Tonight’s museum post features a mailer ad for Sega Genesis games from Electronic Arts, sent to me either in late 1992 or early 1993. I don’t remember how I submitted my address to EA, but it was probably through a game registration rather than a magazine subscription. Now that I think about it, I sort of remember a registration card coming with those cardboard-boxed EA Genesis games back then. My first one was Zany Golf, bought from money I earned waiting tables at a crab feed (I guess you always remember your first? 🙂 ). It was through a relative’s catering company and at the end they gave us cups labeled with the word “tips”. I remember placing a cup on one table and getting a surprised reaction from the guests. Looking back on it now, it was rather presumptuous, wasn’t it?
Curiously, despite enjoying so many EA Genesis games, none of the games appearing in this mailer appealed to me. It was tempting to buy 2 games to receive a free Turbo Touch controller, but I just couldn’t do it. There was something about those early EA games that later games lacked. Perhaps they were ports of computer games and so had a different feel to games developed solely for a console. Maybe early in the Genesis’ life there were technical limitations that could not be overcome which resulted in game developers needing to be more creative. I don’t really know.
If I had ordered those two games back then, I wouldn’t have this mailer now to post in the Museum, so things worked out for the best. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
The second museum post for tonight is the third, winter 1990/91, issue of Sega Visions magazine.
The entire library of Sega Visions is actually available on Sega Retro, but their version of this issue has gutter shadow resulting from scanning the magazine on a flatbed scanner. Since I am disposing of my magazines anyway, I took mine apart and scanned it with a duplex scanner. There will be more magazines scanned for this and similar reasons in the coming days.
Back to this magazine, however. In winter of 1990 I was now in 8th grade, and some time around that period my father bought my sister and I both of the games mentioned on the cover: Joe Montana Football, and Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. I want to say we got the games from Macy’s, but I can’t remember for certain. It’s kind of interesting how we always ended up getting the alternative to the popular item. For example, the rest of the world went nuts for the Nintendo Entertainment System; we got the Sega Master System. Everyone at the time (and to this day) went gaga for John Madden Football, and we went for Joe Montana. I’m actually glad we did, though. With the popular items, everyone has one so you have plenty of chances to play Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania, etc. For the fringe that people mostly ignore, there are often gems to be found that people miss out on because they don’t want to be seen as unpopular. Franchises like Alex Kidd, Fantasy Zone, and Zillion come to mind. I got a chance to experience both worlds.
Something else to note from the cover is the Sega Stereo Speaker Giveaway. I actually did do this and redeemed the speakers, though they looked slightly different from what was pictured in the magazine. It was also possible to power the speakers with an AC adapter. For a kid accustomed to playing games with a mono TV speaker, they sounded pretty good. I’d crank up the volume and listen to Herzog Zwei’s opening sound just to experience the stereo effect. Even more hardcore, since they were standard 3.5mm-jack speakers, I’d take them into the bathroom and hook up my cassette player to listen to tapes of Sega game music in the shower. I was a die-hard Sega fan, that’s for sure.
One other thing I’d like to point out is that these early Sega Visions magazines came printed on quality and heavier-stock paper than other video games magazines of the time. The colors and text were quite vivid, especially when compared with Video Games & Computer Entertainment or Electronic Gaming Monthly. Well, Sega Visions was Sega’s marketing tool (the other magazines were arguably more journalistic) so perhaps that is why.
This final point brings me to something I’ve been thinking about while going through all these old things and throwing them away. What is history? Up until this point, I’ve thought of history as absolute fact, that what we read from a history book is what really happened. Going through these magazines and my other old things, I’ve come to realize that history is an approximation, a guess. Suppose there were no more Sega Visions magazines in the world, and the only evidence left of them are scanned PDFs. Would there be any way to know that the magazine was printed on high quality paper? For another example, take the subscription cards from all these magazines. Many of the PDFs don’t include them, and while I was going through and tossing them out, I realized that I was discarding the record of where they appeared in the magazine. As more time passes, more little details get lost. Imagine this happening for all events and all artifacts going back throughout history, historians trying to piece together the past, using only disjointed pieces and little context. If they found a subscription card separated from a magazine, how would they know which page it came from? That detail would be lost forever, faded into the mists of time. The same probably goes for many historical “facts” that we take for granted. Unless someone was actually there, it’s impossible to get a completely accurate picture of what occurred, or what it was like. And even if they were, you’d better hope that their memory is functioning properly, and that they’re being honest.
