American Racer Dan Gurney Passes.
One of the true legends of motorsport passed away on Sunday. Dan Gurney was 86 when complications from pneumonia "took him off the grid." He was the first of only three men to win races in Sports Cars, Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy Car, as well as Can-Am and Trans-Am. But for all his accomplishments on track, and there were many, he may very well be known for some off-track things.
For example, he had what can arguably be called the best week in car racing history in 1967. On June 11th, he and AJ Foyt, driving a Ford GT40 MkIV, won the 24 Hours of LeMans. This marked back-to-back LeMans victories for Ford, totally unprecedented for the American manufacturer. But that wasn't enough for Dan Gurney. During the podium ceremony, he did something that no race winner anywhere had ever done before...
...he became the first winner to spray champagne from the podium. Of course, this tradition continues 50+ years later in all forms of motorsports all over the world. That right there is enough to make Gurney a legend, but not enough to make it the best week of racing ever. The following Sunday, June 18th, was the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.
Gurney, running both as driver and as team owner of Anglo-American Racing, drove the Eagle Mk1 to victory. He became the second F1 driver to win in a car of his own manufacture, out of three. But, and this is the part that cements him as one of the all-time greats, it became the first... and thus far only... F1 race win for an American-made car.
But even THAT wasn't enough for Gurney. He became the first to put a little vertical piece of material on the trailing edge of his car's wing, increasing the generated downforce substantially without much of an increase in drag at all. This little thing became known as the Gurney Flap, and is used by just about any race car that has wings. While it would be incorrect to say that he invented the device, as airplanes had been using it to increase lift instead of downforce for decades, he and his team were the ones who adapted it to cars. About the only time you don't see them being used nowadays is at places like Monza, where you want as little drag (and thus downforce) as possible.
Dan Gurney won seven races in F1, seven times in Indy Car, five times in NASCAR, he won endurance races at the Nurburgring, Sebring, Daytona and LeMans, as well as many others. He was the first big-name racer to wear a full face helmet. When he retired from racing in 1970, he did so with some 51 race wins across all formats to his credit. After that, he had a successful career as a constructor or team owner, with three Indy 500 victories in the record books. For all of that and more, he is probably the preeminent American in motorsport. I am secure in saying that his sort will never be seen again.
Posted by: GreyDuck at January 16, 2018 08:47 AM (h8yX6)
Also worth mentioning is the "Gurney bubble" as demonstrated on the red car in the first image in your post. No few "classic cars", replicas, prototypes, etc include that as a "this makes it look fast" feature, but in fact it originally had just one purpose - room for Gurney's helmeted head, as he was taller than the usual race driver.
Posted by: David at January 16, 2018 01:33 PM (h8yX6)
Tracks From The MP3 Player
The other day, I was chatting with a coworker during one of my rare lunchbreaks that didn't involve me taking a nap, and she told me something that both stunned and amused me. See, the Powers That Be decided that it was time to put someone in the desk next to me... it had been empty for a month, much to my pleasure (imagine discovering you're the only person in a row of seats on an airliner)... and my new neighbor apparently was able to hear the music from my headphones... but only a certain type of music as it turns out. Metal and/or Other Loud Aggressive Music. Via conversations with her friends, a good portion of the office appeared to believe I listened exclusively to Screamo.
For the record, nothing could be further from the truth. I do have a single song by a screamo band, "On My Own" by The Used, but I didn't know it was that genre. Amusingly, I first heard the track eleven years ago, more or less, as it was used to make a music video for my favorite Japanese wrestler, Hayabusa, after the terrible in-ring accident that paralyzed him. Okay, that part isn't amusing. A while ago, another coworker "stole" my mp3 player because she was bored and wanted to hear something new. Sadly, she no longer works there, or she could have put a stop to the rumors. I don't know if I convinced my accuser of my varied musical tastes or if she thought it a case of 'the duckie doth protest too much', but I gave her The Pond's address and told her to look for a music post. If that's you, hello, see you monday! If it's not, hello, Pond Scum! Click "more" for, well...
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 13, 2018 11:41 PM (h8yX6)
So Gainax just went and animated an entire promo video for an insert song? (Admittedly, my TTGL knowledge is nearly zero, so there's probably a good reason for this that I'm not aware of. A quick Googling didn't turn up a clear answer.)
Excellent run of music here. I liked all of them, each landing somewhere on a scale of "good" to "superb."
With you on the PSB obsession. Which makes the second time I've been obsessed with a band with that acronym, as it turns out. So, so good. Who knew that "awesome grooves with newsreel voiceovers" would be a genre I'd need in my life?
I think that Dr Who theme riff needed to be about half the length, though. It kind of wears out its welcome partway through. All attempts to use or replicate the Dr Who theme seem to work best in small doses. PSB's... er, the other PSB's "Pandemonium" sneaks up on you with it. Pink Floyd's "One Of These Days" stops down for a few seconds of it, then goes back to business.
Anyway. What a way to start a Sunday, thank you!
Posted by: GreyDuck at January 14, 2018 11:43 AM (h8yX6)
GD, I gather that S.T.A.R.S. is actually just a character song for Yoko, not even in TTGL. However, Marina Inoue was fairly hot at the time, so Gainax smelled a single!!!
And I pretty much agree with you on the Who Floyd length. Maybe a different video might help... I've seen one that's also a "cover" of the openings for the various series, it looked neat.
