February 14, 2018
Instructions Unclear, Lung Ejected At Escape Velocity So while at work on Tuesday I swallowed a piece of crumbly coffee cake before I was quite ready to do so, and it made me cough. Eh, it happens. There was still a tickle in my throat a few minutes later, and a swig of Mountain Dew failed to make it go away. Oh well, whatever. Coff coff coff, no big deal. I was still coughing when I left work, but nothing too bad. Well, there's a cough burning its way through the office, I was like one of five or six people with one.
Once I got home I had something to eat, finished the Kizumonowhatsit post, then took a four-hour nap. Keep that in mind later. When I woke up, I hacked and hacked and coughed and groaned. Whoopsie, I may have a problem here. Oh, and a headache. Once I went back to bed, I discovered something rather unfortunate... I couldn't sleep. There wasn't a single position that allowed me to lie in place without coughing. Somewhere around six in the morning one was found, finally... and then I was kinda cold.
Which, considering Pond Central's furnace was kicking out enough heat to power a Colorado-class battleship, was a problem. Oh, and I was wrapped in two down comforters. By all rights, I should have been drenched with sweat. Instead, I was getting cold shivers down my back. I sorta shook and quivered for an hour or so until my alarm went off, at which point I realized the only real sleep I had gotten... was during that nap earlier. Oh boy. The shower was nice and warm, and the massage feature beat the hell out of my scalp, just what Momzerduck's little boy needed. Or, at least it got me out to the car. I was breathing a little heavy though, and my pulse was higher than normal. Well that's weird.
Got to work, was out of breath again by the time I made it to my desk (to be fair, it's roughly six miles from the parking lot to my desk). Got the computer booting up and began hacking and whooping again. Oh jeez... this'll be a fun day. Slammed down a gatorade (blue, the only type we have in the vending machine) and some tylenol and got crackin'.
Within two hours, I had an obvious fever, the coughs were just wracking my throat to no end, and my head was doing the whole "piledriver" thing. And still I soldiered on. I took an early lunch break which I stretched to 45 minutes.... hey, 15 minutes extra sleep... and went back to my desk, like a good little worker.
There at my desk, I was feeling cold again so I pulled on the fleece jacket I brought in for just that reason. Shivers from my feet to my scalp. This ain't good. I draped my heavy winter jacket over my shoulders, cloak-style. Nothing. You could have set me on fire and I wouldn't have stopped shivering.
After 5h 20m, I gave up. I knocked on the door to the acting boss' office (note: boss is currently in hospital for pneumonia) and said I had to go to the doctor. Her reply was "took you long enough. Let me know what they say." So away I went to the medical clinic near Pond Central. The Nurse Practitioner that saw me was cute as a button and looked like she was about 12. I suspect she was older than that. Anyway, after a few tests ("let me stick this cotton swab up your nose"), she gave me the news.
I don't have pneumonia, and I don't have the flu. What I do have is officially listed as "unspecified respiratory infection." More informally, she said there's a flu-like virus going around the area. If my virus goes the way of the others she's seen, tomorrow should be the end of the worst of it (which I'm currently in now), and it'll ramp down from there. I'm not allowed to return to work until I've been 24 hours without a fever though.
Until then? Fluids, tylenol, rest, and honey. Gonna be a long couple of days.
UPDATE: It's 2am Thursday. I laid down for a couple of hours... very little coughing, but very little sleep. I sat up in bed and... discovered that my cough has changed. Before, it was a sharp barking sound occasionally accompanied from strange gargling sound like I was throwing up as I coughed. I wasn't, by the way. NOW, though... now my cough is a moist walrus sound. There is phlegm involved. This is for the best, I know, but... ugh. Fever is still there, but it's responding well to tylenol... in that the headache that comes with it is reduced. How the f*ck can something as small as a stinkin' virus cause so many damn problems???
February 13, 2018
Random Anime Pictures #145: Stadium
-Kizumonogatari III movie
I'm not much of a fan of the Monogatari series. Oh, I watched the first one, sure, but now that there's... what? Two dozen of them? I lost track of what was next in the order and didn't enjoy the first one enough to bother. After that, I didn't much care. Until the Kizumonogatari series of films which I watched recently, and therein lies a tale.
