December 11, 2017
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.
November 30, 2017
Returning For A Visit Why does the internet go insane? Every now and again, something will grab the attention of The Web and, for a couple-three weeks or so become kinda obsessed with it. Usually the item at the center of attention is among the stupider things one could think of. But occasionally, the internet sets its sights on something that's actually kinda interesting.
Last year, the town of Jackson Hole Wyoming became internet famous when a live-streaming webcam focused on the "town square" was inundated by visiting yootoobers. Apparently, one of the troglodytes that inhabits 4chan posted in that den of iniquity something to the effect that there was going to be something interesting occurring at such-and-such a time. Of course, some ridiculous number of people showed up to watch whatever it was... I don't even know if the something even happened or not... but then something strange happened. People kept visiting. And visiting. And visiting. Then the mainstream media "discovered" the story, and then there was another surge of visitors. At any time, there could be upwards of 3000 - 4000 watching.
Amazingly, a complex backstory arose... or maybe not that amazing, this being the internet and all. The Arch, centered in the above picture, became a mythological... almost religious... thing. One spoke of The Arch in reverent tones, its wonders to perceive. For example, The Arch was the bringer of the new day, which was signaled by the stop lights shifting from normal to flashing red. The Arch must also be fed, accomplished by people... well... walking through The Arch. Om nom nom. But the best known reaction would have to be "RED TRUCK."
This is Wyoming. The pickup truck may as well be the state bird. Most of them, however, are black. Or silver. Or some neutral color like that. I imagine that, the first time, there had been a parade of pickup trucks, all alike... and then came a splash of color among the utilitarian blacks and silvers. "Red Truck," someone pointed out in chat, and it stuck. Lemme tell ya though... I was actually watching one time when a red 18-wheeler drove through the intersection, and it was like all the important figures of every human religion ever suddenly appeared and did a Rockettes number in the center of the square. Good times, good times.
In the end, however, the appeal of the webcam died off, people went away, and things returned to normal... except there's always been a couple hundred viewers hanging around. A couple of nights ago, I found myself visiting the webcam for the first time in a half-year at least. It felt like I was the only one who remembered those times, as I had to explain what The Blessed Arch was, and the Red Truck, and... and...
Why did we do it? Was it the voyeur in all of us, watching without being watched ourselves? Was it an attempt to be a part of something both unique and mundane? Was it to connect with others watching as well? Did we want to see something peaceful? Or was it just The Internet being The Internet again? I don't know. I will probably never know. But I will be going back.
The yootoob livecam can be found here.
November 23, 2017
Post-Turkey 2017 Hey everybody! Did y'all have a happy Thanksgiving? Or, for those members of the Pond Scum that aren't in the US, did you have a good Thursday? Mine was... actually not so bad at all. I'm not going to the Old Home Pond for The Meal until Saturday, so I got to do something I've wanted to do for a long, long time: I watched football on Thanksgiving.
That I had no rooting interest in any of the six teams that played today is of no importance at all. In fact, that made it better in that I didn't care about the results, so could just watch and enjoy. I watched the entirety of the Vikings/Lions game, listened to the Chargers/Cowboys which wow was awful, and gave up on the Giants/Redskins somewhere in the second quarter and took a nap. Not a bad day at all, that.
What about you folks?
November 12, 2017
Delay Delay Delay So last night I went to sleep early, intending to wake up in time to watch the F1 race live form Brazil. Instead, I had a nightmare of a night. From around midnight to maybe 6am-ish, I was basically up every hour dealing with... um... a warp core breach.
I've had more fun. Anyway, the amount of sleep I had last night was insufficient to my needs which also led to massive headache that made me... um... cranky. I had to cancel brunch with the folks, sort of moved around in a daze until I sat down to watch the race around noon, then promptly dozed off with a sandwich in my hand. Once I woke up, I rewound the race, started it again, then dozed off at about the halfway point. Didn't miss much, though. Now that I've watched the thing, I'm going to go back to bed. When I awake, I suspect I'm going to feel like a overcooked strand of mafaldine.
