August 22, 2014

Soon. Oh So Soon


Free ice cream coming soon.

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August 19, 2014

F1 on TV: Belgium 2014

The Summer Break is over.  The assembled teams of Formula 1 have loaded up the transporters and taken the Circus on the road.  Drivers have come back from their vacation spots, with Switzerland being a favorite in the past.  And this high-tech road show is aimed directly at the Walloon municipality of Stavelot in the east of Belgium.  There, in the vicinity of a small town named Francorchamps, is found a seven kilometer monster, the home of the Grand Prix of Belgium.  Here's the track map:

Of course, the overhead map hardly tells the whole story of Spa-Francopants.  Unlike most circuits on the calendar, Spa is all about elevation change.  From Turn 01, the track heads generally downhill until it reaches Eau Rouge.  From there to Raidillon, the circuit climbs steeply, then levels out until you reach Malmedy. From there until Blanchimont, the track descends, then climbs slightly back to the level of the start finish line.  All of which is raced at high speed; only the Bus Stop chicane could arguably called "slow." 

Unless it rains.  The hoary old gag about Spa is that if it isn't raining, it's getting ready to.  There's precipitation forecast for Quals, but the race is currently supposed to be dry... but this is the Ardennes.  We've seen rain appear out of nowhere before.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will have their slickers and bumbershoots ready as they provide their live coverage!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
FRIDAY
7a - 830a: Practice 2 live on NBCSN
SATURDAY
7a - 830a: Quals live on CNBC
SUNDAY
630a - 9a: 2014 Grand Prix of Belgium live on NBCSN

Of course, the good sprouts of F1U! will be all over the weekend.  We'll see ya then!

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August 17, 2014

Ben-To! Ep06

They say that just claiming to have decided to continue on with a series that you dropped isn't enough: you have to back it up with action.  Well, I did that to a certain extent with the writeup for Ep05, but one episode does not a restart make!  Nope, it's gotta be at least two before you can take my claims seriously.  And this, my good and dear, is the writeup for Ep06... or will be, when it's done.  I mean, yeah, right now this is just the usual opening paragraph that usually has absolutely nothing to do with the writeup itself... it's more a chance for me to warm up.  And by "warm up," I mean in the sense that a pitcher has to warm up before he comes into a game.  Sometimes, I'm like the closer: jogging in from the bullpen with the crowd going crazy and a high-octane theme song blaring, with a rubber arm that needs but a few moments to get loose.  And then there are the days where I'm the fleabitten, mangy old pitcher who needs an hour to get loose and only throws slop, junk and trash, all of it at 82 mph.  But in the end, somebody has to get the outs, no matter how hot or bad the arm is.  Good rule of thumb would be the longer this first paragraph is, the closer I am to being Jamie Moyer than Masahiro Tanaka.  Well, either way, I'm in the major leagues.  Which might be more than I can say about Ben-To!, but perhaps I'm being unkind.

The preceding warmup paragraph was written just about two months earlier.  Much has changed in that time, to say the least.  Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka tore a ligament in his pitching elbow, went on the disabled list, and realistically shouldn't be expected to return this season.  Jamie Moyer is still old.  Your scribe was put on waivers, then released.  Funmation postponed the release of Ben-To! indefinitely.  Heck, even the original viddy I selected for Trevor Hoffman went away.  So yes, much has occurred... and yet, Ben-To! is still in the exact same place it was when we last saw it, just aching for us to return.  And so we shall!

Surprisingly, this is kinda similar to the way I blog.  Except I sit at a desk, use a tower computer, have an incandescent lamp above and to my right, and red accent lighting for the rest of the living room (not bedroom), and I'm a duck.  Desaturation Lass up there is taking the events of Ep05 and making them into one of her yaoi fanfics, and that's just about all the lead-in we get this episode.  It's actually rather disturbing.  Not the lack of lead-in, her writing.  I mean, very disturbing.

OH GOD WHAT DID THEY DO TO THAT POOR RABBIT?!?!?!

more...

