February 28, 2014

Coming Soon To A Mun Near You...

It's Mun Rescuer Whatever Number We're Up To Now, and I'll be durned if it doesn't seem to be workin' pretty well so far.  Bill Kerman's been instructed to pack his stuff before his ride shows up.

Morale is still high.

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February 26, 2014

Laughing Long And Hard

As you all know, I spent all of last semester (and the month of January) in a constant state of panic and fear.  Things like "laughter" and "fun" were very far from my vocabulary during that time, to say the least.  I spent many, many evenings in my office at the store until 8pm or 9pm, doing paperwork of one sort or another.  Now, calling my work area an "office" is something of a misnomer.  It's really a desk pushed into the corner of two cinderblock walls, server cabinet against the left end of it, and a cubical dividing wall next to the server to prevent people from just walking in and throwing things at me directly

That server cabinet is home to an old Dill PickelEdge 2900, multiple rack-mounted thingies, a battery backup that's weighs as much as some of the students at Duck U, about ten miles of cabling, and approximately three thousand, four hundred and fifty four cooling fans.  As the ambient temperature in the Bookstore is invariably a uniform 3454°F, those fans are running constantly.  Need I say that no two of them alike, so none of them ever sync up, sound wise?  Instead of a pleasing rumble akin to white noise, what I actually get from the server cabinet is something like what you'd hear if you shoved Justin Bieber into a woodchipper.

Other than applause, I mean.

If I'm back in my office for any length of time, I try to listen to music to drown it out.  Last time I looked, I've got something like 130 songs on my LG dumbphone (it makes calls, it sends and receives texts, it's got a potato for a camera, and it's a mp3 player... and that's it, essentially.  Oh, and it's my primary alarm clock, too), ranging from classical (well, orchestral) to rock to dance to electronica to I don't know what it is but I like it.  Except there's one tiny problem, and I mean that literally... to whit, the speaker on my phone is approximately 1/37th of an inch in diameter.  If you can imagine what it would sound like to have a mosquito singing blue-eyed soul, you've got an idea what my cellphone sounds like.  I've tried all the usual tricks: toilet paper tube over the speaker, dixiecup, plastic cup, sheet of paper suspended an inch over the speaker, none of it made a bit of difference.  Until, on a whim, I purchased a Xboom.  Plugged it in, dialed up something with a large range of sounds, and waited.  The result was too much for my fragile body to take, and I was shattered into my component atoms.  However, the Xboom was so awesome that it reconstituted me back into my original form.  Seriously, if you need a portable speaker system for your laptop or something like that, get a couple of these things.

So this afternoon, I'm back in my office, grooving to some music on the Xboom, when a friend from the staff of Duck U comes in.  I didn't turn the music off for a few seconds because I didn't see her come in, but this is what was playing at the time:

My friend, who we'll call Gertrude because that isn't her name, says "Eh, I don't like that singer."  Who, Hatsune Miku?  "Is that her name?  She's a horrible singer."  Um, you don't... I mean... "How good can she be," asked Gertrude, "she's clearly got autotune turned up to the max."

Well, you're not wrong, Gertrude.  "She just sounds fake."

After Gertrude left, I just laughed and laughed and laughed.  And then I went back to paperworking.

Life is still a mess, but at least I had that moment. 

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February 24, 2014


Entirely, completely flummoxed at the moment. 

More when circumstances warrant.

UPDATE: Pixy fixed a comment problem, which is nice, but it wasn't the flummoxing problem.  I don't think that can't be fixed with a HTML editor.

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February 22, 2014

Oh... THAT'S What That Is.

Have you ever missed something so badly that you didn't realize you were missing it?  "Why, no, Wonderduck," I hear you say placatingly, air pistol full of tranquilizer darts at the ready, "I've never felt that way before."

I'm a reader.  My apartment is full of books, only maybe a third of them in bookcases.  There are books or magazines in every room of Pond Central save the kitchen (I don't count cookbooks as "books" per se).  Reading for pleasure is one of those great luxuries that make living in an literate society such a wonderful experience.

And I haven't done it in well over a year.  Don't get me wrong, I've read stuff... mostly MilHist books, looking for that next germ of an idea for a post here.  Research on ridiculously esoteric topics that only a small handful of people might find interesting.  That's not fun, it's studying.  I do it because I want to learn, but it's different from what I'm talking about.

