July 15, 2018

Step 1: Get New Computer


I'll admit the name "Inspiron 5676" does nothing to make the heart beat a little faster but that's okay, I take medicines to prevent that from happening anyway.  It's what's inside that counts, and the new 2nd Generation Ryzen 7 2700X is AMD's top-of-the-line processor.  It has a 1TB hard-drive, but it also has a 256GB SSD, which I'm told is important these days. That's all matched up with a Radeon RX580 graphics card, which is ATI AMD's best card that isn't in "ludicrous" territory.

So what I'm saying is that this girl should be quite the performer!  I'd have it hooked up already except for one little thing.  That is, it only has a HDMI port to hook up a monitor and my current monitor, which is 10 years old, only has DVI.  I knew this ahead of time though, and ordered a ViewSonic 24" monitor beforehand... it'll be delivered on Monday, and THEN I can get it all set up.

Darn thing weighs about 1573 pounds, though.

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July 12, 2018

Random Anime Pictures #146: SCIENCE!!!

-Cells At Work, Ep01
Who knew anime could be so educational?  Cells At Work is all about the stuff inside our body, anthropomorphized.  Which sounds like the most boring thing ever... who needs a boring biology class when you're watching Japanese cartoons?

Note: boring biology stuff
The simple answer is "you do."  The first episode was entertaining as hell, and if the series keeps up like this... well.  That would be a good thing indeed.  Just be prepared for some strange looks if you try and explain it.

I mean, our main character is a red blood cell.  That wears jean shorts and a cabbie hat.  What's not to love?

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July 09, 2018

Let Me Explain...

I'm tired.  I've been on a month of mandatory 50-hour weeks and it's been wearing on me.  Okay, I guess I didn't work 50 hours last week, but since I DID have to work on a national holiday, that makes up for it.  So I'm getting home from work late, I've been sleeping poorly, and quite honestly the atmosphere at work is... dark.

Of course, I've also got computer problems of late, but the thought of going to BigBlueBox to buy a new one is... exhausting.  It's always very loud there and it makes me sad to see what's happened to this company that I used to work for.

And to be blunt, I'm not enjoying Formula 1 very much.  Oh, this race at Silverstone was actually pretty decent, but even that felt more like a chore than an experience.  

You guys have any requests?  I'm willing if its something that'll kick-start my brain.  Gimme an idea!

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July 08, 2018

Computer Issues

Well, my computer, purchased in 2013, is showing signs that it'll be passing away soon.  Last night it refused to boot, in a manner that I've seen it do before, that indicates the hard drive is failing.  While I've managed to get on now, I may not be able to later.  So if there's no sign of me for a day or two, that's why.  F1Update! may be unavoidably delayed.

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July 07, 2018

F1 Quals: Britain 2018

A sunny day greeted the assembled tea-drinkin' hordes at Silverstone today, and with it came even hotter track temperatures than we had last week... remember, the race that saw tires blistering after only a few laps?  As a result of the nearly 130ºF surface temps, times were a little slower than expected today... how got effected?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Britain:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.818 1:26.256 1:25.892
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.585 1:26.372 1:25.936
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.549 1:26.483 1:25.990
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.025 1:26.413 1:26.217
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:27.309 1:27.013 1:26.602
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:27.979 1:27.369 1:27.099
7 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:28.143 1:27.730 1:27.244
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:28.086 1:27.522 1:27.455
9 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:27.962 1:27.790 1:27.879
10 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:28.279 1:27.843 1:28.194
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:28.017 1:27.901
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:28.210 1:27.928
13 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:28.187 1:28.139
14 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:28.399 1:28.343
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:28.249 1:28.391
16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:28.456

17 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:29.096

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:29.252

NC Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes DNF

Nobody, really... or everybody equally.  Take your pick.  What we got was a Quals session that saw the Lewis Hamilton take pole by 44/1000ths of a second, and the top three covered by just a touch more than 1/10th of a second.  Easily the closest quals we've had all year.

