January 20, 2014

Here We Go Again... Again.

Tuesday is the first day of Spring classes at Duck U, which means the Duck U Bookstore is going to be crazy-go-nuts for the next few days.  Pity us, we few, for we will suffer the deluge.

Or something like that, at least.

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January 15, 2014




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January 12, 2014

A Bridge Too... High?

Some many, many years ago, I spent a few days in Stillwater, MN.  Ph.Duck's older brother and his family lived there, and I was a guest in their home while Ph.Duck and Momzerduck did... something I don't remember now, perhaps attend a wedding.  Something like that.  Anyway, being a college kid, I didn't want to just hang out at their (really nice!) house, I wanted to find something fun to do.  Hard to do without a car in Stillwater, but not impossible. 

After descending the Thousand Stairs Of Doom, I found myself in the Historic Downtown District.  To my left was quaint shops, some attractive looking bar & grills, that sort of thing.  To my right was the riverside area.  I headed to one of the bars... it was a sunny early afternoon and warm, so the dark and air conditioning was welcome.  The place, and I will never forget this as long as I live, was called "Cat Ballou's" and had what looked like a life-sized wood-carved statue of Jane Fonda from the movie of the same name near the door.  I was pretty much the only person in the place that early in the day... I remember the cheeseburger and fries being tasty, and the beer quite pleasant indeed. 

After a couple of hours working on my version of The Great American Novel, I headed back out to the riverside area.  Yup, it's a river.  Oh look, boats.  Pretty girl in a sundress.  More boats.  Still a river.  What the hell is that?

At the time, I had no idea there was such a thing as a lift bridge.  Drawbridge, sure.  Truss bridge, uh-huh.  Suspension, cable-stay, arch and cantilever bridges, you bet.  But a lift bridge?!?!  What sort of magic is this?  I was fascinated!  As it turns out, it was stuck in the up position at the time, due to all the equipment being original to when it was built and it sometimes does that, but I didn't care at all.  How lovely it was to see such a thing.

I'm sure the traffic that had to detour some ridiculous distance to get across the St Croix river disagreed with my assessment, but that's beside the point.  It was the neatest thing I saw during that visit to Minnesota.  It's still there, though you have to make an appointment with the State to open it for your boat, but it's still there.

Then came the climb back up the Thousand Stairs of Doom.  The climb up was a lot worse than going down, and I changed my plans for the next day so to avoid them.  I haven't seen the bridge since.

I still think it's magic, and I can't honestly see a reason to build one over a drawbridge, but it's still awfully cool.

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I appear to have lost the ability to make something that can go to space.  I can't understand why.  Even the successful Mun Launcher I fails to reach orbit.  I'm surely just doing something wrong, but I'll be darned if I can figure out what it is.

It's frustrating, but also exciting... once I figure out my problem, it'll be all "clear skies and hot jets!"

Or maybe I should say "if".  If I figure out my problem.

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January 08, 2014

To The Mun IIIa: The Search For Something That Flies

After the failure of Mun Rescuer I, it was time to go back to the design phase to come up with something less likely to turn itself into a brightly glowing ball of incandescent gas.  An hour or so of tinkering brought forth the cleverly named Mun Rescuer II: This Time It's Personal

This time with more lights!  No, they do nothing for purposes of getting to the Mun, but it does make it look purty-ish!  The media beast must be fed, don'tchaknow?  It heads into space on the immense power of four Mainsail liquid fueled engines.

See?  It leaps off the pad with the greatest of ease, and practically wants to scream into space at a speed guaranteed to rend it into component atoms before the gravity turn.  It wasn't until Mun Rescuer II: This Time It's Personal dropped the Orange Cans of Fuel that I realized that there was a problem.  Namely, this beast was horrendously underpowered to go to the Mun.  The stage that I had intended to use for Translunar Injection was swallowed just getting into a stable orbit.

Worse still, the lander-and-go-home stage clearly didn't have enough gas get to the Mun on it's own.  Chalking it down as a good test flight, I deorbited, hoping the PPD-12 Cupola could handle the re-entry stress.  Really, the whole endeavor would come down to that... it's pointless if we pick up Bill Kerbin from the Mun, only to fricassee him a few kilometers from home.

Much to my surprise, it didn't turn into something resembling a melted marshmallow... the Cupola really isn't meant for that sort of thing.  Even better, the capsule didn't pull apart from the lifeboat when the parachutes opened up.  Huzzah!  Feh.

