May 31, 2012

Regiment Time

While I work feverishly on getting the HSotD Ep09 review done (it's proving to be both easier and more difficult than I expected), I wish to play you the song of my people I wanted to say that the Phantom Regiment has come back to Duck U for the Summer.

These folks were gathered just behind the Duckmobile this evening, listening to a speech.  It's days like this that must make their lives miserable: it rained all day, with a high of 47°.  This past Sunday, it was 99°... a fifty-degree shift in four days?  Aieeeeeeee!  So what does it matter if the Phantom Regiment is practicing at Duck U?  Well...

Turn your volume up.  Do it.  Oh, and get a kleenex, because it's gonna make you cry.
I heard that as I left work yesterday... and that's just a warmup piece; it's not even part of their routine.  This does tend to put a smile on your face at the end of a long day. 

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May 30, 2012

The Obligatory Music Arguement Post!

Over in some Fark thread a few days ago, someone suggested (perhaps in jest) that The Who's Eminence Front was the "quintessential '80s song."

Naturally, I took exception to this assertion, despite the fact that Eminence Front is my favorite song by The Who, mainly because of the keyboards and John Entwhistle's bass line.  No, I suggested that anybody who believes that Eminence Front is the quintessential '80s song is forgetting the only song that really qualifies for that title.

Seriously, when you throw the Miami Vice tie into the mix, is there really a song that screams '80s more than In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins?  Don't get me wrong, this is not a putdown in any way; I'm quite fond of '80s music in general.  It's just that nothing is considered too excessive for the recording, which is what makes it work, of course.  It's brilliant in that way.  It's also been overplayed to a hideous level, rendering it almost a parody of itself.

Of course, many would say that being the "quintessential '80s song" is something of a booby prize anyway.  To this I say "Feh."  FEH, I say.

Got an opinion on the matter?

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May 29, 2012

Random Anime Picture #71: Why We Don't Live In Trees

-Blood-C, Ep04

I'm working on the writeup for High School of the Dead, Ep09, and while I've made fair progress, I needed to stop.  So instead of that, you get a picture of a high school girl / vampire hunter falling out of a tree onto J Random Guy.  The way she lands the poor guy should have been instantly fatal to him due to the rupture of various internal organs, but this is anime.

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May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

On Saturday, the USS Iowa was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Thankfully, reader Vaucaunson's Duck and his friend, Zippy, were there with cameras.  It seems appropriate to show the Iowa's final voyage on Memorial Day.

Click the picture for a much larger one.
For all those who have served our country and given all they could, I say thank you.  It's not enough, no mere words could ever be enough, but it's all I can do on this silly little blog. 

UPDATE: The Warrior:

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May 27, 2012

The Greatest Day In Motorsports

Every year, this particular Sunday is called "The Greatest Day In Motorsports."  It's hard to disagree... you've got the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 all running, one after the other.

I watched all three, and almost every lap.  Out of a possible 1261 miles, I saw 1211.  That's enough motorsports for one weekend.

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F1 Update!: Monaco 2012

An absolutely perfect day in the Principality of Monaco greeted the F1 Circus as they pulled their steeds onto the starting grid.  Would we see our sixth winner in six races today?  Or would there be our first repeater?  And would those clouds hovering off the Cote d'Azur make their way over the circuit?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco!

*GOOD LUCK... YOU'LL NEED IT!:  When the lights went out to start the race, polesitter Mark Webber got a clean start with the man who shared the front row with him, Nico Rosberg, shuffling in directly behind.  It stayed that way as the rumbling horde charged down towards Sainte Devote. We've gotten pretty lucky over the past few years, in that there hasn't been one of those legendary first-turn disasters that take out a quarter of the field.  However, in the few seconds it took to send the 24-car field towards the first turn, the educated fan got an inkling that something was about to happen; we don't usually go four cars wide, after all.

*TOTAL CARNAGE: Slappy Schumacher was probably in a bad mood.  He had been the fastest qualifier for the race, but was punted down to sixth due to a penalty earned at the Grand Prix of Spain.  He is also something of a Monaco specialist, having won here five times.  When the lights went out, he had a great start and went to the left of the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean.  Over on the other side of Grosjean, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa drifted towards the right side of the Lotus, trying to slip onto the racing line for Sainte Devote.  Lettuce, knowing that while one can't win the Grand Prix of Monaco on the first lap, you sure as heck can lose it, moved to the left, towards Slappy.  It didn't go well.

