September 27, 2018

In Which Wonderduck Is Furious

Something happened at work today that nearly caused a very large number of people to quit.  The gist of it was as follows:


The Good News: Permanent reduction of overtime hours to eight instead of 10.

The Bad News: We'll now have a set time to work each day, 8a - 430p (eight hours, with a half-hour lunch).  But wait, eight hours for five days is only 40 hours...

The Horrible News: We will now be working Monday thru Saturday.

But wait, there's more!  It was all a joke, just kidding. See, at the bottom of the e-mail, at the end of the usual business disclaimer text, was a little "j/k".  Eight-point font size and everything!

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:04 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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September 25, 2018

In Which Wonderduck Complains About Audiobooks

As the three Pond Scum members remaining will recall, I work in a job that allows me... nay, friggin' requires me... to have something to distract my brain from the repetitive task I perform for 9-12 hours/day.  Music was a good way to start but even with over 500 songs on the mp3 player, you start to hear the same songs over and over again.


This is not helped when the mp3 player in question loses its place when you have it on "random" and you press pause to go use the little ducks' room.  Further, it's almost like the memory has a groove worn in it, because it seems to go back to the same songs repeatedly.  The bad thing is, it's not the same songs every time.  Today it might be this, that and the other... but tomorrow it'll be penguin, ocelot, and serval.  So I can't even count on that.  No complaints, but it does get a bit tedious.

So the next step was audiobooks.  These have proven to be a mixed bag.  On the plus side, some of them are long enough to last me a whole week of work.  On the minus, dear god have these people never performed before?  I can count on the fingers of one had just how many audiobooks I've listened to that do a good job on actually understanding what the author wrote.  Just as an example of what I'm talking about, a few months back I listened to the audiobook of Starship Troopers.

Now, this is my favorite Heinlein novel, which means it's on the very short list of my favorite books.  I cannot say how many times I've read it over the past 40 years... if you told me 100, I wouldn't be surprised.  I know this book inside and out, is what I'm trying to tell you.  It is at least theoretically possible that the man who did the audio reading had read the book before.  I wouldn't put any money on it, but it's possible.  Anybody who can read the line "C'mon you apes, do you want to live forever?" and make it sound like an actual question simply doesn't have a grasp on the subject material.  And speaking of grasping, what they did to The Mote In God's Eye and the sequel, The Gripping Hand, is simply criminal.  The reader does do a good job of differentiating voices, so points for that.  Unfortunately, his interpretation makes it sound like everybody in the cast hates everybody else.  Captain Roderick Blaine's relationship with his navigator, Kevin Renner, is completely and totally antagonistic, full of snarling and gnashing of teeth.  Which is weird, because when I read it Renner was a much more lighthearted rogue trader, and Blaine the Navy captain/aristocrat that puts up with him.  I'm fairly sure the reader took his cue from one line: "Blaine decided that he didn't like his navigator."  If true, he blew it completely.

It's amazing just how common this is.  Almost completely forgot the most egregious example: Robert Asprin's Phule's Company!  If you've read it, you know it's a comedy novel.  It's supposed to be funny.  Somehow, the reader turned Willard Phule, aka Captain Jester, into a typical military man.  Sorta puts a damper on the whole rest of the novel, y'know?

That's not to say they're all bad.  I had cause recently to hear The Rise And Fall Of  D.O.D.O., by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland, and it's a terrific listen.  There's at least six different people doing different voices, which is pretty much a requirement for the book... in print form, it's made up of journal entries, computer logs, audio transcripts, etc etc etc, all of which look different from each other.  So, in audiobook form, different voices for each character's individual entries.  To be sure, if Tristan (our hero) shows up in Melisande's (our heroine/main character) entry, the woman who reads Melisande's stuff will differentiate for Tristan, it's not the person who reads Tristan's entries.  Still, it works, and it's a hoot.  Ditto for Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens.  