Sadly, Pleasant Stroll beached himself in after only a few minutes in Q1 and didn't finish a lap.  Similarly, Brendan Hartley missed out on Quals altogether after a rather brutal high-speed accident in Practice 3 when his front suspension snapped under braking.  He's okay, but Toro Rosso couldn't repair the car in time.  

Teams are saying that a two-stopper is quite possible because of the heat, so we might have some interesting times tomorrow.  F1U! sometime afterwards... having dinner with Vaucaunson's Duck...  so see you then!

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Farming Seems Pretty Metal!

While you're waiting for me to get off my tucus and post the F1 Quals results, here's something for you to watch.

Ben, your thoughts?  Because to me, it looks like farming is straight out of Warhammer 40K.

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July 05, 2018

F1 on... Somewhere: Great Britain 2018

The reason for the title will be understood soon enough.  Before that, though... it's SILVERSTONE!  

I know I'm not alone in disliking the new layout for this iconic track... essentially it ran from turn 1 to turn 7 directly (more or less).  Also the start-finish line was between Turns 8 and 9.  I guess the new pit facilities and grandstands are pretty darn amazing, so... yeah.   Oh, also: there's going to be a third DRS zone, which Formula1.com's maps don't show.  Whoops.

In any case, it's fast, it's grippy, the Maggots-Becketts-Copse complex is my favorite sequence of turns in F1, and since the whole place is built on a plateau and has its own microclimate, rain is always a possibility.  Let's hope!

Now for the bad news.  This is the point where I'd normally list out the broadcast schedule for the weekend, but I can't do that right now.  I have three sources for times/channels, and the only thing they agree upon is times.  What channel anything is going to be on is up in the air over here at Pond Central... to the point where Quals actually MOVED CHANNELS as I programmed it into my DVR.  So check your local schedule for your own set of times.  I can confirm that Quals is on Saturday and the Race is on Sunday.  So you've got that going for you.  Which is nice.

See ya soon!

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July 03, 2018

There Are Times...

Holiday!  I was really looking forward to having the day off tomorrow, relaxing a bit, setting up my photo studio, taking a few pictures of figures, eating hot dogs, watching baseball, and just generally being American on the 4th of July.  A good time!

So there I am today, hard at work, pushin' data through dem tubes, secure in the knowledge that while I had to put in 10 hours, it was going to be an easy 10 hours.  I'd already put in two with no hiccups, no worries, and a tasty ham samitch to boot.  Because a good ham samitch makes everything better, don'tchaknow?  All in all, a good plan for the day.  Better still, the last three or four hours would almost certainly be spent alone in the room I'm currently residing in.  It's the smallest of the three workspaces, I was moved there back at the end of May because a new training class was taking over the old office... 25 people, would you believe?  Anyway, I'd be alone in my office, and perhaps the entire building come to that... people want to leave early when there's a holiday involved, go figure.  Anyway, why does that matter to me?  Because it lets me sing!
I forgot just how dark "Shattered Dreams" was, really.  Although if you were a wrestling fan during the WWF's "Attitude" era, shattered dreams brings something else altogether to mind.  Anyway, yes, singing is fun to do at work when there's nobody around.
I don't sing that one though.  A little out of my vocal range, really.  I first heard this song as the backing music for a gameplay video and liked it a lot more than the game.  Yes, it's another entry in the "electropop + random female singer" genre, but it's better than most.  At least I like it.
Heavy rotation on the mp3 player.  Don't sing this one either... it tends to generate a lump in my throat and tears to form in my eyes.  I'm a soft-hearted sap of a duck, what can I say?  Also, hey look fireworks!  It's a July 4th reference!  *ahem*

So yeah, singing at work.  I was looking forward to that, maybe break out Straight Outta Hidamari.  Good times, good times.  And then the data... stopped.  The part that serves me claims fell over.  No biggie, that happens.  Except it stayed down.  A few minutes turned into 15, then 30, then a hour... and the boss sent out the e-mail: we don't know when it's coming back, clock out, you have to make up any time missed by the end of the week or you lose your holiday pay AND get two absence points.

