June 07, 2009

Rubber Duckie Saves Woman's Life

Shirley Madsen, 90, returned home from a night at the casinos and decided to take a bath before bed.  She didn't expect to be too weak to get out when she was done.

Her hands too small to cup enough water to sustain her, she turned to her rubber duckie collection for survival.  "I have this collection of rubber duckies. There is a fireman, a policeman and others," Madsen said. "I jokingly tell my friends that I am going home to take a bath with the boys."  One of her new duckies, a gift from a friend, had a hole in the bottom and couldn't float.  It did make a perfect cup, however, and kept her from dehydration.

Rescued after three days in her bathtub, she had to spend a short time in the hospital recovering from her ordeal. 
"I will never get in another bathtub, ever," Madsen said.

With a laugh, she further advises: "Get a bunch of rubber duckies and make sure one of them can't swim."

(Thanks to insidebayarea.com for original story)

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June 06, 2009

F1 Quals: Turkey 2009!

Have we just seen a tiny chink appear in the Brawn's armor?  The provisional grid for the Grand Prix of Turkey will be as follows:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:27.330 1:27.016 1:28.316
2 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.355 1:27.230 1:28.421
3 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.371 1:27.418 1:28.579
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:27.466 1:27.416 1:28.613
5 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:27.529 1:27.195 1:28.666
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.556 1:27.387 1:28.815
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.508 1:27.349 1:28.858
8 HWMNBN Renault 1:27.988 1:27.473 1:29.075
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:27.517 1:27.418 1:29.191
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:27.788 1:27.455 1:29.357
11 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:27.795 1:27.521
12 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:27.691 1:27.629
13 Timo Glockenspiel Toyota 1:28.160 1:27.795
14 Heikki Kovalaineninnie McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.199 1:28.207
15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:28.278 1:28.391
16 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.318

17 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:28.582

18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:28.708

19 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:28.717

20 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:28.918

Sebastian gets the clean sweep of qualifying, having the fastest speed in all three sessions.  Of course, the Red Bull RB5 got its new double diffuser at Monaco but that's hardly a good place to shake down new equipment.  Now that it's out on the open road, so to speak, it may just be that the Brawn has been supplanted as the best car.

Not to say that's for sure, however, because as usual the Brawns have more fuel on board than Vettel.  The polesitter weighs in at 649.5kg, Button is at 655.5kg, and Barrichello 652.5kg.  That extra weight might equal another lap or two on the first stint, and that may very well be the entire difference between the two marques.

All hail Adrian Sutil and Force India!  For the second race in a row, they managed to get out of Q1... while Lewis Hamilton's McLaren failed to get out of Q1 for the second race in a row.  In Monaco, of course, Hamilton stuck it into the wall, but no such excuse here: the MP4/24 is just a dog.  Everywhere it went, the rear end was twitching like an burlesque dancer's.  To be blunt, Hamilton and Kovaleininninnie are too busy keeping the car from killing them to be competitively fast.

The Ferraris, which looked so promising yesterday,  will have quite a task ahead of them if they want to keep the title of "Turkish Grand Prix Victors" entirely in-house.  Not bloody likely, though, considering that Massa has less fuel that Button, and Kimi about 3kg more.  Not an impressive result.

Finally, BMW must be feeling a little bit better.  They didn't look too bad in quals, and at least one of their drivers made it to Q3.  It's the right direction, at least.

I'm not sure which version of the race I'll be watching tomorrow:  Fox'll have SPEED's coverage at 2pm central, but I should also have the BBC's broadcast in my possession by noon.   So, which I watch will determine when the F1 Update! will be posted.  See you then, whenever it is!

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June 05, 2009

Random Anime Picture #44: Why I Like Hatsukoi Limited

-Hatsukoi Limited, ep05


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F1 Practice: Turkey 2009!

Take a sheet of 2-grit sandpaper.  Apply this vigorously to the side of a very large, very old, and very very pissed off bull.

That was the sound Sebastian Vettel's engine made when the Red Bull's gearbox tried to select two gears at the same time... or the driveshaft came adrift... or whatever it was that happened to it.  No matter what it was, it was not a pleasant sound at all, and one I've never heard from a F1 car before.  The smoke wasn't bad, but something got really codswallopped in there.

In other news, nobody has any idea how McLaren is going to do.  Heikki Kovaleininninninnie was fastest on the day, but Lewis Hamilton was well down the timesheets.  He also had multiple spins, and his car looked very twitchy all day.  On the other hand, Heikki's didn't look anywhere near as bad... I wonder if they're running different equipment?

The news of the day, however, was that only HWMNBN could get anything out of the softer of the two tire compounds, hauling his Renault up to second only .006 seconds behind.  Everybody else, however, looked like they were driving on pudding when they put on the softs.  Look for long stints on the hard compounds to begin with, so teams can minimize the time spent on the softs.  Funny, usually softer tires work better around this particular track.

