December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011, Welcome 2012!


Yet another year is about to pass into the history books, taking with it 315 posts (including this one) here at The Pond.  What were the highlights of the past 12 months?

In the world of Formula 1, everything got going by... not getting going.  First, Robert Kubica suffered a hideous accident during a rally race, nearly severing his hand.  Multiple surgeries over four or five months allowed him to recover use of his body, but his racing career may be over. Then the Grand Prix of Bahrain was cancelled due to the "Arab Spring" revolutions, and the country's heavy-handed methods of dealing with it.  Pirelli took over as the tire provider for F1.  Just before the season began, Jenson Button took the 2008 McLaren MP4-23 around the Mount Panorama circuit in Australia, providing us with The Greatest F1 Picture Ever.  The season started in a way that we'd soon get used to: Seb Vettel ran away and hid after the first lap, eventually winning by a comfortable 15 second margin.  At the second race weekend  in Malaysia, there was a rash of tire-related problems, included the worst flat-spot ever.  Oh, Vettel won again, too.  China brought us one of the best races of the year.  It started off with Lewis Hamilton's McLaren spewing fuel all over his pit stall and having to go to the grid with its rear covers removed.  Then his teammate, Jenson Button, tried to make a pitstop in Red Bull's box... one of the funniest moments of the year.  It ended with Hamilton passing Vettel for the eventual win towards the end of the race, to boot.  The Turkish Grand Prix saw a record number of pit stops (80, a number that would fall later in the season) and another win by Vettel.  He won in Spain, too.  Qualifying at Monaco brought us a nasty accident, with Sergio Perez slamming into a barrier sideways.  He suffered a bad concussion that kept him out of two races.  The race itself was shaping up to be a nail-biting race to the finish between Vettel, HWMNBN and Button... and then a red flag put paid to all that.  Vettel won.  Canada brought us the Race of the Year, despite half of it being run behind the Safety Car due to torrential rains.  It was also the longest F1 race ever, clocking in at 4 hours and 14 minutes in duration.  Button won after he pressured Vettel into a mistake on the final lap.  SPEED brought us "Seat Swap" two days later, where Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart traded cars for a few laps around Watkins Glen.  Vettel blew the rest of the field away in Valencia, the least interesting race of the season.  Ferrari got a win at Britain as HWMNBN brought his steed in ahead of the Red Bulls.  No worries though, as Vettel made an appearance on Top Gear where he set the fastest lap of all F1 drivers around their track... and came across as a really likeable young man.  Bastard.  Hamilton was victorious in Germany, while his teammate won in Hungary.  It was actually a good race at Budapest, aided by rain for only the second time in the Grand Prix's history.  Button won that one, too.  These three races were the longest stretch during the season where Vettel didn't win.  For some reason, Spa brought with it ennui and angst, and it took me a solid week to actually do a (sorta) F1 Update!Italy brought another Vettel win, as did SingaporeButton won in Japan, but it hardly mattered as Vettel wrapped up the Driver's Championship with a second-place finish.  Much to everybody's shock and surprise, Lewis Hamilton took the pole at Korea, the first (and only) time a Red Bull wasn't at the top of the grid all season.  Vettel still won, his 10th victory of the year.  The race weekend was marred by the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon.  The F1 Circus had their first ever race in India, while the first practice session drew only the second liveblogging attempt here at The Pond.  All of that nearly paled in comparison to the announcement that a second Grand Prix will be held here in the USA starting in 2013.  Abu Dhabi saw Vettel retire for the first time all year, and Hamilton took advantage for his third win.  Finally, Vettel set an all-time F1 record with his 15th pole position in Brazil.  Mark Webber got his first win of the year at the last race, taking advantage of a "mechanical problem" on Vettel's car.  After the season, Mumbles Raikkonnen signed with Renault-to-be-Lotus, adding a sixth World Champion to the grid for 2012.