You can probably see where I'm going with all this. It's not like the race was all that exciting anyway. Bear with me, I am old and tired.
November 05, 2017
I Blame Pixy. And J Greely. And Maybe Greyduck Too. (UPDATED) Based on reviews, blurbs, comments, and otherwise out-and-out love given out over the years by the people in the title, I just bought the audiobook version of Storm Front, the first of The Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher.
There are 15 books in the series.
I'm a inveterate completionist.
What have you done to me? I thought we were friends, man.
UPDATE: J says below that the first books would probably be improved if they got someone good to read them, audiobook-wise. They got someone good: James Marsters. Who?
Oh. Spike! From the Buffyverse. Guess what? He's really damn good. Stage trained, studied at Juilliard, that sorta thing. His take on Harry Dresden as a worn-down, kinda tired private eye-kinda figure is... well, I can't really say. I mean, I think it's perfect, but not having read the books, I can't compare it to my "mental reading", y'know? To me, it works perfectly.
The first chapter is actually on yootoob, y'all that know the books give it a listen, tell me what you think.
November 02, 2017
Still Around, Still Alive Just... really busy, really really tired, and for a couple of nights this week I had Very Bad Dreams. Things should loosen up a bit soon, however, and I'll write over the weekend. Hold on until then, okay? Thanks!
October 24, 2017
This Time, A Year Ago...
October 19, 2017
"Wait 'til Last Year"
The Cubs have gone to the NL Championship Series three years in a row, and won the World Series once in that time. There is no way anybody can convince me this season, which came to an end at the hands of the LA Dodgers a few minutes ago, was anything other than a success.
And in a few months... spring training!
October 15, 2017
...Just For One Day, We Are All Grape. If you're the type of person who reads The Pond regularly, then there's no doubt in my mind that you've heard the story of Grape-kun. If you are new here, or read The Pond only for the F1 ("I only read it for the articles!" Kids, get your parents to explain), let me give you a quick version of this tale of devotion and love.
Earlier this year, the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture, held a promotion that saw standups of characters from the anime series Kemono Friends placed in various animal enclosures. This actually makes more sense than many such ideas in Japan, as Kemono Friends is about animals in a large zoo that, due to exposure to unobtanium, have become anthropomorphized. The show was a popular one, and attendance had increased in other zoos that had done the same promotion, so why not? In Ep08, we are introduced to an idol group called "PPP", which is made up of anthropomorphized penguins. At least one of the members of PPP had their promotional standup put in the penguin enclosure at Tobu Zoo. Where it was encountered by a Humboldt Penguin named "Grape-kun".
A little bit of backstory here. Grape-kun was over 20 years old, and ten years ago he had been dumped by his mate. He had been single ever since. However, park keepers quickly realized that Grape-kun was enamored of the standup of Hululu that had been put in the penguin enclosure. He would spend the entire day by the rock she was on, would go into a known courtship pose, and would have to be separated from Hululu so he would remember to eat. When the promotion ended, all of the standups were removed... except for Hululu's, as zookeepers were afraid of what would happen to Grape-kun if they did. The story hit the twitters in May and quickly went worldwide. Grape-kun had a waifu, and anime fans around the globe found they were relating to a Japanese penguin. Hululu's voice actress met Grape-kun, Tobu Zoo's attendance went through the roof, fans made pilgrimages to see the pair, and there were (and are) calls for Grape-kun to become a character in the next season of Kemono Friends.
On Friday, Grape-kun passed away at the age of 21. According to the zoo, he had suffered a short illness. He had been removed from the enclosure, but Hululu's standup had been with him until the end.
October 14, 2017
That's A Thing I've got nothing for ya. Braindead after a long, fruitless week, I'm having problems even thinking about being clever.
"So, pretty much like the last 12 years then, huh?"
That's not fair. I was clever once. Go back and reread the Ben-To! writeups, those were pretty good. I really liked Ep08's... that's the one with the Claude Rains joke. I should really try doing something like that again. Oh, did you know that the OST for Ben-To! is flippin' amazing?
I've got this on my playlist at work, and every time it comes on, I wonder if the folks on Sirius/XM's "smooth jazz" channel know about it.
