May 08, 2017

Definitely Sometime

I keep starting a post on AMVs, get about a paragraph or so into it, then lose interest and go off and do something else.  Like this, right now.  Except at least you're reading this, as opposed to all the other posts I started and deleted.  So, yeah, posting.  Not exactly the most amazing thing ever, I admit, but at least it's something... right?

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May 06, 2017

Man The Tory!

Okay, yes, I miispeld it.  I'm still on 10 hours of overtime slaving over a hot keyboard, but this past Friday just bloody took the biscuit.  After working two 10-hour days on Wednesday and Thursday, I had to pull an 11-hour shift.  Fortunately the claims stayed friendly the entire time, but holy crepe was that unpleasant.  I went into work that morning feeling fresh and clean and energized... and came out feeling worn out, dirty and exhausted.  I came home, ate something, then fell asleep until the next morning.

Two good things happened, though.  First, I broke the 300-claim barrier for the first time.  Sure, it took me 10.5 hours to do it (we get an unpaid half-hour on the clock if we want it... bathroom breaks and the like), but it still happened!  Second, and more importantly, I was given a new monitor.  A 27" inch monitor... I think this one.  As opposed to the teeny-tiny 20" not 1920x1080 monitor I had before.

I pretended to be overcome with emotion with how beautiful it was, got big laffs from the people around me.  It was very easy to pretend, because I very nearly was overcome with emotion.  The bigger screen means more room on the desktop... meaning more room to have things open and easily accessible.  Plus, hey, I'll get a suntan off it in no time flat!

...and then I put in a couple of hours today, to get a headstart on next week's mandatory 10 hours.  I'm going to go take a nap now.

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May 02, 2017

Today At Work, I Cried...

...but in a good way.  Let me explain.

Anybody here ever play the Command & Conquer games?  I played one of them, and that experience, along with the time spent playing the original Warcraft game, convinced me that I really disliked the Real Time Strategy genre.  One thing that C&C was really well known for, though, is the music.  One track in particular, the theme song to C&C: Red Alert, is still famous today:  Hell March.


more...

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April 23, 2017

49.

Today is April 23rd.  Today is Impossible Astronaut Day, so go hug a Whovian.  In 1985 on this day, Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke", prompting Vaucaunson's Duck and myself to search around Duckford for a case of the original flavor.  The first youtube video was uploaded today in 2005.  Both Æthelred the Unready and William Shakespeare died on this date, as did Buster Crabbe, Howard Cosell, and Jaap Havekotte, a famous manufacturer of ice skates for speedskaters.  Meanwhile, John Hannah, Roy Orbison, Herve Villechaize, and Stephen A Douglas were all born on April 23rd.  In Bergen, Norway, there's heavy snowfall, and back in 1917 Buster Keaton made his film debut.  The International Space Station was visible from Newton Falls, OH, for 454 seconds and Hank Aaron hit the first of his 755 home runs today in 1954 against the Cardinals.

And in a hospital just off Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, a Wonderduck was inflicted upon a confused and slightly frightened world.

birthday candle!
I am still surprised.

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April 20, 2017

Still Alive. Again. I Mean, Still. Alive, That Is.

This was a triumph. 

So I tell ya, it's more difficult to do 10 hours of mandatory overtime in a week when on two of those days you have a less-than-swell feeling that forces you to leave "early" instead of getting some of that overtime knocked out.  Sure, it's my fault, no question, damn my weakened-by-age immune system, but it does mean that Thursday and Friday are gonna be long.

Heck, I'm writing this at 330am after I woke up from what was going to be a short nap.  What does that tell you?

I'm going back to bed now.  The alarm's going to ring in a few hours after all.  Pffffffft.

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April 07, 2017

News To Chew On

First, something a little light-hearted for y'all!  Practice 2 was run today at Shanghai, and I'm going to let you watch the whole thing right here at The Pond.  Ready?

Just stare at this picture for 90 minutes, you'll get the same effect.  It rained and rained and rained and then it fogged all day... P1 was shortened, P2 never got rolling at all.  All that weather meant the medical helicopter couldn't fly... no helicopter, no cars on track.  Fun times!  I love rain delay theater... for baseball, a good broadcast crew can make a rain delay interesting and informative.  The Legendary Announce Team is... well, they're okay when it comes to Rain Delay Theater.  There was some talk about moving the race to Saturday, but that was shot down ASAP.  The race may be... interesting, as the weather isn't expected to improve.

Now for the Interesting (as in "may you live in interesting times" interesting) News.  My boss called me into her office today and we had a talk.  Upshot is, I'm still employed.  I managed to do enough to save my job.

Except that I'm still on the hot seat.  If my average numbers drop below the target for a month, I'm fired... and that state of affairs will last for at least a year, or until I'm fired, whichever comes first.

