August 09, 2019
Automated Night "Rail" The Yurikamome Line from Shimbashi to Toyosu isn't technically a rail line since... well... no rails! It's rolling stock is all rubber-tired people movers running on concrete "tracks". And it's 100% automated, all computer-controlled.
No real reason to post this, honestly. It's just pretty watching the lights and sites of Tokyo, Odaiba, and oh, Tokyo Big Sight is the 11th stop. And it almost makes me feel like I'm a functioning human being. Duck. Whatever.
Enjoy, won't you?
July 22, 2019
Christopher C Kraft, the man who "invented" both the concept of Mission Control and the position of Flight Director as NASA began their missions into space, passed away today at the age of 95.
Kraft served as the first (and only) Flight Director for all but the final Mercury mission, thus defining the job as the head of the engineers on the ground. After "executive meddling" during John Glenn's orbital flight, he demanded and got the autonomy the role required. From then on, the Flight Director's word became law during a mission, unable to be overruled by those outside of Mission Control.
He then became The Boss, selecting the men who would share the role with him into Gemini and beyond. He invariably was in the command seat when the very difficult or never-before-performed things happened, such as the first US space walk. Prior to Gemini 8, he pulled himself off the rotation to prepare for the Apollo missions.
He was in mission control when the Apollo 1 fire during testing occurred... which also turned out to be the last time he was to be a Flight Director for NASA. Instead, he became management as the Director of Flight Control and would have an integral role in the planning of Apollo missions. He was called in by Flight Director Gene Kranz during the Apollo 13 incident, and headed the group that decided how to bring the crippled spacecraft and crew back to Earth.
Kraft became director of NASA's Manned Space Center in 1972, a role he held until he retired in 1982, shortly after the second flight of the Space Shuttle (STS-2). In 2011, NASA named the Mission Control Center in his honor, and in 2016 he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
"He installed a sense of what was right, what was wrong, what you had to do, how good you had to be, and those standards that he kind of inbred into everybody, by his own example, and by what he did with us, continue today. The Control Center today is a reflection of Chris Kraft."
-Glynn Lunney, one of the original Flight Directors selected by Kraft, 1998.
July 20, 2019
50 Years Since The Moon Landing In 1964 Alvin Dark, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, and Harry Jupiter, sportswriter for the San Francisco Examiner, were watching batting practice as ace pitcher Gaylord Perry smacked home run after home run. Jupiter casually mentioned that Perry looked pretty good at the plate, like he had some decent power.
Dark knew better: Perry was an awful hitter, and this was back in the day before the DH was instituted. In a 22 year Hall of Fame career that saw him win over 300 games, his batting average was .131 in 1220 at-bats. Dark turned to Jupiter and proclaimed "A man will walk on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run."
Five years later, Apollo 11 touched down on the Lunar surface, the first time mankind had journeyed to another body in the solar system. Neil and Buzz left their lunar lander and went for a walk on the Moon. About a half hour after this, Gaylord Perry came to bat in the third inning of the Giants game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Claude Osteen grooved a fast ball dead over the center of the plate.
Alvin Dark was right... barely.
Would that we still could...
July 15, 2019
Grr Argh Pfft (updated) I had a job interview today. It was for a job very similar to the one I had before, claims processing. Not exactly the same, but close enough that I feel I'd be good at it, quickly. Despite it being 90 degrees out in the world, I wore a nice shirt and tie... really dressed to the fours (note: it's impossible for me to dress to the nines. There's not a tailor in the world that could make clothes that look that good on me), y'know?
Went in feeling confident, knowing that I had this one. I was perfect for the job.
45 minutes later, I went back out to the Duckmobile, wondering just exactly how I had managed to completely pee that one down the leg of my proverbial firesuit so badly. It's not even like I had a bad interview. I answered all questions well, was engaging, asked a couple of intelligent questions of my own... and left feeling like I had been slapped in the face with a long-dead mackerel.