I sat there feeling like I had been hit in the face with a lobster.  Make up the unfinished time?  Five hours for the incomplete regular day, plus two to cover part of the eight hours of OT we have to do... SEVEN HOURS???  All of a sudden, my midweek holiday had gone from a day of relaxation to... well, a normal work day.  Oh crepe.  By no fault of my own.  After waiting for another hour (off the clock) hoping the program would start working again, I went home... but not before stopping at the boss's office.  "I'm taking off... is anybody going to text us if the system is still down in the morning?"  Don't know, this is all happening fast.  "Great.  Well, if I don't see you here tomorrow, have a great 4th of July holiday off."  And I walked out.

For all my fellow Americans, enjoy your 4th of July holiday with grilled meat and explosives!  For everybody else, have a good Wednesday!

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July 02, 2018

F1 Update!: Austria 2018

The skies above the Osterreichring A1-Ring Red Bull Ring were clear for the first time all weekend when the Thundering Herd made its way to the grid.  While this made for a pretty view, it also meant that the surface of the track was experiencing something for the first time all weekend: heat.  The asphalt was nearly 120º F under the blazing sun, and the teams were glancing nervously at their tires.  Would the race be affected?  Would the softest compound tires turn into rubber-flavored ice cream?  Who would benefit?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Austria.

*LIGHTS OUT: While the start was frantic, by the end of the first lap it turned out to be a lot of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.  Polesitter Valterri Bottas, who earlier had said that you had to really screw up your start to lose places in the short run to the first turn, proceeded to screw up his start and lose places.  He was shuffled down to fourth, but when Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's DH Verstappen squabbled amongst themselves for second, Bottas basically said "you guys have fun, I've got a race to win" and took the place for himself.  That he settled in behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton was... ominous, however.  It very much looked like a Mercedes 1-2 snoozefest was in the works.

*OR... NOT!:  We here at F1U! thought the heat would bother more than just tires today, wondering among ourselves if the cars would have problems too.  The Renault of Nico Hulkenberg potentially made us look like geniuses when he pulled over on Lap 10, smoke and flame blowing out the back of his car.  He took care to put it somewhere far off track so there was no safety car needed.  No, that little gift occurred just two laps after Hulkenberg toasted marshmallows, when Bottas' Mercedes rolled to a stop with no hydraulic system to speak of.  Alas, he was unable to be as considerate as the Renault driver and the recovery process required a Virtual Safety Car to be called for.  And therein lies a tale.

*THROW IT AWAY:  The heat of the day had already thrown the strategists into something of a tizzy.  Before race day, a one-stop race was almost certainly in the offing.  Now, however, the starting tires were liquefying on the hot asphalt and nobody was quite sure how long they'd last.  Surprisingly, the calling of the VSC did not solve the problem: Lap 12 of a 71 lap race was too early to be sure of making a one-stopper.  Which didn't make a whit of difference: VSC means "free pitstop", almost as free as an actual safety car.  Everybody piled into the pit lane, Ferrari and Red Bull so eager to get onto new rubber that they double-stacked their cars... the second one had to wait for the first to be worked on before it could make its stop.  Fresh tires all around!  Except... um... well, Mercedes didn't bring in Lewis Hamilton from the lead.  The reason was simple: they took too long to figure out if they needed to.  By the time they made the call, he was already past pit-in.  By the time he made it back around to pit-in, the VSC had ended.  Hamilton still had the lead, clear of the pack by 12 seconds, but he still needed to stop.

