December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve 2015


In the grand scheme of things, I suppose 2015 would have to count as a wash.  It started out pretty badly, somehow managed to get even worse, then the metaphorical arrow began heading up.  Slowly, to be sure, but up.  Certainly things look brighter than they did at the end of 2014, for no other reason than I'm employed.  So the prospects for 2016 look promising, yes?  One can only hope so... I'm kinda tired of bad years.

Thank you all for another year of finding The Pond interesting enough to stick around.  You have no idea how much I appreciate it.  Without you folk, I'd just be talking to myself and you know what that means, right?  ("You have a bluetooth headset?"  Shut up.)

Have a happy new year!  It's funny hat time for all, and for all, a funny hat!

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December 30, 2015

Random Anime Picture #107: Country Cooking


-Shokugeki no Soma, Ep20

After having finished the first series of SnS (the second is airing Summer of 2016), I get the distinct impression that some part of the production staff really wanted to make Shokugeki no Megumi instead.  On the whole, she's a much more interesting character than the lead is, that's for sure.  The titular character is a wizard in the kitchen, able to do just about anything, sometimes effortlessly, sometimes having to work at it.  But it's a fait accompli that he will wind up reaching his ultimate goal: it's that sort of show, after all, and he's the lead!  I find it amusing that he's actually lost substantially more head-to-head cooking battles than he's won thus far.  Even in defeat, he's gained the people's ovation and his opponent's respect and won over the judges to boot. 

But then there's Megumi.  She's literally a hick from a fishing village, attending an elite (some would say THE elite) culinary academy in the world.  Prior to the main character meeting her, she was on the verge of being kicked out in disgrace.  After a couple of pep talks, though, she gained confidence in her abilities and has been surprising people left and right.  To be blunt, she's a lot more interesting than Soma.  I suspect that it's no coincidence that at the end of Series 1, she advances in the big tournament... on the other side of the bracket from Soma.

She's also cute as a button and owns a rubber duck.  That's gotta count for something!

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December 28, 2015

Your Weekly Asuka, the OVA... or 12.5, whichever.

It's been quite some time since we last visited the Hibike! Euphonium show, but a few days ago the long-awaited OVA came out.  Considering how much I enjoyed the series, it shouldn't come as any surprise that I immediately watched it with one eye peeled for Asuka, the vice-president of the band club.

It should also come as no surprise that the Goofy Cute was being both goofy and cute... for the thirty seconds she was in the episode.  Alas, KyoAni stopped using her as a character around Ep12 in the original run, so Asuka bringing the goofy was to be expected.  Since that was her entire contribution to the story, it was a little bit disappointing.

The rest of the OVA was quite entertaining, and it was really nice to be back with this bunch of characters that we came to love over the course of three months or so.  As usual, it was outstanding visually, but it was really quite nice to focus on the "junior leads", as it were, instead of the main characters.  Which is not to say I wouldn't have liked to see more of Asuka.

Since, y'know, that was kinda the whole point of this little series of mine in the first place.  I guess we'll just have to wait for the second season... or maybe the recap movie will have a little bit more about her in it.  Either way, it'll be good fun.  Unless KyoAni doesn't expound upon her character, in which case I'll be quite grumpy.

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December 27, 2015

Residual Photoshoot Thingy

Back last August, I finally posted the "creative project" I worked on for much of my enforced extended vacation.  In that post I mentioned that I had purchased a new camera for my birthday.  While I was learning how to use it, something I can honestly say I haven't figured out yet because it's a little more advanced than a point'n'click, I decided to see how it did in low-light situations.  The very first picture I took told me that I had gotten a nice camera.

If one wished, one could click on the picture for a bigger version.
I still think its the best picture I've taken with it.  Not bad for something taken on a whim with one hand holding the camera, the other holding the EL Wire.  The most surprising part was the faintly red background... that's from a glowing mushroom in my dining room.  I'm going to have to explain that, aren't I? 