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August 16, 2014

A Few Results

1)  Rum & 7up is awful.  Since I can only imagine that rum & orange soda is worse, drunkblogging is not going to happen tonight, if ever.

2)  My internet connection is porpoising tonight, up and down, up and down, up and (mostly) down.  In other words, I'm not going to get any serious (or even unserious) blogging done this evening as I use mu.nu to compose my posts.

3) There will be free ice cream tomorrow.  It will be good.  You will enjoy it.  Yes, you will. 
Oh yes... yes, you most certainly will.

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August 15, 2014

Just A Note About Saturday

I'm going to do something here on Saturday that I've never done before... I'm going to do an episode review while drinking.  Yes, that's right, there's a fair good chance I'll be drunkblogging Ben-To!.

I haven't had a drink in at least six years... I think once in a while I can have something, eh?  I intend to leave all errors in the post, so in theory it'll get sloppier as the night goes on... and therefore funnier! 

See ya then, fans!

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August 14, 2014

Too Much Skooma


There are days where Skyrim does stuff like this just to play with my mind, I know it.

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Milwaukee Bridge

So there I was, cruising on the Milwaukee River one evening, munching on a lovely dinner and groovin' to smooth jazz, when I have this... epiphany.  It's a simple thought, but one hit me with the force of a thousand chipmunks: photography does not have to be about ducks.  Oh, don't get me wrong, ducks are fantastic things to photograph, just like pizza is a fantastic thing to eat, but man or Wonderduck cannot live on pizza alone... though I've given it a try once or twice in my life.  But I digress: photography.  Fortunately, the Milwaukee River has no lack of interesting things to take pictures of.  UNfortunately, my skill at capturing said things in picture form is limited, at best.  Still, it could have been worse:

clicky for poppy
I found this half-span bridge endlessly fascinating as I couldn't quite figure out if it was designed to raise or not.  If so, it surely couldn't go very high, leading me to wonder if it wasn't something like part of a different bridge, salvaged and repurposed.  Guess I'll never know, but at least I got a good picture out of it.  Not easy to do on a bobbing boat and failing light.

Guess it's okay.

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August 12, 2014

Just Because


You don't mess with Rondo Hatton.  I just felt the urge to point this out, in case any of my readers was thinking of doing so.  Don't do it.  Just... don't.  There isn't any need to mess with Rondo Hatton, no matter what you're thinking.  Not even if you're drunk in a bar somewhere, full of liquid courage and testosterone.  "I'm going to mess with Rondo Hatton," you're thinking, "and then I'm going to go put some sweet, sweet moves on Beverly Garland."  And really, nobody would blame you for having carnal, libidinous, even fleshy thoughts of Beverly Garland, but if the entire process must begin with you messing with Rondo Hatton, well, I'm afraid you've just got to rethink your entire evening.  Because you don't mess with Rondo Hatton.  It's not worth it, man, it's just.  Not.  Worth.  It.  And it's not like Beverly Garland would be impressed with you for messing with Rondo Hatton.  She's a classy dame and wouldn't go for that kinda stuff nohow.  So are we cool here?  You're not gonna be messin' with no Rondo Hatton?  Solid.  Because I don't want to hear about it if you do.  I would be very disappointed.  Don't get me wrong.  Rondo Hatton doesn't need my help if you do decide to mess with him, for he is the type you don't mess with for a reason.  He can handle himself, thank you very much.  However, I say it again: don't mess with Rondo Hatton.

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August 11, 2014

A-Yup, Sure Do.

"I bet he has at least one Rubber Duck with a shower cap on."
-Mauser

As a matter of fact...

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August 09, 2014

Ducks In Anime: It's Been Way Too Darn Long


-Najica Blitz Tactics, Ep05
I had to go back to a series that aired in 2001 to find this.  C'mon Japan, you're letting me down here!

