War Thunder Ground Forces
I got very frustrated with the game War Thunder, the player community as a whole, and most importantly, its match-maker (which I've learned much more about than what I mention at that link). Roughly, vehicles have Battle Ratings, or BR. When you're looking to join a match, the game looks only at your highest BR score, and matches you with a maximum 1.0 BR spread. So if you have a BR plane of 3.0, you may be matched against a 4.0 BR plane. In this situation, you would NOT be matched against anything lower than 3.0, though, because then the gap to the 4.0 plane would be too large. The important thing is that you're only compared via the top rating in your lineup of three planes/tanks/whatever, so if you have a Corsair, a Buffalo and a Peashooter, you're matched up via the Corsair... which means you're going to be sealclubbed after your Corsair is gone. Further, as you play you earn improvements for your plane... you get a new engine instead of one rebuilt and repaired; you get fresh machine guns instead of ones with worn-out barrels, that sort of thing... but the BR doesn't change. The difference between a stock plane and one that's fully improved (or "spaded" in player terminology) is huge. So, you have a stock P-38 Lightning and you're flying against a spaded FW-190D (or whatever)... and you're on the ground, upside down and burning before you know what hit you.
You'll have to imagine the "upside down and burning" part.
Advance glorious T-34s for the motherland, comrade Duck!
The T-34 is in a good position with respect to the battle rating system. The gun is fine, don't get me wrong. The gun is -fine-, and will reliably put a hole in anything you are likely to run into.
But what makes it such a -good tank- is the armor. That slope! It is absolutely the most heavily armored tank in its battle rating. And the tanks which it goes up against, well... are a big collection of odds and sods. The German tanks largely don't have the penetration to reliably punch a hole in that slope, and of the American tanks, almost everything with a gun that can do the job is 4.7, just out of reach of T-34 games. And that slope is all around! You can't reliably brew up a T-34 with another country's early tank even from behind.
And if you do lose your T-34, there are two other versions of the T-34 with more or less the same specs right there, so you can spend the whole battle in this wonderful tank.
Ironically, the biggest threat to the T-34 is another Russian tank, the KV-2, which... looks like a damn clown car, with its big vertical box turret. But it mounts a howitzer, so even if you're turning like an oil tanker with rudder damage, and you're only popping off one shot every 40 seconds, and you've got an effective range of -maybe- 500 meters... any T-34 on the other end is going to become a coffin. (Or anything else at that BR.) And the KV-2 is just low enough in BR that it doesn't have to worry about Tigers or Panthers (which stand a good chance of surviving that first shot unless you place it juuuust right, and of course if they shoot it first...)
Honestly, I think the Russkie tanks are the most fun to play, simply because you can go directly from "I'm driving around a T-34 with unrealistically good driving performance" to "okay, now I am in an SPG and can ambush people with my Finger of Death size cannon!"
That said, I've been on a hiatus for a month or so, playin' Path of Exile and Elite: Dangerous, and tomorrow I pack up the computer for the move. ;p
Posted by: Avatar at April 27, 2015 12:37 PM (zTHWs)
My T-34 is the one with the number "68" on the turret. My unfortunate target is the one with the inbound shell.
Av, you're right about the glory of the T-34. I've actually acquired all of the Soviet Tier II tanks as of this afternoon... the upgunned KV-1 joined the roster. Just for the hell of it, I put it, the SU-122, and the original KV-1 together and went out for a ride.
And got my hat handed to me on the Jungle map. The -122 lasted about 30 seconds before it got sniped by an IS-1. The upgunned KV-1 did bad things to a T-34/85 until it fell to pieces from lack of spare parts. The old KV-1 shot down an Beaufighter with its main gun, just as the game came to an end.
I then quietly took all three back out of my lineup for a while.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2015 02:43 PM (jGQR+)
Yeah. Using the SU-122, you've gotta have a completely different battle strategy - advancing into the open is complete suicide and any enemy that comes into sight range outside your front arc WILL kill you (and will kill you FIRST, if he's ever been shot by a 122 before.) A couple of the later SPG tanks have a little armor on them, but not this sucker. It's great for the urban environments, or anywhere where you can stay down in a gully, but it just ain't made for warfare on the open steppe.
At the same time, it's pretty zippy for what it is. Unfortunately it's not nearly as zippy as actually-zippy tanks which it can run into. But its gun can kill those tanks from just about any angle; I actually got a kill on one tank and an assist on a completely different tank from damage done by the only shell I fired (before tank #3 shot and killed me).
I'm not fond of the KV-1 tanks. Super slow, poor guns, their only advantage is ridiculous armor. But they're so slow that you take half the game just to get into contact...
