October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010!

Thanks to the Duck U. Human Resources office for the use of their decorations!

The dead have risen... and they're ADORABLE!

Happy Halloween from all the spooky lil' duckies at The Pond! 

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October 29, 2010


I had intended to blog about the question that Vaucaunson's Duck posed, about why the Hidamari Sketch duckie had so caught my fancy, but I find that my heart just isn't into it tonight.  Long days at work, I suppose, and a general feeling of meh-ness (as opposed to menace) have conspired to take the creativity right out of me.

So instead, I bring you something very rare in anime: a cute girl appropriately dressed for chilly weather.

-Amagami SS, ep13

Think about it... most of the cast of Kanon '06 should have died of pneumonia because they never wore coats in the middle of winter.  Ironically, the only girl in the show that wore warm clothing was already hospitalized.

It's almost like the producers of anime don't want to cover the girls up or something...

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October 28, 2010

Which Witch Is Which?

Over at the greatest duck-themed webcomic on the net, Quacked Panes, the Halloween duckies are out and about... including a witch duckie. 

Meanwhile, over at Duck Show, the greatest duck-based website anywhere, a particular witch duckie is sited...

...and here at Wonderduck's Pond, I'm always happy to jump on a bandwagon.

Yep, it's Pockywitch!  Hopefully I'll be able to coax her away from her horde later... if I'm turned into a newt, you know what happened.

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October 26, 2010

Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything! The 2010 Edition

It's been a year and since I had a blast with it during the last go-round, I think it's time for the second installment of Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything!

Here's how this thing works... you ask a question, and I'll answer it!  It's just that simple!  But wait, great news!  The best question (in my opinion) will get a full-length post devoted to the answer! 

As with the last time we did this, there are a few questions I won't answer: anything related to current politics or religion.  I started The Pond lo these many years ago in an attempt to get away from political or religious squabbles, and to this day I've pretty much managed to stay clear of those things.  There are plenty of people out there who write about those topics and do so in ways I couldn't even hope to approach, so go read them for answers to those questions.  If you DO ask me a question related to such topics, please expect to be mocked horribly.

But wait, there's even more!

If you ask a technical question, I'll do my best to answer it correctly, but use it at your own risk.  So if you ask, say, "how do I install a left-handed widget in my 2008 Dacia Sandero," the results are on your head, not mine.

With all that out of the way, Ask Wonderduck (almost) Anything!

UPDATE: Some music for you while you formulate your query.


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October 25, 2010

My Fifth Birthday

It amazes me to think that it was five years ago that I suffered The Cardiac Incident.  For those who are new to The Pond, yours truly had an attack of Superventricular Tachycardia at work, ended up with a pulserate somewhere in the vicinity of 250bpm with a blood pressure near 300/200. 

I'm one of those lucky individuals who have heard an EMT say "I can't get a pulse" when they were referring to them!  My heart was going so fast that he just couldn't count individual beats; it just felt like one continuous throb.  It never hurt, but it was stressful... particularly when they had to actually stop my heart to give it a chance to reboot. 

It's an odd feeling.  We're in the back of the ambulance, sirens wailing, and the EMT is calmly telling me that he's about to give me a drug that'll make my heart cease activity for a moment.  "It might feel like there's a brick on your chest, but it won't hurt!"  And lo, he was right.  Too bad the first dose didn't do the trick.  The second shot felt like there were two bricks on my chest, lot of pressure, and then...

...things were fine again.  Oh, my pulse was still high, around 120bpm, but that's heaven in comparison to four beats a second.  I was kept at the hospital overnight and released with a prescription for a drug to control the possibility of it happening again.

SVT by itself isn't usually fatal, but if it keeps going for an extended period of time, the possibility of bad things occurring begins to grow... like a stroke from the high blood pressure, or an arterial failure, or dozens of other very-not-good outcomes.  The ER nurses told me that calling 911 was the smartest thing I could have done.

So I'm here to tell you, my readers, that if you ever feel something weird happening to your heart, or any other of your internals for that matter, call 911 (or whatever your local emergency number is).  Don't tough it out, don't think that it's not a big deal because it isn't a heart attack, don't be a bloody idiot.  Call 911 and stay alive.

Because the alternative?  Bad.  Very bad.

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Ducks In Anime: A Good Day

Despite having a four-day weekend, here at Pond Central it's been something of a meh.  I'm dealing with a bad coldflucoughthing that just won't go completely away, and have been tired all the bloody time.  Other things are going on as well, leading to just one big "meh" of a weekend.

Until today.  Today began with an epic Formula 1 race, segued into an exciting (if exasperating) Bears game, and then...

-Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu Special #1

Any day with a new HidaSketch is a good day, particularly when it's a story that isn't in the four manga volumes that have been released here!  Or, at least the main story hasn't.

The secondary story is the Natsune flashback from the end of Volume 4, the one that Ume Aoki couldn't do in 4koma style.

