New Year's Eve, 2016
As 2016 lurches to a halt, it's hard to describe the year as anything but "not good at all." It goes without saying that this year will be remembered for two things: death and baseball. In the abstract, what seemed to be a lot of musicians, actors, and other famous beings passed away in 2016, starting with David Bowie at the start of January, and ending with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds just a few days ago. In between, of course, was anime blogger and friend to The Pond Steven Den Beste. And Abe Vigoda cemented his status as meme to boot.
But for me, 2016 will go down as the year the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I honestly never thought I'd get to say that, but it actually happened. And I was happy in a way that I haven't been since that dreadful weekend in 2009.
2016 has been a slog, no question about it. The Pond has suffered from neglect, work has been rough, and I've seen friendships wither on the vine. But to you readers who have stuck around, I say thank you. You make it worthwhile, and you make me want to bring The Pond back to glory. But mostly I say thank you for being my friends.
And now it is time for the wearing of silly hats, so as to best welcome 2017!
Christmas Eve, 2016
So another Christmas is upon us. No big plans over here at Pond Central... I didn't even put up the tree, again. I'll be hanging out at the Old Home Pond, having the usual dinner. Looking forward to the pierogi sauteed in butter and onions, lemme tell you. But on the whole, the Christmas season is pretty low-key around these parts.
I'm going to admit something though. As we approach December 25th, I find myself thinking about someone I know didn't "do" Christmas at all. Maybe five years ago, Steven Den Beste and I got into a long e-mail exchange after I wished him a merry y'know and inquired as to how I could send him a rubber duck. The upshot was 1) the day he accepted a rubber duck from me was the day he surrendered his fight against the inevitable encroaching duck horde, and 2) with no family to speak of and no flesh-and-blood friends, December 25th was just another day in the "expired" column of the Ledger Book of Life. At the time I respected his desire to be left alone, but... well. Even at the time I thought the image of him sitting alone in his apartment staring at a laptop was sad. Now? A tip o' the hat to Steven... Merry Christmas ya old coot, where-ever you are these days.
And a Merry Christmas to you, my assembled Pond Scum. It's been a rough year for everybody, so hopefully your holiday will be the best one ever. Tonight, I'm going to do something I haven't yet done: watch the final installment of ARIA the Avvenire. Yeah, I know... it's a case of "if I watch it, it'll be over with for good. If I don't watch it, there's always a new episode of ARIA to watch." Anyway... y'know...
Disaster Avoided... Again
Monday morning, I put on my new warm coat, threw the hand-knit scarf around my neck, pulled on the Gloves of Excessive Warmth, and opened Pond Central's front door. This was my first mistake, because it was somewhere in the negative single-digits. Frighteningly, this was actually an improvement from Saturday night, where it was somewhere around -20, or Sunday, where at 2pm it was -3. At least it wasn't windy, thought I as I grabbed my trusty snowbrush/icescraper and headed for the DuckMobile.
There was a few inches of snow on the car, which was nice. Nice because there were only a few inches of snow on the car, instead of the snowmageddon that had been predicted. The weather nabobs had said it'd start snowing Friday night (it did) and go until early Sunday morning with a pause of a few hours Saturday afternoon (it didn't). Still and all, what we did get was plenty enough. Even though the wind wasn't blowing at all, the cold eventually began seeping into the new coat, so I dove into the Duckmobile to get it started. While she wasn't thrilled with the concept, the engine turned over right away and came to life on the first try. That makes the DuckMobile's record something like 20341 - 2. Yup, in all the cold weather we get here, it's only not started twice in the 17 years I've owned it. Gloating at the intelligence it took to purchase this particular vehicle, I let it run and got out to finish getting the snow off. At which point, the RPMs casually walked themselves all the way down to zero and the engine... stopped.
