Saturday, July 11, 2020

My Basic Programs for the Maximite


I have started placing all the basic programs I write for this website on my Google drive and made it public. This is for those of you who do not want to type them in by had. Personally, I think you should type them in by hand, especially if you are just learning to program in MMBasic. Typing in the programs is a good way to start learning and retaining computer programing. Besides that, most of these programs are fairly short. So if you have been following my tutorials and such, the programs are here;

Google Drive Link

As I progress, I will add more to the drive.

The Practical Maximite Part 3

In this tutorial we are going to learn how to take advantage of the Arduino compatibility of the Maximite. All of the Colour Maximites have the headers, but not al of them have the sockets soldered in. Mine came with the sockets, if yours did not, you will have to stop here.

When I was making the choice as to what Arduino hat I wanted for my Maximite, it was actually a pretty easy choice. An LCD hat gives you another readable output, which is good for a number of things like error capturing when debugging programs and providing secondary information. These also provide you with a set of buttons that you can use to trigger events. The hat I got can be found here; 16x2 LCD Keypad Shield 1602. These hats are made by many companies, are readily available and are cheap, since you can generally get them for under $10. Make sure if you are buying one of these from a different manufacturer, that is is built on a HD44780 LCD chip, MMBasic has built in support for this chipset.



There are a couple of caveats with these hats, first, there is a reset button, this is handy for resetting your Maximite if, like me, you do not have a power switch. The downside is, if you accidentally press it, you will loose any unsaved programs you have in memory, so be careful and save often. Second, there is a select button, this does not work, it is hooked up to the 5 volt rail, but I have no idea what Pin it is connected to. Lastly, if at first you cannot get anything to display, the contrast is probably set way too low. The contrast is controlled by a screw on top of the blue plastic thing in the upper left corner of the hat. Give the screw 10 complete turns clockwise, and that should make your text become visible and you can adjust to taste from there.

 Now, lets get on with doing useful things with this hat. I am sure the first thing you want to know is how do you get text on the screen. The first thing you must do is initialize the LCD by telling your program which pins it will be using to communicate, 99% of the time, this is d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9 and this is done by simply adding "LCD INIT d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9" to the top of the program. Next we issue the LCD command, the first number tells the Maximite which line to print the text on (1 or 2), the second number tells the Maximite what position in the line to put the text (1 - 16), this is then followed by the text you want displayed. The following program displays "Hello World" followed by the date.

'lcdtxt.bas
LCD INIT d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9
LCD 1,1,"Hello World"
LCD 2,1, Date$

That is the easy part. The next thing we want to do is make the buttons do something useful. All of the buttons are connected to Pin 35, when in use, Pin 35 will constantly output 3.3 volts, when one of the buttons is pressed, that voltage is reduced and the button can be determined by the voltage. Unfortunately, the voltage differs from board to board, which means you need to determine what these voltages are. The following program configures Pin 35 for Analog Input, this is so we can read the voltage being put out by the pin. The program then starts polling the pin, if no button is pressed and the voltage is 3.3, it does nothing, because no button is being pressed. If the voltage drops, meaning a button is pressed, it prints the voltage on your monitor. Press each button and make a note of the the output for each button.

'bttnvolt.bas
SetPin 35,AIN

Main:

  Volt = Pin(35)
  If Volt <> 3.3 Then Print Volt

GoTo Main

My results were Left=2.01, Right=0, Up=0.49 and Down=1.26, the numbers actually went out 5 decimal places, but don't worry about that. The Right button is easy, Voltage is 0. Left and Down are both fairly close to 2 and 1 respectively, so by using the Int() function, I can round those values down, without worrying about minor variations in the voltage. Up is a bit more complicated, for this, I need to check to see is the voltage is less than 1 and greater than 0, not tough, but something you have to pay attention to. Putting this altogether, the following program configures Pin 35, initializes the LCD, and displays "LCD Button Test" on the first line. The program then polls Pin 35 for a button press and the displays on the second line which button was pressed. The trailing "*" are there simply to make each string the same length, and no characters are left over from the last button press.