But the best audiobook I've yet listened to is the classic With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.  Unlike, I think, most other audiobooks, this one is actually read by someone who did research and knew the book inside and out.  Which makes sense since Joe Mazzello, the man who played Sledge in the amazing HBO miniseries The Pacific, is the reader.  It's a gruesome book, but that's good; it was originally written just for Sledge's family, so they knew what grandpa did in the War.  It pulls no punches, and Mazzello brings it to life in a way no other audiobook I've listened to has managed.  

More like that, please and thank you Audiobook companies.  Get people who know the books to read 'em, huh?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:32 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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September 22, 2018

Figure Foto Fun Four: All Right Mr DeMille, I'm Ready For My Close-Up

A little while ago I picked up a set of extension tubes for my camera lens... basically they turn it into a macro lens for closeups.  I mean, it's not like it was terrible at them before, but now it's a whole different portrait level.  For example:


The lighting on this one is... pretty okay.  But I got better.

Just a tiny bit of color editing, and voila, Haruhi's happy.

One of these days I'll take a good picture of this figure and I'll be so surprised I'd probably drop dead.  Something about it defies good photography, and by "good", I really mean "whatever I'm able to produce."

Still, once in a while I get lucky.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:47 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 11, 2018

Seventeen Years Ago

It was a Tuesday morning at Pond Central.  Tuesdays meant New Release Day at the bookstore I ran at the time, which required resetting the new Top 20 display at the front of the store.  I woke up about a half-hour earlier than I normally did, intending to get to the store early.  Nothing too out of the ordinary there, truth be told.


That all changed when my clock radio turned on.  Instead of hearing the usual light-hearted sports talk, I realized that the morning duo sounded... serious.  I mean, really serious.  Something about one of the World Trade Center buildings having been hit by an airplane.  Honestly, my first reaction was one of total unconcern; as a World War II buff, of course I knew about the B-25 Mitchell flying into the Empire State Building in a thick fog.  Of course I thought that it would be something similar.  I headed out to Pond Central's kitchen, grabbed some orange juice, then turned on the TV to see what was going on.

I had had just enough time to say to myself "that's a really big hole, and a lot of smoke.  It sure wasn't a light airplane."  I also noted that the sky was clear and blue, so it couldn't be that the pilot had gotten lost in the fog like the B-25 had.  But before I could really boil all that down to the obvious conclusion, the second plane hit.  In my rush to get up close to my 13" TV/VCR combo, I spilled my orange juice and barked my shins on the coffee table.  I stood there for 10 or 15 minutes, before heading for the shower.  Listened to the shower radio the whole time, got dressed, then watched the TV until I absolutely had to leave.  At the time, I literally had to drive from one end of Duckford to the other, at least a half-hour long jaunt.

As I was driving, the South Tower collapsed, and I very nearly bent the Duckmobile's steering wheel in shock and surprise.  I drove the rest of the way in thinking to myself, "there's a sister bookstore in the mall underneath the WTC."  It was kind of a weird feeling, knowing that some people that you've got a very very weak tie to have probably just died... people just like you, probably got in early to set the new Top 20 display, and they just had one of the tallest buildings in the world fall on their heads.

(I'm going to interrupt my story to let you all know that no employees of that bookstore were killed, or even injured, that day.  The rest of the chain didn't find that out for a couple of days, however.  I can only imagine how the manager's phone call to their District Manager went...)

With that image in my head I pulled into my mall's parking lot, and practically sprinted into the building, so best to pull the boom box out of the back room and bring it to the cashwrap so to keep listening to the events of the day... and discovered once again that fluorescent lights scream like banshees in all sorts of radio frequencies.  I managed to find a station that wasn't drowned out by static, waaaaaay up at the top of the dial.  I think it was broadcasting from Wisconsin, but I don't remember for sure anymore.  And sometime between leaving my car and tuning in WCHZ, the North Tower had collapsed.  Not knowing what else to do, I started resetting the Top 20.

At 10am, I opened the gates to let the flood of customers into the store... and by "flood", I mean "nobody."  Exact times get a little hazy around this point.  I did have one customer come in, we talked for a bit, and then she left.  She almost looked dazed, and to be honest, I probably did too.  My DM called, said that half of the stores in our district were having to close because their malls were shutting down early.  I hadn't heard anything yet from my mall's manager, but I'd let her know as soon as I did.  I suspected it wouldn't be long: other than dazed woman, I couldn't see a single customer anywhere in the mall.