Grosjean, his rear suspension gone, staggered to the right, stretching across the circuit at the narrowest point on the front straightaway.  Slappy got away clean, though he would retire with a fuel problem 65 laps later.  With Lettuce blocking the circuit and the thundering herd bearing down on him, something bad was sure to occur.
Half the field dove inside the curbing to avoid the spinning Lotus.  The other half squeezed as far outside as possible.  And then, there was Gandalf Kobayashi.  Trapped in a place where he could do neither, he wound up going over the rear tire of Lettuce.  While his Sauber seemed to survive the landing, he wound up pitting twice by Lap 6 and retiring the car.

*SAFETY CAR:  Amongst the many things that makes Monaco unique on the F1 calendar, one of the less-obvious is the incredible skill of the track workers.  Made up out of the elite of the pool of European race track workers, they can make a wreck disappear nearly before the carbon fiber shards stop moving.  As the HRTs swept past the broken Lotus, the track workers swarmed over the car... and discovered they had a problem.  The nearest crane had been pre-positioned a little farther down the track and would take a minute or two to get to them.  To exacerbate the problem, the Lotus was stuck in gear, and no amount of pushing of the "emergency neutral" button would allow them to shove the car around.  As the track workers ganged up on the ruined car and began to shove it off the racing line by brute force, the thundering herd rocketed around the shortest track on the F1 calendar.  Almost before anybody realized what was happening, the first lap was over and the Red Bull of Mark Webber, followed by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, was barreling down towards Sainte Devote... and there were track workers just inside the curb.  A Safety Car had to be called out, and a near-disaster was only averted by the thinnest of margins.   

*DEEP BREATH:  Once the Safety Car went away and everything started over again, the race settled down.  Oh, there was some drama early as rain was expected, but never materialized.  When everybody made their first pitstops by around Lap 25 or thereabouts, the lead devolved to Seb Vettel, who didn't stop on the hard tires, and kept increasing his lead.  At the end of the first stops, he had a 12 second lead.  It got all the way up to 17 seconds as Lap 40 approached... and the "pit delta," or the time it took to enter the pits, get serviced, and leave the pits, was 20 seconds.  And then Red Bull's strategy became clear as rainclouds began to move back over the circuit.  But would any rain actually fall, and would it fall before Vettel burned the tires off his car?  If it did and everybody needed to pit for Inters, he would win the race.  If it didn't, he'd drop back into the pack, but Mark Webber, sitting in second, would win.  Eventually, the tires could take no more and Vettel was forced to pit on Lap 46.

*IN THE END:  It never did rain.  While things got tighter and tighter as the tires on the cars wore at different rates, Webber stayed in front ahead of Rosberg, HWMNBN and Vettel... though it did look impressively close at the end.

The Aussie became our sixth winner in six races.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Mark Webber.  He did everything right today, up to and including perhaps slowing the field down a touch so Vettel could extend his lead in case it rained.  Fortunately for him, it didn't rain, he won the race fair and square, and did so impressively.  Good job!

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  This one was theirs no matter how the weather played out, it was just a question of which driver would get the winner's trophy.  Brilliant strategy, and with a little bit of luck (a problem on a pit stop by Ferrari or Mercedes), they could have had both drivers on the (non-existent) Monaco podium.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 35, we had a tidy little race going between the Sauber of Sergio Perez, the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, and the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.  All three were tucked behind the car in front, looking for any opportunity to try a pass on the tight streets of Monaco.  As the three went into the desperately slow Rascasse, Kimi got his nose under Perez.

It wasn't so much that he was trying a pass, as he was maybe angling for a slight advantage somewhere down the line.  Except there was a little problem... that the Sauber was actually heading for the pit lane.  Instead of accelerating out of Rascasse like most drivers would, he just sort of ambled towards the entry.  This forced Raikkonen to jump on the brakes and scramble to the outside to avoid the Sauber that had suddenly come to a virtual halt in front of him.

As the Sauber slid into the pit lane and the Lotus floundered around, Nico Hulkenberg undoubtedly could not believe his good fortune.  He just drove around the outside of the World Driver's Champion, opportunistically picking up two places at once.  It wasn't a masterpiece of technical driving, to be sure, but it was my favorite move of the race... even if the Sauber later got a penalty for "late entry" into the pit lane.

*MOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  When your car isn't performing the way it really should be, a driver may be tempted to feel frustration and annoyance.  When the driver is a former World Driving Champion and is a member of the McLaren F1 team running in the most important race on the calendar, they have good reason to feel that way.  When Jenson Button found himself racing with the Caterham of Heikki Kovaleinninninnie for 13th place, having been stuck behind him for a dozen laps or more, his frustration was palpable.  And then he tried to pass him in the Chicane...

...which was a dumb thing to try, particularly when you screw it up so badly that you wind up 1) spinning and 2) being unable to continue with seven laps to go.  Good jorb, Jenson!  Here's your Moooooo!



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May 26, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep08

It was only an episode ago that The Fellowship came to the conclusion that they had to be ruthless to survive, and heaven help those who weren't them.  Immediately after deciding that, they galloped off on their trusty steed Humvee-kun and rescued a young girl from the clutches of a front yard full o' zombies.  So much for ruthlessness.  To be fair, however, if they hadn't've (am I the only person who uses that double contraction?) saved Alice, there's no question but that I'd've (again!) sent HSotD packing, with nary a sou to its name and good riddance.  So now they've got a child and a Yappydog with them.  Great, just great, that'll really help their survival chances.  So what wonders does High School of the Dead bring us with this new episode?  Shall they rescue two koalas, a ferret and an angry llama from the local zoo?  And just what in the world is the Japanese Ministry of Environment Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division doing to stop the zombie plague?  It seems like this would be right up their alley.

In my years of watching this anime stuff, I've discovered that any time you see the White House or Air Force One in an episode, nothing good is going to come of it.  Mark my words, readers, and mark them well: this is to be no ordinary jumbo jet.  It is to be a 747 OF DOOMDOOMY DOOM!

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Skippy Henderson.  President Henderson has a problem.  Y'see, his wife and half of the Presidential aides became zombies on AF1, shortly after takeoff.  His SecState was bitten, and is in the process of turning as we speak.  Worse still, the entire press corps entourage turned as well... though to be honest, it seems to be an improvement in their case.  Somewhere along the way, President Skippy got himself bitten on the hand and he's not feeling all that perky.  SecState, doing his level best to advise his Skippy-In-Chief before he becomes a member of the Shambling Horde himself, says that the US should officially announce National State of Emergency Tactical Regulation 666D.  Which, I assume, calls for kittens and balloons to be handed out to all citizens, with instructions on how to play with them for maximum calming effect.  Or the firing of ICBMs at countries aiming at the US, one of the two. 

President Skippy can't decide, and while SecState goes all grnfgrrrngrfzombiebrainnnns, we get a look at the current situation map.  Europe is Zombie Heaven.  Brazil is gone, much of Africa too.  Japan and China are going down.  A look at the insert map shows some interesting things going on in the US.  There's a huge outbreak in NYC and Washington DC, not that anybody could really tell.  Chicago, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have anything much, while St Louis has gone all zombo.  Must be all the Cardinals fans mixing up the sensors.  I'm amused, however, by the small outbreak in Minneapolis.  "Yah hey dere, lingonberry goes great with braaaaaaaains dontchaknow?"

Minnesota zombies.  I'm scared to death, you betcha.


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F1 Quals: Monaco 2012

NoNo no no no noNo no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:15.873 1:15.062 1:14.301
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:16.013 1:15.035 1:14.381
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:15.900 1:15.022 1:14.448
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.063 1:15.166 1:14.583
5 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:15.718 1:15.219 1:14.639
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:16.153 1:15.128 1:14.948
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:15.983 1:14.911 1:15.049
8 Mumbles Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:15.889 1:15.322 1:15.199
9 Pratiprasthātr Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:16.017 1:15.026 1:15.245
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:15.757 1:15.234 No time
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:15.418 1:15.421
12 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.648 1:15.508
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.399 1:15.536
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:15.923 1:15.709
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:16.062 1:15.718
16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:16.360 1:15.878
17 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:16.491 1:16.885
18 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:16.538

19 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:17.404

20 Tim O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:17.947

21 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:18.096

22 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:18.476

23 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:19.310

24 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time

Q1 107% Time

Good news!  Slappy isn't on poleYes!  YES!  If you'll remember, he was penalized five grid spots for his Moooooo-ooove of the Race at Spain, when he drove into the back of Bruno Senna's Williams.  For once, justice is served to Slappy, and it is served in heaping teaspoons of bile and spite... and it is AWSUM!  Meanwhile, the winner at Spain, Pratiprasthātr Maldonado, went insane during P3 and drove across the nose of Sergio Perez, much the same way he did to Lewis Hamilton last year.  However, these extracurricular activities on Maldonado's part may have led directly to Perez wrecking in Q1 when it looked like his steering failed in the Swimming Pool.  Maldonado was peanlized 10 grid spots.

