August 30, 2012

Right, Here's The Plan...

Okay, Helltime (Saturday will be my 24th out of 27 days, 220 hours worked in those days) at the Duck U Bookstore is coming to an end... I actually got to have lunch this afternoon... so I need to start thinking about getting back into the swing of this place.  Here's the plan for the coming long weekend.

Friday night will see... whatever it is I can generate for P2 from Spa-Francophobe.  Quals is Saturday, but the first football game of the season is also Saturday, and I've got to be at the Bookstore for that.  It looks like Hurricane Illinois-Has-It-Too-Easy is causing the local weatherfolk to drink heavily and throw up their hands in despair, vis-a-vis rain on Saturday, so we won't be taking the mobile store* to the field.  Seriously, I've never seen a forecast swing so radically before: it started out with a 20% chance of rain on Tuesday, shot up to 60% on Wednesday, Thursday morning weatherunderground was saying 80%, now it seems that the weathergeeks have passed out with 40% on the screen.  That's a high enough chance to keep us indoors... we don't have a roof over our heads, and rain would cost us $3000 in cash register equipment alone.  Anyway, unless I get up early enough to watch Quals live, the writeup for that won't be up until sometime Saturday evening. 

Sunday, of course, will be devoted to the Grand Prix of Belgium.  Labor Day has the potential to see Ep02 of Ben-To... or not, depending on just how wiped out I really am.  Either way, Ep02 will go up next week for sure.

So stock up on your Picky and Bretz, because it'll finally be happyfuntime again!  Now, where's my bed...?


*note: not actually a bookcart from the Duck U Bookstore.

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August 28, 2012

Quite The Fight...

So I'm sneaking around inside a mansion when a mercenary/guard literally walks into me, blowing my every attempt at stealth all to heck and gone.  Nothing left for me to do but to run him through and hope he doesn't manage to alert anybody else.  Alas, his dying scream brings half-a-dozen other guards a-runnin'.  It's time to get all fighty and stuff.  When the dust clears, I notice this...

...okay, it was a fairly intense fight, but I was never in any real danger, even against six well-armed mercenaries.  Guess I might have gotten a little carried away?  Maybe?  A bit?

"Dude, like, I'm soooooo sorry I killed you so hard you were embedded in a wardrobe... dresser... thing.  Bad on me, and I apologize.  We good here?"

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August 25, 2012

Not Bad... For A Lieutenant.


Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, passed away today.  He had been ill since having cardiac surgery at the beginning of the month.  The term "hero" is bandied about a lot these days, but if there ever was a man who deserved the title, Armstrong would be him.  He was a Naval aviator for two years, reaching a rank of Lieutenant (jg) in the Reserves.  He resigned his commission in 1960.  He received his engineering degree from Purdue, became a professional test pilot, and flew both the X-1b and X-15.  He was one of the first pilots selected to fly the (failed) X-20 Dyna-Soar project before joining NASA's astronaut corps.  He'd become the second civilian in space (behind the USSR's Valentina Tereshkova) during the less-than-successful Gemini 8 flight.  His next, and final, spaceflight was Apollo 11.  After that mission, he resigned from NASA in 1971, taught at the University of Cincinnati until 1979, then entered the business world until 2002. 

Momzerduck once told me that I watched Armstrong's walk upon the Moon.  As I was 15 months old at the time, I don't remember it, but she always said that's why I became such a space nut.  If so, then I need to add my personal thanks to Neil Armstrong.  I never met him, but he apparently had quite the influence on me. 

Through it all, though he's famous for walking on the Moon, he was first and foremost a pilot.  The following quote is as good a way to remember that fact as any, and better than most:

"Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying. Pilots generally take pride in a good landing, not in getting out of the vehicle."
- Neil Armstrong

He'll be missed.  He'll be remembered.

UPDATE: Armstrong's family released a statement this evening that ends with this wonderful sentiment: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."  

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So Tired... So So Tired...

Friday, 2pm.  It had been a miserable day, full of FAIL and spite, but I could take solace in the fact that my 55-hour week would be over in 180 minutes... not that I was counting or anything.  Then the phone on my desk rang.  It was the Duck U Veep that I report directly to, asking me to be open on Saturday for five hours.

So tired.  So very, very tired.

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August 22, 2012

Did Brickmuppet Visit Pond Central?

So last Friday morning, I get into the DuckMobile, buckle in, put the key in the ignition, turn it, and...

...nothing.  After a sound similar to that which a lonely puppy makes escaped my throat, I tried again.

...rapid clicking noise.  A third try gave the clicking noise with the sound of the engine trying to turn over.  On the fourth try, the car started.  Well, that's no good.  A quick call to Ph.Duck obtained the loan of his car for a few days while mine went to visit the Official Mechanic of The Pond.

