October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012: A Public Service Announcement




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October 30, 2012

Ducks In Anime: Talented


-Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Ep04

I have no ducks that float upsidedown normally.  That's a skilled duckie.

I'm hard at work on the Halloween project.  Thanks to friend GreyDuck and his helpful pointer, I have a chance to get it done in time... if it works out, this will be EPIC.

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October 29, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: Abu Dhabi 2012

Would anybody be surprised if I said that the only attraction remaining in this season for me was the US Grand Prix?  No?  Good, now that we've gotten that clear, we've got one race standing between us and Austin, and that's the 2012 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  Here's the track map:

It's undoubtedly a fine place to take a fast car out for a drive.  It's even a good track for series like the Australian V8Supercars.  But for F1?  Over the years, its proven to be too flat, too smooth, too friggin' wide, and as a result, too dull.  Oh look!  Hermann Tilke does it again!  Like many of his circuits, there's absolutely no flow to it.  You're just going from point A to point B, here's a hairpin, go to point C, hairpin, then here's the twiddlybits at the end that prevent anybody from doing anything other than keep the car on track.  But the hotel lights up nice and purty. 

It doesn't have to be this way... even a track built on a pool table can be good: look at Silverstone, with its five feet (maybe) of elevation change.  Or Australia, with its half-foot of height difference between the highest point and lowest.  I don't know why I do this to myself... it's so frustrating.

The circuit itself runs towards the low end of mid-level downforce.  That final sector... the twiddlybits... needs a lot of grip to get a good time, but the rest of the circuit is all high speed and testosterone.  The place is easy on tires, not hard on brakes, and I don't think we've ever seen an engine go kablammo here.  It comes down to who can get in front, because once there, it's difficult to pass.  I see a Vettel victory again, and maybe another pole-to-flag to boot.  God help us.

I can pretty much confirm that SPEED.com has killed off their F1 forums, meaning I no longer have access to the official times of when the streaming occurs... so here's what I've got:
FRIDAY
P2: 8am - 930a Live
SATURDAY
Quals: 8am - 930a vaguely live
SUNDAY
2012 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a live!

If we're lucky, it'll even be right.  F1Update!'ll be here, right along with SPEED's Legendary Announce Team, bringing you all the action(?) as it happens, give or take a few hours.  We'll see ya then!

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October 28, 2012

F1 Update!: 2012 Grand Prix of India

Smog filled the air of Greater Noida, lending a hazy aspect to the proceedings as Seb Vettel led the field to the grid.  Behind him, Mark Webber, Shiv Hamilton and HWCBN(UCC) all knew they had to get past the reigning world champion if they were to have a chance in this season.  So did they manage it?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of India!

*LIGHTS OUT, RACE OVER: By now, careful readers know that whenever we ask if someone can reel in Seb Vettel, or if the field can track down Seb Vettel, or if anybody can get past Seb Vettel, it's generally a good bet that the answer is "no, they can't."  And so it was this race.  When the race began, Mark Webber had a great start, perhaps the best start we've seen from him all season.  He was still two car-lengths behind Vettel when they hit the first turn.  By the end of the first lap, Vettel was three seconds up on third place Jenson Button, and 1.2 seconds on Webber. 

*NO, REALLY... RACE OVER
:  Nobody ever even came close to Vettel.  Like most other teams, Red Bull planned a one-stop race for their drivers, and it was up to the drivers to make it work.  Webber did a fantastic job, making his fragile soft tires last 31 laps... over half of the 60 laps scheduled!  Vettel went 34 laps and had enough of a lead that he rejoined the race in first place.  Indeed, for the second straight race he led ever lap... his run is now up to 205 consecutive laps in the lead.

*RELIABILITY PROBLEMS: ...were the only thing that kept Red Bull from another 1-2 finish.  During the final third of the race, Webber's KERS unit gave up the ghost, allowing Ferrari's HWCBN(UCC) to get past for second late.  He was still nearly 10 seconds behind Vettel though.  McLaren's Shiv Hamilton and Jenson Button rounded out the top 5.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  We're seeing a type of dominance from Seb Vettel that hasn't been witnessed in F1 in decades.  Four wins in a row hasn't been pulled off since Slappy Schumacher in 2004.  205 consecutive laps led hasn't been done since 1992.  Three races without anybody but Vettel leading?  Last time that happened was 1989... some guy named Ayrton Senna.  It's certainly a tribute to Adrian Newey, the designer of the RB8, and to Red Bull in general, for keeping his car going... but it's Vettel who has made it happen.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  It's not just the driver's championship, either.  Their 1-3 finish puts Red Bull 91 points up on Ferrari for the Constructor's Championship.  Only a KERS unit failure, mentioned earlier, kept them from sweeping the top two steps of the podium.  Nobody would have been shocked had that occurred, actually.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  There was really only one nice pass, on Lap 16, by Bruno Senna over his distracted teammate Mahamandaleshwar Maldonado, all race.  So instead, we're going to spotlight the Pit Stop of the Year.  Prior to Lap 33, Shiv Hamilton had been reporting intermittent radio communications with the McLaren pit wall and a downshift problem too.  Somehow, they came to the decision that they could fix it during his stop.

