October 29, 2015

You Know What I Miss?

Feeling like I'm part of a team, of something larger than just myself.  That's what I miss.  Sure, we have our little soirees at work, the bi-monthly awards thingies or the lunches or whatever, and those are nice.  They can't change the fact that each of us claims processors are not only working alone, but we're really working against the others.  Every claim that Abbie, Bob or Chris does is one that Dave, Ernie, Frank or Wonderduck can't do... and there's only a finite numbers of claims out there.  It's not adversarial, it's just the way things are.

And it's a far sight from what it was like at the Bookstore, that's for sure.  If I had a problem, I could call on any of the other 20-odd managers in the region, plus another dozen or so that I knew from training classes or national meetings, based anywhere from San Francisco to Roanoke, Houston to Fredericton (that's Canada, y'all!), and I knew they'd help to the best of their ability.  I don't really miss the job, but I do miss that camaraderie. 

I also miss feeling like I was accomplishing something here at The Pond.  I'm not, and I don't think I have for a while.  I'm sorry about that.

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October 28, 2015

Well, THAT Was Unexpected... In A GOOD Way.

I've had my current cellphone for about four years, and it does everything I need it for.  It makes calls (I assume it receives as well, but it's been a while since anybody has actually called me), it both sends AND receives texts, it's my primary alarm clock, so on and so forth.  It's never more than six feet from me, and usually a lot closer... both because it's my ONLY phone (haven't had a land-line in a looooooong time) and because if something happens with my ticker (and, by the way, I had the 10 year anniversary of my Cardiac Event this past Sunday), having it close at hand might save my life.

So you can imagine how I felt when I left work on Tuesday and... the touchscreen didn't work.  It worked perfectly fine when I turned it off going IN to the office, but... well.  Not having a working touchscreen is something of a drawback on a touchscreen-based phone.  Oh, I eventually figured out a way to make a phonecall, involving the physical keyboard, the "phone" button on the frontplate, and a weird combination of opening and closing the slideybit, but I couldn't hang up when the call was over.  I also couldn't answer the phone ha-ha-ha, nor could I send texts.  Indeed, anything that needed the screen was no longer functional.  This was bad, as I had reset my alarm for a one-time only thing and couldn't reset it for the right time to wake me up for work.  Fortunately, my actual alarm clock, now closing in on 30 years old, still works... barely.

After work let out today, I set sail for my carrier's standalone store.  I had gotten the replacement insurance on the thing, so I assumed I'd be forced to upgrade to a so-called smartphone... there's no way they'd still have a four or five year old phone in stock.  As it turned out, I was right: they didn't have the phone anymore.  What they did have, though, was a brand new touchscreen!  After about a half-hour of techguy maneuvering little bits and pieces of the phone hither and yon, he called me over and said "it works great!"  Sure enough, it works like a charm.  Yes, the new frontpiece is purple, not blue, but I'll cope... when I first got the phone, I wanted purple anyway; they were out of stock. 

The best part however was that techguy laughed at my wallpaper (seen here to the left) when he turned the phone on.  And not a "that's stupid, ha-ha-ha loser" laugh, but an actual "I'm amused" laugh.  Which was nice.

Kids these days must have common experience with anime.  Either that or he's seen so many stupid/shocking/horrifying wallpapers over the years that he's stopped caring.  One of the two.

I'm not prepared to say which one.

But it doesn't matter, because my phone works again, at least for a while longer.  I'll take it for as long as it lasts.  It's a GOOD phone.  I'm used to it, and it at least tolerates me.  What more could you ask for?

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October 21, 2015

Well, Darn.

It still counts as a successful season to me.

Wait 'til next year!

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October 20, 2015

Insanity Averted, Thanks To Friends

Around 1pm this afternoon, Jack, the hulking front desk guy, loomed over my cubicle wall.  The single word "Package" rumbled from his mouth and he handed me a box that looked tiny in his massive mitts, but in reality was just small-ish.  I thanked him, and reminded him that I could have run up to the front of the building to pick it up.  "Nah.  Cubs ducks are here."  He then turned and massived his way back towards his office.

See, Jack's a big (in both common usages of the term) Cubs fan, and I have a pair of Cubs rubber duckies on the top of my cubewall.  Guess he likes them.  Anyway, he left me with a box, which I promptly put to one side so I could finish up a series of claims I was working on.  This diligence lasted for roughly thirty seconds before I reached into my Magic Desk of Holding for a pair of scissors.  Screw the claims, I needed to open the box!  And what was inside?

The gift of music... and sanity.

I mean that quite literally.  I'll actually be able to concentrate on work now, as opposed to the tappity-tappity-tap-click-click-click-tap of ambient noise in the production room.  Throw in the ridiculously chatty ladies who sit just beyond my cube's front wall, and music will be a blessed relief, similar to that experienced when the morphine kicks in.

