November 30, 2013

Now It All Makes Sense!

I've figured out what happened to Comet ISON!

I really didn't mean to do this.  Billy-Bob Kerman was doing an EVA... for SCIENCE!... and apparently the orbit of the Delta K's capsule dipped just a smidge too far into the atmosphere.

The Delta K... looks familiar, eh?
I swear, I was just as shocked as Billy-Bob when he slowly drifted away from the capsule.  It didn't take long for the inevitable to occur, while I sadly watched, realizing this meant the mission was a failure.  And that I'd have to hire a new kerbalnaut.

It became clear that this was a very shallow re-entry... indeed, I must have just barely brushed the actual atmosphere because Billy-Bob fell forever.  In fact, as soon as the flame went out, the wind vortexes appeared, and that's NEVER happened to me before, on any reentry.

On the plus side, however, I discovered what happened to Comet ISON... which is nice.  Comet Billy-Bob must've looked beautiful from ground level.

Gosh, I love KSP.

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Battle of Midway: AMA!

Over at Reddit, in the "warshipporn" subreddit, I'm doing an "Ask Me Anything" on the Battle of Midway.  Feel free to stop by and ask anything you've wondered about!

I haven't done anything MilHist related in a while, so c'mon over!

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November 29, 2013

Black Friday 2013

So I went out into the ravening hordes today.

I know, it's not the same "Black Friday", but any chance to get Steely Dan on here.
It's the first time I've left my apartment on the Day after Thanksgiving in... I dunno, nine years?  Hey, I've done my time in Hell already, why would I willingly walk into it again if I didn't have to?  As it is, I've done seven or eight Black Fridays in my retail career, including five in malls.  Nope, that's plenty, thanks.  But I went out to the grocery store today, and while the supermarket was fine, maybe even a little slower than normal on a Friday, the traffic on the roads was ridiculous!  I live in the vicinity of the big mall in the area, but not exactly right next door or anything.

The roads were clogged.  God help you if you were heading east (towards the mall), you were doomed.  After seeing that, any thought I might have had about doing anything more than grocery shopping was immediately garroted by ninjas.  Now that I've returned, put away my food, and had lunch, I do believe it's time for a nap.

Because I can.  Because I don't work on Black Friday anymore.  And don't think I'm not happy about that... too often it felt very much like this:

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November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013: Om Nom Nom!


There's only one word to describe my physical state right now: burp.  Anti-clockwise from below-left of the duck is... mashed potatoes made with sour cream and cream cheese, the most tender turkey I've ever eaten, broccoli with lingonberry on them, crescent rolls, stuffing, peas, and The Old Home Pond's Official Holiday Foodstuff, corn souffle.

Cranberry sauce, more mashed potatoes, more TOHPOHF and more turkey was the second helping, eventually followed by pie.

It was a good meal.  Yes indeed.  Even if The Old Home Pond's new kitten, nicknamed "demon kitty" by me from the one picture I had seen, didn't come out to play.  I was looking forward to that, alas!

I do hope you and yours, honored readers, had a good holiday and/or Thursday!

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Thanksgiving 2013


I'm tellin' ya, I'm so busy I don't even have a duck photo for Turkey Day yet.  Later this evening, probably.  Still, for all of you and yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Or, for my overseas readers, have a great Thursday!

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November 25, 2013

KSP AOK!

I'm a space geek.  This should come as no surprise to many of my readers.  So when Kerbal Space Program (aka KSP) proved to be ridiculously popular, I jumped into it with both feet.  It's challenging.

More often than not, this is the result of one of my launches.  Or something similar, at least.  Sometimes it's a staging error: it's generally quite bad to deploy your parachute during takeoff, for example.  Sometimes it's just a conceptual error: if one solid-fuel booster is good, eight must be eight times as good!  But sometimes... sometimes, it's something like neglecting to cross-brace things together.  Who knew that could matter?

"Wonderduck make big boom."
But every now and again, despite all odds and logic, things go right.  The pointy end stays pointed towards space, the big noisy end keeps pointing down, and the little green-guy-in-a-can doesn't panic too much.

Then you realize you're feeling a sense of triumph.  When was the last time a video game made you feel like that

It's a helluva game, KSP is.  I daresay it has The Right Stuff.