5.5 seconds have elapsed since Hamilton crossed the line denoting the entry to the pit lane.  The car has just come to a halt in its box, the tire gunners are already removing the wheelnuts, and Hamilton himself is starting to remove the steering wheel, which is quite uncommon during a pit-stop.  I'm sure the team has practiced it, because that's their job, but probably not very often.

One second has passed since the car stopped.  Hamilton has pulled his steering wheel off and is handing it to a mechanic.  A second mechanic is leaning into the cockpit and has already put the replacement wheel in place.  A moment's more work is all it will take for it to be locked in place.

3.1 seconds since the car stopped.  All four tires have been changed, the car is off the jacks, Hamilton has the car in 1st gear and is about to roll.  According to Timing & Scoring, he was stopped for a total of 3.3 seconds... not the fastest of the race, but certainly the most complex, and the one that had the most possibility of disaster, because when the wheel is removed, in theory the electronics are uncontrolled.  The car could have shut down; it didn't.  A heckuva stop from the Team from Woking!

*MOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  It's probably mean of us to do this.

A brake failure made Pete Rose spin away and into the wall on Lap 45, as opposed to driver error, but it's the worst bit of driving we saw all day.  Sorry HRT, sorry Pete... here's your Moo.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE
:

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October 27, 2012

F1 Quals: India 2012

For a brief instant in Q3, there was a window of opportunity for somebody... anybody... to derail the Seb Vettel Express, as he had a moment of excitement that required him to come into the pits and stake the whole session on one hot lap.  Did any of the other members of the Circus step in and bring his reign of terror to an end?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2012 Grand Prix of India:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.387 1:25.435 1:25.283
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.744 1:25.610 1:25.327
3 Shiv Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.516 1:25.816 1:25.544
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.564 1:25.467 1:25.659
5 HWCBN(UCC) Ferrari 1:26.829 1:25.834 1:25.773
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.939 1:26.111 1:25.857
7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:26.740 1:26.101 1:26.236
8 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.179 1:26.076 1:26.360
9 Mahamandaleshwar Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:26.048 1:25.983 1:26.713
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.458 1:25.976 No time
11 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.897 1:26.136
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:27.185 1:26.241
13 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:26.851 1:26.331
14 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:27.482 1:26.574
15 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.006 1:26.777
16 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:27.462 1:26.989
17 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.517 1:27.219
18 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:27.525

19 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:28.756

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:29.500

21 Tim O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:29.613

22 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:30.592

23 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:30.593

24 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:30.662


Q1 107% Time
1:32.071


Nope.  It's Red Bull's third front-row lockout in a row, and things look good for the young German's fourth race win in a row on Sunday.  Make no mistake, the RB8 is kicking the field's collective diffusers now, and if something doesn't happen quickly, the Driver's Championship is going to be Vettel's again.  There's something eerily telling about the way the first three rows wound up, with the Number One driver from Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari leading their respective Number Twos.  I don't know why I think that's important, I just do.

As far as Qualifying sessions go, this one was.  Not particularly exciting nor dull, it was just there... particularly since the pole-winner was practically preordained, what with the way Sebby's been dominating here all weekend: he was the fastest in P1, P2, P3, second-best in Q1, and fastest in Q2 and Q3.  In point of fact, he's never been below 2nd in any session EVER here at Buddh International Circuit.  Yes, it's a small sample size, but still.

Weather looks hot and clear tomorrow, so it may be all we'll have to deal with is dust.  We'll find out in the morning, see you then for F1Update!

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October 26, 2012

F1 Practice: India 2012

All right, I'm going to be honest with you all: I'm tired, grumpy, annoyed and really don't feel like writing much about the Seb Vettel Show that took place at the Buddh International Circuit today.  So instead, I'm just going to touch on a few little data points and go take a nap.

