Sad Duck In Snow, 2008 Edition.
For the third year in a row, it's looking like Duckford is going to be getting substantial amounts of winter dumped on it on this date.
In 2006, it was 12" of snow on November 30th. In 2007, it was snow and ice from November 30th to December 1st. This year, they've trundled out a Winter Storm Warning for 7" or more of the white stuff. It's been flurrying all day, and the skies look leaden and bitchy. I dunno if it's really going to happen, but suddenly I'm really glad I woke up ridiculously early. As a result, I wound up going to the grocery story, where maybe I wouldn't've if I had slept to my usual time on Sundays.
They also are saying that the winds'll be gusting to 35mph from the North this evening, which'll make me happy that Pond Central faces South.
Well, we'll see what happens... however, as is the norm with these Sad Duck In Snow posts, here's the usual photoshop:
Gotta admit... I'm still amused by it, after all these years.
UPDATE 857pm: 50 flights have been canceled at O'Hare, and delays of up to an hour are being reported... but Chicago is on the edge of the snow zone. I just took a look at Pond Central's parking lot, and there's maybe three inches on the ground already. It's supposed to keep doing this all night, too. The snow is very wet and soggy... good packing snow. The TV stations are saying that roads are snow-covered and treacherous. Whee.
UPDATE 954pm: The Winter Storm Warning was canceled at 945pm, but we're still supposed to get another four inches overnight, and maybe an inch more Monday morning. Slightly less "whee".
My Four Favorite Wargames
Over at Twenty Sided, there recently was a post on Shamus' personal "Worst Rule Ever." Now, Shamus is primarily writing about Role Playing Game rules, but in the comments, there are more than a few board games involved. That post, the recent "Life Events" that have been occurring over here at The Pond, combined with the holiday season got me thinking of The Old Days. Long evenings and weekends spent poring over hex maps, sewing boards (huh?), and rolling dice... lots and lots of dice... pretty much all of which were really quite fun.
So I got to pondering: which of the games I played 30 years ago with Vaucaunson's Duck, Gainesburger, The Other Jeff and the rest of the crew did I like the most? In the end, I've whittled it down to four. It wasn't easy... quite a few really good games didn't make the cut (Snit's Revenge, Kingmaker, MAATAC and its sister game Star Fleet Wars, Squad Leader, and Wooden Ships & Iron Men, you were great)... but these four are all games that if someone said to me right now, "Hey Wonderduck, wanna play?", I'd drop everything.
They're in no particular order, so let's get started!
I've played so many, many games. Seeing your post, I stopped for a moment and wondered if there was any game equally beloved.
And there's one: Avalon Hill's Titan. Simply a magnificent game, combining building, strategy, and tactics. The board design is amazingly subtle. The common result for new players is to get stuck on the outermost racetrack and end up specializing in green, for example (ogre, troll, cyclops...). And there was also a nice spite aspect to it, if you managed to ambush someone's building pile with one of your hunter-killer piles.
I played Ogre with a friend of mine at work when it first came out. We must have been doing something wrong, because I don't think we ever had a case where the non-Ogre player won a complete victory. The Ogre always nailed the command post; it was only a question of whether it made it back off the board again afterwards.
I remember when the article about the "4 howitzer defense" came out in Strategy & Tactics (IIRC) and we tried it, but even that didn't save the command post.
The big problem with it is that it has a pretty steep learning curve, and it takes a long time to play.
Learning the rules isn't too tough, but really coming to understand the strategic board takes a lot longer, and if you don't understand it you'll be at a serious disadvantage. But the recruitment part of the game gives the players continual reinforcement and reward, which is part of why it's fun.
My favorite table-top game has got to be the original Cosmic Encounter. The carefully timed changing of the game rules by a player (and not necessarily during their own turn) made each game a unique and challenging experience.
Unfortunately, most of my gaming buddies disliked the fact that the game rules were constantly in flux. They enjoyed developing standard strategies and tactics which they could improve from one game session to the next, but Cosmic Encounter did not give them a static play field.
