March 22, 2020

#NotTheBahGP

A more-or-less not-quite official race this weekend is located at the Veloce Esports twitch channel.  As I write this at 125pm on Sunday, Quals are about to wrap up.  Here's the level of competition: F1 driver Lando Norris?  He's sixth on the grid.


And yes, there's announcers and standard-style coverage.  I don't believe I'm going to say this but cheer on the Ferraris... those are driven by yootoobers SuperGT and Jimmy Broadbent, who I've mentioned in here once or twice before.

If you need a racing fix, here's your chance.

EDIT: Okay, I take it back.  Yeesh, that was ugly.  Friggin' bumpercars.  The worst offenders were the actual racers!  I'd rather watch a Wreckfest race.

ANOTHER EDIT: So I watched the official F1 e-race.  At least the#NotTheBahGP had a full grid of real drivers and experienced simracers...the OFFICIAL F1 race had people who had never raced before in ANY manner in it.  A musician?  An Olympic cyclist (who did at least race at Le Mans in 2016)?  I don't like to swear, but it was a total sh*tshow from the moment Quals began.  Disappointing.

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March 20, 2020

F1Update!: Virus 7, F1 0

The Evil Death Bat Soup Virus has destroyed motorsports in general these days, but Formula 1 has been particularly well massacred.  Yesterday F1 CEO Chase Carey came out and announced that the season has been either postponed or flat-out cancelled up to and including Monaco.


This is going to be the first time since 1955 that there hasn't been a grand prix at Monaco.  It makes sense that they'd cancel instead of postpone; it takes SO much time to set up the circuit around the Principality.  They had already started, in fact; the ancillary buildings were being activated a week ago. 

Now, only two races have been confirmed to be outright cancelled: Monaco and Australia.  The rest have merely been "postponed", but lets face it... it's not like the teams are going to be hankerin' to go to China anytime soon because of all this.  In an attempt to save SOME of the season, the mandatory "Summer Break" has been moved to... well, NOW... and once things start again they'll just race straight through.

Which sort of defeats the original purpose of the summer break, but special times require special measures I guess.  Assuming, of course, that there's a season at all... and wouldn't that be a fine kettle of fish?  I wonder how many teams would fold if that occurred?  No racing, no sponsor money, no sponsor money... 

There's always sim racing, however.  And lots of it, in fact.  At one point this past weekend, Lando Norris had the most watched Twitch stream as he participated in a star-studded sim race on the Daytona 24 Hour Circuit, and the Not Bahrain Grand Prix is this weekend.  So that's an option, I suppose.

I guess we'll get through this.  Duckford, and all of Illinois, has finally gone on lockdown effective 5pm Saturday.  The usual places are still allowed to be open, but we're all supposed to "shelter in place."  Which I've been doing all year thus far.  Sadly, the Pond Central complex office broke my not-quarantine-just-antisocial yesterday when they came in and installed a new furnace.  No, the old one was working, they just felt this was the best time to do it.  Or something.  Oh, and I had a grocery delivery on Wednesday.  Usually it's a two-hour wait, sometimes as long as five.  This time?  I placed the order on SUNDAY, but Wednesday was the earliest they could get to me.  No bread, no regular Ritz crackers.

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March 12, 2020

F1Update!: Australia 2020 vs Virus

"I'm due a good Australian Grand Prix." - Daniel Ricciardo, 9am Pond Central time

This has been a wild freakin' day in Melbourne.  It began with five Haas F1 race staffers being tested for COVID-19 and being quarantined in place.  A credentialed photographer was showing symptoms of the disease.  Then a McLaren mechanic was confirmed to have the virus, leading the team to withdraw from the Australian Grand Prix.

And then everything went straight to hell.  

Team principals had a meeting over what the teams wanted to do, took a vote... and they split 5-5 between racing and leaving.  12 more McLaren staffers were quarantined.  Reports came out that the race would continue with nine teams only.  Then news came out that the FOM, the media wing of Formula 1, had told all their staffers... camera operators, producers, sound ops, coffee makers... to stay away from the track.  

Saturday's 12 Hours of Sebring was postponed until November by IMSA; NASCAR decided to run their next two races in closed stadiums.  Baseball postponed the first two weeks of their season, the NHL put their season on hold, as has the NBA.  

Around about 4pm Pond Central time, some of the teams showed up at the track and began to pack up the paddock... except the support races were using the pitlane so they couldn't roll the shipping containers into place to really do anything.  Then both Ferrari's Seb Vettel and Alfa Romeo's Mumbles Raikkonen got on a plane headed for Dubai.  Meanwhile, the organizers, FIA and Formula 1 were all saying that they couldn't make the call to cancel the race, the other two orgs were in charge of that.  