'bttntest.bas
SetPin 35,1
LCD INIT d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9
LCD 1,1,"LCD Button Test"

Main:
  Volt = Pin(35)
  If Volt = 0 Then LCD 2,1, "*Right"
  If Int(Volt) = 2 Then LCD 2,1, "*Left*"
  If Int(Volt) = 1 Then LCD 2,1, "*Down*"
  If Volt < 1 And Volt > 0 Then LCD 2,1, "*Up***"
GoTo Main

If you have the LED's from the previous tutorial still connected, you can use the buttons to blink the LED's.

'bblink.bas
SetPin 12, DOUT
SetPin 13, DOUT
SetPin 14, DOUT
SetPin 15, DOUT
SetPin 35, AIN
LCD INIT d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9
LCD 1,1,"LCD Button Test"

Main:
 Volt = Pin(35)

If Volt = 0 Then
    LCD 2,1, "*Right"
    Pin(15) = 1
      Else
        Pin(15) = 0
  EndIf

  If Int(Volt) = 2 Then
    LCD 2,1, "*Left*"
    Pin(12) = 1
      Else
        Pin(12) = 0
  EndIf

  If Int(Volt) = 1 Then
    LCD 2,1, "*Down*"
    Pin(14) = 1
      Else
        Pin(14) = 0
  EndIf

  If Volt < 1 And Volt > 0 Then
    LCD 2,1, "*Up***"
    Pin(13) = 1
      Else
        Pin(13) = 0
  EndIf

GoTo Main

________________________________________________________

Here are some useful programs for handling the LCD Hat.

'bloff.bas
' This turns the backlight off
SetPin31,DOUT
Pin(31) = 0

'blon.bas
'This turns the backlight on
SetPin31,DOUT
Pin(31) =1

'lcdcls.bas
'This clears all text from the LCD
LCD INIT d4,d5,d6,d7,d8,d9
LCD Clear

The Practical Maximite Part 2

In this tutorial, we are going to add 3 more LED's for a total of 4, then make them blink randomly. For added joy, we will draw matching circles on the screen and depending on how annoying you want to be, we will add sounds to go along with the random blinking. Before I go into the program, you will need to wire up 3 more LED's, if you made it through the last tutorial, it should not be too much of a stretch to wire up these other three. Just remember the Ground needs to connect to the short wire on the LED and the the Data Pins (13,14 and 15) hook up to the long wire on the LED through a resister. Here is mine, the green wires are Ground, the Orange wires are the Data Pins.


Blinking LED's: I went over this in my first tutorial, if you have not worked through that, I suggest you do. We need to configure each Pin for data output, so we can turn the LED's off and on.

Random Numbers: The point of this exercise is to make the 4 LED's blink on and off randomly. We do this by setting the variables G, Y, R and B to either 1 or 2 and we want to assign this randomly. MMBasic has its own random number generator built in, to use it the first thing we must do is seed it off the system clock, this ensures the numbers will be as random as possible. We then use the RND function to generate a random number between 0 and 1, in order to get a number between 0 and 2, we need to multiply the number generated by the RND function by 2, this will generate numbers like .0005432 or 1.0274591, what we want to do is round those numbers to the nearest whole number, being 0 or 1 by using the Int function, then we add 1 to it, so we get a 1 or 2. This is done with the following code; "B = Int(Rnd * 2) + 1". If we wanted to produce a number between 1 and 6 (think 6 sided dice) we would use "Dice = Int(Rnd * 6) + 1".