Posted by: Siergen at November 30, 2008 01:00 PM (DX0g9)
OGRE and GEV... most way cool. Pace SDB, it took us morons in Beaverton (but then, everyone in Beaverton must be a moron...) awhile to figure out that an OGRE did not have just one shot per gun (which just made the odds of it winning 50-50). When GEV came out, it unfortunately was overtaken by AD&D within a few months and went down the memory hole.
VitP is one of the best strategic wargames I've every played (and owning most of the AH pantheon, that's saying something). Easy to play, but forcing you to think many moves ahead, drunk or sober, young or old, it was one of those perfect storms of gaming.
Beyond the scope of your original post, I still occassionally play Diplomacy online, and while I piss (PISS!) on Squad Leader, I will die in my trench defending Battlefront.com's Combat Mission series for best computer WWII tactical wargame, evah.
As we in the CM Cesspool say, "Send me a setup, you fool."
Posted by: Tiberius at November 30, 2008 05:54 PM (VD/19)
Ogre was the first wargame I managed to play, and GEV made a nice addition. Star Fleet Battles was awesome, though in some ways exceeded by the quirky Star Fleet Battle Manual. I still have my copy of Victory in the Pacific, and it was my first clue as to the importance of production in the war.
I'm surprised Car Wars didn't get mentioned. What guy doesn't enjoy the fatasy of gunning down those other annoying drivers.
I never cared much for Fight in the Skies; Mustangs and Messerschmitts held a stronger aesthetic and simulation apeal for me.
Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.
Posted by: RPD at December 01, 2008 02:27 AM (/hrIa)
I lived in a group house for the better part of the Nineties, and there were various pick-up gaming types who would show up and play whatever was lying around. I wasn't really much into gaming at the time, so my interaction was usually a matter of sitting with my back to the gaming group, whittering away on Usenet. But I do remember that most evenings' gaming sessions were concluded with a mock invitation for a 'quick game of Titan', usually for sessions ending after 1 AM.
Posted by: Mitch H. at December 01, 2008 11:40 AM (jwKxK)
I can write no paen to FITS more elegant than Wonderduck's, so I won't even try. It is truly a great game. But I'll make a small correction: the pilot of the Camel was Bill O'Say. Other Sopwiths I played were flown by various of his brothers. And they were British, I think. I'm not really sure how that family name came to be, but it did lend itself to all sorts of puns. We used a sewing board marked with 1 inch squares because the board that came with the game was too small for a normal mission. Our games primarly were one-on-one fighter dogfights, probably because that was the sort of combat that most appealed to our young imaginations. There was a whole world of reconnaissance, ground support and balloon-busting missions we never really got into.
I think that the combat air patrol rules for Victory in the Pacific came from an article in the Avalon Hill General somewhere - there were also rules for combining the game with War at Sea, and playing both fronts at once - interesting if you wanted to see how adjusting the makeup of the British Atlantic and Pacific fleets affected the flow of the war. But I don't think we could ever make the combined game rules work very smoothly.
Another game important to me but not mentioned by Wonderduck was "The Warlord Game" (sort of a proto-Sid Meier Civilization-type board game). Strangely appealing at the time. Must still be sitting around somewhere.
Posted by: Vaucanson's Duck at December 01, 2008 11:47 AM (XVJDy)
Vauc, now that you've mentioned it, I remember playing The Warlord Game a few times with you. That, too, was quite fun, but I hadn't thought of it in decades. When you said the name, it immediately came back, though.
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 01, 2008 07:17 PM (jcrUS)
Ah, sweet Ogre... I picked up an unopened copy in a comic & card shop in Biloxi about nine years ago and loved it instantly. GEV and the other follow-ons were fun, too, if not as simple.
Posted by: Franz at December 02, 2008 08:21 PM (ctUpa)
Posted by: Wonderduck at November 26, 2008 11:14 PM (jcrUS)
You have chosen wisely.... ...but beware teh caik.... it iz lye... an u sh7ld b3 nice 2 teh cube4r...hoiie5kn/vgtohbkhv rewear76f663..... ........................................................................................................
