February 25, 2017

Just... Tired. Of A Lot Of Things.

I know there's big news in the F1 world regarding the rollouts, and I'm trying to get to it, I really am.  But I'll tell ya, I'm friggin' exhausted.  Y'all remember my knee?  It's doing really well, it only feels a little loose nowadays.  No outright pain unless I try to make it hurt or I get my foot caught in the sheets, and wouldn't that be a fun way to cripple yourself?  "So how'd you blow out your knee, Wonderduck?"  "Bedsheet."

No, all that excitement has migrated to my right hip/pelvis/groin thing.  Probably from trying to protect my knee, I've bunged up the top of my right leg.  Fortunately it only hurts if I'm moving the leg, trying to stand up, trying to sit down, if I stay sitting for too long, and getting into or out of the car.  Particularly that bit about the car. 

As one might expect, this has put something of a damper on my usually cheerful and optimistic outlook on life.  I'm going to have to do a F1 ultra-mega-pr0n soon, as well as finish the piece answering the question "Why A Duck?"  Oh, and I was giftied a copy of Clannad: The Game, I should really get started on that, too. 

Motivation.  It all comes down to that, doesn't it?  And has for a while, I guess.  As they say, "the struggle is real", and I'm losing it badly.  Well, that's life, I guess.  So what I'm saying is: yes, I know there's stuff out there I should be writing about.  Bear with me and I promise it'll be worth it.  Or, y'know, not, because, well, that's kinda been my track record of late.

Instead of leaving on that happy note, let's leave on this one instead... a little NYC subway music.


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February 21, 2017

F1 Pr0n: First Look

Okay friends, here's the deal.  The first of the 2017 F1 cars rolled out today, with Sauber and Renault going all jamonit and stuff.  Normally this would be cause for celebrations and my calling for the finest of meats and cheeses.  But not tonight, for tonight my knee hurts, my head hurts, I'm stupidly tired, and work is bad.

Which doesn't mean I'm going to leave y'all empty-handed.  Oh no, no indeed, because the cars look bloody wonderful this year thanks to the new aero rules.  Wide tires, every wing swept like a late '60s jet fighter, a return to the low wide rear wing... the cars look like Matchbox designed 'em.  And before you ask, yes, this is a great thing!  So while I go and get myself out of this funk*, here's a picture of the new Sauber C36!

I need both a cigarette and a cold shower.  Maybe at the same time.



* That Parliament video was actually shot during a Red Bull design meeting.

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February 19, 2017

A Dutchman's Story

Over at reddit, there's a certain community called "askhistorians", where history questions are given serious answers by professional historians or knowledgeable amateurs.  The most prolific and responsible responders become "flaired users", considered the go-to people on their particular specialties.  If a flaired user is answering a question in their specialty, there's a very good chance indeed that they know what they're talking about.  I'm lucky enough to have convinced people that I know what I'm talking about and earned my flair ("Pacific Theater - World War 2")  back during the unemployment time.

As I was taking it easy on my knee (doing nicely, thankyouverymuch!) Saturday afternoon, I wandered into askhistorians to see what was going on.  One of the questions was quite interesting: a young man's grandfather was held in a POW camp in Japan at the end of the war and claimed that he saw a nuclear explosion.  Where could he have been held, and how did he get there?  I didn't know, but I wanted to find out.  So I started digging into the intarwebbz with what little information I had:

1) Grandfather was Dutch, living in the East Indies.
2) We had his name.
3) He had to have been held near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

It was unsurprising to me that there was information about Japan's POW camps on the 'web.  What did surprise me was that one of the best sites was from Japan itself.  And oh my, it had a list of every POW camp on Japanese soil, broken out by location of the administrative center.  And what do you know?  Both Hiroshima and Fukuoka, which is just north of Nagasaki, were admin centers for POW camp networks.  A quick perusal of nationalities held in the Hiroshima camps made it clear that Grandpa was likely held in a Fukuoka camp: at war's end, only 500 Dutch nationals were held near Hiroshima, while around 3700 were in the vicinity of Nagasaki.

So it was possible that Grandpa could have been in the vicinity of one of the bombs.  I was almost ready to call it a night, when I hit a gold mine of information.  This site was devoted to Allied POWS in Japanese hands, both in Japan and elsewhere.  And there, in the middle of a cluttered index page, was a jewel beyond compare: the POW rosters of each Fukuoka camp at the time they were liberated.  Better still, they were official records, pdf'd from the National Archives and Records Administration.  There were some 20 or so reports, one for each camp.

As is my wont on any sort of project like this, I started from the back... and after about ten or 15 minutes of searching, I opened the roster for Fukuoka Camp #23, which held mostly Dutch prisoners.  I quickly jumped to the correct initial and started looking.  And then, about two hours after I had read the original question, I found him.

To say I was excited would something of an understatement.  He really could have seen the bomb over Nagasaki!  I posted my findings, then started phase II of the search: trying to find where Camp 23 was located.  This took no time at all.  On another page of the site with Camp #23's roster were photographs of each camp, whatever was available.  For #23, there was only one... a remarkably sharp aerial shot.  And there at the top was the lat/long of where the pic was taken... a quick wrestle with Googlemaps, cursed be its name, got me to where I was looking.