Shortly after that, a FIA spokesman said "For us to cancel on our own would require less than 12 cars to be available.  But other than that or from the local authorities the FIA cannot cancel because there are too many commercial agreements that in cancelling the liability would come back to us."

Note: this is hands-down the worst answer anybody could have come up with.

The Sky Sports broadcast crew... the english-speaking world's broadcaster... packed up and flew home.  Mercedes announced that they had sent a letter to the FIA calling for the race to be cancelled. "We no longer feel the safety of our employees can be guaranteed if we continue to take part in the event."

Then, finally, about an hour ago as I type this, the news finally came out... the FIA in association with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation had made the decision to cancel the race.

Arguments will be ongoing as to whether this happened in a timely manner (no) or if there were any plans in place for this seemingly obvious eventuality (sure doesn't look like it), but at least the correct decision was made.  Eventually.

Reportedly the season will now be starting in Baku and there will be no summer break.  We'll see.  

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March 08, 2020

Not Entirely Dead Yet

I wouldn't entirely blame you for not believing me considering the amount of time between posts these days.  Honestly, nothing to write about has leaped at me.  I haven't seen the Midway movie yet, I'm afraid to watch considering reviews.  Which, considering I'm really only interested in the history of the thing, is a stupid reason to be afraid to watch.


Actually, being afraid to watch is stupid, period.  To which I say to you, have you ever read The Pond before?  Which is a long-time joke here, but these days?  I dunno what to expect from that question.  

Y'know what?  I got nothing.  I got less than nothing!  I've wasted your time on nothing, which makes this post a net negative!  I have some things I want to say, but can't because it wouldn't be fair for someone else, so instead you get this.  Aren't you lucky?  Here, have an AMV.
I've never actually seen a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song used for an AMV before.  Despite being a Christmas tune, it works well enough here.  And that should make this post a net-zero.  Great, I don't feel as guilty now.

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February 26, 2020

F1 Season Coming Around Again.

I know, right?  You think I'm not still watching Formula 1, but I am!  Mostly.  Kinda.  I mean, I know it's there.  There's been two thingies to come out of the pre-season testing that are vaguely important... one rules-related, one not so much.  Let's start with that last one, shall we?


Toro Rosso is no more.  In it's place we find...

ALPHATAURI!

...

Okay, yeah, it's the same Red Bull B-team, just with a spiffy new livery which is, honestly, awfully eye-catching.  Damn well should be, AlphaTauri is Red Bull's bespoke fashion line... which to be honest I think looks either goofy over overpriced.  Or both.  Really, they look like Carhartt went glam.  Wouldn't cost $500 for a jacket then, lemme tell ya.

Gotta make money for the spiffy new livery somehow amirite?

Now for the more serious bit:  Mercedes has been clever again.  A week ago, they introduced a new steering gimmick.  If the driver pulls the steering wheel towards him or pushes it away, it adjusts the "toe" on the front tires... the angle the tires are in relation to the track. 

Among other things, the amount of toe-in or -out affects tire heating (and what part of the tire gets heated) and on straight-line top speed... the less the tires scrub against the track, the less drag is generated and the faster you go.  It's not a huge amount, but it is a real thing.

Amazingly, this trick is NOT illegal... yet.  The FIA has gone on record as saying that it doesn't contravene safety rules and in that way is okay to be used in 2020.  However, it's already been, if not outright banned in 2021 and the new tech regs, financially banned for that season.  It's a neat idea though, and while I wish it had been any other team that came up with it, Mercedes deserve praise for being clever.

First race is Australia in mid-March.  I'll be watching, though who knows if I'll be writing?  Or if I did, if anybody would be reading it!  It's not like I've been churning out the quality free ice cream of late.

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February 14, 2020

Valentines Day 2020

I've been playing a lot of Fate Grand Order of late.

Because of that, I've also gone back and done a general Fate franchise anime rewatch... Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, Unlimited Blade Works, Fate Apocrypha, El-Melloi II Case Files, as much of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya as I could stand without feeling like a pervert (not much), Fate/Extra Last Encore, Today's Menu for the Emiya Family, of course the ongoing Fate/Grand Order - Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia, and hopefully culminating in an all-up viewing of the three  Fate/Stay Night Heaven's Feel movies.