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November 24, 2013

F1 Update!: Brazil 2013

There were low grey skies hovering above Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos as the samba line known as the F1 Circus made its way to the starting grid, but the track surface was still dry.  It surely wouldn't stay that way, though.  THIS is your F1U! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil!

*RACE:  Once the lights went out and the Thundering Herd charged down to Turn 1, we had the amazing sight of someone other than 4Time Vettel leading the race.  Both Vettel and his teammate, Mark Webber, had less-than-optimal starts.  This opened the door for both Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's HWMNBN to make runs at the Driver's Champion.  Rosberg got past, HWMNBN did not, but gave Vettel something of a scare through the Senna S complex.  It didn't last long, and neither did Rosberg's lead.  He did officially lead the first lap though, so that's nice for him.  Shortly thereafter, Vettel's RB9 blew past him on the straight and it became a normal 2013 race again. 

*AND THEN:  On Lap 3, something distinctly abnormal occurred.

It's been long enough since the last comprehensive engine kablammo that we here at F1U! can't remember when it was.  In this case, the Renault RS27 of Lettuce Grosjean's Lotus let go, killing every mosquito in São Paolo.  Fortunately, he did not lay down an oil slick, nor did the immense amount of smoke released block vision for very long.  We here at F1U! remember when we'd see this scene every couple of races...

*OTHER THAN THAT?
: The rain didn't come.  Everybody was looking to the heavens, trying to figure out when they'd open up.  Every driver was told to protect his tires as much as possible, so to keep that first pitstop at bay until it rained.  The thinking, quite logically, was that those who couldn't keep the tires alive would be at a disadvantage if they stopped before the rains came, as they'd have to stop again for rain tires.  But the rains didn't come, and the looks of confusion up and down the pit lane were plain to see.  "Wait, it was supposed to rain... now what do we do?"  It got so bad that when the second round of stops occurred, it still hadn't rained and Red Bull completely peed theirs down their legs.  Vettel came in, the team took his tires off... but they didn't have new tires for him, they had Webber's out and waiting.  In the time it took them to run into the garage and grab them, Webber came in and was forced to "stack" behind his younger teammate.  Clearly the two were supposed to pit in the opposite order.  This cost Vettel about six-to-eight seconds of lead time, though it hardly mattered. 

*FINALLY:  Drops of rain began to appear on the on-board cameras with around 10 laps to go, but still the skies refused to drop The Great Equalizer upon the circuit.  The Legendary Announce Team tried to play it up as if the track had become "greasy," but the lack of fishtailing and drifting proved them wrong.  We don't doubt that the traction was somewhat less than perfect, but it wasn't that bad either.  Then, a few laps later, the inevitable occurred: 4Time Vettel swept across the finish line.  He led his retiring teammate by 10 seconds, followed by HWMNBN another nine seconds back.

*LOOKING AROUND:  Vettel won every race since the Summer Break, nine in a row.  This is the first time any driver ever has won nine races in a row in a single season.  He won 13 out of 19 races on the season (tying him with Slappy Schumacher for the most in a season), and 10 out of the last 11.  He scored more points alone (397) than the next closest team (Mercedes, 360).  He scored 83.58% of the maximum points possible  Only Mercedes and Red Bull scored pole positions all season. 

*AND THUS:  The 2013 season has come to an end, and with it the V8 engine era.  Next March will see the return of turbocharging, though perched on V6 engines.  Well, it'll be different, that's for sure.  F1U! may come back, too... only time will tell.  Thank you for reading, and we'll see you in 2014!

*OH, AND THIS:  The last two episodes of McLaren's Tooned:



So that's how they dealt with Hamilton!

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November 23, 2013

F1 Quals: Brazil 2013

Rain.  Rain is the great equalizer.  Rain mushes up the playing field, makes everything harder and slower.  Rain during Qualifying can put backmarkers on pole and champions into the wall.  Rain Is Good.