Yesterday, I got the call from Tom, and he started with "I've got good news and bad news."

My expression when he said this
"The good news is that your battery was old and dead; your car starts fine now.  The bad news is that you've got an oil leak."   At that point, I started laughing.  THAT'S the bad news?  I knew I had a leak, I wanted y'all to fix it!  "Well, it'll be a bit difficult, what with where it's located, maybe cost a couple hundred in labor."  Do it.  "Are you sure?"  DO IT!  I want my car to stop dripping.  I want to stop having to put a quart of oil in it ever three weeks.  DO IT!

A couple hours later, it was all done for under $500... including the battery, parts and labor.  The oil pump needed a new seal, and it had leaked all over the timing belt, ruining that fairly important item.  They told me that the battery failure was actually a good thing, otherwise it was only a matter of time before the belt failed.  There were some other, smaller, things that they fixed while they were at it, too.  All in all, though, the DuckMobile is running like it's six or seven years old now, instead of sixteen.  Well worth the cost.  Just wish it hadn't happened the day before all heck broke loose at Duck U... that silence took a few years off my life!
more...

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August 19, 2012

Good-bye Free Time!

There are a couple of reasons for the title of this post.  The first is simple: this is the week classes start back up at Duck U.  The first-year fledgelings moved into the dorms on Saturday, everybody else comes in on Tuesday, and the first day of classes is Wednesday.  Eep.

The OTHER, primary, reason is because of an e-mail I got from my Uncle JoeDuck.  Contained in this innocent-looking missive was a link to this site.  Oh god, the time I've already lost there... just at random, I clicked on "W"... and eventually found this:

Click the pic for full advertising goodness.
Go to the site and marvel at the wonderment that you will find... it isn't all advertising.  In fact, most of it isn't old ads, but just... stuff.  It's as time-sucking as tvtropes (link withheld to prevent then entire internet from disappearing into this post).

Posting may be sparse this week... or may not be; we'll see.

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August 18, 2012

Saturday Night Tunage XV


And now, by nobody's request whatsoever, Wonderduck Productions in conjunction with The Pond Entertainment presents... DJ Wonderduck with another installment of Saturday Night Tunage!  It's an eclectic mix of old and new music tonight, always with an eye on keeping your ear intrigued.  And some '80s, too.  So lets just get right to it, shall we?  Surely!

more...

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August 12, 2012

Just Another Skyrim Picture

Even now, after eight months and over 200 hours of gameplay, Skyrim can still throw things at me that make me just sit back and gawp in amazement.

click for the full picture... I recommend it.
On those occasions that I get all introspective and crap, I remind myself just how much computer gaming has changed over the years.  When I got my first real computer, "pretty graphics" looked like this:

...or this:

...so it's just mindblowing to see stuff like this:

I love living in the future.

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August 11, 2012

Razzenfrazzeninternetgrmblgrmbl

Y'know, or maybe not.  My broadband connection has been down almost all day, other than for a hour or two around 5pm.  As a result, I've gotten zero work done on Ben-To! Ep01.  Hopefully, my connection will be alive tomorrow (yeah, right) so I can do it then.  Until then, here's another teaser for you.

Because I'm nothing if not nice and friendly to my readers.

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August 08, 2012

Telling A Tale

Around here, adventures tend to start in the usual cliched ways.  Beggars tell a story for a bit of coin, or an innkeeper mentions a rumor, and the usual suspects go running off brandishing their sword and shield knowing that this time, they'll strike it rich.  Certainly some have succeeded in the past: old Greyfang the Portly there, he slew the Witch of Glammistor and hasn't needed to work since.  Doubtless there's been others, but I'll be switched if I know who. 

Every time they go out, a couple less come back.  "Firedrake got Beardy Ned over by the Rocks," they'll claim, then drink to their failure by reminiscing about the poor sod.  Gripping tales of exciting adventure, sure, when Ned probably just fell off his horse and split his skull open on a rock.  "Helmet will save yer life," I told 'em, but did they ever listen?  In a pig's ear they did.  Just like their fathers before 'em, not that any of that lot knew who their fathers were.  Killed in the Great Marsh War, probably.  Lots of men went that way, called to the colors to fight in one godsforsaken spot or another.  Marshes don't seem like a place you'd want to fight for if you ask me, but what do I know?

