October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween...

...from all the little ghosts, goblins, and trick-or-treaters at The Pond!

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Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny strikes again...

The omake continue to trickle out from Japan. 



There are times that I love being an anime fan.

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October 29, 2007

Kanon Project 2: Dead. Kanon Project 2a: Alive.

So, remember that AMV I announced a few months back, using Kanon 2006 and a track by The Smithereens?

It's dead.  Dead dead dead dead dead.  The proverbial doornail is more alive than that idea.  Bereft of life, it rests in peace.  It's joined the bleedin' choir invisible.  This is an ex-AMV concept.  I just couldn't make it work in my head, and I couldn't bring myself to force through it while clipping.  As a result, it stagnated and eventually, I gave up on it altogether.

But, as Gainax taught us, for every Death, there is a Rebirth.  And so it is in this case.  A few weeks ago, I heard the new single (does anybody under the age of 30 still call them 'singles' anymore?) from the Foo Fighters, and something went *click* in my brain.  Not an "...Angel" level click, but a click nonetheless.  So, from the ashes comes this:

I'm working on another Kanon '06 AMV... and this time, it's for real.  Again.

I can hear the groans of Ubu, Astro, and Pixy from here...

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October 27, 2007

Weekend.

Well, there was another 50+ hour week, come to an end... makes three in a row, and five of the last six.  That's annoyingly long, but it's even worse when you're working alone, which I am.  The Duck is worn out.



However, I've got the weekend off for the first time in a month.  I see a lot of anime in my future...the 3rd DVD of Haruhi is on my desk, and I see that there's 3rd episodes of and Minami-ke and Sketchbook available, too.

Not to mention the little surprise I'm working on for the F1 UPDATE! year in review post.

It's NICE to have an uninterrupted couple of days off.

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October 25, 2007

Anime Blogging... Serious Bidnez.



(...with deep, abject apologies to Honorary Duck Jeff.)

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It's My Birthday

Two years ago today, the worst thing to ever happen to me occurred.  I was taken out of the Duck U. Bookstore on a gurney.  My heart had decided to go wild; a pulse rate so fast the EMTs couldn't count it, and a blood pressure so high that it was off their cuff's scale.

Imagine sprinting as fast as you can for a mile.  At the end of it, your heart would probably still be beating slower than mine was.

It's called 'superventricular tachycardia', and it's actually fairly common.  The doctors at the ER told me that they see "a couple of people" every day with much the same symptoms.  In my case, however, my blood chemistry was completely screwed up.  In particular, my potassium and magnesium levels had cratered.  According to one nurse, and I have no idea what these numbers mean, a 4.0 reading is considered normal for these particular levels.

Mine were around 1.0.  They kept me overnight, hooked me up to an IV tree and pumped bags of the stuff into me (the potassium burned).  The next day, I had a prescription for a betablocker, which I'll probably be on for the rest of my life.

It must be working, because other than a 10-minute long episode back in September 2006 that wasn't half as bad as The Incident, I've been fine.

SVT is not life-threatening for the most part.  Tony Blair, the recently retired Prime Minister of England, had an attack back in 2003.  In his case, the doctors decided to perform a procedure called catheter ablation on him... roughly a year later.  In his case, being the leader of a country and all, it made sense.  In  my case, since I'm a duck with no particular history in this sort of thing, they decided against it... but if it starts to occur frequently in the future, it's an option

Like last year, I'm going to end this post with a request.  If something weird is going on with your heart, be it SVT, chest pains, tightness, or whatever, don't be tough.  Call 9-1-1 immediately.  You don't want to mess around with stuff like that, because, quite honestly, you can DIE if you wait.

And I don't want to lose any of my readers from something I can help prevent.

Now, lets put on party hats and break out the noisemakers!

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October 22, 2007

I'm In LUV!

It's been a long, long couple of months here at The Pond.  Of course, there's the whole F1 thing, and work has been long hours on top of long hours, with some more long hours tacked onto the weekends to boot.  I've barely had time to watch any of the new anime season at all.