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 14, 2018 04:17 PM (h8yX6)
Gainax cashed in on the popularity of Yoko big time. I *think* S.T.A.R.S. appeared as an extra on DVD originally, but I could be wrong about that. But, as far as influence the video had, there are at least two figures that were created solely from the S.T.A.R.S. video.
Posted by: Ben at January 14, 2018 07:18 PM (h8yX6)
Add Maybe Another Thing To The List
We know that The Duckmobile is getting long in the tooth... she's legally able to drink, for heaven's sake. We know that in a perfect world, we'd have a better computer chair here at Pond Central Battlestation. And I've noticed that there's an odd thing going on with the computer monitor where in videos, all blacks are... um... I don't know how to describe what they are. Solarized, maybe? Black patches all look like they're backlit somehow, have an odd sort of glow to them that I don't see anywhere else.
But I didn't expect to be putting "a new computer" on the list anytime soon. Oh, to be sure, my current one, Nori, is four-plus years old, but it's not like software has outrun it or anything like that. It has been coughing up the occasional error every now and again... not too often, but not "never" like it maybe should be. But tonight, as I awoke from my nap, I pressed the power button, everything spooled up, I got the HP "I'm working on it!" screen like I always do, and then it just... turned itself off.
As the monitor said "no signal, going to sleep" and went to sleep, I sat here in the dark and actually said out loud "well, that's not supposed to happen." The Mutsu figure I have here by my keyboard said nothing, but I know she agreed with me. I pressed the power button again, and this time the startup went perfectly fine, though slower than normal. That's actually common... when it turns off without shutting down (for example, a power outage), the next reboot takes longer. But, and this is the important part of the story, that wasn't supposed to happen in the first place.
I'll admit to being concerned about my girl. But I also admit to needing a computer I can trust to work, too... I mean, it is my main form of entertainment, and how I do most of my shopping to boot. Losing it would be very grumpy-making. So, I suppose, onto the big list of new things goes "computer." Preferably one with an actual graphics card, this time.
My current laptop is named Basroil. It's a break from the previous theme that had lasted for 15 years, where my computers were named Abacus, Difference Engine, ENIAC, etc. (Meanwhile, my 6.5yo car doesn't have a name because Will wouldn't let me name it Pwny (I went from 102 ponies in my Civic, which was James, after James Madison, to 267 in this car) and I couldn't think of anything else. Oh well.)
I definitely know the feeling of having a list of major expenses that are likely to come up soon and deplete the emergency fund. And then surprises get added to those...ugh! Good luck!
Posted by: Mrs. Will at January 11, 2018 06:19 AM (h8yX6)
Some of Microsoft's fixes for the Intel and AMD vulnerability were bricking computers. Maybe that is the problem?
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 11, 2018 08:35 AM (mX3O4)
Well, Nori started right up this morning... better than I did, come to think of it... so hopefully that's not it!
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 11, 2018 08:54 AM (h8yX6)
Backup computers are a good thing to have. Thus Himawari the desktop and Etna the laptop. One can be used to look up the websites for cures to the things ailing the other.
Posted by: Mauser at January 11, 2018 08:40 PM (h8yX6)
Suburbanbanshee, as far as I know the computers getting bricked were 10+ years old. The Athlon 64 X2 5200+ was mentioned. I have one of those, purchased late 2007. Nori should be safe from that.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 12, 2018 01:11 AM (PiXy!)
The first picture reminds me of a horrible pun I saw on twitter. So advance warning....
"It's only a murder of crows if you have probable caws."
Posted by: Mauser at January 12, 2018 07:48 PM (h8yX6)
Here Comes The OGRE...
Back in 1986, Origin Systems, the company that would bring us the amazing Wing Commander and Ultima series of computer games, took a little foray into something a bit larger scale. Instead of a party of adventurers or individual starfighters, they sat down and cranked out the videogame adaptation of Steve Jackson's OGRE.
I played the heck outta that game on the C64. It wasn't great: the graphics were nothing special, even for the time, and the AI... well... it was 1986. But I could still play OGRE alone with it, and that made it good. For a long, long time I've wondered why there was never a remake... it's not like Steve Jackson Games doesn't have a history with computers, after all. Around Christmastime, friend Ben from Midnite Tease said to me "I've been playing the new OGRE videogame." To which I replied "Huh??? WHAT new OGRE videogame???" I'm not a clever duck when I'm surprised.
Holy crepe. Holy crepe! It took me very little time to add it to my Steam library... $20 for heaven's sake!... and went through the tutorials to get used to the interface. It's not the most intuitive system, but it works well enough. Once that was done, I called up a skirmish match against the computer and went at it. And lost.
In fact, the computer handed my feathered butt to me and made me wear it as a hat. So I started another game... and it all came back to me. I danced GEVs around the Ogre, pummeled the thing with heavy tanks, pounded it with howitzers...
...the above picture was essentially the last view my command post saw. Well, I'll be damned. I was pretty good at OGRE back in the day... good enough that I expected to win every time I sat down against a human opponent. I didn't, of course, but I knew I could win and had a good shot at doing so. And here this computer game is, kicking me up and down the map like I didn't know a superheavy from a light GEV. COOL!!!