The upshot of all this is that we've got a fine shot of having our sixth winner in six races on Sunday, as Mark Webber is promoted to pole, Lewis Hamilton to 3rd and Lettuce Grosjean to 4th.  It'd take Lettuce winning to give us our sixth team winning as well, which I'm gonna guess is unprecedented in F1 history.  How cool would that be?

Considering how this year has gone so far, I wouldn't bet against it happening.  See ya tomorrow!

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May 25, 2012

Good Memories, Those...

Remember when I used to blog about things other than F1?  Good times, good times.

Maybe soon.

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May 24, 2012

F1 Practice: Monaco 2012

Well, in the televised Practice 2, it rained.  It rained just enough to be too wet for slick tires, but not enough for the intermediate rain tires.  In racing parlance, the circuit was "greasy," except greasy at Monaco is a different cup of meat from anywhere else.  As the Legendary Announce Team pointed out, at its heart the Principality of Monaco is still a functional fishing village.  Okay, yes, it's the richest fishing village in the world, but the harbor isn't always filled with yachts.  And working harbors need trucks, and buses, and street cars, and Vespas, and they all drip and spit and hork oil and radiator fluid and transmission fluid and the stuff that goes in the windshield wiper tank, and all of this cocktail of maliciousness winds up being leeched out of the asphalt when it rains.  And F1 tires don't like it much.

Which explains why seemingly half the field ended up sliding into the runoff area at Mirabeau in the course of ten minutes towards the end of the session.  The bad news is that it isn't supposed to rain on race day.  The good news is that Quals could be wet, and that's almost as good.  Could we see Heikki Kovaleinninninnie on pole?

Only if he doesn't blow another engine.  He managed to bring P1 to an end nine minutes early when his lump went kablammo! and he killed every mosquito in the Tunnel.  Unfortunately, the smoke just sort of lingered in the enclosed space.  Combined with the oil he spilled, that was enough for the track marshals to throw the red flag and end the session early.

So to recap: the teams are going into a Quals session on the most difficult circuit on the calendar having gotten roughly nothing as far as data collection goes from the Practice session that's used for setting up the car, while knowing that there's probably going to be a 180° swing in weather conditions just to make things interesting.

I suspect that at times like these, the mantra up and down the pit lane is "if it was easy, everybody could do it."  Should make for fun watching, that's for sure... but we'll have to wait until Saturday.  See ya then!

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May 21, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: Monaco 2012

Monaco.  The world's second-smallest sovereign country at 0.79 square miles.  Home of the world's highest life expectancy: 90 years.  The lowest unemployment rate in the world: 0.00%.  The average GDP per capita is $172,676, unsurprisingly the highest in the world.  Also unsurprisingly, real estate prices are out of this world in Monaco: just over $56,000 per square meter.  Despite being smaller than the entire campus of Duck U., its banks hold just over €100 billion in funds.

Sounds like a great place to have a little car race.  Here's the track map for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco:

There is no more famous F1 race than Monaco, nor one more prestigious.  Indeed, it is undoubtedly on the short list for the title of "Greatest Car Race," with the other two entries in racing's unofficial "triple crown," the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans.  Though the track is, without a doubt, the most dangerous and perhaps worst on the F1 calendar in terms of actual racing, it still appears on the calendar every year... because everybody involved loves it.

This is F1's only original-style street circuit.  To be sure, the track at Valencia meanders its way through that city's harbor area, but over extra-wide tarmac designed to be raced upon.  Singapore runs hither and yon through that city-state's Marina Bay district, but is wide and airy in comparison to Monaco.  Here, the streets are narrow, lined with Armco and covered with oil from leaky trucks and buses.  You might be able to get three cars side-by-side, not that anybody would be stupid enough to actually try that.  Two cars is the functional limit, and only with a steely glare, clenched teeth, a firm jaw, and dozens of brooms standing by to clean up the carbon fiber shards.  It's a circuit where a mistake, no matter how small, usually ends up with a car in the wall.

Right, Tabac.  Left, the run to Beau Rivage.
It is also the F1 circuit that allows for the most glorious visuals on the calendar.  Nowhere else can a fan get so close to the track than Monaco... if you have the cash, the cafe at Anthony Noghes is the most exclusive seat in the world, unless you prefer to moor your yacht in the harbor (and you're lucky enough to win a Zone 1 slot for the weekend)? 

