when engaged in his anti-American terrorism. But Bludd didn’t wear a mask during his terrorism because he is a fucking moron. If this issue took place in the present day rather than the 1980s, it would be perfectly in character for Bludd to have been on his way to negotiate a group rate for all Cobra contractors and employees with Foursquare.

Buffalo Sabres 2021 Home Opener
Jan 15th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Just some opening day thoughts from someone who followed hockey very closely from the late 80s to the early 00s and then fell away from the game and is attempting to get back into it. I am sure these thoughts will be as insipid as hell six months from now.

The Sabres played the Capitals to an empty crowd last night to start the 2021 season. I think I can inline a tweet that has an image of Victor Olofsson’s beautiful goal (and Taylor Hall was AS ADVERTISED, best Sabre on the ice to the point where it was obvious as I am still memorizing the jersey numbers and it was clear just how good he is).

My favorite player growing up was Mark Recchi, who was a right winger that had a left shot and I have memories of Recchi sniping just like in the video above. Hockey Reference lists Olofsson as a right winger, but everything I had read leading up to that was that Olofsson was a left winger… I dunno. He looks DEADLY right there. I’m still trying to figure out how important the right wing and left wing spots are.

I didn’t really see Jeff Skinner at all last night. Clearly we don’t know what is going on with him and the Sabres coach (Ralph Krueger). Skinner is on the fourth line — on the third line at LW was Tobias Reider, who I had unfortunately not heard of before I saw the opening lineups last night. Again, my bad, but Jesus. Skinner is clearly in coach Ralph Krueger’s doghouse. What else could it be? Skinner is making $9 million a year to put the puck in the net, why he wouldn’t get paired with wunderprospect Dylan Cozens I have no idea. I just don’t know!!

Eric Staal had a turnover that was pretty costly but when I go back into the office again for the first time in however many months I’m sure I’m going to screw up too and microwave fish or something. (I’m sure my co-workers loved the weekly curry deliveries.) One of the goals the Capitals scored was an empty netter at the end, so really the game was 5-4 going into the last minute – Krueger pulled the goalie with like 4 minutes left and it paid off. Pulling the goalie that early was a new strategy for me, for some reason I thought it just got done in the last minute but with the Sabres down two goals with 4 minutes left it made sense.

This game wasn’t a moral victory or anything but it was entertaining enough to watch. And the Sabres play the Caps again tonight. One of the things I tried to do for myself is learn a little bit about who Buffalo is playing. I knew the Caps won the Cup in 2017-2018 but the pre-game show for the Caps implied that the coach was a different guy — the Caps won the Cup with a guy named Barry Trotz, who left the team after winning the Cup due to a contract dispute. That’s crazy! I feel like if a coach ever wins a championship in Buffalo for hockey or football that guy would never be allowed to fly out of the city, something they really only initiated for people involved with the Capitals this last week, ha ha ha.

Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos
Oct 5th, 2020 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I made a new game with Mike Sousa! It’s called Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos. Let me see if I can in-line the blurb.

There was an aye-aye behind the bar, staring at me horribly. Or maybe its face just froze that way. I was waiting for my client at ten at night in a dusty, dirty town in the middle of nowhere. Clouds out here were apparently one of the thirty million newly unemployed. There was a missing woman and my client was about to hire an amateur private detective with the world’s most technologically advanced cellular phone. This was going to be a cinch. Seriously. It’ll take me like two searches with it to close this case. Three if mid-investigation I check on my torrents.

Y-You’re a player of the 2020 Interactive Fiction competition. I’m Jay. Let’s straddle the edge.

Download Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos (Story File)

Download the TADS game runner for Windows – HTML TADS, Linux or OSX – QTads.

Commodore 64 Emulator Cheat Sheet
Jun 22nd, 2020 by Rob O'Hara

YOU: You’re trying to get the Commodore 64 working in an emulator but you didn’t have one growing up or you don’t remember some specifics. That’s ok! Commodork is here to help you! Take it away, Rob!

01. BASIC

Powering on the Commodore 64 places you at a BASIC prompt. Note that by simply turning the machine on, the amount of available RAM drops from 64k to 39k. Fake news!

02. ATTACHING A DISK IMAGE

All Commodore 64 emulators recognize .D64 files as Commodore disk images. In real life you would would insert a disk into your disk drive before using it. In an emulator, you must “attach” the disk. Different emulators have different ways to do this but they’re all the same basic idea. Note that each physical disk drive on the Commodore 64 had an assigned number on the serial bus, and the first one was always #8. 99% of all Commodore programs assume you are loading from drive 8, and many/most multifile programs will fail if loaded from a different drive.

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