And of course, there's the duckie.  It wouldn't be an episode of HidaSketch without the duckie.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I WANT THIS DUCKIE.


It's been a good day.

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October 24, 2010

F1 Update!: Korea 2010

Many people suspected that the new track at Korea would be a true wild card in the race for the Driver's Championship.  A new circuit always puts a cat amongst the pigeons; nobody has an idea what to expect, so you've got as many guesses as there are teams and drivers.  The one thing we'd not seen during the three practice sessions and the qualifying periods was rain, which on a brand new track puts an ostrich amongst the kittens.  But would weather matter, or would we get a straight-out race for the Championship?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the inaugural Grand Prix of Korea!

*SPLISH:  During the recon laps before the race, cars were skidding off-track like they were driving on ice.  The rain, which had been falling all day, washed away all the rubber laid down on the track surface.  Throw in the new-style asphalt with a high oil content, thus preventing the water from permeating the surface and draining away, and we had a situation to rival the worst of the Swimming Pool at Spa-Francorchamps.  The closer it got to the scheduled race start time, the heavier the rain came down.  The start was delayed ten minutes by Race Director Charlie Whiting, then the decision was made to begin behind the Safety Car.  Two laps like that was enough for everybody; the radio freqs were buzzing with calls from the drivers saying they couldn't see the car in front of them.  Renault's Robert Kubica, buried near the middle of the trundling herd and thus deluged by the rooster tails of nearly half the field, reported that he couldn't even see his own front tires.  And so the race was Red Flagged, hoping for the weather to clear up.

*SPLASH:  After nearly an hour with the cars sitting on the grid, Charlie Whiting made the call for everybody to raise anchor and get under way, again behind the Safety Car... and for 17 more laps, Bernd Maylander led the cars around.  For the last five or six of those, the track was more than safe enough to race on, making everybody wonder if Whiting had fallen asleep.  Eventually, the safety car came in and green flag racing had finally come to the Korea International Circuit.

*CRASH:  Almost immediately, Red Bull's Seb Vettel jumped away from his teammate, championship points leader Mark Webber.  As the only driver with a clear view of the track, unobscured by spray, he had a much easier time of it.  Indeed, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who had been agitating to get the race started, was passed very quickly by Nico Rosberg's Mercedes for fourth place... a pass that, strangely, may have kept Hamilton in the hunt for the Driver's Championship.  For on Lap 20, as he went through the technical section, Mark Webber got a tire over a curb, spun and slid down the track.  Ferrari's HWMNBN got past cleanly, but Rosberg was speared by the crippled Red Bull, wrecking both cars.  The leader of the Driver's Championship was out of the race, but he didn't collect Hamilton.

*BLAST:  What followed was a rash of Safety Car periods, called out as one car or another ended up slipping off-track, occasionally taking someone else with them.  In the end, nine cars would retire from the race, seven from accidents.  Surprisingly the most violent of them all, when Vitaly Petrov's Renault wound up leaving the track at high speed and spearing into the wall protecting the pit lane entry, did not bring out Bernd Maylander.  Race leader Seb Vettel probably wished for the Safety Car, as he had started to call to the pit lane that it was becoming difficult to see braking points due to the gathering darkness... or perhaps he had an ulterior motive.  You see, a few laps later HWMNBN drove past a rapidly slowing Vettel in Turn 1, who then had a total and comprehensive engine failure.  Smoke, sparks, engine parts and, eventually, a small amount of fire, issued from the rear of the Red Bull, making it very clear that Vettel's day was done. 

*NIGHT:  Then it became a race to see if the entire race length would be run, or if Charlie Whiting would call it early because of nightfall.  Oddly enough, around the time of Petrov's accident the radio calls that the FIA had been liberally playing throughout the race strangely went silent.  The last one we heard was Vettel's call of darkness.  One suspects that the radios were burning up from the drivers' calls saying it was too dark to drive, but still Whiting left them out there.  By the time HWMNBN swept across the finish line 14.9 seconds ahead of Hamilton, they were running in the dark, but running they were.  The most eventful race of the 2010 season had come to an end, and the entire landscape of the Driver's Championship had changed.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  We think Bernd Maylander deserves this for his flawless drive in the 571-horsepower Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Safety Car.  It has less effective wet-weather tires than the F1 cars, less downforce, and yet he had to power around in conditions that were ugly at best at speeds that would keep the F1 cars healthy... somewhere between 80 and 120mph.  It obviously wasn't easy, as the F1 cars were sliding off even at those low speeds, yet Maylander kept the Safety Car planted like a rock.  We would love to give it to him, but we can't, even though he led the most laps today.  No, we have to give the award to one of the actual racers, and today the honors go to HWMNBN.  While he was given 1st place by the failure of both Red Bulls, he was very much the fastest car on the track for much of the race, despite appalling conditions.  Indeed, he was closing in on Vettel even before that driver's engine problems, and probably would have caught up with him with five laps or so left... and you know he would have tried the pass.  As it was he left Lewis Hamilton, not a shabby rain driver himself, in his metaphorical dust, finishing nearly 15 seconds ahead of the McLaren driver.  An excellent drive from HWMNBN indeed.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  A win, a third-place, and a sudden resurgence in the Constructor's Championship?  Oh yeah, they got it right this week.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 27 Slappy Schumacher was in 6th with the reigning Driver's Champion Jenson Button just ahead as they went through Turn 2... and Schumi had the fastest car through the speed-traps all weekend.  The rain, though, took that advantage away as the two silver cars went down the longest straight on the circuit.  Back in the old days Schumacher had been known as "The Rainmaster," and he showed, at least for this moment, that he hadn't lost that touch.  As the two reached The Elephant, Schumacher stayed off the brakes almost suicidally too long, then put just the right amount of force into the pedal.  Button, taken a little aback by the sudden appearance of the petwer Mercedes next to him, didn't slam the door, and the two went through the turn in lockstep.  Schumi put in just the right amount of throttle for his rear tires to grip and powered away from Button, who spun his tires just a bit.  A really sweet piece of driving in horrid conditions, and one well-worth the Move of the Race!

*MOOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 47, Force India's Adrian Sutil had lined up the Sauber of Gandalf Kobayashi as they ran down to Turn 4, but he wasn't sure he'd be able to do anything about it.  His brakes were giving him fits, and the track was still sopping wet.  Still, no guts no glory, right?  He went to the inside of the white car, stomped on the brakes, turned the wheel... and quickly peeled the front-right wheel off his car as he slammed into Gandalf.  Surprisingly the Sauber kept on going on while the Force India ended up sliding off into the wilderness.  Congratulations, Adrian Sutil, you won the stupidest move award in a race filled with worthy contenders.  You also get a honorable mention for admitting to the race stewards that you knew you had brake problems, yet went ahead and tried the pass anyway!  You've earned yourself a five-spot penalty for Brazil AND a $10K fine too.  Good Job, a winner is you!



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October 23, 2010

It's Raining In Korea! (UPDATE #10)

It's raining at the Korea International Circuit, 24 minutes before the lights go out.  Cars are spinning during the recon lap... we just saw a shot of Felipe Massa moving at maybe 40mph, on full wets, and still skidding sideways off-track.

Of course, the dust/dirt off-track is now mud.  Oy.

This might prove to be a nightmare race.  Fun, yes, but a nightmare.

Oh, and HWMNBN's engineers found a leaking waterpump in his Ferrari.  They're working replacing it right now.  They'll get it done, but will it hold together?  Yeesh.

UPDATE: There's a 10-minute delay to the start, and it'll begin behind the Safety Car.  Rain is supposed to stop in about an hour or so.  Hoo-hah.

UPDATE 2:  Lap 3, and the race is Red Flagged.  The cars have stopped on the grid, and we're halted until the the powers that be decide that the rain has stopped enough.  To be honest, even running behind the safety car must have been terrible.  HWMNBN called back to the pit wall, claiming that this was "the worst conditions (he's) ever driven under."  This race might just be called.

UPDATE 3:  The race will be resumed at 205am Pond Time!  They'll do one more lap under Safety Car conditions, and they must be on full wet tires (not that anybody would be silly enough to do anything else *coughferraricough*, of course), but then they'll be really running for the first time.  Now we're up against the setting sun, will they get it in before it gets too dark to race.

UPDATE 4:  Here we go, and Berndt Maylander leads them all into Turn 1... but we're racing again.

UPDATE 5:  Still behind the Safety Car.  The asphalt is to blame here; it's got a higher percentage of oily bitumen than normal, so the water is just floating on top of that.  Slappy just spun off.
UPDATE 6:  Lewis Hamilton just radioed in: "The track is good, improving all the time!"  The sun is to begin setting in about 40 minutes, or about 3am Pond Central time.  This is getting ridiculous.

UPDATE 7:  12 laps in, some parts of the track look okay, but the two long straights may as well be swimming pools.  Still, the Legendary Announce Team make a good point: "we've raced in worse."  Lucas di Grassi just set fast lap, with a blistering 2m36sec.  Still behind the Safety Car. 

UPDATE 8:  Hamilton: "Start the race."  McLaren Pit Wall: "We don't think other drivers have the same enthusiasm, Lewis."  How much fuel does Berndt Maylander have?

UPDATE 9:  Greengreengreen!  Real racing now on Lap 18.

UPDATE 10: Race over after three hours, with the last laps run in the dark.  No F1U! until after I get some sleep, but it was an... interesting... experience. 