A week or so ago, I was going to leave a comment over at Brickmuppet's place, referencing my favorite science-fiction novel, Starship Troopers.  I needed a specific quote, and while I knew it was towards the end of the novel, I didn't remember exactly where... so I began to flip through.  In the process, I began to read, instead of skimming.  After finding the quote, I shut down my computer, took my well-worn copy of Heinlein's classic book to the Official Comfy Chair of Pond Central, and began to read from the beginning.

After I finished the book a few hours later, I realized I hadn't read any new science fiction (ie - a book I didn't already own) in a very very long time.  A quick run to Amazon gained me a few new books, and all I could do is wait for them to arrive.  Once they did, I began to devour them... and loved ever second of it.  A book accompanied me everywhere that wasn't the Duck U Bookstore (ironically enough).  I just finished my third new novel, and it's been so much fun!

I've been so busy, so depressed, so completely wrapped up in everything else, that I simply didn't realize I missed reading for the hell of it.  This from a person who used to have to read before he fell asleep at night.  It's a bloody bedamned shame, is what it is.

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February 19, 2014

F1 Pr0n: Lotus E22

As the second of the pre-season test sessions begin in Bahrain today, we've finally gotten a real look at the last of 2014's challengers for the F1 Championships.  Team Lotus looked to make the move to serious, legitimate contender for the big prizes, but rumors of financial difficulties that turned to truths placed the end of their 2013 season under a dark, dark cloud.  Meanwhile, missing the first pre-season test in Spain earlier in the year did nothing to dispel said clouds.  Still, it's hardly the first time a team hasn't shown up to a test session... and they made it today.  So let's see what they'll be throwing at us with the E22!

Well.  Pretty conventional, I'd say.  Pretty much like the other cars as far as side profile goes, though it does appear that there's an extra exhaust pipe or something like that just aft of the word "clear" on the back of the car.  Nose works pretty well from this angle, too.

I... what?  Seriously, Lotus?   See, when you guys released those renders of the car something like six weeks ago, I assumed that it was some joke or something.  It appears that my assumption was misplaced... you really did mount a walrus to your nose.

So here's the gig.  The rules say there has to be a single nose tip of a certain cross-section and a very low height.  To make this happen, Lotus took one of the tusks and made it longer than the other.  This satisfied the regs for a "single nose tip," while letting the team do other stuff... stuff like having a clear  unobstructed airway down the center of the car, for example.  There are some drawbacks to this, though: the mounting points for the wing are somewhat larger, for example, than the other teams'.  Twice as many noses means twice as many airflow obstructions.  Of course, all of these things are occurring right where it's best for them to happen so it might be a wash... or a net gain.  We don't know yet. 

Durn clever, though, and no mistake about it.  It'll be even cleverer if it works.

21 days to Australia.

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February 18, 2014

Spudboys Has A Sad

Everybody had a first "favorite band."  The position of favorite band changes as ones musical tastes evolve... it's just the way of things.  Long before Joe Jackson or ABC, years before Bryan Ferry or the Gear Daddies, decades before the Foo Fighters or Nine Inch Nails or Caravan Palace or Daft Punk or Dire Straits or the Clash, there was the band that wore flowerpots on their heads.

DEVO was certainly my first favorite band.  They looked weird, they sounded weird, and they didn't give a crepe about not being cool... which, to a hyperintelligent duck trapped in a world he never made, was awfully great.  Time marched on, and I started to actually listen to DEVO's music, and realized it was deeper than it first appeared... and while they became something of a synthband, in the early days they were very guitar-centric.

Bob "Bob2" Casale had a lot to do with that, what with actually being able to play and all.  His style was hardly smooth... in fact, it's very nearly the definition of what punk guitar should be... but he could sound herky-jerky while still being technically skilled.  It's weird to call DEVO "punk", but it's hard to call Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! or Duty Now For The Future anything but.  After that, they became New Wave, synthpop, legendary, then simply themselves in a way that few other bands can ever claim.  Along the way, Bob2 wound up as a skilled engineer and music producer.

Bob Casale passed away today at the age of 61.  It seems very strange that members of my first favorite band are passing away.  It's a beautiful world we live in, I suppose, but it seems less so now.

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February 17, 2014

The One Where Wonderduck Weeps Uncontrollably...

...but in a good way!  As you may remember, I went through a phase there where I was playing Kerbal Space Program pretty much constantly.  Rest assured that I still am, for I have yet to give up on rescuing Bill Kerman from (ahem) Mun Base I.  Anyway, I'm a member of the KSP subreddit over at Reddit.com, and let me tell you, they're totally insane over there... if there's a group that's coming up with more inventive ways to terminate flights to debris, I don't know about it!