Back when I had the Cardiac Incident in 2005, I had... concerns... that one night I'd have to call 911 and not be able to get out of bed due to whatever was happening in my chest.  I thought it'd be best if the EMTs would be able to see so a light would be needed... but it would have to be relatively unobtrusive, otherwise I'd not be able to sleep.  Some weeks later, I stopped at Walgreens and found a low-wattage red CFL for some decent price.  I put it into a more-or-less translucent mushroom-shaped lamp, put it on a small side table in the dining room, and turned it on.  Save for a few minutes here and there when I vacuum, that light has been on ever since.  Nearly 10 years... well over 80000 hours!  I don't care that it's "just a light bulb", that's pretty amazing.  Particularly since wikipedia suggests the usual lifespan for a CFL is ~15000 hours.  I don't know what I'm going to do when it finally passes from this world to Light Bulb Valhalla.

Clicky-poppy.
Amazing what a good camera can do, eh?  I don't like this picture anywhere near as much as the first, but it's still a swell photo.  Anyway, enjoy, won't you?

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December 25, 2015

Today, It Finally Happened.

As of today, December 25th in the year 2015 of the Gregorian Calendar, I, Wonderduck, have officially become an ADULT.  Because today, Christmas Day, I received some pairs of socks and some big bath sheet towels.

AND WAS HAPPY ABOUT IT!!!  Indeed, that was pretty much all I really asked for.

Because socks are useful.  And bigmclargehuge fluffy towels are great.  Also office supplies.  And a jar of lingonberry.

See?  Adult.  Grownup.  Me.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch a japanese cartoon about Santa Claus.

Merry Christmas again!

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Christmas 2015


Merry Christmas, my friends... or, if you don't celebrate that particular holiday, Happy Chinese Take-Out Day!  It's been quite the year, but without you folks it would have been even moreso.  Thanks for putting up with me.

Now.  Who's up for some egg nog?

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December 23, 2015

Well. THAT Was A Day.

It was sixty degrees today, the highest high ever for this day in Duckford history.  We also had a half-inch of rain fall, mostly when I was walking from my spot in the parking lot to the office.  Now we're getting 60mph wind gusts.  I love winter in Illinois... I just wish it was, y'know, happening this year.

At work, I can honestly say that the claims kicked my ass all day.  Twerent none of 'em what went down easy.  It felt like every one of them had something wrong with it, as opposed to being of the "three key presses, two mouse clicks and get paid" variety.  It isn't really that simple, but I'm not exaggerating by all that much.  It's nowhere near as intimidating as it used to be... mostly.  When you have a claim for $60000 hit your screen and you know that every auditor between here and the home office in Texas is just dying to find the teeniest mistake and doom you to a lower tax bracket forever, it can be a little stressful. 

When a claim enters your queue, it's supposed to be all set and ready to be processed.  Today, though... today was apparently Drive Wonderduck To Drink day.  Literally a quarter of the 200 or so claims I worked today didn't have the name of the doctor or the organization he bills through listed correctly.  Sometimes you can fix that... the computer isn't so smart that it can pick out the right organization when the doc works with, like, eight different places.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Doctor's own office.  The hospital he works with.  Two different hospital-associated clinics: one pediatric, one adult.  His office might have a clinic as well.  The doc's specialty practice.  The partnership he has with another doc.  Then the Urgent Care place people go to when they can't get appointments with their "real" doctor.  That's eight right there, and while they're all the same doctor, he might be billing to any of them at any time... fortunately each of them has a separate ID number.  In theory.  That's where the computer falls over and we have to come in and fix the mess.

Except when we can't, because sometimes a doctor was hired by an Urgent Care two months ago and is only now getting around to sending us the bills for his patients.  And gosh, lookit that, we have no record that Dr Smith works at that place!  So away goes those claims to the home office to deal with... hopefully we'll get them back at some point, after Dr Smith has been added to the rolls. 

Imagine beating your head against a wall.  It's kinda like that, except the wall is covered with broken glass, razor blades, and that stupid hot mustard Chinese places serve for you to dip your egg rolls in.  Each one of those takes time and doesn't pay you anything.  Bah.