That was not the conversation I thought we'd be having.  I thought there'd be some congratulations at the great job I did getting my numbers up, or a pat on the head, or something more than "don't get excited yet, you're still in trouble."  So I'll admit to a little bit of downheartedness in my spirit at the moment, yeah.  Always good to get a morale boost, hey?

Quals allegedly in the morning.  See ya then. 

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April 02, 2017

Not Dead Yet! Pt 2

It's been a few days since I last updated y'all on the Great Work Adventure.  What it comes down to is this: if they want to fire me, they've got data to back it up.  If they don't want to fire me, I gave them results to point at to justify it.  Now it's just up to them.

I am not exactly filled with warm fuzzies by this.

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March 29, 2017

Not Dead Yet!

I'm locked in a titanic struggle with the claims at my job.  If I win, I stay employed.  If I lose... well... I won't be employed.  I might know the answer on Friday, I dunno.  As a result of my life-or-death fight, I've adopted some... unusual... sleeping habits of late.  To whit, I've been taking a nap around 8 or 9pm, getting up for an hour around midnight or so, then going back to sleep until I need to get ready for work, around 730a.  It seems to be helping, I guess.  Posting may be somewhat light for a few more days (chorus: "it's been light for a long time").

No ReLife for me.

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March 26, 2017

Internet Problems

My internet connection is having a repeat of the problems I had earlier.  W8 just seems to lose the ability to talk to the internet... the modem is connected and fine, but the computer says there's nothing there.  Eventually it recognizes there's a modem, but pretends there's nothing hooked up to it.

Eventually, it figures things out and reconnects, for the same reason it lost the 'net in the first place... in other words, for no good reason I can see.  Today, I had been browsing the web for 10 minutes, no problems at all, and then it just up and... went away.

I mention all this just on the off-chance that it disappears again when I'm supposed to be uploading the F1Update! for Australia.  We'll see, won't we?

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March 22, 2017

Okay, That's It...

I finished the 2017 F1 cars post.  Done!  Completely finished!  Tons of photos, some clever commentary from me, some interesting design philosophies, all set and ready to go!

And then I went to open a new tab in Firefox.


You've undoubtedly seen an image like this millions of times.  I certainly have.  To open a new tab, you simply click "+".  And I pressed "X".  Just a few minutes ago, in fact.  Minutes that have been spent staring at the screen, wondering where everything just went and why I did what I did.  And there was anger.  Oh yes, much anger.  And somewhere off in the distance, a plaintive plea: "Mister, can I have my ball back?"

So, yeah.  F1 cars.  They're neato-keen!


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March 21, 2017

Spoke Too Soon, I Did

I should just give up on predicting when I'll have things posted.  The F1 Cars post is coming, just... not tonight.  Sorry.  It's been a day.  I need to just... not think... for a night.

To make it up to you, here's something I found.  If you like Tonari no Seki-kun, you'll like this.  If you've never seen the show, here's a treat for you!

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March 17, 2017

Adventures In Chemical Consumption

It's been made perfectly clear to me that my current state of employment is liable to change in the not-too-distant future if my output is not increased significantly.  As I have tried everything else I could think of, I made the decision to release the final set of restraints and move into less savory spaces.  So, I purchased a bottle of Pepsi.


Most of you are looking at that sentence and are wondering what the big deal is.  Some very few, however, knows what this means and are terrified.  To clear the matter up: some 11 years ago now I had The Cardiac Incident.  While I came through that more or less okay, my doctor told me to cut three things out of my life immediately: alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.  The booze was the easiest, that went away almost before he was done talking..  The smokes took six years and a botched tooth extraction to go away.  Caffeine took about a year of (accidentally) walking myself down... I quite dark colas altogether, intending to cold-turkey.  I was drinking an orange soda instead, and it turned out it had the stimulant in it as well.  Nowhere near as much, but it was there.  When I switched soda brands after that, I barely noticed the lack of caffeine in my life... except for the whole "feeling dumber" thing, but let's not get into that.  In any case, it's essentially been 10 years since I had caffeine in any way that wasn't "incidental."  There's caffeine in chocolate, for example.  Not much, and for me, not enough to even notice, but that's what I mean by incidental.  But think of that: 10 years clean.

If you're thinking my head would explode, rest assured I started with small sips only.  After an hour, I had only had about 1/3rd of the bottle.  Not long after, I began to notice some things.  One, I was breathing a little faster, and my heart was bipping along faster than normal as well.  My ears felt warm.  But I wasn't tired and I was working at a good clip.  Success!  Until early afternoon came around, and I'd killed off half the bottle.  Now, my stomach hurt, there was a buzzing in my head, and my hands seemed a might unstable.  There was a headache, too, but my hip was feelin' a might achy on top of it all.  Fortunately a friend gave me some Excedrin... Migraine Strength.  Which has caffeine in it.