First, it appears that the Grand Prix of Weehawken is on hold until 2014.  I gather there was some really hopeful thinking amongst the organizers, particularly on the financial aspects.  So back it goes another year, undoubtedly much to the pleasure of the Grand Troll himself, Bernie Ecclestone, who despises the concept of the United States as a race destination.  Hell, for all I know he hates the concept of the United States, period, except for our dollars... those, he loves.

Second, I struck gold today.  While I might not be going to the United States Grand Prix in the middle of November, I know someone who is.  Indeed, not only is he going, he's getting paid to go!  See, the Circuit of the Americas chose a company called Sodexo to do the food and beverage stuff for all the races, particularly the F1 race.  Well, Sodexo also does the food service at Duck U.  Anyway, they're bringing something like 80 of the company's most experienced college/university foodservice managers in for the race, including Duck U's.  Our man Dan is going to be running the Turn 15 shebang, but he's going to have some time to experience the race... and I've already handed him all my credit cards and said "I need souvenirs." 

Finally, on today's 2nd Practice broadcast, Will Buxton, the Legendary Announce Team's on-site reporter, dropped a Zsolt Baumgartner reference... and he might have gotten the joke from me!  See, he said that Seb Vettel had planned to have his helmet be a duplicate of Felix Baumgartner's (the Red Bull-sponsored superskydiver) helmet, "but the painters got it wrong and did a duplicate of Zsolt Baumgartner's."  Cue lots of hilarity amongst the L.A.T., and lots of HEY!ing from me.  See, we know that Buxton reads Reddit... he did a "Ask Me Anything" there a couple of weeks ago... and when Felix did his jump from the edge of space, I submitted a thread to the F1-subreddit entitled "Even with the Red Bull skydive, there's still only one Baumgartner that matters."  Sure, it's not a direct rip-off, but that's still the only time I've seen a Felix/Zsolt juxtaposition anywhere... until Buxton made the connection today.

Quals in the morning.  See ya there.

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October 25, 2012

When The Cherry Blossoms First Fell

Ensign Jimmy Green stared at the horizon... nothing.  There'd been nothing there for nearly ninety minutes, and he finally began to feel like he could relax, just a bit.  Below him, in one of the gun tubs, he could hear shell humpers joking about how the Jap fleet had gotten away, but Green knew in his bones that he and his ship were alive only by the Providence of fortune, a confusing decision by the Japanese to break off, and the White Plains' position towards the front of Taffy 3's formation.  At least, he thought ruefully, it became the front when the collection of Kaiser Coffins turned away from the Japs.  Yet that was the difference between him being there on the tiny island of an Escort Carrier... and being in the Pacific with his ship sitting on the bottom.  Like the Gambier Bay, he thought glumly.  He was pretty sure he'd seen her roll over and go down, with a Jap cruiser standing a few miles off throwing shells at her the whole time.  Now, though?  Nothing at all.  It was like the Japs had never been there, except for the smoke coming from Kalinin Bay, that is.  He'd overheard one of the pilots saying that her flight deck looked like swiss cheese from all the holes in it.  Green didn't like the sound of that very much at all.  Why in the world had the Japs turned around, anyway?  It didn't make sense.  When I saw that big bastard come over the horizon, I was sure I was dead, he thought to himself, and it sure ain't that they were scared off by a handful of destroyers and some Wildcats.  Then those big battleship shells started to splash around him, and Cap'n Weller kept the White Plains dancing between the salvos.  Well, lumbering at least; nobody ever accused a CVE of being nimble.  Well, some coffee might be nice.  It was only after he got the cup that he realized his hands were shaking.


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October 23, 2012

Ducks In Anime: !


-Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Ep03

!

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October 22, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: India 2012

SPEED's death march trudges on.  Reports are coming out now that the Legendary Announce Team may not even finish out this season, and that SPEED isn't going to make a big deal out of the GP of Austin.  While I understand their logic ("Hey, we're outta here in a few months, what does it matter?"), it's a slap in the face of all of their fans.  Potentially.  But hey, enough of that... let's talk about the second ever Grand Prix of India!  Let's take a look at the track map:

Proof that Hermann Tilke can design an interesting race track when given some terrain to work with, the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India is... well, actually, it's a lot like Korea and Abu Dhabi, but with one major difference.  Altitude change.  There's about 45 feet in height difference from the start/finish line to Turn 3 alone.  Sure, it's no Spa-Francopants, but very little is.  Last year, the circuit was very dusty, meaning that one got off the racing line at serious risk of flaming death.  With luck, that will have been dealt with this time around. 