I am no stranger to failure, as anybody who has read The Pond for more than a few days will be aware. But this feeling... this is new and exciting, in a completely terrifying sort of way. I'm already sure that I'm not getting this job. Either I was getting some vibe from the interviewers or I'm just down on myself, I dunno. Hope I'm wrong.
I'm going to drink some ice cold gatorade, chug a tylenol or two, and go lie down for a couple of decades. Maybe when I wake up, I'll feel better about the situation.
Update: It's now the next day, and I received an e-mail from the company saying in effect "Nope, it wasn't just you... we really didn't like you. Get lost." Less than 24 hours from the interview to rejection... that's the fastest turnaround I've ever had at least.
July 03, 2019
That Pitcher Is Getting Shelled! The Google Doodle for today is a rather fun little baseball game!
Your job is to hit the ball. The only way to make a strike is to swing and miss, three strikes and the game is over. To make it easier the pitcher, who I'll name "Yu Darvish", tips his pitches... watch the color of his cap, and woe betide you when it turns red. I've scored 57 runs and hit a homer over 1700 feet. (edit: 2002 feet off a redcap. I'm so proud.)
Lemonade is a great left-handed power source, btw.
edit: this seems appropriate, considering the holiday tomorrow.
No, I won't condemn anyone for putting ketchup on a hot dog. This is the land of the free. And if someone wants to put ketchup on a hot dog and actually eat the awful thing, that is their right. It is also their right to put mayo or chocolate syrup or toenail clippings or cat hair on a hot dog. Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians.
-Mike Royko, Chicago legend.
June 20, 2019
You're Gonna Smile
If you're anything like me, and I apologize if you are, you just broke into a huge grin and memories came flooding back. I know the "good old days" weren't, not in comparison to what computers can do now, but damn...
Still really funny.
June 11, 2019
For The First Time In My Life, I Have Monitor Envy
It looks so good in 1080p, but I can't imagine how much better it'd look in 8K. They've got more over at their yootoob channel... the fireworks one is particularly cool... but none are better than this.
May 28, 2019
Train. Drone. Camera. There are times when I find "drones", or what used to be called "R/C aircraft", to be incredibly tiresome.
This is not one of those times.
Neither is this.
I find it interesting that at no time does the drone fly directly over the train... maybe some sort of rule against it? Is the pilot afraid they'll shoot it down or something?
Now instead of a camera looking at a train, how about a camera looking FROM a train?
That's the Shonan Monorail, by the way. I have this feeling I've seen it in an anime somewhere... Railgun, maybe?
May 14, 2019
Tim Conway 1933 - 2019
Still the funniest thing I've ever seen.
April 23, 2019
51 It was a day much like any other Chicago day in 1968. A pale gray haze hung over the city, courtesy of the smog caused by millions of cars. The ivy on the Wrigley Field walls had yet to bloom and instead remained a dull brown. Kids were in school, grown-ups were at work, and the day continued much as any other day would continue.
Except that, in a hospital on Lake Shore Drive not far from the aforementioned home of the Cubs, a Wonderduck was presented to a confused and tentative world.
My age 50 year... mmm... not so good. Here's hoping for a better 51.
April 22, 2019
When "Forward" Looks A Lot Like Taking A Nap This evening, I headed into the loo here at Pond Central. There was nothing special about this, it was simply to pick up a pair of reading glasses I had left there... 2x mag, look a lot like protective eyewear (because they are... they were on sale!)... when suddenly, I vurped.
Yes, that sneaky combination of burp and vomit that comes out of nowhere and heralds... well, I don't rightly know what it heralds. Surely nothing good. Indeed, I spent the next half-hour or so feeling right miserable as my body did... things I don't want to discuss in any detail here. Because damn, ain't nobody need to know that.