On the Military History front, there's actually a Military History category now!  Just in time, too, because 2011 was a great year for those of us who dig that type of thing.  It all got rolling when I gave logistics vessels got some love by unofficially declaring the Cimmaron a "Hero Ship."  The Langley got a short history which was something I'd been meaning to do for a few years.  Reading Norman Polmar's "Aircraft Carrier, Vol 1" introduced me to something I'd never heard of, the LSTCV and the Brodie Device.  An offhand comment on another site led to the year's first major article, how an earthquake was the genesis of an aircraft carrier.  The only Pacific Q-Ship got a note, and I took a closer look at the damage the Yorktown suffered at the Coral Sea, and the "miracle" of the Pearl Harbor repair yards afterward.  I was asked what the actual reason for the Japanese attack on Midway was, which led to a reader completely missing the point of this blog.  The second major article, on the whole concept of battlecrusiers, came around at the end of June.  My favorite "Name This Mystery Ship" entry proved to be a tough one, but the pictures rocked.  The third major article fell into my lap and while a lot of the post was historical fiction, Harry's Life was a blast to write... and based on a true story.  Maybe.  Later information cast some doubt on some of the details.  Writing the post on the PBY Catalina was like pulling teeth, but still turned out to be pretty good.  A post on the Flight To Nowhere may have been the crowning glory of the year, both for the MilHist category and for The Pond in general.  The Battle of Midway Roundtable even picked it up, which had me walking on air.  Finally, the first two parts of a three-part series on which WWII fighter was the best came out.  Part I is here, and Part II can be found here.  Part III is still in the planning stages.  Still, that'll be a great way to begin 2012, right?

Then there was Anime.  While I watched a lot of shows, only one series caught my imagination strongly enough to get me to actually write about it.  To say that Rio Rainbow Gate! was an odd choice to do that is something of an understatement; to be blunt, it wasn't a particularly good show.  Indeed, my writeup on Episode 1 was vicious in my distaste.  But then something weird happened: I kept watching.  Next thing I knew, I was doing an episodic recap each week... and both hating and enjoying it!  The writeups are right here: Ep04, Ep05, Ep06, Ep07, Ep08, Ep09, Ep10, Ep11, Ep12 and Ep13.  That should have been the end of it, but the masochistic completest in me insisted I go back and do recaps of the two episodes I "missed' the first time around: Episode 02 and Episode 03.  THAT should have been the end of it, but like a venereal disease, Rio Rainbow Gate! was the gift that kept on giving.  The DVD/BD only Episode 14 came out, and the episodic writeup turned out to be the longest post in the history of The Pond, coming in at 4132 words.

Not a bad year, that.  And that doesn't even include things like the Saturday Night Tunage posts!  With any luck, 2012 will be as good or better... and more importantly, y'all will keep showing up to read them.  Couldn't do it without you folks, and I appreciate your time.

Now let's all go put on silly hats and do goofy things.

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December 28, 2011

Now It Can Be Told

I have a confession to make.  To most of my readers, I am a duck of high good fair okay I haven't killed anybody today acceptable moral standing.  Except for my strange fascination with Rio Rainbow Gate! of course.  I try to avoid swearing, both online and in real life.  I've generally succeeded in not being a jerk.  However, like everybody else, there is a dark secret that I've kept hidden from The Pond's readers.

To whit... I smoke.

I got into the habit in grad school.  It was the end of my first trimester (yes, three terms per school year, plus a summer session.  Weirdest damn thing I've ever heard, but there you are), and I was acing all my classes save for one: Theatre History.  In that particular class, it was going to come down to the final exam.  If I did well, I'd get an B in the class.  If I didn't do well, I'd get... something less than a B, be put on academic probation and perhaps have my scholarship and in-state tuition taken away.  The good news was that the final would be multiple choice and short answer.  The bad news was that it'd be 200 questions, cover the entire class, and you got 90 minutes.  Any questions not answered would be marked wrong.  And so the studying began.  Every night, on top of my already crushing homework load, I would devote large amounts of time to my copy of Brockett's History of the Theatre (though I believe it was the third edition, not the 10th), hoping to memorize the darn thing.  And when I say "crushing," I mean it.  My daily schedule ran something like this: 8am to 11am: classes.  11am to 12noon: office hours.  12noon to 1pm: lunch.  1pm to 5pm: scene shop/graduate assistantship.  5pm to 6pm: dinner.  6pm to Midnight: rehearsals.  Midnight to 3 or 4am: homework.  Obviously weekends were somewhat less stressful, consisting of "wake up: homework.  6pm: performance.  Midnight: party.  I'd get some more studying done on Sunday in between performances.  One night as I tried to shoehorn another chapter from another book into this routine, I took a cigarette from my roommate's pack.  It seemed to calm me down... so I had another.  The next day, I got a pack for myself... and it went from there.  When I came home that Christmas, Momzerduck saw me with a cigarette and wailed "it's all (her) fault!" for she smoked when I was young.  I pointed out that she wasn't even in the vicinity when I started and the blame was mine alone... and I kept smoking.

