August 21, 2017
Failclipse Duckford had a little problem today. It was overcast and cloudy... at least, it was overcast and cloudy when it wasn't overcast, cloudy and raining. In fact, when I took my camera and tripod outside, it was dripping a bit. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "rain", but there was water coming from the sky. The upshot of all of this is that instead of the sun being a visible disk, it was instead a diffused blob of light. Still, I gave it my best shot... but most of the pictures turned out like this:
Don't fool yourself into thinking there's a bit of moon arc visible there at the bottom; this picture was taken around 130pm, less than 15 minutes past the most occluded time. We were supposed to get about 86% coverage. At 116pm, the sun was still casting clear shadows. Feh. Still, the shots weren't all bad.
I call this one "Accidental Hubble." Particularly in its larger form, it reminded me of dozens of Hubble shots with dust clouds occluding something bright in the center, y'know? Just not as pretty. So I have that going for me. Which was nice. And then, scrolling through the pictures I came across this one:
By whatever quirk of optics you may care to name, I somehow managed to catch what I assume is a reflection of the eclipse as seen inside the camera lens. Maybe it's a trick of the mirrorless camera I use. Maybe it's bouncing off the sun filter. Maybe it's Maybelline. All I know is that it's upside down from what we were supposed to be seeing here in Duckford. And blue. I have no idea what that's all about. So there you have it... the best picture of the Great American Eclipse I was able to take.
August 20, 2017
Just Where Have You Been, Wonderduck? It was a long week, so I've been relaxing. Next week, miracle of miracles, we're only on five hours of mandatory OT. Which is like a gift from the gods as far as I'm concerned... five hours is practically nothing!
"You weren't planning on using the pocket watch as a metaphor for time, were you? Yeah, I didn't think so."
I've also been working on a huge project for The Pond, the culmination of which will come tomorrow, weather permitting. Yep, that's right, I'm going to try some eclipse photography on Monday! Even have the blessing of my employers, who have encouraged everybody to go outside and experience the "once in a lifetime" event (which will happen again in seven years)... with proper precautions, of course. I've acquired the filters needed, permission to bring my camera onto the production floor (have to leave it in a supervisor's office until I need it), and hopefully I'll get something good out of it. Sadly, the forecast is for overcast, clouds, and thunderstorms tomorrow, so all my preparations may be for naught. But, weather permitting, I'll be out there.
It's... unlikely that any Akus will be created. I hope.
On the "more" page, I've put some music that I've misplaced a couple of times before... this time, they won't get away again! Enjoy, or not. Whichever. I'm not picky.
August 17, 2017
GrrrrrrrrRARRRRRGH First I slept like... um... something that sleeps really badly... last night. Then I got to work, looked at the claims rotation, and realized I was staring at nine hours or more of the worst type of claim possible. Not only has the client gone out of their way to make them more difficult, and thus slower, but they've also instituted new automation software that's supposed to take the easy claims out of the queue and do them automagically. This has been tried before. It didn't work then, and it's not working now. Which means we have to fix the problems they caused. AGAIN.
Then the lady who sits immediately to my left debuted a new perfume today. By the bucketful. And she was using her scented hand lotion nigh on constantly... like, every 20 minutes or so. Neither smell alone was overly offensive, though it's kinda rude to inflict that upon others in close proximity. Combined, however... combined, it was like an olfactory sledgehammer right between the eyes. Worse, the smell lingered. A blanket nastygram from the boss (at my request-slash-plea) got her to at least cut out the lotion, but the damage had already been done. It wasn't a migraine, but dear merciful heavens it does hurt a lot.
Then, as if all that wasn't enough, during the last two hours of the day, I was stuck there with three other people doing their overtime. They were spread out across the room, and decided that they just had to talk to each other. Without leaving their desks. By yelling. Loudly enough that it got through the music playing loudly in my headphones. Loudly.