It rained during Quals today.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:25.381 1:26.420 1:26.479
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.556 1:26.626 1:27.102
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:26.656 1:26.590 1:27.539
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.689 1:26.963 1:27.572
5 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.342 1:26.698 1:27.677
6 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.453 1:26.161 1:27.737
7 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:27.209 1:27.078 1:28.052
8 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:27.124 1:27.363 1:28.081
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.817 1:27.049 1:28.109
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.071 1:27.441 1:29.582
11 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:26.266 1:27.456
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:26.275 1:27.798
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:26.790 1:27.954
14 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.741 1:28.269
15 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.398 1:28.308
16 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.874 1:28.586
17 Fiddledeedee Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:27.367

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.445

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:27.843

20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:28.320

21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.366

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:28.950


It rained, and it still doesn't matter.  In fact, it was only in the closing stages of Q3 that Rosberg cut the gap to Vettel to under a second.  Let me repeat that: Vettel was going to take pole by over a second.  In the rain.  Guess what it's going to do on raceday?  If you said "rain," you're right.  Hopefully not as much as we had today, when Q3 had to be delayed nearly 45 minutes, but rain. 

With the race on NBC, I wounder how they'd handle a major delay?  Guess we might just find out!  See ya at 10am Pond Time for the final Grand Prix of 2013.

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November 20, 2013

F1 on NBCSN: Brazil 2013

I hate the Brazilian Grand Prix (that's a lot of grands prix!).  I always have.  I've pretty much realized that it's irrational and left it at that.  Here's the track map of Interlagos, home of the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil:

There's no reason for my hate.  This isn't a bad circuit, actually.  Oh, I could do without the technical section in the middle, sure, but other than that it's pretty good.  Lots of elevation change... it's downhill from Turn 1 to the end of Turn 3, and then it's back uphill from Juncao to Turn 15.  Hell, this is the site of the most exciting moment in recent F1 history, the end of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Lewis Hamilton won his driver's championship... and Felipe Massa had it taken away.

But I don't care.  I dislike Interlagos intensely.  Always have, always well.  The hell of it is that I'm basically alone in my dislike... it's a popular track for drivers and fans alike.  Oh well.

Here's the broadcast schedule for this weekend, with the Legendary Announce Team!
FRIDAY
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a live
SATURDAY
Quals: 10a - 1130a live (on CNBC)
SUNDAY
2013 Grand Prix of Brazil: 2p - 430p

...and then this season will be over.

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November 19, 2013

F1 Update!: United States 2013

A remarkably warm day (for November, not for Texas in general) greeted the two longhorned Red Bulls (see what I did there?) as they led the rest of the thundering herd (get it?) to the starting line at the Circuit of the Americas.  Would head cowboy Tom Landry 4Time Vettel become the first driver in F1 history to win eight consecutive races in one season?  Or would rival drover Mark Webber say goodbye to America with a win?  Perhaps gardian Lettuce Grosjean would break through with his first victory?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 United States Grand Prix!

*WELL, NO:  For all intents and purposes, the race was over by the time Vettel climbed Phil Hill and made it through Turn 1.  In fact, not only had he locked up the win but Lettuce Grosjean, taking advantage of yet another Mark Webber Lousy Start®, slotted into second place... which he wouldn't relinquish either.  So, yeah, there's the race writeup, right there.

*BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
:  Over at Chizumatic, Steven finally watched his first F1 race.  He's absolutely right that DRS is, as he calls it, a hack.  Before it came around, we saw practically zero passing; now we see regular passing, but usually only in certain locations.  We here at F1U! like DRS about as much as we like Bubonic Plague, but it has done what the FIA wanted it to do.  Steven also talks about the pitstops, and how even a "slow" one looked fast to his eyes.  During the race, someone (Button?) had a four second long stop, and we were going "wow, slow" around the three second mark.  But then, Mark Webber had a 2.3 second stop that Red Bull is claiming was actually a sub-two.  Whatever, guys.

*STILL MORE:  The "official language" of F1 is supposed to be English.  All radio conversations are supposed to be in English, but Ferrari continues to speak to HWMNBN in Italian, particularly for sensitive messages.  For the most part, the Red Team has been playing it straight this year, but every now and again, you'll get things like this that remind us why we despise the Scuderia.