So!  A spectacularly frustrating first flight.  Everything worked perfectly... except for the whole reason this thing exists: getting to the Mun and back.  That part?  Not so much.  But at least Bill Kerman is having fun on the Mun.

Morale is still high, despite all reason.

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January 06, 2014

Too Cold To Complain About How Cold It Is

Here, inside, at Pond Central, it's a comfortable 70 degrees.  Outside the confines of Pond Central, however, it is -18°F, with a windchill of -45°F!  There is a 115 degree difference between inside and outside right the heck now... and it's just short of noon.

It's not the coldest I've experienced, as I lived in Minnesota for two years, but this is easily the coldest I've seen here in Duckford.  A couple of hours ago, I stepped outside just for a few seconds.  That was a terrible mistake.  Fortunately, Duck U is closed for the day, and even better, they announced it early Sunday afternoon!

Holy crepe, it's cold.

UPDATE: It's cold enough that Duck U has shut down for another day already!  We're closed on Tuesday... just what this lil' duck needed!

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January 05, 2014

The Magic Of Memory

So there I was, working on the design of Mun Rescuer II, listening to the playoff game between the Chargers and the Bengals on the radio.  They're in a time-out, and Ian Eagle and Trent Green, one of the better NFL pairings on "network" radio, are talking about what had just occurred on the field.  In the background, the Bengals stadium entertainment system is playing some music that... I've heard before.  It's a simple guitar four-chord progression with a bit of fuzz overtop.  It stops before anything more than that plays, practically nothing to identify it with, but I know this song. 

Except I don't.  You could hold a gun to my head and say you're going to pull the trigger and scatter my brains over a 1" x 1" area if I don't tell you the title right now, and you'd best have a kleenex handy to wipe up the mess.  I've heard it before.  I know I like the tune.  I just can't place it, nor where I know it from.  I begin to fret over the name... or even just how the song goes... or even where I've heard it fore.  ANYTHING I can use to place it.  TEN FRIGGIN' MINUTES later, I shut down Kerbal Space Program, throw on some warm clothes, and head out to the gas station for a bottle of grape juice and a 12-pack of Sprite before the arctic vortex hits and the temperature get flushed down the sewer.  Of course, the entire way there, I'm trying to figure out the tune.  It isn't until I'm back in the car after obtaining my liquid bounty that something dredges out of my memory: "the rock."  Then the certain knowledge that it was used in an AMV from years ago.  Suddenly, the mile-long drive home from the gas station feels like a hundred miles... I need to search for this!

I hop onto yootoob, punch in "the rock AMV", and start scrolling through the list... and there it was.  Sure as heck, that's it... it's a lousy copy, so I search for a better one, but that's the song!  I'm practically dancing in my chair in celebration as I load it up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the song that I heard about five seconds of: Apollo Four Forty's "Stop The Rock"!

Now, back to rescue missions!

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January 04, 2014

To The Mun III: Rescue Bill Kerman!

After the truly Kerbal Space Program-level success of my Mun landing, it was time to go rescue the first Kerbal on the Mun.  Which meant, of course, designing a new Mun-ship!

Presenting the cleverly-named "Mun Rescuer I".  It didn't take very long to come up with the design, since it's simply Mun Launcher I with a PPD-1 Hitchhiker Storage Container ("The HSC was an invention of necessity - how do we store 4 Kerbals on-orbit without any real provisions for return? Who needed this remains a mystery, as do his motives.") stuck under the Mk1 capsule, more fuel cans and six landing struts.  No way this baby's gonna break off the nuclear rocket, nuh-uh!

In retrospect, I probably should have spent a little more time on the design phase.


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January 01, 2014

To The Mun! II: Electric Munaloo!

After hours upon hours of poorly thought out mission parameters, unsuccessful orbital routines and rapid unplanned disassemblies...

...I have finally figured out how to to routinely make it into orbit.  As Robert Heinlein pointed out, "once you're in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere."  So, like any good Kerbalnaut, I set my sights on My First Mun Landing®.  How hard could it be?

Here is the trusty steed, the cleverly named "Mun Launcher I", in the middle of the gravity turn for orbit, a short time before dropping the heavy boosters.  Players of the game might recognize that I'm actually heading towards a retrograde orbit... what can I say?  I'm an iconoclast!  I've also had four consecutive successful Munar orbit launches this way, and zero successful Munar orbit launches going the normal way.  It's probably just me.


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