GD, you should like this track in particular. This one came on the mp3 player Friday night, around 9pm at work, I'm the only person in the entire building, and most of the lights were off... I near to wet myself when the whispering started. Good times, good times.
"Why is there a puddle on the floor?" "I don't think I'm hungry now. Ew."
Ah, the clever Wonderduck witticisms. Pee humor, everybody loves that! Anyway, that's all I got, eat some oreos!
September 28, 2017
"You Have Chosen... Poorly." I have been driving for maybe 34 years altogether, and I know that I'm good at it. My last ticket was back in 1987, given to me by a cop in a bad mood that pulled me over for turning left in an intersection when the light turned red. So, yeah, I didn't even deserve the ticket I got, and it's long past showing up on my record. I am safe, controlled, and well-behaved. I turn my brights off before an oncoming car can see them, for heaven's sake. But this morning, I had to make that most terrible of decisions every vehicular operator must make at least once in their motoring lives.
I was driving to work, a beautiful fall day in the offing. The blue skies were lightly dotted with fluffy white clouds, the sun shone warmly (but not too warmly) upon the land, and there was even a pleasant breeze to enjoy. My trip to work takes about 10 minutes or so from parking lot to parking lot, and as I drove I took a moment to admire the scenery along my route. It's a kind of semi-rural street, if that makes sense. There are homes, but spaced much further apart than they'd be in a city or town, and many of them border cornfields or very large lawns. Trees line the road on either side, set back a bit but still looming over the drive. Deer are a not-uncommon sight, particularly at night as they do deer-like things. I've even seen notadogs, canine-shaped animals that I'm sure are not the friendly family pets we've come to know and love, peering out of the overgrowth. It's also very hilly, almost rollercoastery... there are times during the winter that I avoid that route out of fear.
So there I am, driving along at a brisk pace, when up ahead of me I spot a dark shape in the middle of my lane... clearly a dead animal. Raccoon, possum, biggest damn squirrel ever, something like that, too far away for me to tell right then. And it was then that I had to make The Choice. I had three options in front of me. First, I could drive right over it. Or, I could go off the road to the right... this was a bad idea, for there was a drainage ditch just a couple of feet off the roadway, the bottom about eight feet below street level (though only a few feet below the level of the yard attached to it). There was no run-off area otherwise. Or third, I could swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic. So really, no choice at all. I positioned the Duckmobile just slightly off-center right to the deceased animal, as that particular model year had a weird mounting for the exhaust system/muffler that makes it visibly hang lower than the bottom of the car. There wouldn't be any problem clearing the recently-departed furry thing. And then, just as it passed below the front of my car, I realized that I had just made a terrible, terrible mistake. It was bigger than I expected... and it had a white stripe on black fur.
The sound the skunk's body made as it hit the underside of my car was... not pleasant. But the smell... oh god, the smell. Even worse? It wasn't going away! The smell clung to my car like the skunk was... still...
I looked in the rear view mirror. The skunkcorpse wasn't there. And then, suddenly, it was, bouncing down the road as it scrubbed off all the momentum it had gained by being stuck underneath my car. The sudden urge I felt to... um... "review inputs"... was not entirely due to the stench that followed my vehicle.
I have never been so glad to leave my car and head into work. And I have never felt more trepidation than I felt this evening as I left the pleasant, airconditioned, mostly smell-free, office. There was only the faintest whiff of skunk's revenge.
I took a different route home.
September 23, 2017
It's Saturday... Whoopsie I had a thought towards actually doing something this evening. Instead, I wound up taking a six hour nap. Six freakin' hours!
That wasn't the plan. That wasn't the plan at all.
September 20, 2017
I was actually doing...well, pretty okay, really! Sure, I went to bed early last night, but that was only because I had a lot of overtime to do at work. Right. Then I woke up this morning, was in a horrible mood, went into work, and got into an even more horrible mood. I'm home now, as "a little birdy" told my boss why I was so down.
Some days are harder than others. Today will always be one of the hard ones. You guys, the readers of The Pond, make it easier. Thank you.