As you may or may not be aware of, I have a job that requires mental distraction lest I go completely insane. I started out listening to music, graduated to a weekly podcast or two, and then matriculated to audio books (which my mind still calls "books on tape"). Recently, I've begun listening to endurance races via Radio LeMans and their archived broadcasts. A 24 hour race lasts me a good three or four days, depending on how hard I hit it... but I digress. Back to books on tape audio books. At one point, I wondered if any of the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels were available on Audible, so I went a-searchin'.
While the answer was "nope", I did find something vaguely interesting... there was an audio version of the chronologically first, but released... what, 254th?... book of NisiOisiN's Monogatari series, entitled Kizumonogatari. Now, I would not call myself a fan of this franchise... I watched most of the first season, realized I was spending more time reading the show than watching it, and just sort of... let it peter away. I basically watched it until I didn't anymore. Eh, it happens. However, I was incredibly bored so I picked up the audio book. It's only nine or 10 hours long, so it took me two days to listen to it. Decent enough, read and performed by three voice actors that I'm pretty sure worked on the English dub of one or another of the silver platter releases.
When I remembered that there was a movie release of Kizu, I tracked it down, discovered it was in three parts and nearly four hours in length, and settled in to watch it. And... I dunno how I feel about the thing. It's awful durn purty at times, like most of the SHAFT adaptations of the franchise, but it's also... um... well... it made me feel kinda greasy.
It's bloody, it comes close to hentai, violence is common, and in-between all that are characters that are, essentially, unlikable. Having said all that, or perhaps more because of it, the thing is actually rather brilliant more times than not. But I couldn't shake the feeling that it's one of those things you like because you're supposed to like it because that's what people say you're supposed to do.
So what does all this mean in the end? Well, I won't be recommending it to anybody that isn't already a fan of the Monogatari franchise, that's for darn sure. It's an art film, really, with all that moniker entails and suggests. But as I've written this post, I've actually rewatched the whole thing twice and not just because I was choosing screenshots. It just kept me watching.
Take that for what it's worth.
February 10, 2018
Well, That Works Too I got up this morning, kicked around Pond Central for a bit, then headed out into the Great Parking Lot Of Snow. All was white... except for that gray slushiness you get after a few cars drive around, y'know? Anyway, trudged to my car and examined the situation.
We had received the blessing of about seven or eight inches of snow, which turned out to be the light, fluffy type of snow that is easy to remove... just a sweep of the snow brush and voila! Except, well, there was so much that a swipe only took the top half. Still easy, just took a bit longer. That wasn't the big issue, however. The problem was the ridge of snow left behind the last time a snowplow came through. Taller than the Duckmobile's rear bumper it was. Sighing to myself, I got to work... and by work, I mean I started to trudge through the stack of snow trying to kick it into the parking lot and lower it enough that I could get out. I may still be out there if it wasn't for a miracle. A member of maintenance came walking down the hill from the building north of Pond Central... pushing a snowblower. I immediately began waving my hands over my head and jumping up and down (and by jumping, I mean "carefully raising myself up on my toes by a couple of inches" so I didn't fall down). He looked over at me, and I pointed at the offending pile of snow behind my car, then folded my hands in front of me in supplication... "Please please please come clear this for me please..."
And he did. Two minutes later, my car was freed from its snowy cocoon. And then came the time I had been dreading for two days: starting my car. As you may remember, the Duckmobile was having a conniption on Wednesday night, revving its engine without any input from yours truly's right foot. Thursday I took a taxi into work, and Friday was Snow Day. So this was to be the first time I'd tried it since then. I'd looked online and found so many different reasons for an engine to surge on its own that I had no way of even possibly narrowing it down... everything from a loose gas cap to a total rebuild of the starter, and no, I don't know how that would cause surging either. I crossed my fingers, put key to ignition, and started the car.
And it didn't act in any way out of the ordinary. Oh, the revs did increase on their own, but it was the normal way... when she starts up, she idles low, but it slowly speeds up to about 1000rpm more or less and then stays there. Which is exactly what happened now. Not believing my good luck, I immediately drove to the mechanic. Though busy, they brought her right in and spent a good two hours working on her. Meanwhile, I watched four very good episodes of M.A.S.H., a show I haven't watched in years. But all good things must come to an end, and the guy came in with the bad news.