I was dumbfounded. That isn't supposed to happen! I got back into the car, turned the key to "off"... no reason to leave it "on", after all... and looked at the dashboard. Nothing out of the ordinary, so I decided to start it up again. It fired up even easier this time, and ran roughly. To be honest though, I expected that. It was still in the negatives after all, and it hadn't been above zero in well over 24 hours. In the corner of my brain there was a little voice saying "you're pushing your luck, y'know." Remember, this is the car that's had the engine stop twice due to oil starvation. I may not have mentioned the second time... I was putting along and bob'syouruncle, the engine, it just stopped. I put a couple of quarts of oil in, and it ran like an angel. So it was possible that was causing the engine to stop. Or it was really cold. Or both.
A taxi got me to work, and my boss's boss drove me home that night. This morning I headed out to the DuckMobile with two quarts of room temperature motor oil, which may not sound like much but it was still 50Â° warmer than outside. It was at this moment that I discovered something: it was windy. Twenty and windy is a LOT less fun than zero and calm. Anyway, I put the oil in, crossed my fingers, and turned the key. No problems. She got me to work and home with no drama, no nothing.
So was it the oil? Was it because it's warmer now? Know what? I don't care. My car is running again, and that's all that matters. I feel like I've just dodged another bullet. Maybe two.
Santa is always portrayed as a big man in the midwest, and the beard must be real. At the age of 7, the Santa On The Square was suitably impressive yet scary; I found out years later he widely considered the town drunk. But it was that year that my fear of Christmas began, which would only be cured after years of soft therapy by my wife.
As the assisted (aiding and abetting?) Elf lifted me onto Santa's lap, the giant "ho, ho, ho'd" to the assembled crowd, then dipped his head close to my ear and whispered, "There will be no survivors. Tell no one."
My eyes went wide, my mouth opened wider, and the tears slowly began to fall. It was a poorly conceived practical joke to play on a child; when I was finally able to shared the story much later in life, it inevitably brings uproarious laughter. But to my seven-year-old self, this was the most horrifying thing that had ever happened to me.
Santa wisely slid me off his lap, handed me a candy cane, and wished me a Merry Christmas. Late on December 24th, wild with paranoia, my mother told me St. Nick wouldn't come if I stayed awake. God, did I try. When I awoke at 5:30 AM, I ran screaming through to house to make sure my sister and parents were still alive. Running through the living room, I was instantly relieved to see no additional presents placed since the previous evening. (Santa-given gifts were rare and expensive, I figured out why a few months later.)
My parents completely misunderstood my behavior. But the incident prompted deep, desperate thought within me; leading to the loss of my innocence. In more ways than one.
Posted by: Ben at December 17, 2016 07:26 PM (B1bvu)
Updates And Stuff
I've been informed that the answer to the question posed in the last post is 2028. The source, while having a habit of sending detonating kiwi in my direction every now and again, is generally reliable... or I haven't caught him in a blatant lie as of yet, one of the two. Whichever it is, that means 12 more years before I'm moving to Aqua.
I don't know how Elon Musk is going to build spacecraft with flapping wings, but I'm sure he'll manage by then. I know we're living in the future already, but "faster please."
All the overtimes are mine. While that's nice since I can do it at home, if I get caught up in something afterwards, next thing I know it's time for bed. And I gotta admit, I've been caught by a game. Again, in this case.
Yep, Go Go Nippon! recently got another installment via DLC. Six new locations (three per girl), more story options, and a slight shift in tone to boot. If you remember, the game is something of a guidebook to some parts of the Tokyo area; you're shown these locations by Makoto (left) and Akira (right). In the previous two versions, the focus was definitely on the locations and information. While there was a modicum of romantic options, it was totally on rails. With the new DLC, it seems to concentrate more on the girls, and I think there are multiple endings available for the two. As I've only played one line of one sister, I'm not sure. Gotta admit, I'm having fun finding out. Which is kinda sad, actually.
Not as sad as this, but if it does even half of what it shows in this video, I'll admit to a massive desire to own one. Because... um... reasons.
I wonder why the ducks perched right there. They like the sound? They like the rush of water all in a particular direction? They know it's photogenic so people will take pictures and possibly throw bread?
It's been a long week so yes, this is what caught my attention...
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 16, 2016 08:58 AM (rKFiU)
And THIS is how Japan achieves a zero Birth Rate....