*NO REASON, JUST A COOL SHOT:

click for bigger version

*ENOUGH OF THAT:  Look, if you think you're disappointed with this writeup, imagine how we here at F1U! feel.  This is what we do, and we just don't have it in us to do anything more than this.  Maybe we'll do something better for our least favorite race, Brazil, this coming weekend.  It's the last one of the year, after all.  See you then.

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November 18, 2013

Mystery Ship XXV Demystified


Meet the USS Electrician.  Built in the first quarter of the 1900s at what is now called Naval Station Norfolk, she was a 3/4-scale model of a Pennsylvania-class battleship.  While made of wood, she was more-or-less fully outfitted as a training unit for NSN's electrician's school... the class of 1921 is seen above.  The guns weren't real though, probably much to the relief of Norfolk.

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November 17, 2013

F1U USGP Delayed

Due to the gobsmackingly hideous weather, I had to go into the Duck U Bookstore for a while this evening.  As a result, I'm in no mood to write about the race.  Steven has an entertaining little writeup HERE... I'll answer his questions/comments when I do the F1U.  Meanwhile, here's a picture of Adrian F'n Sutil's Lap 1 wreck to tide you over until then!

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F1 Austin: I'm Out Of A Job

Looks like I finally managed to get Steven to watch a F1 race.  He blogged about it.

I may as well hang up the F1U!s right now.

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About That US Grand Prix Thing...

I may have a problem watching it.  There's wave after wave of thunderstorms and squall lines coming through the area.  High wind warnings are posted until 4pm, pretty much all of Illinois is under a tornado watch, except for some parts that have tornado warnings.

It goes without saying that this sort of thing plays hob with satellite reception... and that storm marked "G4" is aimed right at Pond Central.  There's a Bears game at Soldier Field at noon, and they're preparing for the worst.  61000 people in an outdoor stadium when a bad storm rolls through?  Not pleasant.

So we'll see what I get to see... stay tuned, I guess, though if my satellite goes out, there's every chance in the world my internet'll go out, too.

UPDATE: Eep.

Squall line going over pretty much as we speak.  Zero satellite feed.

UPDATE: Satellite feed is back a half-hour from the race start.  Too damn bad the station is breaking in every five minutes with weather updates.  To be fair, things are nasty just south of Pond Central... there's been a tornado on the ground about 50 or so miles south of here, for example.  We seem to be clear up here, though.  I mean, it's going to rain, yeah, and thunderstorms, but the weather nabobs are saying that Duckford should be safe from the severe weather.

UPDATE @ 1236pm:  They just temporarily suspended the Bears game, and the fans are being evacuated into the recesses of Soldier Field.  I heard Gene Steratore, the head ref for the game, say "tornado warning" and "heavy lightning".  Great googly moogly.

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November 16, 2013

F1 Quals: United States!

It was a much nicer day than we had on Friday for practice.  Then, first practice was delayed, then shortened by a half-hour, because of fog.  It was thick enough to prevent the medical helicopter from flying.  Eventually the fog lifted, P1 started, then after about 15 minutes it was red flagged... because people noticed that the medical helicopter wasn't actually there yet.  Oops.

But that was yesterday.  Today, there were some clouds overhead, but the big thing was the wind.  The Legendary Announce Team said it was gusting up to 30mph, and it was playing hob with the cars all session.  It was bad enough that when the cars were going one direction, aero grip was boosted, but the other?  Shiv Hamilton was complaining that the front end of his Mercedes felt light and twitchy.  To be sure, the cloudy sky also meant that it was cool-ish and the track surface never warmed up... meaning the tires didn't have as much mechanical grip as they should, either.  So what does all this mean for the race tomorrow?  Well, here's the provisional grid for the 2013 United States Grand Prix:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.516 1:37.065 1:36.338
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.161 1:37.312 1:36.441
3 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:38.676 1:37.523 1:37.155
4 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.339 1:37.828 1:37.296
5 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.959 1:37.854 1:37.345
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.929 1:37.368 1:37.376
7 Ta-ta Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.367 1:38.040 1:37.452
8 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:38.375 1:38.078 1:37.715
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.821 1:37.439 1:37.836
10 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.082 1:38.031 1:38.034
11 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.882 1:38.131
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.894 1:38.139
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.588 1:38.217
14 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.743 1:38.364
15 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:39.094 1:38.592
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:38.880 1:38.696
17 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:39.250