Turns 3 and 15 are blind, with 15 having a drop-off at the end of it.  The long run from Turn 3 to 4 goes downhill to around the halfway point, where it then begins to climb up again.  The track's big party piece, though, is the Turn 10-11-12 complex.  If you remember Turkey's Quad-8, it's kinda like that, except this one is banked, uphill, and faster.  It also has two distinct lines through it, or at least it would have if it hadn't've been so dusty last year. 

It's a low-end of medium downforce circuit that isn't particularly hard on tires.  Some of the curbs ARE hard on suspensions, however, as Felipe Massa learned last year.  In fact, the rumblers of Turn 8 have officially been named "Massa's Curbs".  We've not gotten a reaction from the Brazilian yet, though one probably can imagine that it's not going to be particularly positive.  Brakes aren't abused much here, but the engine does get a lot of full-power running.

At least for this race the Legendary Announce Team will get to do their stuff in the professional manner we've become accustomed to.  Unlike SPEED's website, which has apparently decided to make finding out any information about the program times as difficult as possible; take everything below with a grain of salt.
THURSDAY
P1: 1130p - 1am streaming
FRIDAY
P2: 330a - 500a live
SATURDAY
P3: 1230a - 130a streaming
Quals: 330a - 500a not quite live
SUNDAY
2012 Grand Prix of India: 400a - 630a live

Consult your local guide.  I don't think I'll be liveblogging P1.  See you here on Friday!

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October 21, 2012

There's No Place Like Pond Central

I spent most of the last week in Chicago, going through a training session for new managers.  I was put up in a wonderful hotel, in a single room, with a ridiculously comfortable bed (once I got the sleep-number thing sussed out), fed outstanding meals, and it was almost all paid for by the company.  We worked hard during the four days of the training and the company knows that.  As a result, they made sure we could relax well during our off-times.

I spent a good bit of my off-time blogging and catching up on various anime series, not to mention doing the F1U! for Korea.  I did take advantage of our one free night on Wednesday to take the hotel's shuttle-bus (how cool is that?) to a nearby World Market, and my duck-aware readers are already drooling.  Come to think of it, so are my pockyfriends.  It's been three years since I was last at a World Market, and nearly five since they closed the store here in Duckford.  In all that time, none of their holiday duckies have made their way to The Flock, so there was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass!  You might be seeing the three Halloween duckies in a few days, if I don't get some photojournalism finished in time...

But the best part of the trip was the performance of The DuckMobile.  As long-time readers of The Pond are aware, she's a 16 year-old Toyota Camry, and to be fair, she's showing a bit of her age.  I didn't take her on the trip to Wisconsin back in June for fear that she'd not be able to make the 400+ mile journey through mostly uninhabited northwoods.  On Monday afternoon, I left the Duck U parking lot with wingtips crossed and some apprehension in my heart... the longest drive I'd taken The DuckMobile on in years was 15 miles round-trip.

I need not have worried.  She was a champ!  Never a complaint, no drama, indeed she seemed to relish being unleashed upon I-90 and getting to show her legs a bit.  We never got above 70mph or so (there's a lot of construction between Duckford and Chicago), but we rocked out.  Once we got home, I praised her to the heavens... The DuckMobile is a good girl indeed!

So while it was a good week, and I learned a lot, and all that sort of good stuff... it's good to be home.  Sure, it's messy.  Sure, my mattress is probably older than I am.  Sure, the food isn't as good.  Sure, the chair in front of my computer isn't as good as the one in the hotel room.  And the TV in the room is a darn sight better than the one in Pond Central.  But I'll be damned if I'd rather not be here, typing this post, than there.

There's no place like Pond Central, that's for sure.

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October 18, 2012

Sword Art Online... Huh, Who Knew?

Let's get this out of the way right now: Sword Art Online is not my type of anime.  Not a big fan of sword-and-sorcery, don't play MMORPGs, the virtual-world-in-anime is pretty much played out after Summer Wars nailed it, and on and on and on.  There's zero reason why I should like the show.

Other than plot, characterization and animation quality, that is.  Our Hero seems to be a nice guy, until he gets called out in Ep02... then he turns into a (justifiably) egotistical jerknard, awes his detractors with his cool new jacket, and walks away.  Our Heroine seems to be as much of a loner as he is, except bythe end of Ep02, we've basically only learned her name.  The plot? Well, eh, killer video game, except the victims have a chance to fight their way out of it, or live there until they die or are killed... either in the game or in real-life.  Over-used, I suppose, but it feels better this time around for some reason.

I guess the animation could be better, but it's certainly good enough to get the job done.  I've read enough to know that the story that's being told right now isn't the actual story of the series, but we'll see about that.  Either way, it's got me hooked.

