August 23, 2017

F1 on TV: Belgium 2017

Summer vacation's over everybody!  It's time for the idjits in the F1 Circus to pitch their tents in a new location!  And this time, we're at everybody's favorite WW2 battlefield-turned-race track, Spa-Francorchamps!  Let's take a look at that track map, hey?


It is, of course, a much shorter lap now than it was back in the day.  Almost 9.5 miles it was back in the 20s and 30s, and almost entirely run with the gas pedal stapled to the firewall.  It was also entirely public roads, a huge triangle running between the towns of Spa-Francopants, Malmedy, and Stavelot in the Ardennes forest.  There were no tire barriers, no huge run-off zones, no extra-wide meticulously tidy racing surface.  It was a driver, a car, skinny tires, and trees, houses, barbed-wire fences, cows, spectators, basically anything you can think of to run into, you could run into it at Spa-Francoamerican.  And the weather!  Oy, the weather!  One minute it could be sunny, the next rain or even snow!

Participants in the 1944 race struggle with the weather.
With the retirement of the old track, and let's face it, that was a good idea since nobody has died in a F1 car at Spa-Francophone since the new circuit opened in 1983.  It's still the longest circuit on the calendar, though now only 4.3 miles long.  A good lap would be in the mid 1:40s... what it'll be with the new aero rules and tires is entirely beyond me.  Sure will be fun to see the Circus doing Eau Rouge/Raidillon flat-out, pulling 6g's in the process.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual bang-up commentary job on your television sets.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on CNBC
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Belgium, man, Belgium:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

Of course, F1Update! will be along sometime afterwards with its usual stellar coverage.  Look forward to it, won't you?  See ya then!

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August 21, 2017

Failclipse

Duckford had a little problem today.  It was overcast and cloudy... at least, it was overcast and cloudy when it wasn't overcast, cloudy and raining.  In fact, when I took my camera and tripod outside, it was dripping a bit.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it "rain", but there was water coming from the sky.  The upshot of all of this is that instead of the sun being a visible disk, it was instead a diffused blob of light.  Still, I gave it my best shot... but most of the pictures turned out like this:


Don't fool yourself into thinking there's a bit of moon arc visible there at the bottom; this picture was taken around 130pm, less than 15 minutes past the most occluded time.  We were supposed to get about 86% coverage.  At 116pm, the sun was still casting clear shadows.  Feh.  Still, the shots weren't all bad.

I call this one "Accidental Hubble."  Particularly in its larger form, it reminded me of dozens of Hubble shots with dust clouds occluding something bright in the center, y'know?  Just not as pretty.  So I have that going for me.  Which was nice.  And then, scrolling through the pictures I came across this one:

By whatever quirk of optics you may care to name, I somehow managed to catch what I assume is a reflection of the eclipse as seen inside the camera lens.  Maybe it's a trick of the mirrorless camera I use.  Maybe it's bouncing off the sun filter.  Maybe it's Maybelline.  All I know is that it's upside down from what we were supposed to be seeing here in Duckford.  And blue.  I have no idea what that's all about.  So there you have it... the best picture of the Great American Eclipse I was able to take.

Pbbbbth.

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Yamato: Portrait Of The Battleship As A Young Boy

Here ya go, CXT.

No, I don't understand my title either.

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August 20, 2017

Just Where Have You Been, Wonderduck?

It was a long week, so I've been relaxing.  Next week, miracle of miracles, we're only on five hours of mandatory OT.  Which is like a gift from the gods as far as I'm concerned... five hours is practically nothing!  


"You weren't planning on using the pocket watch as a metaphor for time, were you?  Yeah, I didn't think so."
I've also been working on a huge project for The Pond, the culmination of which will come tomorrow, weather permitting.   Yep, that's right, I'm going to try some eclipse photography on Monday!  Even have the blessing of my employers, who have encouraged everybody to go outside and experience the "once in a lifetime" event (which will happen again in seven years)... with proper precautions, of course.  I've acquired the filters needed, permission to bring my camera onto the production floor (have to leave it in a supervisor's office until I need it), and hopefully I'll get something good out of it.  Sadly, the forecast is for overcast, clouds, and thunderstorms tomorrow, so all my preparations may be for naught.  But, weather permitting, I'll be out there.  

It's... unlikely that any Akus will be created.  I hope.