Knowing this now about history, I think I’d like to cherish life even more. This is our time and these are our lives, and only we will truly know how much it means to us. When it’s gone, we might appear as a paragraph in a history book, if that. The time to live is now.
The 78-megabyte PDF can be downloaded here. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post, and thank you for reading this long one.
In 1988, I was a little kid in Hong Kong two years into Sega mania. Although I don’t remember the exact circumstances, I must have figured that since there was a 1986 Game Catalog (it came inside my copy of Hang On), there must have been one for 1988, too. So, I wrote a letter to Sega of America, and this is what they sent back to me. It came inside a Sega envelope with a blue logo on the upper left, but sadly I must have misplaced it over the years because I did not see it while going through all my old Sega docs. But imagine, as a kid, writing a letter to the object of your fandom and receiving a response! It probably made my year. I must have pored over these two pieces of paper dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
Looking at the screenshots, it’s interesting to note the placeholders for new games such as R-Type, Lord of the Sword, and Y’s. Even more hilarious is the one for Double Dragon – I wonder why they didn’t just type out the words Double Dragon, or show a picture of two dragons, like in the other new-game screens? 🙂
My first laptop was an Intel Pentium III 850 MHz VAIO R505 bought in 2003. If you’ll recall, VAIOs were notoriously expensive back then, and somehow I was able to find one on sale for under a thousand dollars. Due to its limited storage, I used it as a secondary machine, transferring files to it from my desktop. I don’t remember whether my desktop at the time was an AMD Athlon 1.4GHz (Thunderbird core) or one of the later Athlon XPs.
Since that time, my laptops have always been secondary machines. The VAIO was in service from 2003 to 2007. From 2007 to 2011 I had a Toshiba U205 (Core 2 Duo Merom), and from 2011 to the present I’ve had an Acer Aspire (Core i5 Sandy Bridge) that has held up amazingly well. You may have seen it in several photos scattered around this website.
In the recent past I finally transitioned to the Acer as my primary machine. Our current lifestyle involves moving back and forth between my parent’s and the in-laws’ places, and it became a chore having to sync up my laptop all the time. It’s much easier having one primary machine to worry about, and backing it up to the appropriate places. Previously, it would be syncing files from the desktop to the laptop and then syncing them back to the desktop once I returned. What a pain!
With the Acer as my new primary machine, I set up a docking station where the desktop was previously. The desktop was using S/PDIF for sound, and luckily the Acer has a 3.5mm S/PDIF jack, so I was able to use a spare adapter from an old sound card to connect the laptop to my receiver. Oddly, once I had it going, music would play but not regular Windows sounds. I started googling around for answers.
It turns out that my Sony receiver will only play sound when it receives a sustained digital signal. Windows beeps and Outlook-new-mail sounds are too short. What to do? Send a continuous silent signal via software. From browsing this forum (I guess Tom’s Hardware Guide is now just Tom’s Guide? Been out of the game for too long), I learned of a piece of software called SPDIF KeepAlive by Rhys Goodwin, who has kindly offered his software for free via his blog. The software works great and has solved this problem perfectly. Thanks Rhys!
With this post, I mainly wanted to give credit where credit was due with the forum thread and Mr. Goodwin’s SPDIF KeepAlive, but once I started it became yet another trip down memory lane. As always, hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Was talking to a friend about Scotch tonight which got me thinking about my old collection. I used to have a bookshelf dedicated to it and each night I would come home from a hard day and sample one of the bottles. It was nice being able to choose from so many different expressions, but it did get a little bit crazy after a while, drinking hard liquor every single night.