They couldn't find anything. Oh, they could guess at what might have happened, but that would be all it was, guessing, because there was no evidence that anything untoward had occurred. Thus, the official diagnosis is "could not repeat reported problem." UNofficially, the answer was "it's an old car, stuff like that can happen." If it occurs again, I'm to drive it right to the mechanic immediately, and do NOT turn the engine off. But they don't think I'll have to worry about that. Which means they don't know me at all, because I worry about EVERYTHING. So the car is okay, they didn't charge me at all, and until the next time it snows, all is right with the world.
Oh hey, lookit that. It's snowing. Again. Huh. Go figure.
February 07, 2018
Aw, No! Dammit, Stop That Right Now. It snowed Tuesday night. Duckford got about four inches, after we got about four inches Saturday evening to sometime Sunday. And that was after three different days where we got measurable snow the previous week. "Wow, Wonderduck," I hear you say which is quite the accomplishment considering the state of my left ear, "it's snowing in Northern Illinois during the winter. How passing strange!" Yeah, yeah, I know. But that's not entirely why I'm writing now.
See, Duckford has this nasty habit of not plowing the streets near Pond Central until very late in the process. It's almost like they don't understand the correct priorities and plow busy roads first. So the roads this morning were a little bit on the "oh god oh god we're all gonna die" side. No worries, driving in snow is just like driving in dry, only more carefully. Today, I judged that the Duckmobile could handle about 10mph below the usual speed before it turned into a pile of debris on the side of the road. However, the ginormous pick'em'up truck that came racing up behind me disagreed with my assessment and rode my rear bumper for a good mile or so. Fed up, as soon as I reached someplace where I could move over to let him past, I did so... and as the truck accelerated by me, the passenger threw a water bottle at me.
Yeah, like that... except nothing like that at all. Anyway, the mathematics for hitting one moving object from another moving object with another moving object was well beyond the passenger's capabilities, but the tone of the day was set. Work, as they say... was. It started, it ended, in between was work. And the horrible discovery that there is a winter storm watch/warning out for Duckford beginning Thursday at 6pm and going for 24 hours. We're expecting maybe a foot of snow. Whee. I drove home as I usually do, parked the car, reached for the keys, and...
...the engine began to surge, like I was sitting there revving the engine at a stop light looking for a race. Startled, I turned it off. After letting it sit for about a minute, I tried again... started right up, and immediately began surging. A little bit of experimentation revealed that it would surge in Park, Reverse, and Neutral, but not Drive. A bit of interwebbing suggests that this is a relatively minor problem... or it isn't. It might be as simple as removing my gas cap then putting it back on. It might be as difficult as having the fuel pump replaced. And any number of things in-between. All I really need to do is take it to the place that did my brakes back in December, and... oh wait. I have work. AND WE'RE GETTING 10" OF SNOW. I closed my eyes, leaned back in my computer chair, and...
...I really don't want to adult anymore.
February 06, 2018
NASAmanga Daioh Y'all remember Moonbase Alpha? The co-op game that NASA put together to simulate spaceman life on the Moon? For a while there, there was a hot meme involving the game's text-to-speech program repeatedly saying, and later singing, "John Madden." It's that last bit that concerns us today, for some of the singing that was arranged was actually fairly good... I mean, as good as you could expect a Stephen Hawking soundalike to sound. I've played around with text-to-speech in one game or another, and making it sound like... well, speech... isn't all that easy, so even those simple bits impress me.
And then there's this:
...to which my reaction was:
But wait! THERE'S MORE!
February 04, 2018
Ducks In Anime: The Things I Watch For This Category...
-Orenchi no Furo Jijou, Ep01
So a guy is walking around and finds a shirtless guy seemingly near death, calling for help. He picks him up and carries him home. Only then does he notice that his visitor is a merman. Oh, and that mer-folk need to stay in water or they die.
Oh, and the local river is polluted so can he please stay here? Cue wacky bathtub hijinks. Oh, and later a octopus-man joins the party. There are lots of longing looks thrown around, and only the rubber duck who acts as the narrator is sane.
Thankfully, each episode is less than three minutes in length. Even that feels too long, however. It's absolutely not the sort of show I'd watch, except there's a duck. See what I do for my readers?