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F1 Quals: Korea 2010

With overcast skies casting a dull flat light over the Korea International Circuit, the track looks quite different, but will it drive any differently?  That's what we're here to find out!  The provisional grid for the first ever Grand Prix of Korea:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:37.123 1:36.074 1:35.585
2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:37.373 1:36.039 1:35.659
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:37.144 1:36.287 1:35.766
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.113 1:36.197 1:36.062
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:37.708 1:36.791 1:36.535
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.515 1:36.169 1:36.571
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.123 1:37.064 1:36.731
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1:37.703 1:37.179 1:36.824
9 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:37.980 1:37.077 1:36.950
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.257 1:37.511 1:36.998
11 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.115 1:37.620
12 Gandalf Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.429 1:37.643
13 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.171 1:37.715
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.572 1:37.783
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:38.174 1:37.799
16 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:38.583 1:37.853
17 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:38.621 1:38.594
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.955

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.521

20 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:40.748

21 Heikki Kovalaineninninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.768

22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.325

HRT-Cosworth 1:42.444

24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:43.283

In some ways, one almost has to feel badly for HWMNBN.  The Ferrari is far and away the best balanced of the cars around this circuit.  The Red Bulls are fastest around the twisty bits, but are nearly six mph slower than the McLaren on the straights.  The McLaren is supreme in Section 1 (the three straights), but aren't quite as nimble as the Red Bulls through the rest of the layout. 

The Ferrari isn't as fast as the McLaren through the speed trap, and not as spry through the fiddlybits, but it's just behind the leaders in both categories.  Normally, that'd be more than good enough to take a pole position, but today the Red Bulls ripped off ridiculously fast laps after the Q3 timer had expired (but they still counted as the laps started with time remaining).  The crushing bit for HWMNBN had to be that Vettel and Webber set their laps just after he claimed pole with the fastest time of the weekend... at least, to that point.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was seen shaking his head in the garage... he's almost a half-second slower than Vettel and has got to be thinking his chances for the World Championship are almost completely gone now.  Button's situation is even worse now, and he pretty much needs a miracle to occur for him to repeat as Champ.  Maybe a huge pileup going into Turn 1 that claims the first three rows.

It appears that the driver's pleas did not fall on deaf ears.  Turn 16 has been modified a smidge so it isn't launching cars into the stratosphere anymore, which is a very good thing.  They did something to Turn 18 as well, so it no longer kicks a mushroom cloud of dust onto the circuit every time a car runs over the curbs.  These are good things, but the Legendary Announce Team reported that the concrete curbs at some other places around the track are beginning to collapse.  Sounds like a busy day is in store for the track crew.  At least the asphalt isn't ripping up as was predicted... supposedly they used a special quick-curing asphalt.  It only takes a few days to solidify, but is more slippery than normal.  Fair tradeoff, I think.

So we're looking at a three-horse race tomorrow, I think.  Can the Ferrari build up enough time on the straights to defeat the Red Bull advantage on the curves?  For that's what it comes down to... and that's Team McLaren's only hope as well.

We'll see you here sometime after the race with the F1U!

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October 22, 2010

F1 Thoughts: Korea 2010

P2 was much like P1, just with more rubber on the track.  Lap times fell until about 10 minutes left in the session, when all the teams shifted from car setups to doing tire runs.  Remember how I said the simulators were forecasting 1:44 lap times?  Mark Webber topped the second practice session timesheets with a 1:37.942.  Real life is more realistic than simulators. 

Anyway, tire wear is going to be huge on Sunday.  Nobody expected this, but the option tires are practically falling apart after a few laps, suffering heavy heavy graining after just a couple of laps.  It's not just limited to one or two teams, with everybody from Red Bull to HRT having the problem.  Perversely, the tire wear is occurring because the circuit is so slippery.  Think of it like this.  Let's say (and I'm making numbers up here) that a F1 car travels four feet every time the tires make one full revolution.  That's on a normal circuit, like Silverstone or Monza, in the dry of course.  At Korea though, the track is so slippery that tires need to revolve 1-1/2 times to go four feet... obviously the tires will wear faster.  That's an exaggeration, but it gives you an idea of the problem.  It also doesn't help that the tires need to work harder to get through the turns, sliding more than at other places.

Speaking of turns, if there's going to be any wrecks on Sunday, look for them to occur at Turn 16.  It's a relatively simple left-hander, normally no problem, but the inside curb at Turn 16 is actually below track level.  This is completely the opposite of any curbing on any non-banked turn on any track anywhere.  If it was designed that way, then Hermann Tilke had to have been drunk at the time.  More likely however is that the track surface has settled.

Much like Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up."), Korea International Circuit was built on marshland, just barely over the level of the water table.  The marsh was drained, but it can't be the most stable terrain to build on.  As a result, this track is bumpy, much like the way Interlagos in Brazil is bumpy.  Not just at The Elephant, but all over the Korean layout there are rough patches (and a weird hill on the left side of one short straight.  Not all the way across, just on one side).  It appears likely that Turn 16 has sunk into the swamp, so to speak... and it's the cars that'll fall over.