For the next 20 years.  Even after The Cardiac Incident, I smoked, though that did begin the fight to quit.  I eventually cut back to less than two packs a week, but I could never take that final step and quit completely.  Until now.  I am proud to say that I've gone 20 days without a cigarette, and while I still have the urge to light one up (particularly after dinner), I haven't done so.  Guess some good has come from that darn tooth extraction after all, because that was the impetus.  "Don't smoke or you'll get dry socket," the dentist said.  I got dry socket anyway, and he said "don't smoke or you'll make it worse."  It got worse anyway.  Then I realized it'd been 10 days so I just... didn't smoke.  I'm not going to say that I'm done with it, because I suspect it's a case of "once an addict, always an addict," but so far so good.

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December 26, 2011

Some Post-Xmas Thoughts

Now that the 12 Days of Duckmas is over and done with, I just want to chat about a couple of unimportant things.  Think of it as conversation over hot chocolate and scones... or a good reuben and a Sprite, if you're looking for something more dinner-like.

First up, I'm going to do something that almost never happens: I'm going to praise my broadband company.  I have no idea who they are, as my internet connection is through Pond Central's apartment complex, but a few days ago they sent us a flyer saying that they were going to perform "maintenance on our modems" that would take about an hour.  I can only assume that the maintenance was successful:

See, I used to max out around 170kB/s down, 25kB/s up.  That's fast enough to essentially stream a 300mb anime episode, more or less... a half-hour or so to download 24 minutes.  If there were two or more things downloading, you might as well go take a nap while they trickled down to your hard-drive.  But now?  That 650kB/s is actually a little on the slow side!  800kB/s has been common, or even faster when broken between two d/ls: I saw one file with 490kB/s with a second getting 440kB/s.  Uploads have been sitting around 100kB/s.  I just want to giggle about it, it's so much fun!

Speaking of fun...

I haz a Skyrim!  Blogging might be somewhat light.  Okay, lighter.  I've played a couple of hours so far, and even at "medium" graphics settings, it's gorgeous.  Or more correctly, it is on those rare occasions when there isn't a blizzard going on.  Which is cool in and of itself, as weather was NOT a part of the game's predecessor Oblivion.  I've sank maybe 300 hours of playtime into Oblivion, and I can easily see myself doing the same with Skyrim.  Once I get a little bit of the game under my belt, I'll do something a little more formal for The Pond than this, but initial reactions are "wow" and "holy crepe!"

Okay, that's all.  Back to Skyrim for me... after I eat something.

UPDATE:

This is the most beautiful game I've ever seen.

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December 21, 2011

Dental Obnoxiousness Pt III

As you may remember, a couple of Fridays ago I had a tooth pulled.  As those sorts of things go, it went rather smoothly.  The tooth nigh on ejected itself from my mouth, the dentist barely having to pull on it.  As I mentioned previously, I should have realized that this augured not well.  The first setback was the diagnosis of dry socket and the attendant discovery that my oral surgeon was related to the Marquis de Sade.  After that little incident, the toothless socket seemed to be healing well.

But then on Monday I came home from work and washed my face.  As I was scrubbing away with the sandpaper and metal shavings I use as a exfoliant, something in my mouth... hurt.  Sharp pain, like a thumbtack had just been stuck into my gums.  Of course, I tried it again... same thing, but with a twist!  Suddenly there was a fluid in my mouth that hadn't been there before.  I expectorated, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a gooberful of blood, as if I'd bitten a reindeer.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I was gushing blood, and it's not like the pain was particularly bad (I have worse pain in my knees every morning), it's just that after the dry socket experience, I was getting a touch nervous.  That night, when I yawned there was also pain.  The next morning, washed my face, same thing.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh.  Once I got into the Duck U Bookstore, I called the Marquis de Ntist, explained my plight, and they said they could get me in today. 