I first discovered single malts in 2008. It was a Glenfiddich 12 in a little neighborhood drinking spot in Hong Kong. On the same night I had a Macallan 12 as well. Later, when I returned to Oakland, I bought my first bottle of Macallan 12. Prior to that I would randomly pick bottles of spirits in the supermarket, wanting to sample them all. With single-malt Scotch, I finally found my go-to drink.
Over the years, my collection has grown and shrunk depending on my circumstances, and I am lucky to always have access to at least a bottle or two. When I lived in Hong Kong with my limited income, my “collection” was always a single bottle. Due to how single malts are perceived there, prices can be ridiculous which led me to sample blended whiskies as well as non-Scotch whiskies. That’s how I discovered Famous Grouse, the number-one selling Scotch whisky in Scotland. 🙂
The photo below was taken about 5 years ago. I never took the time to take a proper (i.e. staged) photo of my collection, but like whisky, I don’t think anything else matters as long as you enjoy it and it makes you happy. Cheers to you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
(Disclaimer: No Lagavulins were actually stored sideways before or after the taking of this photo.)
For tonight’s museum post we have a two-sided flyer advertising a couple of controller accessories for the Sega Genesis. The first is the 6 Button Arcade Pad, probably released for playing Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition. Without the pad, you had to press Start to switch between punch and kick buttons, a very clunky way to play the game (and mind you I did try to play it that way, being the SF2 lover that I was back then!).
The second accessory is the Team Player adapter. I remember getting this adapter from a comic book store on Geary Boulevard, near a restaurant called Ton Kiang (used to go there for dimsum all the time). It was more of an impulse buy on my part since I didn’t really have a use for it, but up until that point I had never even seen one in the wild, so I had to have it. I remember fidgeting with the mode switch, which means we might have used it for some EA Sports games. For sure we used it with Columns III, and maybe with Mega Bomberman. On the most part, the adapter has spent most of its life still in its original packaging sitting on our games shelf. Someday I’ll put it up here on the museum.
As for the flyer itself, I probably got it from a display at Toys”R”Us. Hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post!
I had a pretty good dinner tonight. Tri-tip roasts are on sale this week at Safeway ($3.99/lb) so I got one (~3.5lbs) to roast in the oven. Minced some garlic and fresh rosemary and rubbed it all on along with some freshly cracked salt and pepper. Every 15 minutes I basted with a red wine and beef bouillon solution. Took it out of the 350°F oven after about an hour and 10 minutes, and sliced it up after letting it rest for 10.
As I like to do after a fancy dinner, I dripped myself a cup of coffee. Recently we unpacked the last of our things from Hong Kong, a box of kitchen stuff. Inside this box was the Guinness mug that came with the 4-pack I bought after we first moved into our place in Hong Kong. I had forgotten that I used to use this mug for drip coffee in Hong Kong, using whipping cream in place of half-and-half since the latter is not sold there. There was a morning in spring of 2013 when I made coffee to go along with a sandwich made with bread from our bread maker, in preparation for watching a Warriors playoff game. That was a good morning.
Since the mug got me thinking about our time in Hong Kong, I came here to see if I could jog some more memories. I decided to read the 6-Month Update, and then I saw that it was posted on August 18, 2013. So, exactly three years ago. What a coincidence.
It’s good to look back sometimes to see where you’ve been (although admittedly, I probably look back more often than “sometimes”). Three years ago, I was becoming more comfortable with myself and my way of living, becoming happier, and enjoying life more. It would seem that three years later, this is happening once again.
Four months ago, I wrote that time is the most precious resource. In exchange for having time, I chose to forgo having an income, and in turn forgoing having our own place to live. At that point it had almost been a year of staying with our parents, and now it has been more than that. In these four months, there have been good days and bad days. There has been internal struggle, and depression. There has been talk about moving back to Hong Kong because it would be easier to find a job and a place to live there (it sounds crazy, but compared with the Bay Area it’s true).
