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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August 15, 2017

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

Gesundheit.


As you may remember, in Act I of this tale Our Hero gained the first member of what would eventually become known as The Flock.  One would think that would be the beginning of a beautiful tale.  One would be incorrect.

Act II: The Duck Dark Ages
Things were not good.  Our Hero, yours truly, was in truly dire straits.  Two reasons for this.  The first was simple: he had been kicked out of grad school and his dream of being a professional lighting designer had just shattered.  The second reason was more existential: he had just failed at something important for the first time in his life.  Along the way, he'd managed to screw up just about everything you could think of, and a few more besides.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that Our Hero was mostly a seething ball of hate.  He had moved back to the Old Home Pond, with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck, and we should all feel a moment's pity for them at this time.  Our Hero was only barely human at this point, bitter and resentful of the world at large.  It's fortunate that he mostly stayed in his bedroom for the first few months, exiting only to go shopping for more cigarettes and alcohol.

And Scooter the Wonderduck was in a box in the closet, along with other things that didn't really fit in the bedroom.  Plus, unhappy bundles of evil didn't do rubber ducks.  They just don't.  Eventually, Our Hero got a job in the music department of BigBlueBoxRetailer, and got his radio gig back to boot.  After a year or so, he'd leave BBBR for the greener pastures of an independent comic book store that he'd been shopping at since he was young.  Another year passed and he'd quit that to become a telemarketer, then came a stint with RadioShanty.  It was around this time that Our Hero met The Librarian, which coincidentally led to a job with a mall-based bookstore chain that rhymed with Maldenrooks as a store manager.  This was 1999, and the future had begun to look somewhat exciting to Our Hero, but Scooter stayed in the box in the closet, forgotten.  In 2001, Our Hero moved out of the Old Home Pond to Pond Central.  One day that first week as unpacking occurred, Scooter saw the light of day again.  He immediately got a spot on the computer desk, alone but important.

Then things went right to hell again.  9/11 happened, the Maldenrooks home office announced that Our Hero's store was to be closed at the end of the year, and that all of the employees would be offered positions at the Boredoors on the other end of town.  As it turned out, all the employees but the manager.  During the worst economic downturn in 20 years.  For the next 18 months, Our Hero looked for work... and failed miserably.  While he didn't become a hermit, his life was spent applying for jobs and not getting one.

Then, one day, while he was out shopping for foodstuffs, he noticed something.  There, in the toy section of the children's aisle (right across from the shampoo and q-tips), was a rubber duckie... cute one, too.  A moment later, the duckie had been added to the shopping cart... Scooter the Wonderduck probably was lonely after all.  And thus did Scooter II: The Wrath of Khan become the second member of what would become known as The Flock.

There was no way for anybody to realize just how important that chance encounter was, nor what it would eventually lead to.

Next time: A New Hope and more.

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August 08, 2017

Speech-like Substance

Back in the days of enforced vacation, it was common for me to not leave my apartment for days at a time.  Indeed, at one point it reached 10 days, but that was because it was very very cold, and ducks hate cold.


However!  During those times, even in the worst of the periodic depressions I would go through, I would still talk.  Maybe an Amazon delivery would be delivered by the postal worker, or I'd get a phone call from Ph.Duck, or maybe, just maybe, a phone interview for a job.  In any case, words were a definite thing I'd do.

Which makes it entirely strange that I've literally not spoken a word since approximately 630pm Monday evening.  I went to work at my normal time, left ten hours later, and not one word was said.  Not because I was being unfriendly or anything like that... there just wasn't any reason to say anything.  Nobody directed conversation my direction, nor vice-versa, my next-door neighbor is sick so she hasn't been in this week, my boss who's always up for Cubs talk is on vacation a business trip, and during my lunch I went into the breakroom and promptly fell asleep for the whole thing.  

People used to find it amusing, but nowadays nary an eye is blinked.  But anyway, as I write this it's going on 30 hours without speaking, and the earliest I'll be in to work tomorrow will be 9am... well.  I dunno about you, but when I go a while without vocalizing, my voice comes out like a bag of gravel being dumped down an HVAC vent.  Should be interesting tomorrow.