However, every now and again, someone comes up with something truly beautiful.  If you've played the game, you know the KSP Theme... after all, it plays the moment the game boots up!  It's lovely, if you like snare drums, but I always thought it could be better.  How?  Now you're asking me for details that I can't provide... but it could be better!  Then someone proved me right:

The first time I heard this, I broke into tears at 0:21... or when Kerbol first comes into view in this video.  It had been a bad day, I was tired and pissy, and then... this.  It was glorious.

I wish there was some way to add it into the game... and there's every chance that if the folks at Squad like it, it'll end up there eventually.  They're kinda awesome like that.

I want some pancakes.

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February 16, 2014

Unhealthiness Update

A week ago, I felt the first symptom (point-source pain in throat) of what became a full-blown cold.  The sore throat morphed into a dry, unproductive cough accompanied by a runny nose.  No, "runny nose" isn't descriptive enough.  Here's how much my nose was running: I shaved off my mustache.  I had to... the mess was incredible.  I took a regular-size roll of Charmin with me to work on Friday, in lieu of kleenex, and I had used it up by 3pm.  I was miserable.

Once work was finished, I came home and took a nap.  About an hour later, I woke up and most of the lower half of my face, my neck, and my pillowcase were soaked.  THAT's how bad it was.  Fortunately, somewhere around 2 in the morning, the steroids my doctor put me on kicked in and my nose dried up and the cough has gone mostly away.

I'm now really tired, though.  I fell asleep in my chair a couple of times this morning, took a four-hour nap this evening, and my brain is still logy enough that it's taken about 90 minutes to type this post (to be fair, half of that was looking for a good yootoob of a waterfall to accompany this post... and failing.  No, I don't need links to some in comments, thank you).

So on one hand, the sickiness seems to be dying off: yay!  On the other, I'm draggin' hard: not so yay.

Heck, I had intended to do Eva 2.22 pt II tonight.  Not so much, as it ended up.  Recovery is in sight, maybe, but I'm not quite there yet.  I suspect Sunday is going to be spent doing laundry, then sleeping a lot.

Could be worse.

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February 14, 2014

To All Y'all Down South...

Just grab yourself some sweet tea and Chik-Fil-A and stay indoors, 'k?  Solid.

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February 12, 2014

Oh. Huh. Go Figure.

Not that the pressure is off, at least for a few days, I find that I feel like crepe.  I dunno if I've caught an ick or what, or if my body is finally rebelling against the stress of the past six months, but I'm just totally wiped out.

Blogging will (allegedly) restart soon. 

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February 10, 2014

Ever Wanted To Play Fantasy Baseball?

One would think this a rhetorical question: of course you've wanted to play fantasy baseball!  Something has been holding you back, however.  Perhaps it's been a lack of time... or not enough like-minded people in your life... or intimidated by the thought of getting into a league with a bunch of cutthroat bloodthirsty experts.  O r maybe, just maybe, you've wanted to be in the same league with everybody's favorite hyperintelligent duck with the ability to type and rate ballplayers!

Well then, bunkie, today's your lucky day!  About a week or so ago, longtime reader Ben from Midnight Tease and Texas Baseball Town sent me an e-mail asking me some questions about fantasy baseball.  As it turns out, he was looking to get a league going, but knew nothing of what the game was, and since he knew I had played for a while, who better to ask?  Who better indeed?  The timing couldn't be beat, since I had dropped out of the fantasy league I'd been in for 25 years the day before... I hadn't had much fun the previous three years, because of the cutthroat, bloodthirsty style of play that had taken over the league.

So after talking for a while, I eventually said something along the lines of "If you set up a league, I want in."  Playing with a bunch of fresh faces who haven't played before sounds like fun to me!  Ben's response was, for all intents and purposes, "Duh."  He was more polite about it, though.

So we've got four people right now, but we need more.  That's where YOU come in. 

It's set up to be as completely different from what I'm used to as possible!  The league'll be a snake draft, not an auction.  It'll be AL, not NL.  Standard 5 x 5 Roto rules.  Oh, and I'll be picking last in the first round.  So what have you got to lose?  It's free, and though Ben doesn't know this yet, if anybody finishes ahead of RotoDuck, they're going to win something from The Pond's prize closet!  We're looking for rookies or people who haven't played much... is that you?  C'mon down!  Got questions?  Ask here or at Ben's places!  Wanna sign up?  Drop a note in my comments or his!  Pitchers and Catchers report this week... baseball is in the air!  Here's your chance to have some fun!