Perhaps I fell back into that chasm where all I do is worry about the future, worrying whether what I’m doing now is conducive to that future, whether what I’m doing is what I should be doing. When I’m in that chasm, I completely lose sight of the present, no matter how good it is. No, we aren’t working, yes, we’re living with our parents, but is that really so bad? We get to do whatever we want, whenever we want, staying up as late as we want. We get to eat tri-tip (when I had thought about escaping back to Hong Kong, I didn’t even think of how less frequently we had good beef over there). Other than the occasional self-inflicted kind, our present lives are stress-free.
In recent weeks is when I’ve finally started realizing all this, again. To stay in the moment, to enjoy the present that is good, to know that there is nothing to worry about. The past has shown us that we always step up and do what’s necessary when the time comes, so why not just enjoy this time that we have now? We are happy, healthy, and probably will be in the foreseeable future. I am confident that we will be able to handle whatever that future brings.
Tonight’s museum post features a page from an old Pacific Bell telephone bill, circa 1990. It’s interesting to see that we once made $35 worth of international phone calls (most likely to Hong Kong) in a month and that $35 today nets us over 6-months’ worth of unlimited calls. Also, back in those days you could select your long distance carrier. This bill shows AT&T, and I remember at one point we had MCI. I’m pretty sure that there were others, but they escape me at this moment.
I googled Pacific Bell and was surprised to see that they still exist. As far as I knew, they were taken over by SBC and later became AT&T after SBC bought the name.
Calling our relatives in Hong Kong used to be a weekly ritual, done on weekends. It was always a joyous occasion. I don’t really remember the specifics anymore, but I can still picture the act of talking into the handset and saying hi to everyone. Granny would always tell me to eat right and exercise. My late aunt would tell me to get along with my sister. Perhaps I told them about my grades or my Sega games.
What memories will this museum post evoke for you?
Here’s another early 1990s warranty card, for a Sony high fidelity component speaker system. This system came with a receiver with integrated dual tape decks, a CD player, a record player, and two huge floor speakers. A wood cabinet with a glass door and metal Sony logo rounded out the package.
This system was our first introduction to compact discs. Since we didn’t really have any at the time, I remember it was a big deal when we finally got some. Later, we would record music from CDs to tapes using the receiver.
We actually still have the receiver which we use for the radio and for outputting TV sound. The rest of the components have since been donated. A pair of spare Logitech 2.1 speakers connected via the headphone jack now serve as the output.
Some things I won’t forget about this system include playing a Jacky Cheung CD super loud when we first moved into our new house, and playing Genesis and Super Nintendo games with the huge speakers. Despite their size, however, they were severely lacking in bass, even with the EQ turned up. When I later discovered 2.1 speakers, I was amazed at both the sound and size difference, and it made it easier downsize and give away the big speakers.
Lastly, the model number of the receiver is HST-211. The CD player was CDP-291. Googling around it appears that the speakers might have been model SS-U211. Amazing how a little warranty card can evoke so many memories.
In this museum post we have a receipt from Cala Foods, circa 1992 (Monday, March 30). This is from when cash registers still used dot matrix printers, which means that 24 years later the text is still readable. Contrast this with modern thermal printers that fade after a short period of time.
Notable are the coupons on the backs of receipts during those times. Nowadays, the coupons print separately from another machine. We used to always love the McDonald’s coupons for use at 16th and Mission and 24th and Mission, our local McDs. It looks like the coupon below is for Ocean and Bayshore, however. Looking closer at the address for this Cala, it looks like it might have been a special visit because it’s the one that was near Silver Avenue rather than the one on South Van Ness, our regular store. Maybe my mom reached the sale-item limit and wanted to go to a different store to stock up.
Today, the Cala near Silver has become Manila Oriental Market. I actually went there recently and had no idea it used to be a Cala. The Cala that was on South Van Ness, as far as I know, is still an empty building.
As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down memory lane.