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August 06, 2017

On The 'L'

So a few nights ago I get a steam message from friend Ben from the mysteriously named Midnite Tease, who really needs to blog some more.  "I'm working on a modeling project," the aforementioned Ben says, "do you know anything interesting about Chicago's El?"  After sending him a few links that I knew of, I did a little bit of digging myself... just for the 'L' of it.


Yes, I'm sorry.  And yes, 'L' is the correct abbreviation, including the little quote marks.  Leastwise, that's how the CTA does it, and if anybody knows, it's them.  Anyway, since "anything interesting" covers a lot of ground, here's some cool pictures I've found along the way.

Diamonds Are Forever

Down in the Loop, Tower 18 is the control point for the confluence of five different routes, or "lines" as they're called in Chicago: the North-South running Brown and Purple lines, the East-West Pink and Green, and the Orange line, which runs to Midway Airport.  Railroad diamonds scare me... they seem like magic.  Solid tracks crossing each other without the trains derailing?  I don't see it.

We Can Build It!

1908, and what would eventually be called the 'L' has been in use in one form or another for nearly 20 years.  Mostly it was ground-level rail then, and it pretty much didn't go downtown at all due to obtuse trackage rights problems, but once those got figured out (i.e., enough bribes were passed around) some bright spark had the idea to not clog the streets.  So they called out the heavy machinery, which I really hope was called "The Spider", because c'mon look at it, and began building.  Chicago can really build things, y'know that?

Unscheduled Stop

February 4th, 1977.  Due to a routing problem and an engineer smoking weed on the job, one 'L' train bumped into the back of another at low speed.  The engineer, sitting at the other end of the train, continued to apply power until, inevitably, some of the cars jackknifed and derailed.  One of the special problems you get with elevated tracks is that when you get a derailment, it's generally a Very Bad Thing.  Two cars ended up on the ground, a third stopped only by a support, and a fourth (in the upper left-hand corner) dangling from the station at Randolph and Washington.  Two died, something like 177 were injured.  I vaguely remember this happening, as Momzerduck and I had only just moved from the Chicago area to Duckford.  It scared me as a young waterfowl... "trains that I rode on crashed!  It could have been me!"  I was a simple duck back then.  A different angle of the aftermath can be found here.

Art Or Something Like It

Sometimes utilitarian objects can be beautiful with the right lighting.  Adams and Wabash Station, butting right up against buildings on either side, looking north to one of Chicago's ubiquitous skyscrapers.  I'm sure it's ugly most of the time, but the photographer got it right here.

That's it.  Nothing special, just some cool photos.  Carry on.

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August 03, 2017

Announcing: Operation RTPTIFG!

I miss The Pond.  I miss the way it was around here.  A vibrant group of readers that I collectively called "The Pond Scum."  Mildly clever writing about occasionally interesting subjects.  A laugh or two along the way.  Times were good, things were fun, and I had a blast.


...and then a series of things happened to derail the happytrain.  I got promoted at the Bookstore, which took up more of my time.  Then I got fired from the Bookstore which, while it gave me back all that time (and more!), sent me into a slide that ended up in a deep depression.  Then I was hired by a job where I spend all my time in front of a computer.  Then SDB passed away, something that hit me harder than I expected or realized.  The good times were gone.

Well, no more.

Today, I'm putting into motion Operation RTPTIFG (Restore The Pond To Its Former Glory).  Beginning this weekend, I am going to create time to write here at The Pond.  The plan is at least five days a week, there will be a new post.  Now, it may very well be a short thing, a Random Anime Picture or something of that sort, but there will be something.  I may not be able to regain all that has been lost... blogs in general appear to have faded, eatenby the twittermonster... but I'm sure as hell gonna try.

Together we can make The Pond great again!

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July 31, 2017

Not The Best Start To The Day...