Of course, I scurried over.  After explaining what was going on in my mouth (emphasizing in no uncertain terms that the socket was perfectly fine, hadn't hurt since last week and please don't do that to me again I beg you), he took a look into my gob.  The first words he said were "the extraction site is healing well."  Yay for me!  Pulling the tongue depressor out of my mouth, he then asked if he could "feel the place where it hurts."  Well, yes, I suppose so... that's why I was there, to make sure everything is okay. 

And then I realized what I had just agreed to.  Before I could say "wait, I reconsider," he had his hand in my mouth, put one of his fingers right where the pain came from... and pressed down hard.   

I'm beginning to think that he doesn't like me much.

After my eyeballs stopped bouncing around the room, he told me what was going on.  If I understood him correctly (which I wouldn't bet upon; there was a rather loud ringing in my ears at the time), there's a ridge of bone that supports the teeth just above the jaw.  When a tooth is extracted, sometimes this ridge will irritate the gumline in the vicinity of the site.  From the inside.  In effect, pressure on the site from yawning (tightening the skin of the cheek above the site) or from washing my face (pressing down on the site) is pushing the gums against that ridge of bone.  Try placing your arm on a sawblade, then leaning on it.  Yeah, it's just like that.  Nothing can be done about it, eventually there'll be enough scar tissue involved where it won't hurt anymore... or the edge of the ridge will be worn down enough that it won't hurt anymore.

I've had more trouble with this damn toof after it's been pulled than I ever did when it was in my head.

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December 20, 2011

Survival Of The Bloggiest

You may have noticed a distinct lack of anything interesting lately.  Part of that is because, well, I'm sort of tapped out on content-related items.  Yes, I know I've got the Part III of "Which Fighter Is Best?" to do, but that will require effort I'm not entirely ready to devote at the moment... but will soon.

You see, beginning at 130pm Pond Central Time on Thursday, December 22nd, yours truly will be on vacation for the first time since 2009.  I'll be off until January 2nd, and will be able to devote time and effort towards blogcare.  Unless I get Skyrim... then all bets are off.  Heh.

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December 14, 2011

Dental Obnoxiousness Pt II

As you may remember, last Friday I had a tooth pulled.  It went rather smoothly, to be honest.  He wasn't even finished saying "Okay, here we go" before the tooth was out of my jaw.  It was like all it needed was a little tug and voila!  All done!  Didn't even bleed all that much, or for very long.  Looking back at it, I should have realized that just meant things would go wrong eventually.

The past few days, the location of the former tooth has been kinda tender, and it ached a bit after eating.  "Well, yeah," I hear you saying, "you just had a tooth ripped out of your jaw, it's no wonder it was tender and sore."  And I completely agree with you.  At worst, I'd take a tylenol and the slight burning ache would go away.  Something nagged at me, though; when I had a tooth pulled in the past, I don't remember my mouth hurting at all five days afterwards.  So I called the oral surgeon that did the yanking, told his nurse what was going on, and she said c'mon in!  Their office is just a few minutes away from the Duck U Bookstore, so that wasn't a problem.  I told my boss that I'd be gone for a half-hour or so, and all would be right with the world.  What could possibly go wrong?

I sat in the dentist chair, and the first thing he did after I told him that the area was tender... was to poke it.  "Did that hurt?"  Yes, all things considered.  I hope you weren't surprised by that answer, Doc, since I just told you that it was tender.  "Well, let me rinse the site out with sailine solution."

"...and then I'll stab it with a red hot poker covered with battery acid and shards of razor blades!"
After they scraped me off the ceiling, Doc gave me the good news: DRY SOCKET!  For those who don't know, dry socket is an event where the blood clot that forms after an extraction... fails or never forms at all.  In essence, you've got a hole in your mouth that goes right down to the jawbone.  Usually this is a ridiculously painful thing, though in my case it wasn't bad at all.  Or maybe it was; I've always had a high tolerance for pain.  Heck, I passed 13 kidneystones in one year, including two while I was at work, and not only did I not go home, but I sold five Preferred Reeders cards while I was doing the passing.  I'm no stranger to pain is what I'm saying, but I know I've been a bit grumpy this week.  Easily annoyed, too: did you color in the little graph paper squares on your rental book sticker?  Grrrrrrr.  Don't know what your class number is?  GRRRRRRRR!  Talking on your cellphone while I'm trying to tell you how much your textbook is worth?  You'd best believe you're going to die very very soon, probably when I shove that textbook into someplace sensitive... like your spleen.  So maybe the dry socket pain has been working its magic on me.  Fortunately, there's a solution for dry socket pain; a mixture of analgesics, zinc oxide and oil of cloves.  Takes the ouchies right away... except it has to go in the socket, right up against the exposed bone.  The nurse handed me a few kleenex (wha?), and as I reclined in the chair, I wondered just exactly what the kleenex were for.  Then the doc tried to apply the oil-of-clove-saturated packing material to the socket.