It's the slowest circuit on the calendar, with two turns forcing the cars to go as slow as 45 miles/hour or less.  The fastest point on the track would be through the famous tunnel section, where the cars will get up to 160-170mph before heading quickly downhill into the simply-named Chicane.  It was here that saw Nico Rosberg narrowly avoid a tremendous accident last year, and Sergio Perez pointedly not avoid one.  As a result of those mishaps, there have been some changes made to the circuit in that area.  The hideous bump at the exit of the tunnel that's been the cause of so many wrecks in the past few years has been removed (allegedly), and the TecPro barrier that Perez hit has been moved back about 30 yards.  The rest of the circuit remains unchanged.

As is usual, the bon hommes of SPEED's Mythique Annoncent Equipe will be bringing us the usual superior coverage of every session.  Here's the schedule:

P1: 3a - 430a streaming
P2: 7a - 840a live
P3: 4a - 5a streaming
Quals: 7a - 830a live-ish
Grand Prix of Monaco: 630a - 9a live.

Yes, Thursday.  As is tradition at Monaco, Practices are on Thursday, Friday is a "quiet" day, certainly to let the residents of the Principality come home (or head for the hills).

F1Update! should be here all weekend, so stay tuned!

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May 20, 2012


A couple of days ago, Kerry Wood announced his retirement from Baseball.  He spent most of his 14-year career with the Chicago Cubs, and is the perfect example of potential derailed.  He was 20 years old in 1998 when he got the call to The Show.  He threw a 100mph fastball, a slider that looked like it was remote controlled, and a curve that didn't so much fall off a table as fall off the top of a very tall building, the sky seemed to be the limit for "Kid K."  Tommy John surgery took the 1999 season, but he came back from that to be just as dominant as before.

Except he wasn't really dominant.  He just couldn't stay healthy, going on the Disabled List 14 times in 13 years (not counting his lost 1999), and his career record reflects that: 86-75.  His best single season was 2003, when he went 14-11, 266 strikeouts, a 3.20 ERA, and was named to the NL All-Star team, leading the team to the NL Championship series.

When he was on, there was nobody better, but as injuries continued to mount (a torn rotator cuff being the worst, but with elbow difficulties and a knee hurt getting out of a jacuzzi thrown into the mix), he was moved into the bullpen.  In 2008, he signed with the Cleveland Indians, being traded to the Yankees in 2010.  Joining the Bronx Bombers for their pennant run on the last day of July, he showed that he still had a bit left in the tank, going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 appearances as the setup man for the Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera.

He resigned with the Cubs for 2011, then for 2012, but after one last stint on the DL, he came in this past Friday for his last appearance, getting a strikeout to the only batter he faced.  It was 1582nd strikeout in 1370.6 innings, which puts him 2nd all-time in strikeouts per 9 innings (10.317), behind only Randy Johnson (10.609).  He was also the 1998 Rookie of the Year and holds the Major League record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game, with 20.  Below is a video of every K from that particular game, May 6, 1998:

Before you think "Oh, it was just the Houston Astros, big deal," be aware that Houston went 102-60 and won the NL Central by 12.5 games.  This was the season of the "Killer 'B's" (Mike Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Derek Bell), plus Moises Alou to boot.  In short, this was a heckuva lineup that he took on... heck, Bell was leading the NL in batting average when he became the 20th strikeout.  And he made them look silly.  Look at that final pitch.

I was running a RadioShanty when this game took place, and was fortunate enough to have a satellite dish on the roof of the store... that picked up WGN.  Every TV in the place had the game on, and as the innings ticked off, I got less and less work done.  By the time of the 9th inning, there were seven other people watching the game with me: a few customers, a few employees of other stores. 

This game is widely considered the best pitching performance ever.  Yes, better than any perfect game, better than any no-hitter.  The one hit he did give up was an infield single that could have easily been called an error.  He also hit a batter, but Craig Biggio was hit by 285 pitches in his career (2nd all-time).  If he hadn't've given up a hit already, there's no way he would have been pitching that far inside on him.  No walks, 20Ks, zero runs.  If it isn't the best start of all time, it's far and away the best I've ever seen.

It was also his fifth career start.

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May 18, 2012

Not Really Missing It...

...but I guess I'll be coming back.

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May 15, 2012


I'm weary of all of it.  I'll be back later.