So my morning began the way it usually does, with me desperately attempting to claw a few minutes of sleep more out of my alarm.  Failing that, I began the day properly, with the usual shower, shave, you know the drill.  I was dragging, however: Mondays, y'know?  Eventually I did leave for work, though I was running a little later than normal.


As I walked down the stairs to the parking lot, I noticed that a black SUV was parked perpendicular to the DuckMobile and directly behind it... nope, no driver visible.  Swell.  A few more steps down, and I realized there were two more parked in the lot... and all three were marked "County Sheriff".  There were also two sheriff cars, and a white van labeled, and I kid you not, Crime Scene Investigations.
I had to find an officer and ask politely to move their ominous black SUV so I could go to work.  He asked if I had heard anything strange last night, and I explained that I have five different fans running in Pond Central... I can barely hear myself think, let alone the outside world (...and that's how I like it!).

Off to work I went, walked in, sat down at my desk, started up all the various programs and pdfs and text files I use every day, opened my e-mail to see what the assignment was...

...nothing but the worst type of claim possible.  All day.  All stinkin' day.

I've had better mornings.

Edit: Before anybody asks, I didn't find out what was going on.  It wasn't in Pond Central's part of the building, so I wasn't overly concerned.  Also, once I returned home I didn't bump into any of my neighbors, one of whom I'm sure would have known.  It is a puzzlement.

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July 24, 2017

Wonderduck - Similar To An Octopus

Remember back when I was employment-bereft (...and would you look at that?  It's been three years since I announced my status to The Pond!  Time flies...) I would sometimes spend entire weeks without leaving Pond Central?  Hermitdom suited me in many ways, mostly the "lazy bum" way.  Shortly before I was plucked from the ranks of the jobless, I found a cartoon that described my state of mind perfectly:


I mention this because some vestige of those days still remains within me.  That is, when I return to Pond Central after work on Fridays, it's quite common for me to not leave again until I have to go back to work on Monday.  Sometimes I don't even open the door to the outside world for the entire weekend.

As I briefly mentioned in my last so-called "post", I had myself a little three-day weekend, but something interesting occurred today.  I went out.  I went out!  In public and everything!  I went out to lunch with the folks, then came right back to Pond Central, elapsed time less than two hours, but I was outside.
Yes, very much like that, including all the controllers and the band... and I'd like to thank Pond Scum member Mauser for mentioning Public Service Broadcasting over at Brickmuppet's place.  Instant fan here.

When your life appears to not have much in the way of big triumphs, you take the little ones with enthusiasm, y'know?

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July 23, 2017

Long Weekend

I have Monday off, taking a PTO day.  I've gotta admit, this has been a lazy weekend, even for me.  I've done a little bit more than nothing, but not by much.  And y'know what?


I don't care.  I'll have to be back at work soon enough, but until then t'hell with it.  I deserve this extra day off.

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July 21, 2017

Impact Warning!

Wednesday morning, I make it into work at my usual time, do my usual things for the first hour, just settlin' in to the routine while easing my way into the day's claim rotation.  Nothing particularly special or remarkable.  A day like any other day, only moreso.  Ah, if only, if only.  Continuing with my regular routine, after about an hour I went off to the loo, then went to the break room to grab a bottle of iced tea out of the vending machine.  Heading back to the production floor, I noticed HR setting up the portable loudspeaker system the business has for the every-two-month all-staff meeting... there's so many of us that people at one end of the office can't hear the goings-on at the other end.  However, and this is what puzzled me, there was no such meeting scheduled for that day!  Upon returning to my desk and signing back into my computer, all became clear: Name That Tune.  I sighed.


See, here's the thing.  Name That Tune is a fun game, and under most circumstances I'm a natural at it... all those years working as a radio DJ, or being the go-to guy at BigBlueBox's music department, or hell, just being a teenager, that's all gotta pay off some way, right?  But the pity of it all is that the songs involved are selected by my boss.  My boss, who loves Barry Manilow and Modern Country music.  The last time we played, it... wasn't pretty.  One of the gamers and I wound up kvetching about the selection later and we came up with out own list, which would have at least separated the music snobs from the children if nothing else.  But I digress.  Not only am I not interested in the game as it stood, it also did a fine job of distracting me from my work.