*IT TAKES SOUR GRAPES TO MAKE A FINE WHINE: Clearly remembering the debacle of Australia, where Mercedes threw away a Hamilton win due to a VSC-based mistake, the reigning champion was on the radio asking how in the world the pit wall could screw up again.  His complaining got so bad that the team's strategist, James Vowles, got on the radio and said "I threw away the win, but you can still do what you can."  The team pitted their man around Lap 25.  He came out in 4th, just ahead of Seb Vettel's Ferrari, with the hardest compound of rubber on the hubs.

*REALLY?  WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT US TO DO?:  Of course, Hamilton hated the new tires.  He couldn't get any pace with them, they didn't feel right, they were blistering (this one was probably true: we haven't seen that many blisters since the last  time we went to the beach) they were too round, etc etc etc.  Eventually, they brought him in for a new set of supersofts, we suspect as much to get him to shut up as to give him speed.  This time he came back out in 5th place, behind the Red Bull of Smiley Riccardio.  Who promptly pulled over with a gearbox full of metal shavings and neutrals.

*MEANWHILE:  Smiley's teammate, DH Verstappen, was in the lead by a handful of seconds over Kimi Raikkonen.  The Ferrari driver was slowly closing the gap though, as was Vettel to his teammate.Hamilton was a more distant 20 seconds back, but setting fast laps consistently.  Verstappen, though, seemed to be the only driver out there to NOT be having some sort of problem with his tires.

*REWHINE: And then Hamilton pulled over with what proved to be a fuel pressure problem.  All around Austria, dogs lifted their heads and looked towards the Red Bull Ring as his complaints became inaudible to human ears.  One can only expect that there's going to be many vacancies at the Mercedes team at Silverstone.

*THE REST OF THE WAY:  Hamilton's retirement had the pleasant side-effect of promoting the Haas of Lettuce Grosjean into 4th place, the best finish in the team's history.  Even better, DP Magnussen, his Haas teammate, was right behind him in 5th.... an amazing result for a team that's had some bad luck this season thus far.  But the race belonged to DH Verstappen, who didn't put a foot wrong the whole afternoon.  The twin Ferraris stayed close, and if the Dutchman had erred they would have been past him in a flash, but it never happened.  Here at F1U!, we're not overly fond of the kid, but credit where credit is due... he won this race on merit, it wasn't handed to him at all.  On an afternoon when everybody had tire problems due to the heat, Verstappen didn't... and he brought Red Bull their first victory at their home track.

*NEXT UP: Stop #3 on the triple-header is Silverstone, this coming weekend.  See ya then! 

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June 30, 2018

F1 Quals: Austria 2018

It didn't rain.  It needed to rain.  Someone make it rain during the race, please.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Austria:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.175 1:03.756 1:03.130
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.080 1:03.577 1:03.149
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:04.347 1:03.544 1:03.464
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:04.234 1:03.975 1:03.660
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:04.273 1:04.001 1:03.840
6 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:04.242 1:04.059 1:03.892
7 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:04.723 1:04.403 1:03.996
8 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:04.460 1:04.291 1:04.051
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:04.948 1:04.561 1:04.725
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:04.864 1:04.676 1:05.019
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:05.148 1:04.845
12 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:05.011 1:04.874
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:04.967 1:04.979
14 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:04.965 1:05.058
15 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:05.264 1:05.286
16 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:05.271

17 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:05.279

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:05.322

19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:05.366

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:05.479

Wha-wuh-whaaaaaaat?  A Mercedes on the pole?  You could knock me over with a feather.  Really, there wasn't much in Quals today to make one sit up and take notice.  Oh sure, Haas got both cars into Q3 for the second consecutive race, a first for that young team, but... well.  

Race is in the morning, F1U! sometime afterwards.  See ya!

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June 27, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Austria 2018

This week, the hills are alive with the shriek of turbocharged V6s as the Formula 1 Zirkus makes its way to the Red Bull Ring in Austria!  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

Something about this place feels off to me.  Maybe it's just that it seems to be out in the middle of a field, running pleasantly up hill and down dale.  That's not the way race tracks should be, y'know?  Is it just me?  There's nothing particularly offensive about the RedBullRing, except its name, not really.  It's a track.  It has more elevation change than most, it's almost all right turns, and again, I fully expect farm animals to be grazing in the background of most camera shots.