Oh, and I discovered that I had been looking at the wrong Holiday Days Off list, too!  I had been looking at the one for the other branch of our business, the collections folk based in Colorado or somewhere like that, and they get Christmas Eve off.  Me, I have to be in tomorrow.  Well, shucks.

It could be a lot worse, though.  I stopped at the Walgreens near the office to pick up my monthly batch of Keep Wonderduck Alive pills on the way home tonight.  That's the Walgreens that's a block away from the Big Shopping Mall in the area.  The place was packed with Crazy... and that's just a drugstore near the mall.  What must the mall itself be like?  I know not, nor wish I to know.  I've done my time in Hell after all, and to that place I intend to never return.  If I'm lucky.

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December 21, 2015

At Last, Closure.

Duckford is many things, but "large" would not be considered one of them.  However, many people would consider that a feature, not a bug, and whatever else, it's still a city of respectable size.  What I'm saying is that just bumping into someone randomly must be considered quite unlikely.  Throw in my hermitish tendencies and all in all, bumping into one of my old employees from the Duck U Bookstore must be in the "ridiculously low" category.

"But."
This past Sunday, I had brunch with Ph.Duck and RN(ret)Duck at a place that falls into the category of "Duckford Original", the Stockholm Syndrome Inn.  Try the swedish pancakes!  Feel your arteries clog like someone poured fast-setting concrete into 'em!  Make sure you apply liberal amounts of lingonberry because oh my.  Please note that I'm not a huge fan of swedish pancakes, but I'm probably the only person in Duckford that's true for.  Me, I had a stack of regular pancakes and a hashbrown-like thing with cheese and onion.

As we were all nomming away, catching up on our adventures (or lack thereof) over the past while, I suddenly heard someone saying "I thought that sounded like you, Wonderduck!"  I immediately scanned the area for escape routes, cursing myself for letting down my guard.  Turning my head towards the voice, I found myself facing one of the three employees that I had on staff when my Bookstore Management career came to a screeching halt.  We'll call her Betty because that's not her name.  She was still working at the Duck U Bookstore, and we began catching up... it had been 18 months since I last saw her, after all.  Eventually I asked how THAT fall semester went after I was gone.  Turns out there were some problems, as expected... and I'm willing to believe that at least some of them were because I wasn't there anymore because, y'know, 10 years and stuff, and I'm willing to delude myself. 

But none of the problems Betty told me about had to do with textbook acquisition.  THAT part, at least, went smooth as butter on silk.  Hearing that bit of information made me feel pretty darn good... I may have been unceremoniously kicked to the curb, but I'll be damned if it was because of poor performance.  I also heard that they finally got spiral notebooks and folders with the school's new name on 'em... some two-plus years after the change from "college" to "university" occurred, and over three years since the announcement was made... at which point, I immediately began trying to get things with the new name.  See?  Not my fault, and screw anybody who thought it was. 

But I can finally say that I know that when I got canned, the store was in good shape.  It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't for lack of trying... and I can finally close the book on that substantial bit of my life.  And good riddance.

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December 19, 2015

Working! No, Really!

I'm slowly beavering away on the whole blogging thing.  Soon, I hope to be back into the groove and start generating fun and entertaining posts again.

No, really!  Why are you laughing?  Stop that this instant!

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December 17, 2015

Random Anime Picture #106: Cheesecake


-Shokugeki no Soma, Ep17

For a show that I only began watching to see if there were more rubber ducks involved, I'm pleasantly surprised to admit that Shokugeki no Soma is really quite good!  Cross a fighting anime with Iron Chef and you've got the basic idea behind the show.

Just... don't watch the show when you're hungry.  Or on a diet.  Swear to god, you gain weight just watching the dishes they prepare.  Best of all, none of them are stupid: you could "easily" make them yourself.  Heck, many of the recipes were included in the manga!

There are other reasons to watch, too.

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December 15, 2015

Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me???


Holy crepe, it's almost Christmas.  When did that happen?