But something had changed.  The first song was... good.  I mean, really good.  If you knew the tune, you had to get to the HR person and tell her title and artist before anybody else.  Then the song would be stopped, and the next one would come up.  Rinse, repeat.  It became obvious that they had gotten some help with the song list... to the point where I was actually paying attention.  And then it happened.  A song came on that I knew... and after about 30 seconds, I realized nobody else did!  
It's not my favorite Dire Straits song.  It wouldn't even be on the short list.  This was from when the band became a cartoon version of itself, all peppy and cheery and money for nuthin'.  On the other hand, I preferred the Dire Straits that made "Sultans of Swing", but hey, I wasn't going to turn a jumbo Reese's Peanut Butter bar down!  I got to my feet and, leaving my cane behind, I began to walk quickly to the HR person.

I made it four steps.

I actually don't know what happened exactly.  One moment I was upright, the next I had killed all forms of life within a few tens of miles I was getting a closeup look at the office carpeting (light gray, industrial, not at all soft).  I can only assume that one of my shoes, the right one like as not, had been grabbed by an invisible gopher.  I stayed down, taking inventory of my body, when I finally realized that I had just completely wiped out in front of the entire office... and just as the shame and embarrassment began to hit, the HR lady asked "do you know the song?"

I'm sure it's just cosmic coincidence that the song was "WALK of Life".  

Of course my knees hurt.  My right elbow throbbed, as did my left arm in the shoulder area.  By the time the workday ended, I wasn't concerned about my knees: they hurt, but it wasn't an internal pain.  They were just going to bruise (and now, two days on, they probably won't even do that).  My elbow still worked, so I wasn't much concerned about that either.  My left shoulder, though... the next morning, I woke up and it still hurt.  Heck, it still hurts now, though it's much better.  I still can't lift my arm over my head, and trying to push or pull something with it is a cold-rolled b*tch, but it's better than it was.  

But I got a Reese's Bar.  Totally worth it.

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July 16, 2017

If You're Happy And You Know It...


... for what it's worth, I'm sorry.

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June 30, 2017

Remember Last Week...

...when I said there was a review of a fantastic show coming?  Remember when I said it would drop last Saturday?  Remember when it didn't?  Yeah, me too.  Good times, good times...


This weekend for sure!  

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June 28, 2017

Stormageddon 2017: This Time, It's Personal

It's shortly after 11pm here at Pond Central, and I got home from work about 15 minutes ago.  Yeah, I did a 12 hour day, plus some, but not because I was feeling diligent or anything.  No, it's because leaving would have been stoopid.  But why, I hear you ask.  Well, let's take a look at the weather radar picture for 910pm Pond Central time:


Boy, that's a lot of red and dark red.  Do you see where it says "Cherry Valley"?  That's approximately where my job is located... have you ever seen purple on a weather map before?  I sure haven't, and to be blunt, I hope I never do again.  Because holy crepe on a popsicle stick, that was a completely horrible storm.  At one point, there were three angry red triangles on the radar, each one signifying "tornadic activity"... either an actual twister on the ground, visible strong rotation in the clouds, or spotted via doppler radar.  My guess is that they were all doppler'd, since one of them was heading right down the street my place of employ is situated upon, yet we're still there.

No, what my side of Duckford got was rain and lots of it in a short time, followed by even more immediately after, accompanied by a side of rain, with a rain apertif.  Torrential would be the word I'm looking for.  Low-lying areas were completely flooded... and please note, the main exit from the job's parking lot is "a low-lying area."  I know this because of the squad car parked blocking the way out.  Fortunately, there's a back exit, which isn't low-lying, but then came the drive home.  There are three major ways I can get to Pond Central:

1) secondary/tertiary road "A" to road "B", aka "Pond Central's road".  