On the "more" page, I've put some music that I've misplaced a couple of times before... this time, they won't get away again!  Enjoy, or not.  Whichever.  I'm not picky.

more...

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August 17, 2017

GrrrrrrrrRARRRRRGH

First I slept like... um... something that sleeps really badly... last night.  Then I got to work, looked at the claims rotation, and realized I was staring at nine hours or more of the worst type of claim possible.  Not only has the client gone out of their way to make them more difficult, and thus slower, but they've also instituted new automation software that's supposed to take the easy claims out of the queue and do them automagically.  This has been tried before.  It didn't work then, and it's not working now.  Which means we have to fix the problems they caused.  AGAIN.


Then the lady who sits immediately to my left debuted a new perfume today.  By the bucketful.  And she was using her scented hand lotion nigh on constantly... like, every 20 minutes or so.  Neither smell alone was overly offensive, though it's kinda rude to inflict that upon others in close proximity.  Combined, however... combined, it was like an olfactory sledgehammer right between the eyes.  Worse, the smell lingered.  A blanket nastygram from the boss (at my request-slash-plea) got her to at least cut out the lotion, but the damage had already been done.  It wasn't a migraine, but dear merciful heavens it does hurt a lot.

Then, as if all that wasn't enough, during the last two hours of the day, I was stuck there with three other people doing their overtime.  They were spread out across the room, and decided that they just had to talk to each other.  Without leaving their desks.  By yelling.  Loudly enough that it got through the music playing loudly in my headphones.  Loudly.
With a bad headache.  Friggin' shoot me.  Tomorrow will be more of the same, only Friday.  I'm so looking forward to it.

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August 15, 2017

Why A Duck: The Story Of An Obsession In Five Acts, Act II

Gesundheit.


As you may remember, in Act I of this tale Our Hero gained the first member of what would eventually become known as The Flock.  One would think that would be the beginning of a beautiful tale.  One would be incorrect.

Act II: The Duck Dark Ages
Things were not good.  Our Hero, yours truly, was in truly dire straits.  Two reasons for this.  The first was simple: he had been kicked out of grad school and his dream of being a professional lighting designer had just shattered.  The second reason was more existential: he had just failed at something important for the first time in his life.  Along the way, he'd managed to screw up just about everything you could think of, and a few more besides.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that Our Hero was mostly a seething ball of hate.  He had moved back to the Old Home Pond, with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck, and we should all feel a moment's pity for them at this time.  Our Hero was only barely human at this point, bitter and resentful of the world at large.  It's fortunate that he mostly stayed in his bedroom for the first few months, exiting only to go shopping for more cigarettes and alcohol.

And Scooter the Wonderduck was in a box in the closet, along with other things that didn't really fit in the bedroom.  Plus, unhappy bundles of evil didn't do rubber ducks.  They just don't.  Eventually, Our Hero got a job in the music department of BigBlueBoxRetailer, and got his radio gig back to boot.  After a year or so, he'd leave BBBR for the greener pastures of an independent comic book store that he'd been shopping at since he was young.  Another year passed and he'd quit that to become a telemarketer, then came a stint with RadioShanty.  It was around this time that Our Hero met The Librarian, which coincidentally led to a job with a mall-based bookstore chain that rhymed with Maldenrooks as a store manager.  This was 1999, and the future had begun to look somewhat exciting to Our Hero, but Scooter stayed in the box in the closet, forgotten.  In 2001, Our Hero moved out of the Old Home Pond to Pond Central.  One day that first week as unpacking occurred, Scooter saw the light of day again.  He immediately got a spot on the computer desk, alone but important.

Then things went right to hell again.  9/11 happened, the Maldenrooks home office announced that Our Hero's store was to be closed at the end of the year, and that all of the employees would be offered positions at the Boredoors on the other end of town.  As it turned out, all the employees but the manager.  During the worst economic downturn in 20 years.  For the next 18 months, Our Hero looked for work... and failed miserably.  While he didn't become a hermit, his life was spent applying for jobs and not getting one.

Then, one day, while he was out shopping for foodstuffs, he noticed something.  There, in the toy section of the children's aisle (right across from the shampoo and q-tips), was a rubber duckie... cute one, too.  A moment later, the duckie had been added to the shopping cart... Scooter the Wonderduck probably was lonely after all.  And thus did Scooter II: The Wrath of Khan become the second member of what would become known as The Flock.

