April 29, 2010

Pacific War Pics

I had to work late tonight, but when I got home there was a present of sorts in my e-mail box.  The latest edition of the Battle Of Midway Roundtable had come out, and contained therein was a link to a Denver Post blog.  "So what," I hear you asking.  Well, that particular blogpost has 110 pictures from the Pacific War, starting at Pearl Harbor and finishing at Tokyo Bay.  And they aren't all the usual pics, either.  For example, I give you this:

That's the wreckage of a Japanese B5N ("Kate") being fished out of Pearl Harbor shortly after Dec 7th.  Or this:

That's flak over Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, sometime in March of 1945.  Lots more where these came from, so go take a look.  It's unsafe for dial-up users, though, as all 110 pics are inline to the post, not thumbnailed or linked.

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April 29th, 1983: The Greatest Press Conference Ever

On April 29th, 1983, the Chicago Cubs lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Afterwards, during post-game press conference Manager Lee Elia, frustrated by the fans booing the team's 5-13 record, unleashed what became the greatest tirade in baseball history.


Best line:  Eighty-five percent of the bleepin' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Amazingly, he wasn't immediately fired... that happened in August.  But he went down in history nevertheless.

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April 28, 2010

Zoom Player Help?

Chiyo-chan's fully recovered from her bout with the sniffles, but I need some help.  Zoom Player is my primary media program, I'm quite fond of it, but after reinstalling it everything starts up at 640 x (whatever) resolution.

How in the world do I make Zoom Player start playing a video at its native resolution???  I know there's a way to do it, I just can't find the right combination of thingies to make it happen and it's driving me crazy!

Okay, crazier.

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April 27, 2010

Viruses Suck

So I came home from work, booted up my computer, and went into the bathroom.  When I came back, my antivirus programs were screaming bloody murder.  Oh, merde.  Immediately, I tried to start Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware program... and got an error message.  Trend Micro?  Error message.  Anything?  Error message.  Rollback?  Error message.  Crepe.

Then other, random, error messages began to pop up.  As in, my video card no longer had drivers, for example.  Time to break out the reinstall disc and the Flash Drive Of Doom!

Four hours later, Chiyo-chan is fresh and new again. 

Viruses suck.

UPDATE:  Yes, I know what caused it, and yes, I'm an idiot.

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April 24, 2010

Hercule


Where Rumpole was basically my cat, his counterpart Hercule was Ph.Duck's kitty.  Together, the two of them were a more furry version of Laurel and Hardy.  Where Rumpole was a big, dumb, lovable galoot, Hercule was the epitome of what one thinks of when you think of a cat... aloof, independent, reserved, dignified, dexterous yet capable of extreme moments of silliness.  All of it in a small fur-covered frame.  I always called Hercule a medium-hair; his fur was too long to be a shorthair, but too short to be a longhair.  Still, it always seemed like he was mostly fur... the biggest he ever got was 12 pounds, where Rumpole nearly reached twice that size (muscle for the most part). 

When Rumpole died two years ago, Hercule lost a bit of his zip... which was understandable, as they'd been together for 15 years or so, ever since Hercule was one.  Shortly after Momzerduck passed away last September Hercule, then nearly 18 years old, got very ill.  His kidneys weren't working well, and amongst other things, Ph.Duck had to "top off his tank" every day with an IV bag so Hercule would be hydrated.  He was down to 6 pounds, moving kinda slow as you'd expect an 18-year-old cat to do, but still (mostly) happy.  Just a couple of weeks ago he was (slowly) chasing after a laser pointer and nomming catnip.

Earlier this week, Hercule jumped off Ph.Duck's bed and... well, we're not sure exactly.  What we do know is that for a couple of days, his right front paw was, for all intents and purposes, dead.  Maybe he sprained it, maybe he threw a small blood clot, maybe it was a pinched nerve.  It came back, though, and we sighed a sigh of relief.  This afternoon, as Ph.Duck and I were watching the GP of China, Hercule started yowling.  When Ph.Duck went to check on him, he found Hercule on the screened-in porch, dragging himself using his front legs.  His hind legs and tail were no longer working... much like the front paw earlier. 

We bundled him up and took him to Dr Kathleen, the vet that's cared for all of the family's pets for 30 years or so.  The Doc performed a quick but in-depth examination, and made it clear that it might clear up... or it (more likely) might not.  Either way, it was agonizingly clear that Hercule was no longer the happy cat he had been and was no longer enjoying his time here.  And so we put him to sleep, and hopefully he's bossing Rumpole around for the amusement of Momzerduck.

