February 28, 2013

I'm A Wimp

As you know, I spent last week in Chicago in a manager training meeting.  Forty of us, trapped in a room all day for five days... and two of the other managers were sick.  It's as much an occupational hazard for us as papercuts, ulcers and murder charges, but it's been a few years since I had a long-term ick.  Oh, I had that stomach flu / food poisoning thing a couple of Januarys back, but that only lasted a couple of days (thankfully).  Other than that?  I've been pretty good.

I came home from the meetings on Saturday.  That night, I had a little tickle in the back of my throat, but I figured that was because of the square of chipotle chili dark chocolate I had just eaten.  Sunday, the tickle became something more than a tickle, and I'm sure you can see where this is going.  By Tuesday night, I felt pretty darn bad, coughing, sneezing, headache, sore throat... but I just felt awful.  I went to work on Wednesday morning, but I immediately knew it was a mistake.  I gave up at 10am, and headed right to the doctor's office.  I was expecting a diagnosis of something like the Black Death, or Ebola, or porphyric hemophilia or something like that... I mean, I felt so miserable, it had to be something terrible.

I've got a cold.

I'm a wimp.

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February 26, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep06

Okay, right, here we are, only a week late.  Not so bad, really... at least I'm still keeping up with the show.  Sure, it's not the perfect situation, which would involve the writeup being completed using only the mental power of my massive, pulsating brain, but it's close.  Oh, and codfish.  There would be some nice beer-battered cod with a tasty tartar sauce involved in a perfect situtation, too.  On Friday, after the business trip was officially over but while I was still in Chicago, I had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with three managers who had their flights cancelled, and I can recommend their fish 'n' chips.  Which is not to be confused with fission chips, which tend to go bang when you dip them in tartar sauce.  They don't mention that in nuclear physics class.  Speaking of not mentioning things in Physics class...

...have these glasses from Gurren Lagann become an anime meme, or what?  After seeing the Red Headed Freak out the door as she heads to summer camp, lil' sister Momo and Gendo Plushyferret chat for a second about "beginning the operation," and out come the glasses.  What's really annoying is that I hated Gurren Lagann, yet it's hailed as a masterpiece of the mecha genre, if not anime as a whole.  I just don't get it.  Oh well, so it goes.

But that's a discussion for another day.  For now, there is Vividred Operation.  Which, I hasten to point out, is not considered a masterpiece of any genre.  Unless the genre is "butt shots of middleschoolers," in which case it's groundbreaking.  And deeply, deeply troubling.  You'll note, of course, that I'm still working on it, so maybe not so troubling as all that.

more...

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February 24, 2013

Live Action Anime Fight Scene Done Right

While we wait for me to complete the writeup for Vividred Operation Ep06 (PROTIP: business trips are not a good time to work on such things), I want to talk about a single scene from a movie that falls firmly into the "meh" category for me.  The movie in question came out in 2011, and was titled Sucker Punch.  On the whole, there's very little about the movie to like except for some of the visuals; much like the original Hellsing anime, it's great to look at but not so good to watch.  One scene, however, makes it clear that Director Zack Snyder has watched a lot of anime.

If anybody out there is thinking about doing a live-action fighting anime, Snyder has shown you how to do the fight scenes right.  Watch it in 720p; it's worth it.

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February 23, 2013

Disaster At Daytona

On the final lap of today's NASCAR Nationwide series race at the Daytona Superspeedway, there was a terrible wreck.  Kyle Larson, in the middle of the pack coming out of Turn 4 and heading for the tri-oval/start-finish line, got tipped sideways and as often happens at any superspeedway race, The Big One happened.  There were cars going every which way, but Larson went nose-first into the wall, snapped over, and got airborne.  HIGH.

The entire front of his car, back to the firewall, was torn off as he pinwheeled over the SAFER barrier and into the catch fence.  The catch fence did its job: it kept the #32 out of the stands.  Mostly.

You may notice the man with the orange hat.  Directly above him in that picture is the engine of the #32; the fire you might notice is from fluids draining from it.  Unfortunately, that's not the only thing that got through the fence, and what got through was worse than an engine.

At least one 120lb tire/wheel/brake rotor combinaton made it into the stands, working its way through the spectators until it came to a halt some 15-20 rows up.  Around thirty people are known to have been injured.  15 were taken to the track's medical facility for minor cuts and bruises and were released.  Conflicting reports say 14 to 16 were taken to two hospitals near the track.  At least one was reported to have a serious head injury and was in emergency surgery.  Having said that, NASCAR officials just had a press conference, and they said that everybody at the hospitals were in "stable" condition, so take that emergency surgery report with a grain of salt. 

Racers know that what they do is dangerous.  They understand that every time they climb into their car, be it NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, dragsters, LeMans or motorcycles, they could be injured or killed.  But no fan expects to see a tire flying at their face, and it's troubling every time a fan is hurt.