So it was with some slight concern that I decided that I should just take a rest. After all, what if it all came back for round two? The results would have been catastrophic, considering the difficulty I have in getting out of my memory-foam mattress-topped bed. Remember the bit in... um... (looks it up to confirm) yes, Life, The Universe, And Everything? About how mattresses are actually friendly (if dim-witted) sentient creatures that are hunted, killed, dried out, and the bodies sent around the galaxy for people to sleep on? Yes, well, I can't help but wonder about that at times, because my memory-foam mattress does try very hard to keep me in it. I assume for digestive purposes.
But my choices were limited at this point: bed, or comfy chair which has its own problems. Bed it was, just for a few hours.
SIX HOURS LATER, I woke up. The hell...? Well, damn. And I feel right as rain, no illness bits going on at all. The human body is a wonderful thing, lemme tell ya... I just wish I understood what the hell is going on with mine sometimes. Well, anyway... I'm going to move the writeup to Tuesday night... nothing else going on, really... and THEN you'll know what's gotten me so het up recently. Stay tuned!
April 21, 2019
Wow... Just... Wow. I had intended to actually, y'know, write. About anime. Here. On my blog. I know, what a concept, right? It was going to be on Saturday, after I completed a great short series that charmed the socks off me.
Saturday afternoon, I laid down for a nap, around 5pm or so. Except for two hour-long stints around 2am and 9am, I slept until nearly 4pm Sunday. I don't know why, but my body decided "no activity for you, Mr Duck."
So you've got that to look forward to on Monday, I hope... a review of a lovely little anime that, while it may not appeal to everybody, should appeal to most of my readers.
Look forward to it, won't you?
April 15, 2019
A World Tragedy
The famous Cathredral at Notre Dame in Paris caught fire today. Within a relatively short time, the fire destroyed the roof, brought down the spire, and has gone on to consume everything within the stone walls.
Its very location, on a small island in the Seine river, made the blaze hard to fight. Getting equipment to it proved difficult, and fireboats in the river could not get close enough to reach all the burning area. The flames spread very quickly as well, limiting what the fire brigade could do.
There have been no deaths, and it's only been in the past few minutes that I've seen a report of a single serious injury to a firefighter. Nobody who was in the Cathedral was hurt, including the many many tourists. If there's anything good to take from this, it'd be that. But otherwise? It's all pretty rotten.
April 07, 2019
I love baseball, and always will. But hockey gets it in a way no other sport seems to.
April 06, 2019
Go Cubs Go! #001 Because they clearly need all the help they can get this season:
I want to feel like I did on November 3rd, 2016. Please?
March 31, 2019
Hermit Run Ends At 22 Days Against all odds, on Wednesday March 27th, for the first time since I was deemed surplus to requirements by my employers, I left Pond Central. I got into the Duckmobile, drove a few miles to my local AcceptableClips for my first haircut in over a full year. They took 10 inch lengths of hair off! Now every time the wind blows I shiver because there's airflow over my neck, and that hasn't happened in months.
But there must have been a reason for me to go out, right? Right. On Thursday, I had a job interview. Similar to what I was doing, except now I'd be creating the bills and sending them to the insurance companies. It went well enough, except I have no idea what the interviewer thought. Good poker face... I mean, if I interview someone, if I'm interested it would be pretty obvious. Here though, she could have thought I was the worst candidate ever and I'd have no idea.
More importantly though... I finally went back to the office to pick up my waiting packages. This was duly accomplished, but I had a very interesting conversation with my ex-direct supervisor, who we shall call "Betty" because that's not her name. Turns out Betty was being sent to Chennai, India by the company the next morning, for a month of training classes. No, not her being trained, but her training other people. Specificially, new hires on how to process claims from the same client I worked with. Three states' worth of claims were going to be permanently moved overseas for processing in India... and two of the states were quite large indeed. Suddenly, it becomes even less surprising that people were being let go. Betty also went on to say that it was "probably a good thing" that I was let go when I was... the whole building has a black cloud hanging over it, morale has totally cratered, ain't nobody happy. Betty was expecting a mass exodus soon, in fact. We talked for a few more minutes about her upcoming trip, she promised to e-mail, and I came home.