Also, the drivers universally decry the pit entry at Turn 18.  It's a relatively fast turn, leading onto the front straight, but cars entering the pits have to slow waaaay down on the circuit before they get into the pit lane run-in, which is narrow and twisty.  I can easily see an accordion effect causing wrecks as someone slows up to go to the pits, the next car behind slowing to avoid him, and someone else plowing into that car.  Or someone needs to dodge a pit-bound car, and failing. 

All that being said, I find that I actually rather like this racetrack.  It has personality, unlike most Tilke layouts.  There's a lot of little elevation changes in the twisty part of the circuit, and of course there's The Elephant.  It looks like it'd be a lot of fun to drive on.  Is it going to be a good track to actually race on?  That, we won't know until Sunday... I can see it easily being a horrible F1 track.  But if you could just take a car, maybe a Lotus Evora, and go for a fun track day?  Korea International Circuit would be GREAT!

Quals at midnight, writeup'll be sometime Saturday.

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October 21, 2010

F1 Practice 1: Korea

1:28:00 - Hello, and welcome to the first ever F1Update Liveblog!  We're looking at the first practice session for the new Korean Grand Prix.  We're two minutes in, and so far nobody has crashed!

1:25:45 - First radio transmission from the runners.  Toro Rosso's NKOTT called in and said "It's a very dirty track, very very slippery."  As expected, of course.  The place looks like the grand prix circuit in  Australia, just without any of the scenery and a lot of construction work around.

1:20:00 - After an initial flurry of activity, suddenly it looks like nobody is on track.  NKOTT just went into the pits, and his tires were just covered with dust.  Hideously so, like he went for a run in the desert or something.  Here, take a look:

1:16:00 - Kubica is on track, and every so often he's hitting dust puddles... including one right at the start/finish line.  Pitlane seems narrow-ish.

1:12:30 - Button out on track for the first time, looks like he's driving very gingerly.  Then again, everybody is.  And it's an installation lap, just to make sure everything's working.  I expect a lot of that for the first every now and again. 

1:09:43 - HRT takes to the field!  DJ DNF looks... well, slow.

1:06:47 - ...and DJ DNF becomes the first to go off-track.

1:02:30 - Looks like playtime is over, and the teams are starting to get down to the business of figuring this place out.  Gawd, but there's a lot of bare dirt visible...

0:58:05 - ...and Jarno Trulli becomes the second off of the day.  Getting quite a bit of traffic out there now, starting to see just how the track races.  Initial impression: poor, particularly through the "city" section.

0:52:52 - Felipe Massa becomes the third victim of the slippery track.  See, it's not just the crappy cars!  The Ferrari is actually one of the more stable runners out there, but Massa looked like he was ice skates.

49:50 - Who told HRT that "pigment-spill brown" was a good color?

46:08 - There's a strange little hillock at the end of the second straightaway, like they paved over an elephant or something.  Terrible place for it, right in the braking zone for the hairpin (I think.  It's hard to tell without a trackmap handy), and it's bumpy as all hell.  I could see an accident occurring there, even on a grippy track.

42:01 - Nope, it's the end of the looooooong straight.  Still a weird spot for it though.  Nico Rosberg went over it and almost looked like he was going to fly out of the cockpit.

41:07 - Gandalf Kobyashi just had an off... in the pit entry.  Oy.  Nah, this asphalt isn't slippery at all.

34:03 - The Elephant isn't the only elevation change on this track.  Actually, there's a surprising amount of little rolls and dips around the place... kinda nice, actually, and quite unexpected.  The Demon Tilke seems to prefer to scour the landscape down to a pool-table-like smoothness.

29:21 - The simulators were predicting a laptime of around 1m44s or thereabouts.  Jenson Button just did a 1:43.096... then put it in the dust.

27:14 - I must say, the feed has bee BUFFERING 22% n pretty good so far.

24:45 - If you can avoid looking anywhere but the track itself, the Korea International Circuit looks pretty good.  But then you see a camera shot of two piles of dirt and a crane...

23:33 - Yellow flag!

22:00 - Looks like Bruno Senna either had his rear suspension break on him, or it broke when this happened:

Pretty impressive high-speed spin... good thing there's a lot of run-off area there.  Bad news is that it's taking FOREVER for the marshalls to get it craned away.

17:31 - Yellow flag is gone after six minutes or so... at Monaco, the thing would have been back in the pitlane after that long.

14:33 - Nico Hulkenberg did a 1:42.678 for fast lap honors so far... then Rubens Barrichello, his teammate, did a 1:42.800 (I think it was, it flashed up so quick) for 2nd fastest.  Could Williams have FINALLY gotten it right, with three races left?  Or are they just looking good because nobody has a clue yet?