18 How Droll Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:39.351

19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:40.491

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:40.528

21 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:40.596

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.401


Yeah, yeah, Vettel still gets the pole.  But Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Hamilton?  Valtteri Bottas as high on the grid as 3rd in Q3 until slipping down to 9th?  BOTH Saubers in Q3?  Massa 15th?  Rosberg in 14th?  Really?  Heikki Kovalainninninnie in 8th, despite not having driven the Lotus until yesterday?  What sort of weirdness IS this, anyway?  It's Austin Weird, of course, though I suspect the proprietor of that website frowns upon F1.

So we've got a... let's call it a "blended" grid, which should make for an exciting first couple of laps while the faster cars make their way up towards the front... or leave little pointy pieces of carbon fiber scattered all over the track, one of the two.

As far as penalties go, Button got a three grid-spot penalty for passing under the red flag on Friday, while ToothPic gets a five spot for a gearbox change, and thus will be starting from somewhere near the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.

So the race is on NBC at 1pm Pond Central time, but there'll be an one-hour pre-race thingy at noon, also on The Big Network.  You have no excuse to miss this one, and it should be worth watching... except for the whole "Vettel streaking off to another victory" thing.

See ya after!

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November 14, 2013

Name This Mystery Ship XXV

It's been a tough run for me of late, but here's a Mystery Ship for y'all.  Take your best shot!

Usual rules apply: no image searching, yadda yadda yadda.  The Mystery Ship Masters, CXT and FDM, can't guess until I say so.  Winner gets a post of their very own, barring pr0n, politics or religion.

Have at it!

UPDATE: Okay, CXT and FDM, you've been let off the leash!

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November 11, 2013

F1 on TV: 2013 United States Grand Prix

They say "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."  Well, home it may be, but "humble" isn't a word that applies to the Circuit of the Americas, home of the 2013 United States Grand Prix!  Let's take a look at the track map:

Ah yes... who can forget this beauty?  The run up Phil Hill to Turn 1, followed by a junior-sized version of Suzuka's "S-Curves", then a whole buncha fund stuff leading to a slightly smaller version of Turkey's Quad-8 (here, 16-17-and-18, aka "Faux-8").  Easily the best Tilke track ever, perhaps because he didn't actually design it.  Instead, TilkeCorp simply built the place... and we are all better for it.

Last year's first race was won by Shiv Hamilton, who tracked down and passed 4Time Vettel for the lead late in the race.  At the time, it added extra suspense to the final race of the year, as there was still a fight for the championship.  Not so much this year, and who knows how this year's race'll work out?  I certainly don't, but I wouldn't bet against Vettel.

One driver I won't bet on is Kimi Raikkonen.  He's going to miss the last two races as he recovers from back surgery.  Convenient, that.  I'm also not going to bet on Felipe Massa, just because.  However, good news for all of us, as Massa will be on the grid next year!  It was announced on Monday that he's signed with Williams for 2014, taking the seat of NoJokeHere Maldonado and his Venezuelan Government backing.

But that's all next year.  We still have this season to finish up... and I'm actually going to complain about NBCSN.  This is arguably the channel's biggest event, and what's happening?  Quals are being tape-delayed so English Premiere League soccer can be broadcast.  The hell?  Here's the broadcast schedule as I know it:

FRIDAY
12noon - 230pm: Practice 2
SATURDAY
530p - 7p: Quals
SUNDAY
12noon - 330pm: 2013 United States Grand Prix live (one hour pre-race) on NBC.

F1U! will be annoyed by this all weekend, but we'll be here!  See ya then.

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November 08, 2013

Spiraling

I've a problem.  It's making my life miserable.  It's practically killed my blog, as my sharper-eyed readers may have noticed.  I can't talk about it yet.  But it's ruining my so-called life, and I don't mean that in a livejournal-y hyperbole-y sort of way. 

Melancholic duck understands.
Forgive my blog the past little while.  Either it'll get better, or it'll go away altogether.  I hope for the former.