Not bad for a show I shouldn't be enjoying.

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October 16, 2012

Ducks In Anime: HidaSketch Is BACK, Baby!

(subtitled: Yuno's Duck in Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb Ep02)

For the rubber duck fan, the HidaSketch franchise is the gift that just keeps on giving.  Even if they've done a bathhouse episode before, it doesn't matter... this isn't the sort of show where things like that are important.

Just a very nice episode all around.  And Yuno's Duck gets an entire bathhouse to swim around in, which really is rubber duck nirvana.  The only thing better would be a heated olympic-sized pool.

By the time we return to the Hidamari apartments for the traditional "Yuno-in-a-bath" moment, we've gotten three great duckshots, and plenty of HidaSketch "awwwww" moments.  Just what this tired store manager needs after a long day of training sessions.

Well, that and a cookie.

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October 15, 2012

F1 Update!: 2012 Grand Prix of Korea

This is going to be a mini-F1U! today, as I'm currently holed up in a lovely hotel in Chicago, and want to relax a bit before the training sessions start on Tuesday.  Besides, the race itself was no great shakes.  So let's get on with it!  THIS is your mF1U! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Korea!

*LIGHTS OUT: There is a 200meter run from the starting line to the first turn at the Korea International Circuit.  That's a very short run in comparison to pretty much every other circuit on the calendar.  Yet that short distance is all it took for the race to end.  Pole-sitter Mark Webber had one of his patented Mark Webber Lousy Starts©, and that's all his teammate Seb Vettel needed.  By the time they entered Turn 1, they were side-by-side, and at Korea, the polesitter is positioned on the outside, meaning that Vettel had the best line.  Though there was a drag race down the long long straight from Turn 2 to 3, the reigning world champion held the lead... and never let it go for the rest of the race.  In fact, he was never even challenged, and only a tire that was on the verge of failing on the last couple of laps kept Sebby from winning by 20 seconds, instead of the 8.2 he led Webber across the line by.

*IN OTHER ACTION: Last week, Gandalf Kobayashi was the toast of Japan for his podium finish at his home race.  That sure didn't last long.  Heading into Turn 3 on the very first lap, he wound up playing pinball, bouncing off first Nico Rosberg, then Jenson Button.  The McLaren's front suspension was snapped like a twig, the Mercedes lasted for another lap before the damage put paid to Rosberg's race.  Gandalf himself lasted for 17 laps before having to give up and park it. 

*MEANWHILE: Shiv Hamilton had both a completely miserable day, and what may very well have been the best drive to 10th place ever.  Shortly after his first pitstop, he began to complain about how his car was handling: it wasn't.  The pit box replied that they knew what was going on, and it was a "mechanical balance change."  That's technicalese for a broken roll bar.  A roll bar keeps the car flat in the turns, instead of leaning.  It's also important in keeping the over- or under-steer controlled.  The upshot of this for Hamilton was that his car was safe to drive, but it had roughly a quarter of the grip it would normally have.  This contributed to his tires being shredded much faster than normal and a noted difficulty of keeping it on-circuit.  Which contributed to this spectacle late in the race:

If you're wondering just what that is, it's a piece of astroturf that got peeled up from the run-out of a turn.  Other cars had run over it and torn little pieces up earlier, it's just that Shiv got "lucky" and peeled up a piece that was about six feet long that got caught on some of the bodywork.  In two laps he went from seven seconds ahead of Sergio Perez to less than a half-second.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Vettel had a great race, but we're giving the award to Felipe Massa for the second straight race.  He finished in fourth behind his teammate HWMNBN, but only because Ferrari ordered him to back off.  If they hadn't, he easily would have finished third, and probably would have passed Mark Webber for second.  A month ago, we here at F1U! didn't give a plugged nickle for his chances to be driving for Ferrari next year.  Now we'd be surprised if he isn't driving for them in 2014, too.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  Well, their lead driver is now back in the lead of the driver's championship after winning his third race in a row, leading the last 145 laps, and generally looking like he did all last season.  His teammate ain't lookin' too bad, either, and the team is looking like it's a shoe-in for constructor's championship... again.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Nico Hulkenberg passed both Shiv Hamilton and Lettuce Grosjean at the same time on Lap 40.  To be sure, Shiv was dealing with a car that couldn't corner, and Lettuce was dealing with bad tires and just being generally insane, but it was still a tidy piece of driving for the Force India driver.

*MOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE SPORT:  F1 leaving SPEED here in the US for a cable channel that nobody has.  Great, just great.  Hope it was worth it, Bernie.