But there HAS been two shows I've watched so far... and I'm in love with both of them.

The first is called Minami-ke.  It's the story of three sisters: Chiaki, a too-smart gradeschooler, Kana, the hyperactive middleschooler, and Haruka, the high schooler.

Chiaki, Kana, Haruka.
So far, the show seems to be nothing more than a look into the life of three sisters.  Nothing exciting, but a lot of fun and some laughs.  It sort of feels like Azumanga Daioh, honestly: it doesn't have a plot except for life, but it's enjoyable to see the sisters go through life... and it's FUNNY without trying to be.  In two episodes, I've laughed out loud more than I did during the entire run of Lucky Star.  Scenes like this one:

      "Geez, not again..."                 "I believe I can fly..."           "Not the teapot..."
...just make you chuckle, or laugh, or smile.  It's just that sort of show, and I'd rather watch this than any number of Gundams or Shanas.  I'd happily recommend it to just about anybody.

But the show that's completely captured my heart isn't Minami-ke:

more...

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October 21, 2007

Wow, here's a shock...

...McLaren is appealing the FIA's ruling that BMW and Williams broke the technical regulations, but aren't going to be penalized.

Even better, McLaren is saying that they know they were beaten by Ferrari on-track, and accept that.  They simply want to understand how cars can be found by FIA officials to have broken the rules and yet not have any punishment.  A fair question, considering how the FIA has manhandled McLaren this season.

As mentioned before, the FIA now has a serious problem on their hands, and it's one of their own making.  I'm sorry this marvelous season has ended this way, but if it makes the FIA consistent in the way they enforce their own rulebook in the future, it'll be better for the sport.

If the sport can survive this fiasco, that is.

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UH-oh... Driver's Championship Ain't Decided Yet! UPDATE: Yes it has, for now...

News from Brazil is that both BMW and Williams are under investigation, post-race, for violating a technical regulation involving fuel temperatures.

Article 6.5.5 of the Formula 1 Technical Regulations states that "no fuel on board the car may be more than 10 degrees centigrade below ambient temperature". This is to prevent teams from freezing their fuel and thus reducing its volume.  Of course, that'd allow teams to get more fuel into the tank, providing themselves with an advantage.

The ambient air temperature in Sao Paolo today was 37 degrees Celcius.  Nick Heidfeld's fuel was measured at 24C and 25C at his two stops. 

Both Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, as well as Nico Rosberg, are now in danger of being excluded from the results of the Brazillian Grand Prix (that's a lot of Grand Prix!)... which would move Lewis Hamilton to FOURTH PLACE, giving him the Driver's Championship.


More as it becomes available...

UPDATE: The results stand.  Nothing to see here.

Except now the FIA is in a no-win situation.  The tech regs have been violated.  I'm interested in hearing why BMW and Williams won't be penalized, even if there was no performance advantage, if McLaren was hit with their death penalty for a violation of the rules that gave no performance advantage.

One could argue that the FIA is playing fast and loose with their own rulebook, enforcing or not at their whim.  Unless there were defective thermometers, why shouldn't the teams be penalized?

If McLaren wanted to fight this, they probably could, and it seems to me that they stand a good chance to win some concessions at the very least.

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F1 UPDATE!: BRAZIL!

Never in a thousand years would we have predicted what happened at Interlagos today.  Lets get right to it!