I must admit though... Fate/Make Dinner really is my favorite of the bunch. 

One thing that's impressed me during this whole rewatch project is just how consistently good it's all been.  Even the allegedly lackluster Apocrypha is only so because it gets compared to the best of the other series in the franchise... in comparison to most non-Fate series it's pretty good.  

So yeah, Fate Grand Order is fun.  If you play already, I'm 264.380.184... add me to get access to a bunch of lvl 40-60 servants!  You'll regret it in time, but you'll feel good when you're rollin' in all the friend points I give ya.

I'm just in it for the headpats.

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February 01, 2020

Music... From Foreign Lands!

Over the past few months I've been spending time listening to a lot of music I've never experienced before.  When you do this, you get a lot of stuff that's... not worth listening to again.  Sometimes you get stuff that's... nice, but not anything you're going to go out of your way to hear again.  Then there's the small percentage of tunes that make you sit up and pay attention (or even better, make you lean back, close your eyes, and pay attention).  That's the category that I'll be inflicting upon you here now.  We've got music from such far-flung places as Scandahoovia, India, California, Japan, Sweden, and an odd Irish/Italian thing.


Let's have a listen, won't you?

more...

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January 22, 2020

Terry Jones, Screeching Harridan, Passes Away

Terry Jones, one of the members of Monty Python, became the nude organist for the choir invisible today.  He was 77.


Sadly, he'd been suffering from a rare form of dementia since 2016 and had lost the ability to speak over a year ago.  Best known for his work with the legendary comedy troupe, Jones was also an accomplished director, historian and children's book author.

A few months ago, I wrote about the effect Monty Python's Flying Circus had on my sense of humor, but it was only today I discovered that Jones was the "inventor" of the show's non-ending ending... a sketch has gotten lost along the way to the punch line?  Have a knight in full armor walk in and hit somebody over the head with a rubber chicken. Have someone in uniform declare everything to be too silly and cut to another sketch.  Simple and stupid, sure, but funny as hell and I've used the same technique in my writing here at The Pond over the years.

I had just glanced at my phone after briefly waking up this morning and saw the news that he had died, and I can't explain just how strongly it affected me.  I mean, beyond rolling over and going back to sleep.  I've long outgrown the concept of personal heroes, but the Pythons are the closest I might possibly have anymore.  They've been one of the few things that I can say have always been a part of my life... at least, as long as I've been aware of such things.  And now I've gotten old enough to see them begin to go away.  Hard to come to grips with such thoughts at nine in the morning..

And now I'm going to go watch the Spam sketch.

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January 13, 2020

When Two Hobbies Collide

Today is National Rubber Ducky Day.


Even Jeanne Alter from Fate Grand Order is excited!  And really, who could blame her?

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January 10, 2020

Neal Peart

If you are approximately my age, you or someone you knew was a fan of Rush when you were in high school.  Me, I liked a number of their songs but I couldn't call myself a real fan... mainly because of the rabidness of the REAL fans who insisted they were the greatest band ever.  Kinda off-putting, y'know?  Particularly when you were like me and you preferred more synths and new wave.


As time went on, nothing ever really changed my opinions towards the band... a few great songs, a lot of usually pretentious prog-rock-y stuff, and an overzealous fan base.  I did acknowledge, however, the unquestioned skill of Geddy Lee on bass, Alex Lifeson on guitar, and Neal Peart who is pretty much on the very very very short list of "best rock drummers of all time."  You might be able to convince me there's someone better. Modern Drummer has him as the #2 rock drummer, #3 overall, behind Buddy Rich and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham.  Well, maybe so.
Neal Peart died today at the age of 67.  He apparently had been battling brain cancer for the past few years, but keeping it quiet from the public at large.  Despite not being the megafan who will be deeply wounded by his passing, I wanted to acknowledge him... if for no other reason than he was the subject of one of the first bits of fan-made CGI I had ever seen.
2004.  Remember 2004?  I have a hard time remembering that far back anymore... I had just started working at the Duck U Bookstore after CowPuters went under, that's how far back we're talking.  I'm sure many of the Pond Scum remember the video fondly, or at least remember it.  

The Pond's condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

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January 03, 2020

Mexican Dancing Cow

Submitted without comment for your edification.

You may now continue on with your life secure in the knowledge that you have seen the Mexican Dancing Cow.

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December 31, 2019

New Years Eve 2019

2019 was not a good year.

May 2020 be better for all the Pond Scum.

Thank you for sticking with me.