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August 08, 2014

"Girls" of the Kancolle Video

I probably should have done this last night, but I was too busy taking cold showers to do so.  There are three Ship Girls shown in the video for Kantai Collection (or "Kancolle"), and I pretty much had no idea who they were.  I mean, I know about the game, but I've never played and know nothing about how or when you acquire the shipgirls.  Which isn't to say that I couldn't figure out some stuff on my own, or with a bit of research!

Obviously the first we see is an aircraft carrier, and I'll admit that on her, I cheated: I already knew the answer.  She's the Akagi, the first full-sized carrier the IJN put to sea.

Ms Akagi is also one of the more popular shipgirls in the game, I gather, and has a figma coming out in September.  But what of the second girl, the battleship?  Well, I made a startling leap of faith considering we're talking about a game where the ships are young women, but I said to myself that they'd try and be historical about this.  First, they'd have a ship that was fast enough to actually keep up with the carrier. Second, I assumed they'd have the correct amount of turrets.

That led, inexorably, to the only class of battleship the IJN had that fulfilled both criteria: the Kongo-class "fast battleships."  Originally built as battlecruisers, refitted with more and better armor to upgrade their status before WWII, I guessed we were looking at the first-in-class (like Ms Akagi).  As it turns out, I was right: Ms Kongo it was.  Which brings us to the third shipgirl.  I had absolutely nothing to go on whatsoever except for one quick shot.

The fishhook maneuver for the girl on the right told me she was a destroyer.  She's clearly getting out of the way of the two big'uns, maybe after firing her torpedoes the way the IJN calls for.  Either way, great, she's a destroyer.  The IJN had thirty-quadzillion destroyer classes.  I had no idea which one she was... except that I did.  See, I knew that the "star" of the show was going to be Fubuki... which, curiously enough, was the name of the first-in-class of the first what we'd call "modern destroyer" design.

So there we have it.  Akagi, Kongo and Fubuki.  I've since read somewhere that these are some of the first shipgirls you can collect in Kancolle, so that makes sense too.  I guess I'm surprised they didn't have one of the splendid Japanese cruiser designs in the video, but I'm not complaining by any means!  January can't get here soon enough.

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August 06, 2014

KanColle Anime


I am so aroused right now.
Yes, yes, this looks like something I might have some interest in.  I would say so, yes.  Oh my, yes indeed.

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August 05, 2014

Random Anime Picture #87: Say Hi, Jiro!


I just finished watching The Wind Rises, Ghibli's fictionalized account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of both the A5M "Claude" and A6M "Zero" fighters.  I have mixed reactions.  As far as Ghibli films go, it's far and away my favorite of all of them.  Its no coincidence that it's also the least preachy of all of Miyazaki's films: the two go hand-in-hand. 

IJN Nagato in background
It should come as absolutely no surprise that it's a gorgeous film.  Again, it's a Ghibli.  That's to be expected.  There's just something about The Wind Rises that doesn't sit right with me, and I think it's the main character.  Jiro Horikoshi in this movie comes across as a completely dispassionate, yet heroic, leading man.  Brilliant, relatively athletic, a leader of men, and he does it all with the same nearly blank expression on his face.  Only when he's discussing airplanes does he begin to show some emotion... not much, but some.  His wife is dying of tuberculosis?  Blank look.  Tokyo destroyed by an earthquake?  Blank look.  In Germany?  Blank.  The voice acting of Hideaki Anno, who sounds like he has a stuffed nose, doesn't help a whole lot, either.

Still, it's got the Hosho in it.  Which is always nice.

All in all, it's certainly worth watching.  I'll give it 3.5 stars.  It just could have been so much more.

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August 03, 2014

Random Anime Picture #87: Say Hi, Tony!

For the most part, I really don't much care for Leiji Matsumoto's WWII OVA entitled The Cockpit.  Of the three parts, only the middle one, "Sonic Boom Squadron", is any good.  Which doesn't mean that the other two don't have a bit of eye candy.