The AI isn't perfect... I've seen it make some seriously stupid moves... but it's more than good enough. And once it stops giving me a challenge, online head-to-head is available too. There's a single-player campaign to go through as well, which might prove interesting. And, of course, any of you squishies that wanna go up against the Duck. Better make sure to make your sandwiches using rye bread though... since I'm going to knock you down and take your lunch, you may as well make it something I like.
I'll get to it once my budget and time bandwidth both open up a bit more. (Even if I could buy it I'd almost never get to play it, the way things are right now, so I might as well wait a bit.) Since I'm a total neophyte I'll probably have a steep learning curve ahead of me. I did play some hex-grid strategy games here and there so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the concept, but still.
Posted by: GreyDuck at January 09, 2018 08:25 AM (h8yX6)
Your learning curve won't be steep at all! "A minute to learn, a lifetime to master" fits OGRE well. You'll be playing the basic game within 15 minutes, and winning games against the AI within an hour.
Just make sure you start as the Ogre... it's easier to deal with.
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 09, 2018 08:59 AM (h8yX6)
I've gone through the tutorial a few times, but I'm still not 100% comfortable with the flow of a game. Haven't tried to skirmish the computer yet. I'm not sure how viable the "ram everything" strategy is, in the long run.
Posted by: Ben at January 09, 2018 09:22 AM (h8yX6)
Let me ask you a question: does the idea of spending 10 minutes watching a girl dressed like your grandmother demonstrate the correct way to assemble a camp site, complete with a simply adorable talking pine cone, sound like something you'd go out of your way to see? Then, my friend, have I got a show for you! It's called Yuru Camp, and most of the first half of Ep01 was exactly what I just described. And it was wonderful.
This shot is from the OP. We've only officially met the girls on the ends, Pinky and The Quiet One. The other three are apparently the members of the Outdoor Living Club (or whatever they call it) that appeared only briefly. It's quite easy to see that Pinky will be the linchpin of the entire show. This may not be a good thing.
She's loud, dumb as a box of hair, has probably never been camping before, and it's clear she'll be the viewer insert. If she stays loud and dumb as a box of hair, this is going to suck. This has the opportunity to be this year's version of Flying Witch, all contemplative and comfy as hell, but if Pinky doesn't snap to, the whole thing is doomed.
...and then the axe/saw/shaving tool will come out, and it'll become a whole different sort of show.
The very beginning of the OP... The Jackson Five called. They want "ABC" returned to the garage after the camping trip.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 10, 2018 08:32 AM (h8yX6)
I liked the show. Very realistic about winter camping!
Wallyworld has self-inflating sleeping bag pads for something like twenty bucks. Warmer, easy to pack, and generally a great invention. But you still need a groundcloth if you don't want to be damp!
That was the one thing I did not believe about camping by a lake. It was not damp enough.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 10, 2018 11:40 AM (mX3O4)
Grandma did put down a base of some sort before she put up the tent, and let me tell you something... it's been a long time since I last went tent camping, and the way that tent went up in the show was like black magic to me. But there was a base... maybe that counts as the groundcloth?
But I'll betcha there was a good layer of dew/moisture over everything in the morning!
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 11, 2018 01:24 AM (h8yX6)
Yes, a lot of tents now have a floor that is sorta layered inside, or they are doing weird polymer magic. And even I can put up tents these days, as long as it isn't too tall to handle.
Technology like that is awesome.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at January 12, 2018 03:34 PM (h8yX6)
I left Pond Central at 850am to head off to work. I had an 11.50 hour day ahead of me, and the earlier I could get in, the earlier I could go home. Or I could extend my lunch break-slash-nap time, one of the two. Whichever was more important, y'know. In truth, I was kinda looking forward to this... particularly because I had read that the bone-breaking cold that Duckford has been in for the past two weeks was finally coming to an end! Fantastic, I was sick and tired of wondering if the Duckmobile was going to start both in the morning and at night when it was time to go home. For the record, she was a rock, only once giving me a scare... this past Wednesday morning, in fact, when it went down to -17 overnight. Turned the key in the ignition, and... all I heard was a whirring sound. The engine finally began cranking, and once it started it might have been idling at about 50rpm, but she started. So I left Pond Central with my head up and a warm glow in my heart.
Fsck. Really, I don't know why I'm complaining, it was only -9. Getting the frost off the windshield was... really, an exercise in futility. For whatever reason, I would scrape off one side, move to the other, scrape that side clean, by which point the first side was already slightly fogged. Cold and damp. Oh, and as it turns out, a wind chill advisory though at least my building's parking lot is at the bottom of a not-insubstantial hill. Between that to the north and the apartment building to the south, and much of the rest of the complex to the west, I've seen 20 mph winds blowing the tops of the trees around while it was dead still on the ground. Nice trick. Turns out that the cold is supposed to break on Sunday. I hope so... I'm too old for this.
UPDATE: Completely apropos of nothing, I LOVE BASEBALL. Wonderduck needed this.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 07, 2018 02:59 AM (PiXy!)
Brr! I am a wuss when it comes to cold. Heck, Houston is too cold for me. I fantasize about retiring to a tropical destination where I never have to wear a wool coat again. (won't work out in reality for a variety of reasons, but it's a nice fantasy)
On the hot side, whenever I feel tempted to complain about the 100 degree days in August, I just remind myself that we don't have to know anything about thermal underwear. (Sometimes I remind myself about being nine months pregnant several Augusts ago. Now, granted, I DID still wear a sweatshirt in my office even then, but still.)