Posted by: Brickmuppet at November 27, 2008 09:34 AM (73lWn)
Goodbye, Nonnie... My grandmother passed away about a half-hour ago, at 1201am.
However, in the past week all her children came to see her. This included Duckey, Momzerduck's younger brother (JDuck is her "baby brother"), who I've only met once before even though he lives just up the road in Milwaukee. A couple of other assorted family members stopped in as well (we're actually a very small family; her visitors made up a substantial percentage of us).
She never regained consciousness after her stroke 10 days ago, but up until a couple of days ago, she still had some reaction to some external stimuli. Thursday, however, she stopped reacting to pain (to be clear: she was a diabetic, and her feet had large sores on them. When the nurses changed the dressings on her feet, she would grunt or twitch.).
The nurse that was with her at the end said that my grandmother made the transition from being alive to not being alive very quickly, with nary a sound or complaint.
While I'm not a Believer, my grandmother was. Because of that, I hope that she's truly in a better place, in the hands of the Lord she believed in.
Everybody, have some pierogi and kielbasa today if you can... she would have wanted it that way. Thank you all for your words and actions of support.
"Serious, Not Life-Threatening."
Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber suffered "serious, but not life-threatening" injuries while participating in his charity event, the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge. During the mountain bike leg of the 250km race (which also includes kayaking, abseiling, whitewater rafting and trekking), Webber was hit head-on by a Nissan X-trail SUV. He was airlifted from the scene and taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmania.
While early reports stated that he had multiple fractures to his arms and legs, it's since been revealed that he had broken both bones in his right leg. He's already undergone surgery to set the breaks, and it's expected that a rod will be have to inserted in the leg later.
One of Webber's managers, Geoff Donahue, reported that there are no concerns about the Red Bull driver missing any of the F1 season, which begins in March with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. "It's unfortunate, but accidents happen. He's in good spirits and starting the road to recovery. If any positives come out of this, you'd fully expect him to be
ready and willing, not only for his pre-season requirements with
Red Bull Racing but also for the Formula 1 season proper."
Webber in better times.
It doesn't take much imagination to think that Webber will miss quite a bit of off-season training time, and will surely need to go through some intensive rehab just to be able to get the leg into the cockpit. Until that happens, nobody can be entirely sure just how the injury will affect his driving.
The driver of the X-trail was reportedly given a breath test at the scene, and no charges will be pressed. Acting Sergeant Jon Ford said there was no way a car could have
built up speed along the gravel road. "It's just one of those
things," he said. The road was not closed for the bike race. The X-trail was not damaged in the incident.
This is just a darn shame. Webber is one of the good guys in F1, and heir apparent to the title of "The Chin," replacing the recently retired David Coulthard.
Webber's chin in better times
Of course, we'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.
That really sucks. There have been may times where I've just been creeping up a winding mountain road only to nearly suck some dirt bike rider up into my truck's grill. Nobody's going fast, but the blind corners give you little to no reaction time even at sensible speeds.
Posted by: Will at November 22, 2008 09:57 AM (oj5wx)
F1 Pr0n: Barcelona Testing!
So while the season is done, F1 never really rests. The past three days have seen the teams congregate in Barcelona, Spain, for the first round of Winter Testing. Partially this is so the teams can work out prospective new drivers, like Bruno Senna and...
...I'm sorry, I can't restrain myself. SUPERSATO!!!!!11!eleventy1111! He's up for a seat with Toro Rosso, one of three going for two drives, and the only one with F1 experience. If there's any justice in the world, he'll be back in 2009.
But that's not the IMPORTANT news coming out of Barcelona. Y'see, here's what F1 cars look like now:
Yeah, we've seen it a gazillion times, right? Well, things are gonna change a little bit in 2009, and BMW brought their version of the new car out...