It's Ben's league... we're all just playing in it!

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February 08, 2014

Now It Can (sorta) Be Told!

I'm sure many of my sharp-eyed readers have noticed a decrease in output, quality and change of tone here at The Pond of late.  Indeed, this would be true, and a quick look at the sidebar would indicate just exactly when this occurred: August 2013.  That was, in fact, when the problems began.


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February 06, 2014

Winter In Duckford 2014

Look, I understand that snow doesn't happen much in StevenLand.  I get that.  I also get that it's relatively temperate out thataway, too.

Don't care.  We had a 38 hour stretch where it didn't get above zero, with a low around -25°F.  Then it went all the way up to 2°, then promptly went back into the negatives again.  For the past few weeks, if it hasn't been ridiculously cold, it's been snowing.  When it hasn't been snowing, it's been cold... and occasionally, it's been both!  I don't usually complain about the winters here in Duckford, but this one has just been a beechmartin and a half.

So don't take it personally, Steven, but right now I'd KILL to have your forecast.

It sounds so nice and warm.

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February 04, 2014

Aw, Gawshdarnit.

"...and he always was a very good dog."

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February 03, 2014

New For 2014...

The Masarati Ghibli.  Yes, really.

I... um... I'm so very sorry.

In case anybody is wondering, the "Ghibli" name predates Studio Ghibli by about 20 years.

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February 02, 2014

F1 News: 2014 Pre-Season #1

As my laundry goes through the whump-whump-wadump cycle (as opposed to the wooga-wooga-wooga or wherrrrrrrrrrz cycles), it seems like a good time to get everybody caught up on the stuff that came out of the first 2014 pre-season test at Jerez.

The biggest news was far and away the debut of the new V6 Turbo engines.  I had no doubt that they'd be quick... that's just what F1 is, after all.  What I was afraid of was that they would sound horrible.  The V8 era, in my mind, was nearly intolerable: that piercing scream, while undoubtedly impressive with its volume, was practically unlistenable to my ears.  The howl of the V10s sounded so much better, with a nicer lower-end to it, and don't even get me started on the sheer bliss that was the V12 era.   I figured that the new power plants would sound wimpy and tinny and yuck.  I was wrong... very wrong.  They sound great, and each manufacturer's sound is slightly different from each other. 

Which brings us to the next bit of news.  The Renault powerplant had serious problems during the test session, to the point where defending champions Red Bull turned the fewest number of laps (21) during the four days of testing.  In fact, the problems were so bad that they gave up and went home on Day 3.  Fellow Renault team Toro Rosso had 54 laps over four days and... well, here, just give this a listen.  Caterham had problems getting their Renault engine to even start.  And, of course, Lotus didn't even make it to Jerez.  In any case, this lack of running time puts Red Bull on the back foot; Mercedes ran 309 laps, for example.  That's 288 laps of data less to work with, and with brand new rules modifying just about everything on a chassis this year, data is king.

Red Bull is also having problems with overheating.  This isn't new: Adrian Newey designs are always tightly packaged, particularly towards the back.  Reports are that overheating was happening even during the short runs on cool days at Jerez, and THAT'S a bad sign indeed.  On the other hand, it's merely the first test session, not the real races.  Except Daniel Ricciardo, new Red Bull driver, isn't so sure that things will be fixed in a hurry: "Time is still on our side. Even if we go to Melbourne still a bit whatever, it's a long season."  I'm not gonna bet against them, not this year, not yet.

In other news, Ross Brawn announced his retirement from F1.  Last season's Mercedes team principal stepped down from his position after a career in the sport that began in the '70s.  He has eight constructor's championships to his name, and his teams have also had eight driver's championships as well.  There were rumors that he would be moving to McLaren, but he squashed those this week at a fishing event.

McLaren did announce that recent Lotus frontman Eric Boullier has become their Racing Director, a position that didn't really exist before this.  He'll be in charge of the team at race weekends, but report to the still-to-be-named CEO of McLaren Racing otherwise.  Clearly a reaction to the hideous 2013 the team suffered.

Finally, Michael Schumacher was reportedly being slowly brought out of his medically-induced coma.  If you remember correctly, he suffered major brain injuries in a skiing accident at the end of December.  He's been in the coma ever since, after undergoing two surgeries to relieve swelling.  Supposedly he's been able to blink in response to questions, but there's been no confirmation of that from the doctors.  Still, we can always hope. 

The Australian GP is just over a month away! 

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