The red star was the rough location of Fukuoka #23, some 54 miles from Nagasaki as the crow flies.  The only thing was that Mt Tara was directly between the two points, but as it turns out it's only just barely a mountain, measuring in at just over 1000m in height.  The Nagasaki bomb exploded around 500m over the city.

After all the searching, I pretty much had the answer.  Grandpa probably didn't see the flash of the detonation, but certainly could have seen the smoke cloud, and probably heard something of the explosion.  Satisfied, I finished updating my post and took a nap.

When I woke up this morning, it was to an inbox filled with comments, a notification that someone had given me a month of "reddit gold", and the revelation that my comment had been linked to by reddit's "best of" page... and one more thing.

Another reddit user found Grandpa's name in the lists for another Fukuoka camp, #14... which was less than two kilometers from Ground Zero.  It was totally destroyed by the blast, with seven POW deaths.  Despite this, Camp #14 stayed in operation until it was liberated in September.  I did some quick digging and found there was no discrepancy: the report the other user found was of all POWs to have held in the camp, not the list of who was there when it was liberated.  Clearly Grandpa had been moved to #23 at some time before the bomb dropped.  It did, however, allow me to partially answer the OTHER part of the poster's original question:  how did Grandpa get there?

It turned out that most of the Dutch POWs were brought to Fukuoka #14 in April 1943, on one of the lesser-known Hell Ships, the Hawaii Maru.  It only made two voyages in that role before being used as a troop transport instead.  While conditions were as bad in the ship as in any other Hell Ship, remarkably few prisoners died on board. 

I do believe the results of my research falls into the category of "a good day's work".  I'm stupidly pleased with myself, I am.

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February 16, 2017

Next Year Was Last Year!


The Cubs position players are reporting to spring training camp on Friday.  Pitchers were in on Tuesday.  Know what that means?  Baseball is back, baby!  And for the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs are the reigning World Series Champions.  And yes, I still get a shiver of frisson from saying that.

Will they repeat?  Las Vegas oddsmakers give them the best chance of any team in the National League, at 9-2.  Those are the same odds that the A.L.'s Red Sox have, by the way... now that would be an epic World Series!  Two oldest parks in baseball, and two of the three most hallowed franchises.  Tying it all together would be Theo Epstein, architect of the Cubs championship run, and the GM at the time the Red Sox won their first series in forever, back in 2004.

But it's been a long time since a team was back-to-back champions; the Yankees were the last to do it when they three-timed in 1998, 99, and 2000.  Can the Cubs do it?  Yes, absolutely, they're still the best team in the NL, and probably the best in baseball.  Of course, that doesn't matter when it comes to the playoffs.  Then, it's all about what team is the hottest.  If things go totally right, then yes, they'll win... but they so easily could have lost Game 7.  So do I think the Cubs will win the 2017 World Series?  The meatball fan in me says "yes!!!"  But the rational, thinking baseball fan in me says "no."

I have never wanted to be wrong so much in my life.

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February 14, 2017

Happy Val. Day 2017


I'm not sure why I need to buy chocolates and roses for a dive bomber, but...

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February 13, 2017

Life Amuck (UPDATED)

Okay, let me explain.  Ever since the Great Confirmation of Gravity, I've juggled from sore to okay to somewhere in-between.  No surprise, it isn't every day one swandives onto concrete, right?  Well, last week I noticed my left knee wasn't feeling all that swell, particularly after sitting for a couple of hours.  I'd get up from my desk at work and the first couple dozen steps saw me limping, and/or leaning to the right like I'd taken a torpedo below the waterline.  Once it "loosened up", things went back to more-or-less normal.  I'm hardly surprised by this... I'm staring 50 in the face after all.  I just don't recover as quickly as I used to.

This past Friday, as I climbed the stairs to Pond Central after a day at work, it was clear my left knee wasn't happy about something.  I couldn't push off it the way I normally did, not without a pinpoint pain in the back of it.  Once I got to the top of the stairs, though, everything was fine.  Saturday, it started to ache.  By Sunday afternoon, it felt very much like it was just going to fail if I put full weight on it.  The nap I took was pain-soaked; every time I rolled over, my knee torqued (as normal) and I'd get a brilliant shot of pain (not normal).

4am Monday morning, I woke to use the loo.  It took me over 10 minutes to get there from my bedroom, and Pond Central ain't that large.  If it wasn't for my cane, I'm not sure I could have made it.  When the alarm went off for me to get ready for work, I knew there was no chance I could do it.  It wound up taking a very long time to get into the shower, close to 20 minutes, because my knee wouldn't bend enough for me to get it over the side of the tub.  I was also afraid it wouldn't support my weight when I put my OTHER foot in.  As it was, I took what may have been the most perfunctory shower in the history of showers.

I have a doc appointment on Tuesday, where I'm scared he's gonna say I'll need surgery.  I'm getting a lift, which is good... I'm not sure I'll be able to walk to my car tomorrow.  Guess we'll see, huh? 