Posted by: Mauser at December 16, 2016 07:47 PM (5Ktpu)
Posted by: Mauser at December 17, 2016 09:14 PM (5Ktpu)
The virtual robot waifu looks interesting. I can see both upsides and downsides to such a technology. Lonely people with poor social skills or no friends and family could benefit by having a simulated caregiver which would relieve their sense of loneliness. Possibly leading to lower suicide rates and dementia.
The potential downside would be that people, especially men, who already have difficulties with socialization giving up on 3D people altogether. As Mauser points out above, this could have a deleterious effect on the national TFR.
Extrapolating further though, imagine this developing into ArmitageIII-type femdroids. That could very well reverse all the social problems. The Stepford Wives were presented as horror, but that's really only from a feminist perspective. I suspect that many men would welcome android wives who embodied the June Cleaver ideal, especially if they could bear their husbands' children.
Posted by: jabrwok at December 18, 2016 08:40 AM (wKZS0)
Hey, if they can bring my Hand Maid May figurines to life, I'm in.
Posted by: J Greely at December 18, 2016 01:27 PM (tgyIO)
That virtual waifu is the most sad, pathetic, loser-ish thing I've ever seen.... so how long until they have an English language version?
Posted by: ubu at December 20, 2016 09:15 AM (SlLGE)
Alas, I never did finish writing the short story where sex androids (referred to by the men as "Fluffers") collected samples from the men in space and returned them to Earth for the women who wanted to reproduce.
Posted by: Mauser at December 20, 2016 08:00 PM (5Ktpu)
The Blog Of Silence
So work is kicking my butt five ways from Sunday to the point I'm actually scared to hit "complete" on a claim for fear that I've screwed it up. I'm also short on sleep. I'm mandatory 10 hours of overtime a week, which I mostly do at home. Which is nice, because it means I'm not at the office, but in return it means that I can't get away from work. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs everywhere.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that blogging may be light and variable for a little while longer. Which is unfortunate. Hopefully y'all will stick around.
Being able to work from home... I can't do that. They'd call it stealing company property. That is assuming I could even BRING the front half of a 767 home....
Posted by: Mauser at December 05, 2016 10:14 PM (5Ktpu)
Great googly moogly. When does the 50-hour-work-week thing come to a close? Hopefully this calendar year? Hopefully well before the holiday weekends?
Posted by: GreyDuck at December 05, 2016 11:01 PM (rKFiU)
Working from home has always been my goal...but I don't do what you do, either. Head down and foot forward into the wind, friend Wonderduck.
Posted by: Ben at December 05, 2016 11:59 PM (S4UJw)
GD, it will likely only end with my resignation, termination, or death. We've got too much work to assume it'll end anytime in the near future. Hell, we had 8 hours of overtime the week of thanksgiving. I put in a couple of hours on Turkey Day itself.
Ben, it's not all bad. I mean, I get to sit in my $400 comfy computer chair which has essentially been modified to the shape of my tailfeathers over the years. And my computer has six times the RAM that my work system has... I don't have to wait for things to scroll!
I did turn down the opportunity to work from home exclusively, however.
Posted by: Wonderduck at December 06, 2016 01:23 AM (vZvpB)
Did the work-from-home thing while I was in Hawaii and it has its ups and downs. Definitely feel like I enjoy work more actually being there (certainly they appreciate having me around, if only because I can hear someone say "oh shit" and go fix the problem...)
Posted by: Avatar at December 06, 2016 05:09 AM (v29Tn)
"And my computer has six times the RAM that my work system has"
My work PC is a Haswell i5 with 8GB of RAM. This summer I bought a Skull Canyon NUC (desktop-class full quad-core i7) with 16GB of RAM. Lately I've been taking it in to work and working mostly with it instead of my actual work PC because I can do a bunch of stuff, like run VMs, that the work PC doesn't quite have enough oomph for.
It's pretty awesome, the NUC, except for not being a great gaming machine.
Posted by: Rick C at December 06, 2016 03:43 PM (ECH2/)