10:55 - Allskate, everybody allskate.  Place looks like I-90 near O'Hare on Friday afternoon.

4:16 - Button does a 1:41.940.  The sims are looking a little shabby...

0:44 - Hamilton pulls a 1:40.887.  Great googly moogly.

0:00 - I suspect I know what the drivers will say.  They'll be positive and upbeat, but I suspect in private they'll have some serious reservations about the circuit.  As for me, it looks like a great track to drive on, but to race?  Not so much.  Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg, Vettel, Button, Slappy, Webber, Heidfeld, Hulkenberg and Barrichello are your top 10 for the first practice session fast laps.  I think that might be legit, in fact.  After all, you probably won't be sandbagging on this track; nobody knows the place!

I wonder about the attendance... look at this:

Yes, it's first practice, but the stands are empty.  Still, the four or five people who showed up got a decent show.

So, P2 in just about 2.5 hours, and I won't be liveblogging that... not even sure if I'm to watch it until tomorrow morning.  Hope you enjoyed this, the Pond's first ever LiveBlog, and stay tuned for more coverage later!

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Time For Some F1 Fun

While we're waiting for the First Practice session from Korea, which I intend to liveblog, here's a little something funny for ya.

What are these five drivers thinking, I wonder?

Hamilton: *snert*
HWMNBN:  I don't like being touched by men.
Mark Webber: I really need to find a loo...
Jenson Button: Look cool and professional... that's it... now!
Seb Vettel:  What's so funny?

Liveblogging will commence right around 8pm Central Pond Time.

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October 20, 2010

Well Of COURSE! How Could We Be So Blind?

We have it on good authority that everything will be a-okay for the Grand Prix of Korea on Sunday.  Who says?  Why, a personage who has absolutely nothing riding on the way the track handles, has no vested interest in the success of the race:

Hermann Tilke.  Yes, the designer of the Korea International Circuit hisownbadself has come out saying that the race will be exciting.  Hully-gee, how could we have been so blind as to have ever thought that there'd be some problems with the race?

Tilke: "I think on Friday the track surface will be very, very slippery because it is brand new. That means you will probably see some spinning."   Gosh, ya think?  Thanks for the update, Mr Track Designer!  It's not like spinning and crashing in practice might be a problem or anything, though it would be exciting, in a NASCAR sort of way.

Tilke: "And, it will not be easy to find the set-up for Saturday and Sunday because the track will change a lot. That means some drivers will make the wrong set-up choice, because you are going to have to second guess what is the right way to go."  So expect an HRT to be on pole, because their car is so bad a screwed-up setup won't make a difference.  Still, that'd be exciting, I guess.

Tilke: "After some practice the track will improve a lot, because they lay down their rubber, and that will produce some grip. But off the ideal line it will be very slippery - a big challenge for drivers."  In other words, expect a processional, because nobody will dare get off the driving line for fear of ending up somewhere around Jeju-teukbyeoljachido.  Exciting indeed... everybody loves a parade!

Tilke: "The main systems will work fine, but maybe here and there, there might be some small things that are not working."  Like asphalt coming up in foot-long chunks.  Or curbs turning into red-and-white painted gravel the first time a car bounces over them.  Or missing drain covers.  All of those things spell raw, unadulterated excitment with a capital 'E'!

Tilke: "And because the track is not tested, as it got ready very late, there will probably be a few surprises as well. But all the main things will be okay."  Everybody loves surprises, particularly someone driving a F1 car at 190mph!  I guess it's a good thing that there practically no grandstands, since otherwise they'd sell you the whole seat, but you'll only be using the edge.  I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it... I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it!

So there you have it!  Hermann Tilke assures us that Korea will be the bestest race on the calendar evar!!!1!11!!@!eleventy!!! 

And if you can't trust Hermann Tilke, who can you trust?  I mean, really?

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October 19, 2010

F1 on SPEED!: Korea 2010

The F1 Circus pulls into a brand new venue this week, the Korean International Circuit at Yeongam.  There's been a terrible amount of hand wringing regarding the condition of the layout over the past month or so, but how will it really run?  We're about to find out!  Let's take a look at the track map:

A brand new course is always an exciting time for F1, as nobody has any idea what to expect.  While eyewitness reports from Yeongam are somewhat troubling, they're mostly referring to ancillary subjects though two things from reader David's forum are worry-making.  Missing drain covers, for example, remind me of the Chinese Grand Prix of 2005, when Juan Pablo Montoya lost out on a podium finish when a loose cover broke his car.  Failing curbs might do the same thing. 

Then there's the track surface itself.  Fresh asphalt is going to be slippery, which'll play hob with downforce levels.  Predictions have the teams setting their cars up like it was Suzuka, sacrificing top speed for grip.  Yeah, that long straight looks drool-worthy, but there's a lot of curves in the back half of the track and being fast there will pay off more in the long run.  Lord knows how the tires will respond... I'm assuming that Bridgestone will be conservative with compound choice here, perhaps bringing the hard and soft rubbers.  The teams have high-tech simulators, and have been "driving" around the layout for the past month, but there's only so much a sim can tell you.  Yes, you'll know the best line through the track and how long you'll be at full throttle, but until the cars take the track for the First Practice session, they won't know.