Posted by: Avatar at April 27, 2015 03:31 PM (zJsIy)
I get the feeling this is one of those games where, if you could guarantee me I will only be playing with/against friends then I could get into it, but dealing with strangers on the Internet who are guaranteed to be better practiced, better armed, and know all the tricks? Nuh uh, no way.
That said, it LOOKS like when things go right, it's an absolute hoot... and sometimes when things go spectacularly wrong, too...
Posted by: GreyDuck at April 27, 2015 07:12 PM (/zxpg)
Yeah, unfortunately your usual team size can range from 12 - 16 players. Unless you join a squadron, its rare to team up with anybody you know... and I have yet to find a squadron that specializes in low-tier equipment.
And I'll tell ya... there's ALWAYS somebody better than you in a match. Always. Even in the game I highlighted, I didn't feel like the best player, I just had the advantages. Manfred von Richthofen may have been the best pilot ever, but put him and his Fokker Dr.I up against a guy flying a P-51 Mustang and he wouldn't stand a chance.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2015 08:18 PM (jGQR+)
I really enjoyed the game when I played it, although I ran into a lot of the frustrations you're talking about. The minute I started using the mouse for control and got better, I started moving into harder games and it was like hitting a brick wall. I confess I haven't logged in since probably late February.
Of course, part of that was trying to get a specific achievement in WoW before I hit one of my major busy seasons.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 29, 2015 04:30 PM (jGQR+)
Mauser, WoT seems to have no respawns because it's much harder to kill something... at least, in the videos I've watched. I mean, almost every tank has a weak point somewhere in WT... realistically, I might add... and thus can be punched out a lot easier. You just need to know where they are.
Even a Maus can be taken out with a 30mm cannon round. It's bloody unlikely, you actually need a lucky ricochet to do it, but it can be done.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 29, 2015 07:48 PM (jGQR+)
It really varies. And it depends on the ammo selected. They do the math for ricochet angles, and splash damage and so on. And the damage modelling includes things like if your radioman is down, you don't get very good updates on the radar map because you can't share location info at distance with your teammates.
So I've had situations where I bounced 11 shells off another tank as he works on blowing me away. But worst of all is when a Gun Carriage I've never seen blows me to bits with one shot!
Still, I'm getting better at things like learning to use the terrain to my advantage. You can tell the noobs because they run around in light tanks because they're fast, and scream "camper" when you've been set up nicely under some foliage and blast them to bits when they finally sit still enough to hit. Sorry kid, heavy tanks are snipers. Deal.
Posted by: Mauser at April 30, 2015 04:20 AM (TJ7ih)
13I've had situations where I bounced 11 shells off another tank...
You've basically made my point for me here. Either you're using a gun that's drastically underpowered for your target or it's harder to kill something in WoT.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 30, 2015 07:26 AM (jGQR+)
I don't think WoT units are modeled down to the same detail on things like port holes and other intentional penetrations where you can sneak a lucky round through in WT. I put a round through the machine gun port in the mantlet the other night in WT. In WoT that would be a bounce because the port is just a dark spot in the texture.
Large features like the louvers in the front of the IS-3 do get a reduction in overall armor effectiveness, but you're not going to squeeze a small caliber round between the blades and wreck any internals.
Posted by: Will at April 30, 2015 10:59 AM (xJwV0)
Is World of Warships on your radar yet? It looks like a ton of fun (Guns! Torpedoes! Dive bombers!), but from what I've seen it's another game that depends a lot on yoir teammates.
Posted by: Andy at April 30, 2015 11:17 AM (IVRUG)
Andy, it is, but I found out it was going into closed beta AFTER the beta was closed. Oh well.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 30, 2015 02:55 PM (jGQR+)
Well, at the time, I was going against a much heavier tank, and I had the smaller gun mine started out with. Distance factors into the AP rounds (but not the HE rounds), and since there's an uncertainty factor in shooting, as well as a gunner's skill factor, it's hard to say if you're going to hit that 2 meter exhaust port.
Posted by: Mauser at May 01, 2015 02:46 AM (TJ7ih)
To L With You
You can't get more Chicago than this without a deep-dish pizza somewhere in the picture. Though, considering where this must have been taken, there's probably a few dozen Italian places within a few blocks.