It's been a bad two years.

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April 23, 2010

42?

Today is the Day of Independence for the Conch RepublicSoyuz 1's ill-fated flight was launched today in 1967.  The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy was established on this date in 1949.  In 1989, Baywatch premiered on April 23rd.  NHL Hall of Fame member Tony Esposito was born in 1943, and Howard Cosell died on this date in 1995.

And in 1968, in a hospital somewhere near Wrigley Field in Chicago, a Wonderduck was hatched upon an unsuspecting world.  Nothing would ever be the same again.


Birthday candle!
I'm amazed that I'm 42.

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April 15, 2010

USS Wasp: The Worst US Carrier In The Pacific

When you think of aircraft carriers from WWII, which do you think of?  The stately Lexington class?  Maybe you flash to the carriers that held the line in the Pacific, the Yorktowns?  Perhaps you think of the Essex class, some of whom stayed in service into the '70s and one of which lasted until 1991?  Or maybe your thoughts tend towards the Japanese Kaga and Akagi?  One can't forget the first aircraft carrier lost to air attack, the British Hermes, and their Illustrious class is an interesting type of ship indeed.

In fact, most people would think of many, many ships before their thoughts headed to the seventh carrier commissioned into the US Navy, the Wasp

And to be brutally honest about it, there's good reason for this lack of recognition.  To say that her career was lackluster would be on the charitable side of accurate.

The USS Wasp was designed and laid down while the US Navy was still under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty, which placed limits on the maximum tonnage of new naval builds.  The maximum allowable tonnage for the US's aircraft carriers was 135000, with no single carrier able to exceed 27000 tons at full load (an exception was made for two ships converted per nation; for the US, these were the USS Lexington and Saratoga.  Their weights were still counted against the total, however).  As the two Lexingtons ate half the limits on their own, and the Yorktown and Enterprise, both in the process of being built, were showing signs of being overweight, the Wasp's designers were under incredible pressure to cut weight whenever possible.  It quickly became obvious that she was shaping up to have many of the same traits as the USS Ranger (CV-4) which, like the Wasp, was constructed to get the most use out of the treaty limits.  In short, she was going to have to be small.

There is nothing inherently wrong about the concept of a small carrier; the later Independence-class CVL proves that quite well.  The problem arises when the carrier being designed is a full-fledged fleet carrier, but it has to be shoehorned into a size completely unsuitable for the task, which is what happened to the Wasp.  The Yorktowns came in at about 26000 tons at full-load; the Wasp wound up being nearly 7000 tons lighter, but was still expected to carry almost the same size air group (76 planes for the Wasp, 90 for the Yorktowns). 

To do all this on a smaller hull, compromises had to be made.  She wound up about 85 feet shorter (741 feet vs 824 than the Yorktowns) in overall length.  Of course, this made both the flight deck and hangar smaller as a result.  This made life cramped for the air group, even though it was reduced to begin with. 

In an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion caused by the reduced topside real estate and to counterbalance the weight of the full-size island starboard, the flight deck and hull was bulged to port.  While this improved traffic flow on the flight deck, it did have some consequences.  This bulge gave the Wasp the same beam as the larger Yorktown class.  However, in a weight-saving measure, her machinery spaces were smaller, producing 75000 shaft horsepower (shp).  Comparing this number to the Yorktowns' 120000shp and the substantially smaller Independence class' 100000shp is educational to say the least.  As a result of this unfortunate combination of decreased power and wide hull, the Wasp could only make 29.5 knots at full steam, considered too slow for operations with the main fleet.  Another problem with this speed, combined with the truncated flight deck, is that there was very little room for error for a fully-loaded torpedo plane (at the time, the hideously underpowered TBD Devastator) during takeoff.  This was recognized early in the design process, however, and as a result the Wasp was not built with the specialized facilities required for torpedo planes.  Of course, this was considered acceptable in the name of weight savings.

In another attempt to save weight, she was constructed with only two elevators, fore and aft.  The midships elevator was replaced by an innovative design that after the war became commonplace: a deck-edge elevator.

Unlike those on modern carriers, though, this one was a skeletal framework that had a socket for the tailwheel to sit in, positions for the main gear, and moved the plane in a semicircle up to the flight deck.  This was the first ever deck-edge elevator, and is probably the one shining part of the Wasp's overall design.  Still, all the weight saving was successful in that she slotted nicely into the Washington Treaty tonnage limits.