"But Wonderduck," I hear you ask quizzically and I've got to do something about that microphone, its directional feature is misaimed, "what happened to the iPond reader ReallyBored sent you?"  Funny story!  It arrived here quite promptly, it had enough juice in the battery for me to even turn it on at work, and everything worked quite well.  Got home that night, plugged it in to charge, installed iTunes, all that jazz.  When it was fully charged, I copied music over... and all hell broke loose.  There was a quiet screech sound from the iPond, the screen reset, and a rhythmic "tic" sound began to emanate from it... and I couldn't break out of anything.  I couldn't even do a hard reset.  Probably not a huge surprise... it was a 2006 edition, meaning it was pushing 10 years old.  RB apologized, which I immediately turned around... he shipped me an iPond, for heaven's sake. 

When I mentioned this in online conversation with Pixy, he immediately said he'd ship me one of his.  From Australia.  Surprisingly, it isn't as expensive as you'd think, about $12 US or so for seven day shipping.  It's a big world, but it's getting smaller all the time. 

It's tangent time!  That link will take you to the title song of Joe Jackson's album Big World.  Indeed, the video was shot during the recording of that very track.  "Wonderduck, that's a concert video," you say disbelievingly.  And indeed, that too is true.  Big World was JJ's attempt at capturing the immediacy and energy of a live performance without all the noise from an excited audience.  The crowd was told they were cutting an album, and they could only cheer at the end of songs.  Anybody violating this rule would be kicked out.  It says a lot about JJ fans that I have found nothing about anybody being ejected.  Anyway, it was an interesting experiment, and it turned out one of my all-time favorite JJ tracks, but on the whole I'd druther clap.  End digression, back to the original point.

Pixy took the sacrifical iPod to Australian Post where, he told me later, the lady behind the counter was very nice and cheerful and helpful, which immediately tells me that he wasn't in a US post office.  They had everything all set, and then she said that due to the US Department of Homeland Security rules, he had to demonstrate that the battery was removable.  Ah.  Yes.  Quite.  And y'know what?  That was the first time that I've ever been affected by the so-called draconian Homeland Security rules, save for having to remove my shoes at the airport.  Curse them!  Curse them all!

Cut to two weeks ago.  I'm on Steam when I notice my brother in feathers GreyDuck is also online.  We chat for a while about nothing in particular, although I congratulated him on his time-lapse video when he asks if the iPond had helped me at all.  So I explain the Great iPond Saga, and I can tell he's laughing on the other end of the (metaphorical) line.  I then mention that I had to borrow money from the folks to buy food this month (it was, and still is, a little tight around here, though it's getting better) and that a mp3 player was probably going to the only thing on my Xmas list this year (not that there's ever more than a couple of things in toto).  GD asked what I was looking at, and I threw him a link to the SanDisk Clip Jam.  It's not fancy, but I don't need fancy... I needed something that'll shuffle-play music and I'd be happy.  At which point, GD said "done."

Huh?  "Something good happened at work.  Gimme a week or two."  Wait, no!  "Shut up, WD.  Do something nice for someone else when you can."  But... but....  "Just say yes." 

So that's how I now have a surprisingly small mp3 player, and I can't thank GD enough.  And one of these days, something will happen here at The Pond to pay it forward.

Now if you'll excuse me, it looks like it's done charging.  I can load songs onto it for tomorrow!

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October 19, 2015

And I Laughed And Laughed And Laughed...

So here's the situation.  I'm at work... actually, I'm in the breakroom, refilling my water bottle with water and fresh cold ice (best benefit of the job: the icemaker), and I notice one of the really new hires (I'm no longer a total noob!) reading a paperback.  The cover is emblazoned with the words...

...which of course made me smile.  While I'm pretty much over Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, et al, I'll always remember them fondly.  I must have chuckled or something like that, for the kid reading looked up at me, and was that perhaps a look of annoyance that flashed across his face?  Oh no, not another vunderkinde who thinks his generation invented everything cool.  Yup... "Is something funny?"

"Yep!  The cover of your book... seems to fit this place perfectly."

"It's not really like that.  The book is called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and..."

"Yes, I know!"

"You saw the movie, huh?"

Oh.  Oh dear.  I've had this sort of thing happen to me before, and ever since that time in 2008, I've wondered why.  Do I look like I'm so incredibly uncool that I wouldn't watch anime, or read science fiction or manga, or even seen Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog?  I've even had someone express surprise that I've played Fallout 3.  Is it because I'm old?  What? What is it?  "Yes, I saw the movie.  Quite enjoyed it, actually, particularly the dolphins, and Zaphod's two heads effect was...".  At this point, I was going to say "...much better than the old TV show's", but the kid got all kinds of snippy then.

"The movie is awful, you should read the book."  Now look, the movie isn't going to win any awards, that's for sure, but short of having the ghost of Douglas Adams make his way back to this plane of existence and take a few classes in movie directing it wasn't likely to be any better than it was.  I mean, other than the Heart of Gold looking completely wrong, there's very little to complain about visually.  Heck, some bits of it were quite inspired: Mos Def as Ford Prefect?  Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry as Marvin and The Book?  Zooey Deschanel playing Trillian like the character was written for her?  But where does he come off suggesting I've never read the book? 