The Pond's internet connection is... poor... tonight, so I'm hoping this posts, and leaving it at that. Maybe I can go back to being creative. Everything is breaking down at once over here. The apartment complex will be replacing my toilet on Monday... until then, I have to manually "flush" it by pouring water into the bowl in copious amounts. Came home from lunch on Friday to discover the floor of the bathroom was pretty much a swimming pool in the making. After cleaning it up, I took a nap... and woke up to another swimming pool. Seems one of the bolts (?) that holds the tank to the stool (?) had loosened. No problem, the maintenance guy said, just need to tighten it up. Except he couldn't. The toilet is old, the water from the well is ridiculously hard, and between the sediment and corrosion, the bolt was frozen and he couldn't budge it, no matter how he tried. Whatever, he said the upshot was that it was easier just to turn the water off to the thing so I don't wind up swimming in the bathroom and they'll replace it with a new one. As I'm not paying for it, I'm game. Thankfully, I have an empty mini-water-cooler bottle lying around the place, I can use that as a tank. That, and the handheld shower head reaches that far, too.
You are the most Roseanne Roseannadanna-like blogger on my list of daily reads.
"It's always something".
Hang in there, amigo, the worm has GOT to turn one of these days...
Posted by: The Old Man at April 26, 2015 04:57 AM (o6+UC)
The silver lining: unless the maintenance man makes a completely awful choice, you'll end up with a much more satisfactory fixture in every way.
I don't know how old your building is, but I'm guessing that you have something from the early days of water "saving" toilets -- the ones that, compared to the wasteful (but effective) old-fashioned ones, used half as much water per flush, but had to be flushed three or four times as often, lest you have to plunge.
The worst ones had a 3.5-gallon "flush," and I use the term with "air quotes," plus a then-fashionable low profile.
In recent years they've simultaneously pushed the water consumption down as low as 1.28 gallons per flush and gotten more disposal power out of it, a neat trick. A friend who's in the supercomputing game told me that a lot of computational fluid dynamics modeling went into some of them. Across the near 15 years we've been in this house I've replaced all three, and even the oldest (1.5 gpf) and cheapest of them works better than any of its 5 gpf predecessors.
Also, in part because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, taller ones, more comfortable for the average sized non handicapped American as well, have become the norm: "chair height" (17-19 inches) is quite common. Instead of having one's legs fell asleep halfway through the sports section, a fella can now get through the whole morning paper before going out to confront the day.
Posted by: Ad absurdum per aspera at April 27, 2015 10:22 AM (4sBqR)
Alas, today's maintenance guy came equipped with tools and a plan. He was able to simply makita out the old, disgustingly corroded bolts and replace them with new ones. Leak solved.
I would have enjoyed a taller throne.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2015 02:35 PM (jGQR+)
Well, this way you don't get any unpleasant surprises.
Today is World Book Day. It is also Canadian Book Day, which tends to be covered with gravy and unerringly polite. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, today is the Feast Day of Holy Glorious Great-martyr and Victory-bearer and Wonderworker Saint George. April 23rd is the birthday of Baseball Hall of Fame players "Sunny Jim" Bottomley and Warren Spahn, and non-HoF players Dolph Camilli and Emilio Bonifacio (Mr Goodface!).
Today is also the birthday of Charlie "Slats" Dorman, who played one game for the White Sox at catcher in 1923. He went 1-for-2 in his debut, which would be promising if not for the other side of the coin. He came into the game against the Philadelphia Athletics in the 6th inning, relieving Roy Graham (who was relieving Roy Schalk) behind the plate. In the four innings he played, the A's went three-for-four in steals. The final score was 9-0 A's, and Slats was never seen in the majors again. He left baseball later that year and moved back home to San Francisco, where he joined the police force. Late in October of 1928, he was playing a game of baseball with his Elks Lodge when he shattered his kneecap during a play. Infection set in, and he died of pneumonia in the hospital in November of that year. He was 30.
Some 40 years later, in a hospital near Wrigley Field (which also debuted on April 23rd), a Wonderduck was foist upon an unsuspecting world.
As has always been the case, nobody is more surprised than myself.
Star Wars: The New Film
Over at Brickmuppet's place, there was a lively little discussion of the second official trailer released for the new Star Wars film coming in December. I decided to let it cool down a touch before bringing it over here... and here it is. See, over there I mentioned that I didn't believe it to be so heavily "wow factor"'ed as the first trailer. There's no holy crap that's awesome! moments, but it still does a great job of getting people, aka "me", geeked up for the movie. Reader David disagreed, saying that the scene showing the crashed Imperial Star Destroyer did the job quite nicely.
Personally, I was amused by this shot, as I can't imagine any way a 1.6km long starship with obvious battle damage could survive re-entry to an atmosphere and a crash landing that buries most of it under the ground. Yet there it is, essentially in one piece. David also suggests that it's the first time in the series that we get an idea of the true scale of these ships. Really? Because eight-year-old me had a pretty good grasp on the concept after seeing this scene from the beginning of Star Wars.