Speaking of farm animals, we get SkySports again... here's the broadcast lineup on the various ESPN channels:
Practice 3: 5a - 630a live on ESPNews
Quals: 8a - 930a live on ESPNews
2018 Grand Prix of Austria: 8a - 1030a  live on ESPN2

F1 Update! will follow along eventually in some form or another.  See ya then!

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June 25, 2018

F1 Update!: France 2018, The First Person Edition

For this I hurried home from work?  THIS?  This is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Ball Of Dreck Grand Prix of France.

*LIGHTS OUT MEANS RACE OVER:  I had hope.  Sure, Lewis Hamilton was on pole and the Mercedes was looking like the mean machine of old.  But his teammate Valterri Bottas was next to him, and his main rival for the driver's championship, Ferrari's Seb Vettel was right behind.  It shouldn't be a runaway I thought.  Either should be able to challenge Hamilton, either at the start or as the race went on... the Merc isn't that much better than the Ferrari, after all.  And then the race began and as they came into Turn 1, Vettel and Bottas got tangled up with each other.  The Ferrari needed a new nose (and was hit with a five second time penalty for causing an accident), the Merc needed... well, it needed the sort of repairs you can do at a six-hour long World Endurance Championship race, but is hard to pull of in a 90-minute F1 race... so he had to do without, and the car was limping all day because of it. 

Meanwhile, in a frantic bid to escape the carnage DH Verstappen went running off towards Paris on the huge expanse of runoff area that is Circuit Paul Ricard, only to rejoin in second place.  Now I'm no expert on F1 or anything... I'm just a hyperintelligent duck that can type... but I thought if you gained an advantage by going off-track, you're supposed to return the positions.  Verstappen probably shouldn't have been in second at this point, but hey, what do I know?  Another few turns later saw another schmozzle, this time hilariously between False Esteban! and Pierre Ghastly, two Frenchmen in their home race.  Both were out on the spot, mon dieu, and the dark form of Berndt Maylander was summoned to add to his total of more than 700 Formula 1 laps led.

And thus ended the race.

*OH YOU WANT DETAILS?:  Hamilton nailed the restart and thenceforth was never threatened.  What excitement there was came from Seb Vettel's fight from the rear.  He clawed his way up the field, getting as high as third before his tires began to give up the ghost.  A late pitstop saw him end up in fifth, not horrible, but still surrendering a metric ton of points to his Mercedes rival.

Really, the only question was if Smiley Ricciardio would manage to usurp Kimi Raikkonen for third, while DH Verstappen held in an iron grip.  As has been the norm for quite a few years now, the Ferrari Finn managed to get on the podium... for what turned out to be the 25th time without a victory, a new F1 record.  Which makes one wonder, is he still really good?  Or is he okay, and will never win again?  Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen!

Oh, and Verstappen finished in second.  Yay, I guess.

*FRANCE, WHICH IS FRENCH FOR "BAD F1 TRACKS.":  In the... what, 14 or 15 seasons I've been an "adult" Formula 1 fan (as opposed to those years back in the 70s and early 80s when I'd see the Monaco GP on ABC's Wide World Of Sports a few weeks after it actually happened), they've raced on two circuits in France.  The first was Mangy-Curs, the only circuit that I dislike more than Hungary.  They stopped racing there in 2008, and a better decision has never been made.  And now they've returned to France, with Paul Ricard.  Interestingly enough, Paul Ricard was NOT constructed as a racing circuit, but as a test track.  There's something like 170 different configurations available at the place, and there's even sprinklers built in if you want to test in the wet.  But it's an awful, awful place to race... it's DULL.  AND it's owned by Bernie Ecclestone.

That should tell you everything you need to know about the place.