There was no way for anybody to realize just how important that chance encounter was, nor what it would eventually lead to.

Next time: A New Hope and more.

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August 13, 2017

Name That Mystery Ship XXXIII

It's been seven months since the last Mystery Ship contest... which is better than a year, like the previous entry... so I think it's time once again!  Name this mystery ship:


As usual, no image searching.  I can't stop you from doing it, but you'll have to live with it on your conscience forever.  As is also usual, CTX and FDM are on the leash until I let 'em at it.  You get one guess, and one guess only, so make it count.  Winners are determined by me, my decision is final, so don't push it, 'k?  The winner gets his or her very own blog post on a topic of their choosing (exceptions: pr0n, politics, and religion).

This one might be easy, but we'll see.  Good luck!

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August 12, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #132: That Was Surprising

-New Game!, Ep02
We've all had one of those series... you expect nothing from it, and you get pleasantly surprised.  Well, New Game! is one of those.  "New girl starts working at small video game company, hijinks ensue" is not exactly either the most original concept, nor the most promising.  Yet for whatever reason, there's actually something good coming out of this.

The animation is nothing overly special, true, we've met all these characters before in dozens of other shows (not literally, but you know what I mean), and the plot is "main character perseveres and gets stronger".  It may be "New Game!" but it's really "Old Retread."  And yet, I'm amazed to discover that I LIKE this show... a lot.

It's got just the right balance of seriousness to humor (maybe 1:50, but it's there), and as of episode five there's not even a hint of acrimony between any of the characters.  These people are likable goofballs that are also professionals, putting in a ton of work and effort into making the newest entry in a video game series.  While we're not exactly witnessing people coding and boring stuff like that, we do get to peek behind the curtain, so to speak.  I'm sure it's dumbed down and not really like what we're seeing... it's anime, after all... but it's being handled better than anybody could have really expected.

That is not how you sword. 
The purple-haired one is the main character, and honestly she's kinda the worst part of the series.  She falls into the "earnest try-hard" camp, and is kind of annoying at times, at least to me.  Fortunately, she's surrounded by other, more interesting, characters at all times.

Let's see... from left to right we've got: Quiet Geek, Earnest Try-Hard, Clothes Horse, Genki Girl (all four of whom work in the same pod), The Legend (she's the original character creator for the video game series), and The Level-Headed One (the Art Director for the game).  The first three are artists for the game, Genki does motion work, and the other two... well, their jobs are obvious enough.  The two older women actually have depth to their characters, too.  The other four, eh, not so much.

There hasn't been any laugh-out-loud moments as of yet, but a good smile or chuckle is common enough.  None of this should be taken as me saying that this is a GOOD series that I wholeheartedly recommend, just an entertaining one.  Sometimes, that's enough.

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August 10, 2017

Good Pilots Just Land Planes

But the GREAT pilots land them with style!


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August 08, 2017

Speech-like Substance

Back in the days of enforced vacation, it was common for me to not leave my apartment for days at a time.  Indeed, at one point it reached 10 days, but that was because it was very very cold, and ducks hate cold.


However!  During those times, even in the worst of the periodic depressions I would go through, I would still talk.  Maybe an Amazon delivery would be delivered by the postal worker, or I'd get a phone call from Ph.Duck, or maybe, just maybe, a phone interview for a job.  In any case, words were a definite thing I'd do.

Which makes it entirely strange that I've literally not spoken a word since approximately 630pm Monday evening.  I went to work at my normal time, left ten hours later, and not one word was said.  Not because I was being unfriendly or anything like that... there just wasn't any reason to say anything.  Nobody directed conversation my direction, nor vice-versa, my next-door neighbor is sick so she hasn't been in this week, my boss who's always up for Cubs talk is on vacation a business trip, and during my lunch I went into the breakroom and promptly fell asleep for the whole thing.  

People used to find it amusing, but nowadays nary an eye is blinked.  But anyway, as I write this it's going on 30 hours without speaking, and the earliest I'll be in to work tomorrow will be 9am... well.  I dunno about you, but when I go a while without vocalizing, my voice comes out like a bag of gravel being dumped down an HVAC vent.  Should be interesting tomorrow.

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August 07, 2017

I Need A Nap Badly

So, in lieu of the latest entry in Operation RTPTIFG, I'm going to direct you to go read a post over at Midnight Tease about yuri manga.  I echo most of what he says.  And I'll just emphasize that Kase-san and... is good for what ails ya.  It's all in the expressions.