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December 14, 2015

Gakkou Gurashi Ep06

This has been a tough one.  Not just because of the subject matter, which as you'll see is less unicorns and rainbows and more zombies and more zombies.  No, actually, zombies and more zombies would have been okay.  This particular episode of Gakkou Gurashi is of a type that makes for really tough recapping, because it relies heavily on sound to convey a very dramatic turning point in the series.  And, in case you haven't noticed, much of this blog is silent, occasional music posts to the contrary.  So how to actually do this?  I've given it much thought, and to be blunt, "I dunno.  I just dun."  Which might be a first.  Well, that's always exciting, huh?  Breaking new ground, heading off into the great unwashed unknown.  As always, however, I must caution you, the reader, against spoileriffic activities and discussions, if for no other reason than I'm watching the show as I do the writeups... Ep06 is as far as I've gotten!  If you even drop hints that could be spoilers, I will not hesitate to do Bad Things.  And nobody wants that.  So!  On with the story, eh?  Last time out, we got to see how Miki joined the gang.  What wonders does Gakkou Gurashi bring us this time?

GAH!!! 
...
Sorry, I'm just not sure that being stared at by a weird kid is how I'd want to wake up after having survived a shopping mall full of undead horrors.  A glass of water, though, is exactly what Miki needs, and after that...

...it's time for introductions!  Well, introduction-singular, as Miki just completely ignores Megu-nee and concentrates on the amazing fact that Yuki is a senior.  While that is something of a shocking revelation, it doesn't seem like enough reason to completely blow off a teacher to me.

A short conversation between Megu-nee and Yuki about explaining the School Living Club to Miki does nothing to help matters, as the garterbelt-wearing lovely seems to just get more confused.  The talk ends when Yuki hands her teacher the water bottle she's holding.  Turning back to Miki, we hear the sound of a water bottle hitting the floor.  Curiouser and curiouser.

A tour of the school is in order, it appears, even though Miki's a student there.  Ever a good kid, Miki points out that they've left the door to the room open.  "That's okay, Megu-nee is still in there!"  Hmmm.  But you'd think the junior would have noticed that...?

more...

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December 13, 2015

Quokka!


Quokka!
Quokka!

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December 10, 2015

Sleep Is For The Weak. And The Tired.

I fall into both categories right now, after having two horrendously stressful days at work and very vivid nightmares two of the past three nights.  Technically, the fact that I had nightmares meant that I also slept, but I'll be darned if you could prove it by me.

Surprisingly accurate portrayal of Wonderduck right now.
I kept nearly dozing off in front of the computer at work today.  As that's the one sure way to get yourself fired, this is A Very Bad Thing.  So, to prevent that from occurring tomorrow, I am going to take a nap now.  "But Wonderduck," you say... nope, I'm not gonna throw in anything here like I usually do, gotta keep y'all on your toes... "it's 830pm!"  Yes, I reply, and I care not at all.  I need sleep like ducks need rye bread.

UPDATE:  "Seven hours" is the answer to the question "how long was the nap?"  I'm awake only to post this update and to release pressure in my hydraulic system.  Going back to bed now.

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December 08, 2015

Humanity Deserves Better Than Humans

During my period of... um... unplanned vacation... I made jokes about becoming very hermit-ish in my everyday life.  There were whole weeks when I never left Pond Central.  Heck, there were long periods of time where I never opened the door, let alone leave for any reason.  At the end of such long stretches, I would find myself beginning to get antsy for human contact, leading to some epic runs of motormouth during dinners with The Librarian or Ph.Duck.  On the whole, though, I was pretty okay with being a recluse.  I had a radio, I had a TV, I had a computer... really, it's hard to think of what more a modern-day hermit could desire.

I'm now gainfully employed, of course, which means I pretty much have to leave Pond Central at least five days per week.  Six days isn't uncommon, though going out seven days is totally unheard of... Sunday is always totally mine for F1 or football or whatever.  Even with having to go out, I'm still awfully hermity.  The job itself is a solitary position, and it doesn't take any effort at all to go the entire day speaking a total of four words: "Good morning" and "good night."  I'm pretty okay with that, though the person sitting next to me is becoming something of a work buddy... we're starting to play pranks on each other.