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December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019 - Haruhi Style

MUCH nicer Christmas than last year's disaster.  Oh, the Christmas itself wasn't the problem, it was the leg injury that occurred for reasons that are still a mystery to me... and that led to me being stuck in bed for 24+ hours.  From there, it's an easily-drawn line to where I am today.

None of that happened this year.  Therefore, it was INFINITELY better.  And it allegedly hit 61 degrees too.  In December.  On Christmas.  In Duckford, IL.  What in the blue blazes...?  In any case... huge thanks go out to Ph.Duck and Rn.Duck for putting up with me for another year, and the annual bottle of lingonberry will die happy soon enough.

And of course, you... the proud members of the Pond Scum.  I've been letting The Pond down over the past year, which I hate but haven't been able to do anything about.  Hopefully, next year will be better in all sorts of ways!  Merry Christmas!!!

I just started playing Fate Grand Order.  I'm fairly sure an opening draw of three lancers (and one of them duplicated!) and an assassin is pretty cruddy.  Welp, we'll just see where it goes from here.

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December 23, 2019

Glad I'm Out

I had need to call my local Walgreens' pharmacy today.  Nothing complex, not even all that important as it turns out.  I easily could have not bothered and nothing would have been changed or affected in any way... that's how "not important" it was.


As the conversation came to an end, I did what any decent human being would do: I wished the pharmacy tech a Happy Holidays.  I mean, Christmas is just a couple of days away, I'm sure they were stupidly busy, and they took a moment or two out to answer the stupid question of someone who was, honestly, wasting their time.

If they had gone off on me, well, I can't say I'd have been happy about it, but I would have understood.  As y'all know, I worked retail for far too long to ever really blame someone in the biz for losing their minds at this time of year.  Instead of that, however, what I got was either a great acting job or someone who was honestly surprised and pleased to have gotten pleasant holiday wishes.

Which makes me wonder... just how bad IS it out there these days?  I mean, retail employee abuse doesn't shock me, but I didn't even say "Merry Christmas."  Just Happy Holidays, like I was taught to do when I was behind the counter so as not to potentially offend anybody.  Yes, I know, but old habits and all that.  I've stayed out of the stores and malls this season, so I have no clue about crowd size but judging from that one phone call, the grind apparently sucks quite badly now.

Be nice to retail workers.  They're trying to help you have a merry Christmas, don't make it hard for them to have one too.

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December 16, 2019

Today Is December 16th...

...and you know what THAT means:


The morning of December 16th... it was so cold... and I mean cold.  That if you took an ice pick and plunged it into the ground, you'd shatter the Earth into a million pieces.
- Kyon, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

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December 10, 2019

Endings And Beginnings II

HMS Prince of Wales.  Sunk on December 10th, 1941.


HMS Prince of Wales.  Commissioned into the Royal Navy December 10th, 2019.

There is no way that wasn't intentional, and the RN deserves a round of applause for it.  If only they could have put the ship's bell that was recovered from the battleship on the carrier...

On second thought, sailors are a superstitious lot.  Maybe putting the bell from a sunken ship on board a brand-new one is a bad idea.

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December 06, 2019

Once Upon A Time...

Back in the days before the Duck U Bookstore, heck back before the days of CowPuters, I worked at the local news-talk radio station as a buttonpusher show producer on a fill-in basis.  I did have one regular shift however... the Sunday Morning Church shift.  I mean, it started at 6am with the Catholic Mass in Swedish, for heaven's sake, pun not intended.  The Salvation Army had a recorded program, there was a program I literally never paid attention to except to make sure it was still running, there was the live-in-studio show with the purple-suit-clad preacher who was, eventually, removed from his position in his church because he got a little too close to some of his female parishioners, and then there was the show I privately called "the church ladies."


Yeah, kinda like that, except not at all.  The preacher in purple I mentioned earlier?  The church ladies usually matched him sequin for sequin when they came in, spoke loudly and cackled even louder.  But their chat show took place in and around gospel music songs... and since I was the button-pusher I had to pay attention for the cues and stuff.  And along the way, I discovered something: gospel music could be quite good.
I found out today that one of my favorite groups from that show, The Blind Boys of Alabama are still recording, and what I was playing for the Church Ladies was already 30 years old at the time.  

Really, there's no reason for this post other than to mention that.  Have a nice day!

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December 02, 2019

Cyber Monday

Maybe it's just that I'm old or something, but I can't be the only person around who thinks calling it CYBER Monday is hilarious, right?


I mean, "cyber" means something completely different to me... and probably to others my age, right?

