December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve 2013

Well, that year sucked awfully hard.

To all the readers of The Pond who bailed, I don't blame you. 

To all the readers of The Pond, old and new, who stuck with the place despite it all, thank you.  You're all great, and I'm lucky to have you.  I hope to be able to tell you just what all has caused this soon, but for now, thanks.

Here's looking forwards to a great 2014, one and all.

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December 30, 2013

Michael Schumacher In Bad Shape

Sad and troubling news from the world of Formula 1 today as recently-retired and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is currently in a medically-induced coma and is "fighting for his life."

Schumacher was skiing off-trail in the French Alps with his teenage son when he went down and slammed his head into a rock.  He was taken to a local hospital where initial reports were that he had suffered a concussion.  Doctors recognized something more serious than that, as he could not respond to questions and his limbs moved involuntarily.  He was quickly sent to University Hospital in Grenoble.  Once there, his condition quickly deteriorated, and surgery was required to lower intercranial pressures.  Postoperative scans showed that he had "bilateral diffuse hemorrhagic lesions" on the brain.

He was put into a medical coma to make recovery easier, as well as being kept in a cooled state.  His medical staff has publicly said that they have no idea "what the outcome will be yet.  All we can do is wait."  His family is at his bedside, and he's being monitored closely.  The frightening thought is that brain injuries often get worse after hours or days; the case of Natasha Richardson is a chilling example.

Unsurprisingly, the F1 world and beyond is rallying to his support.  Former President Bill Clinton, with whom Schumacher has worked on The Clinton Foundation, chimed in with good wishes, as have pretty much the entire F1 grid, most if not all the teams, ex-drivers... you name it, they've probably said something.  I think the best one that I've seen has to have been the one from Sauber, for whom he raced sportscars in 1991:

Hard to argue with that.  It's no secret that Schumacher wasn't F1U!'s favorite driver, but today, we'll call him "Slappy" affectionately: Good luck, Slappy, we're all pulling you.

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December 29, 2013

The Evangelion Movies: 1.11 You Are (not) Alone, pt 5

I can do this.  I can finish this movie writeup by the end of the year.  I will.  It's been nearly four months since the last installment, and in all that time Shinji's face has been unpunched.  This can not be allowed to stand!  But then again, at the end of the last installment, he was being boiled alive inside Unit-01, so he may not be around much longer.  On the one hand, that means our last best chance for survival has just been killed, but on the other hand, it's Shinji.  The world might be a better place without his whiny arse.  Well, we won't know what's going on until we get into it, so let's just do this thing!

Okay, sure, he needed cardiac massage in the Entry Plug.  Okay, sure, everybody is running around frantically rattling off medical terms, none of which sound good at all.  Okay, sure, they put him in something that looks like a carbon fiber coffin and lock the lid.  Actually, I'm pretty sure they just did that because they wanted to.  I mean, wouldn't you???  Back up at the surface...

The latest Angel is apparently part duck.  If you don't understand the reference, count yourself very, very lucky.  If you do understand the reference... *brofist*.  Except, ew, what's wrong with you?  Anyway, it's digging its way down to NERV HQ, and ain't nothin' they've got 'bout to stop it, knowwhatI'msayin'?  They've got about 10 hours before it reaches HQ, Unit-01 needs serious repairs, Unit-00 (with Teh Rei) needs to be "recalibrated" before it can be activated.  Looks pretty grim, until Misato mentions something about the Japanese Self-Defense Force's "secret weapon" and activates Operation Yashima.

Within ONE HOUR, heavy equipment from around the country has been gathered around Tokyo-III and is beginning to do... heavy equipment-type things.  Huge cranes.  Giant earth-movers.  Triangular helicopters carrying stuff.  Men putting things on top of other things.  Industry!  Science and technology!  Something is mentioned about a "Positronic Cannon", which sounds cool.  After a couple more hours, things are coming together: Unit-01 is being fitted with a "sniping system," power cables are being run to Tokyo-III from all across Japan, and everything is a "go" at Midnight.  All that's needed is a pilot for Unit-01, but he's dead, right?



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December 28, 2013

Doctor Who: I Might Regret This

Now that Matt Smith's four year run as The Doctor has come to an end, I'm going to do something bonecrushingly stupid... I'm going to state a preference for one recent Doctor over another.