This is from part 3, "Knight of the Iron Dragon," and that's a Kawasaki Ki-61 Army Type 3 Fighter, better known as the "Tony".  It was the only Japanese fighter in WWII to use a liquid-cooled inline engine and proved to be pretty good, all in all.  Over 3000 were built, and served all the way until the end of the war.

I still don't recommend The Cockpit, but it's not all that often planes like the Ki-61 get any love.

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August 02, 2014

Saturday Night Tunage XX

It's time!  It's time!  Get your greasy little faces up next to the speakers because it's time for everybody's favorite music break, Saturday Night Tunage featuring DJ Wonderduck!

Yeah, you know you've missed it.  Yeah, you know you need it.  So I'm here for your musical edification, bringing you the best tunes from the 80s, 90s and... um... more 80s?  Something like that, because (cue old man voice) today's music is all crap!  CRAP, I tell ya.  Get off my speakers, you whippersnappers before I hit ya with my tonearm.

Kids, ask your parents.  Parents, make fun of your kids.
Not one of the good ones with the diamond-tipped London Decca cartridges, but a cheap one.  I had a Decca cartridge once, I'm not sure how I found it (probably through the radio station), and it sounded soooo sweet, and dug such a big trench in my 12" singles...  Y'know what?  Let's just get to the music, whaddya say?


more...

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August 01, 2014

I Hate Weather

So here at Pond Central, I've learned that thunderstorms are fun and exciting and unless there's hail involved, generally nothing more than that.  Oh, wind may blow down branches, and rain may cause flooding, but for the most part my little corner of heaven and rye bread is awfully secure.  Heck, the last time a tornado hit the Duckford area proper was over a year before I was born (interesting fact: two days later, three inches of snow fell on the town hit by the twister).  I know plenty of people who believe that "cities never get hit by tornadoes anyway," so why worry?  Personally, I believe there's nothing I can do about such things occurring... I don't control the weather after all, though I'm willing to take on the job... but that doesn't mean I'm blind to the possibility.

So when the tornado sirens go off here, I take notice.  Not that anybody could ignore them; here at Pond Central, they sound like an autotuned tablesaw ripping sheet after sheet of plywood, mixed with a metallic twang like a really pissed off bandsaw.  As it turns out, there's a whole siren spotter thing on youtube... someone even has the Duck U siren cataloged.  Anyway, around 745pm tonight whilst in the middle of a pretty nasty thunderstorm, the sirens started wailing and yours truly started to try and find out why.

And then the power went out.  Not for a long time, less than a minute probably.  I decided that until the sirens stopped, it'd be best if I went and hung out in my bathroom... it's safer there.  It wasn't until afterwards that I realized I had lost over 500 words of a post.

I hate weather.

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July 31, 2014

Back In The Saddle

It's been a while, but it's not like I don't have a reason.  Hell, to be honest I didn't even really need a reason, but I had one nevertheless.  The past couple of weeks have been a little rough.  Sure, I'm probably better off, but I'm still kinda shaken about the whole thing.  I haven't done much of anything, to be honest, other than sleep a lot.  I left my apartment for the first time this week earlier today... went grocery shopping.  I hadn't actually talked since Monday night, either.  I suspect the cute girl at the cash register thought I was a freak, but there's nothing unusual about that... one of the reasons I became a hermit in the first place, actually.  Now that I don't actually HAVE to go out into the world every day, it's easier.  That's the problem with being a hermit, though... you feel so cut off.  It takes me two hours every morning to get out onto the moors, collect my berries, chastise myself, then two hours back in the evening.

Well, I may still be a flesh and meat hermit, but a cyberhermit?  That's just overkill.  So I'm shaking the dust off my keyboard and returning to The Pond.  Hopefully I'll be posting something every day, though I make no promises about the quality.  Then again, you folks clearly don't come here for quality. 

I hope to live up to your standards.

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July 28, 2014

F1 Update!: Hungary 2014

The Grand Prix of Hungary only coughs up a good race when it rains... and it doesn't rain that often in Hungary in July, apparently.  Did it this time?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Hungary.