Circles: When I was originally messing around with my Maximite, I wanted to put matching colored circles on the screen that would flash along with the LED's, that way if something went wrong, I would have some sort of indicator of what might be happening, plus it kind of adds to the show. The circile function is used something like this; "Circle (x pos,y pos), radius, color, aspect, fill/nofill". In the parenthesis is the X and Y positions on the screen, (50,100) would mean the circle is centered 50 pixels from the left and 100 pixels from the top. Radius is exactly that 25 would set the radius of the circle to 25 pixels. The aspect will define the aspect ratio. Because the Maximite's pixels are rectangular an aspect ratio of 0.833 will result in a perfect circle (more or less) on most monitors. Other ratios can be specified for a variety of ovals. If nothing is specified the default is 1.0. So, "Circle (50,100), 25, 2, .833" will produce an empty green circle. Adding an "f" to the end as such; "Circle (50,100), 25, 2, .833, f" will produce a solid green circle.The following shows the numbers assigned for each of the basic 8 colors, 0 is Black.



Sound: This is really just an annoying add on, which I actually did not find use for until later on. But I am putting it here, because, well it is annoying. The Sound function is an easy way to play crude musical notes. The format of the function is fairly simple, "Sound Frequency, Duration". For instance "Sound 440, 250" will play the A note for 250 milliseconds ( one quarter of a second). For this program I am going to use 4 notes and they are as follows; 440 - A, 454 - B, 523 - C and 587 - D. If these are not correct, blame this site, it is where i got these numbers from. I determine the note to play by generating a random number between 1 and 4 with "S = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1", set the S1 variable to the frequency depending on the value of S and then play the note with "Sound S1,250".

Now lets tie this altogether, we start the program with seeding the random number generator, initialize the Data Pin configurations for Data Output and draw out initial circles on the screen.

We then move into the main program, where we randomly determine which LED's will be on and what key we will play and plays it. Then you will see for each of the variables G, Y, R, and B, we check to see if they are a 1 or a 2, using If-Then-EndIf statements. If the variable is set to one, it does not light the LED and draws an empty circle. If the variable is 2, it turns the LED on and draws the corresponding circle filled in. The program then pauses for half a second and goes back to the Main label and starts over again. The program will cycle through this until Ctrl-C is pressed.

' rndblink.bas
Randomize Timer

SetPin 12, DOUT
SetPin 13, DOUT
SetPin 14, DOUT
SetPin 15, DOUT

Circle (50,100), 25, 2, .833, f
Circle (101,100), 25, 6, .833, f
Circle (151,100), 25, 4, .833, f
Circle (201,100), 25, 1, .833, f

Main:
  Cls

  G = Int(Rnd * 2) + 1
  Y = Int(Rnd * 2) + 1
  R = Int(Rnd * 2) + 1
  B = Int(Rnd * 2) + 1
  S = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1

  If S = 1 Then S1 = 440
  If S = 2 Then S1 = 454
  If S = 3 Then S1 = 523
  If S = 4 Then S1 = 587



  Sound S1,250

  If G = 1 Then
    G1 = 7
    Pin(12) = 0
    Circle (50,100), 25, G1, .833
  Endif

  If G = 2 Then
    G1 = 2
    Pin(12) = 1
    Circle (50,100), 25, G1, .833, f
  Endif

  If Y = 1 Then
    Y1 = 7
    Pin(13) = 0
    Circle (101,100), 25, Y1, .833
  Endif


  If Y = 2 Then
    Y1 = 6
    Pin(13) = 1
    Circle (101,100), 25, Y1, .833, f
  Endif

  If R = 1 Then
    R1 = 7
    Pin(14) = 0
    Circle (151,100), 25, R1, .833
  Endif


  If R = 2 Then
    R1 = 4
    Pin(14) = 1
    Circle (151,100), 25, R1, .833, f
  Endif

  If B = 1 Then
    B1 = 7
    Pin(15) = 0
    Circle (201,100), 25, B1, .833
  Endif

  If B = 2 Then
    B1 = 1
    Pin(15) = 1
    Circle (201,100), 25, B1, .833, f
  Endif

  Pause 500

GoTo Main

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Practical Maximite Part 1

Over the last week or so, I have been experimenting with the Colour Maximite. I have discovered two things as I have been moving along. First, the people at the Backshed forum, where most of the Maximite community hangs out, is not terrible helpful. They are not mean or anything like that, they are just somewhat insular, and are not helpful to newcomers. The second thing I found is there does not seem to be much in the way of useful tutorials. Certainly there are some guides and such, but mostly they are a hodge podge of things mixed together, making it difficult to know where to begin or even to find what you are looking for.