September 12, 2017
There is an ick burning its way through the office. Last week I began to feel not well... over the weekend, I felt even more not well, to the point I had to cancel brunch with the folks twice. I'm doing better, though "better" isn't "healthy".
And I nearly threw up all over my desk today, too. Oh, not because I was ill, but because the Evil Light that pops up on my timeclock when an auditor has discovered an error in one of my claims... um... popped up on my timeclock. As it turned out, it wasn't really an error, I just used the not-as-right-as-the-right-denial-code on a claim. The auditor just wanted me to go back into it and use the correct code. Don't get me wrong, the code I used was perfectly okay... it just wasn't the SOP's preferred denial code. So the sudden urge to vomit was because of a false alarm. Usually when that thing pops up, it may as well just be a notifier that it's time to bend over.
Terrifying. Sad-making. Bleargh.
September 07, 2017
Booking Ticket To Japan Right Now I was wandering the reddits this evening when something popped up in /r/rubberducks... something so important that I actually froze in astonishment for a moment. And, if you're a rubber duck fan, you will do the same. Here it is:
They're in a vending machine, ¥200 a shot. I want them. I want them all. I want them more than I've ever wanted a rubber duck in my life. This is amazing. This is game-changing. This is a triumph. I weep with amazed glee.
September 06, 2017
Foul and Evil and Mean and Nasty That... interesting... title is a decent representation of what my mood has been of late. In fact, it reminds me a lot of when I was going through nicotine withdrawal... same irritability, same bad mood, not sleeping well, so on and so forth. It's taken quite a bit of willpower to not go full berserker on some of my coworkers, and why doesn't Chrome recognize "berserker" as a valid word? That's just weird. For what it's worth, however, there should be a surprise for all y'all this weekend here at The Pond. I hope.
Given what I've said about my mood, it's up to you to figure out if "a surprise" is going to be something good, or the blogging equivalent of a horse's head under your sheets. Look forward to it. Heh. Heh heh.
September 01, 2017
My Sides Hurt And I Can't Breathe That's not usually what you want to read, I'll admit, but don't worry! It's entirely self-inflicted. To begin with, I need to explain a little of what's going on here. I dunno if any of you play Rainbow Six: Siege? I don't, but I've seen a ton of gameplay footage thanks to the good folks over at Bo Time! Gaming. I've mentioned them before... they're the geniuses behind the War Thunder Fail Montages. Anyway, they have like fifty RS:S vids, and after watching them I know that I'll never play the game. Not my cuppa, y'know? Doesn't mean that I don't enjoy watching them play, though. Bo & Co. seem to be quite good... except when they're doing very weird things. "I am pushing little cart" leaps to mind. Anyway, from there it was a short distance to finding various RS:S Fail Vids. Again, I don't play, but funny is funny. Along the way, I discovered a youtube channel named GameSprout... for reasons, I guess. Their stuff has been uniformly entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. So what does all this have to do with me suffocating? One of the best things about GameSprout is their tendency to put sound clips over their fail vids. It might be a simple spoken "tah-dah", a record scratch, or something complex... all for the sake of a gag. Now, if you've ever played a multiplayer FPS game, you've undoubtedly come across the sight of someone rapidly crouching, then standing up, then crouching again, ad infinitum. This is teabagging, and it's usually quite a rude gesture. In games such as these, however, there's often no way to "make contact" with players on the other team, so if you're into opening lines of communication, you have to make do with what's available. Crouching, swaying from side to side, turning rapidly as a head-shake "no", that sort of thing. GameSprout loves working this activity into their videos, usually accompanied by a "yep" sound. For whatever reason, I've always chuckled when I've seen/heard it. And then this video was released a couple of weeks ago:
The money bit is from 7:57 to 8:17 (with another short clip breaking it up). Go ahead and watch, I'll wait.
Done? Okay, cool. For whatever reason, that little stretch of video makes me laugh so hard I have problems breathing, tears roll down my face, so on and so forth. I mean, first the contact with the opposing team in the airplane, then they join in, and all of them get their own "yep"s... then in the second part, the "yep"s get more and more frantic. That's what usually gets me, the frantic yepping all over the place. Laughter like I haven't had in a long time, that's what that is.