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November 25, 2019

Huh. Upgrades!

A week ago last Sunday, I began to have a very odd sort of problem with my internet connection.  Everything would be fine, normal speed, no problems, I walk away for some reason, come back a half-hour later, and the internet would be... missing.  The computer could see the modem on my side, the internet provider could see the modem from their side, but never the twain shall meet. And the entire time the modem would be happily saying that it was connected and it had no idea what anybody was talking about.  But then, some time later... a half-hour, a couple of hours... internet was back like there had never been a problem in the first place.


Monday, everything was fine for most of the day.  It wasn't until mid-evening that the internet went away, but by the time I had finished dinner an hour or so later, it was back.  Didn't even bother calling the internet provider.  Tuesday, it worked in the daytime, but as soon as the sun began to go down, *poof* the signal went away and wouldn't come back until around midnight. Solar-based internet issues???

The next day was more of the same, tech support still had no idea what the issue was ("It should be working!"),  I had a pretty good idea what the issue was ("Tech support is dumber than a shipping container full of hair!"), but fortunately I could at least get caught up on the Great Anime Backlog.  Thursday?  It was down all day, only coming back late in the evening.  Another frustrating call to tech support.  I went to bed late... or very early that night.  Only to be woken at 930 the next morning by the apartment complex's maintenance guy who specializes in tech support knocking on the door.

After asking him to please step back out of my apartment so I could get dressed, I had to explain to him exactly how everything was acting, how no amount of resetting, unplugging, replacing, troubleshooting, sacrificing of goats, anything, had made a difference, and the only commonality was that eventually it would come back and the modem was acting like everything was fine the whole time... and indeed, as we stood there, the computer was acting like the world was missing.  Techie hooked up his test modem, and instantly the whole of the interwebz was revealed for all to see.

Techie took a closer look at my equipment, and realized that it was one of the original cable modems from when broadband was first turned on at the apartment complex... 12 years ago.  He then said that I was probably the only person left in the complex that still had one... between hardware failures and people moving out, all the others had been retired.  He left, heading for the leasing office to explain what the situation was to The Powers That Be.  A half-hour later, he was back with a new modem in hand... a replacement for the old one, free of charge from the complex.  Living in one place for a long time does have its benefits sometimes.  And as an added bonus... it has built-in WiFi!  No more data usage on my cellphone!  No more waiting 30 seconds for a simple google search to complete after I hit my 2 GB max for the month!

I can get used to that.  And I am!

EDIT: Completely forgot to mention... MUH SPEEDS!  Download speeds, not exactly slow before, have literally doubled.  Like, two minutes per GB, and sometimes less?  So, to recap: solid internet connection, with WiFi, and a doubling of speeds both up and down... for free?  The only way I can compare that to real life would be stepping outside and discovering that the DuckMobile has been replaced by a Ford GT... except without all the cranky supercar bits.  And a higher and stronger suspension so I can sit in it without bottoming the car out.  And maybe some way to me into and out of it without amputating my legs.  So, really, not a Ford GT at all.  But you know what I'm trying to say.

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November 20, 2019

Ducks In Anime: Now With Less Giraffe

-Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight, Ep03
If you had told me that the director of this show had never worked with the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena, I would not have believed you.  And I would have been correct: the director of Revue Starlight, Tomohiro Furukawa, was assistant director on Yuri Kuma Arashi under Kunihiko Ikuhara.  And boy, does it show.

It's not quite as stylized and "out there" as Utena, but the ties are there.  The same fever-dream imagery, girls and swords, the same grand theatrical attitude towards itself.  Which is good, since Revue Starlight is ABOUT theatre.  Not surprising; the anime is based on a stage production that's half-musical, quarter-Cirque du Soleil, and quarter-Formula 1 Qualifying.  Which sounds weird, but trust me on this one... it is.  But in a good way!  If you've ever spent any serious amount of time in the theatre biz, this is a must-watch.  If you haven't, it's basically a sports series with a serious psychological aspect.  And singing.

A lot of singing.  In flat-out stage musical style.  These ain't pop songs, these aren't Idols, these are being sung by professional musical theatre actresses, many of whom have either been in or would join the stage productions.  And they're friggin' excellent.  It's been a long, long time since a series made me feel the way this one does.  I actually despise one of the characters... not because she's written poorly but because if you've spent any time in theatre, you know her attitude is... untenable.  That's good work from the writers.  But don't go into this expecting Idol happiness and fluff, you won't get it.  Does the possibility frighten you?

I understand.

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