Never can tell, though.  Occasionally there's reason enough for a war, though usually not so much.  "Prince Pureblood didn't like that batch of goldblossoms from Kroom, we've got to defend our honor!"  Queen Soggybottom oops-I-meant-Songbird-pardon-me tried to take over Salain-to-the-North because she thought that big mountain they've got would look good on the back of our coin.  Reckon she'd be right, too, except Salain-to-the-North kinda liked their mountain.  Sadly, they had a lot more swords than we did, not that our General Whats-his-name was any great tactician. "Towards those ugly bastards," he'd yell and forget about flanking maneuvers or that sort of thing.  Units charged and broke and ran, and he'd just yell for more.  "Victory will be ours, men, or we'll die trying!"

Well, he was half right.  Xenophobic dolt died trying to win against the Salainisti, and good riddance.  You like the story?  Zip me a coin, friend, and I'll tell you about the treasure General Whats-his-name had with him...

UPDATE: Since nobody seems to see it (I told Muppet what it was), there's a little trick hidden in the story... see if you can spot it!

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August 06, 2012

Marsdiving

If you haven't seen it yet, here's this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for Breaking News Photography.

Yes, that's Curiosity descending under a parachute towards the surface of Mars.  It was moving around 900mph at the time, approximately a minute before the rover was deployed via "SkyCrane"... i.e., dangled down to the surface on wires while the rest of the capsule hovers above the planet on rocket motors.

And it all worked.  Man, can us humans do some swell things sometimes.

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August 05, 2012

This IS The Future

I live in Duckford, IL.  It's quite a bit like any other city in the USA of similar size.  I'm sitting here in Pond Central, creating this post on software administered by someone I consider a friend... who lives in Australia.  I've never met Pixy, maybe never will though stranger things have happened.  Less than 24 hours ago, I received a text message from Brickmuppet, another friend that I've never met... who lives in Virginia.  However, he sent the text message from somewhere in Japan... which looks an awful lot like Michigan, as Steven says.  Steven's another friend I haven't met, who lives in Oregon.  I can only assume his work on cellphones back when such things were new-ish had some influence on the text message I got from Japan.

Which undoubtedly bounced off a satellite somewhere.  Meanwhile, my TV is currently tuned into the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which has athletes from 204 nations and one small group of independent athletes participating, the signal for which is also being bounced off a satellite, perhaps many of them, to arrive here in Pond Central.  As I'm watching that, I'm also recording NASA TV as they prepare to broadcast live coverage of our attempt to put a new rover (named Curiosity) on Mars via a technique that Rube Goldberg would find entertainingly complex.

None of this was really possible 44 years ago.  Heck, 20 years ago most of this would have been a pipe dream.  I didn't even receive my first text until two years ago.  And none of this is particularly exceptional today.  Well, Curiosity is, but we've seen rovers on Mars before. 

This IS the future!  We're living in it right now.  Science Fiction has nothing on the wonders we experience and take for granted every day.  I can hardly believe how lucky we are.

UPDATE 1232am 8/6/2012: Curiosity made it down, telemetry confirmed.  Pictures are forthcoming.  Oh my god, that was amazing!

UPDATE 1234am 8/6/2012: A picture has been transmitted from Mars, Curiosity has wheels fully deployed.

UPDATE 1241am 8/6/2012:

Curiosity's shadow on Mars, sent just a couple of minutes after the landing.  How frickin' cool is that?

UPDATE 1252am 8/12/2012:  The landing data is coming in, and pretty much everything was about as perfect as you could hope.  For example, at touchdown Curiosity was moving laterally at .044 meters/second.  Still no report on how far they missed the planned touchdown spot, but the last information they said was "around 1.5km".  After traveling about 154 million miles, missing the target by a mile or so is... eh, pretty okay, I guess.  Heh.

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August 04, 2012

Picking At My Posting

You know how you have a lot of food on your plate, but none of it looks extra-special tasty?  You wind up just sort of lackadaisically nibbling at this, chewing a bit on that, not really doing anything with it?  That's pretty much where I am right now with The Pond.  I've started work on two major posts, the Ben-To Ep01 writeup and the Late War Best Fighter thing (finally!), but haven't really felt like devoting the hours required to make them any good.  So instead, I'm doing them in 10-15 minute nibbles.  It's weird, and I'm not sure I like the result, but there you are.  At least they're being worked on, right? 

Best darn photo of a Vindicator I've ever seen.  It's a pre-war shot of an Enterprise "Bombing 6" plane, stolen from the archives of LIFE.  No, there's no point to it being here, other than I wanted to put it up. 

So there's stuff in the pipeline to look forward to!  Just hope I have the time to work on them... Duck U classes start on the 22nd, the new fledgelings move in on the 18th.  Yep, it's busytime at the Bookstore, and I'm scheduled for 48 hours next week.  Who in the world writes the darn schedule anyway?

Oh right... me.  Darn it.

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