February 02, 2018
What's Wonderduck Watching? Winter 2018 Been quite a long time since I did one of these... long enough that I can't remember the last time. Which tells you one of a couple of things. 1) I never really did them as a regular gig, and B) I haven't been watching all that many shows per season, because III) there's been a lot of not-very-good anime recently. And I've been the optimist of the group!
But this season seems... different. Now that most shows are at least four episodes in, I'm fairly sure about what's what, and there's three series I'm definitely watching, another that I'm going to at least pay attention to, not to mention not one but two new Fate/Nasuverse shows! So What's Wonderduck Watching? Click "more" for... well...more...
February 01, 2018
Columbia Falls It was a Saturday morning. I remember that very clearly. I slept in until 10am, dragged myself into Pond Central's kitchen, grabbed a can of caffeine, and made my way to the computer desk. Connected to AoL via dialup. And there, on the front page, was news that made this Shuttle geek's blood run cold. Columbia had broken up upon re-entry, taking the crew of seven souls with her. I remember calling Momzerduck and telling her what had happened and her being... not so very interested, which annoyed me. CNN was on all day, and I couldn't believe it had happened again. Unsurprisingly, information as to what exactly had happened was sketchy, but there was video a-plenty. Enough, in fact, that a fan of space flight and talented video editor gathered it all together and put together the best "video timeline" of the event I've seen... ever.
I remember downloading this from... kazaa, maybe?... and wondering why the networks never did something like it. To this day, it astonishes me... both the video itself and that it was never duplicated.
Fifteen years. Go read Brickmuppet's tribute... he does a much better job than I ever could.
January 30, 2018
That Day. Just... Ugh. Here's how you know you're in for a bad day. You wake up, and for whatever reason the water in your toilet is black and smells like sewer. A flush solved that problem... I assume something somewhere backfilled... and I moved to take my morning shower. And about halfway through, the head unit of the handheld shower fell off. Completely detached from the hose... or, more correctly, the hose detached from the shower head, as the threaded end was still in place. The hose just... broke.
I should have taken the hint. I didn't. I went to work. And literally as I was walking in, the system died. About 45 minutes later, it started to function again... fitfully, in jerks and spasms... but I wish it had stayed down, because it was serving us nothing but crap. All day. Nothing but crap claims, for eight stinkin' hours, crap claim upon crap claim. I'm going to take a nap. Then I'm going to install a new handheld shower. Then, and only then, might have I have some dinner. Maybe.
I don't want to adult anymore.
UPDATE: The nap was four hours long. It took 10 minutes total to remove the old shower head and put the new one on... mainly because the only pair of locking pliers I own these days could be used as a keychain. Seriously... when it's locked down, I cannot get my thumb into the space in the "mouth." When I purchased it from Amazon for another task, I thought locking jaw pliers, 4" meant the maximum space in the jaws, not the overall length. Oh well, no matter... I has a shower again. 1235am... time for dinner!
January 28, 2018
That Was A Weekend I managed to watch or listen to about 16 hours of the 24 Hours of Daytona. Around 4am on Sunday, I really began to feel for the mechanics.
And I got a LOT more sleep than most of them did, in much more comfortable situation. That they could still function after just catching short naps here and there is amazing. I had five hours of sleep (4am - 9am), and I still felt zombie-like. Even after a four hour nap this evening, I'm still out of it. I mean, more than normal that is. I even lost a botmatch in World of Warships for the first time in months.
I don't know what sort of free icecream I'm going to drum up this week, but there should be some... I don't have overtime at work. Sit tight!
January 27, 2018
Long Drive For A Watch I've completely neglected to mention this, but this weekend is the unofficial start of the US auto racing season! Let us take a trip to the high bank turns of Daytona for something very special...
...the 2018 IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona! In endurance racing, there's not many races that are more prestigious: LeMans, pretty much. It's not part of the FIA's World Endurance Championship series, but IMSA's Prototype class conforms to WEC's "LMP2" standards. LMP2 is the less powerful style of prototypes, and really the only competitive one. If I heard correctly, the team that wins the 24HoD gets an automagic invite to LeMans, though I'm not gonna put money on that.
The GTLM class of sports cars also matches the LeMans GT specs... and looks awfully sweet, too. That's the new Ford GT up there, and it's definite poster material.