Speaking of Australia, I saw an interview with RIC where he said he basically gets two summers since so much of the F1 season is during the northern hemisphere's summer. He seemed to think it was a sweet deal.
Posted by: Mrs. Will at January 07, 2018 08:45 AM (h8yX6)
Mrs Will, "RIC"? RIC? What's a RIC? I know I've seen those initials somewhere before... Oh yeah, all that F1 thing! I never thought about it, but yeah, Smiley would get two summers, wouldn't he?
Weather update: 1051 Sunday morning, it's 24 F and I'm wearing shorts.
Posted by: Wonderduck at January 07, 2018 10:55 AM (h8yX6)
I have a small confession to make. See, I had me a great idea for a bit of fiction and I thought I'd have it done by now. Except I forgot just exactly how much mandatory overtime we had to do this week, and as a result, my goofing off on Tuesday has come back to bite me in the tucus. Instead of having five hours of OT to do by Friday, I actually had NINE hours to do.
So, yeah. This week, not going as well as I had hoped. Still, Ben from Midnite Tease and I completed a simultaneous runthrough of Go Go Nippon!, and it was as hilarious as I expected, so that was worth the time. Only 3.50 hours left to go!
So what do we make of 2017? Sure, there were the physical problems... my left knee simply doesn't bend well anymore... but I actually did fairly okay at the job. The F1 season wasn't all that much of a much, and the Cubs weren't as good as they were in 2016, but I have a hard time criticizing either of them on the whole. Even The Pond sorta just chugged along at a middlin' pace.
So is that it? Do we declare 2017 "The Year Of The Meh"? I'm really struggling to think of anything particularly outstanding about the past 365 days as a coherent whole. There were good times, there were bad times, but I think 2017 was like vanilla ice cream... it's not bad, but it could have been red bean mochi.
But I did have you, the Pond Scum, and that makes all the difference, doesn't it? Here's to a better 2018, for myself, for The Pond, and for all of you, my lovely readers. Now it's time for the funny hats and noisemakers... happy new year, everybody!
Something I feel I've been remiss about this... well, this whole year... is a project that my brother in feathers Greyduck has been working on. He called it "3WA"...
...is that how we're going to play this? No, not the Worlds Welfare Works Association, but the Weekly Word Working Assignment. And before you ask, no, no Kei and Yuri. In this case, GD decided to make himself write to a schedule: one post per week for the entire year, talking about, and I quote, "a bunch of the animated stuff I like best and why you might (possibly) like it, too." And an eclectic collection it is, too. From Aardman to ARIA to Aang to Animaniacs, he's all over the map... when he bothers to stick to a map at all. I had heard of most of the things he talks about, and understood his reasoning for many of those. Daria, however, was a bit too far, but the fact that he talks about a MTV-based animation from the '90s in the same project as Blast of Tempest and... yes, Kanon '06... gives you an idea of the scope of this project.
While I was composing this post, I actually went back to his Entry #1 and reread the entire series. It maybe took me an hour, tops. This is some good, fast, reading that's entertaining as hell and might just get you to look at some shows you wouldn't have otherwise. Not a bad way to spend a year, that. Here's the entire category entry for you, but I'd recommend starting with the previously mentioned Entry #1 and working your way up the calendar. Better do it quick though... he's about to start the next 3WA project, and this one will be truly special: music.
But really, GD... Daria?
EDIT: Just to clarify, when I say "truly special," that doesn't mean THIS 3WA project wasn't special. It simply means that I've been immensely impressed by GD's musical leanings over the years, and have learned that if he suggests a band or album to me there's at least a 50-50 chance I'll love it. Think about it... how many people do you know that have that good of a track record with something as uniquely personal as your musical likes? I can't wait to see what is, essentially, his Top 50 album list.
Wow, that second picture brings back memories. It lived on floppies before I had a computer even capable of displaying it properly, and I used it to test color printers and briefing software at my first job out of college. I still have it somewhere... The image, not the floppy. Although who knows....
Posted by: Mauser at December 30, 2017 01:00 AM (h8yX6)
I second Greyduck's efforts; his review list was top-rate all year.
I tried a few years ago to re-visit Daria, and was pleasantly surprised that the show mostly holds up better than I expected considering how firmly grounded in the 90's it was. The nostalgia beats would probably overcome some of the shortcomings if the original music could be used, but that's effectively impossible at this point.
I suspect you have to really wallow in the show's cynicism to get the most out of it, especially the early seasons, but that's possibly just my experience.
Posted by: Ben at December 30, 2017 01:57 AM (h8yX6)
And yes, Daria. It's probably a more defensible pick than Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz at any rate. *cough* All kidding aside, this is where my disclaimer at the project's beginning comes into play. The show gave me joy, everyone else's mileage may vary.
Come to think on it, "your mileage may vary" is a phrase I quickly learned to watch out for. It applies to every single selection! My fingers would be partway through bashing out the phrase or the YMMV acronym and I'd go, "Wait, wait. We can't just write that into every one of these posts, Me."
The point behind the point of the project is to get back into the habit of writing and to improve as best I can during its run. Given that I'm actually quite pleased with #52 I think the project is bearing fruit in that regard.
Though I have a lot to learn before I'm ready to save the w-- ow ow ow stop that okay I'm sorry!