With this in mind, I thought I would create two, maybe three tutorials on what I learned in the last week, starting with how to use the thing with a breadboard, hooking up an LED and making it blink. From there I will work in an LCD panel, and along the way we will draw some circles and play some sounds, maybe even some music. What I am not going to do is go over setting the Maximite up or using the editor, there are plenty of places you can go to learn this. I am also not going to go too deeply into programming in Basic. My goal here is to get you started doing some simple things, so you can get an understanding of how this works at its most basic level.

What you will need is either a Colour Maximite or Color Maximite 2, the  Colour Maximite is cheaper, but the Color Maximite 2 is easier to get at this point. You should not spend much more than $100 to $130 for a fully assembled machine. You will also need 1 breadboard, 2 jumper wires, 1 470 Ohm Resister and 1 LED.

The first thing we need to do is wire the LED to the Maximite. Plug one jumper wire into Pin 12 on the back of the Maximite, in my picture, I use a yellow wire. Next plug another wire into Ground (GND) on the back of the Maximite, I used a red wire. Once that is done, we need to plug those wires into the breadboard. In most breadboards, the holes in each horizontal column are a connected set of five, the holes going vertically, are not connected. You will notice a gap in the middle of the board  separates the set of five on top and the set of 5 on the bottom, these sets are also not connected. So plug Pin 12 wire into the top left corner hole, then take the resister and plug one side into the one of the holes connected to Pin 12, and plug the other side into top hole just across the gap. Next, plug in the LED so the long wire is in the same horizontal column as the resister. This connects the LED to the resister, which is needed to reduce the voltage, then on to Pin 12. The short wire on the LED should then plug into a hole vertically next to the long wire, then plug GND wire into one of the other holes in the same set of 5 holes as the LED short wire. Your wiring should look similar to mine.




Now we start programming. Start up your Maximite and type edit. We need to start by telling the machine which Pin we are going to use and what we expect to do with it. In this case we want to use Pin 12 and we want to tell it to turn off and on. "SetPin 12,DOUT" is how we do this, when using SetPin the first option is the Pin number, the second is the how we want to configure the Pin. In this case we want Digital Output, here are the other options;



After that we simply loop the main commands Pin(12) and Pause, until Ctrl-c is pressed. Pin(12)=1 turns the LCD on and Pin(12)=0 turns it off. The Pause 500 command simply tells the program to wait for half a second, then continue, by increasing or decreasing this number you can speed up or slow down the blinking.

'blink.bas
SetPin 12,DOUT

Main:
  Pin(12) = 1
  Pause 500
  Pin(12) = 0
  Pause 500
  GoTo Main

And that is pretty much it for my first tutorial. If it does not work, make sure you have wired it up correctly, specifically that the long wire on the LED is plugged in with the resistor and Pin 12, then check to make sure you typed in the program properly. Also, do not forget to save your program, we will be expanding it in the next tutorial.

Monday, June 29, 2020

RE: Basic Program for making a D&D Character

I am messing around with a Maximite Basic Box, which is a small computer like device that boots straight into a Basic programming language environment, in much the same way computers did back in the 70's and 80's. I updated my D&D Character generator program to run on it. Obviously, I took out the line numbers, but I added Hit Point Bonus for high Constitution, updated the attribute roller to roll 4d6 and take the best 3 and some cheater code to ask if you want to keep the character after the dice have been rolled for attributes.