(this post is in lieu of what I really want to say)

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May 13, 2012

F1 Update!: Spain 2012

Though there had been a threat of rain, the weather at Barcalounger was perfect, as is usual.  In the 21 year history of this track, the winner of a non-rain F1 race has been the pole-itter every time save one... and that one rogue win came from 2nd on the grid.  So when Williams' Primate Maldonado led the field to the grid, he had to be feeling pretty confident.  Was that confidence misplaced, or would it prove to be well-founded?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2012 Grand Prix of Spain!

*LIGHTS OUT:  The run from the starting line to the first turn at the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the longest in F1.  There's always something of a mad sprint to the first corner at the start of any F1 race, but in Spain it's even more frantic than usual.  Maldonado decided that he really wanted to cut Ferrari's HWMNBN, #2 on the grid, off at the pass, such as it was, so right off the bat he began to drift over to driver's right.  The Ferrari driver was having none of it and drove straight ahead, letting the Williams take the (slightly) longer route to the first turn.  When they reached the right-hander, HWMNBN had the inside line, a miniscule lead, and position: in short, he had taken the lead.  A lead he would not relinquish during the first stint.  Indeed, it looked like a Ferrari runaway was in store as the Spaniard, buoyed by the screams of his home fans, pulled away to a two second lead and more.

*THEN:  The first round of pitstops came early, beginning on Lap 8 as the soft tires, used in Quals the previous day, began to go off very quickly.  HWMNBN came in on Lap 11 for hard tires, as did Maldonado the following lap.  On Lap 13, however, something with impossible-to-forsee consequences occurred when Mercedes' Slappy Schumacher, looking to get past Maldonado's teammate at Williams, Bruno Senna, instead drove directly into the rear of the car.

Both cars then went directly into the kittylitter and were out of the race.  While the immense amount of debris on track seemed to beg for a safety car to be deployed, nothing of the sort happened.  Schumacher's radio call of "...what an idiot!" indicated who he thought caused the incident, but Slappy was the one penalized five grid places for the next race.

*FURTHERMORE: On Lap 24, Maldonado, unable to close with the Ferrari, dove into the pits for a new set of hard tires and emerged in third, behind HWMNBN and the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonnen.  With a relatively clear track ahead of him, he rips off two fast laps in a row.  At the same time, HWMNBN was struggling to get through traffic before he pitted from the lead on Lap 26.

After a clean stop by Ferrari, as HWMNBN was making his way back to the racing surface, he was passed by Primate Maldonado for second place... effectively, the lead, as Raikkonnen still needed to pit, which he did on Lap 28.

*CONTINUING:  And that's how it stayed until late in the race: Maldonado in the lead, HWMNBN as many as seven seconds behind.  Then the Ferrari began to slowly claw back some time on the Williams, cutting the lead down to just under two seconds with four laps to go.  However, Raikkonen was on the charge as well, taking over a second a lap off of HWMNBN at the same time.  It quickly became apparent that the two-time World Champion, in his attempt to track down the Williams driver, had burned his tires off the car.  Gone were hopes of winning the race; all that was left was holding onto second position.  On the penultimate lap, the Lotus driver hacked two full seconds off of the gap to 2nd place and looked ready to do the same on Lap 66.  In the end, HWMNBN managed to keep Mumbles seven-tenths of a second behind.  But four seconds ahead of the two, Primate Maldonado had become the fifth winner in five races this season, the first Venezuelan to ever win a F1 race, and had led Williams F1 to victory for the first time since 2004... all of which occurred the day after Sir Frank Williams, team owner, turned 70.

:  As is usual in F1, a team victory photo was taken, made extra-special by it being a first victory for the driver and the first win by the team after such a long time of mediocrity or worse.

As Sir Frank Williams addressed the team, thanking them for their efforts, there was an orange flash of light from the team pit box. 

Immediately, thick black smoke began to pour out of the garage as flames billowed up.  Mechanics hurriedly dove for fire extinguishers while non-essential personnel  cleared the area.  Emergency fire hoses were brought into play from both sides of the garage area.

Mechanics from the entire pitlane were involved in assisting with the fire fighting efforts.  Some 31 people were treated by the circuit medical staff, with seven people from three teams being sent to local hospitals for their injuries.  The worst we here at F1U! have heard of so far is a broken wrist (as twittered by Heikki Kovaleinninninnie) suffered by a Caterham mechanic. 