Correct. They're both owned by Dieter Materschitz, the 'creator' of Red Bull energy drinks, though, and are essentially the "A" team (Red Bull) and "B" team. The junior team has had a lot more success than the big team, however, which I find amusing.
Posted by: Wonderduck at November 20, 2008 06:29 PM (hplPV)
During tonight's episode of Top Gear (Season 12, episode 03, for those reading sometime in the future), the lads were given a challenge: make what is essentially a minivan as quick as a Mitsubishi Evo 10... on a budget of 9000 quid.
After new brakes, a new suspension, removing the roof and windows and replacing them with thin plastic, servicing the engine and putting on new tires (or tyres as they would call them), they were still about eight seconds off the pace of the Evo around the Top Gear track.
Then Jeremy Clarkson said, "Hammond, did you say you bought a spoiler the other day?"
"Well, at a charity auction, yes."
"What type of one?"
"A Formula 1 cars', actually."
Yep. That's the rear wing off a SuperAguri F1 car.
An Update My grandmother's stroke occurred deep in the brain, in the area that controls the automatic functions of the body. While it left such things as heart and lung function more-or-less untouched, it took out most everything else. For example, you could shine a 5000w spotlight in her eyes, and the pupils wouldn't constrict. She's unable to swallow. Her hands are partially clenched. It goes without saying that she's not regained consciousness since the event.
As she had signed a living will forbidding 'heroic measures', including a feeding tube, upon consultation with Momzerduck and JDuck, she was released from the hospital on Saturday. She's returned to the nursing home she'd been at for the past couple of months, and is closely attended by Hospice staff, who will keep her comfortable until the end.
On Hold Early Wednesday morning, my elderly maternal grandmother suffered what appears to have been a large stroke. She's in an intensive care ward here in Duckford, and is unresponsive to most external stimuli. Any reactions that have been reported have been fleeting, and possibly imaginary.
I'm more concerned about Momzerduck right now. She says she's relaxed and calm about the possibilities, but it's my job to worry about her.
For some reason, I find I've a distinct lack of motivation in regards to blogging at the moment. The Pond, therefore is going to take a short break. It might be a couple of days, or a week, or whatever. See you then.
I watched the first episode-and-a-half of Macadamy Wasshoi, Steven, and to be completely honest, it both bored and pained me. At no time did I find it interesting or funny in any way.
So Tanarotte can weep all it wants, it makes no difference to me.
Posted by: Wonderduck at November 11, 2008 01:54 AM (hplPV)
Looking at the screenshots that are up from episode 7 of RosyPants, I think it's safe to say that by abandoning the darker continuity, they've freed themselves to use the lighter stories from the manga in any order they want. With plenty of pantsu.
I'm sure this infuriates the people who insisted that the first series only got good when they ran out of animation money and started cramming all of the serious stories into far too few episodes.
Posted by: J Greely at November 13, 2008 09:58 AM (2XtN5)
Random Anime Picture #31: Twoferone -Clannad ~After Story~ ep02
Yes, that IS a book sticking out of Sunohara's face, why do you ask?
Okay, I know that the lightheartedness of these episodes is going to go away. Just the title of ~After Story~ implies to anybody who's played the game (or knows what happens) what's heading towards us like a freight train.
But I'll be damned if this doesn't feel exactly right, exactly like the game. If it stays this way, and I can't imagine it won't (it's not like KyoAni doesn't have experience with Key games after all), the two Clannad series just might force themselves into the rarified air of my "Holy Triumvirate": Azumanga Daioh, Kanon, and the ARIA series.
Besides, how can you NOT like a show that gives us this:
A Public Apology
In the past, there has been one actor out there that I have never particularly cared for, despite the general adulation bestowed upon him. I've seen quite a few of this particular actor's films, and my reaction has always been "meh," or "yech", depending on the role. It's always seemed to me that all he could do is "ridiculously over the top", much like all Keanu Reeves can do is "laid-back slackmeister".
However, I have just seen a movie that has changed my opinion on this particular actor.