I'm still not fond of the outside, though.
Formula 1 race on Sunday, from Bahrain... the Ferrari of Charles AMX-30 is on pole, would you believe? More important, however, is that this video is so cool it's stupid-cool:
Talk more soon.
EDIT: ...and then I found this, which is perfect: y'know, hermit crabs?
March 20, 2019
Making Progress. Kinda. I Mean, In Comparison... It was just over two weeks ago that I was informed that my services were no longer required, desired or wanted at my job. 14 days plus a few hours.
For the first time in those two weeks, I have left Pond Central. Okay, yes, it was to go pick up my mail so I didn't even leave the building, but I was actually outside of my home. At 315am, practically no chance to bump into other people there.
I'm having lunch with Ph.Duck and D.Nurse on Thursday, so I've got to get my outside on, and fast. I need to pick up my packages from Ex-Job... I didn't think it'd be so hard to go back... I want my stuff, but my brain is really rebelling against it. "Go back to a place that flat out told you they didn't want you anymore? Are you mad?"
You don't have to answer that.
I also need to get a haircut. It's about time, the last one was Easter 2018, I'm pretty sure. Everything is ridiculously shaggy, except where it's knotted or matted together on the right side of my head... that's the side I sleep on. Barbers, man your shavers!
But all of those require me to go out.
Depression is a helluva thing.
March 12, 2019
Endings And Beginnings Last Tuesday was by all appearances just another day. Same assignment for the day, same system difficulties we've had for weeks, same lack of neighbors around my desk... really, that last one wasn't much of a problem. After clocking in and checking my e-mail (chair massages are on thursday!) I got right to work, popping lifesavers as I went. It's a new habit, I guess.
After a good 90 minutes, I came up for air, stretched, swore as my saddlesores screamed, then checked e-mail again. Hm. E-mail from the boss, inviting me to a meeting in 15 minutes in the forward training room. Okay, just click on "accept" and... huh? No accept? It wasn't sent via outlook, but personal from the boss to me. Well, isn't that interesting? I sat and thought for a moment... perhaps it's going to be training on a new work type. We have been struggling for claims of late, after all. I leaned back, mulled it over in my mind, then sat up, pulled my cellphone out of the filing cabinet, followed by my car keys and my glasses. To anybody looking at me, it just appeared I was going on break as I headed to the meeting.
I found seven or eight other people in there, as well as the boss herself. Oh dear... she's not a trainer. She talked for a few minutes about... nothing, really, I guess, and then said the magic words: "we've made the decision to terminate your employment with us."
Declining claim counts and a new processing system were cited as reasons. Then the various managers, supervisors, and assistants walked in carrying boxes and bags... the contents of our desks. I was mildly amused that while almost everybody else was being handed their stuff in shopping bags, my desk needed a large box and a large bag. Well, when you've lived in a place for nearly four years, that kinda happens. They helped me get my stuff to my car... when you're using canes, your ability to carry boxes is kinda truncated... wished me luck, and I was unemployed again.
I drove directly home, looked around, and decided to take a nap... and that was probably the last coherent thought I've had. The past week has been spent doing (or not doing) things as it strikes me. There are things I could/should be doing, but nah. To me, it's clear that for whatever reason, losing this job has hit me harder than losing the Duck U Bookstore job. I haven't left Pond Central since I got home that day, so about a week. I've got packages waiting for me back at the office, things I couldn't have redirected, so plenty of reason to go out, but no.
Guess this is good news for the F1 fans left in my readership... I'll have time to follow the sport again. First race of the season is this weekend after all... Australia. I'm unsure if this is a good trade or not.
Time will tell... about a lot of things, actually.
February 26, 2019
That's A Long Time I can't believe I haven't written anything in The Pond for 12 days. That never happens. So anyway. The weather has continued to be crappy, but nowhere near as bad at it was... only one ice/freezing rain event, for example. Every day's forecast has been the same: flurries/light snow early, then drying during the day, then more snow/drizzle overnight. Which really doesn't sound too awful, until you realize that it's just making sidewalks and parking lots into minefields, all set to Bouncing Betty your cane...