The headache went away, the hip pain eased somewhat, but my knot in my stomach was such that all the sailors in the world would have given up on it.  Indeed, Alexander would have gazed upon it in approval while reaching for his sword.  Much to my surprise, around 330pm the neighbor to my left, who hasn't been in all week, arrived. She was obviously quite ill, and came in as late as possible to avoid getting people sick... most of our row clears out at 330pm, for example.  Anyway, as she unloaded her cough medicine, and her antibiotics, and her water, and the two fresh lemons, she also pulled out a brand-new bag of pretzel rods.  After downing four of those, things settled down a bit.

So what did I learn from all this?  Well, for starters, I have no idea how I drank that stuff back then... it doesn't taste anything at all like I remember.  While there was, I think, a small boost in production, the physiological reaction goes a long way toward negating that... or, to put it more plainly, "is feeling like crap worth it?"  I submit the answer to be "ugggggggh."

I'm finishing this post at 3am, after taking very long nap... at least I didn't have to worry about being awake all night!

Caffeine: not even once.  Again.  Er...?

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March 12, 2017

...Hold, Please... ...Hold, Please...

I'll be back soon.


UPDATE:  ...Hold Music, Please...

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March 08, 2017

Storytime With Wonderduck

Things here at Pond Central are not exactly what would be called "swell."  You know about the knee of course.  Good news is that it doesn't hurt very much regularly.  Bad news is that it still feels loose in there.  The worse news is that my right hip is still screaming at me.  With the horrible chairs at work, eight hour shifts are misery defined.  But that's okay, because that just reminds me of how awful I've been of late at my job, doing literally half the claims I'm supposed to be doing per day.  Meanwhile, I'm getting paid crumbs per claim as well, due to a massive mistake a few months ago that's only now kicking in.  What I'm trying to say is that The Official Bank Balance of The Pond is hovering just barely above zero, and that only because of an emergency transfusion of fundage from the folks.

However.  The lack of money-like objects had a nasty, nefarious side-effect that was completely unanticipated. In essence, I had to make a decision between the Keep Wonderduck Alive medication or the Keep Wonderduck Happy meds for I could only afford one.  As the term "Keep Wonderduck Alive" is that medication's actual effect, there really was no choice.  So I've been off my anti-depressants for close to three weeks now.  All the old problems have returned: sleeping badly, dozing off randomly, no motivation to do anything... and it's that last one that has driven the lack of posting here at The Pond.  I mean, I haven't done anything F1-related, even though we're a week into testing already!

Of late, I've been coming home, eating something, then going to sleep.  This is not conducive to blogging, and I'm sorry about that.  I'm going to sleep right after I post this, in fact.  Some small amount of good news is in sight however, as I get paid tomorrow.  Sure, it's going to be ridiculously small, but at least my bank account will be above single digits.

Any light is welcome right about now.

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March 02, 2017

Why A Duck: The Story Of An Obsession In Five Acts, Act I.

A few weeks back, reader David won the latest mystery ship contest.  As his prize, he chose to ask "why rubber ducks"?  What he didn't realize is that he has opened the vault to an epic tale... and, of course, since it's about me, it'll be fun for me to write about.  I mean, who doesn't think of themselves as the main character in the world?  I mean, other than self-actualized individuals, that is.  So grab a relaxing beverage of your choice, settle in to a comfortable chair, and enjoy The Story!

ACT I: Rise Of The Ducks
This tale begins, as so many of such things do, with a girl.  I was a theatre student at Duck U, around about 1990, living in the tower dorm.  Considering that I lived there, I spent very little time actually in my dorm room.  Instead, you could usually find me across campus in the theatre building.  At that time, the department had a thriving bunch of wannabe directors so it was a rare weekend that didn't have a student-run show going on.  Since I was the only lighting design student on campus, I tended to be the guy asked to help... I had that blackbox theater wrapped around my finger by the end of the first quarter, and an excellent stock design that, with just a few changes, could handle just about any show we loaded in.  All of that, however, meant that I would spend long hours over there... maybe in the drafting lab, maybe cutting gels, perhaps hanging and focussing lights, or on those really late nights, sleeping on one of the (remarkably comfortable) couches in the green room.  There were, of course, mens and womens dressing rooms off the green room, with showers... I learned to keep a couple changes of clothes down there.  Sometimes it was just way too convenient.  None of which has to do with ducks, or the girl, except in passing.  Or explaining why I came dragging out of the elevator onto the 6th floor of my dorm at 3am one late evening.