To whit: I think Matt Smith was a more successful Doctor than David Tennant.  This is not to say that Tennant wasn't good in the role; he clearly was.  After the disastrous run of Christopher Eccleston's PTSD Doctor1, Tennant could have sunk the franchise completely.  He didn't, however, and without his years as the time-traveler, Doctor Who would not... could not... be as huge as it currently is.

In a broad sense, the success of Tennant's run is based on amazing episodes.  Take away "Waters of Mars," the Christmas specials (particularly 2007's "Voyage of the Damned", aka "the one with Kylie Minogue"), "Silence in the Library" (aka "the first one with River Song"), the wonderful "School Reunion", and my favorite of the bunch "The Girl in the Fireplace", and some others that I can't be bothered to look up right now, and you've got a rather lackluster overall picture.

Smith, Tennant's successor in the role of the Last Time Lord, brought more energy and humor to The Doctor.  His success is undoubtedly based on the entire run of episodes, as opposed to individual ones.  That's not to say there weren't excellent episodes; there surely were.  "Vincent and The Doctor," "The Doctor's Wife", and "Asylum of the Daleks" immediately come to mind.  However, Smith's Doctor is almost a throwback to the original serial version of Doctor Who.  While each episode is a standalone or half of a two-part, they all fit into the overarching storyline for the season, whatever that might be.

In any case, I believe that if you choose an episode at random of Doctor 10, and one at random of 11, you are more likely to see a very good one with #11. 

Smith also had the better "supporting cast" with him as well.  Amy & Rory were his companions for two-and-a-half seasons, and while they probably should have moved on earlier than that, they were clearly superior to anything Tennant had with him... though Rose was no slouch.  It may be personal bias that believes that makes me think that Clara will be better than either A&R or Rose.

So, yes, I find that Matt Smith is the best of the recent Doctors, and probably ranks just below Tom Baker in my mind in the Great List of Doctors.  The comment area is below... let the Flame War commence!

1 I will admit that the more I've watched his one season, the more I've come to appreciate what he brought to the role.

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December 26, 2013

Happy Day After Christmas

I'm tired, I'm either sad or maudlin, I'm annoyed, and I had to work today.  I'm going to take a nap then go to sleep.

Thank you, everybody.

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December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Not nearly as good as the image I had in my mind.  Oh well.  I wish I could have done the 12 Days of Duckmas this year, but there was just no time.

A happy and joyous Christmas to you and yours from all of us here at The Pond!

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December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Tunage

It's Christmas Eve.  For the past few weeks, the only music I've been able to play at the Duck U Bookstore has been... you guessed it... Christmas music.  I am not ashamed to say that I'd rather gut myself like a fish than do that.  Which means it's time for a special CHRISTMAS EVE TUNAGE with DJ Wonderduck!!!

There won't be ANY Christmas music in this one, oh no!  Just great rockin' good times in an attempt to crush the holiday music out of my brain.  Let's not wait, let's just do this!  TUNAGE!!!


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December 22, 2013

Yamato vs Iowa: The Best Laid Plans

Last night, I sat down to create a post detailing the outcome of a fight between an Yamato-class battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy and an Iowa-class battleship from the US Navy.  Hardly new ground, this, but it would have been a first for The Pond.  Except there was a teeny tiny little problem.

After doing research, racking my brain, and a lot of staring at the ceiling, I simply could not come up with a way that the Yamato had a legitimate chance to win, short of stupidly restrictive rules.  Limiting the area of combat to 20 miles or whatever, for example.  Without doing that, there just doesn't seem to be a way that the Iowa could lose, save for luck.

The Japanese ship's main (only?) advantage is her 18.1" guns' longer range.  The Type 94 had a range of 26 miles, while the American 16"/50 Mk 7 could throw a shell (essentially) 24 miles.  Penetration ability for the two was found to be roughly the same.  But at all ranges, the US gun was more accurate.