However!  There are times where I cannot avoid the outside world... like this afternoon.  We ran out of claims after I got six hours in, which was okay with me because in the trunk of the DuckMobile was nearly fifty pounds of laundry.  The situation had become desperate... hell, I needed to wash clothes back as far as Thanksgiving.  Problem is, I couldn't bring myself to actually do it.  Couple of reasons for that.  First, I'm in one of those periodic fits of self-loathing I tend to get into.  Second, I'm also in one of those fits of hating just about everybody that I tend to get into.  The LAST thing that combination warrants is going to the laundromat.

But no clean clothes means away I went.  The good news is that at 3pm on a Tuesday, the place was nearly empty.  The bad news is the "nearly" part.  During the two hour, eight loads of laundry span of time I was there, I rediscovered just how much I despise most of humanity.  For example, the screaming baby.  Actually, I had no problem with the baby... it was hungry and that's what babies do when they're hungry.  However, mommy was 18, tops, and much too invested in her phone to actually feed the poor child.  She was even taking selfies... in a laundromat?... no doubt to update her myfacetwitsnaptube page.  Meanwhile the baby screeched on.  Speaking of phones, there was also the charming lass talking on her phone at high volume, whose use of the language would have made sailors blush.  How in the world can you carry on a conversation when every third word was f'n this, or f'n that or f'n the other?  Then there was the guy who actually made little jokes about me... because I was reading a book.  I'm not sure if he was offended by my reading, or if it was because it was an actual book and not a Kindling or a Niche or whatever.  In case you're wondering, it was Heinlein's Expanded Universe.  Finally, as if simply to mock me, the TVs were showing some Judge Judy-alike with much yelling and banging of gavels.  By the time I broke the zipper on the small laundry bag from overstuffing it, I was ready to do Very Bad Things to everybody. 

The big bag, now containing approximately 200 pounds of clean clothing, continued to not explode, something it has managed for over a decade now.  Dragging the 500 pounds of stuff out to the DuckMobile was somewhat troublesome; carrying the 943lb bag up the stairs to Pond Central nearly killed me, not least because the railing on the stairs is badly rusted and it fair to broke at one point, nearly catapulting me down two flights of stairs.  So now I've got 2000lbs of clean laundry to deal with, and I have to go back to work in the morning, and I would rather do anything else right now.  Because Humanity kinda sucks.

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December 05, 2015

Ducks In Anime: Disapproval


-Shokugeki no Soma, Ep07

Over the years, I have encountered many rubber ducks in episodes of anime, and this is good.  I approve of this trend wholeheartedly.  One thing that I do not countenance, however, is the use of rubber duckies as projectiles.  Bath toys of any sort should never be thrown at others... it could hurt the duckie! 

This occurred in Rio: Rainbow Gate! and Kanon '06 as well... no more!  No more, I say!

Darn humans, always messing it up for the rest of us.

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December 04, 2015

Ah.

I...  um... hm. 

(sigh)

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December 01, 2015

That'll Buff Right Out, You Betcha.

November 29, 1968 was shaping up to be just another day for Santa Fe 213L, an EMD F7A in freight service on the Plainview District main line in north Texas. 

Hook up and run through Hale Center, taking its load of cars to wherever they needed to go.  Shame about the tornado that tore through the center of town a few years earlier, though.  Never was a big place, and some folks decided they didn't want to come back afterwards... Lubbock to the south, Amarillo to the north, plenty of big city reasons to move in either one.  'Sfunny how things change.  Even that US 87, runs parallel to the main line, it's gettin' replaced by something called I-27.  Saw it gettin' built as we ran back and forth over the years.  Dunno if it's better, but it's new... train'll still carry more stuff than trucks will, more than likely.  Although that may not be true for long... lotta guys retirin' early, or just being let go, and who ever thought that'd happen? 

Huh.  Could swear that looks like a train out there, just south of Hale.  Hm...

more...

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