Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Author: Karel Kerezman (Page 1 of 388)

Isn’t That Just Ducky

I had a bright idea. (No, seriously, it involved strong lighting so in truth, it was quite bright.) In short: I’ll take pictures of each of the duckies, most of which have been stored in a bin under the bed since we moved into this apartment over five years ago, and use them as a cute little pick-me-up where needed on social media or whatever.

Tolo duck, face forward view

This would help my mental health through mastering the technical aspects, through completing a low-risk low-intensity task, and through giving me a way to (possibly) put a smile on the faces of friends and strangers alike.

Yankee ducky, face forward view

Too bad my camera crapped out barely a dozen snapshots into the whole project. Oh, turns out that the Nikon Coolpix line, and the B500 in particular, is prone to a weird freezing-up problem. You take a picture and the UI just never recovers. The camera’s still on, it shows on the screen what you’re looking at as you move it around, but absolutely none of the buttons or dials do anything anymore. Particularly the power button. The only solution is to pop out the batteries (which is a bit extreme, and not necessarily easy to deal with when the device is attached to a tripod).

Pirate duck, 3/4 view

I guess I should be glad the damned thing lasted this long, but still: Once again I am bad at researching major purchases. Maybe next month I’ll think about finding a replacement.

Media Archiving Day

Did you know that a DVD case, placed label-up oriented across the width, fits perfectly in a comic book longbox? Until today I did not.

The problems with being an avid consumer of media are cost & storage. Over the decades I slowly accumulated a whole lot of books and DVDs and (more recently) Blu Ray discs and manga. What I have not accumulated is rooms in which to place shelving. Yesterday I looked around at the increasing piles of things that wouldn’t fit anywhere and decided it’s time for some archiving.

Books I don’t want to get rid of but know I won’t be reading again soon? In a box, out in the storage closet. Old comic books that were problematic-at-best when I bought them and have absolutely not held up well? Recycling. DVDs I don’t want to get rid of but I don’t need ready access to? Oh hey, look at that comic book longbox I just freed up.

I took the opportunity to get all the DVDs into Libib, thus completing the “shiny platter” portion of cataloguing my media library. (Discogs has the music, Libib has the video content and some of the manga. I haven’t decided if I’m going to fully bail from Goodreads yet so the books & manga sections are incomplete.)

Sure, there’s a “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic” quality to all of this, but I feel better now that I’ve done something, so hey, whatever.

Summer Solstice 2020 Check-In

Now that we’re past the three month mark of this work-from-home stay-at-home wear-a-mask hope-for-survival situation, how am I doing?

Eh. In some ways I’m handling it better than at first. The routine is routine, and I really only get anxiety spikes when I have to go out and do grocery shopping, which is once a week or so. In some ways I’m falling apart, as I’m not getting nearly the walking-around exercise that I used to. (While I carpooled most days, a few times per week I could expect to need to take the train to or from work due to circumstances. Fifteen minutes of walking paired with ten minutes on the train, one direction or the other.) There’s also the fact that some parts of me may be falling apart more aggressively than others, which is why I’m going through the bewildering, frustrating process of lining up a doctor. Er, I’m sorry, that’s “primary care physician.”

George Carlin had things to say about taking simple terms and changing them into polysyllabic mush.

Let’s see… what else have I been up to? Mostly I’m trying to distract my brain with shiny things, which I shall recommend unto you:

  • Reading: I picked up the new Martha Wells “Murderbot” story, Network Effect, which is every bit as good as the other Murderbot installments. I picked up Myke Cole’s Sixteenth Watch, a near-future military-sci-fi yarn with a stellar cast of characters I want to see more stories about, please and thank you. John Scalzi’s The Last Emperox wraps up its trilogy in grand & dramatic style complete with a couple of genuine surprises. Seanan McGuire’s Imaginary Numbers is another solid entry in the InCryptid line, picking up the story of Sarah Zellaby, who featured prominently in earlier installments and gets her own focused arc now. Dipping my toe further into the imported light novels scene, I bought the first installment of both My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom and Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai due to my enjoyment of the anime shows they inspired.
  • Gaming: I bought Fire Emblem: Three Houses for the Switch months ago and finally hunkered down to start playing. It’s good! Who knew? I bought the “early access” for Torchlight III which is… in early access, yeah. Hooboy. On mobile it’s mostly the Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross hero-collector “gacha” game, which is easily one of the best looking such titles yet. (I have… issues… with the source material but damn it makes for a great game scenario.)
  • Watching: The aforementioned Next Life As A Villainess is a dorky, ridiculous, low-budget fluffy bit of anime and I love it to pieces. We’re working our way through the new Fruits Basket series as well, hoping COVID-related delays don’t ruin the prospect of finally getting a complete rendition of the story. I re-watched the Bunny Girl Senpai series after the boxed set arrived on my doorstep; it holds up to a repeat viewing just fine, and that convinced me to pre-order the movie Blu Ray (which just shipped). Speaking of movies on Blu Ray, I now own a couple of this years GKIDS releases, White Snake and Promare, both of which are gorgeous in their own ways. Most of the rest of my viewing time is taken up by documentary shows on CuriosityStream which is proving to be a well-spent few dollars per month. (There’s a New Zealand show with a bit of a Mythbusters flair called “Nigel Latta Blows Stuff Up” that I got a big kick out of.)
  • Listening: Our household is on a huge Sawano Hiroyuki kick, with the common music library adding the latest 3-disc SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] collection boxed set as well as several soundtracks (Seven Deadly Sins, Promare, and so on). I’m also glad that the year started out with a solid Mono Inc album release, The Book of Fire, as well as a new Pet Shop Boys record worth owning, Hotspot. Now we just need that crowdfunded Assemblage 23 record to arrive…

So there you go, if nothing else I may have pointed you toward something entertaining to help get you through all of this.

Daunt say “lazy”

Another month without posts, another month without making any progress on either of the hobbies I was working on.

Look, let’s just agree that trying to carry on with creative endeavors under these shelter-in-place conditions is a daunting challenge and leave it at that. Right now I’m just glad that I haven’t completely lost my mind. My big fear now is of a hellish summer, both in terms of the virus and in terms of heat. Ugh.

I hope you all get through this okay.

I Buy Shiny

Given that the old home PC, which I’d kept functional far past its original expected lifespan by judicious hardware replacement over the years, was finally starting to balk at doing anything computationally intensive, I decided to splurge (based on generous tax refunds and leftover company bonus money from the holidays) on another iBuyPower gaming rig build.

The main stats? Intel i7 (9700K? Does that mean anything) CPU, 16 gigabytes of RAM, an RTX 2070 for generating pretty pixels, solid state drive, yadda de yadda. Oh, and because you can’t get a custom gaming rig built nowadays without shiny stuff, this one glows in whatever color you want.

New home PC tower

My very own “green computing” initiative, on display.

So far it’s definitely quite peppy. I haven’t had the chance to properly run it through its paces yet, however, mainly because this is also my “work” computer during these here Coronavirus stay-at-home shenanigans so I had to prioritize loading in all the office software over games and Blender. Maybe this weekend I’ll see how hard I can push things now.

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