Quick, weigh that car!
*KIMI WINS THE DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP:  Right from the start, it was obvious that this was going to be an... interesting race.  Massa held off Raikkonen, and HWMNBN got past Hamilton by turn 1.  And this is where the rookie made his first mistake: he didn't need to race his teammate.  He just needed to stay close to him, and he'd win the DC.  Instead, Hamilton tried to retake his position and blew the turn, tumbling down the order.  Even then, things were not out of hand, and there was still an entire race to run.
Then Hamilton's car broke.  The Legendary Announce Team almost immediately diagnosed the problem as the automatic clutch on the McLaren, and while he frantically tried to engage the fail-safe mechanisim that'd let him get on with the race (though at slightly reduced capability), he fell all the way back to 18th. 
Meanwhile, the two Ferraris rocketed off into the distance.  HWMNBN was third, but was never close to catching either of them.  All that was left was figuring how Ferrari would get Kimi past Massa for the lead, and would Hamilton manage to haul himself up to fifth, in which case he'd still win the DC.
In the second round of pitstops, Ferrari brought Massa in a couple of laps early, allowing Kimi to rip off two very fast laps before HIS pitstop.  When he came back out, he had gone from a few seconds behind Massa to less than a second ahead.  Meanwhile, Lewis slowly dragged himself up to seventh, but it was late and he was 20 seconds behind sixth. 
When the race ended, the longest of long-shots, Kimi Raikkonen, had managed to come from seven points behind in the DC to win the championship by the slimmest of margins: one point.

*UTTER DEJECTION:  There's no way that Lewis Hamilton could be feeling anything other than horrible right now.  He had the championship wrapped up, and two mistakes in two races cost him the ultimate prize.  In China, he beached his car in the smallest graveltrap of the season.  In Brazil, he ran wide while needlessly racing his 'teammate', grinding his car over a curb, which may have caused the damage that caused his electronic clutch system to fail.  In replays, pieces of his car are seen flying off; perhaps the shaking and rattling made a connection come loose.  Rookie mistakes cost him the most important prize in motorsports.

*FINAL STANDINGS:
1) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 110 points
2) Lewis Hamilton, McLaren - 109 points (tiebreaker)
3) HWMNBN, McLaren - 109 points


Drink!  Drink!  Drink!
*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari.  He drove a perfect race.  He won it on the track, instead of by any Ferrari chicanery.  And he came from third in points to win the Driver's Championship.  What more can you ask for from a driver?

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Ferrari.  1-2 on the podium, nearly forty seconds ahead of third place, and dual championship victories, Constructor's and Driver's.  Not to sound repetitive, but what more can you ask for from a team?

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 61, Nick Heidfeld is 4th, Nico Rosberg is 5th, and Robert Kubica is 6th.  Rosberg makes a move inside Heidfeld, who barely moves until the last instant.  Both drivers wind up losing just a little bit of grip on braking, and slide wide... and Kubica blows the doors off of both of them, jumping from 6th to 4th in one sweet move.  Honorable Mention goes to... Robert Kubica, for his muscular pass of Mark Webber at turn 1 of lap 8.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Sometimes even the best drivers in the world have sub-optimal days, like Lewis Hamilton.  Then there are those drivers who would LOVE to have a sub-optimal day, because it would make their race better.  It's those wretched racers that the Mooo-oove was created for, and today, we're pleased to present the MotR to a very deserving recipient: Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella.  Last year, we were amazed that Renault would willingly name Fisi their number-one driver, and he didn't disappoint; finishing with 21 points, NINE behind his teammate, the rookie Heikki Kovaleinieninnie.  Ah, but today was was the true low point of his season.  On lap two Fisi ran wide and rolled off-track.  Not bothering to check around him, he blithely drives back onto the asphalt, right in front of the fast-moving Spyker (welllll...) of Sakon Yamamoto.  The result?


How they make GP2 cars...
Owtch.  Brilliantly done, Giancarlo Fisichella.  Here's your Mooooooo-oove!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:
more...

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October 20, 2007

F1 Quals: BRAZIL!

It turns out that there's a perfectly good reason for the FIA telling Lewis Hamilton that 'undue celebration' is banned: it's to prevent somebody slipping extra weight into his jumpsuit after the race.

See, the car/driver combination (minus fuel) has to weigh 600kg (1322 lbs) or more at the end of the race.  After the race is complete and the cars are placed in parc ferme, but before the podium ceremonies, each driver is weighed.  Later, of course, the cars are weighed.