I've seen the stage musical a number of times, though I never worked on a production. I've seen poor Sweenys, acceptable Sweenys, and excellent Sweenys, but none of them "got" Todd the way Depp did. The amount of effort he had to put into the role impressed the hell out of me; Sweeny Todd is a musical, and Depp is not naturally a singer. Unfortunately, there's not a heck of a lot anybody can do about that, but yet he pulled it off. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's hardly Broadway-quality, and indeed, I've heard community theatre singers with more force and grasp of vocal ability, but you can tell that, instinctively, Depp made it right for him.
Depp played the role in a way quite opposite of what I'm used to, in a very still and tightly controlled way. It's only when the blood begins to flow (and the movie does this right, with lots of it) that Depp's Todd gets to be let free of the emotional chains.
This film single-handedly got the miserable taste of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory AND his Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy out of my mouth. He got an Academy Award nomination (Best Actor) for this movie, and it was well, well deserved.
Hey, Wonderduck... What Ever Happened With That DVD Drive?
Some months ago, I asked for advice regarding a DVD drive that kept ejecting at random times completely on its own.
Well, reader pxcasey suggested that it was probably just a defective drive. Guess what? Defective drive, yep.
Thanks to the untimely demise of Momzerduck's computer*, I now have an exact duplicate of the original DVD drive (just made by LiteOn, instead of a company who's name doesn't even appear on the case). After an hour's worth of installation struggle, I just gave it a test-run... total and complete success. No ejecting on its own, no hesitation in reading, no problems of any sort.
...and before you all begin to think I'm a complete incompetent when it comes to installing computer hardware (I heard a lot of you thinking "one hour to install a drive? The hell?"), one of the bottom corners of the drive was poorly constructed. When I slid it into the drive bay, the corner actually bent... and I couldn't flatten it without a hammer, which would probably be bad for the drive. But what should have been a quick pop out/pop in thing became a little more complex. After a quick and dirty bit of case modding involving a screwdriver and one of the install rails, I was eventually able to get the thing installed. And all is right with Chiyo-chan once again!
*Momzerduck's motherboard kicked the bucket, I think because of a particularly nasty thunderstorm. It wasn't zorched immediately, but lingered for a couple of weeks. I troubleshot everything I could, and then it was time to call in the big guns: my uncle, JDuck, who works at Lawrence-Livermore Labs. He has a collection of diagnostic tools that'd make your head spin, and he was able to confirm the death of the mobo. Unfortunately, Momzerduck's 'puter used a BTX mobo. It was actually cheaper for JDuck to buy a slightly used ATX system and install the hard-drive from the dead one in it. Miracles of miracles, there wasn't even a problem with the system recognizing the old install of Windows, a stroke of luck and a huge saver of time. Anyway, JDuck sent me the spare DVD drive, and the rest is history.
1Miracles of miracles, there wasn't even a problem with the system recognizing the old install of Windows
That's a surprise. An OEM copy of Windows is supposed to be locked to one motherboard once activated. That's not true for an off-the-shelf boxed version, but I doubt that's what your mother's PC had installed.
Posted by: Andrew F. at November 07, 2008 05:12 PM (Z7FKt)
Quite true, it was the plain vanilla OEM copy. Perhaps Unca JDuck performed some wizardry on the new system that I'm not aware of, but still and all.
Posted by: Wonderduck at November 07, 2008 05:55 PM (hplPV)
Tidbits and Stuff About Hamilton's Championship.
The ratings numbers for various countries' viewing of the Brazilian Grand Prix have come out, and some of them are truly mindblowing. 9 million tellies were tuned into the race in England for a market share of 42%... and towards the end, it was 13.1 million. In Germany, it was 8.8 million and 31.5%. France, 5 million, 25% share. By way of contrast, Super Bowl XLII had a 43% share this past January, with 97 million viewers... in one (large) country.
Lewis Hamilton returned to the McLaren factory today to a raucous welcome by the staff... and a letter of commendation from the Queen:
"To Lewis Hamilton esquire, I'm delighted that you succeeded in
winning the Formula One World Championship to become the youngest-ever
champion. I send you my warmest congratulations on your remarkable and historic achievement.