There won't be any quotes of the race this time around, but thank you for reading this mini-F1U!  We'll be back in two weeks for the Grand Prix of India!  See you then, and here's the newest episode of McLaren's Tooned!

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October 14, 2012

Meet Nayuki

If you're wondering where the F1U! is for Korea, well, I've got something more pressing to deal with.  Meet Nayuki!

Nayuki is a Samsung... this one, point of fact.  She's a smart girl, but I've got to get her up and running... and I desperately need a nap.  I stayed up to watch most of the race, and now I'm running on 3 hours of sleep.  So I'm gonna let her battery charge up while I sleep, then get her all updated and stuff.  I might wind up doing the F1U! on Monday from my hotel room.  We'll see!  It's all fun!


UPDATE: By request...


She runs really fast (just like the character from the show!), but she's "eh" on the desktop... which doesn't bother me in the least.  If that's the biggest problem Nayuki has, I think I can live with it.

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October 13, 2012

Why MilHist Weeps

Today was laundry day, and I took my dual bags of dirty stuff to the laundromat near Pond Central instead of doing them here in the provided laundry room.  See, there's currently only one working dryer, and I had a week's worth of clothes and about a dozen towels and various assorted things to wash.  When I go to this particular laundromat, I always take a dense book with me.  Today's selection was the newly acquired US Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. 
If Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War is the ultimate book on that particular topic, Friedman's work  is arguably the ultimate on the planning, design, use and upgrading of American carriers.  I've learned a lot from it, and I've only read a couple of chapters disjointedly.  So this was my entertainment whilst the laundry spun and tossed. 

Even better, when I got there there was only one other person in the place, and they were carrying their laundry out the other door!  I had a peaceful hour-and-some-minutes ahead of me!

The laundry was in the rinse cycle when a guy, probably in his fifties, came in.  He got his laundry going, then started jabbering at the attendant.  Seemed to be a nice enough guy, just refused to shut up.  Still, he wasn't bothering me so I continued to read, and you probably know where this is going by now.

Yep, after a few minutes, he walked up to me and said "I'm going to be nosy, what are you reading?"  I've had this happen once or twice before at the laundromat, and the usual result when I've showed them whatever book I'm reading has been a bemused "oh," followed by quickly finding some other place to be.  To be fair, it's hard to blame them; mine is an esoteric hobby these days, and it's not like there's much interest in the British Pacific Fleet in WWII anymore.

Not this guy, though.  He immediately began talking about how he visited the USS Lexington a few years ago.  This was interesting, until he said it was originally built as a battleship in 1924.  Ah, they must tell the visitors about the history of the name, because that's really the first carrier named Lexington (CV-2) he's talking about.  I pointed this out to him, and he disagreed; he visited the first one.  I quickly flipped through Friedman's book and found a picture of a  post-war upgraded Essex-class carrier and asked him if that's what his ship looked like?  He replied in the affirmative, angled deck and everything.  I told him he was looking at a picture of CV-16 taken in 1962.  Still he refused to believe it; he went so far as to say it was the book that was wrong.

I smiled at that.  I did a bit of flipping through the book, found a picture of CV-2, and pointed out that that was the ship he was saying he'd visited, and that it was totally impossible that he had walked upon its decks.  He was actually beginning to get angry when he asked why that was.  "Because the first Lexington was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea.  It's under about 10000 feet of water to the northeast of Australia."

"Are you sure?"

"Pretty darn."

"Oh."  He then kind of walked away and began talking to the attendant again.

Military History: Yeah, it kinda rocks.

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F1 Quals: Korea 2012

It wasn't raining at Yeongam, but it sure looked like it was going to as the clock started on Q1.  Wonder of wonders, it stayed dry the entire session, making it two days in a row... something of a record for this track!  So how did the weather (or lack thereof) affect the grid order?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2012 Grand Prix of Korea:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.397 1:38.220 1:37.242
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.208 1:37.767 1:37.316
3 Shiv Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.180 1:38.000 1:37.469
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:39.144 1:37.987 1:37.534
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:38.887 1:38.227 1:37.625
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.937 1:38.253 1:37.884
7 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:38.863 1:38.275 1:37.934
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:38.981 1:38.428 1:38.266
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.999 1:38.417 1:38.361
10 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:38.808 1:38.436 1:38.513
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.615 1:38.441
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.630 1:38.460
13 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.719 1:38.594
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.942 1:38.643
15 Kannushi Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:39.024 1:38.725
16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.784 1:39.084
17 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:38.744 1:39.340
18 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:39.443

19 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:40.207

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:40.333

21 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.317

22 Tim O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.371

23 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:42.881

24 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth No time


Q1 107% Time
1:45.082


A Red Bull front row lockout of the only circuit they didn't have pole position on last year has got to be pleasing to the team.  Sebby Vettel, on the other hand, looked distinctly morose at the fact that he wasn't the one leading the pack.  That honor went to Australian Mark Webber, whose RB8 threw a scare into the team when it seemingly developed some engine unhappiness just before Quals began.  Obviously it couldn't have been all that serious, but it might be something to look for come race day.