Fortunately, we've got SPEED and the Legendary Announce Team to guide us through the whole weekend.  The best news of all is that we'll be able to see that first practice session, Thursday night from 8pm to 930pm, on speedtv.com.  I'll be watching, for sure!  After that, coverage shifts to the network, with Second Practice coming from 1159pm to 140am Thursday night to Friday morning.  Thankfully, I've got Friday off from the Duck U Bookstore due to "Fall Break"!

Qualifying is Friday night, beginning at 1159pm and rolling until 130am Saturday morning.  Finally, the broadcast of the first-ever Grand Prix of Korea will begin at 1230am Sunday morning, going until 3am.  There will be a replay from 330pm to 6pm Sunday afternoon as well.

We'll probably be watching a F1 race taking place in a construction site, but it's a F1 race nevertheless!  Of course, F1Update!'ll be all over it all weekend, and we'll see you here then!

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October 17, 2010

What's Wonderduck Watching, Fall 2010 Edition!

In every anime season, there's always some keepers and some shows that are quite honestly nothing more than crap on a stick.  In this edition of the semi-regular series, "What's Wonderduck Watching?", I'll be pointing you towards a few shows that I think are keepers... and a couple that are crap on a stick.

As always, this post isn't meant to be a comprehensive review of every series out there, nor is it unbiased or even-handed.  It's a look at the shows I'm going to be following this season because I think they're good, and a warning to stay away from a couple of others because I think they're awful.

That being said, let's get on with the program!


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October 16, 2010

Another Football Game

It's Alumni Weekend at Duck U., with the attendant football game.  This, though, was a special Alumni Weekend for me, because it's for classes ending in "0"... 2000, 1990, 1980, etc etc etc.  If it wasn't for me being overly efficient at the juco I attended before I transferred to Duck U, I would have graduated in 1990.  Instead, there weren't enough theatre credits available for me to take in four semesters, so I had to stretch it out to five.  Oh well.

But, for the first time in the nearly seven years I've worked Alumni Weekend at the Duck U Bookstore, someone I knew from the Theatre Department back then came in!  At this moment, I'd like to give a big duck welcome to Merek, whom I hadn't seen in 20 years... I've missed ya, lass, and you'd best shoot me an e-mail!

Oh, and even though they had the assistance of the Football Duckie, the good guys lost 44-0.  Yeesh.

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October 15, 2010

You've Got Ducks In Anime!

-Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, ep02

First there was Uiharu's desktop app thingy, now there's an e-mail program.  It's only a matter of time until we get DuckOS...

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October 13, 2010

Programming Note

A new entry into the semi-occasional feature "What's Wonderduck Watching?" will be coming along in the next day or so... except I'm still trying to figure out what'll end up as keepers.  And I need a nap.  So, in lieu of anything involving things like 'content' or 'anything worthwhile,' here's a funny picture.

Oh, and no, Siergen, I haven't forgotten, I'm still researching.  There does appear to be a one-word answer, however: fear.


...and you thought I was kidding, Gerberette?  Pshaw!

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October 12, 2010

Korea Is A Go!

After two days of inspections, Charlie Whiting, the FIA's Head Of All Things Technical, has given the Korean International Circuit a "satisfactory" grade in his report to the powers that be.  He walked the entire track, checking such things as curbing, asphalt smoothness, safety and runoff areas, facilities and the like, and proclaimed it suitable to be raced upon.

And he's probably right.  It just looks like a construction area.  All we really care about is the track itself, the rest of it is just for show... like Monaco.

It's amazing what ISN'T there, however.  For their track simulation, the creators of the new F1 2010 video game had access to the same CAD blueprints that the builders used.  Here's the result:

Well, perhaps the Koreans will pull off a miracle in the next two weeks, make the place actually look and feel professional.  Maybe they can borrow some North Korean "workers"...

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October 10, 2010

F1 Update!: Japan 2010

Sunny skies on Sunday replaced the torrential rain from Saturday, but on whom would the sun shine the brightest?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the Grand Prix of Japan!

*RUMBLINGS:  The first indication that the hijinks of the Great Suzuka Pit Lane Boat Races had infected Sunday came as the cars were coming to the grid for the first time when from out of nowhere we saw a car spearing into the outside barrier at 130R.

Virgin Racing's Lucas di Grassi said he "felt something break" in the rear of the car just before it went spinning off into the wall.  It isn't exactly common to have a car crash on the recon lap, but it isn't unheard of either.  Everybody took a deep breath, muttered "rookies" to themselves, and carried on.  Until the lights went out.