*THE RACE:  Approximately 40 minutes before the start of the race, the heavens opened up and most of the contents of Lake Balaton found itself deposited upon the Hungaroring.  Charlie Whiting hung out the "changing conditions" sign, leading the teams to scramble to make any weather-related adjustments that they cared to apply to their cars.  Unfortunately for everybody, the track ranged from soaked to merely damp to "rain, what rain?"  This is the worst sort of situation for Intermediate tires, which desperately need water on them to keep them from dying.  The race began with everybody tiptoeing their way around the track.  Lewis Hamilton, starting from the pitlane, spun in Turn 2, doing a touch of damage to his front wing, but it looked like everybody was managing the conditions.  Until Lap 8.

*SAFETY CAR:  That's when the entire race went into a cocked hat.  The Caterham of Marcus Erickson went into the tire barriers outside of Turn 4, impacting hard enough to trip the Impact Detector in the cockpit.

He walked away before the Medical Car arrived on scene, but there were some butterflies in the stomachs of the assembled F1U! crew when the first marshal on scene gave the signal for "possible injury".  A few laps later, still under the Safety Car, the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean ended up hitting the wall on the inside of Turn 4, extending the SC period for another couple of laps.

*FALLOUT:  War.  War never changes.  Just before the Safety Car was called out, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg led the Williams of Valterri Bottas, HWMNBN's Ferrari, and the McLaren of Jenson Button.  When Berndt Maylander exited the pit lane, it was after those four had gone past the entry to pit lane.  Suddenly, the people behind the leaders were leading!  Daniel Ricciardo got the big boost, jumping from fifth to the lead. 

*STRATEGERY:  Under the Safety Car, McLaren consulted their weather radar closely and came to the conclusion that there was going to be more rain soon.  While the rest of the field stopped and switched to slick tires, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were kept on Intermediates.  The rain did not come, and both cars rapidly burned their tires down to the ground.  After that, neither were in contention for anything important.

*AND ALL THE REST:  One problem with wet weather races is that they require exquisite attention if one is to recap them adequately, and that level of focus is currently beyond the abilities of the F1U! crew.  There was another Safety Car on Lap 23, when Sergio Perez crashed on the front straight, and that turned the resumed race back into a dog's breakfast.  We'll skip to Lap 60, which saw HWMNBN leading Lewis Hamilton by just over a second, who was being pursued by Daniel Ricciardo by about a second.  While it looked for a few laps like the Ferrari driver could maybe... maybe... keep the other two behind, his tires were too old to legitimately hold the lead.  Surprisingly, it wasn't Hamilton, gunning to become the first driver to win from the pit lane, but Ricciardo who took the lead after disposing of the Merc.  Hamilton's fading tires also prevented him from getting past HWMNBN and left him open to a charging Rosberg to boot.  While the two teammates squabbled, the Red Car came home in 2nd place.  It should rain more often at the Hungaroring.

*OH, BY THE WAY:  Force India's Nico Hulkenberg ran into the back of his teammate and wound up stuck off the final turn on Lap 16, engine stalled.  This brought to an end his points finish string that actually started last year at the Grand Prix of the Americas.  This leaves only one driver to have earned points at every race this season: HWMNBN.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE
:  Lewis Hamilton.  Start from the pit lane, see how well you do in a race.  Think you can get a podium out of it?

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  We're not fans of the red cars from Maranello, but dear lord did they need that result.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  In the mid-late portion of the race, Nico Rosberg was charging up on Lewis Hamilton, clearly somewhat faster for whatever reason.  The Mercedes pit wall called Hamilton and told him to move over and let his teammate past.  Hamilton responded with "aw hell naw."  To be fair, he said if Rosberg could get close enough, he'd move over.  Rosberg couldn't do it.  This may have cost Mercedes the race, but he had a point. 

There will be no quotes of the race this time around, as we're now in the F1 Summer Break, and none of the drivers stuck around to be interviewed.  The next race is at Spa-Francopants on August 24th.  We'll see you then!!!