At this point, I probably should have nodded, said "good idea," and walked away.  If I had been in a better mood, I probably would have.  But I'm still in an awful mood, so I didn't.  "My hardcover copy is probably older than you are.  I have a British paperback first edition of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  I once had a small group of friends over to my house when I was a freshman in high school, just to listen to the radio play on NPR... on 8-Track!  But you're right, I should read it.  Again.  It's been a few years."  And I walked away, humming "So long and thanks for all the fish."

I then cranked out 40 claims in an hour, followed by another 39 the next, on the way to my best day yet: 245 claims in eight hours.  Maybe I can get the kid to piss me off every day?

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October 17, 2015

Bad Mood.

I am in a very bad mood.  I have been all day, though I suspect I managed to keep it hidden at lunch with the folks.  Seriously bad mood.  I don't know why.  But there's not gonna be any blogging tonight because of it.  Because hell no.  Maybe Sunday.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:59 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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October 16, 2015

The Natural Culmination Of Mankind's Inventiveness.

First, there was the Duck Army.

Then came the Duck Army (Reversed).

Now today comes: the Duck Army Bomb.

The world will never be the same again.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 04:28 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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October 13, 2015

Wins To World Series: 4

Cubs 6, Cardinals 4.

Holy crepe.  The Cubs eliminate their arch-rivals, their most hated foe, the St Louis Cardinals.  This was a Cardinals team that had the best pitching in the NL, and the Cubs just hit homer after homer off them.  This one by Kyle "Schwar-machine" Schwarber actually got stuck on top of the video board in right, probably the longest homer I've seen at Wrigley.  Outside of the park, Wrigleyville is going nuts.  Inside the park?

Hell, I'M going nuts.  This is the first time in Cubs history that they've clinched a post-season series at home.

Next up is either the Dodgers or the Mets in the NLCS, beginning Saturday.  Holy crepe!  It's happening!!!


UPDATE: Y'know that home run that ended up on top of the video board?  The Cubs have decided to create a tribute, much the way the Red Sox have "The Red Seat" or there's a tribute to Harmon Killebrew's 500+ foot blast at old Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis.  Here's what they're doing:

That's right, they're leaving the ball in situ under plexiglass.  I am amused.

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October 12, 2015

Wins To World Series: 5

Cubs 8, Cardinals 6.

Six home runs for the Cubs, one from each of the first six players in the lineup... and oh, that's a postseason record for home runs in one game by one team.  The Cubs are now one win away from eliminating the Cardinals and moving on to the NLCS.  Game 4 is Tuesday afternoon... I have goosebumps!

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October 10, 2015

Wins To World Series: 6

Cubs 6, Cardinals 3

The Cubbies needed to split in St Louis, and that's exactly what they did.  Now it's a best-of-three series, and the Cubs have the next two at Wrigley.  Next game is Monday!

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October 09, 2015

It's Been An Unhealthy Week

It all started Wednesday night after the Cubs game.  Something I ate was disagreeing with me, and somewhere around 3am, I had a complete and total stomach reboot.  Or, as it's said in the Blargletron, "blarglarglarglarglarglarglarglarglarglohgodblarglarglarglarglargl."  Thursday was better in that I made it through the day without any illness-related incident, but I felt like death warmed over all day.  Today, I woke up feeling like death not warmed over and with a sore throat to boot.  I still don't feel well, and I need a nap.

So how are you?

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October 07, 2015

"Just Go Out And Play."

That was Cubs manager Joe Maddon's instruction to his team before tonight's wild card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They did.

Starter Jake Arrietta went out and became the first pitcher ever to throw a shutout with at least 10 strikeouts (11, in this case) and no walks in a post-season game.  Rookie Kyle Schwarber blasted a 449foot home run into the Allegheny River beyond PNC Park's right field fence, CF Dexter Fowler added another for a final score of 4-0.  And I'll be damned if I'm not smilin' like a damfool.

Next up is another first ever: the Cubs face the St Louis Cardinals in the postseason.  There will be blood, and we will all be lucky to survive it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:38 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 01, 2015

Ladies And Gentlemen, May I Present To You...

...the 2015 Chicago Cubs rookies!

Handsome young men, all.

Oh, by the way, the Cubs are in the playoffs and have the third-best record in Baseball, in large part because of these well-dressed rookies.  Unfortunately, the Pirates have the second-best record, and the [Censored] have the best.  That's right, the three best records in baseball are all in the NL Central. 

Here's how the playoffs are going to work.  First off you get the one-game-winner-takes-all Wild Card game.  That's likely to be the Cubs at Pittsburgh.  The winner of that game gets to play the team with the best record:  the [Censored].  Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Mets play each other.  The winner of that gets to play the NL Central winner.

The Cubs have a remarkably good shot at this, actually.  I'm not going to be sad if they don't win... they weren't supposed to be this good this fast, next year was always the target... but I sure won't be unhappy if they trash the Pirates and go up against the wounded, limping, vulnerable [Censored]! 

First time in the playoffs since 2008.  Wow.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:42 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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