February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

In case you're wondering, the title of the post and the content don't, in point of fact, have anything to do with each other.  Why do you ask?

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February 27, 2012

That Was The Weirdest Thing I've Ever Seen On A Racetrack

On Lap 157 of tonight's Daytona 500, David Stremme blew an engine, bringing out the yellow flag.  Debris from the engine covered the track near the entry to Turn 3, and a "JetDry" truck was called out to blow the garbage out of the turn.  A JetDry truck is a pickup truck towing a helicopter jet engine behind it.  It's usually used to, well, dry the asphalt after it rains.  It carries around 200 gallons of jet fuel.

On Lap 160, still under the yellow flag, former F1 driver Juan Pablo (aka The Pope) Montoya came off of pit lane and brought himself up to speed to catch up with the rest of the field.  As he approached Turn 3, something visibly broke on his car.  Sparks spilled out from underneath, he got sideways, and he skidded directly into the back and side of the JetDry truck.

There was a sudden fireball, presumably from the #42 car as it had its front end completely destroyed, and both vehicles came to a halt.  The JetDry truck was at the top of the banking, Montoya's car was burning merrily in the infield.  Montoya quickly got out of his car and walked away.  Meanwhile, a track worker ran up the banking to help the driver of the truck... and then we noticed the liquid pouring out the back of the truck.  The track worker got the driver out of the truck, and they walked away from the truck.  Then the inevitable occurred.

200 gallons of jet fuel and an oversized tank of diesel went up.  The fire stretched all the way down the 31° banking.  The emergency crews began to use fire extinguishers to try and contain the blaze, but they sure didn't do much.  The explosion that followed threw up a fireball that was dramatic but pretty localized.  Then the heavy equipment showed up, both on the infield and outside the catch fence.

That finally got the fire under control and extinguished.  Montoya has been checked at the infield care center and released.  The driver of the truck is at the local hospital for observation, but he's resting comfortably and is reportedly okay.  Probably needs to change his shorts, though.  There appears to be some damage to the asphalt on the circuit, but NASCAR is saying they'll be restarting the race eventually.  As is, the 500 has been under a red flag for an hour or so as they try to get everything cleared up.  A video can be seen here

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My Lexington Story

A couple of weeks ago, I'm walking up the hill from the main parking lot to the Duck U Bookstore trying to avoid the worst of the slippery spots, when a late-model Chrysler sedan pulled into one of the handicapped spots by the door.  The driver, an elderly woman, began to get out of the car as I changed course to help her if need be.  I glanced at the license plate, noticed the car's color, and began to laugh long and hard.

The woman shot me a nasty look, and I realized she probably thought I was laughing at her, not what I had just noticed.  Unable to speak from laughing so hard, I did what I could: I pointed at the license plate, then waved my hand vaguely towards the rest of the car.  Then she realized that I got the joke... and smiled, saying "Most people don't understand." 

Chuckling, I offered her my arm, which she took gratefully.  Walking into the school building the Bookstore is located in, I inquired when her husband had been in the Navy.  "1944; I didn't meet him until 1950, when I was 20."  Her husband passed away a couple of years ago, but she still kept the license plate the way he wanted it.  After we got into the building, I bid her good day... and she thanked me for both my help and for remembering my history.  "He would have talked your ear off, you know.  He could do that," she said with a gleam in her eye.  I replied with "I've got two," which made her laugh.

What made me laugh so much to begin with?  The license plate read "CV 16 USN".  The car was painted dark blue.

CV-16 was better known as USS Lexington, one of the multitude of Essex-class carriers that joined the fleet in the second half of the Pacific War.  She was the only fleet carrier never to have pattern-disrupting camouflage applied to it, wearing instead Measure 21 ("Navy Blue" hull and deck overall) for the entire war.  This paint scheme led the Japanese to give her the nickname "The Blue Ghost."

They also claimed to have sunk her four times.  While she did take some damage during the war, it was never particularly serious.  Post-war, she continued to serve until 1991, the last of the Essex-class carriers to be retired.  She's now a museum ship in Corpus Christie, Texas.

