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Romey's Ramblings Posts

Our Winter Break Project – A RetroPie Arcade

This has been quite a different winter break for us, hunkering down and lying low for Christmas and New Years’, but we found the perfect project to keep our family busy – constructing our own arcade cabinet!

I’ve had RetroPie loaded onto my Raspberry Pi hanging around for three years, but we thought this would be a fun way to showcase these classic games, plus combine Bethany’s developing woodworking skills with a fun tech project.

I found some great plans over at The Geek Pub that we purchased for $5. I’m going to defer to The Geek Pub’s post for the details on materials and items, but wanted to share our experience in putting things together.

We split the work into three days: cutting (Day 1), assembling/drilling (Day 2), painting and final assembly (Day 3).

Day 1 – Cutting

We started by tracing out the side panels as one continuous piece. After cutting the first side, we used it as a stencil for the second side, then went through and cut the back, top, bottom, and interior panels. Cutting took the better part of the afternoon, but we managed to fit all of our pieces by evening.

Day 2 – Outer Assembly & Control Panel

With all our pieces cut, we spent the next morning doing all the assembly. Bethany got to use her new pocket-hole kit so that we could assemble it from the inside. We started by assembling the sides to the back, then the exterior panels, starting from the bottom and working our way up.

While Bethany was working through the panel assembly, I got to work on the control panel. We used the hole saw to drill the 22 holes in the panel (we actually had to use the backup cut, as we hit a snag the first time around). We actually got a 1/2″ thick piece of plywood for the panel to better tighten the buttons. Once the holes were drilled, the girls and I set to work on installing all the buttons and the joysticks. We then connected all the ribbon cables to the USB controller. This ended up taking more time than expected, but looked really cool when we were done.

At the end of day two, we had the arcade casing assembled and saw the end of the project in sight!

Day 3 – Final Assembly, Painting and Moving

Blessed with beautiful warm weather, we got up and painted the outer casing, going with grey. We ended up spray-painting the interior black to help the monitor blend in. We then put all of the interior panels in. One of the things we struggled with the plans was figuring out the monitor. The plans specified a 27″ monitor, and we ended up using a 24″ monitor but weren’t sure how we were going to secure it. We ended up building an ad-hoc shelf to place the monitor at an angle, then put a piece of backing wood to keep it from tipping too far back. We then added all of the wires, speakers, and lighting. We were finally ready to move it downstairs into the game room and get things running!

We got the monitor placed, the Raspberry Pi hooked up and fired everything up for the first time!

Bethany spent the rest of winter break printing the decals and making the arcade look awesome! Bethany indulged me in printing decals of some of my favorite games, some taking longer than others. We were really excited about how it turned out!

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More Electoral College food for thought

Some food for thought for those who question the validity of the Electoral College…

These last 5 days have been excruciatingly slow for our nation, but do you realize that California has only tallied 3/4 of their votes? New York is a little better, with 84%, but between those two states alone they represent over 6 million uncounted votes – Biden’s current margin of victory is 4 million votes. Tonight while people are celebrating (or lamenting), every state is still counting votes.

A big part of what took the press so long in calling this election was waiting for a threshold state (Penn, Nevada) that would build up a large enough margin that wouldn’t trigger a recount. In keeping with the spirit of our republic, the Electoral College dispersed power and accountability, sharing it across multiple states.

As with all things government, the Electoral College is not perfect, but I would ask those who may not fully understand it from assuming that it’s without virtue. There are other tweaks that could be made (e.g. revising winner-take-all) could offer a compromise for many concerns.

Lastly, I wanted to share a chart of Swing States and Tipping Point states from the last 5 elections prior to 2020. There are definitely the usual suspects, but you may be surprised just how many states have had this status over the last 20 years.

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Snow Day!

It’s not unusual to have snowfall in Colorado before Halloween, but given the fires that are ravaging through Colorado, this large amount of snow has been a welcome reprieve. Down here in Windsor, with nowhere to go, we’re happy that we got a special Sunday Snow Day that spilled into Monday!

We set out for tubing yesterday and lasted about 20 minutes before we were too cold to be outside. I felt brave enough to put a plastic bag over the DSLR and snap a few shots with the telephoto lens. The girls absolutely had a blast.

Important note: The girls’ faces are blue because they were wearing face paint, we didn’t keep them outside until their faces changed color!

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New Drum Cover – “The Greatest Showman”

The same day that I recorded a drum cover for “Locked Out of Heaven”, I also had some time and recorded a cover for the title song for The Greatest Showman – then I forgot about it for two months. I finally stumbled across it today and wanted to share it with you!

>> The Greatest Show Drum Cover on YouTube

If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, you’re missing out on a really underrated movie with an awesome soundtrack! My daughters really enjoyed it and the songs will definitely stick with you afterward!

I hope you experience the same joy in watching this video as I had recording it!

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Colorado Voters – Vote No on 113 – It’s more than “One Person, One Vote”

low light photography of armchairs in front of desk
Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

I know we’ve all grown tired of politics and I’ve been trying to refrain from most of the discourse, but there’s one issue I feel compelled to speak out on Prop 113 in Colorado (National Popular Vote Interstate Compact).

I understand that “One Person, One Vote” is a great tag line, but frankly oversimplifies this very complex issue. I would ask all Colorado voters to spend some time and consider all sides regarding this proposition.

If you have the time, listen to this episode of the Political Orphanage Podcast:

If you feel you’ve made up your mind, give it a listen and if none of their points resonate with you, please vote your conscience, but they do a good job articulating many reasons why we have the Electoral College. There’s a segment where they name off the top cities that would form an electoral majority – spoiler alert: Denver’s not on that list.

However my primary motivation for voting “no” on this has nothing to do with whether the Electoral College is right for our republic, it has everything to do with the process this is coming about. Originally this wasn’t even going to be on the ballot, as this was rammed through our state legislative session. The irony of originally preventing the citizens of Colorado to make their voices heard on the issue of democracy is not lost on me. However, enough people objected that the issue is now forced into the public square for debate – like the way it should be.

Entering the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an end-run-around of our Constitution. Rather than follow the defined process to modify our living governing documents, this is basically a strong-arm into forcing a group of ideologically-aligned states to bypass the constitutional process. I’m no lawyer, but given that the Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY ruled against Faithless Electors (Chiafalo v Washingon) last spring, I’m convinced that if this Compact came into fruition, it would not survive judicial scrutiny.

I understand there are valid reasons to oppose the Electoral College, some of which beyond “because my candidate didn’t win the last election”, so let’s have that discussion – in public. Let’s petition our representatives to amend the constitution, convince a ratifiable majority that this is the right thing to do. I’m of the opinion that our Constitution needs more amendments, but re-writing the rules outside of the Constitution is not the way to do it.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope that you treat this issue with the amount of thoughtful consideration it deserves, beyond a bumper sticker slogan.

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