Like the similarly undersized Ranger, it was thought that the Wasp was unsuitable for operations in the Pacific.  At the onset of war, she served primarily as an airplane ferry, taking two loads of Spitfires to Malta for the British.  A month after the second of these runs, the Battle of Midway left the US Navy with only three operational carriers in the Pacific, with one of them (the Saratoga) still suffering the scars from a submarine-launched torpedo.  It was decided that the Wasp would be transferred as it was marginally more capable than the Ranger.  Carrying TBF Avengers (a torpedo plane, which she wasn't truly able to handle), Dauntlesses and Wildcats, she was part of the covering force at Guadalcanal that was withdrawn by Admiral Ghormley, which put the entire operation at risk.  The next month or so was spent patrolling and providing cover for convoys heading to 'Canal, until she was sent south, missing out on the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.  That battle cost the Navy the use of the Enterprise as she was badly mauled.  Shortly thereafter, the Saratoga proved to be a torpedo magnet of the first rank.  As she was sent to the West Coast for repairs, that left only the USS Hornet and the Wasp covering the entire Pacific.

In mid-September, however, she was engaged in flight operations when the Japanese submarine I-19 performed the greatest feat of marksmanship by a submarine ever.  The I-19 fired a full spread of six torpedoes at the Wasp, three of which hit.  Two others passed ahead of the carrier, one of which struck the destroyer O'Brien as she maneuvered to avoid the other.  The O'Brien sank shortly thereafter.  The sixth torpedo apparently passed underneath the stern of the Wasp, narrowly missed the USS Landsdowne, then proceeded on for another seven minutes before striking the USS North Carolina, a wound that required a month in Pearl Harbor to fix.

One of the worst decisions the Wasp's designers had made in their quest to save weight was the deletion of just about any armor plating.  While this would have been normal for most Japanese carriers and was considered the price of speed for them, the lack of armor for the Wasp extended to her having absolutely no torpedo protection whatsoever.  Further, her two engine rooms were grouped close together instead of being separated (to be fair, this was a failing common to US carriers at the time).  Another strike against her was that, when the torpedoes struck, she was engaged in flight operations.  Her avgas system was in full use, in other words, with predictable results when she was hit.

45 minutes after the torpedoes hit, the fires onboard had consumed most of the forward part of the hangar deck and were raging out of control.  Abandon ship was called, and the Landsdowne was detailed to scuttle her.  At approximately 9pm on September 15th, 1942, she finally sank in a pool of blazing gasoline.

A victim of terrible design choices, she never really got a chance to prove herself in battle (the Guadalcanal landings notwithstanding) and has thus faded into obscurity.  A shame, as she could have been an outstanding "medium carrier" if designed just a couple of years later, when such things were recognized as being feasible.  That's all hindsight, however.  In use as she was actually designed, she was unfortunately the worst US aircraft carrier in the Pacific... and the unluckiest.  To be fair, no carrier on the planet at that time would have survived taking three torpedoes at once.

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April 14, 2010

Even Robots Like Ducks!

In Episode 02 of the BBC2 series James May's Big Ideas, the presenter deals with such things as powered suits, artificial eyes, AIs, and robots.  One such robot that he meets is able to recognize items just from seeing shapes.  It's actually quite impressive; at one point it sees a chair, then is presented with a computer stool.  It can tell that both items fall into the category of "chair", despite not looking anything alike.  It can also tell that a table isn't a chair, despite having many of the same characteristics (flat surface, four legs, etc etc etc).  Of course, we do that without giving it a second thought, but for a robot/computer to figure it out?  That's quite the feat.

So Mr May decides to show it some items, and what's one of 'em?

A really nice duckie!  And what does the Asimo see?

Yep, it knows just what's important in life... though it calls it a "toy duck" instead of the more correct "rubber duckie."  It also completely ignores James May.  Clarkson and Hammond would be proud.

(and for the record, that's a "Racer" Bud Duck... Bud is a fine maker of luxury duckies, and not easy to find in stores.  I've only got three, and they were gifts.)

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April 11, 2010

Lack Of Spark


I seem to have misplaced my motivation to do much of anything right now.

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April 08, 2010

Thoughts and Webrangling

I'm working on a couple of posts, each about a particular aircraft carrier, at the moment, but neither are ready for prime-time quite yet.  So, while you wait, here's this post instead!