CXT figured out the mystery ship, so he gets another post...

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February 26, 2012

Name This Mystery Ship XIII

Here we go again!  One neat thing about this ship is that I've got a personal story to tell about it...

As usual, no imagesearch or anything like that.  I may not be able to prevent you from doing it, but you're less of a human being for doing so.  As is usual, the first to accurately name the ship will get a post on a topic of their choice, as long as it doesn't involve religion, politics or pr0n.

I'll tell the story when an accurate ID is made.  Good luck!

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February 24, 2012

Happy Fun Time!

As you may remember, the next step in my quest to become the Manager of the Duck U Bookstore was to have been an interview with my Regional Manager on Wednesday.  As one would expect, I was busy vacuuming the store Tuesday afternoon in preparation for his visit, not to mention obsessing over whether or not everything looked okay... "do I need to refold those t-shirts?  They aren't all positioned exactly in line with each other, though you'd likely need a laser micrometer to detect the variance..." and trying to figure out if I needed to purchase a new dress shirt for the interview when the RM walked in.

I believe I am rightfully proud that I did not, in fact, pee myself in surprise and fright.  My high-pitched keen of terror did cause every dog within a five-mile radius to come charging to the Duck U Bookstore, however.  Either oblivious to my state of wide-eyed shock and horror or too polite to notice (or enjoying it too much), he greeted me by saying "Okay, it's time for your interview."

I suddenly realized a number of things... first and foremost was that my socks were slightly askew on my feet.  I had a very minor headache.  The t-shirt I had under my polo was clinging to my torso a bit too much for comfort.  My mouth was dry.  I had left my glasses on the cash register so everything over eight feet away from my face was slightly out of focus.  Most importantly, I desperately wanted a cigarette, perhaps more than I ever had before in my life.  And then he said...

"Do you want the job?"

Still somewhat off-balance from his surprise appearance, I replied with "Um... yes?"

"Congratulations, you're the new Store Manager of the Duck U. Bookstore."

The more observant amongst you will realize that while this conversation took place on Tuesday, I'm telling you about it on what is Friday night as I type this.  You see, in the great world of biznez, nothing is official until there's much signing of paper.  Even for something as seemingly simple as hiring a store manager, whole rainforests must be denuded of trees, simply to make those who love nothing more than the act of filing happy.  As the RM had to be in Minnesota bright and early Wednesday morning, he could not stay to get the paperwork rolling, leaving it instead to the Home Office's HR department... normally a good decision, as they're all ace-nifty.  Unfortunately, the HR rep that interviewed me Monday morning did not get in touch with me before Duck U was closed for the day due to a water main break.  A big one.  That was next to a gas line.

So I didn't get to fax in the letter of acceptance until this morning.  But now I'm a Bookstore Manager again.  It didn't really sink in until I closed this evening...  standing there in the dark, the empty bookshelves looming over me: it's all mine.  For the past five years, I've told the various managers that "you're the boss, but this is my store."  And it's true, I really did feel that way.  Now I can honestly say that I'M the boss, and it really is my store.  I'm not currently in charge of anybody, since as of 2pm this afternoon I am the entire staff of the Duck U Bookstore, but that's a minor detail.

I couldn't be happier.  I already feel more relaxed than I have in months.

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February 23, 2012


The single most famous picture from WWII was taken some 67 years ago today.  The sad thing is that most people today don't realize that this wasn't the end of the fighting... oh no.  Two of the men in the picture were dead a week later.  A third was killed a few weeks after the first two.  The island of Iwo Jima was declared secure over a month after Joe Rosenthal took the picture.

27 Medals of Honor were earned at Iwo Jima, 13 posthumously.  22 of the Medals were issued to US Marines, nearly 30% of all Medals of Honor earned by Marines in WWII.