Quals on Saturday.

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June 04, 2009

What If #3: Midway... Timing Is Everything

In the previous post, reader Toad asks:
If the American torpedo and dive bombers had managed to make a coordinated attack per doctrine how much difference would it have made if any on the number of Japanese carriers sunk and damaged?

It would, indeed, make a difference, but perhaps not the way you may be expecting.

As in life, love, baseball and comedy, the Battle of Midway is all about timing.  Disrupt the timing of the American attacks, and you disrupt the outcome.  Throughout the morning of June 4th, 1942, American planes ran in on Kido Butai.  At no time during the day, until the famous plunge of the Dauntlesses, were these attacks coordinated or in greater than squadron strength.  Also at no time during the day, until the big attack, were American fighters effectively on the scene (there were Wildcats on the scene when VT-6 made its run, but they were high above the fight waiting for a radio call on a different frequency from a different squadron).

The easiest way to describe the effect of all these seperate attacks had on the Japanese fleet is to borrow a phrase from land combat: suppressive fire.  The carriers were too busy "keeping their heads down" and tossing the occasional grenade (or Zeros, in the case) at their attackers from behind cover to launch their own attack on the US carriers.

The sequence of events went like this:
Shortly before 6am, the Japanese carriers were spotted by Midway-based PBYs.
*Around 620am, the Japanese strike on Midway Island began.
*At 7am, TF16 (Enterprise, Hornet) began launching their strike against the Japanese.
*Between 705am and 730am, the VT-8 detachment flying from Midway and a handful of B-26s carrying topedoes attack the Japanese carriers.  During this time, Admiral Nagumo, commander of Kido Butai, orders that his reserve force of carrier planes be rearmed for land attack.
*Around 745am, Tone #4, the infamous late scout plane, discovers and reports the presence of American carriers.  Nagumo reverses his rearming order.
*At 755am, two unrelated attacks on the Japanese carriers come in.  First, a flight of B-17s arrive overhead.  At the same time, a green squadron of Dauntless dive bombers from Midway, led by Major Lofton Henderson, begin a glide bombing attack.  This attack is dealt with sternly, and is over by 815am or so.
*At 8am, TF17 (Yorktown), which had been in charge of scouting for the morning, launches its planes.
*At 805am, the Midway strike planes return to Kido Butai and wait for the American attacks to be driven off.
*Around 820am, a second group of dive bombers from Midway, this time SB2U Vindicators, attacks and is beaten off.
*Around 835am, the SB2U and B-17 attacks come to an end.
*Immediately thereafter, recovery of the Midway strike force begins.
*Around 910am, the last planes from the strike force touch down. 
*At 915am, VT-8 attacks.  By 935am, all of the torpedo bombers are shot down.
*At 940am, VT-6 attacks.  This attack is over by 1010am.
*At 1010am, VT-3 is spotted.
*At 1020am, VB-3 and VB-6 attack Kido Butai.
*By 1030am, the Soryu, Kaga and Akagi are mortally wounded.
*Around 1040am, VT-3's survivors make their torpedo attacks and leave the field.

From this timeline, it can be seen that the Japanese carriers had no time to even prepare to launch an attack on the American CVs.  The only open stretch available to them was between 835am and 910am, the time when the Midway strike force was being recovered.  They could have spotted and launched an attack during this stretch of time (even though the re-rearming of the reserve planes wasn't yet complete), but only at the risk of losing many of the Midway strike planes to fuel depravation or pilot injuries.  Japanese doctrine at the time did not allow for, say, Hiryu and Kaga to launch an attack while Soryu and Akagi recovered planes.  Doctrine called for massed airpower using large numbers of planes in a balanced, coordinated attack.  This would swamp the target's defenses and allow for maximum damage to be inflicted while minimizing casualties.  There was never any thought to leaving the Midway strike dangling, because that's not how the Japanese carriers worked.

So, what would have happened if a coordinated American strike had been launched and all the attackers arrived on target at the same time?

The answer, as mentioned before, comes down to timing.


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A Miraculous Day, A Tragic Day

June 4th, 1942.

Midway Island.

John Waldron, Commander of Torpedo 8, takes off from USS Hornet around 7am.

Waldron's Torpedo 8 attacked the Japanese fleet at 920am.  By 940am, all of the men in this picture save for Ensign George Gay (circled) were dead.

Their loss, along with the savaging of Torpedo 6 off the Enterprise and Torpedo 3 from the Yorktown, a total of 36 out of 41 TBD Devastators launched, prevented the four carriers of the Japanese force from launching their own airstrike.   Then the Dauntless dive bombers of the fleet arrived... and the rest is history. 