Just received an order from Robert's this afternoon that I'm very excited about.  First up is HidaSketch x 365, the second series in the franchise.  The other thing I got is ARIA the Origination.  That's the third and final series of the ARIA saga, and it has what I consider the single finest episode of anime I've ever seen in it, ep09.   The interesting thing about that particular episode is that it really only works if you've watched all the others in the franchise; if you just drop in the DVD and watch it standalone, it doesn't have anywhere near the impact.  I suppose some might say that because of that, it can't be the best episode ever, to which I'd say "pbpbpbpbpbpbpbpbbpbpbthhhhhhhhh."  So there.

Nozomi/Right Stuf really did a nice job on their releases for ARIA.  No skimping here.  Four boxes, four or five DVDs per box, a "guidebook" in each as well with episode notes, sketches and the like.  Then there's the best idea I've seen in a while: the extras DVD.  Instead of spreading things like interviews, trailers, music videos, etc, across all the other DVDs in the box, thereby using space that could better be used for other things, Nozomi put them all on their own disc.  Great idea!

In other news, we've gotten our first applicant for the Formula 1 gridslot relinquished by the failed USF1.  Durango Automotive, until recently a GP2 team, made their desire known today.  Unfortunately, the reason they withdrew from GP2 was... financial problems.  Just what we need, huh?  They're confident, however, that if they get the slot, they'll find backers... sound familiar?  Best of luck to you, guys, you'll need it.

Speaking of USF1, it's official: the team is totally dead.  They fired all their employees, whom had been on unpaid leave for many weeks, via e-mail a few days ago.

Andy over at Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Catgirls, might be the luckiest person on the face of the earth.  He went on vacation back in March, with his first stop being Australia.  His itinerary put him in Melbourne for a few days around March 24th... in other words, during the Grand Prix weekend.  Which he didn't realize; he's not a F1 fan.  After Melbourne, his next holiday stop was... Kuala Lumpur.  During the Grand Prix weekend.  Which he didn't realize; he's not a F1 fan.  On the plane flight over, there were a bunch of people wearing identical shirts... the Renault team.  Then once he's in KL, he gets caught in one of those ever-present (but not during the race!) afternoon/evening thunderstorms.  Like any intelligent person, he ducks into a shopping mall to avoid the deluge... just in time to be present for Team Lotus' unveiling of their car for the home fans.  Oh, and don't forget about the static collection of early '90s F1 cars, too.  Then there's the Duck Store, too...  AND HE'S NOT A F1 FAN!  *whimper*

Finally, the first episode of the second series of K-On!! has hit the torrents, and it's just like the first series only moreso.  Hate the OP, though... sounds like someone hit the helium bottles before they started singing.  Enjoyable episode, not anything deep and memorable... just like K-On! probably should be.

Out-of-context, this screencap looks really, really wrong.
Okay, break's over.  Everybody back on your heads.

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April 03, 2010

Fantasy Baseball and F1 Scheduling


So my Fantasy League Baseball auction is over and done with, and there's no question in my mind that my team, the Generics, completely bites the rosin bag.  That's encouraging, actually, because over the 20+ years I've been in this league, my best teams are the ones that I think suck coming out of the auction.  Maybe it was my partner's help.  Other than constantly telling me to bid on Brandon Duckworth, even though he's not in the major leagues, he did good work today.

Tomorrow is Easter, and I'm having lunch with Ph.Duck and his aunt at noon-ish.  Normally I'd watch the grand prix before lunch, but there might be a problem with that.  See, the satellite feed provided by the apartment complex is full of static and snow SPEED's channel... but none of the other channels.  Great, just great.  I might be forced to d/l the race and watch it that way.  If that happens, that  means the F1 Update! won't be up until the evening.  Of course, if things work themselves out, then I'll be able to watch the videotape and all will be right with the world.

We'll see what happens.

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April 02, 2010

Where's the "Blush" Button

I would be remiss if I didn't give a big ol' Thank You! to Karel and his humorously witty webcomic Quacked Panes for its April 1st shoutout to... um...

...well, me.

Karel's comic is nearing its 100th installment, by the way.  THAT one should be epic indeed!  Go check him out, won't you?

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Under Destruction

Nothing to see here, move along.  These aren't the droids you're looking for.  Let the Wookie win.

UPDATE: Hah!  That fixed it!

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