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February 22, 2012

The Shelf

You may remember that a few days ago, I had some broadband issues.  The powers that be sent a technician to the apartment complex, so as to discover just what was going on.  I gather they found nothing out of the ordinary, so the technician came into Pond Central to investigate.  When I got home some hours later, there was a note on my door, saying that there was a signal strength issue and the tech needed access to the cable outlet.  I groaned at this; the cable outlet is behind a bookcase in my living room... a bookcase overfilled with books.  While I knew this was going to be three different levels of hell to deal with, I did realize that I had been presented with a great opportunity.  For years, I've meant to get all my military history books out of my bedroom and into one of the big bookshelves in the living room... well, here was my chance! 

I should have known better.  Almost every time there's a broadband connection problem, the techs say there's a signal strength issue.  As I was getting the books out of the bookcase, my broadband connection came back.  Yay, I guess.  Still, I wasn't going to just fill the thing back up again, in case there really was a problem (for once), so I let it sit for the weekend... and the books that had been in it stacked high on my coffee table.  While it made watching TV a little difficult (read: impossible), and folding laundry a  challenge (read: are you kidding?), I put up with it until Monday.

That night, I came home from the Duck U Bookstore, changed into the grubbiest clothes I had, and began moving books from the bedroom to the living room.  Grubby, because some of them were going to be dusty as all get-out.  It took an hour, and I still haven't gotten around to organizing them other than by size, but I now have my military history reference library all in one place, where I can easily peruse them.  Before this, they were in three different bookcases AND stacked on a dresser in four piles AND stacked on top of two other bookcases.  Yeah, this works much better.

The top of the bookcase is devoted to either paperbacks (for example, "Zero!" by Martin Caidin, though my edition is substantially older than the one linked to, or "Climax at Midway" by Thaddeus Tuleja, in fact the very edition shown, for which I need to thank Uncle JoeDuck) or quick reference books from Salamander.  Those titles, and the others like it from B&N Press, are what I term bathroom reference books, because... well, that should be obvious, shouldn't it?  They aren't for in-depth research, but they often provide a good starting point for things that end up on The Pond.  Indeed, my post on HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney, The Misfit Battleships, had its genesis exactly that way.

The bottom shelf is full of Tom Clancy, both fiction and non-fiction.  They make a good solid weight for the rest of the bookcase.  Also down there are two editions of Norman Polmar's "Ships and Aircraft of the US Fleet" (the 14th and 15th, in case you're curious).  While I'd kill to have some Jane's Fighting Ships in here, they're just too expensive (though this one is reasonable... which makes me wonder why). 

In between the top and bottom is the heart and soul of The Pond's Military History category.  I haven't quite figured out how I intend to organize them yet... do I alphabetize by author?  Arrange by category (with Midway books on top)?  By size?  By spine color?  The world wonders.  If you want to take a closer look at The Collection, click on the picture for a much larger version, one where you can actually read the spines. 

Having it all in one place for the first time ever is... wow, quite daunting, actually. 

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February 21, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Mercedes W03

The last of the heavy hitters is late to the party, but at least they've finally showed up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, might I introduce the Mercedes W03!

Apparently, Merc is kinda cheating just a little bit on the platypus.  Only the outside edges of the bump are at the legal height... which fits the letter of the law, if perhaps not the spirit.  Since this is F1, it's already been declared legal. 

Small sidepods, small radiator intakes, not much of an undercut, a pair of extra intakes just behind the airbox... and oh my gawd the platypus looks completely hideous on the W03.  Ross Brawn hisownself came out and said that the nose design "is certainly an acquired taste."  So is the barrel of a shotgun.

The team says that there's 4500 parts to the W03, up 200 from last year's car.  They say that like it's a good thing, but isn't that 200 more things that can go wrong?  I dunno; Merc is saying that they're going to make a run at the championship this year, and more power to them.  But I just don't see it happening.  They've been 4th the past two years, and while I'd love to see them jump Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, it seems like a stretch.

But then, they were once known as Brawn GP... and we all know what happened there.

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February 20, 2012

Now It Can Be Told

You may remember that, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that things had gotten a little exciting at the Duck U Bookstore.  You may have noticed that, at the time, I didn't exactly go into much detail as to what was going on.  I'll put it this way: I've applied for an open store manager position. ("Oh, that's nice.")

At the Duck U Bookstore.