Next up, we go to the Red Bull Ring in Austria.  I'm not sure why.  See ya then!

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June 24, 2018

F1 France 2018: I Dun Goofed

This has been a day to forget.

First, I couldn't fall asleep until nearly 5am.  Then I wound up not being able to get out of bed until nearly 2pm.  Came out to The Pond's Viewing Room, carrying a bit of lunch and a beverage, intending to watch the race.  It's all set, a good afternoon is in the making!  

But the race didn't record.  I spent a good couple of minutes trying to figure out exactly why it didn't record, but quickly realized it didn't matter.  There's a replay I can watch, right?  Yep... and it was just ending.

I'll be recording the next replay... which is at 7pm.  You can see where this is going, of course.  No F1U! tonight, hopefully Monday.  Which is particularly annoying, as I'm on 10 hours of mandatory overtime next week.  But gee whillikers, something up there apparently doesn't want watching the French Grand Prix.


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June 23, 2018

F1 Quals: France 2018

Wow, did this day get away from me!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of France:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.271 1:30.645 1:30.029
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.776 1:31.227 1:30.147
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.820 1:30.751 1:30.400
4 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:31.531 1:30.818 1:30.705
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:31.910 1:31.538 1:30.895
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:31.567 1:30.772 1:31.057
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:32.394 1:32.016 1:32.126
8 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:32.538 1:32.055 1:32.635
9 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.169 1:31.510 1:32.930
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:32.083 1:31.472 DNF
11 False Esteban! Force India
1:32.786 1:32.075
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:32.949 1:32.115
13 Sergio Perez Force India
1:32.692 1:32.454
14 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:32.447 1:32.460
15 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:32.804 1:32.820
16 Meatloaf Alonso McLaren Renault 1:32.976

17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso

18 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:33.162

19 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:33.636

20 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:33.729

No huge surprises at the top of the grid.  Paul Ricard is the sort of circuit that rewards high horsepower, and for all its imagined faults, the Merc engine is still the best out there.  It stands to reason that they'd be on pole.

What REALLY makes no sense is the Sauber of Charles AMX-30 making it into Q3, and legitimately outpacing Haas for 8th.  That's quite the accomplishment for a team as down on their luck as Sauber... this AMX-30 kid looks to be quite good, y'know?

There's a decent chance of rain during the race tomorrow... let's hope so, it'll liven up a race that's looking like a snoozer... Paul Ricard is a great test track, but for racing it appears to be missing a certain something.  And it causes headaches, too.

Race in the morning, F1U! after.  See ya then!

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June 20, 2018

Ducks In Anime: Kase-san And Duckie

-Asagao to Kase-san OVA
Every now and again, something really special will come down the pike.  Roughly a year ago, I mentioned a manga entitled Kase-san And..., recommended it highly, then told you to go to Midnite Tease for a good post about it.  Since then, all of the manga has come out and it was still just as lovely as it had been.

And then an OVA was announced.  I squeeeee'd.   It came out a few days ago, and I squeeee'd again.  And then I actually watched it.  

Oh yes, yes indeed.

I find myself, however, in an odd position... I'm not entirely sure I can recommend it to my readers.  In a lot of ways, the OVA is for those who have read the manga.  It skips around a lot, not touching some of the more important story arcs, including a couple of the more important ones (school sports day, anybody?).  If you've read the series, this isn't a problem... you know how Yamada and Kase got to where they are... but I imagine it might be less fulfilling to one who has no idea "what came before."  Or during, come to think of it.  

Was it good?  Oh heavens yes.  Is it worth watching?  I think so, as long as you're okay with some yuri in your life.  But it's not even your normal yuri show... these two honestly, truly, have a thing for each other, in a way you don't see very often in anime.  But if you haven't read the manga, there are layers that I think you'll miss out on.  So take that as a head's up.