Endlessly long white ship gobbles up the ship it was chasing. White ship big!
Anyway, back to my original point. I still stand by the statement that Trailer #1 was the Wow! Moment for the film, and intentionally so. New director, new producer, new characters, and three other "new films" that the series has to have to recover from. Don't concentrate on plot, concentrate on making it feel like Star Wars did that first time we saw it as kids.
That's the moment, right there, that did it for me. Three X-Wings in formation, S-foils in attack position, racing at full power across the surface of a lake. Though there was nothing like it in the Original Three films, it immediately took me back to being 10 years old, watching SW:ANH for the 10th time in the theatres.
And that's exactly what Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, has to do. Make us feel like we were kids again. I hope they manage it.
I'm cautiously optimistic that it'll be a film I can enjoy. That's also about the extent of my emotional attachment to this new movie, as it's been a long long time (since childhood, really) since Star Wars was a big "thing" for me. (That's not a value judgment, mind you! I speak only for myself!)
Looks cool, though. Here's hopin'.
Posted by: GreyDuck at April 22, 2015 01:54 PM (3m7pZ)
Happy Birthday, Vauc!
Today is the birthday of Official First Friend of the Pond Vaucaunson's Duck. We've known each other for something like 38 years, more or less. During that time, we've had our differences like any friends will, and there was one long period where neither contacted the other for nigh on six years. Despite that, we remained friends. I suspect we've become rather closer as the number of candles on our cakes have increased.
Friend GreyDuck and I joke about being related, what with our similar tastes in music and affection for vinyl waterfowl. With Vauc, however, it stopped being a joke long ago... I'm happy to call him family, even if that pesky genetics thing says otherwise. Hell, I'd call him "brother" if he didn't already have one that might take offense.
Here's to ya, Vauc. Enjoy the chocolate gingerbread cookies.
Stormageddon 2015: One Week Later
Seven days ago, the area around Duckford and Pond Central suffered through a series of severe storms. More and more information regarding them, and the damaged caused, has been coming out over the past few days. The National Weather Service has confirmed a total of seven tornadoes hit the area, three of which were "satellite tornadoes" from the big EF-4 that did most of the damage.
The one my neighbors and I saw was classified as an EF-0, did no real damage, and had winds around 70mph. I've actually experienced stronger straight-line gusts. I can only assume it was picked on at tornado school. I jest, of course. Of the seven tornadoes confirmed, six were either EF-0 or EF-1 in strength.
Residents were allowed back into Fairdale a few days after the tornado hit, to recover what they could. Not everybody from Fairdale has been accounted for even now, though it's believed all the victims have been found. The death toll still sits at two. Again, that could have been so much worse.
This picture is particularly exciting for me, as it's the first one I've seen that can be recognized as of the tornado that was forming behind Pond Central. For anybody curious, that's South Perryville Road, and the L-shaped object on a pole in the middle distance is the emergency siren for the area. That pole is at the intersection of S Perryville and the street my apartment complex is on. Pond Central would be about a mile, mile and a half, to the right of this picture. About a half-mile to the right is the site of the Bad Day In Duckford.
Other than all that, however? Life continues on unabated, as it always does for those not directly affected by disasters. Something about that feels... wrong, somehow.
Well, I wasn't thinking "deconstruction and cleanup." I was thinking more of a "go down to the church basement and help sort giveaway stuff into boxes."
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at April 16, 2015 06:41 PM (ZJVQ5)
There was a fundraiser a few days ago put on by one of the TV stations that got $25000 for the affected. The two counties affected by the tornado are both state disaster areas. Oddly, I've not seen much in the way of donation requests for supplies. Maybe in "other media", but I've not noticed any via the web or radio.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 16, 2015 08:35 PM (jGQR+)
Stormageddon 2015: The Next Day
(UPDATE @ 4pm: the National Weather Serviceis saying that the Fairdale tornado was EF-4 in strength. That equates to winds between 166-204mph, with "well-constructed houses and whole frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated." It's considered "devastating damage". The only realistic step above that, EF-5, basically means everything smaller than highrises are scoured to the ground, cars are thrown the length of a football field, that sort of thing. Though I wasn't aware of it, there's a step above EF-5, called "EF-No Rating". Winds measure from 319mph up to the speed of sound. Damage level for those is "literally inconceivable.")
(UPDATE @ 1017pm: I just learned that a second person was killed in Fairdale, the next-door neighbor of the first fatality.)