These are two people who really and truly like each other and like being with each other.  They act just like you'd expect people to act, more or less, and it's a joy to not have to deal with angst for once.

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August 06, 2017

On The 'L'

So a few nights ago I get a steam message from friend Ben from the mysteriously named Midnite Tease, who really needs to blog some more.  "I'm working on a modeling project," the aforementioned Ben says, "do you know anything interesting about Chicago's El?"  After sending him a few links that I knew of, I did a little bit of digging myself... just for the 'L' of it.


Yes, I'm sorry.  And yes, 'L' is the correct abbreviation, including the little quote marks.  Leastwise, that's how the CTA does it, and if anybody knows, it's them.  Anyway, since "anything interesting" covers a lot of ground, here's some cool pictures I've found along the way.

Diamonds Are Forever

Down in the Loop, Tower 18 is the control point for the confluence of five different routes, or "lines" as they're called in Chicago: the North-South running Brown and Purple lines, the East-West Pink and Green, and the Orange line, which runs to Midway Airport.  Railroad diamonds scare me... they seem like magic.  Solid tracks crossing each other without the trains derailing?  I don't see it.

We Can Build It!

1908, and what would eventually be called the 'L' has been in use in one form or another for nearly 20 years.  Mostly it was ground-level rail then, and it pretty much didn't go downtown at all due to obtuse trackage rights problems, but once those got figured out (i.e., enough bribes were passed around) some bright spark had the idea to not clog the streets.  So they called out the heavy machinery, which I really hope was called "The Spider", because c'mon look at it, and began building.  Chicago can really build things, y'know that?

Unscheduled Stop

February 4th, 1977.  Due to a routing problem and an engineer smoking weed on the job, one 'L' train bumped into the back of another at low speed.  The engineer, sitting at the other end of the train, continued to apply power until, inevitably, some of the cars jackknifed and derailed.  One of the special problems you get with elevated tracks is that when you get a derailment, it's generally a Very Bad Thing.  Two cars ended up on the ground, a third stopped only by a support, and a fourth (in the upper left-hand corner) dangling from the station at Randolph and Washington.  Two died, something like 177 were injured.  I vaguely remember this happening, as Momzerduck and I had only just moved from the Chicago area to Duckford.  It scared me as a young waterfowl... "trains that I rode on crashed!  It could have been me!"  I was a simple duck back then.  A different angle of the aftermath can be found here.

Art Or Something Like It

Sometimes utilitarian objects can be beautiful with the right lighting.  Adams and Wabash Station, butting right up against buildings on either side, looking north to one of Chicago's ubiquitous skyscrapers.  I'm sure it's ugly most of the time, but the photographer got it right here.

That's it.  Nothing special, just some cool photos.  Carry on.

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August 05, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #131: Hi! My Name Is...

Makoto Shinkai.  It wouldn't be overly controversial to say that he's the best known anime movie director not named "Miyazaki" today.  His films have all been successful, thought-provoking, and a little sad.  To a certain subset of people, though, the wild popularity is a little confusing.  His films have all been good, but have left me a little cold.  It may be a cultural thing, I don't know.  Except for "She and her Cat," that one worked with  me on almost every level.  One thing nobody will debate is that, going all the way back to his earliest works, Shinkai's films have been beautiful.


His newest film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa), pushes the bar even higher.  It's absolutely the best looking piece of animation of any type that I've ever seen.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with progress in the use of CG, but my lord it's beautiful.

Even something as simple as a sliding door and the border of a tatami mat is given the full treatment... a simple, throwaway shot that lasts a second looks better than anything that's come before it.

And the story.  The story.  Holy crepe on a stick... but no matter how good it is, if you don't like the characters, the story doesn't work.  And, unlike the way Shinkai's earlier films sat with me, Your Name hits just all the right notes.  

I refuse to say any spoilers, not even about the plot.  If you haven't seen it already, go watch it immediately... and go in blind.  I intentionally avoided reviews and comment threads about it, and I'm very glad I did.  And you will be, too.

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August 03, 2017

Announcing: Operation RTPTIFG!

I miss The Pond.  I miss the way it was around here.  A vibrant group of readers that I collectively called "The Pond Scum."  Mildly clever writing about occasionally interesting subjects.  A laugh or two along the way.  Times were good, things were fun, and I had a blast.