The chassis of Bruno Senna's car, brought in after being run over by Slappy Schumacher, was in the garage and looked... well, pretty good, actually.  The garage itself, on the other hand, is going to be something of a total writeoff, most likely, mostly from water damage.  One shudders to think how a relatively small team like WilliamsF1 will be able to replace it all, though there are reports of the other teams already being willing to donate equipment.  Initial reports suggested a KERS-induced fire, though this was later changed to a fuel blaze.  We'll keep you updated as more comes out.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Pastor Maldonado.  Like there was any doubt?  He didn't panic after being passed at the beginning, kept his tires fresher than HWMNBN, never put a wheel wrong... well-deserved.  One might ask whether he would have won if Hamilton had been on pole, but that didn't happen. 

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Williams, despite the fire. 

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Maldonado passing HWMNBN, Lap 26/27.  (see above)
*MOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE: Slappy Schumacher running into Bruno Senna. (see above)



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Mother's Day 2012

Call your mom today.  Hug her if you can.  Tell her you love her.

Because some of us aren't able to anymore.

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May 12, 2012

F1 Quals: Spain 2012

Well, that was unexpected... which, considering how this season is going, I probably should have expected.  Let's get the mental conundrums behind us and take a look at the provisional grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Spain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
DSQ Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.583 1:22.465 1:21.707
2 Primate Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.380 1:22.105 1:22.285
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:23.276 1:22.862 1:22.302
4 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.248 1:22.667 1:22.424
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:23.406 1:22.856 1:22.487
6 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.261 1:22.773 1:22.533
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.370 1:22.882 1:23.005
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.850 1:22.884 no time
9 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.757 1:22.904 no time
10 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.897 no time
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.510 1:22.944
12 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.592 1:22.977
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:23.852 1:23.125
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:23.720 1:23.177
15 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:24.362 1:23.265
16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:23.906 1:23.442
17 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:23.886 1:23.444
18 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:24.981

19 The Red Menace
Caterham-Renault 1:25.277

20 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Caterham-Renault 1:25.507

21 Charles ToothPic Marussia-Cosworth 1:26.582

22 Tim O'Glockenspiel Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.032

23 Pete Rose
HRT-Cosworth 1:27.555

24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:31.122

107% Time


We'll cover the most obvious bit first: Lewis Hamilton, who earned pole by nearly a half-second over the surprising Williams of Primate Maldonado, has a big black "DSQ" by his name.  That stands for "Disqualified," which is what he was from the Qualifying session.  After he made his final pole run, the McLaren engineering mavens told him to pull over on-track.  Y'see, there is a rule saying that a car must have a liter of fuel presented for scrutineering after Quals, and it appears that the team maybe didn't put enough gas into the MP4-27 to get him all the way around and be able to provide that liter.  However, there's another rule in Quals: a car must be able to return to the pits under its own power, except in cases of force majure.  In FIA-speak, that means if the car breaks down on the way back to the pits, it's not in violation of the rules, essentially.

McLaren immediately said to the stewards that running out of fuel was a case of force majure.  The stewards, quite rightly, laughed in their faces, stating that the amount of gas in the tank was entirely up to McLaren, and if they didn't have enough to get him around that was their problem.  They then said that he was out of Quals.  He'll still be allowed to participate in the race though, as long as he starts 24th.

So this gives Primate Maldonado his first ever pole, and Williams their first pole since the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix.  This result, however, was no surprise.  He was obviously quick all day, it was just a question if it would be fast enough to beat Hamilton.  As it turned out, it wasn't, but in a way it was.

The other surprise in Quals was that both Mark Webber and Jenson Button went out in Q2, caught in the pits with safe lap times... safe until a large cloud moved over the circuit and lowered the temperature of the asphalt around about 1°C, or just enough to make the soft tires come alive.  Heck, Seb Vettel went from 2nd to 8th in Q2 in the space of a commercial break as the track just got faster and faster.  He got away with it, Webber and Button didn't. 

We're still awaiting word as to whether or not Kittylitter will be allowed to race; when he DID get to run in practice, he was setting times well within the 107% rule.  In Quals, he had all sorts of technical issues that really prevented him from showing a representative time.  We'll see, but my guess is that he'll get to run.

Race in the morning, F1U! sometime thereafter!

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May 11, 2012

F1 Practice: Spain 2012

Lots of little things today from the world of F1, now centered wholly in Barcalounger, Spain, so let's get right to the news bits so I can crawl into bed and pass out before Duck U's graduation on Saturday.

