November 30, 2008

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".

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November 28, 2008

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!


more...

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November 26, 2008

Portal

So I went out and purchased Portal today.

Um...

Wow, that's fun stuff.


Even the Strike Witches like it!
I think I'm going to be enjoying it for a long, long time.

Too bad there's the whole Steam activation thing.  That's the only blemish on the whole concept.  Other than that, though?  Wow.

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November 23, 2008

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.

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November 22, 2008

"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.

Paramedics tend to Webber.
(picture courtesy Daily Telegraph)
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. 

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November 19, 2008

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:

McLaren's MP4-23
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...


more...

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Why NOT A 'Ducks In Anime' Post?


-Hidamari Sketch x365, ep11

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November 17, 2008

SuperAguri Sighting!

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.

It added a second to the time.

Seems appropriate, that.

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November 16, 2008

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.

She's not expected to make it through the week.

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November 13, 2008

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.

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November 11, 2008

Random Anime Picture #32: She Looks Like I Feel...


-KimiKiss, DVD Special

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November 10, 2008

What's Wonderduck Watching?: Fall 2008

Okay, we're far enough into the current season for me to have made up my mind as to what I'm sticking with.  Finally.

So, without further ado, the latest season of What's Wonderduck Watching?


more...

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November 09, 2008

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:

Ph33r 7h3 Cu73 0n3z... @g@1N!
Poor Mei... kancho'd again

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November 08, 2008

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.

That movie was Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and that actor is Johnny Depp.

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.

So to Johnny Depp, I apologize.  NICE job.

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November 06, 2008

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.

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November 05, 2008

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.

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November 04, 2008

Random Anime Picture #30: Now That The Political Stuff Is Over With...


-Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka, ep05

...it's time for some tentacles!!!!

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So...

...was there something going on today?

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November 02, 2008

1000 Posts?

I had absolutely no idea the F1U! for the Grand Prix of Brazil was going to be The Pond's 1000th post here at Mu.Nu.  None whatsoever.

But it was.  1000 posts in 41 months.  I'll be darned if I thought this place would last that long, or that I'd have readers who'd keep coming back, but whaddya know?  It happened.

Thanks, folks.  Your reward is an amazing anigif Brickmuppet found... it's a little large, so I'm putting it below the fold for those on slower connections.


more...

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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 today’s Grand Prix of Brazil, and fervently behind their favorite son, Felipe Massa.  Seven points behind in the Driver’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 didn’t need to win the race, however, or even be on the podium.  He just needed to finish 5th or better and it wouldn’t matter what Massa did: he’d be the Driver’s Champion.  He’d been in this position before, though.  In 2007, he held a seven point lead over Kimi Raikkonen… 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 they’d hinder the progress of the two challengers on their way to the checkered flag.

The Gods of Auto Racing, though… they mattered.

more...

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