*TOTAL CHAOS: Everything up front was about as we've come to expect.  Seb Vettel led the thundering horde into Turn 1, but Mark Webber had another patented Red Bull Lousy Startâ„¢, letting Renault's Robert Kubica slip by into second.  But farther back in the pack everything was going straight to hell.  Nico Hulkenberg's Williams had a slow-ish start, sending cars on the left side of the grid behind him scrambling to avoid him.  Vitaly Petrov, charging hard from his grid slot, tried to thread the needle between Hulkenberg's car and someone else... and failed.  The results weren't pretty.

The Renault clipped the rear corner of Hulkenberg, then pirouetted across the Williams' nose on it's way into the Armco barrier.  Petrov was unhurt, but both cars were dead on the spot.  Meanwhile, Felipe Massa's Ferrari was in a jam... literally.  He was squeezed over onto the grass as he approached Turn 1.  The loss of traction sent him sprawling across the track, collecting the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi in the process.

Five cars out of the race before the first turn was completed?  That's impressive, even for the naked confusion of a F1 start.  The Safety Car was called out and everybody took a deep breath.  "Well, that's over with, let's get on with it."  Except they were wrong.  While stacked behind the Safety Car on Lap 2, Robert Kubica suddenly pulled offtrack and came to a stop.  A look at the Renault mechanics showed nothing but confusion on their faces, but the Pole's body language simply radiated aggravation.

And for good reason.  His right-rear wheel had worked itself free from the axle and gone off into the Japanese countryside, ending his day and making everybody else wonder "what's coming next?"

*NOTHING AMAZING:  From there on out, the rest of the race was rather pedestrian.  McLaren's Jenson Button was running a strategy race rather than raw pace.  The only of the top 10 cars to have qualified on the hard tires, he needed to stay close to his teammate Lewis Hamilton, the two Red Bulls, and the Ferrari of HWMNBN.  When they pitted, he'd still have halfway decent tires to try and open a lead, then capitalize when he changed to the soft tires.  While he stayed close, he couldn't really stretch his lead enough to make a difference.  After he pitted, he rejoined in 5th, later taking passing his teammate for 4th when Hamilton's new gearbox lost third gear.  Up front, Vettel led Mark Webber across the line for the win, HWMNBN closing in fast for third. 

*DRAMA:  Behind those first five though, there was enough excitement for any two races.  Gandalf Kobayashi started 14th and progressed through the field to end up 7th, making four or five passes in the Hairpin along the way.  The two Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg and Slappy Schumacher, raced each other hard for most of the second half of the contest making everybody wonder if there was going to be a pile of pewter-colored carbon fiber in our future.  Adrian Sutil blew one side of his engine going into 130R late in the race, put down a smoke-screen, spinning when oil from his car got onto his rear tires, recovered, blew the other side of his engine, put down another smoke-screen that any WWII-era destroyer would have been proud of, then coasted into the pitlane.

When Nico Rosberg's left-rear wheel flew off into the blue sky, it barely elicited a comment from the F1U! crew: "Eh, seen it already."  Quite the event-filled race, actually.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Gandalf Kobayashi hadn't driven on Suzuka Circuit in seven years, yet he had the most impressive performance of the day, picking up seven places in the process.  At one point, he was as high as 5th place and was holding up the much faster Lewis Hamilton in the process.  While 7th isn't all that impressive in the grand scheme of things, he beat his more experienced teammate Grizzly Nick Heidfeld, put on a great show, and may have solidified his hold on his race-seat for next year in the process.  Sometimes the Bantamweights outperform the Heavyweights.  Seb Vettel won the race, but Gandalf was more impressive.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull started 1-2, finished 1-2, got the fast lap of the race, led all but a handful of laps, and looked like they could dominate the rest of the season with one hand tied behind their back.  Yeah, that's a good result.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 45, Gandalf Kobayashi was 11th, but stalking Toro Rosso's NKOTT for 10th.  As they approached the Hairpin, NKOTT moved to the inside; Gandalf had used that line two other times to make passes and the Toro Rosso driver wasn't going to just give it to him again... which was exactly what the Wizard wanted.  Holding off on braking as long as humanly possible, and perhaps another instant longer, Kobayashi went around the outside of NKOTT.  The two cars touched once, then once more, both times due to the Toro Rosso pilot trying everything to hold the Sauber back, but Kobayashi made the pass work.  NKOTT ended up with a broken front wing, while Mr Wizard had a piece of flappy bodywork, but it wouldn't hold him back when he chased down Rubens Barrichello.  The best move in a race full of them from Gandalf.

*MOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  You would think after seeing Renault's Robert Kubica lose an entire wheel assembly on Lap 2 of the race, all the tire changers would concentrate on getting everything done correctly, wouldn't you?

Apparently not.  Congratulations Mr Mercedes Mechanic, you just won the Moooooo-ooove of the Race!



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