Um... what?
I had my first interview for the manager job today.  Since I didn't obviously pee it down my leg, I gather the second interview will be Wednesday. 

I suspect some of you are scratching your head, wondering just what's going on... and believe me, I understand.  The position was open in July, why didn't I apply then?  Well, that's an easy question to answer: I have the self-confidence of a spavined flea (and "spavin" is a word that just isn't used enough these days).  It wasn't until I successfully ran the store through Fall Rush, the busiest time of the school year, that I realized that I could actually do the job... and maybe even do it well, to boot.  Of course, by that time the open position had been filled.  Well, when it opened up again, I immediately got my application in... and here we are.  MUSIC BREAK!

Not only was Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason an underappreciated album, but the live tour associated with it has what I consider the ultimate in concert lighting design.  The circle, surrounded by all those computer-controlled lights, is an absolutely brilliant concept, best shown by its use during the song One Of These Days.  When I was actively designing for the theatre and I hit a mental snag, I'd pull out the concert video and just watch the circle's antics.  It always got me unsnagged.

So back to the story.  I've been open-to-close ever since everything went down two weeks ago, because I'm the only person in the store with keys.  Or an alarm code.  Or access to the safe.  And the server.  And the ability to do payroll, receiving, shipping, you name it, I'm pretty much it.  So, yeah, a little worn out... but with the opportunity to become store manager of the Duck U Bookstore.  More news as it breaks.

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February 18, 2012

Saturday Night Tunage XII

On the border of music and madness, it's DJ Wonderduck back again to spin you the infamous Saturday Night Tunage!  It's been a few months since the last time we did this, so lets get right to it, shall we?  No theme this time around, just the music that's the backing track to the miniseries that is our lives. 

Wow, that wasunexpectedly kinda deep.  Wait, no, not deep... it was shallow, masquerading as deep, kinda like what passes for music these days.  Pop music and pop philosophy here on Saturday Night Tunage!  Next up, the latest hit by Kierkegaard and the Existentialists!


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February 16, 2012

Broadband Problems BAD!

I have spotty broadband coverage today, something about my signal strength being bad.  Hopefully it'll be fixed ASAP, but I may be not around for a day or two.  Don't Panic.

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February 15, 2012

Shameless Plug Time!

For many years, I've been on the case of the Official First Friend of The Pond, Vaucaunson's Duck, about his lack of blog, website, or other internet presence.  Y'see, if there's anybody out there for whom blogging was created, it would be Vauc.

For the same amount of years, he has protested my case-being-onning, saying that he fully intended to have a website, but there wasn't going to be any of that "under construction" stuff going on.  He also wanted to find the right hosting service.  Knowing that Big Papa Pixy hizownbadself is a kind and generous tyrant despot dictator Australian ruler of all MuMeeNuVia, I offered to find out for Vauc what he'd be willing to do, but my old friend declined the offer.  *shrug* 

So on and on it went, me ribbing Vauc, Vauc saying "it'll happen, it'll happen."  Well, I'm happy to announce that it has, in fact, happened.  Now to be honest, Vauc's site is a little... well, niche.  I mean, you've got websites that are rather specialized out there (case in point: Combined Fleet).  You've got websites that are devoted to single topics (for example, the lamented Fire Joe Morgan).  And then you've got what Vauc's website is about: chickens.

Well, poultry.  Well, poultry as covered by a small New York publishing firm in the early-to-mid 1900s.  Well, poultry, a small New York publishing firm in the early-to-mid 1900s, and the town it was located in.  As strange as all that may sound, The Van Hoesen Press is honestly quite intriguing.  If you're like me, and god help you if you are, you find learning about stuff you know nothing about to be fascinating and endlessly entertaining.  Here's your chance to be entertained!  I invite my readers to give the place a look-see.  It's actually something of a family history project for Vauc, as Roy Van Hoesen was his Great-Grandfather.

As the website just went live a few days ago, if nothing else we can give it a mini-stress-test... a Duckalanche, if you will.  And, heck, where else would you discover that there was once a periodical entitled "The Bacon Hog Quarterly"?