While I have loved the 24HoD for a while now, this year is a little special because everybody's favorite Indy 500 driver is racing. Fernando Alonso is teaming up with McLaren's "reserve" driver, 18 year old Lando Norris, and the youngest driver ever to be classified at the 24 Hours of LeMans (in 2017), then-17 year old Philip Hanson. They'll be in the United Autosports Ligier JS P217... in fact, that's the car at the top of this post. While Norris optimistically said that the car could win "if everything goes right," this is a 24 hour race. "Everything" never goes right.
But Alonso and Norris aren't the only current or former F1 drivers in the field, not by a long shot. A quick glance at the team sheets shows Christian Fittipaldi, Felipe Not Massa Nasr, Juan Pablo (The Pope) Montoya, Paul di Resta, Bruno "The Other" Senna, Pleasant Stroll, Sea Bass, Gianmaria Bruni (one of my first favorite drivers as he drove for Minardi with Zsolt Baumgartner in 2004, the first year I watched the sport as an adult... adult-ish), and the legend himself: Markus Winkelhock, the only F1 driver to start both last and first in the same Grand Prix.
The winning teams in each division are presented with the most famous prize in all of motorsports, a special Rolex Daytona. The 2017 version is shown above, and considering that there's maybe 12 of them in the world? That's a helluva watch. Only the winning drivers (three per car in three classes) and the team owner gets one, I think... again, I could be wrong. Fairly exclusive, I'd say. I just found this out: did you know that a Daytona sold at auction for $17million and change? Paul Newman, himself a racing driver, was given one by his wife in 1972, and that's the one that was sold. Apparently it was a rather rare style of Daytona, with a combination of colors and markings that became known as a "Newman" Daytona. And, since he reportedly wore it every day from 1972 until 1984, when he got a new Daytona and gave his first one away, it had quite the provenance. None of that matters... winner gets a nice watch after a long drive. Worth every minute of it.
Coverage begins on FOX at 1pm Pond Central time, with the green flying a half-hour later. The race will then migrate to FS1, FS2, and IMSAtv before ending back on FOX on Sunday. Enjoy, won't you? I certainly will... particularly the night portions.
UPDATE: Alonso's car ended up 38th out of 50 entries, 90 laps behind the leader (who broke the all-time distance record with an hour to go). They were never going to win, but they were able to race in the LMP2 category very well... and then they began to have mechanical problems, the worst of which involved their brake system.
January 25, 2018
The Strangest Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Ever I haven't played War Thunder much in the past year or so, a couple of matches here and there. Doesn't mean I don't keep up with it, but actually play? Nah. But my favorite yootoob subscription is to the good folks over at Bo Time! Gaming, probably the most serious bunch of pilots and tankers to ever to strap on a pair of goggles.
Yes, I'm kidding. Bo and the merry idiots of TBLF are the ones that brought us the WT Fail Montage series... basically, the videos that got me to play the game in the first place back in 2014 or so. I love watching them play... they obviously enjoy each other's company, even if it is just virtual, and they're either quite good, or entertainingly bad. They know when they're bad, too, and they don't much care.
Anyway. It appears that there's something of a bug in War Thunder at the moment... if you manage to flip over a Churchill tank, this happens:
I expect the flying Churchills will be patched out of the game immediately if not sooner, but for one brief, shining moment, you will believe tanks can fly.
January 23, 2018
Tokyo Snow Seems that there central part of Japan has received a surprising amount of snow since Monday morning... indeed, it's the heaviest snowfall there since 2014. Something like 15inches is expected to be on the ground in some places in the Kanto region by the time its all over. Schools and businesses were letting out early due to a "heavy snow warning", the Rainbow Bridge across part of Tokyo Bay was shut down with cars stuck on it due to the snow... reminds me of when Lake Shore Drive in Chicago was shut down for the same reason. Tokyo itself was supposed to get four inches by Tuesday morning. Instead, news reports are saying there was half again that amount by 7pm and it wasn't letting up. It's so bad that Universities were postponing their Entrance Exams, and anybody that's watched more anime than DBZ knows how big those are.
When I heard about the snows earlier, I actually thought to myself "I hope Rambalac goes for a walk." I needn't have worried.
Some things are universal. Most people who own snowboards can't stay up on 'em. Snowmen must be made. Snowballs must be thrown. Other than the language, slight differences in architecture and zoning, and kick-arse playground equipment, this little scene in Chiba could just as easily have been from Duckford. A trite observation, of course, but still true. Kinda nice to see, actually.