Behind those two teammates come a pair of ex-teammates, Shiv Hamilton and HWMNBN.  Of course, the Ferrari driver is leading the championship, and will be desperate to get beyond Vettel, who sits second in the fight.  Shiv stands fourth in the race for the driver's championship, just behind Kimi Raikkonen, who's fifth on the grid. 

So what this all means is that the top five drivers in the points race are in the top five positions for the race.  That seems fitting, doesn't it?  What seems horribly wrong is that the sixth place driver, Jenson Button, was eliminated in Q2 by a poorly timed yellow flag.  Yes, it happens, and realistically he didn't have much of a shot at the championship, but it's a shame nevertheless. 

In other doings on the grid, Charles ToothPic will be starting from somewhere near Seoul's Gangnam district after using his ninth engine of the season.  Since there's a limit of eight engines per car per year, he'll suffer a 10-spot grid demotion.  Narain Kittylitter had a rather dramatic loss of brakes in Q1 and was unable to set a time; he'll race at the Steward's discretion.  Seems like it'll be approved as he set acceptable times in practice, but one never knows.  Slappy Schumacher earned a reprimand for impeding another driver during P2.  He cut across the nose of Pete Rose's HRT, then brake-checked him for some supposed slight.  The reprimand is his second of the year for the same offense... one more, and he earns an instant 10-spot penalty.  That'd be quite the way for his his career to end, no?

Finally, terrible news for F1 fans here in the US.  After this season is over, SPEED will no longer be carrying the broadcasts for the racing we love so much.  The broadcast rights were won by NBC, which doesn't mean that the races will be on the network... more likely, they'll be on NBCSports... which Pond Central does not get.  Worse still, it seems likely that the Legendary Announce Team will be no more... dammit.  SPEED itself will become FOX's 24-hour sports channel, designed to compete with ESPN.  No more twenty hours of coverage for LeMans.  No more V8 Supercars.  No more motorcycle GP.  No more F1.

What will we here at F1U! do?  Right now, we're not worrying about it; there's five more races to go in this season.  The GP of Korea is Sunday morning; we'll see you there!

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October 11, 2012

F1 Korea 2012 Practice 1: Liveblogging!

About a minute late to the party, but I'm here!  If you'd like to follow along with me, direct your browser to SPEED Streaming and refresh The Pond from time to time!  As in the past liveblogging sessions, the session is 90 minutes in length.  I'll be using the time remaining as the time notation:  if you see (1:02:30), that means 27.5 minutes have gone by in the session.  Read from (1:30:00).  Your mileage may vary.  Ask your doctor if Wonderduck's Pond is right for you.  Burma Shave.

(SESSION START)  Problem with having no commentary: you don't know why exactly a Williams was sitting in the pit lane, half-in and half-out of its garage.  Weirdness abounds here at Korea... it's not even raining!

(1:26:44)  Man, I've got a lousy feed tonight... everythings blocky and ick... and freezing.  If things don't clear up soon, I'm going to have eye cancer.

(1:25:20)  Lettuce Grosjean is about to get on track... everybody, hide the women and children!

(1:23:11)  Well, that's a little better... I shut down the stream window and now it's much prettier.

(1:21:02)  Radio call to Seb Vettel: "Check if your steering is symmetrical left-to-right."  Wow, now that would be a sucky problem to have at 180mph... unsurprisingly, Seb immediately comes into the pits.

(1:17:45)  Silly HWMNBN, that's not how you sit in a chair!

Still probably more comfortable than anything you or I could afford...

(1:14:23)  Well, that's something you don't see at every racetrack in the world:

Pity, that.

(1:10:37)  Most cars are in the garage right now.  We're getting a lot of "B-Roll" footage.  What's that, you ask?  Why, this:

Smell the excitement!  Or is that kimchee?
 
(1:08:17)  As reader "metalshields" points out, it IS like a ghost town as compared to Japan.  What I didn't tell you is that picture at (1:10:37) is the entire crowd.