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 30, 2017 10:40 AM (h8yX6)
...and yes, it's somewhat ironic that I didn't work Affair of Nolandia into the list. I decided that I had enough heavily retro nostalgia picks already. Ah well.
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 30, 2017 10:43 AM (h8yX6)
It's moments like this that make me think about how humankind has progressed in my 50 years on this earth.
Some random person in Los Angeles, using a broadcast-quality camera in a hand-held communications device connected to a datasharing system that can be accessed world-wide, has recorded the flight of a reusable rocket 160 miles away, then shared it with potentially millions of people that, using equipment that is considered commonplace but in reality is more powerful than the combined processing power of entire nations when I was born, can view with amazing clarity the spectacular launch of a true reusable rocket into space carrying 10 communications satellites that will become part of an orbiting network that can be seen from your backyard without the use of telescopes, and nobody even blinks an eye about it and goes on looking for cat videos.
So ever since late Christmas night my intarwebz has been, to be blunt, suckin' like a thirsty vampire with a really thin straw. It's up for a minute, then down for five, then I may as well be receiving data via morse code for all the good it's doing. I've been informed that it's affecting all of the buildings in the back of the Pond Central Apartment Complex... and my building is the backiest of the back that's ever backed. No, seriously... Pond Central's building is the farthest south in the complex, behind me is nothing but a large expanse of lawn, a row of trees, then corn. Lots and lots of corn. Not right now of course... now it's lots and lots of not a whole lot, honestly... but yeah. I'm being affected.
They say it should be back up "soon." When I pressed them on that, they said it'll be up by 2018... which is their way of saying "shaddap."
So if you don't hear from me much, it's not my usual lack of blogging... it's that I'm being forced to not blog. If you see this message, that means Hooray, I hit the save button at the fraction of a second my internet was working! If you don't... well, no real need to get into that, is there?
Could be worse - behind mine is a parking lot and a Benihana.
Lousy internet is terrible, though. Hope you've got an emergency reserve of stuff to watch/play/work through!
Posted by: Avatar at December 27, 2017 10:44 PM (h8yX6)
Subway and McDonald's usually have decent Internet. Local libraries too.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at December 28, 2017 10:09 AM (h8yX6)
Ouch. Can you wish your ISP into the cornfield...?
(We're up against the OHSU Forest... I mean, the Primate Research Center. And on another side of our complex is a wetland preserve, however narrow. It means we're quieter than some other parts of suburbia we might've landed in, at least!)
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 28, 2017 06:55 PM (h8yX6)
Banshee, but I have nothing mobile to use there! Well, no, that's not true, I have my laptop... which I don't think I've even taken out of it's carrierbag in two years. I have a dumbphone, which can send texts and everything!
GD, last night I'm pretty sure the ISP was using IPoAC via the crows that usually hang out back there... they seem to be back up now, though.
Av, I have a supply laid in, yeah... surprisingly it seems a little small right now, I could probably clear it up in about a year or so if I didn't watch anything else.
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 28, 2017 09:30 PM (h8yX6)
I hope all my readers, the joyously-named "Pond Scum", had a great Christmas and/or a relaxing day off! I very nearly ruined ours single-handedly, but I managed to pull my chestnuts out of the roasting fire at the last moment.
Y'know, I forgot just how much fun Amagami SS was. And just how weird it could be, come to think of it. But that's another post for different day. For today, it's just Merry Christmas.
I'm not expecting to find a pair of catgirls, nice as that would be, it might actually be kind of problematic with the family here for the holidays!
May you and all the readers have a Merry Christmas!
Posted by: David at December 24, 2017 07:23 PM (h8yX6)
I hope I don't have to have an uncomfortable conversation with the property management about whether catgirls require a pet deposit...
(Merry Christmas to you, friend.)
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 24, 2017 11:36 PM (h8yX6)
They weren't in the boxes, but presumed the cardboard boxes were an invitation. That how cats are.
Posted by: Mauser at December 25, 2017 02:20 PM (h8yX6)
Random Anime Pictures #142: Love Live! Alpaca Watch
-Love Live!, Ep04
So the Alpaca seen in the first episode, which I mistakenly called a llama, is officially part of the school. They, for there are two where we only saw one previously, have their own stable and are cared for by at least one student.
Just why this Japanese high school has two alpacae on campus has yet to be explained. This will bother me until its explained, and probably beyond because the explanation is going to be either stupid or non-informational, I can just tell.
The series is still entertaining as hell, though the budding alpaca rancher up there really got on my nerves... her timidness was painful to witness. She didn't snivel, but that's only because she was too timid to do so. Except around the alpacae... them, she can handle. Watching will continue.
Them's The Brakes
So Saturday morning rolls around, and I get up early to receive the expected phone call from Midas. See, if you schedule an appointment on their website they're supposed to call you back in one business hour. Since we had hit the website Friday night after closing, and the site clearly says "we'll call you back in one business hour", it seems reasonable to assume that they'd call back, at the latest, an hour or so after start of business on Saturday, yes? So, not wanting to miss the call and a chance to get my car's brakes repaired, I was up and out of bed at 715am when they open at 730am on Saturdays. As I write this, it's very late Tuesday Thursday evening and Midas has yet to call me back.