"...with a whaling harpoon!  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!"
I do not scream.  I have seen my foot pointing backwards after falling off a loading dock.  I have caught a windmilling 16'-0" length of 2x4 with my face, breaking my nose.  I've passed thirteen kidneystones.  I cracked open a kidney auditioning for a play.  I have been on fire... twice.  At no time during these incidents did I ever scream in agony.  Most of the time, I didn't even yelp in pain.  Today, as the doc tried and failed to set the packing stuff into that hole in my mouth, I groaned very loudly... and I discovered what the kleenex was for as I crushed it in my hand.  He tried a second time... and the groan became much higher-pitched.  A third time.  Fourth.  Fifth.  "That socket just doesn't want to let it stay there," said the doc.  A sixth try, and not only did I scream like a little girl, I tried very hard to squirm out of the chair, down the hallway and out into the traffic on Duckford's busiest street.  On the seventh attempt to apply the pain-killing solution, he finally succeeded... by liberal application of what felt like 20d box nails.

On the plus side, there's no pain now.  Hopefully, it'll stay that way... I don't think I can take another application of pain-killers.

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December 11, 2011

2001

This is post number 2001 here at Wonderduck's Pond.

What, you expected me to ignore the obvious?

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December 10, 2011

2000

This is the 2000th post here at Wonderduck's Pond.  If you had told me back on July 8th, 2005, that I'd eventually put up another 1999 posts, or that I'd still be blogging six-and-a-half years later, I think I would have laughed at you.  I would have laughed even harder if you told me that people would actually be interested in reading my mental meanderings.  But yet, here we are in December of 2011... I'm typing the two-thousandth post, you're reading the two-thousandth post (though I'm not sure you're interested), and I can't imagine what it would be like to not be blogging anymore.  How incredible.
Thank you, folks.  I appreciate it!

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December 08, 2011

Dental Obnoxiousness

I curse my teeth.

LoliRin has perfect teeth.  I do not.
Last week, I was chewing on a duck chow-on-rye sandwich when I felt something odd towards the back of my jaw.  Inspecting the oddness with the tip of my tongue, I discovered chunks of filling mixed in with the masticated rye bread.  The tooth it came from didn't hurt and it felt like there was still a good bit of filling left.  Unconcerned, I figure that the chunks of filling (which was quite old; 25 years?) just fell off the face of the tooth, and it'd be a simple spackle job to repair.  Y'know, mix up some amalgam, trowel it onto the remainder of the filling, bish bash bosh, all done.  So I hied myself to the dentist the next day so he could give me the good news.

He didn't.  While indeed big chunks of the filling did come loose, and there was still filling material covering and protecting the original cavity, the rest of the tooth decayed around it.  So much in fact that the outside enamel face of the tooth fell off.  The smooth stuff that I thought was filling material is actually the dentine of the tooth.  As my dentist described it to me, the enamel is like a suit of plate armor.  The dentine is the leather undershirt.  The next step is the soft squishy human underneath (or the tooth's pulp, in this case).  Much to my surprise, the dentist immediately suggested having it pulled instead of trying to save it.  He ALWAYS recommends trying to save the tooth first.  In this case though, it's unpaired, meaning there'd be no reduction in my chewing ability (the molar above it was the first that I had removed, nearly 30 years ago); there's other teeth in my mouth that the money a root canal would cost would be better spent on.

The tooth comes out Friday afternoon.  I'll let y'all know how it went as soon as I can... probably in the evening.

UPDATE: It's out.  Came out nice and easy.  It's about four hours later, and the novocaine has pretty much all worn off.  It's still bleeding a touch, but that's to be expected.  The best part of the whole thing was definitely the nitrous oxide... baby!

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