Authorities are still trying to account for everybody from Fairdale, including people who may not have been home when the storm hit. As you can imagine, that's taking a while. It makes sense when you see this picture:
This is looking south at the hamlet. If you compare it to the satellite shot in the previous post, imagine the camera is the yellow arrow and you've got the correct orientation.
The confirmed injury list grew to 11 people overnight, but thankfully the death toll has stayed at one. That doesn't include the minor scrapes and bruises suffered by a dozen people trapped in the basement of a Rochelle restaurant when it collapsed.
The UP intermodal yard had a close call, but escaped undamaged. As one of the main staging hubs for the railroad in the Chicago area, and thus the entire midwest, a direct hit could have been catastrophic for rail traffic across the entire country.
On the whole, Northern Illinois probably has to consider itself lucky.
On Thursday the 9th I was already trekking down south from Akron, OH, having figured that I don't want to return the way I came through Illinois, after hearing the twister sirens for the first time the day before. Lucky call. By midday I left all the nastiness far to the north and arrived in Bowling Green, KY.
Around 545pm or so, I was jolted out of a nap by my cellphone's "screamer" alarm. That particular alarm is set to go off when I get a text message from one of the local TV stations regarding weather Warnings... severe thunderstorm warnings, blizzard warnings, that sort of thing. This one was for a Thunderstorm, which I was expecting. The Weather Nabobs had been saying since Tuesday that there was a good chance of nasty storms today, after all. Part of me wanted to just roll over and go back to sleep... I've been having work-related nightmares recently, so relaxing sleep has been at a premium of late... but then the piercing, warbling sound of the emergency siren located less than a mile away went off.
The screamer went off a few moments later... tornado warning for the area. A small storm cell to the southwest had rotation visible in it according to radar, the Nabobs said, and it was due over Pond Central in about 20 minutes. Then a second tornado warning was issued for an area west-south-west of Pond Central, and that storm cell had visible and confirmed rotation, lowering clouds, and had been all-in-all ugly since Iowa.
Look, I don't consider myself a particularly brave duck. I'm not particularly afraid of anything, though I give routers (woodshop, not IT) a wide berth, and mushrooms and I have a bad relationship, but I'm not the sort who will go out looking for "EXTREEEEEEEME XXXXXXXCITEMENT!" or anything like that. But I'm also not overly concerned about storms, either. Oh, I'll avoid them when possible, and snowstorms I'll avoid driving in, but all in all, I'm good with weather. So, I stepped out on the balcony to see what's going on, right? Chatted with a couple of neighbors, we all jokingly agreed that we were about to die, haw haw haw... and then we all noticed that gosh, that front edge of the cloudline sure looks a little... um... cone-shaped? Well, whatever, it's past us and heading to the northeast.
And then, exactly the time the Weather Nabobs said the storm would pass over Pond Central, the rains came. What started as merely heavy soon escalated to "Malaysian Grand Prix" levels. The storm clouds disappeared in the combination of failing light and monsoon rain, but moments later the keening bandsaw sound of the emergency siren went off again.
The Weather Nabobs on the television were having problems keeping up with everything. It suddenly sounded like the storm to the west-south-west had put a for-sure tornado on the ground, while they were also reporting a tornado in the vicinity of the local shopping mall. The shopping mall that's about a mile or so northeast from Pond Central as the duck flies. Oh. Hm. Guess we were right about that cone shape. Quickly they turned their attention to the WSW storm, though, as it was headed right for a whole series of little towns, while the one near Pond Central was making its way through farmland and already showed signs of fading away.
The WSW tornado gathered strength and made its way through the vicinity of Rochelle, a town of around 10000 people that's long been a major railway hub and is home to one of Union Pacific's largest intermodal yards. It then made its way through farmlands and small widespots in the road at about 50mph and leveled at least one restaurant that's known of so far. The major problem, of course, is that nighttime was falling and power is out. It may be some time until we know the true extent of this one.
Then, as if those weren't enough, the sirens wailed again. Another storm cell had reportedly barfed up a third twister near Byron, IL, about ten miles southwest of Duckford, and it was headed right for Pond Central. It was at this point that yours truly retreated to the hallway that leads to his bathroom, taking with him his cellphone, a portable radio, a battery-operated lamp, and a nice book. And then I heard something I've never heard before in the 14+ years I've lived here: rapidfire "plonk" sounds coming from my heater.