Imagine my surprise when I practically stumbled over... um... let's call her Ann, because that's not her name, sitting on the floor underneath the communal telephone, sobbing at what the person on the other end was telling her.  Let's get something straight here: Ann and I were not friends, not in any way that mattered.  We were both theatre people, were in the same (small) department, lived in the same dorm, went to the same parties thrown by the same people, but we weren't friends.  I suppose acquaintances would be the best way to describe us.  Don't get me wrong, we didn't dislike each other or anything like that.  We were friendly, but not friends.  I surely didn't know her well enough to intrude on her call or anything like that... but she was someone known to me, who had done me no ill in the past, and she was theatre person.  So I sat on the couch across from the phone and waited.  Even did a little bit of homework until she hung up the phone.  I gave her a moment, then asked if she wanted to talk about it.  She shook her head, said "family troubles", then gave me a surprised look... one of those "hey, this guy that I don't really know sat here for nearly an hour at ridiculous o'clock in the morning just to see if I was okay" looks of dawning realization.  "Thank you, though."  After telling her that if she wanted to talk, just to let me know, I went to my room and passed out. 

The next few days were spent at the Old Home Pond for reasons that currently escape me, but on the way back I stopped at a grocery store to get some stuff for my "beer fridge".... soda, some nukeable food for when the cafeteria was closed, y'know, that sort of thing... and there, in the children's aisle, was a rubber duck.  It was yellow, it squeaked, probably floated, and was cute.  All the things a rubber duck is for were there in that one particular duck.  Right there, even as I do now, I had the thought that a rubber duck is happiness.  Much like you can't sing a sad song when playing a banjo, it's very difficult to be glum when you have a rubber duck in your hands.  While Ann had not spoken to me of her issues, she was visibly having problems coping with them... so I bought that rubber duck and gave it to her the next day.  I refuse to believe that my giving her that little yellow duck cheered her up so much that she got over her problems overnight, but she did start looking and acting better.  Coincidence.

The semester carried on,  blasting by, show after show, resulting in a frazzled and exhausted me by Thanksgiving.  As I sat in my dorm room the Tuesday before turkeyday, sipping from a pocket bottle of cheap blackberry brandy while listening to Dire Straits' Love Over Gold cassette in the dim illumination from a string of christmastree lights, Ann walked in (I had the "c'mon in!" sign up on my door).  She was leaving for home early, but she wanted me to have... this.  "This" was... a rubber duck.  A different rubber duck than the one I had given her, it must be pointed out.  I thanked her, made sure she was doing okay, and off she went.  I promptly named that duck Scooter, for reasons that have disappeared into the mists of time.  Actually, that's not entirely true.  That duck's name was Scooter, true... but that was not its full name.  No, his full name was Scooter... (pause)... the Wonderduck.  And now you, my loyal readers, know the origin of my name.

This is that original member of The Flock, Scooter the Wonderduck.  He's over 26 years old now, and age has taken a toll upon him.  His skin is less flexible than it was, and he's not as bright yellow as he had been nearly three decades ago.  That black mark on his chest is from when he fell off the dashboard of a U-Haul.  Scooter has seen a lot of stuff go down over the years, but he's still the same Duck of Happiness that he was back there in that corner room of the 6th floor of a Duck U dorm.

Scooter was not, though, the only duck.  There were a few other given to me as gifts while I was a student at Duck U., too... people saw Scooter sitting there on a shelf above my bed, and thought "hey, that's a good cheap gift!"  Those duckies made their way to Minnesota with me, but I have no idea what happened to them.  Only Scooter made it back to Duckford.  I sometimes wonder about those forgotten Ducks of the North... were they happy?  Were they loved?  Or were they neglected and uncared for?  It's thoughts like this that trouble me at night. 

Next time, Act II and more.

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February 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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February 16, 2017

Next Year Was Last Year!


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

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

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

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

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February 13, 2017

Life Amuck (UPDATED)

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

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

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

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

I'll keep y'all updated.

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

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January 28, 2017

Boat. Train. Boattrain!

Sometimes, you see a picture and you've just got to share it.

click for much much bigger
Rail ferries have long been a thing of course, but this is one of the smallest self-powered ones I've ever seen.  At least, I assume that's a funnel just behind the elevated platform, and I'm betting that's a rudder post on the left side.  And how often have you seen a clipper bow on a barge?  I'm not saying this is seaworthy, mind you, just... well.  Fun photo.

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January 17, 2017

Cubswatch 2016: End Of The Celebration

As you know, I've been reveling in the Cubs winning the World Series this past season.  I'll admit that I'm still at the point of breaking out into a grin whenever I head "the Cubs have won the World Series."  However, every good thing must come, eventually, to an end.  On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Cubs paid a visit to the White House.  The resulting event with President Barack Obama was pretty special.

I'm not going to get political, that would go against every reason I created The Pond.  I will say that that was a fun speech from the President, one I didn't think he had in him.

This event seems to be a good time to close the book on the Cubs' amazing 2016 season and to start looking ahead to 2017.  Spring Training is just around the corner... can another World Series run be in the offing?

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