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February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

There's no doubt in my mind that The Pond is the only place on the intarwebz where you're going to find this:

The combination of rubber duckies and Katawa Shoujo for Valentine's Day, exclusive to this little website.  And you get to see it... aren't you lucky?

Rin's opinion notwithstanding, of course.

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February 13, 2012

Yay For Kidney Stones!

I've passed thirteen kidney stones in my life.  They hurt like nothing I've ever experienced before or since.  I am probably the last person to celebrate a diagnosis of kidney stones.

Except when the other option was cancer.

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February 12, 2012

What If...? #5: Opening The Locks

Admiral Osami Nagano walked into the meeting room with an ashen look on his face.  Taking his seat at the head of the table, he looked less like the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's General Staff, and more like the weak leader some thought he was.  With a shaken tone to his voice, he brought the meeting to order.  "Gentlemen, I've been informed that the aircraft carrying Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto on his inspection tour of the Solomon Islands... has been shot down.  He is confirmed dead."  As the rest of the General Staff reacted to this grim news, he continued.  "Admiral Ugaki survived, but is seriously injured."  He looked around the table.  "Coming so soon on the heels of our losses.. no, let's call them what they are, our defeats, at Midway and that damnable 'Starvation Island', this is another terrible blow.  Reports are that the first of the new American aircraft carriers is nearing completion, soon to be followed by a half-dozen more.  Gentlemen, unless something is done quickly, the unstoppable tide will soon sweep over us and wash us away.  Do any of you have any plans that can balance the ledger sheet in our favor?"

Silence fell over the table.  Nagano looked at the assembled General Staff with something approaching horror on his face.  "Nothing?  Was Yamamoto the only one of us with an imagination?"  At that goading, many of the militaristic hardliners flushed angrily but remained quiet.  From the far end of the table, a quiet yet confident voice, loud in the nearly silent room, said "There is a plan we have been working on...."

When one thinks of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II, one undoubtedly thinks of the aircraft carriers of the Kido Butai, or the massive battleships Yamato and Musashi.  More thoughtfully, one might consider the deadly efficient force of cruisers they put to sea or their squadrons of destroyers, considered by many to be the best of the War.  Yet only rarely would any consider sparing a thought to the IJN's submarines, unless it was to react in horror to the kaiten manned torpedoes fielded as a counterpoint to the kamikaze.  This is a mistake, as the Japanese submarine force was interestingly varied, not to mention fairly successful in their generally assigned role of warship hunters.  Japanese submarines sank as many American fleet carriers (two, Yorktown and Wasp) as their conventional naval air did (Lexington and Hornet). 

On the whole, Japanese submarines were inventive and cleverly designed, if perhaps ill-used.  Without a doubt, however, there was one surprising class of submarine where they were the unquestioned best in the world.


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February 10, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Williams FW34

Sir Frank's team is one of a regal history having fallen on hard times of late.  The team has been around for 35 years, and is one of F1's historical "Big Four" teams (with Ferrari, McLaren and Renault).  In the time I've been an active fan of the sport, however, they team has, at best, just been okay... and at worst, they've been bad.  So will a return to Renault engines, paired with the new FW34 chassis bring a return to prominence?

No less an individual than Sir Frank Williams hisownbadself has said that the new car has less than 5% parts in common with last year's FW33.  In some ways, this is good: that car was a dog.  It's also quite the risk, as F1 teams have historically found that evolution, not revolution, is the way to success.  Again, though, the 2011 car was just bad and there probably wasn't all that much worth keeping.  Having said all that... the Williams' paint job is terrible for seeing details.  The platypus step looks like it's a vertical wall.  It's not, but that's the way it looks.  Big air intakes, maybe the largest we've seen so far.  I'm amused by the Gillette sponsorship on the multi-level front wings... ladies and gentlemen, the twin-bladed razor of F1 cars!

Wacky rear wing!  The sidepods are small-ish, but nicely shaped.  No undercut on them at all though.  I HATE the the "flying" fin on the airbox.  I'm sure it's aerodynamic, but I just don't like it.  I'm kinda struggling for stuff to talk about with this car.  Of course, I've talked about what, six or seven others already?