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June 18, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: France 2018

Zut allors, mes amies!  Break out the cheese and mimes, because we're headed back to France for the first time since 2008... merde!  But vive la difference, we're not going back to that awful, awful circuit at Mangy-Curs!  Instead we're headed to Circuit Paul Ricard, hon hon hon!  Here's le track map:

This should be a fast track, but I'm not sure where the passing is going to be.  If you watch this lap by Lewis Hamilton, the place seems awfully narrow, and despite appearances there's actually a penalty for getting off-track.  Those stripes are legendarily abrasive, like they're made out of a mix of 4-grit sandpaper and thumbtacks.  I exaggerate, of course, but you do not want to go out there if you like your tires.

Back in the old days, that Turn 8-9 chicane didn't exist.  These days, cars would be hittin' 210mph going into Turn 10 like as not, and with the downforce and sticky tires we've got, there might not be a whole lot of deceleration going on.  As is, it's gonna be fast as hell anyway.

Broadcast schedule is... well, it's limited.
Practice 3: 6a - 730a  live on ESPNews
Quals: 9a - 1030a  live on ESPNews
2018 Grand Prix of France: 9a - 12n live on ESPN2

I'm not hopeful for a good race, but we shall see!

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June 13, 2018

Video Players Gone Bad

On the Sunday after the Australian Grand Prix, in an attempt to figure out just what the hell happened with the virtual safety car (and to watch the race in a form that wasn't ESPN's first try), I yarrrr'd the broadcast.  It was a 5GB file, nothing at all out of the ordinary and actually somewhat smaller than either Kimi No Na Wa or the KanColle film.  No huhu, in other words.  Which is why it came as such a surprise to me when my video player grabbed its throat, choked, and died when I tried to watch it.  And froze, then crashed, Windows.

My software of choice, ZoomPlayer, hasn't worked since.  Oh, it will eventually load any video you throw at it, but only after about five minutes of frozen computer.  Then it stutters until you back the video up, at which point it plays okay.  But god help you if you want to watch the video again immediately because nothing else will.  I've moved to my backup viewer, Media Player Classic which comes with CCCP, but only for viewing.  For the life of me, I cannot make subtitles go away in MPC, which makes screenshotting a little difficult.

So here's my question to y'all: what program do you use to watch stuff?  I used ZoomPlayer for at least a decade, I have no idea what-all is good anymore.  So help me out here, and maybe I'll have more lobsters on the face pictures!

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June 11, 2018

F1 Update!: Canada 2018

A warm, partly cloudy day greeted the F1 Circus as they pulled up to the starting grid on the Ile Notre-Dame's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  Ferrari's Seb Vettel was on pole, but the Merc of Valterri Bottas and the surprisingly quick Red Bull of DH Verstappen were clearly about to go hard at him from the start, hoping to steal a march on the red car.  So what happened and how did it happen?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Canada!

*THE START WAS INTERESTING: When the red lights extinguished Vettel got away clean, but Bottas had Verstappen all over him for the first few turns.  It took the oomph of the Merc power unit to get the Finn clear, but the Red Bull stuck all over his diffuser.  Until the safety car was called out a few seconds later when Pleasant Stroll got a touch squirrelly and bumped into the Toro Rosso of Brendan Hartley.  

Just for the record, this is not an angle you want to be seeing from this camera.  Unsurprisingly, both cars were out of the race and Berndt Maylander was roused from his ancient slumber to take the safety car for a spin.  He was out for four laps before he was sent back to whence he came.  Seb Vettel handled the restart pretty much flawlessly and the race continued on.

*THE MIDDLE NOT SO MUCH:  Tires.  Everybody was protecting their tires and hoping for another safety car because it's just too damn hard to pass in F1 right now.  You need a massive speed advantage, more than just the DRS, to make a pass and have it work.  So in lieu of that, everybody protects their tires, trying to stretch them as far as possible and hope for a break somewhere.  The drivers hate it, of course, and so do the fans.  This went on for lap after lap after lap, until the race was almost done.