I'm starting to get the impression that they don't particularly want my business. I got tired of waiting around 930am and called a local place that has great reviews and that I've heard good things of in the real world... they answered after two rings. They told me to bring it on in, though they surely didn't recommend driving it there. In that, they had my full agreement: it's one thing to be driving a car missing half or more of its braking ability in light traffic on a Friday morning. It's a totally different story altogether trying to drive a crippled car in heavy traffic at one of the city's busier intersections... so many more things to hit. There would have to be a tow.
As it turns out, I have towing coverage on my insurance and they were happy to set me up with a company here in Duckford. After a few dozen questions ("Are you in a safe place? Are the keys in the car? Are you allergic to shellfish?"), they let me off the phone. Shortly thereafter, I received a text message from the towing company: we'll be there in 90 minutes. At this, I called Ph.Duck, who had been a stabilizing force for good when it comes to my car-related panics, and he would pick me up at Pond Central in 60 minutes, 10 minutes to the parking lot at work, bish bash bosh all is swell. At the 55 minute mark, I put on the weather-appropriate zip-up fleece and head down to the Official Parking Lot of Pond Central.
After a couple of minutes, the tow truck driver calls and says he's "five minutes away". I explain that I'm not there, but I should arrive in about 15-20 minutes. "Can't wait that long, I'll just load it without the keys." Whatever you say, buddy. Ph.Duck then texts to tell me that he's running late and will be picking me up in about 15 minutes. Fair enough... the tow truck will certainly be loaded by that time, so we'll just head to the mechanic's shop and give them the keys. And thus did it occur. I run into the place, note the remarkably clean shop floor, introduce myself, tell them the car should be showing up any moment, they promised to call when they figure out what's borked, and we're good to go. This all took about 15-20 minutes: there were a couple of people ahead of me. No tow truck. Hm. I call the number the insurance company gave me, and the driver says "I'm about 15 minutes away from the car right now."
I admit to having gotten a little het up at this point. It's not like there wasn't any stress going on in my existence at the moment or anything after all. Turns out the person I was speaking to was the OWNER of the towing company, not the driver I had been talking with... he was still on the tow he'd been on when he called the first time. So the owner, who "wasn't even supposed to be working today", decided to do the job. Ph.Duck and I then drove back to my employer's parking lot to meet him. He showed up, eventually, got all positioned and stuff, then pulled the car onto a flatbed... after dragging the muffler approximately one mile in the process. "Do you have a suspension problem?" No, the muffler and exhaust of the late '90s Camry hangs rather lower than you'd expect. Eventually he chained the car onto the flatbed and drove away. A rather impressive puddle was left behind, all of it in line with the right side tires. Yeesh. Ph.Duck and I went off to have some lunch, and then we drove back to the mechanic's shop to get the news.
The plumbing for the late '90s Camry's brake system, seen in the diagram above, is... um... convoluted. It appears that each brake has a dedicated line, with a number of valves, pumps, gears, turboencabulators and widgets on each one. But they also appear to SHARE a major line between the brakes as well. I have no idea what was going through the designer's head when they did that. The line to the right-rear brake had blown out, dumping most of the system's fluid out upon the ground. The brakes still worked... just... but there was very little brake fluid remaining and whatever stopping power still existed would have disappeared awfully soon. He thought he could get it fixed in the two hours before they closed. By all means, please go ahead... I bid Ph.Duck adieu and sat down in the rather pleasant waiting room. Oh dear god no...
I've changed my mind. I'd rather drive away in a car with failed brakes than watch The Phantom Menace again. After about 90 minutes of hell, the mechanic working on my car, Terry, came in and gave me the news: he had replaced the failed line, filled it with brake fluid, gave 'em a test... and another brake line blew out. This was both annoying as hell and totally expected... he had even warned me that could happen. In truth, he was rather pleased that only one more had blown; it appears my oil leak worked in my favor for once, as all the gunk had coated some of the hardware, keeping them from rusting and wearing out. So I had that going for me. Which is nice. The plan going forward was simple: "soak" the remaining brake lines all day Sunday looking for bleeders, then repair what needed to be fixed. We'd play phone tag / text message on Monday.
By mid-morning Monday the news came down: she's all fixed up. The rest of the brake lines held together, hooray! They have the potential to fail at any time, but they held together! A few hours later, I picked up the car and everything was back to normal. I think the moral of this story is quite simple: don't trust Midas for anything. Ever.
Epilogue: ...and then a meteorite impacted. The end.
Music to "Live" By
The car is still in the shop, the costs are mounting, I don't care, let's have some live music!
Public Service Broadcasting - Gagarin (live)
PSB is an incredibly clever band, but in many ways a rather serious one too. I mean, their most recent CD is *Every Valley*, about Welsh coal miners... not exactly the most commonly used fodder for pop music, y'know? But "Gagarin", from *The Race For Space*, is a fun way to spend a few minutes with them. I've discovered recently that NPR loves these guys... they've done a Tiny Desk Concert, and at least one other short concert of indeterminate origin has gotten on their airwaves too.
Caravan Palace - Clash (live)
I used to believe that live versions of songs were inherently inferior to the studio track... after all, the song wouldn't have left the studio unless the band and producers thought it was perfect. Then over time, I came to feel that live versions were, by definition, better than the studio because of the energy inherent in the performance, and if there are mistakes involved, oh well, that's live music for ya... it lends it flavor! But what happens when you get a performance like this one which is as tight, as perfect, as flawless as a studio performance, but still has all that live energy? Does the track collapse into itself, forming an event horizon that no other versions of the song can emerge from?