So unless the Yamato could put an unlikely round on target in that two mile stretch where the Iowa couldn't respond, almost everything pointed toward the technically smaller ship's advantage.  She was faster by at least six knots, her armor layout was better, the fire control was much better, even the secondary battery would better.  Other than sheer size and an amazing amount of built-in buoyancy (a Yamato-class ship was designed to have every compartment outside of her armored box area ["A" turret to "X" turret"] flooded and still float), the Japanese ship had one other thing going her way: the only impenetrable armor ever put to sea.

The armor on the front of the three main gun turrets on the Yamato was 26" thick, sloped at 45°.  In US Navy testing after the war, this armor could be penetrated only when an Iowa's gun was placed at 0° inclination to the armor plate, and at a range of zero yards... in other words, a completely unrealistic situation in battle.  In any likely combat situation, there was no way to punch through the armor on the front of a Yamato's main turret.

So, one advantage, I suppose, but not one to hang a battle on.  The only way the chances of victory for the Japanese begins to become realistic is if they can close the range, so to counteract the huge fire control advantage the American ship has.  If that happened, then you're looking at a coinflip, maybe even a Japanese advantage as their superior weight of broadside plummets down.  But with their six knot speed advantage, the Americans can decide the range and keep it there.

So, good idea for a post, but it kinda doesn't work.  It happens.  A better battle might be Yamato vs South Dakota, since a SoDak is, for all intents and purposes, a slower Iowa.  Maybe in the future.

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December 20, 2013

Well THAT Was Unexpected

As I always do... always... I got up at 630am today when my cellphone alarm went off.  For the next half-hour, I did the my usual routine: brushed my teef, took a shower, that sort of thing, y'know?  As I got out of the shower in the dark (I haven't showered with the lights on in 20-some-odd years... no I don't know why), I noticed a small flash of red light from my cellphone, sitting there on the sink.

This elicited a sigh from me.  Such a red light this early in the morning is never good news, as it signifies either a missed call/voicemail or a text message.  Perhaps an employee checking in to let me know that they're sick, or a misguided telemarketer, maybe a wayward text from Brickmuppet, or occasionally a weather alert from a local TV station.  Well, whatever it was, it could wait a few minutes while I dried off and got dressed.  This I accomplished, short of putting on the shirt I'd be wearing into the store that day... fewer wrinklies that way, don'tchaknow?  Sitting in front of the computer, I finally took a moment to see what was so important that it deserved my attention at 7am.

It was both a text and a voicemail from Duck U's Alert System.  "Due to weather conditions, the Duck U campus and offices are closed today."  I... what?  As it turns out, the fog/drizzle that was just beginning when I got home Thursday night never actually stopped, and all of Duckford had an unpleasant glaze of ice over it.  Heck, even Duckford Mass Transit had taken all their buses off the roads to keep them from, I dunno, ending up inside people's houses or where-ever they'd wind up after an unfortunate skid.

So, after contacting the employee who was to be working with me today and telling her not to come in, telling my boss that we were closed, re-recording the store's voicemail message from home, and double-checking with Duck U security that yep, campus was closed, I finally decided to go see what it was like outside.

Ice.  Ice everywhere.  Oh, don't get me wrong, it wasn't thick ice... news reports says less than 1/10th of an inch... but you don't need much to turn streets into skating rinks.  I didn't even try to head over to the DuckMobile.  I could see the sidewalk and parking lot were more appropriate for a Blackhawks game than for driving.  With that, I walked back into Pond Central, switched into a pair of sweats and fuzzy slippers, and proceeded to completely enjoy my first not-normal (i.e., not holiday or weekend, not like I've had many of those either) day off in five months.

Unsurprisingly, I did christmas shopping (thank you, Internet!) then took a very long, very needed, nap.  Tomorrow is grocery shopping in preparation for our first real snowfall of the season (well, that and I'm out of stuff), and Sunday is laundry day and getting ready to go back to work on Monday, but at least for today, I could do what I wanted... and it was good.

picture unrelated

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December 19, 2013

RIP Superjock

I don't have heroes, and I never did.  I suspect most people my age feel the same way.  Why bother?  In the end, we always find they have feet of clay.  Often enough it turns out a "hero" is really just someone who got lucky one day.