*THE END WAS... INTERESTING: The laps counted down, and Seb Vettel was never challenged.  On Lap 69, he came through the final chicane and onto the pit straight to take the checkered flag.  Which is fine and good, but for one thing: the race is 70 laps long.  As a result of this gaffe, per regulations the standings devolve back two laps, so the 2018 Grand Prix of Canada was actually 68 laps long officially.  Oy.  Vettel led the entire race, and it never looked like he was ever concerned.

*WHAT NEXT?:  What's next is the 2018 24 Hours of LeMans, featuring Fernando Alonso driving for the LMP1 favorite, Toyota.  Gunning for the triple crown (LeMans, Indy 500, Monaco) no doubt.  For the first time ever in the US, the entire race will be shown on ONE channel, Velocity.  Look for it on your satellite feed!  It starts at 9am Central on Saturday.

*NO REALLY... WHAT'S NEXT?:  Still France.  F1 returns to France for the first time since Mangy-Curs went away, heading off to Paul Ricard Circuit.  While it's been a long time, F1 has raced there before and it's often been a testing location as well.  Should be fun, I guess!  See ya then!

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June 10, 2018

"...And THAT Will Retire The Side."

Submitted without comment.

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June 09, 2018

F1 Quals: Canada 2018

Wow, hey, look at the time!  Huh.  Took me long enough.  For that, I apologize... I didn't get home from lunch until nearly 4pm, watched the quals, and then it was, like 645pm and I was exhausted.  So I took a nap, and now here we are.  But enough of this, you're not here to revel in the mundane existence that is the life of a Wonderduck, you want to know about the exciting times of the F1 Circus!  Well, here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix du Canada:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:11.710 1:11.524 1:10.764
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:11.950 1:11.514 1:10.857
3 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:12.008 1:11.472 1:10.937
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:11.835 1:11.740 1:10.996
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:11.725 1:11.620 1:11.095
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:12.459 1:11.434 1:11.116
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:12.795 1:11.916 1:11.973
8 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:12.577 1:12.141 1:12.084
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:12.689 1:12.097 1:12.168
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.702 1:12.395 1:12.671
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:12.680 1:12.606
12 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:12.587 1:12.635
13 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:12.945 1:12.661
14 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:12.979 1:12.856
15 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:12.998 1:12.865
16 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:13.590

18 Sergey, Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:13.643

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:14.593

I never thought I'd say this, but "poor Lettuce."  You'll note there's only 19 cars listed... the Haas of Lettuce Grosjean never made it to the track in Q1, having had the most impressive dose of power unit problems we've seen in a long time.  He was smoking as he pulled out of the garage, and once he turned onto pit lane headed for the exit, he managed to lay down just an epic smoke screen.  No worries about mosquitos for the rest of the weekend, that's for sure.  But he hits a marmot on Friday, now this happens on Saturday... I'm terrified for what'll occur in the race.  We may see the first F1 car in the St Lawrence Seaway tomorrow.

As far as the rest of Quals went, do you realize that this is the first time in four years that Lewis Hamilton isn't on pole?  Say what you want about the guy, and plenty of people have, but he owns this track.  He never got hooked up today though, never managed anything but scruffy lap after scruffy lap.  He knew it, too.  The two Ferraris looked amazing, clearly the class of the session.  The only thing that kept us from an all Red Car front row was a brief moment of lost grip early in Kimi Raikkonen's last try.  

DH Verstappen has to be muttering to himself.  After leading the timesheets in all three practice sessions, the newly upgraded Ferrari engine and the Mercedes Party Mode proved too much for the Red Bull to deal with.  It's fast in the corners and under braking, but that advantage is nullified by the lack of power down that long, long back straight.  Still, they'll be starting on the hypersoft tires while Merc and Ferrari are on the harder ultrasofts, so they'll have the grip advantage.  The ultras do seem to be the tire of choice though... 

Race is in the afternoon... weather permitting, we'll be watching it live for once!

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