(1:05:21)  Jenson Button goes to the top of the timesheets.  Don't get excited, he's only the second driver to post a time.

I'm gonna hide the rest of this in the "more" section!

more...

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October 10, 2012

Ducks In Anime: Kyousuke's Back!

You know, there's probably no way I won't like Little Busters, the most recent Key game to be made into an anime.  While I wasn't fond of AIR, I loved Kanon, Clannad, and the sequel ~After Story~.  There's something about their work that just hits me the right way, y'know?  Even the knowledge that it isn't being animated by KyoAni didn't stifle my enthusiasm much.  So it was with a hint of excitement that I began the first episode... and what to my wondering eyes did appear?

-Little Busters, Ep01
Yep, I'm going to like this show.

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October 09, 2012

Tech Wonks, I Need An Opinion!

I'm seriously thinking about doing something I once swore I would never do: purchase a laptop.

They cost too much for the hardware you get.  If you get one that actually has some horsepower behind it, it weighs a metric farkton.  They'll never play a game as well as a desktop.  BUT, and this is an important "but", they're portable.  When you're going to be traveling, that's important... and I'm going to be traveling.  Next week, I'm attending a five-day-long training session at the home office of the company that runs the Duck U Bookstore.  It'd be nice to have access to a computer I trust.

This is where y'all come in.  After doing some research, I've found a laptop that fits the pricepoint I'm looking at (~$400), without being neutered by lack of throw-weight.   Here's the link to it.  I know it's not going to be a desktop replacement, but I don't want a desktop replacement.  I'd like a supplement to my desktop.  To be honest, it'll probably be more powerful than good ol' Chiyo-chan... after all, she's a six year old, dual-processor system.

But, and this is the thing, I know nothing about laptops anymore.  Sure, nine years ago when I worked for CowPuters, I could tell you the ins-and-outs of them, but not now.  So help me out here.  If the linked laptop isn't good, show me another!  One catch: I want to be able to lay hands on it before I buy... which means it has to be at BigBlueBox (use zipcode 61108; that's not Pond Central's, but it's close enough) or HH Gregg (I know, not a lot of choices out here in Duckford).  Oh, and nothing a Disciple of Jobs would own.

And thank you for your help!

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October 08, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: Korea 2012

Another week, another race!  This time, the trade winds blow the Ship of F1 to Korea, land of kimchee, bulgogi, M*A*S*H*, taekwondo, and the Korea International Circuit, home to the 2012 Grand Prix of Korea!  Let us take a look at the track map:

So, yeah, there it is.  Pretend I have something favorable to say about it, okay?  It's a challenge for the teams to get right, how about that?  Sound good?  The track goes through three long straights before switching to a spilled-spaghetti-style circuit with nary a straight line in sight.  There's only two real overtaking locations out there, at Turns 1/2 and Turn 3.  After that, you're on your own on any attempt and don't come crying to us when you find yourself sitting on a pile of carbon fiber instead of a car.

There was a lot of screaming about the pit-lane being unsafe at the first race, and they did a little bit of cosmetic work for 2011.  However, it still requires a car entering the pits to slow down... on the racing line... in a 150mph corner.  But wait, the pit lane gets even better!  The exit spits cars out on the outside of Turn 1, right where a skidding car coming down the front straight could run right into it.  Of course, it would never happen, right?  Oh wait...

The fact is, we don't really know how this track runs yet.  In 2010, we had the deluge.  In 2011, it was mostly dry, and apparently the weather in Korea this time of year can cough up anything at any time.  We shall see... for it's a track built about two inches above the water table, on reclaimed swampland.  The moisture from a drizzle will never go away, let alone anything heavier.

Fortunately, the Legendary Announce Team will do their usual sterling job helping us to understand what's going on!  Let's take a look at SPEED's schedule for race weekend, shall we?

THURSDAY
P1: 8p - 930p streaming
FRIDAY
P2: 12mid - 140a live
P3: 9p - 10p streaming
SATURDAY
Quals: 12mid - 130a plausibly live.
SUNDAY
2012 Grand Prix of Korea: 1230a - 3a live

F1U! will liveblog P1 for sure, maybe P3, perhaps Quals.  The miserable day I had Sunday after staying up late to watch the Japanese GP basically tells me that I'm too old for that sh*t anymore.  But be right here!  You know you want to!

UPDATE: This just in... playing at the F1 Rocks! festival in Korea will be PSY.  Yep, F1 goes Gangnam Style.  You know what that means...
...what it means is that Formula One Management has put in a copyright claim and had it taken down.  Feh.

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