Then stores began closing up on their own.  The guy who ran the tuxedo place directly across from me said that his boss had called and said "I don't care what the mall is doing, get out of there."  If you weren't working in a mall or a big building at the time, you might not remember the fear that permeated that day.  There was a lot of concern that more attacks might occur.  I know that they evacuated both the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building in Chicago because of a report of another hijacked plane.  Why would terrorists attack a small, dying mall in upstate Illinois?  Doesn't matter... there was a lot of irrational thought occurring just then.  Eventually, the Powers That Be at the mall said "shut it down," so after calling my staff to tell 'em not to come in, I did just that.

On the way home, I stopped at a grocery store.  Looking back at it, that was a weird decision for me to make, but what the hell, I needed my frozen pizza.  Unsurprisingly, there was no wait for a cashier.  Once I got home and got my foodstuffs put away, I turned the TV back on and took up residence on my couch for the rest of the day and a good portion of the night. A little while ago, I mentioned this to a coworker.  He asked me why I didn't get on the internet to follow events that day.  Did I mention that he is a very young coworker?

That was... quite the day.  Quite the day indeed.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:11 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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September 08, 2018

I Call For A Boycott!

There is a minor league baseball team in Akron.  They are called the Akron Rubberducks.  I am calling for all right-minded waterfowl (humans can join in, too) to participate in a boycott of the Akron Rubberducks.


I can hear you saying "But Wonderduck!  They're the Rubberducks!  It'd only be natural for you to love them!"  And you would be correct, normally.  But!  A team named the Rubberducks should sell Rubberducks rubberducks, and they don't. They do sell rubberducks, but those rubberducks aren't Rubberducks rubberducks, they're regular rubberducks.

So until the Rubberducks sell Rubberducks rubberducks, I will boycott the Rubberducks.  Really, it's quite sad. After all, I collect rubberducks, so a Rubberducks rubberduck would be great to own. But I can't put a Rubberducks rubberduck in my rubberduck collection, as the Rubberducks don't sell a Rubberducks rubberduck.

So hop to it, Rubberducks!  Carry an Akron Rubberducks rubberduck, so I can send you my money for an Rubberducks rubberduck.  Oh, I know there's some problem in licensing since the Major Leagues doesn't have a rubberduck manufacturer anymore, but c'mon!  The ball is in your court... pond... stadium... whatever.  

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:57 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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September 05, 2018

The BunDucksLiga Is Back!

...and this time, they're flying!


If soccer involved rubber ducks, I'd watch a lot more.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:16 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 03, 2018

F1U! Where, Wonderduck?

I ended up sleeping instead of doing the F1U! for Monza.  It was a good race, well worth your time to watch it if you can.  But this weekend has either been annoying (Saturday), or relaxing (Sunday, Monday).


The plan had been to do it Monday morning... get up, do morning things, sit down at the computer and bang the writeup out... but I didn't actually get up until 1130a.  So I got up, did morning things in what technically turned out to be the afternoon, had lunch, put together what is basically a one-shelf bookcase, though that's not what I'll be using it for, fiddled about, then I took a nap around about 630p.  I had intended to to wake up at 9p and do the writeup then.

Intentions are not what happened.  I actually woke up at 11p.  Which brings us to now.  But it was a nice nap, and with the office on mandatory 10 hours of OT this week even with the holiday, a nap that is likely to be needed.

I did try to get some of that OT in on Saturday, but the system was down.  The system was down.  The system was down.  Down down down. Zakazakazakazakazaka system systemsystemsystem.  The system was down.  Which pissed me off to no end, since I had willingly come in on a day off to do work.  Okay, not that willingly.  Which made it worse, actually!

So, yeah, OT sucks. I'll do F1U! on Tuesday.  Hope y'all had a good holiday off, or for my non-US readers, a good monday.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:41 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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