Rubber Duckie - It Is Not (live)
Maybe a year ago I was looking for a particular "duck song"... you stop rolling your eyes at me... on youtube. It was a call-and-response thing between a little duck and a cat that was, apparently, from a Hungarian children's show back in the '80s. Yeah, don't ask how THAT came into my life, but it's one of the oldest mp3s in my collection. I don't have a real name on it, just "Qua Qua Qua". I'm pretty sure it was Hungarian, though.. I remember finding info on it once. Anyway, as I searched I stumbled upon a TV show about the rock music scene in South Korea featuring a band calling themselves "Rubber Duckie." One of the songs they featured just blew me away, but it had a narrator telling the band's story overtop of it. At the time, I couldn't find a clean copy anywhere. Until a few days ago. This is that song. Enjoy, don't you?
Bonus: Aya Hirano/ENOZ - Lost My Music
I've been listening to some tracks from the Haruhi Suzumiya OSTs and it continually amazes me just how good the songs from the "Live Alive" episode are. After listening to Aya Hirano try to sing them live, however... well. She did a better job in the studio is all I'm gonna say. But it wasn't a lost search, because I stumbled upon this gem. We all know how over-the-top the Japanese are with their pachinko machines... that's the entire history of Rio Rainbow Gate! after all. But I had no idea that there was a Haruhi-themed pachinko machine, or that KyoAni did 707 frames of animation for an advertising campaign for it, or that they were individually scattered across Japan via smartphone, billboard, konbini, and magazine. Whenever someone "found" a frame, they were to upload it to a website and eventually the entire video would be revealed. And lo, it was... a short music video of the cast in their "Extravaganza" costumes. Kinda cool, that!
I'm still happily in the "can't get enough" stage with PSB. It's a good thing.
Caravan Palace: Not merely an artifact of modern studio technology. Wowza.
Oh, nice catch finding that Rubber Duckie live cut!
It's amazing how "over" the whole Haruhi thing I am. I don't hate it, it's more like it doesn't spark any kind of reaction in me at all anymore. That's kinda weird, actually.
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 18, 2017 11:09 AM (rKFiU)
Pretty sure you were the one who first introduced me to Caravan Palace a couple or four years back. Thanks, Wonderduck.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 18, 2017 06:44 PM (2yngH)
GD, I find that the Haruhi Suzumiya series has aged remarkably well... oh, it's not the Greatest Anime Ever, like so many people thought, but it's still a highly entertaining and occasionally thought provoking work. Which is saying something, because I don't much think anymore. One thing though, is that the movie is probably the best part of the franchise. Considering the story of Disappearance, that may be considered telling.
Pixy, I think I found CP in a round-about way via something Brickmuppet sent me. He linked me to the Puppini Sisters, and that led me to the whole Technoswing thing, via this video. That led me to THIS song, which reminded me of THIS classic track, and from there I found Caravan Palace. But Muppet got it started.
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 18, 2017 07:03 PM (EVb8m)
I'm still a big fan of the Haruhi series. (Still haven't watched the movie; it will be watched this Christmas!) I tried reading translations of the light novels, and that put me off the story a bit. It's likely the translation, but I found them to be quite boring, especially the later entries. But, I still get quite a bit of joy out of the KyoAni series', both the original and Endless 8/Making the Student Film.
Posted by: Ben at December 18, 2017 07:52 PM (ee6LA)
...That's Not A Good Sound...
This morning I went to work as I normally did, with one difference. I needed to grab some cash to pay for an upcoming lunch at work... all the lasagna I can eat!... so I took a different route. No huhu, I used to take it to the Bookstore about half the time anyway. I decided that I wanted to get off the main road to the gas station however, so I'd turn at Wendy Ave (note: name changed to protect the innocent) and sneak in the back way. Brilliant! Except Wendy Ave is sort of impossible to see until you're right on it, and its very rare for me to do this anyway. So even with me keeping a sharp eye open, it still snuck up on me. Whoops! Need to slow down for the left-hand turn, and not a lot of space to do it, so I stepped on the brakes. Not particularly hard, it's not like I panic-stopped or anything.
Three things then occurred in quick order. First, I either heard or felt (I'm still not sure) a *thump* sound. Second, the brake pedal sank to the floor under the pressure of my foot. And third, I watched Wendy Ave go past me. Sh*t oh dear.
The good news is that waaaay down there at the end of the brake pedal's run, there was some brake authority. Okay, cool. To the gas station! Pulled up to the red light, giving myself extra space to come to a halt, and success was had. Not great, but driveable. Light turns green, I pull away and accelerate to a bit below normal road speed until I came to the gas station. Again giving myself extra room I did the whole brake thing again... and it felt like the back of the car was drifting to the right. What the hell...?
I looked at the car, everything appeared to be okay... no visible problems, no tire flopping around, no unexpected fluids appearing on the asphalt. Right. I did my stuff, then drove the rest of the way to work. Again with that sickening drifting feeling. I could still stop the car, but... wow. After parking, I called Ph.Duck... university professor, go-to car problem guy, bon vivant, man about town... and he came out to take a test drive after I was done with work. After driving it a bit, then taking a look underneath, he leveled his diagnosis: failed brake line. Both right-side tires were apparently drenched in brake fluid, but the left-side was fine. That'd explain the drifting feel: no brakes on the right side! Whee!!!