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November 05, 2013

Trying To Get This Story Out Of My Head

They used to call us "the PDI".  Poor Dumb Infantry.  Yeah.  That was before they wrapped us in a battlesuit, armed us with gauss rifles and micronukes, and watched us dominate the field of combat again.  Sure, that was close to 80 years ago now and tanks and other armored vehicles have taken the field back again, but the PDI is still a force to be reckoned with.

Which is why Mama Murphy's little boy is where he is right now, in a ferrocrete trench emplaced near the top of Hill 400 somewhere in the middle of a frozen Hell.  No, seriously, it's friggin' cold.  These battlesuits are great things, really... I'd have been dead a half-dozen times in the past week alone without mine... but I've had mine for six months, it's taken a helluva beating, and while Sparky over there tells me it's fine, the heater in this thing is on the fritz.

Now, I don't know why I'm here.  Hell, none of us know why our squad is perched on Hill 400, except that we were told to stay here and keep the bad guys from taking it.  We also don't know why the bad guys want it.  Herk over there says they want it because we've got it and they don't.  Herk's kind of a jerk.  Anyway, they do want it, awful bad it seems.  Down the slope of the hill, you can see just how bad... lot of scrap iron that used to be tanks sitting out there.  There's a whole battalion's worth of not-powered-infantry out there, too.  That makes me glad it's not summer... the snow means I can't see 'em, and the cold means I can't smell 'em, either.   Stupid, sending squishies against battlesuits... hope the idiot that came up with that idea is out there in the snow too.

This position is pretty sweet, considering that it seems to be Target #1 for the bad guys.  I mentioned the trenches already, right?  Six inches of... special... concrete, set into the side of a hill, so there's multiple feet of dirt and rock in front of it, too.  Pretty much proof against anything they've thrown at us so far.  When we get to go off duty, the... let's call 'em barracks, for lack of a better word that I can use in public... the barracks are even farther under ground, and it's warm, too.  The LT came by when we first moved in here, he said a nuke could go off over us and we'd be safe in there.

I don't want to find out.

LT moved on after saying that, haven't seen him since.  For that matter, haven't seen the rest of the company, either.  Still got plenty of ammo, though, so I guess we're still Ace Nifty.   We haven't come off scott-free, mind.  Brinks took a tank round to the chest; we're still finding bits of him around here, four days later.  The Newbie panicked and tried to win the war on his own.  Didn't work.  Hell, even Sarge got his armor opened up.  He's mostly unhurt, but he can't leave the barracks... too cold for an unprotected squishy up here.  Plenty he can still do, though his cooking leaves a lot to be desired.

All in all, if I have to be shot at, being a PDI in this defensive position is probably as good as I can hope for. 

Yeah, me and my big mouth, right?  No sooner did I write that than Sarge said that there's something big moving out there, out in the dark.  A few moments later, I could hear it, all squeaking metal and humming electric motors.  I poked my head up to look, and immediately wished I hadn't.  The built-in night vision viewers had kicked in automatically, so I got a really nice view of the something.  50 feet tall at the top of the tower.  About 120 feet long.  Guns.  Lots and lots of guns.  Herk said it first: "Ogre.  It's a bloody-bedamned Ogre!"

The fluid reclamation system in my armor got a workout just about then. 

Sarge was on the comms, trying to get permission to withdraw the squad, even while the rest of the group was getting on the firing line.  There wasn't enough ferrocrete in the world to put between us and it.  Jimmy was laughing like a crazy man... he couldn't believe that they were sending one of THOSE at us.  To be fair, it did seem like a bit of overkill to me, too.  And then it fired, and I realized we were doomed... it was a good two klicks outside of our longest-ranged weapons.  When those rounds hit, it was like a hand came down from the heavens and scooped out a chunk of the hill.  A big chunk.

The next rounds took out the top of the hill, three squaddies, and the barracks.  The rest of us scattered to the four winds... except for me.  Because I'm an idiot.  Because I never did like running very much.  But mostly because half of my left leg is gone, and that's a helluva limp to deal with.  The built-in medkit in the suit shot me up with joy juice and locked down the stump awfully quick.  Not gonna bleed out, in any case.  Yay for me.  I'm just gonna be run over by a giant self-aware unstoppable war machine.  Well, if I'm going down, I'm going to go down in style.