It appears that, some time in the distant past, a driver was celebrating a victory by hugging every mechanic on his team.  Whilst he was doing that, one of the mechanics slipped a weight of some amount into his driver's pocket... maybe not much, but the cars are so light that even 50 grams (or 1.7 ounces) might be enough to make weight.  Indeed, drivers aren't even allowed to put on their watches until after weigh-in.

The 'excessive celebration' rule is in place to prevent that sort of chicanery.  Never mind that Slappy Schumacher used to practically bodysurf the Ferrari team after a win, and HWMNBN used to nearly molest Flavio Briatore after he was victorious, and who can forget Phil Massa's win and victory celebration at Brazil (his home race) last year?  Never mind all that, now the FIA is going to crack down. 

Uh-huh.

Oh, you wanted to know about Quals?  Well, click below and find out!

more...

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The FIA Can't Leave Well Enough Alone

Lewis Hamilton has been told by the FIA (via McLaren) that if he wins the Driver's Championship on Sunday, he should "keep a lid on his victory celebrations."

Uh... hm. 

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October 19, 2007

F1 Practice: BRAZIL!

Welcome to Interlagos, which means "between the lakes" in Brazillianese, and "Wonderduck hates this track" in English.  Particularly the final turn-goes-into-the-front-straight thing that has the drivers cutting across the pit-in lane at 190mph and always makes me think of a catastrophe about to happen every time I see it.

(Update: Steven, here's a picture of the final turn from an onboard camera:


That yellow line on the right is part of the pit-in lane.  Drivers are supposed to stay outside of it if they're not coming into the pits.  At Interlagos, however, this rule is ignored completely, and every driver uses it as part of the 'driving line' through the turn.  To a certain extent, yes, I'm somewhat concerned about a pitting car being rear-ended, but I'm also worried about a car hitting the pit wall.  There's also an optical illusion from the TV camera at turn 1 that makes it look as if the cars are entering the pits at 180mph that disturbs me...)

To be fair, I will give the course credit: they resurfaced the track, so it's no longer like driving on rumblestrips.  Now it's almost smooth... for this race, at least.  Next year?  The track'll be crepe again.

There's not much they can do about that, short of moving the circuit.  The location of the darn thing, between two lakes set in a valley, means that it was built on very soft soil... so the concrete and asphalt actually sinks over time.  Of course, it all doesn't sink at the same rate, so the track wrinkles.

And places like Watkins Glen sit unused.  How is this fair?

Nothing surprising from practice today.  Hamilton was fastest.  The tire choices this week are the supersofts and the softs, and it looks like the supersofts will last about, oh, one lap or so before they start to grain and shed bits of themselves.  Lovely.

In other news, Alex "Man-Mountain" Wurz has officially retired, and has been replaced by Kaz Nakajima... and the Williams seems to have woken up big-time under his tender efforts.  Late in the session, Kaz was fourth.  He fell to 8th, finally, but still impressive for the team.

Also, Phil Massa has been signed by the Peripatetic Pony team through 2010.  This would seem to indicate that HWMNBN will NOT be going to the Red Team, since Kimi is also under contract.  Renault is his probable destination.

No chance of him coming back to McLaren.  There was a board meeting at Mercedes (who owns 40% of McLaren) recently, and they voted to launch his arse as soon as the season is over.

Amazingly, Ralf Schumacher IS driving this week.  This surprises me, to be honest... he's not going to be back with Toyota next year, after all, and he's honestly stunk up the joint this season.  Why NOT try someone else for a race?

Maybe he's still waiting for the shift manager job at the Berlin McDonalds to open up?

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October 18, 2007

Rock. No, that's not enough... RAAAAAAAWWWWWWKK!!!!!

One of the best groups of the late '80s / early '90s... and, sadly, often forgotten. 

Ladies and germs, I give you LIVING COLOUR, live on Arsenio in '89.


Vernon Reid is the man.  Crank it up!

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October 16, 2007

Brazillian GP on SPEED!

Yep, that's a lot of GPs!

And, thankfully, Brazil is in a decent timezone*, so we can watch it without having to be hooked up to a coffee IV.