(Signed) "Elizabeth R."
He's just finished the first year of a five-year contract with McLaren, worth a reported 75 million pounds, or at current exchange rates, $121 million. That's $24 million a year, or more than every MLB player in 2007 except for Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. However, one PR rep thinks that he's set to clear one BILLION pounds over the length of his career, what with endorsements and all.
Not too bad for a 23-year old.
As one might expect, Ferrari is trying to be gracious in defeat... and not quite accomplishing it. Luca di Montezemelo, president of Ferrari, praised Hamilton by saying "He was a very powerful rival, and his win, close though it was, was well deserved." He then called for the F1 points system to be changed so that wins are worth more in the championship... in which case, his driver, Felipe Massa would have won.
Stay classy, Ferrari. Like your driver, Massa, who wants to congratulate Hamilton in person.
UPDATE: This past February, Golf Digest Magazine printed a chart that revealed that Tiger Woods had made around $770 million dollars (in winnings and endorsements) going into the 2008 season, and predicted that he'd break the $1 billion dollar mark by 2010. Considering that Woods lost most of the season due to injury, tack another year onto that number, so 2011. He'd have played for 16 years at that point. Eventually, he'll move to the Seniors League (or whatever it's called), and keep earning money into his 50s or 60s.
Lewis Hamilton's driving career probably won't last more than 15 years or so, but they might conceivably earn similar monies in a similar timespan. The parallels between the two are intriguing. I wonder if some (very!) deep-pocketed company will ever cough up the money to have them both appear together to sponsor some item... probably a car of some sort.
Someone told me that if a British driver wins the Formula One Championship, then the Democrats win. It works from 1972. (Jackie Stewart won in 1971 and 1973.) So. 1952 Alberto Ascari (Italy) / Adlai Stevenson loss 1956 Juan Manual Fnagio (Argentina) / Adlai Stevenson loss 1960 Jack Brabham (Australia, but based in UK - meh, half-point?) / JFK win 1964 John Surtes (UK) / Lyndon Johnson win 1968 Graham Hill (UK) / Hubert Humphrey loss 1972 Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil) / McGovern loss 1976 James Hunt (UK) / Jimmy Carter win 1980 Alan Jones (Australia) / Jimmy Carter loss 1984 Niki Lauder (Austria) / Walter Mondale loss 1988 Ayrton Senna (Brazil) / Mike Dukakis loss 1992 Nigel Mansell (UK) / Bill Clinton win 1996 Damian Hill (UK) / Bill Clinton win 2000 Michael Schumacher (Germany) / Al Gore loss 2004 Michael Schumacher (Germany) / John Kerry loss 2008 Lewis Hamilton (UK) / Barack Obama
F1 UPDATE!: BRAZIL 2008!
One champion crowned, one challenger disappointed. But who was who?This is your
extended format F1 UPDATE! for the Brazilian Grand Prix!
*SO IT BEGINS: The
crowd at Interlagos was in good voice today when the cameras went live for
todayâ€™s Grand Prix of Brazil, and fervently behind their favorite son, Felipe
Massa.Seven points behind in the Driverâ€™s
Championship and needing to win, the Ferrari driver was on pole and protected
nicely by his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen.
His opponent, Lewis Hamilton, was fourth on the grid, on the
dirty side of the track, with his biggest threat, HWMNBN, right behind him.The McLaren driver didnâ€™t need to win the
race, however, or even be on the podium.He just needed to finish 5th or better and it wouldnâ€™t matter
what Massa did:
heâ€™d be the Driverâ€™s Champion. Heâ€™d been
in this position before, though.In
2007, he held a seven point lead over Kimi Raikkonenâ€¦ and peed it down the leg
of his firesuit.
On this day, for the premiere Championship in motor sports, nobody
else on the grid mattered except how theyâ€™d hinder the progress of the two
challengers on their way to the checkered flag.