So for the sake of safety, I left the car in the parking lot at work. We'll see about getting it into a shop in the morning. Merry Christmas everybody!!!
You could easily have felt it. There's a lot of pressure in a brake line.
Posted by: Ed Hering at December 15, 2017 11:07 PM (kublq)
I have a recurring nightmare about stepping on my brakes and nothing happening. I would probably have a panic attack if that actually happened to me in real life. Glad you are more sensible and no one was hurt!
Posted by: Mrs. Will at December 16, 2017 05:49 AM (JPRju)
That's some bad luck. Fortunately, modern cars have valves that split brake lines into halves, so that you do not lose _all_ braking if a line ruptures. That said, it's the main reason why I try to stay away from cars with push pedal parking brake. Unfortunatley, these days manufacturers even have electric parking brakes!
Posted by: Author at December 16, 2017 10:46 AM (LZ7Bg)
There are far worse endings for a braking failure story, so I'm glad you're unhurt and no "external-structure-assisted braking" occurred.
Still, helluva time for this to happen, innit. Oof.
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 16, 2017 01:24 PM (rKFiU)
5"external-structure-assisted braking" Lithobraking? Controlled Drive Into Terrain?
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 16, 2017 04:04 PM (EVb8m)
"Lithobraking" was my first thought, but this wasn't quite a Kerbal Space Program situation so I struggled for an alternative phrasing. I've spent most of the last two days thinking in music rather than words, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 16, 2017 07:59 PM (rKFiU)
Watch out for rip-offs though. When I burst a brake line, the AAA towed me to a "reputable" garage who insisted I needed both front brake calipers replaced ("because they must be done in pairs" they lied.) and when I got it home various hoses under the hood were also disconnected.
Posted by: Mauser at December 16, 2017 09:34 PM (Ix1l6)
RIP Pat DiNizio
Most, if not all of you, my lovely readers, are looking at the title of this post and wondering just who the heck Pat DiNizio was. This was Pat DiNizio:
Lead singer and main songwriter for my favorite straight-out rock and roll band, The Smithereens. They never did much on the charts, topping out at #37 on the Billboard Top 100 with "Too Much Passion," off 1992's A Date With The Smithereens. But it was their earlier albums, Especially For You, Green Thoughts, and particularly 1989's 11 that made them their fans.
My favorite Smithereens moment was when the band was accused by Rolling Stone magazine as "sounding too much like the Beatles." Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but from where I come from, sounding like the Beatles is a compliment, not a pejorative. However, I disagree that they sound all that much like the Fab 4, if only because they're better instrumentalists.
Their tunes routinely showed up on movie soundtracks, and "Blood And Roses" was used in an episode of Miami Vice, would you believe? Sadly, I never got to see them perform live, thought the opportunity appeared twice. The first time was up in Minnesota; they were playing in Minneapolis at First Avenue, but I had a cast on my foot from an unfortunate incident involving gravity and a loading dock. The second time was when they played at Duckford's annual music festival, On The Waterfront. Sadly, the radio station I worked for was broadcasting live from the event and they wanted their best board operator at the controls. Since she wasn't available, they asked me to do it. Of course I said yes. In a way though, it was okay... the Mobile Boombox (yes, really) was positioned near the rock stage, and I could hear 'em through the microphone feed back to the station.
When the band was... um... "on record label hiatus", he had a small solo career, but they never stopped touring together. Of late, he had been suffering from ill health, and passed away earlier today. He was 62. And I'm bummed out.
I Had No Idea This Was A Thing...
...but I'm really glad it is! Back in the old days, one of the things that high-level railfans did was wrangle a cab ride from some friendly engineer, set up a video camera, and record the trip in such a way that the viewer could believe they were really really there. Often, these vids would end up being licensed by one company or another and sold out of the back of Trains or Model Railroader magazines. More recently, cable channels like RFD-TV will actually broadcast such things between bull roping, the farmer's weather report, and (my favorite) the Annual Classic Tractor Show and Parade. Such videos are much easier to make these days, and of course the visual quality is better to a stupid extent. It was while watching one of these detailing the London DLR run from Lewisham to Bank that a yootoob suggestion caught my eye... "Night Videowalk in East Shinjuku, Tokyo." Intrigued, I took a look.
...and it's exactly what it says on the tin: someone walking around in East Shinjuku with a 4K digital camera on a stabilizer-crane mount. That's all. And, much like the Jackson Hole livecam, it's wonderful to watch, in a voyeuristic way. Sometimes it's in a densely packed urban area, sometimes he's walking on Mt Fuji, or the Imperial Garden in Tokyo, or Comiket. And he doesn't ever say a word, so it's all natural sound. There are others doing similar things, but their videos aren't as long... Rambalac, the person I've been watching, makes his a hour long, more or less. And to bring it full circle, one of them is of the JR Railway Museum in Saitama. Sadly, that one isn't in 4K... but this one is:
Turns out there are plenty of other people out there doing similar things in other cities. New York's Times Square, or Kolkata, or even Chicago, for example. But yeah, I'm a geek... Japan for me! Amusingly, I already knew what some of the places looked like... thanks to Go! Go! Nippon, which blew my little mind. I mean, I'm never going to get to go to Japan, so... well, it's a poor second, of course, but it's better than nothing. And there's some startlingly beautiful scenes to boot. Pour yourself a drink, settle in, and give one a watch... you might be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.