With a bad headache. Friggin' shoot me. Tomorrow will be more of the same, only Friday. I'm so looking forward to it.
August 15, 2017
Why A Duck: The Story Of An Obsession In Five Acts, Act II Gesundheit.
As you may remember, in Act I of this tale Our Hero gained the first member of what would eventually become known as The Flock. One would think that would be the beginning of a beautiful tale. One would be incorrect.
Act II: The Duck Dark Ages
Things were not good. Our Hero, yours truly, was in truly dire straits. Two reasons for this. The first was simple: he had been kicked out of grad school and his dream of being a professional lighting designer had just shattered. The second reason was more existential: he had just failed at something important for the first time in his life. Along the way, he'd managed to screw up just about everything you could think of, and a few more besides. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Our Hero was mostly a seething ball of hate. He had moved back to the Old Home Pond, with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck, and we should all feel a moment's pity for them at this time. Our Hero was only barely human at this point, bitter and resentful of the world at large. It's fortunate that he mostly stayed in his bedroom for the first few months, exiting only to go shopping for more cigarettes and alcohol.
And Scooter the Wonderduck was in a box in the closet, along with other things that didn't really fit in the bedroom. Plus, unhappy bundles of evil didn't do rubber ducks. They just don't. Eventually, Our Hero got a job in the music department of BigBlueBoxRetailer, and got his radio gig back to boot. After a year or so, he'd leave BBBR for the greener pastures of an independent comic book store that he'd been shopping at since he was young. Another year passed and he'd quit that to become a telemarketer, then came a stint with RadioShanty. It was around this time that Our Hero met The Librarian, which coincidentally led to a job with a mall-based bookstore chain that rhymed with Maldenrooks as a store manager. This was 1999, and the future had begun to look somewhat exciting to Our Hero, but Scooter stayed in the box in the closet, forgotten. In 2001, Our Hero moved out of the Old Home Pond to Pond Central. One day that first week as unpacking occurred, Scooter saw the light of day again. He immediately got a spot on the computer desk, alone but important.
Then things went right to hell again. 9/11 happened, the Maldenrooks home office announced that Our Hero's store was to be closed at the end of the year, and that all of the employees would be offered positions at the Boredoors on the other end of town. As it turned out, all the employees but the manager. During the worst economic downturn in 20 years. For the next 18 months, Our Hero looked for work... and failed miserably. While he didn't become a hermit, his life was spent applying for jobs and not getting one.
Then, one day, while he was out shopping for foodstuffs, he noticed something. There, in the toy section of the children's aisle (right across from the shampoo and q-tips), was a rubber duckie... cute one, too. A moment later, the duckie had been added to the shopping cart... Scooter the Wonderduck probably was lonely after all. And thus did Scooter II: The Wrath of Khan become the second member of what would become known as The Flock.
There was no way for anybody to realize just how important that chance encounter was, nor what it would eventually lead to.
Next time: A New Hope and more.
August 08, 2017
Speech-like Substance Back in the days of enforced vacation, it was common for me to not leave my apartment for days at a time. Indeed, at one point it reached 10 days, but that was because it was very very cold, and ducks hate cold.
However! During those times, even in the worst of the periodic depressions I would go through, I would still talk. Maybe an Amazon delivery would be delivered by the postal worker, or I'd get a phone call from Ph.Duck, or maybe, just maybe, a phone interview for a job. In any case, words were a definite thing I'd do.
Which makes it entirely strange that I've literally not spoken a word since approximately 630pm Monday evening. I went to work at my normal time, left ten hours later, and not one word was said. Not because I was being unfriendly or anything like that... there just wasn't any reason to say anything. Nobody directed conversation my direction, nor vice-versa, my next-door neighbor is sick so she hasn't been in this week, my boss who's always up for Cubs talk is on vacation a business trip, and during my lunch I went into the breakroom and promptly fell asleep for the whole thing.