It took me a second or two to realize that I was hearing hail hitting the exhaust outlets for the heater that are located on the roof. Oy. After about 20 minutes or so, and reports of two more tornadoes on radar east-north-east of Duckford, it seemed like things were calming down a bit. Sure enough, all extant tornado warnings were being cancelled except for one waaaaaaaay to the east of us... technically that was part of the same storm line, but couldn't really be considered part of what hit us.
Remember what I said about not considering myself particularly brave? I'm not ashamed to say that this might have been as nasty a storm system as I've ever encountered, and that includes this one that hit a TV station while they were broadcasting. That one was on the far side of the city from me, after all. At one point during this mess tonight, which only lasted about two hours all told, there were three different tornado warning tracks pointed directly towards Pond Central, and another one just a few miles east. Now that things have settled down, they seem to be thinking that there were only two on the ground, not five. Unfortunately, the one that touched down near Rochelle has definitely been confirmed. There has been damage and injuries, and it may have had a run of close to fifty miles.
One place the beast touched was the tiny town of Fairdail, IL, which the mayor of nearby Kirkland said had been flattened. ABC7 out of Chicago is reporting that there's been one death there, the first reported for-sure casualty.
The Rockford Fire Department has responded to Fairdale, and the news coming out via twitter isn't promising. All structures in town are damaged, access is difficult to due to debris. Just outside Pond Central, I can hear the sound of sirens on the highway that heads from here to Rochelle; with a small jog, it also goes to Fairdale. It sounds like the sirens are headed back to Duckford... probably ambulances, and that's sobering. I was really about to say that it seemed like the area dodged a bullet, and I suppose that's true. After all, 15 miles north was Duckford, a city of close to 200000 people. Rochelle has 10000. Fairdale supposedly has 2000. I say "supposedly" because... well, here's the googlemaps view of the town:
They must be counting nearby farms as well.. Rochelle is off to the left, Kirkland to the right, Duckford off top. So, yes, we may have dodged a bullet, but Fairdale didn't. Hopefully we'll have good news once the sun comes up.
Right now, it's rainy and the wind is howling outside as the cold front that caused all this hullabaloo flows through. Behind it is supposedly clear skies and cool temperatures. Midwest weather: if you don't like it, wait a few minutes, it'll change.
I've been through several hurricanes. I've been through a Richter 8.0 earthquake. I've been through a volcanic eruption. But I've never been through a tornado, and tornadoes scare me a whole lot more than those other things.
Maybe I'm remembering wrong. There was a huge earthquake NE of LA which I felt in San Diego, maybe 12 years ago. That one also rocked Las Vegas. Fortunately the epicenter wasn't near anything significant, so casualties and damage were minimal, but it was impressive nonetheless. I was laying on my couch reading a book, and then the chandeliers and window blinds started swaying back and forth -- as did the building itself.
I thought it was Richter 8, but maybe I'm remembering wrong.
Either way, "swaying back and forth" is not something that should be high on a building's list of things to do, even if it's meant to in an earthquake.
I experienced a small quake when I visited Seattle lo these many years ago. The people I was visiting had an apartment with a balcony that looked closely upon a freeway. I was on the balcony when a truck went by, and the balcony sort of rocked a bit... and then I realized it couldn't be a truck, because it kept going for much longer than the second or two a truck would have taken to pass by.
Even that tiny thing was enough to creep me the hell out.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 10, 2015 12:58 AM (jGQR+)
"Hey, Mom, come look at this tornado."
"Dad, that's not... like, a tornado there, right?"
"Naw, it's in northern Illinois somewhere."
"That's not good either!"
Good to know your career as a stationary storm-chaser didn't have a spectacular launch.
Posted by: Avatar at April 10, 2015 04:09 AM (zTHWs)
The swaying was quite impressive, especially since it lasted a couple of minutes. The wood frame building didn't suffer any damage that I ever noticed, but if it had been brick it probably would have come down. (That's why brick buildings are prohibited under the local building code.)
Posted by: ReallyBored at April 10, 2015 09:33 AM (ulGxe)
> Maybe I'm remembering wrong. There was a huge
> earthquake NE of LA which I
felt in San Diego,
> maybe 12 years ago. That one also rocked Las Vegas.
Southern California has thankfully not had a truly huge quake since Fort Tejon (est. 7.9) in 1857 -- if such a thing occurred today anywhere near the coastal cities, never mind in them, it would result in a major disaster. I don't think there have been any substantial lesser ones in the last eight years or so either. But I often am startled to be informed that something I remember as if it were yesterday (remembering yesterday, literally, is more problematic!) and refer to as having been a few or several years ago, actually happened 15-20 years back...