Randomize Timer
DIM DICE(4)

Main:
  GoSub Roll4d6
  STRENGTH = TOTAL
  GoSub Roll4d6
  INTELLIGENCE = TOTAL
  GoSub Roll4d6
  WISDOM = TOTAL
  GoSub Roll4d6
  DEXTERITY = TOTAL
  GoSub Roll4d6
  CONSTITUTION = TOTAL
  GoSub Roll4d6
  CHARISMA = TOTAL

  GoSub ShowStat

  Print: Print "Keep Character?"
  GoSub YesNo
  If YN = 2 GoTo Main

  Print "Choose your Race:"
  Print " 1 Dwarf"
  Print " 2 Elf"
  Print " 3 Halfling"
  Print " 4 Human"
  Input CHOICER
    If CHOICER = 1 Then RACE$ = "Dwarf"
    If CHOICER = 2 Then RACE$ = "Elf"
    If CHOICER = 3 Then RACE$ = "Halfling"
    If CHOICER = 4 Then RACE$ = "Human"
    If CHOICER = 1 Then STRENGTH = STRENGTH + 1
    If CHOICER = 1 Then CHARISMA = CHARISMA - 1
    If CHOICER = 2 Then DEXTERITY = DEXTERITY + 1
    If CHOICER = 2 Then CONSTITUTION = CONSTITUTION - 1
    If CHOICER = 3 Then DEXTERITY = DEXTERITY + 1
    If CHOICER = 3 Then STRENGTH = STRENGTH - 1

  GoSub ShowStat

  Print "Choose your Class:"
  Print " 1 Cleric"
  Print " 2 Fighter"
  Print " 3 Magic-User"
  Print " 4 Thief"
  Input CHOICEC
    If CHOICEC = 1 Then CLASS$ = "Cleric"
    If CHOICEC = 2 Then CLASS$ = "Fighter"
    If CHOICEC = 3 Then CLASS$ = "Magic-User"
    If CHOICEC = 4 Then CLASS$ = "Theif"
    If CHOICEC = 1 Then HITPOINTS = 8
    If CHOICEC = 2 Then HITPOINTS = 10
    If CHOICEC = 3 Then HITPOINTS = 4
    If CHOICEC = 4 Then HITPOINTS = 6

  DICE1 = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1
  DICE2 = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1
  DICE3 = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1
  DICE4 = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1
  DICE5 = Int(Rnd * 4) + 1
  GOLD = (DICE1 + DICE2 + DICE3 + DICE4 + DICE5) * 10

  GoSub CheckCon

  Print: Print "What is your Name"
  Input NAME$
  Print
  Print "D&D Character Sheet 1.0"
  Print "------------------------------": Print
  Print "Character Name: "; NAME$
  Print "Character Race: "; RACE$
  Print "Character Class: "; CLASS$
  Print "------------------------------"
  Print
  Print "STR: "; STRENGTH
  Print "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE
  Print "WIS: "; WISDOM
  Print "DEX: "; DEXTERITY
  Print "CON: "; CONSTITUTION
  Print "CHR: "; CHARISMA
  Print
  Print "Hit Points: "; HITPOINTS
  Print
  Print "Gold: "; GOLD
  Print "------------------------------"

  Print: Print "Save Character?"
  GoSub YesNo
  If YN = 2 GoTo FinishUp

  Open NAME$ + ".txt" For OUTPUT As #1
  Print #1,
  Print #1, "D&D Character Sheet 1.0"
  Print #1, "------------------------------": Print #1,
  Print #1, "Character Name: "; NAME$
  Print #1, "Character Race: "; RACE$
  Print #1, "Character Class: "; CLASS$
  Print #1, "------------------------------"
  Print #1,
  Print #1, "STR: "; STRENGTH
  Print #1, "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE
  Print #1, "WIS: "; WISDOM
  Print #1, "DEX: "; DEXTERITY
  Print #1, "CON: "; CONSTITUTION
  Print #1, "CHR: "; CHARISMA
  Print #1,
  Print #1, "Hit Points: "; HITPOINTS
  Print #1,
  Print #1, "Gold: "; GOLD
  Print #1, "------------------------------": Print #1,
  Print #1, "EQUIPMENT:"
  Close #1
  GoTo FinishUp