Japanese carrier Hiryu, pummled by multiple bomb hits, burns later in the day.  She would sink shortly after this picture was taken.

The USN did not escape unscathed, however.  The Yorktown, hastily repaired after the Coral Sea, took multiple hits and went dead in the water.

On June 7th, after being torpedoed by a submarine, she went down.

The Battle of Midway, that "miraculous victory", was over.

The Japanese would not win another strategic victory for the rest of the war.

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June 03, 2009

Bad Anime! Bad, BAD, B A D !!!!!

"Hey, look!  I just caught a baby octopus-thing!  I bet my twin sisters (who aren't related by blood to me at all!) will think it's cute!"

"Awww, onii-chan (who isn't related to us by blood at all!), I bet the baby octopus-thing's parent will be sad."

"Oh no!  A giant octopus-thing, and it's not sad, it's angry!  Whatever will us identical twins starring in an anime do?"

Wonderduck: "You have got to be kidding me.  Don't do it, anime, I'm warning you!"


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June 02, 2009

The World Needed This

They say that, on the Internet, you can find anything.  One thing that you couldn't find, however, was a webcomic starring rubber duckies.  I always hoped that there would come a day, however, when that lack would be addressed.

On Monday, June 1st, 2009, that day arrived.

May I have the pleasure of introducing Quacked Panes, the soon-to-be breakout hit of the summer.  Produced by occasional Pond commenter GreyDuck, I think it deserves to be read.  But don't mind Rusty... he's not known for his sense of humor.

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June 01, 2009

F1 on TV: Turkey 2009!

This week the mighty F1 Circus stops in Istanbul.  Nope, no They Might Be Giants jokes here.  I'll leave that to the highlights package guy at Speed Channel... he ALWAYS uses one of their songs when they're at the Istanbul Otodrom.

I won't mention which one.

Track map time!
Surprisingly enough, it's another Hermann Tilke circuit... but wait!  No "Adventure" layout here!  In fact, it's far and away his best F1 track design, and the only one of his to have a legendary corner.  Yes, this is the home of Quad-8, the infamous quadruple-apex turn that is the key to a good lap.  Done right, it's a beautifully balanced high-speed turn... but be wrong by a couple of inches and you're into the runoff area and praying that nobody noticed.  Many people have noticed some similarities between famous turns in motorsports and turns on this circuit.  For example, Turn 1 and 2 here has a passing resemblence to Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew (though without the incredible downhill plunge), and Turn 11 has been nicknamed "Faux Rouge" due to the similarity with the famous complex at Spa (though without the incredible uphill climb).

Jenson Button has a history with Quad-8.  A couple of years ago, when Honda actually was sporty and looking like they were going to be challenging the big boys (kinda like BMW last year), Button had shown that he loved the Istanbul circuit by ripping off fast practice lap after fast practice lap... and he was the only driver who made Quad-8 look easy.

And then came Quals.  Through the first seven turns, he was amazing.  Then came Quad-8, a slight bobble, and voomph!  No pole for you, Jenson.  Ever since, he's been gunshy around that bend.

Turkey is also one of only two counter-clockwise tracks on the F1 calendar (Brazil being the other).  This lends an extra amount of fatigue to the drivers... they're used to going clockwise around racetracks, and their neck muscles are developed to do so.  Now, however, they have to go the other way... to the weak side, you could say. 

Running counter-clockwise also adds another difficulty to the teams, in that the refuelling receptacle on the cars needs to be moved to the left-hand side.  While this requires a minor change to the bodywork, and practically no change to the fuel tank itself (the tank doesn't move, the connecting hose between the tank and the receptacle does), it does cause some minor consternation amongst the pitcrews.  Usually, the right side tire changers have their backs to the garages... but now they'll have their backs to the pit lane, with cars zipping by behind them.  I don't care how professional they are, and they are arguably the best in the business, a change like that has to throw you off a little bit.

This track has been owned by the Ferrari drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen winning in 2005 (though he was with McLaren at the time), and Felipe Massa the winner of the other three races.  The question is, will that institutional memory be enough to boot BrawnGP from the top step of the podium? 

We'll begin to find out on Friday, from 6a to 740a, as SPEED brings us live coverage of 2nd Practice.  More questions will be answered on Saturday, from 6a to 730a, when we get plausibly live coverage of the Quals session, also on SPEED.

Then comes the race, which will NOT be live.  The Grand Prix of Turkey is the first of this year's four races on Fox, so check your local listings for times (though it's expected to be from 2p to 4p).  The only replay will be on SPEED on Tuesday, June 9th, from 12n to 2p.

All times are Central Pond Time, so subtract two hours if you are Vaucaunson's Duck, who lives in San Francisco.

Of course, F1 Update!'ll be all over this race, so see you then!

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