There was a set of substantial (though not 8.0 big) earthquakes, considered to have been related, northeast of Los Angeles from 1992 to 1999, often referred to as Landers (the biggest of them, which you definitely would have felt in San Diego), Big Bear, and Joshua Tree. And there was the unrelated Northridge quake, just The Medium One but quite damaging, in 1994.
Regarding tornadoes, which to me are quite a bit scarier even though the damage is more localized, it's sobering to think of how recent the warning systems and their inputs are. In the age of pretty ubiquitous NEXRAD coverage in the continental US, we easily forget that Doppler weather radar is 1980s vintage and useful weather radar at all is postwar stuff. A lot of TV stations have better private weather radar now than pretty much anyone did in the 1970s.
Within living memory, a lot of rural America wouldn't have had a way to get warnings had they been available, contributing to the toll of phenomena like the "Tri-State Tornado." Being a weather-wise old farmer with a storm cellar doesn't necessarily help with one that moves at near 60 mph (or is heavily rain-wrapped or at night). Today's warning systems are imperfect, and the way the results are delivered are sometimes at too high a level of granularity, but they save lives.
As for seeing the big picture, any kind of weather satellites at all, never mind the hyperspectral assets we take for granted now, are roughly contemporary with my lifetime.
That link has an interesting aside regarding an anniversary that I'd never thought of (and which admittedly is imprecisely known and defined in the negative): it is thought that since the mid 60s no tropical cyclone has gone undetected, anywhere on earth. Contrast that with the circumstances well within the edge of living memory, when entire fleets (as many here know better than myself, it wasn't just Halsey... for that matter, it wasn't Halsey just once) could be pretty much taken by surprise by a hurricane or typhoon.
So much of what we know about our own planet is based on such recently attained capabilities, and can be just barely enough and just barely in time...
Posted by: Ad absurdum per aspera at April 10, 2015 01:20 PM (4sBqR)
I can still remember the day of the Xenia tornado, and was lucky to be home that day instead of in it. I remember the hail and the sky, and the brand new weather radar system saving lives, and the death toll of those who didn't get saved. So believe me, I understand being scared of those things.
Anyone who is not scared of a nearby super-tornado is either really focused on science, or fails to understand the situation. (Or one is Shawnee, but that's a special cultural/religious case.)
We also had storm after storm the last few days. But the worst we got was a momentary power outage, and a very temporary yellow sky that only came from sunset. (Not yellow-green, thank goodness. I'm programmed to freak when that happens.)
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at April 10, 2015 02:14 PM (ZJVQ5)
I grew up around 15 miles from Xenia, and I remember how the silly little emergency drills at school suddenly seemed a lot more important to us. Amusingly, we'd just moved from a house near the toxic landfill to the middle of America's Largest Community Of Brick Homes. Pictures of the Xenia devastation did not reassure the owners of those brick homes...
Posted by: J Greely at April 10, 2015 10:46 PM (ZlYZd)
Alright, just to set the record straight: it was the Hector
Mine earthquake, and it rated 7.1. Which ain't 8, but it's still a healthy
Baseball Is Back
In the past, I've sneered at the concept of beginning the baseball season on a Sunday night with a single game. Darn it, the baseball season is supposed to start on a Monday with a game in Cincinnati, followed closely by the rest of the teams. That's the way it was for decades, and if it was good enough then, it's good enough now. I believe in tradition, and Baseball is the perfect sport for such beliefs. Of course, a few years ago, they started the "Opening Night" thing. I've managed to successfully ignore the event... in my mind, baseball still begins on Monday.
Not this year.
That's because the new baseball season begins tonight at Wrigley Field, with a game between the St Louis Cardinals and my Chicago Cubs. Back in 2009, SDB mentioned that the Cubs had been sold and asked if it would make a difference. My answer was "in the short term, no." Left unsaid was that in the long term, it would make a big difference. My short-term prediction was borne out... the Cubs were a very bad team, and the management staff was turned over.
What nobody could have predicted is exactly what happened. In 2010, the Cubs brought in Theo Epstein to be their President of Baseball Operations, and Epstein protege Jed Hoyer to be GM. Owner Tom Ricketts said "I don't want this team to be the one-year wonders they've been in the past... I want a team that'll contend year after year. Make it happen." Epstein and Hoyer promptly poured gasoline over the entire organization from majors to the lowest of single-A teams and set it ablaze with a flamethrower. They had found that during the long period of TribuneCo. ownership, the team had been run to make money, not necessarily win games. Fixing it required a total revamp, a head-to-toe concentration on the farm system instead of free agency... and time. Time to let bad free agency contracts expire, time for the farm system to start generating prospects, time for moneys to build up again... and time to bring Wrigley Field into the 21st Century.