I've lowered the contrast by 50%, I've boosted the brightness by 30%, and increased the saturation, and the car still looks like it's sucking in all light within 20 feet.  Ugly nose.  Having said all that, I really hope there's some speed in this chassis.  Formula 1 would be much better off with Williams being good. 

I'll admit it: I got nuthin' here.  The team sounds like they're excited about the FW34, but they would do, wouldn't they?  On the other hand, I can't get excited about it.  If everything goes right, does anybody realistically see them finishing any better than 5th in the constructors?

That's a darn shame.

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February 08, 2012


Oh yeah, I'm lovin' life right now, and I'm NOT in a good mood.

That about covers it...
As the Regional Manager said the other day, "when things go south, it's Wonderduck who suffers."  For at least the rest of the week, I'll be running the Duck U Bookstore.  For at least the rest of the week, I'm also the entire staff of the Duck U Bookstore.  That's right, I'm open to close, alone, all day every day.  On one hand, yay overtime.  On the other hand, boo working myself into the ground.  On the gripping hand, kill me.

"But Wonderduck," I hear you say, which is impressive because I'm blasting a track by Galynerus at about 25% volume, which is loud enough to shake ducks off my two computer hutches, and couldn't actually hear anybody unless they were yelling in my ear... in fact, here, join me, won't you?

"But Wonderduck," I hear you say, "at least the textbook rush is over, right?"  Yep, it's over all right... which means it's time to send books back to their publishers.  Hundreds of books.  Thousands of pounds of books.  Alone.  Oh my achin' back.  Oh, and let's not forget the complaining customers... "no, you can't return the lab manual you've torn 12 pages out of... please stop swearing at me, miss."

I haven't watched any anime in over a week, and that was just a single episode of Bodacious Space Pirates.  So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to go watch some anime and the Williams F1 Pr0n can bugger off until I feel like doing it (tomorrow or whenever).  Meanwhile, you folks have a whole comments section to play around in until I get back.  Have fun, don't make a mess.

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February 07, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Red Bull RB8

While the boys from Milton Keynes debuted their 2012 challenger yesterday, it wasn't much of a much.  Instead of actually showing the car in any way, they released a couple of renders and a crappy video.  However, with today being the start of Winter Testing in Jerez, Spain, we got to REALLY see the RB8 for the first time today.  Or, at least, we did once it finally took to the track some four hours late.  Seems the delivery of some important part of the car was delayed by fog at the airport.  Whoopsie.

Well, that's different.  Red Bull's solution to the platypus nose is to hollow it out... which makes sense, once you think about it.  That vent is certainly being used to cool the driver, the electronics, or both.  It probably does away with a lot of the drag caused by the stairstep, too... or at least removes much of the disturbed airflow from where it'd do the most damage, aerodynamically.  The sidepod inlets are smaller in comparison to last year's runaway winner, though not dramatically so. 

In fact, there aren't all that many changes from the RB7 (above, bottom).  I mean, beyond the obvious platypus nose.  The airbox cover doesn't have the thin fin any longer and the verticals on the rear wing are now square with dangling "fingers", as opposed to the curved cut of last year's car.  The sidepods don't look as high, but they also don't seem to slope down as far.  So, not many obvious changes, but that shouldn't be a surprise... I mean, it's not like the RB7 wasn't the best car around in 2011 or anything.  As I mentioned last year, any changes are probably under the skin.

After looking at the slot in the nose, I think we've finally figured out where Mark Webber and Seb Vettel have to slide their timecards.  That nose might just be the worst of the bunch... what is it that it reminds me of?  Oh... oh yeah, I've got it.

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February 06, 2012

F1 MegaPr0n: Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso

It's been a busy couple of days in the F1 rollout season!  Four teams brought out their 2012 challengers... and only one of them, Sauber, released glamour shots of their car.  So for a F1 MegaPr0n, we only have a few workable pictures, and there's only one angle that all three of the teams in this MegaPr0n used.  Fortunately, it's the three-quarters angle, which is the most useful for our purposes.  Ladies and gentlemen, the first ever F1 mini-MegaPr0n!  First up, Renault Lotus!