I'll keep y'all updated.

UPDATE:  The doctor has diagnosed a torn meniscus.  This is... not good.  I am not a candidate for surgery, mainly because it probably isn't torn that badly.  He wants me to rest and stay off the knee as much as possible... in fact, he wanted me to be off work for the next two weeks, basically be bed-ridden.  As pleasant a thought as that may be, I had to veto it... so I go back on Thursday.  Hopefully I can get in the car easier then. 

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February 11, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 126: Cheesecake Too!


-Hatsukoi Limited, ED
There are days when you plan and scheme and get everything you need to accomplish done.  And then there are days like today, where I got nothing done at all except sleep, and not even much of that.  The plan was to finish up the requested "Why A Duck?" post.  Instead, I did bupkis, and you get this post.

I mean, there are worse things that could have happened, I suppose.  It's just not what the plan was.  A lot of that going around, I think.

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February 08, 2017

Interview With A Vampire

Hopefully all of you regular (or irregular, I don't judge) anime viewers are watching the show of the season, Interviews With Monster Girls.  It's light-hearted, with a surprising amount of depth to it as well.  While I'm not a huge fan of the yuki onna (yet... she basically was just introduced in last week's Ep05), everybody else in the show is delightful.  Even the normie teacher.

There is no doubt, however, that the true breakout star of the series is Hikari, the vampire.  She's basically the most realistic high school girl I've ever seen in an anime series.  I mean, other than the whole "vampire" thing, of course.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but not too terribly long after I returned from grad school in ignominious defeat, my old theatre teacher from high school called and hired me to do the lighting design for a play the theatre department at his new school was doing.  He had a lot of expectations of this one, because it was being entered into the All-State Theatre Festival... there were something like 900 shows being considered, but only six would be chosen.  The name of that play?  Dracula.  A fairly faithful retelling of the original vampire story, in fact.  And o, did I go wild on that design!  Easily the best of my 200+ lighting designs, in fact.  Anyway, we did go downstate, where I got to take a custom light design run via computer and turn it into something using a generic light plot run via a manual control board.  That only took four hours to do.  I digress.  They say that there isn't a competition between the "full-length feature presentations" at All-State; officially, they're right.  Unofficially, however, that's a bunch of hooey and everybody attending knows it.  I saw four of the five other plays downstate, and the fifth I saw when it ran here in Duckford at a private high school.  Not only were we the best of the bunch, it wasn't even close.  I'm honestly not bragging about that, it's just a simple fact.  We had a good bunch of kids... which brings me back to my original point: Hikari reminds me of, like, three of my students rolled into one.  Good kids, all of 'em.  If you've been watching the show, you undoubtedly remember the laugh-out-loud moment from the most recent episode: when Hikari needs to chew on someone because "her teeth itch."  Relative to that scene, I found this:

For everybody that ISN'T watching the show, hopefully that just convinced you to do so.  You're seriously missing out.

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February 06, 2017

F1 News: To The Manor Born


Manor F1, the last of the four "Class of 2010" teams, has pulled down the garage doors for the last time.  The cash-strapped team, running on a shoestring and a prayer for the past couple of years, has been desperately looking for a buyer since the end of the 2016 season.  There was no white knight to be found, and the active staff was apparently let go on the last day of January.  Interestingly, while the team is gone, the company that holds Manor's rights to race in F1 is still alive.  In theory, they could field a team or sell the rights off to another (approved) race group.  In practice, it's a moot point as there currently aren't any approved applicants out there.

Manor lasted for seven seasons, scoring a total of three points: two in 2014 and 2016.  Sadly, the team had two of its drivers suffer major head injuries and pass away: Maria DeVillota during testing and Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Grand Prix of Japan.  This team was supposed to be the one that changed how F1 cars were designed; under the Virgin F1 banner, the VR01 and MVR02 chassis were created and tested solely via computer.  No wind tunnel tests were needed, they said.  Computational Fluid Dynamic testing dominated the designs for the first four years, with the best result being a freak 13th place at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix after many cars retired from that race.  The next design, the MR03 in 2014 and the MR03b in 2015, showed some promise with a 9th place finish at Monaco in 2014.  But then money issues reared their ugly head and 2016s MRT05 was a legitimate disappointment; it scored but a single point despite running the dominating Mercedes engine.  This failure put the team 11th for the season, where they received no championship payout from the FIA and ultimately doomed the team.

In the end, it was hard not to root for Manor.  They legitimately tried very hard to make a go of it and were obviously quite devoted racers.  They outlasted HRT and Lotus/Caterham (and USF1, but that's another story) by a few years... with a bit of luck, they could have become as much a fixture on the grid as any team.  In a few years, people will be looking back at their final car and realize just how gorgeous it was.

Pre-season rollouts are just a couple of weeks away.  Sadly, Manor will not be one of them.

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February 01, 2017

Random Anime Picture #125: Cheesecake!


-Seiren, Ep02 ED
Why?  What, when did I start needing a reason to post cheesecake?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:51 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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