For starters, practice is brought to us live at (ready for this?) 11am on Friday morning.  I'll be dragging myself out of bed just in time, I think, but I'll be there!

Saturday, it's the Brazillian quals (that's a lot of quals!) at 11am.  Easily the single most important qual session this year, and... I won't be able to watch it, as the Duck U. football team takes to the field at home this Saturday, and that means the Bookstore will be open.  Oh well, I'll catch it when I get home.

Then comes the big one:  the Brazillian Grand Prix, which will decide who wins the Driver's Championship.  Sunday, SPEED's coverage will begin at 1030am.  You know F1 UPDATE! will be there, camped out on the couch and watching every second.  Anybody for rain?

Wouldn't THAT be a kick? 

*European readers, your mileage may vary.

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October 14, 2007

When Life Happens All Over You.

Readers may have noticed a drop in quality posting here at The Pond in recent weeks.  To tell the truth, I hardly have time to think these days, let alone blog.

The manager of the Duck U. Bookstore has been promoted to a much larger store.  This leaves the store with one a grand total of one employee... me.  As a result, of course, I'm working open-to-close Monday thru Friday, and since it's football season, every Saturday home game as well.  Then there are the Forum Series events, where an interesting person comes to Duck U. and gives a speech/presentation/whatever to the students.  Interesting people often have written books, so the store goes to those events to sell said books... adding another 3 or 4 hours to my day.

On one hand, it's great, because of all the overtime.  On the other hand, it's really, really tough to work 12 hours/day alone, with only minimal chances to (say) go use the loo.

So if The Pond gets a little quiet for a while, that's why.  Of course, I WILL make time for the Brazil GP... and sooner or later, I'll get back to posting about anime. 

It's just that right now, things like 'sleep' are more important.

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F1, ITV Style

Without a doubt, the Legendary Announce Team from SPEED is excellent at their jobs.  They work together well, each member knows their stuff, and they are good on-air.  It's hard to imagine a better group to take you through a F1 race.

My friends, I am here to say that if I could, I'd turn my back on them in an instant.  There is no better coverage than that given a race by ITV out of England.

They spend more time on a race, they spend much more time on the pre-race, they don't clutter a screen with excess 'local' graphics, and while their on-air announce pair aren't quite as good as the LAT, they're pretty darn excellent.

And they get what F1 really is all about, as evidenced by these screenshots from their opening:

I could watch them all night... and pretty much have, this evening.  SPEED is good, but they could learn a lot from ITV.

Flotsky, you don't know how good you've got it.

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October 12, 2007

Ukes for days.. or at least a few minutes.

 

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October 10, 2007

Where duck?

So you want a Wereduck?

Okay, I can do that!  Sorry about the quality of the picture, but you know, it's that whole "full moon, dark of night" thing.

He's a cuddly lycanduck, loveable one moment, and the next, he'll rip your head off and quack down your neck.  And he's just one of the 185 ducks in my family. 

Yes, 185.  And that's a conservative estimate.

Fear the ducks.

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October 07, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: SHANGHAI!

Wow.  Just... wow.  THIS... is F1 UPDATE!

*WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?: That's what Lewis Hamilton had to be thinking as he sat on the grid, waiting for the lights to go out. The McLaren has been a brick all season, never retiring due to mechanical failure.  It was the fastest chassis.  And he was the best driver in the field.  No sweat.  Even the rain wouldn't've worried him overmuch; didn't he win the GP of Japan in rain a lot worse than the drizzle falling now?  When the lights went out, he rocketed away and dominated the field.  His 'teammate' was pinned behind both Ferraris.  He didn't even worry when the rain stopped; yeah, he was on intermediate tires, but Race Control was saying the rain would start again in a few minutes.  But it didn't.  The first round of pitstops was for fuel only; both McLaren and Ferrari sent their cars back out on worn tires.  This is not as big a deal as you might think; when intermediates wear down, they go smooth, like slicks.  Yes, if it starts to rain, they're useless, but Race Control had decided that it wouldn't rain again for a while...
more...

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