2) Arterial road "C" to secondary/tertiary road "D" to road "B".

3) Road "C" to Arterial road "E" to road "B". 

...there is also 2a) "C" to "D" to side road "F" to "E" to "B".

1) is the way I usually take to get home, and I never even considered taking it tonight... no streetlights at all, and it's nothing but up hill/down hill the entire way.   I never take 3)... it's too far out of the way.  So 2) it was then!

Until I got to "B"... and saw the police had blocked it off due to flooding in both directions.  Right, time to double back and try 2a).  I take this way even less than I do 3), just because why bother?  Well, halfway up "F" there was a frickin' river flowing across it.  I saw a semi cross it okay, but it bloody well left a wake and mini-tsunami behind it.  Hell, there was a bow wave any naval vessel would have been proud of.  Did I mention that the Duckmobile is not a semi?

Turn around, double back again to take 3).  This worked, all the way until "E"  intersected "F"... where a river ran through it.  Not a deep one, fortunately, but it gave me pause... and it made me wish he Duckmobile was a DUKWmobile.  So thus ended my epic trek from work to home... a trip that usually takes eight minutes was a 40 minute adventure.

I just saw that we got three inches of rain between 7pm and 8pm.  Good weather for rubber ducks!

Okay, I'm going to bed... gotta go to work in the morning!

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June 22, 2017

When 300 Isn't Enough...

...you do 301.  Simple, right?  Been a little busy at work the past couple of days, first time I've ever had 300-claim days back to back.  'Snice.  But oh my am I getting burned out.  Mandatory overtime is not pleasant except on the paycheck


Also, I've got a review of an utterly charming series that I completely missed when it first aired coming down the pike, hopefully Saturday it'll be up.  How much I liked it came as quite the surprise to me, to be honest.  It'll only take about an hour or two to finish up, but I'm going nuts as it is.  Two hours?  Right now better spent sleeping!  Of course, there'll be the usual F1 stuff this weekend too!  Look forward to it, won't you?

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June 15, 2017

A Long Hot Day

Duckford has been in the midst of a heatwave for the past week or so... highs in the 90s, humid as all get out when it hasn't been raining, either no wind or too much, you know the drill.  Summer in Northern Illinois, it's what's for breakfast.  I've been kinda grumpy as a result of all of this, of course.  I'd rather be cold than hot... at least when you're cold, you can always put on another sweatshirt; when you're hot there's a legal limit to how far you can disrobe.  I'm in the process of finishing up my mandatory overtime for the week... it's 930p, and I only got home about 20 minutes ago... and for the last two hours all I saw were corrected claims and reversals.  One after the other, here's a physician rebilling a claim because the contracts changed and now he can get two more dollars!  Which means working the new claim, then going into the old claim and cancelling that one in a way that we get our money back, then documenting in the new claim AND in another location altogether that you've done that, then pay the new claim.  For two frickin' hours.  There is blood in my eye and murder in my heart.


And tomorrow?  I'm makin' waffles 11 hours!!!  Wheeeeeee!  Pfeh.

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May 26, 2017

(Quiet Moaning)

Two days.  23 hours at work.

I'm too old for this.

Still, some good did come from it... I discovered audiobooks today.  Believe it or not, I've never actually listened to books on tape/cd/whatever before.  With an Amazon Prime account, you get a free trial of Audible: two books.  So I thought, what the heck, why not?  I've always wanted to read Ready Player One, plenty of people have said it's good, so I downloaded it last night and started listening to it this morning at work.  Surprise #1: it's read by Wil Wheaton.  Surprise #2: he does a great job.  Surprise #3: holy crap that's a fun book!!!  I got some seven hours (out of 15) into it, and had to stop myself from starting it back up here at The Pond.  If you've read the book, Our Hero has just arrived at The Distracted Globe for a Very Important Birthday Party.

I never did like Joust, though.

Three days off... in a row!  How ever will I manage to stand it?

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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.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 03:03 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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