People used to find it amusing, but nowadays nary an eye is blinked. But anyway, as I write this it's going on 30 hours without speaking, and the earliest I'll be in to work tomorrow will be 9am... well. I dunno about you, but when I go a while without vocalizing, my voice comes out like a bag of gravel being dumped down an HVAC vent. Should be interesting tomorrow.
August 06, 2017
On The 'L' So a few nights ago I get a steam message from friend Ben from the mysteriously named Midnite Tease, who really needs to blog some more. "I'm working on a modeling project," the aforementioned Ben says, "do you know anything interesting about Chicago's El?" After sending him a few links that I knew of, I did a little bit of digging myself... just for the 'L' of it.
Yes, I'm sorry. And yes, 'L' is the correct abbreviation, including the little quote marks. Leastwise, that's how the CTA does it, and if anybody knows, it's them. Anyway, since "anything interesting" covers a lot of ground, here's some cool pictures I've found along the way.
Diamonds Are Forever
Down in the Loop, Tower 18 is the control point for the confluence of five different routes, or "lines" as they're called in Chicago: the North-South running Brown and Purple lines, the East-West Pink and Green, and the Orange line, which runs to Midway Airport. Railroad diamonds scare me... they seem like magic. Solid tracks crossing each other without the trains derailing? I don't see it.
We Can Build It!
1908, and what would eventually be called the 'L' has been in use in one form or another for nearly 20 years. Mostly it was ground-level rail then, and it pretty much didn't go downtown at all due to obtuse trackage rights problems, but once those got figured out (i.e., enough bribes were passed around) some bright spark had the idea to not clog the streets. So they called out the heavy machinery, which I really hope was called "The Spider", because c'mon look at it, and began building. Chicago can really build things, y'know that?
February 4th, 1977. Due to a routing problem and an engineer smoking weed on the job, one 'L' train bumped into the back of another at low speed. The engineer, sitting at the other end of the train, continued to apply power until, inevitably, some of the cars jackknifed and derailed. One of the special problems you get with elevated tracks is that when you get a derailment, it's generally a Very Bad Thing. Two cars ended up on the ground, a third stopped only by a support, and a fourth (in the upper left-hand corner) dangling from the station at Randolph and Washington. Two died, something like 177 were injured. I vaguely remember this happening, as Momzerduck and I had only just moved from the Chicago area to Duckford. It scared me as a young waterfowl... "trains that I rode on crashed! It could have been me!" I was a simple duck back then. A different angle of the aftermath can be found here.
Art Or Something Like It
Sometimes utilitarian objects can be beautiful with the right lighting. Adams and Wabash Station, butting right up against buildings on either side, looking north to one of Chicago's ubiquitous skyscrapers. I'm sure it's ugly most of the time, but the photographer got it right here.
That's it. Nothing special, just some cool photos. Carry on.
August 03, 2017
Announcing: Operation RTPTIFG! I miss The Pond. I miss the way it was around here. A vibrant group of readers that I collectively called "The Pond Scum." Mildly clever writing about occasionally interesting subjects. A laugh or two along the way. Times were good, things were fun, and I had a blast.
...and then a series of things happened to derail the happytrain. I got promoted at the Bookstore, which took up more of my time. Then I got fired from the Bookstore which, while it gave me back all that time (and more!), sent me into a slide that ended up in a deep depression. Then I was hired by a job where I spend all my time in front of a computer. Then SDB passed away, something that hit me harder than I expected or realized. The good times were gone.
Well, no more.
Today, I'm putting into motion Operation RTPTIFG (Restore The Pond To Its Former Glory). Beginning this weekend, I am going to create time to write here at The Pond. The plan is at least five days a week, there will be a new post. Now, it may very well be a short thing, a Random Anime Picture or something of that sort, but there will be something. I may not be able to regain all that has been lost... blogs in general appear to have faded, eatenby the twittermonster... but I'm sure as hell gonna try.
Together we can make The Pond great again!
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