When the top of the damn thing's tower crested the edge of the trench, I was there, flipping it off.  It actually stopped moving, like it was either confused by what I was doing, or it was expecting me to do something else.  So I flipped it off with my other hand.

And the top of the tower, where a lot of an Ogre's sensors are located, exploded.  As did a lot of the rest of the thing.  I know now that it was a combination of bombs from a squadron of fighters, big shells from Divisional Arty, and the rest of the company finally showing up... but at the time, I just sort of stared at my fingers, wondering why I'd never managed to do that before.  The painkillers, y'know.

Anyway, it was the company Intel guy that took my picture.  You've seen it: one guy, flipping off the Ogre, better known than that Iwo Jima picture now.  Yep, that's me.  Luckiest bastard in the world.  Mama Murphy's idiot son.  The limp isn't too bad, all things being told.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:36 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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November 03, 2013

(Mini) F1 Update!: Abu Dhabi 2013

We just lost an hour's worth of work on the (Mini) F1 Update! that we'd been working on.  We are not pleased.  THIS is your F1U! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.

*UGH:  Did you think 4Time Vettel would ease up on the rest of the field now that he'd won the driver's championship?  Oh heavens, if only that were the case.  The lights went out, polesitter Mark Webber had one of his patented Lousy Start®s, and suddenly Vettel found himself in the lead out of Turn 1... a lead he would never relinquish.  Down at the other end of the field, Kimi Raikkonen, who had been excluded from Quals, decided that he could win the race in the first turn.  He tried to fit his Lotus underneath the Caterham of Giedo Van Der Garde, into a space that was going away even before he turned in.  This unwise move cost the Finn his front suspension.  However, he did get a jump on traffic back to the hotel.

There are already people baying and lowing about his leaving the circuit before the race was over, but c'mon, really?  What exactly could he do to help matters?  Give advice on how to handle the front straight?  How not to take Turn 1?  Support the team?  Considering the way this weekend has gone for the Raikkonen/Lotus relationship, I wouldn't be shocked to hear (in a few years) that he did it on purpose.

*ZZZZZZZZZ:  As the sun disappeared over the Yas Marina circuit, due to both planetary rotation and solar eclipse, 4Time Vettel made the sport ridiculous.

At one point, Red Bull's champion had a 43 second lead over his teammate in second place.  There was one stretch of time where he was two seconds a lap faster than anybody else on track.  We'd like to chalk it up to the rest of the field getting an early jump on 2014, but there's still too much to play for... no, 4Time just killed everything possible today.  It may have been the most dominating drive we here at F1U! have ever seen... and it was also ridiculously boring.

*OWTCH:  In the race's endgame, HWMNBN had just made his second pitstop and came charging out of the pit tunnel with a full head of steam.  Toro Rosso driver Jules Vergne had worn tires and held 7th place, but the Ferrari driver wanted the place badly.  Problem was, Vergne couldn't hold his racing line, drifting somewhat into the path of HWMNBN.  The Spaniard was forced to take to the off-track pavement.  His return was... exciting.

There had been complaints about the curbing at Yas Marina all weekend, and in almost the same place during Quals, Shiv Hamilton broke the rear suspension on his Mercedes.  HWMNBN's Ferrari got some good air and returned to earth with a 28G thump that set off the shock alarms that require a mandatory visit to the hospital.  Usually this happens immediately; that sort of force is usually caused by an accident, after all.  In this case, HWMNBN was complaining of some back pain but finished the race.

Afterwards, he was transported to the hospital strapped to a backboard, as seen in this picture released by his agent.  At no time was he unconscious... heck, he drove the rest of the race, finished in 5th and had the fast lap of the race.  Still, there is some question as to whether he'll be allowed to drive at the US Grand Prix.

*NOTE:  Vettel's win keeps open the possibility of tying two major F1 records.  This was his 11th race win in 2013... if he wins out, he'll tie Slappy Schumacher's 2004 season with 13 wins.  In doing so, he'd also tie Alberto Ascari's record for consecutive victories, nine.  Like it or not, we're watching something special here.

Next race is in two weeks, right here in the good ol' USA!  See you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:20 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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