With luck, everybody injured will be okay.  Ironically, the drivers involved are all just fine.  As of right now, Sunday's Daytona 500 will go on as planned, with Danica Patrick on pole.

Let's hope.

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February 21, 2013

Too Old For This (Stuff)...

I'm amazed at how exhausting it is being lectured at for an entire day.  Wednesday night, I went to sleep at 1030pm for the first time in perhaps a decade, and then slept all the way to my alarm clock.  That NEVER happens.  Still, I'm learning some stuff and getting some great networking results, which is the important part of this event.  When the training comes to an end Friday afternoon, I'll mark it down as a success.

But I'll be doing it from my hotel room, as I'm not going home immediately afterwards.  See, as I sit here in my lovely hotel room, it has not quite yet begun snowing, but the weather channel is suggesting that it will any second.  Allegedly four-to-six inches of snow is tonight, with another inch tomorrow.  That's not great, but in Duckford it's doable.  However, I'm not in Duckford.  I'm in Chicago.  I hate Chicago traffic.  I hate Chicago traffic during Friday rush hour (which is when I was scheduled to leave).  And I'd REALLY hate Chicago traffic during Friday rush hour with snow on the ground.  So I'm staying here for another day, because it's not like I've had all that many days off in the past year anyway.  It's a mini-vacation!  I'm not the only one, either... about a quarter of the class has had their flights cancelled and stand a good chance of spending another day here too!

So I may just have some time tomorrow to seriously blog... maybe Ep06 of Vividred Operation?  We shall see... we shall see.

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February 19, 2013

F1 Pr0n: Williams FW35

And thus, the last shall be... um... last?  Williams F1, the legendary "final privateer", has had a bad run of it as of late.  This team, one of the truly great Formula 1 names, hadn't won a race since 2004, and really didn't even seem like they were even close.  In 2011, in fact, they were 9th in the Constructor's Championship with a paltry five points.  Ah, but last year they came up off the mat with a win by Holy Man Maldonado in Spain, leading some to hope that the team was on their way back.  Let's see what they can do with their new car, the FW35!

Well, nothing too out of the ordinary here at the nose view.  It's a high nose, the highest of them all in fact, but that's probably an effect of the modesty panel.  Williams claims that the FW35 is "80% new" from last year's car, to which I reply, "Sure.  Why not?"

Very low cut sidepods, designed to handle a new exhaust system... in fact, pretty much the same one Caterham is using.  Oh, and the one the FIA is probably going to rule illegal.  Whoopsie!  One clever thing the team will get away with is "blown wheel nuts."  Near as I can tell, air comes in via the brake ducts, flows through a hollow axle, and out holes flush with the wheel nuts.  This air fills in the vacuum around the center of the tire, which improves the aerodynamics.  Red Bull tried this same trick last year, but theirs was banned because it extended past the wheel nut.  Who knows?  I didn't hear about it!  I love the shape of the nose/front wing struts on this car; very almost art-deco-y.

All in all, it's a workmanlike car for a blue-collar team (if anything in F1 can be called "blue-collar").  Will it win?  That's the question.  The team is on the wrong foot by missing the first test session, but if that extra few weeks was needed badly enough for whatever reason, then it had to be done.  I for one hope Williams is on the ascendance again.  We shall see in just a few weeks!

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February 18, 2013

The Best Laid Plans Of Ducks And Maps...

...gang aft agley.  The drive into the location of the hotel was uneventful for the most part, except for me having to take an unscheduled stop back at Pond Central for reasons not worth going into at this time.  As a result, this set me back a good hour... which also meant that I'd be reaching my destination an hour later than planned... which meant I'd be coming into Chicago at 5pm.  Rush Hour.  Those of you who are familiar with Chicago's tollways and expressways at Rush Hour are quietly moaning to yourselves and nodding in sympathy.  For those who are unfamilar, let me give you an idea of what it can be like:

Yeah, kinda like that.  And remember, today was a holiday of sorts, too, so traffic was lighter than normal.  Doesn't matter.  I hate driving in Chicago.  Of course, the rain didn't help matters much.  Oh, did I not mention the rain?  Coming down in sheets it was, blown sideways by the wind that left flags stiff and snapping.  At least it wasn't snow.  No, that's coming Thursday and Friday.

Despite all that, the drive in wasn't all that bad, but I do have one bit of advice.  If by some chance you happen to be driving from Duckford to this particular hotel that I'm staying at, and you decide to use googlemaps to get directions here, and in the middle of those directions you see "take exit 10A towards Illinois 83S", don't do it.  That particular road has nothing to do with the ACTUAL directions on how to get to the hotel, and indeed just sends you a few miles out of your way as you try and find a place to turn around and get back to I-290E/I-53S, which is what you were ON before the instructions told you to get off it for whatever fevered reason the map program came up with.