First up, since this is the first time F1 has been in Europe this year, we've seen a proliferation of new parts appearing on the cars all up and down the pit lane.  The biggest and most obvious change has to be McLaren.  As you may remember, this is what the MP4-27 looked like at the pre-season rollout:

Well, here's what it looks like now:

No optical illusion here; the nose is substantially higher than it was.  Of course, McLaren is trumpeting this as if it's the second coming of active suspension and ground effects.  Well, actually, they aren't, but they do think that the simple act of putting the nose u[ a few inches will account for roughly 20% of their downforce improvement.  Now, they didn't mention just how much improvement there was, but Jenson Button was fastest in P2 today.  Then again, how big a shock is that?

What was a surprise was the man driving the Caterham in P1 today.

For the first time since American Scott Speed was unceremoniously booted from Toro Rosso on July 31st, 2007 (replaced by a young German named Seb Vettel), the Stars and Stripes are being represented in F1.  Alexander Rossi of Auburn California got his first taste of a F1 weekend when he sat in for Heikki Kovaleinninninnie in the morning session.  While he finished nearly a second behind The Red Menace, he wasn't out there for ultimate top speed.  These practice sessions are more and more replacing testing, so he was basically told to go out and run laps at such-and-such a pace... and that's what he did.  There's a school of thought that he'll be driving for Caterham next year... how cool would that be?

In "roll your eyes, big surprise" news from P2 today, Narain Kittylitter, out for most of P1 with an electrical fault, made it a grand total of three corners in his HRT before he suffered an electrical failure.  Good to see that HRT is doing their level best to be the level best they can be.

Quals tomorrow, report sometime in the afternoon, after I get home from selling last minute cap'n'gowns to panicky Duck U Grads-to-be!

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May 09, 2012

Random Anime Picture #70: Sloths in Anime #5

-Polar Bear Cafe, Ep03
A llama, an okapi a tapir, an otter and a sloth walk into a cafe...

As animals go, having a sloth appear in an anime seems to be a rather unlikely choice.  I'm not sure why I started noticing them (maybe because they're a rather unlikely choice?), but notice them I have.  Not gonna threaten the rubber ducks in anime category anytime soon, but...

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May 07, 2012

F1 on SPEED!: Spain 2012

It has been a while since Bahrain, hasn't it?  Still, the form of motorsport that we all love/like/tolerate/whichever is back with the opening race of the so-called European Leg of the calendar.  That's right, F1 is returning to Barcelona, Spain!  Let's take a look at the track map, shall we?

On the whole, I don't mind the Circuit de Catalunya.  In many ways, it's a very good track.  It's a mildly challenging circuit, but not so hard as to be difficult to drive.  It's fast, but not so fast as to ignore low-speed handling.  It's a relatively new track, being opened in 1991, but not so new as to have the taint of Hermann Tilke hanging over it.  It's not a particularly good circuit for passing, but it has its moments, and with KERS/DRS there's enough to entertain.  Yet there hasn't been a good dry race at Barcalounger in a decade, if not longer.  What's the problem?

The problem is twofold.  One, THERE IS NO PROBLEM.  It's a run-of-the-mill track, meaning in effect that it's dull as dishwater.  It's just... there.  I've never really heard a driver praise the circuit much, nor trash it.  In the world of the F1 Circus, decked out in a tent of thousands of colors, Barcalounger is a uniform beige.

The second problem is that it's such an average track, in such a generous climate as Spain, that every team loves to go to the test sessions there, and indeed, F1 has tested there every year the layout has been open.  The upshot to this is that there will never, ever, be a surprise here.  The teams know the placement of every bump in the circuit, every crack in the asphalt, they know the chemical makeup of the paint used on the curbs, hell, even what type of kittylitter is used in the run-off areas.  Because they know everything there is to know, there's nothing the track can do to affect the race itself.  That's good, in a way, as it leaves it up to the cars and drivers... but when the cars are so close in performance, and the drivers are the same way, it becomes a simple processional, guaranteed.  There IS a chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday, so there is that.

Whichever way it goes, los hombres buenos de la SPEED will be bringing us their usual excellent coverage, both online and on TV.  Here's the schedule:

P1: 3a - 430a streaming
P2: 7a - 840a live
P3: 4a - 5a streaming
Quals: 7a - 830a plausibly live
Grand Prix of Spain: 630a - 9a live

Of course, F1Update! will be all over it, just like Wonderduck is all over a duck chow enchilada with a side order of refried beans.  See ya then!

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