Roll4d6:
  DICE(1) = Int(Rnd * 6) + 1
  DICE(2) = Int(Rnd * 6) + 1
  DICE(3) = Int(Rnd * 6) + 1
  DICE(4) = Int(Rnd * 6) + 1

  Flips = 1
  Do
    Flips = 0
    For Count = 1 to 3
      If DICE(Count) > DICE(Count+1) Then
        Swap DICE(Count),DICE(Count+1)
        Flips = 1
      ENDIF
    Next
  Loop While Flips = 1
  TOTAL = DICE(2) + DICE(3) + DICE(4)
  Return

  Sub SWAP X,Y
    Local Z
    Z = X
    X = Y
    Y = Z
  End Sub

CheckCon:
  If CONSTITUTION = 15 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+1
  If CONSTITUTION = 16 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+2
  If CONSTITUTION = 17 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+2
  If CONSTITUTION = 18 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+2
  GoSub CheckFighter
  Return

CheckFighter:
  If CHOICEC <> 2 Then Return
  If CONSTITUTION = 17 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+1
  If CONSTITUTION = 18 Then HITPOINTS = HITPOINTS+2
  Return

ShowStat:
  Print "STR: "; STRENGTH
  Print "INT: "; INTELLIGENCE
  Print "WIS: "; WISDOM
  Print "DEX: "; DEXTERITY
  Print "CON: "; CONSTITUTION
  Print "CHR: "; CHARISMA
  Print
  Return

YesNo:
  Print "1 Yes"
  Print "2 No"
  Input YN
  Return

FinishUp:
End

Dungeons & Dragons News

There are a couple of things going on in the world of D&D, both on a personal level, and the world at large.

First off, I just started DMing again after a nice 6 month break. My group decided they wanted to play some good old fashion AD&D 1E. This game has been out of print since 1991, and has been out of favor longer than that. The core 3 players all said this was what they wanted to play, they said they were tired of bonus actions, reactions, feats and weird combinations of multiclassing that breaks the game. Back then there was not a lot of options, characters were not differentiated by their race, class, or attributes, but rather how the player played that character.It did not matter if you were a fighter with a Strength of 13 or 18, what mattered is what you did and what you contributed to the game.

The other thing that is slipping in, is The makers of D&D, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has decided it is going to change the game to add more diversity by eliminating all evil races, not really eliminating them, but rather make races like orcs and drow just as morally and culturally complex as other peoples, meaning they will no longer be culturally evil. A lot of people are upset about this, you know because why not. Personally, I say play the game you want to play and don't worry about what WotC or anyone else wants. The bottom line is, this is our game, sure they publish the rules, but we are the ones who bring it to life. Really, it is not a big deal.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Review: The Sparrow #1

The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Sparrow is a somewhat difficult book to enjoy. This is not to say it is a bad book, it is in fact a very well written book with a very interesting first contact story. The reason it is difficult to enjoy is because some very terrible things happen to the primary character Emillio Sandoz. I am sure the author's intent was to write a modern day Book of Job. Father Emillio Sandoz is a Jesuit priest blessed with many friends and a happy successful career, serving God. When one of his friends detects radio transmission from space, this sets Father Sandoz on his path to destruction, where his friends, his freedom and his purpose in life are all stripped from him as he slips into slavery and degradation. Father Sandoz's faith is tested to the very limits.

The Sparrow is a story of how NOT to send people 4 light years to make first contact with an alien race. I get it, the idea that an organization like the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), has the resources and the ability to make a unilateral decision to send 8 people into space and make it happen, is an interesting one. The author explores this idea pretty well and makes it abundantly clear how bad of an idea it really is. None of these people were truly equipped to deal with cultural differences and their doom was inevitable, because they simply did not understand what was happening around them and why. Missionaries have historically always been on the leading edge of exploration, after all, bringing the word of God to heathens is part of the very DNA of almost all religions. This, however, does not make them the best candidates for such things.