...and then a series of things happened to derail the happytrain.  I got promoted at the Bookstore, which took up more of my time.  Then I got fired from the Bookstore which, while it gave me back all that time (and more!), sent me into a slide that ended up in a deep depression.  Then I was hired by a job where I spend all my time in front of a computer.  Then SDB passed away, something that hit me harder than I expected or realized.  The good times were gone.

Well, no more.

Today, I'm putting into motion Operation RTPTIFG (Restore The Pond To Its Former Glory).  Beginning this weekend, I am going to create time to write here at The Pond.  The plan is at least five days a week, there will be a new post.  Now, it may very well be a short thing, a Random Anime Picture or something of that sort, but there will be something.  I may not be able to regain all that has been lost... blogs in general appear to have faded, eatenby the twittermonster... but I'm sure as hell gonna try.

Together we can make The Pond great again!

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July 31, 2017

Not The Best Start To The Day...

So my morning began the way it usually does, with me desperately attempting to claw a few minutes of sleep more out of my alarm.  Failing that, I began the day properly, with the usual shower, shave, you know the drill.  I was dragging, however: Mondays, y'know?  Eventually I did leave for work, though I was running a little later than normal.


As I walked down the stairs to the parking lot, I noticed that a black SUV was parked perpendicular to the DuckMobile and directly behind it... nope, no driver visible.  Swell.  A few more steps down, and I realized there were two more parked in the lot... and all three were marked "County Sheriff".  There were also two sheriff cars, and a white van labeled, and I kid you not, Crime Scene Investigations.
I had to find an officer and ask politely to move their ominous black SUV so I could go to work.  He asked if I had heard anything strange last night, and I explained that I have five different fans running in Pond Central... I can barely hear myself think, let alone the outside world (...and that's how I like it!).

Off to work I went, walked in, sat down at my desk, started up all the various programs and pdfs and text files I use every day, opened my e-mail to see what the assignment was...

...nothing but the worst type of claim possible.  All day.  All stinkin' day.

I've had better mornings.

Edit: Before anybody asks, I didn't find out what was going on.  It wasn't in Pond Central's part of the building, so I wasn't overly concerned.  Also, once I returned home I didn't bump into any of my neighbors, one of whom I'm sure would have known.  It is a puzzlement.

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July 30, 2017

F1 Update!: Hungary 2017

A sunny summer day, blue skies dotted here and there with the occasional white cotton-ball cloud, greeted the F1 Circus as the performers rolled their cars onto the grid.  For the experienced F1 fan, this boded ill, for there has never been a good race at the Hungaroring without rain being intimately involved.  Would the augurs portend another processional, or would the new, more aerodynamic, cars make a difference this year?  Would we have a Ferrari runaway, seeing how they sat one-two on the grid?  Or would we see the Mercedes grunt their way up from the second row and muscle their way to the front?  Or maybe the Red Bulls would sneak up out of the shadows like quiet assassins and take primacy of position?  And who knows, maybe it could rain?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Hungary.


*LIGHTS OUT:  In something of a shocker, all six of the cars in the front three rows had fabulous starts.  Everybody got away smooth and quickly, giving us the sight of six cars dicing for the lead into Turn 1.  Seb Vettel made it through first, followed by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.  The next four positions were muddled, but quickly sorted themselves out when Red Bull's Embryo Verstappen once again decided that he deserved whatever patch of track he wanted, whenever he wanted.  That the patch he most desired just happened to be where the radiator of teammate's Smiley Ricciardo car was located didn't much seem to concern him.  Smiley suffered a spraying leak which coated the left-rear tire with liquid, causing a spin.  Only something of a miracle kept other drivers from barreling into the stricken Red Bull, which came to rest in the center of the track, perpendicular to the direction of travel.  In his Safety Car, Berndt Maylander's dead eyes worked their way open with a peculiarly audible grinding sound.  His deathly visage thankfully obscured behind darkened helmet faceplate, Maylander brought his silver chariot out onto the circuit for five laps while the grim track workers cleaned up the mess left behind.

*RESTART AND ALL THE REST:  The restart went pretty much as all F1 restarts do: the leader gets the jump on the rest of the pack, then heads off and away.  Externally, all seemed poised for another Hungarian parade.  All was not right, though, in the lead Ferrari's cockpit.  Vettel had a steering issue that required him to have his steering wheel turned to the left to go straight... and as the race went on, it got worse.  This would be important later on.