And now you know.
August 21, 2017
Failclipse Duckford had a little problem today. It was overcast and cloudy... at least, it was overcast and cloudy when it wasn't overcast, cloudy and raining. In fact, when I took my camera and tripod outside, it was dripping a bit. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "rain", but there was water coming from the sky. The upshot of all of this is that instead of the sun being a visible disk, it was instead a diffused blob of light. Still, I gave it my best shot... but most of the pictures turned out like this:
Don't fool yourself into thinking there's a bit of moon arc visible there at the bottom; this picture was taken around 130pm, less than 15 minutes past the most occluded time. We were supposed to get about 86% coverage. At 116pm, the sun was still casting clear shadows. Feh. Still, the shots weren't all bad.
I call this one "Accidental Hubble." Particularly in its larger form, it reminded me of dozens of Hubble shots with dust clouds occluding something bright in the center, y'know? Just not as pretty. So I have that going for me. Which was nice. And then, scrolling through the pictures I came across this one:
By whatever quirk of optics you may care to name, I somehow managed to catch what I assume is a reflection of the eclipse as seen inside the camera lens. Maybe it's a trick of the mirrorless camera I use. Maybe it's bouncing off the sun filter. Maybe it's Maybelline. All I know is that it's upside down from what we were supposed to be seeing here in Duckford. And blue. I have no idea what that's all about. So there you have it... the best picture of the Great American Eclipse I was able to take.
August 20, 2017
Just Where Have You Been, Wonderduck? It was a long week, so I've been relaxing. Next week, miracle of miracles, we're only on five hours of mandatory OT. Which is like a gift from the gods as far as I'm concerned... five hours is practically nothing!
"You weren't planning on using the pocket watch as a metaphor for time, were you? Yeah, I didn't think so."
I've also been working on a huge project for The Pond, the culmination of which will come tomorrow, weather permitting. Yep, that's right, I'm going to try some eclipse photography on Monday! Even have the blessing of my employers, who have encouraged everybody to go outside and experience the "once in a lifetime" event (which will happen again in seven years)... with proper precautions, of course. I've acquired the filters needed, permission to bring my camera onto the production floor (have to leave it in a supervisor's office until I need it), and hopefully I'll get something good out of it. Sadly, the forecast is for overcast, clouds, and thunderstorms tomorrow, so all my preparations may be for naught. But, weather permitting, I'll be out there.
It's... unlikely that any Akus will be created. I hope.
On the "more" page, I've put some music that I've misplaced a couple of times before... this time, they won't get away again! Enjoy, or not. Whichever. I'm not picky.
August 17, 2017
GrrrrrrrrRARRRRRGH First I slept like... um... something that sleeps really badly... last night. Then I got to work, looked at the claims rotation, and realized I was staring at nine hours or more of the worst type of claim possible. Not only has the client gone out of their way to make them more difficult, and thus slower, but they've also instituted new automation software that's supposed to take the easy claims out of the queue and do them automagically. This has been tried before. It didn't work then, and it's not working now. Which means we have to fix the problems they caused. AGAIN.
Then the lady who sits immediately to my left debuted a new perfume today. By the bucketful. And she was using her scented hand lotion nigh on constantly... like, every 20 minutes or so. Neither smell alone was overly offensive, though it's kinda rude to inflict that upon others in close proximity. Combined, however... combined, it was like an olfactory sledgehammer right between the eyes. Worse, the smell lingered. A blanket nastygram from the boss (at my request-slash-plea) got her to at least cut out the lotion, but the damage had already been done. It wasn't a migraine, but dear merciful heavens it does hurt a lot.
Then, as if all that wasn't enough, during the last two hours of the day, I was stuck there with three other people doing their overtime. They were spread out across the room, and decided that they just had to talk to each other. Without leaving their desks. By yelling. Loudly enough that it got through the music playing loudly in my headphones. Loudly.
With a bad headache. Friggin' shoot me. Tomorrow will be more of the same, only Friday. I'm so looking forward to it.
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