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July 26, 2014

F1 Quals: Hungary 2014

I can only guess at what Lewis Hamilton is thinking right now.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2014 Grand Prix of Hungary:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.227 1:23.310 1:22.715
2 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.662 1:23.606 1:23.201
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:25.690 1:23.776 1:23.354
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.495 1:23.676 1:23.391
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:26.087 1:24.249 1:23.909
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:26.592 1:24.030 1:24.223
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.612 1:24.502 1:24.294
8 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:24.941 1:24.637 1:24.720
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:26.149 1:24.647 1:24.775
10 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.578 1:24.585
11 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:25.361 1:24.706
12 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.027 1:25.136
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:25.910 1:25.211
14 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.709 1:25.260
15 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.136 1:25.337
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:26.728 1:27.419
17 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.792

18 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:27.139

19 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:27.819

20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:28.643

21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time

22 Crashtor Maldonado Lotus-Renault No time


Maldonado you almost expect to see down at the bottom with some sort of problem, but Hamilton?  What happened there?  Simply put, someone took "Well done, Lewis" as an instruction.

Fuel leak, Mercedes is saying.  "More than just bad luck," Hamilton is saying, and for a wonder I'd have a hard time disagreeing with him... until you remember that this is the first year with a new engine/power unit.  I'm actually rather surprised we're not seeing more engine failures than we have been.  Yes, it's unfortunate for Hamilton that Merc's problems all seem to be happening to his car, but a flat-out conspiracy?  That's Ferrari-level stuff right there.

The rest of the grid is more-or-less what you would expect, save for Kimi Raikkonen down in 17th, not making it out of Q1.  As time expired on the session, Ferrari kept his car in the garage, secure in the knowledge that he had gone fast enough to make it to Q2... and times kept falling, and falling, and falling, and suddenly there wasn't time to go back out and he was bumped.  Ferrari-level stuff right there.

The race is shaping up to be one of the rare good ones that the Hungaroring coughs up every once in a while, because it's supposed to rain.  Heavily.  Between noon and 4pm local, which does a nice job of blanketing the contest... now we need to see it happen.

It'll put out Hamilton's car, if nothing else.  See you then!

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July 24, 2014

Unsurprising Surprise

Okay, I've managed to compose my thoughts enough to explain just exactly what's going on over on this side of the screen.  To whit:

I'm unemployed.

Monday afternoon, the Regional Manager stopped into the Duck U Bookstore, asked me casual questions about how the renovations to the building were coming, then fired me.  While I wasn't expecting it to occur, particularly after attending the regional meeting last week, long time readers of The Pond know that I've been living with a metaphorical sword over my head for the past year.  That took a lot of the terror out of it when it finally happened.  It also was good that he was at least polite about it: none of that "get out, we'll box and ship your stuff," he let me pack up the collected rubber ducks, emergency tie, cell-phone speakers, bag o' coal, that sorta thing.  And then I left my place of employ for the past ten years, drove home, and took a nap.

I'll admit, I'm not exactly heartbroken.  Oh, sure, I'm unemployed in a rather poor economy, and that's not exactly woo-hoo-making, but we're talking about a job that hasn't let me take a real vacation since December 2011, and has required me to work 10-12 hours daily for the past year, including most Saturdays.  I think, and I say this with no hyperbole, that the job was legitimately killing me.  So I haven't done much of anything, and nothing of any redeeming value to society, since Monday afternoon.

I'm okay with that.  Oh, I met some great people over the 10 years I was there... students, faculty and staff alike, not to mention people from the company... and I'll miss them, surely.  But I thought it would hurt more to lose this job... after all, it's the longest I've ever been at one place by years.  However, there's been no more work nightmares, no more waking up at 3am to mull over something that happened the previous day at work, and this is most important, I can actually relax for the first time in almost exactly a year.  And now, it's time for something new.
That's always exciting.

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