*ONE STOPPER: For what seemed like the first time in forever, we had a race where the leader actually lost the lead during the pitstops.  When Vettel pitted on Lap 33, he ultimately wound up relinquishing the lead to... Embryo Verstappen.  This was a false lead, of course, for two reasons.  One, he still had to make his required stop, and two, he had been given a 10-second time penalty for his actions with Ricciardo's car.  On Lap 43, Verstappen pitted and rejoined in fifth place.  The lineup was Vettel, Raikkonen about 1.50 seconds behind, the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas in third about three seconds back from there, and Lewis Hamilton in fourth.  As the laps ticked down, it became clear that Bottas could not make up ground on the Ferraris, so on Lap 46 Mercedes told him to move aside and let Hamilton take a stab at it.  If he couldn't do anything, he'd relinquish the position back to Bottas.  Probably.

*PLOTS AND SCHEMES:  Up ahead of the Brit, Vettel's steering complaint was worsening by the lap.  In fact, things were so bad that the team told him to avoid touching the curbs... this on a track where it's routine to crash over the curbs at every turn.  He was clearly holding up his teammate, who was practically begging on the radio to be allowed to pass the German... who also led the championship race.  On another team, this may have been allowed to occur, but not Ferrari.  Instead, Raikkonen was left in second to act as blocker for Vettel.  Soon enough, Hamilton was under a second behind the Finn, who was about two seconds adrift of the leader.

*FIX THIS IMMEDIATELY:  Even as Hamilton eyed the back of Raikkonen's Ferrari, he was on the radio to his pit wall saying that it was difficult to get close to the red car due to the unsettled air coming off it.  This has long been a fault of F1 cars, and really should have been fixed by now.  Instead, we were left with perhaps the best driver in the world forced to sit back and hope for a mistake by the drivers ahead... all because of turbulence.

*THE END:  Ultimately Hamilton's charge failed.  His tires went off and he began dropping back, at which point Mercedes told him to relinquish the position back to Bottas.  The turmoil in his cockpit must have been immense... he'd be giving up three points to Vettel in the driver's championship, after all.  To further complicate matters, Verstappen had caught up to Bottas and was beginning to loom ominously in the silver car's mirrors.  On the final lap, Hamilton let his teammate past, intentionally going wide in a turn... and very nearly was caught by the Red Bull in the process.  Up ahead, Raikkonen's pleas to be allowed to get by his slower teammate fell on deaf ears, and he finished in second place.  Vettel thus won the race and reopened a lead in the world driver's championship.  Team orders are a legal thing in F1, but they can be hard to stomach at times.

*ONE LAST THING: The McLaren of Indy Alonso finished sixth on actual merit today, and he set fast lap in the process.  Once Singapore rolls around, I think we might have a shot at seeing a McLaren on the podium... probably not, but it's not as unimaginable as it was earlier in the year.

So there you have it.  Hungary done and dusted for another year.  The teams now go on mandatory holiday for two weeks; the factories are closed and team personnel are forbidden to do any work on the car of any sort.  Then there's another two weeks after that before we come to the next race.  So see you at the end of August for the race at Spa-Francopants!

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July 29, 2017

F1 Quals: Hungary 2017

A bright sunny day greeted the F1 Circus, the pleasant atmosphere belying the fact that they were in Hungary.  Still, while they were there, they may as well go racing, right?  And before you race, you have to qualify, and they did.  Here's the provisional grid:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.244 1:16.802 1:16.276
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.364 1:17.207 1:16.444
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.058 1:17.362 1:16.530
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.492 1:16.693 1:16.707
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.266 1:17.028 1:16.797
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:17.702 1:17.698 1:16.818
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.137 1:17.655 1:17.468
8 Indy Alonso McLaren Honda 1:18.395 1:17.919 1:17.549
9 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:18.479 1:18.000 1:17.894
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:18.948 1:18.311 1:18.912
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:18.699 1:18.415
12 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.843 1:18.495
13 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:18.702 1:18.538
14 Sergio Leone Force India Mercedes 1:19.095 1:18.639
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:19.085 1:18.771
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:19.095

17 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:19.102

18 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:19.839

19 Paul di Resta Williams Mercedes 1:19.868

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.972


Sharp-eyed readers may notice a name is missing.  Felipe Not Retired Massa felt light-headed and dizzy during P2 on Friday.  FIA medical personnel gave him a clean bill of health today before Practice 3, but during the session the dizziness returned and Massa removed himself from the car for the rest of the weekend.  Thus it fell to Williams reserve driver Paul di Resta, who hadn't actually run the FW40 at all, just sim work, to get in the cockpit for the first time since 2013 and not suck.  He wasn't last, so mission accomplished: he didn't suck.  