*ahem* Work continues to be a royal PITA. My numbers continue to drop, while my new boss has had to deal with me during the my worst stretch of health-related problems in years. They've been very patient, even not throwing a fit when I walk through the door at 1130am. Well, if they want to fire me, they've got plenty of documentation for violating attendance rules. So that's "helped" matters immensely... maybe I'm imagining it, but I don't think so.
And then... then there's the Health Department. I'm still having to keep them happy with cleanup procedures around Pond Central. This actually is the biggest stressor in my life right now, to the point where I was awake until nearly 5am this past Sunday/Monday to finish cleaning up/off/whatever the couch area in the living room. It's right behind my computer chair, so it's a convenient place to put stuff. That's been done since Day 1 at Pond Central, it's just that this time it hadn't been cleaned up in a few years. At least they approved the photographs, so that's step three of that process completed.
Between the weather, work, and the WCHD, I've developed a nervous tic, a twitching of my head to the right, as if trying to get hair out of my face... which is certainly where it came from: it's been 9 months since my last haircut.
None of this is fun anymore... at least, not what I call fun. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get ready for work in the morning. Because what else do I do?
February 12, 2019
The Story So Far. In Minnesota, they have a saying... "there's only three good uses for ice: fishing, hockey, and whiskey." They know better than to go out in a ice storm, which we had a few days ago, or when it's -35 at noon, which we had a few days ago, or the other ice storm, which I came home early to avoid driving during "rush hour."
And then as a personal "Screw You Wonderduck", I got to work the next day... and it began raining. DELUGE-level raining. Well, that's unfortunate, but nothing to worry about. After all, the temps aren't supposed to begin falling until after midnight or so. Lo and behold, the weather nabobs had gotten it wrong again. I left work wearing just the zippered fleece sweatshirt... and it had probably gone down 20 degrees in a couple of hours, AND the wind was gusting around 30 - 40 mph. I make it to my car despite the little frozen waves on the parking lot surface. I unlocked the car, pulled on the door handle, and...
....nothing. Frozen dead shut. I tried another one, frozen shut and the door handle came off in my hand. A few of my coworkers stopped to help, ended up losing two more door handles in the process. I called a taxi. That's why I didn't get home until well after 11pm, it took quite a while for the taxi to arrive... as you can imagine. Took a taxi in the next morning, when it was like 5 degrees above zero, and the driver actually helped me get into the SUV. Because canes and ice don't mix, boys and girls. At work, my car was sitting in the parking lot, absorbing whatever radiant heat was coming from Our Pal The Sun ("There is only one God, He is the Sun God. Ra! Ra! Ra!") and hopefully melting whatever ice was holding the doors shut. Around 3pm, I checked, and it opened right up! Yay.
Finished up my work around 9pm or so, gathered up my stuff, trudged in the "How fscking cold is it" temperature, unlocked me car, and the door was frozen shut. I trudged back to the office, sat down in the break room, got another taxi from that place I used earlier in the day, they showed up around 11pm. And then, once we make it to Pond Central, the driver gets out of the van and helps me out (big ice patch). "Do you want help the rest of the way sir?" "Sure. Or you can get back inside the van where it's warm and watch me... that way, I won't die alone." He laughed, and got me through the Khumbu Icefall. Yeah, these guys are getting my business from now on.
I chat with Ph.Duck, he'll come out and pick me up for a run to get the unlocked car Saturday morning... at which time I wake up and discover that I am feverish, headachy, very very tired, etc. So he got it taken care of for me, while I stayed sick Sunday and Monday... and, really, today too. I didn't get in until 1130am, fever is gone, but now there's signs of a cough building.
It's been one thing after another after another after another for weeks now, and I'm quite stressed. I'm still functioning, which impresses the hell out of me, because I think I should be hiding under my bed. Tomorrow is another day.
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