Proof that it's possible to make a good looking platypus nosed F1 car.  Of course, this isn't surprising, because the Renault Lotus E20 appears to be last year's Renault Renault!  It appears that the team had to do quite a bit of engineering work to re-route the forward facing exhaust system to meet the tech regs, and as a result development on the rest of the car stagnated.  The platypus nose is nothing particularly difficult to accomplish, obviously.  However, Renault Lotus actually managed to make this one look good... or at least, not as awful as all the others.  It's not the hideous ramp that Ferrari has, nor is it the "hills and valley" used by the other teams.  Other than those changes, though, it really is the Renault Renault R31, all over again.  That may not be a horrible thing.

Like Renault Lotus, Sauber's C31 seems to be a C30 in 2012 regulations, there are a few changes.  Obviously the platypus nose is present... but the hump has a trick involved.  There's a thin gap where the nosecone meets the hump, apparently an attempt to disrupt a little bit of the drag that'll undoubtedly be created by the thing.  Will it work?  Who knows?  Other changes are a touch more subtle.  The sidepods, which were already cut down last year, have been even smaller and more rounded.  The top of the car from the cockpit to the front tires is flat; last year it actually was angled up from the cockpit to the tires.  The whole chassis is very clean, almost austere in looks.  I rather like it.  The biggest change, though, is the addition of Oerlikon as a sponsor.  Does this mean there's a 20mm autocannon hidden in the airbox?

Toro Rosso's STR7 has a "hills-and-valley" approach to the platypus, which is as good as any, I suppose.  I suppose it's boring to say that it's very similar to last year's STR6, so I won't... though it is.  The sidepods are shorter and more deeply cut than those on last year's car, which should remove quite a bit of parasitic drag from the chassis.  The airbox has an interesting support arrangement to it now, and under the main intake, there's a second intake, presumably for cooling the KERS unit.  Something that isn't particularly visible in the pictures of the cars rolled out to date is the position of the exhausts.  Toro Rosso's is set about as far back as they can legally go, and their position seems to be blowing right onto the rear wing.  "We can't use a blown diffuser, but nobody said anything about a blown rear wing," seems to be the plan.

In an interview with Toro Rosso's designer, Georgio Ascanelli, I finally heard an explanation for the new nose height.  It seems that the maximum height of 550mm is the same as the height of the anti-penetration panels on the sides of the cockpit.  It was done to prevent an impalement, which of course we've seen dozens of times in the past couple of years alone (/sarcasm off).  A solution looking for a problem...

Now, sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that I said that there had been FOUR rollouts over the past two days, yet I've only shown three.  That's because the fourth team was Red Bull, and all they let us see were a couple of cheap renders of the car they'll be defending their title with.  With the first offseason practice session beginning on Tuesday, I expect we'll be seeing a little more than that tomorrow, so I'll hit it and Williams then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:56 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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February 05, 2012

Katawa Shoujo: The Review

Over five years ago, a particular bit of colorized doujin art from the year 2000 made its way to the 4chan image boards, where it made quite the splash.  So much of one that some denizens of that board decided to follow the original artist's intentions and turn the artwork into a ren'ai game.  Two years later, the group (now calling itself 4Leaf Studios, or "4LS") brought out a demo.  The demo, entitled "Act I", was a hit and brought quite a bit of attention to the game.  And then... three more years would pass before 4LS announced that the full game would be released before the end of 2011.  Shortly before that deadline, they moved the date to January 4th, 2012; five years to the day that a particular bit of colorized doujin art hit 4chan. 

Nobody on the staff of 4LS had ever made a game before.  The amount of work involved in such an endeavor is daunting, but they certainly pulled it off; they did release a game.  The question, though, is just how good is it?  To be truthful, it's hard to imagine it being any good at all considering the topic material.  Disabled high school students?  A dating sim about disabled high school students?  Controversial, to say the least.  When Act I came out, a common reaction was "...that game makes me ill, what's wrong with those people?"  So now that the full version has been released, what's the real verdict?


Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:23 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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