From the point of view of speculative fiction, this is a really interesting book, from the view point of an empathetic human being, this book is rather depressing and it is difficult not to put the book down as the fate of the crew unfolds. At this point I have not decided if I am going to read the second book or not.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 25, 2020

It is Memorial Day

Summer is book ended by two holidays, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Every Memorial Day I have high hopes for the summer, but usually by Labor Day I am disappointed. You would think by now I would have learned my lesson. This year, my expectations for summer are very low, not because I learned my lesson, but because COVID-19 is here and it is not going anywhere. Sure there will likely be a slow down the infection rate, but it will not go away and come fall, we will see the second wave and everyone will be surprised.

So I would like to turn my attention to Memorial Day itself, not as the beginning of summer, or a day of BBQ, but rather as a solemn day of remembrance. To be clear, Memorial Day is for soldiers who lost their lives during conflicts. Veterans Day is when we show our gratitude to those who survived those conflicts.

I am a veteran, I have been to war, but more importantly, I have seen the results of war. I am going to state clearly and without regret, that war is never worth the end result. I am not going to tell you the United States should not have entered World War II, we had no choice and it was the right thing to do. However, World War II never should have started in the first place. Adolf Hitler's dream of world domination was not on any level worth the lose of even one life, let alone millions. I say the same thing about the 2nd gulf war, whatever reason George W. Bush had for starting that war, was not worth the end result.

I am certain I will receive criticism for this point of view, after all, isn't the world a better place without Saddam Hussein? The answer is, no the world is not a better place, because nothing has particularly changed. The middle east is still a mess and has turned into nothing more than meat grinder for American troops. Certainly Iraq is a democracy now, but it is one that is being propped up by 25,000 American troops who remain stationed there and the billions of dollars a year we send in aid. If we were to withdraw, the people of that nation would likely vote themselves into another dictatorship in just a few years, so no meaningful change has occurred in the world as a result of that war.

I do believe we should remember these men and women who sacrificed themselves and we should show them the respect they earned, we should not fool ourselves into thinking their sacrifice had meaning, because it did not. War should not be glorified, it should be viewed as a failure of humanity.

Edit:
So think about this when deciding if the Iraq war was necessary or not. If Iraq's primary export was strawberry jelly rather than oil, but everything else was the same, would we have still found it necessary to invade?

Sunday, May 10, 2020

RE: Mothers Day Thoughts

My wife and I never had children. It was not for lack of trying, because we did, but my wife's health issues made carrying a baby to term very difficult to say the least. By the time we were in our 40's, her getting pregnant would have been a danger to her life, but going on birth control was not really an option, again, her health issues. So we made the decision that I would get a vasectomy and that was pretty much the end of it.

For myself, I am sad that we never had children, but I cannot say I regret it. I maintain that I would probably have net been terribly good at being a father. I had no real father figure in my life and the one I did have was himself a terrible father. I know I would have loved our children, and I would have done my best to give them the life they needed. However, I don't think I would have lived up to even my own low expectation. Perhaps this is just an insecurity left over from my own childhood where I watched my own father fail at fatherhood in real time. I am sure I would have done a better job than he did, but i could never shake the feeling, that i still would have been bad at.

What I do regret, is not being able to give Shannon children, I know she wanted them and I know she regrets that we never had any. In spite of that, we have made a good life for ourselves and we have many nieces and nephews who only mildly annoy us.

Shannon, I am sorry we never had children, I think you would have been a wonderful mother, who would have more than made up for my shortcomings as father. I am sure you also would have let me name them Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, or Conan and Elric. I love you, Happy mother day.

Mothers Day Thoughts

My mother was a single mom raising 5 kids on her own after my dead beat alcoholic father left. I know she had a rough life raising us, but I also know she loved us and made many sacrifices to make sure we were clothed and fed. I love my mother, she is a saint and as far as I am concerned above reproach. Thank you Mom, I appreciate everything you did for me.