Oh, and Ferrari locked out the first row, with Seb Vettel setting the fastest lap ever around the Hungaroring in the process.  Probably no surprise, this is the sort of track that suits the Ferrari quite nicely... it needs more nimbleness than grunt, and it has both.  Meanwhile, the Mercs have a longer wheelbase and the best power ensemble.  This is great for fast tracks but it's not rewarded around here.  The Red Bulls have historically been great in the turns as well, and with them locking out the third row it's clear nothing has changed.  The best example, however, of how much Hungary rewards the ability to turn and weave has to be the McLarens, both of which made Q3.  We're talking about a car that has been as much as 15mph slower down a straightaway this year, remember.  

So if nothing else, Vettel has stolen a march on Hamilton and Bottas, capturing pole on a track where it's... difficult... to pass.  I'm thinking the Ferraris will have a win tomorrow, but it won't be overly easy, and Raikkonen will end up fourth or fifth along the way.

Not that I'm predicting or anything.  Race is Sunday morning, see ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:20 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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July 26, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Hungary 2017

Hungary.  I'm not even going to try to pretend to be enthused about this race.  For years, Formula 1's annual visit to the Hungaroring has been my least favorite stop on the calendar.  I've only missed two races in the past 12 years, and both of them were Hungarians Grand Prix (weather problems).  And y'know what?  I'm totally okay with that.  Here's the trackmap:


It's been called "Monaco without the buildings."  That gives it too much credit, I'm afraid.  I gather it's a wonderful place to actually watch a race, built as it is into a natural bowl.  However, that bowl also makes it ridiculously hot and humid: no breeze, don'tchaknow?  Actually, it's a lot like Duckford in that regard, at least today.  It was 83° when I left the job, and according to one weather website or another, 95% humidity.  But I digress.

It's bumpy, even with last year's resurfacing, it's abrasive, and it's nearly impossible to pass on.  Other than that, it's a fantastic track... grmblgrmblgrmbl.

The best thing that can be said about the Hungarian Grand Prix is that after it's over, F1 will be taking a four-week summer break.

Well, that and we get another race covered by the Legendary Announce Team!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Hungary: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  All opinions are those of The Pond, and should not be taken internally.  Check your local listings for whatever you feel like checking.

I'm going to bed now.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 24, 2017

Wonderduck - Similar To An Octopus

Remember back when I was employment-bereft (...and would you look at that?  It's been three years since I announced my status to The Pond!  Time flies...) I would sometimes spend entire weeks without leaving Pond Central?  Hermitdom suited me in many ways, mostly the "lazy bum" way.  Shortly before I was plucked from the ranks of the jobless, I found a cartoon that described my state of mind perfectly:


I mention this because some vestige of those days still remains within me.  That is, when I return to Pond Central after work on Fridays, it's quite common for me to not leave again until I have to go back to work on Monday.  Sometimes I don't even open the door to the outside world for the entire weekend.

As I briefly mentioned in my last so-called "post", I had myself a little three-day weekend, but something interesting occurred today.  I went out.  I went out!  In public and everything!  I went out to lunch with the folks, then came right back to Pond Central, elapsed time less than two hours, but I was outside.
Yes, very much like that, including all the controllers and the band... and I'd like to thank Pond Scum member Mauser for mentioning Public Service Broadcasting over at Brickmuppet's place.  Instant fan here.

When your life appears to not have much in the way of big triumphs, you take the little ones with enthusiasm, y'know?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:16 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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July 23, 2017

Long Weekend

I have Monday off, taking a PTO day.  I've gotta admit, this has been a lazy weekend, even for me.  I've done a little bit more than nothing, but not by much.  And y'know what?


I don't care.  I'll have to be back at work soon enough, but until then t'hell with it.  I deserve this extra day off.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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