Which is why Larry Lujack wasn't my hero.  What he was, however, was the reason I wanted to get into the radio biz.  Growing up, his was the voice that got me going in the morning.  A deadpan delivery attached to a wickedly dry sense of humor resonated in my young brain, bouncing around and mixing with Monty Python.  But even in the depths of my callow youthiness, I could recognize pure genius when I heard it.  I don't know when it happened, but somewhere those formative years, I set my sights on being a DJ just like Ol' Unka Lar'.

Unka Lar' was the host of the morning staple on WLS, Animal Stories.  I've written about that legendary radio skit a couple of times before, no need to repeat it here.  But Lujack was more than a single gag.  His "Superjock" persona, "the greatest rock & roll DJ anywhere", was just an act... but it turned out that he may very well have BEEN the greatest.  He was honored with membership in the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2004, and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008.

Larry Lujack died yesterday at the age of 73 after a year-long fight with esophageal cancer.  When I heard the news this morning, I didn't react much until I made it to the Duck U parking lot.  Only then did I close my eyes and let a few tears stream down my face.  A big piece of my childhood has passed away, and some part of my life is a little darker than it had been.

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December 16, 2013

Ask Wonderduck (Almost) Anything, The 2013 Edition!

I've done this twice before, and it's been amusing both times, so let's do it again!  It's time for the third installment of Ask Wonderduck (Almost) Anything!  Here's how this thing works... you ask a question, and I'll answer it!  It's just that simple!  But wait, great news!  The best question (in my opinion) will get a full-length post devoted to the answer!

There are a few questions I won't answer: anything related to current politics or religion.  I started The Pond lo these many years ago in an attempt to get away from political or religious squabbles, and to this day I've pretty much managed to stay clear of those things.  There are plenty of people out there who write about those topics and do so in ways I couldn't even hope to approach, so go read them for answers to those questions.  If you DO ask me a question related to such topics, please expect to be mocked horribly.

Now, if you ask me a technical question ("How do I install a V12 engine into a Smart Fortwo?"), I'll do my best to answer it, but you use said answer at your own risk.  And take pictures, please, for the sake of posterity.  And humor.

So, without further ado: Ask Wonderduck (Almost) Anything!

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December 14, 2013

Today Was A Good Day

...except for the whole "going into work on a Saturday" part.  I mean, yeah, that was a drag, but it was a successful drag.  Like "RuPaul meets Tony Pedragon" successful.  I had three major and two minor tasks to accomplish, and had them all done by 5pm, a mere six hours after I got there... not so bad. 

Of course, I could have spent another six hours at the store doing stuff... there's easily that much and more to do every day... but I was tired and hurty and hungry and I wanted to be not there anymore.  So home I went.

In retrospect, it wasn't really that great of a day.  But in comparison to what I've had of late?  Today was a good day.

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December 13, 2013

Well, This All Seems... Horrible.

Buyback Week is over.  But guess who'll be going into his Bookstore on Saturday for at least five hours, and probably longer?

Shhhhh... only dreams now...
Yup... yours truly.  I'm so exhausted I can barely type.

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December 10, 2013

Oh My Aching... Um... Everything.

I should have known better.  Any day that started the way today did deserves to be drowned right at the beginning.  I mean, it started with my alarm going off at 615am... that right there makes it a bad day.

It also involved me getting into the shower without a washcloth.  But that's okay, because I also didn't have a towel.  I managed the rest of the pre-going-to-work routine without incident... even put on my shirt correctly... and headed out into the HOLYCRAPWHERE'DALLTHEHEATGO to get the DuckMobile warmed up. 

Walking towards it, I saw there was some small amount of snow covering the right side of the car... y'know, the type that'll blow away the moment you put the car in gear and barely touch the accelerator... so I change course, brush it off with my glitten-covered hands, then begin walking around the rear of the DuckMobile, heading towards the driver's side door.

I'm sure my readers who live in the Midwest may have noticed a small earthquake around 745am central time.  I need to apologize for that, as it was my fault.  My bad.  I rounded the corner of the car, made it about even with the license plate ("WNDRDUK"), when the invisible asphalt weasels reached up and grabbed my ankle.  Next thing I know, I'm headed towards the surface of the parking lot at fairly high (and increasing!) velocity. 