January 21, 2018
I had intended to try doing a First Episode Writeup today. I couldn't motivate myself to even start. I want to do it, but it'd actually require effort and I don't have it in me right now. And I have no idea where it went.
January 20, 2018
Getting Back To It
I'm going to see if I have any mojo left on Sunday. Watch this spot. If I do, there's gonna be something interesting here. If I don't, well, there's not going to be anything interesting here. Which is basically SOP, isn't it?
January 17, 2018
Wonderduck Is An Idiot. In Other News, Fire Hot, Durian Smells Bad. Film At 10. Duckford got it's first truly significant snowfall of the winter Monday! Oh, there was an inch or so earlier, sure. A light, fluffy snow began falling last night, and had not stopped at all when I headed out to the Duckmobile. Much to my pleasant surprise, at some time in the recent past one of my neighbors desnowed my car... instead of the three or four inches of snow the SUVs on either side of me had, I had maybe a quarter-inch, and most of that fell off when I shut the driver's door. The drive to work was a little unpleasant as it was clear the snowplows hadn't gotten to the tertiary roads yet but all in all not so bad.
Work went about as I expected, poorly, with an added side of "I feel a little under the weather and it's getting worse." I mean, I've felt like I've been fighting something off for a couple of weeks now, I hope my immune system didn't just throw up its flippers and say "screw it, time to go to the bar." That would be bad... I need my immune system. Anyway. Every time I got up from my desk, I would take a gander (nyuk nyuk, a duck taking a gander, see what I did there?) outside, and the snow which the weather nabobs had said would stop in the morning... never did. All day long we had light fluffy snow. By my back-of-the-burrito calculations, by the time I left work it may very well have been coming down for 24 hours straight... and if not, it was darn close to it.
Still, I didn't think there'd be any problem getting home. Duckford would have had their plows out all day, main roads and busy secondaries would surely be clean! It was with such thoughts in my head that I left work and promptly ignored the main roads and busy secondaries and took my normal way home. You know, all rural roads and more hills than a list of British F1 Champions. Why would you do that, you may ask. In reply, I say to you, "look at the title of this post." I should have turned around after I made the first turn onto the route home... and nearly went into a ditch. Nope! On a road I normally do 50-55mph on, I was doing 30 or less, depending on the wind, because when the wind blew, visibility sort of went away. Still, while unpleasant, none of this was beyond the norm for a Duckford winter. And then came the weirdness.
The turn I needed to make to get on the road to Pond Central isn't all that well illuminated. There's an overhead light at the entry to the power substation that you'd go into if you turned left at the intersection... I need to turn right. Still, it's bright enough that there usually isn't a problem. Monday night though, a car was coming from the right, and another from dead ahead. When combined with the blowing snow, I had a moment where it looked for all the world like a 3'-0" tall snowdrift had crossed the road. To call this "disconcerting" would be an understatement. I immediately began slowing down, praying for my lights to pick out the impediment before I hit it... but it never came. It was all light and shadow... I've never seen that before, and it was spooky as all hell. It did give me better insight into how the Flight 901 disaster occurred, I'll tell you that. The rest of the drive home was spent on the ragged edge of adhesion, on a road that had only been driven on, not plowed. Pulling into Pond Central's parking lot was one of the most relaxing events I've experienced. I was home!
A few hours later, I was alternately burning up and chilled to the bone. The whatever-it-was I've been struggling with finally overwhelmed my immune system and ignited a fever in my brain. I had the heat turned up nearly as far as it could go in Pond Central, was covered with two comforters and a couple of blankets, a pair of sweatpants, a long-sleeved jersey AND a sweater, and socks... I never wear socks in bed... and I was still cold. Until I was ridiculously hot and opened the window. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometime during the night/early morning, like maybe 4am or so, I fell asleep. When my alarm went off at 730a, I dragged my carcass out of bed, washed down a bottle of tylenol with some sprite, took a shower, got dressed... and then called into to work sick and went back to bed. I probably shouldn't have gone in today either, as I still have the headache pounding away in my skull, but... well, look at the title of this post. Go me.
January 15, 2018
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.
January 13, 2018
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...
January 10, 2018
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.
January 09, 2018
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 never thought I'd see the day.
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