Despite threats of lawsuits from the so-called "rooftop owners", businesses that put bleacher seating on the rooftops of apartment buildings across the street from Wrigley and made money by leeching off the Cubs, the team began major repairs and renovations to their park as last season came to a close. The most visible and obvious of these is the huge Jumbotron screen just beyond the left field bleachers. Those iconic bleachers, both in left and right fields, were razed and are in the process of being rebuilt with more seats and added concourse area behind them. Indeed, the outside wall of the park will now come all the way to both Waveland Avenue in left and Sheffield Avenue in right, instead of leaving room for a triple-wide sidewalk. The third-base side concourse is having structural work done, and new bathrooms installed. If you've ever used the bathroom at Wrigley, you understand just how important this is. Additional structural steel and concrete work is being performed all over the park as well, so as to keep this 100-year old park from collapsing in 20 years or so. The bleacher work was supposed to have been completed by Opening Night, but the lousy winter kept that from happening.
As recently as five days ago, this was the way the field looked. It goes without saying that the bleachers won't be finished in time. Indeed, left field is now scheduled for completion sometime in May with right field following along in June. The outside wall of the park is still totally unbuilt, simply blocked off by chain-link fencing and ivy-printed tarpaulins. In just a few days, though, the crews have managed to pretty the place up quite nicely.
This picture was tweeted out by Cubs catcher David Ross on Saturday. The right field construction is covered with screens celebrating Cubs legend Ernie Banks, who passed away this past January. Left field will undoubtedly have something similar, though the Jumbotron is fully functional. In a lovely touch, it's able to mimic the appearance of the center field scoreboard. There are many who believe that Wrigley's charm stemmed from its lack of modernity, and they may have been right... but only to a point. I'd rather actually have Wrigley Field still standing but modernized, than collapsed to rubble with an old-fashioned charm. For make no mistake, that's where Wrigley was heading. They had already been forced to install catch netting under the upper decks to prevent chunks of concrete from hitting the fans below, for example. Amenities for the players were awful: the home team clubhouse was tiny, cramped and little changed from 50 years ago, for example. This brought up the horrible situation where Sloan Park, the new spring training home for the Cubs in Mesa, actually had immensely bigger and better facilities for players than the major league stadium. The remodel will change all that. But what of the actual team?
Late last season, we began to see signs that the suffering of the last five years was beginning to end. The Cubs began to give some of their prized minor leaguers a taste of the Big Show, all the while making it clear that they players they brought up weren't even the best they had. Through crafty trades of legit big-league talent for other teams' prospects, and some good old-fashioned scouting of their own, the Cubs farm system went from nigh-on worst in baseball to the unquestioned best. In Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, they have the #1 and #3 best prospects as selected by Baseball America, the bible of minor league baseball. Jorge Soler is #12, Kyle Schwarber #19. Having that many players in the top 20 is unprecedented. Throw in other rookies like Arimendy Alcantera and you've got a deep, deep pool to pull from. This goes along with a young roster of major leaguers headed by all-stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, Javier Baez of the massive power numbers (and massive strikeout numbers). Throw in a solid pitching rotation headed by free-agent powerhouse Jon Lester, and you have a team that will certainly be better than 2014's 73-89. Indeed, there are people picking them for playoff contention and even World Series predictions. The biggest acquisition in the offseason wasn't a player, however, but a manager. In December, two time manager of the year Joe Maddon exercised an opt-out clause he had in his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and joined the Cubs. He has a track record of being an innovative coach who also knows how to get out of the way of his players when needed, perfect for this team. If anybody can get the Cubs to a World Series, it would be Joe Maddon. I don't think it's going to happen this season... I expect something around 82-85 wins; that's still an improvement of nine to 12 wins, a huge amount. But in 2016? Good times are ahead, and that's not just "wait 'til next year" thinking.
And it all starts tonight.
UPDATE @ 1025pm: the St Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-0.
It's one game, Steven. There are six months and 161 games left to go. Hell, I'm predicting them to be just barely above .500. 82 wins means 80 losses... there's gonna be a bunch more to come this season.
Posted by: Wonderduck at April 06, 2015 12:23 PM (jGQR+)
A very interesting post! Whether or not the Reds win this year, I certainly would enjoy seeing the Cubbies making an impact. I think every baseball fan would like to see them win a Series, because it's just not right. (Although preferably not against one's own favorite team, of course.)
And that Tribune thing does rather explain the long losing streak. Huh.
Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at April 06, 2015 03:19 PM (ZJVQ5)