Left knee hit first, followed by the right knee, my face, and then the rest of me.  I'm lying there, spitting out snow and meltysalt, probably looking like a particularly comedic walrus, and all I can say is "ow."  Yeah, that's me, Mr Witty Repartee, in the flesh.  I haul myself to my feet, get to the driver's door, and where the fsck are my keys?  Sure enough, they were lying there, in the middle of the Khumbu Icefall, right where I dropped them during my failed attempt at a gravity turn.  Fortunately, my recovery mission did not result in Impact: Parking Lot 2: Electric Boogaloo.

While I drove in to the Duck U Bookstore, I began to realize that I might have done myself some harm.  The giveaway was the intense throbbing in my knees, though it was with a sense of relief I noticed no marks on my face... surprising, considering that it felt like I left an imprint of my chin in the concrete.  Not because I'm vain about my looks... after all, I know what I look like... but because customers find blood and open wounds to be off-putting.

By the middle of the day, I could feel my left knee stiffening up something fierce.  Great, just swell!  Then the student came in to sell some books back who decided that since I wasn't offering 200% back on her titles, it was okay to start swearing at me.  It's not like I'm unused to that... during Finals week, I'm the most hated duck on campus, after all... but on top of the rest of the day, it was quite the moment.

So eventually the day ended, I limped out to my car, picked up some stuff at the grocery store, came home, and took another header in the Icefall... this time while carrying two cases of soda.  It should go without saying that once again my left knee discovered that gravity ain't just a good idea, but the law.  The bruise should be amazing

So here I am, blogging, and I've got to go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow.  I love my life and everything about it right now.

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December 07, 2013

Mystery Ship XXVI: Not Much Of A Mystery

No prize for this one, not today (it's not much of a mystery, after all)... but here's the Mystery Ship for y'all!

Brickmuppet, this one's for you.  Why am I showing this Coastie as a mystery ship?  What's so important? 

Remember folks, no cheating!

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December 06, 2013


The Fall semester has come to an end at the Duck U Bookstore... except for Finals week.  And when it's Finals Week, that means it's also Buyback week, which means that Wonderduck is going to be in Hell.

Which would be bad, except I've been there all semester.  As yet, I still can't get into all the details, but let's just say that I still don't have an assistant manager, and probably never will again.  What I also haven't had is another keyholder.  Yup... since July 30th, I've been open-to-close every day, minimum 9.5 hours.  Minimum.  Also five home football games, a few visit days, and quite a few days where I went in on Saturday to get stuff done. 

Like I'll be doing tomorrow.  Because I've got to get that stuff done before Monday, or we're seriously screwed.  But I lost a filling a week-and-change ago, and I can't go get the tooth pulled until I've got another keyholder.  I'm doomed.  Doomed, I tell you.

I hate working on Saturdays.

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December 04, 2013

To The Mun!


Sure, maybe everybody else has already managed to get into orbit around Mün, or landed there for that matter, but I never pulled it off.  Until tonight, courtesy of my Delta-K rocket, some seat-of-the-spacesuit piloting, and a metric fsckton of luck.  Even better, I think I'll have enough go-juice to get Jebediah back, to boot!

The next step?  Land on the darned thing, and get back.  I think the Delta-K will have the oomph to get the lander up... I hope.  I have high hopes.

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December 03, 2013

On One Hand, Yay...

...but on the other, boo.  A couple of days ago, one of those things that managed to cause me both excitement and trepidation hit the torrents.  See, on the good side, two new Hidamari Sketch OVAs were released.  Hurray!

Unlike most entries in the HidaSketch franchise, though, this one came with a seriously dark, gloomy thing that's dark and gloomy.  Y'see, the title of this one is "The Sae & Hiro Graduation Arc", and when it ended, so did HidaSketch.  So as you can guess, I'm of seriously mixed feelings about this.

I mean, really, it's a great way to wrap up this wonderful series that's given me so much joy over the past six years, four series, 11 special episodes, and soon to be seven manga volumes.  But then, it's also wrapping up this wonderful series that's given me so much joy over the past blah blah blah yammer yammer yammer natter natter natter.  There's no surprises in these episodes; Sae & Hiro make it into their respective schools, tears are shed, smiles are had, heartstrings are tugged, and it all ends with a duck.

Well, not really.  But it should have!

It's a fractionally darker existence now, knowing that there won't be any new HidaSketch in the future.

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