Still.  I'm here, the DuckMobile performed magnificently, and tomorrow begins the New Manager Training Class, which is somewhat ironic considering that I've been a store manager for a year now.  More adventures later.

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February 17, 2013

Scheduling

Okay, here's how this is gonna go down.  Starting tomorrow afternoon, I'll be at the home office for the next week, much like I was back in October.  Different batch of training, though.  Same hotel, which is nice because it's a great hotel with fantastic free cookies.  If things go well, I should have no problem doing the writeup for Vividred Operation Ep06.  I'll be taking Nayuki with me, of course, so I'll have intarwebz access.  That's important, because Williams is rolling out their new car this week, so I can wrap up F1 Pr0n for the year.  But don't be overly surprised if everything slides and nothing gets done; this is a business trip, after all, and work will be performed each day.

I've sunk $360 into the DuckMobile in preparation for the trip: two new tires, front end alignment, oil change and a full tank of gas.  At least I can steer the car now.  Winter in Duckford is always an ugly affair when it comes to the streets... last Monday, I hit a pothole that fell into the category of "teethrattler" and suddenly the DuckMobile didn't like to go in a straight line much.  You let go of the wheel, and suddenly you've changed lanes.  That's all fixed, though, and we're all set to go!  As to when I'll be coming home, that's kinda up in the air.  The training is over Friday afternoon, but there's a snowstorm coming towards the end of the week... and gee, staying in a nice hotel for an extra night is such a hardship.

Right, I need to pack.

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February 16, 2013

A Thousand Words?

If you think about Formula 1 history, 1994 is pretty much considered the grimmest year ever.  That's because of that horrible weekend at Imola which saw the death of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, and the near-fatal wreck of then-rookie Rubens Barrichello.  What often goes uncommented upon in that year was the incredibly fortunate escape of the Benneton team at the Grand Prix of Germany.

1994 saw the reintroduction of refueling, banned since 1983 from the sport.  Even before the season began, teams were concerned about the pressurized fuel rigs to be used.  The rigs could fill an empty tank in just a matter of seconds, but everybody was concerned about the consequences of a spill or malfunction.  Through the first eight races, there had been no incidents, and perhaps the teams were feeling a little more comfortable now.  On lap 15 of the German Grand Prix, Benneton's Jos Verstappen brought his B194 in for a regular pit stop: tires and fuel.  Unbeknownst to the FIA, the team had tinkered with their refueling rig, removing a fuel filter and in the process upping the flow by an additional 10%.  Everything seemed to be going fine, until the man on the hose moved it around slightly.  The nozzle seemed to pop out of the fuel tank, spraying an estimated four liters of gasoline around the car in an instant.  It took no time at all for the inevitable to occur.

Just as quickly as it happened, it was over.  While a few of the mechanics went to the hospital, nobody was seriously injured; Verstappen, caught in the middle of the whole thing, suffered a burn to his nose when some fire got into his slightly-opened visor.  Steve Matchett, one of the voices of SPEED's Legendary Announce Team, was the rear jack man for Benneton at the time.  His burning firesuit was extinguished by members of the McLaren team, and he suffered no injuries.  The fire did give us one of the truly outstanding photographs, not just of F1 or motorsports, but perhaps of all photography.

1994 was a terrible year for Formula 1, but it could have been so much worse.

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February 15, 2013

The Moment Taki Inoue Became Famous

Taki Inoue was, to put it bluntly, not a good F1 driver.  In 1995, he drove for the hysterically bad Footwork team (note: they had a podium that year... in the Australian Grand Prix; only eight cars finished that race, all but the winner at least two laps down.  That's a podium that only just barely counts), but only because he had very very deep pockets behind him.  While that was enough to earn him a seat, it didn't mean that he could do anything with it.  He drove a F1 car like you or I would: badly.  Very badly.  In 17 races that year, he retired from 12 of them; his best finish was 8th at Monza, when only 10 cars finished.

In short, he was kinda embarrassing to the sport, but because he wasn't out-and-out dangerous to himself or others on the track, the FIA couldn't kick him out.  That should have been all, a blip in the ether, Inoue in, Inoue out, g'bye.  But two weird things happened to him.  First, during the first Qualifying session at Monaco, he was sitting in his dead car being towed back to the pits, when the safety car ran into him.  The Footwork was pushed into the barriers and flipped over.  Inoue had a concussion and a chunk taken out of his helmet, but he still raced the next day: a gearbox failure ended his Monaco GP.

While that's curious, the moment that Taki Inoue became famous came at the Hungarian Grand Prix.  On Lap 14, his engine when kablammo and the Japanese driver brought his car to the side of the track, where it sat, steaming and unhappy.  The track marshals were less than enthusiastic in their efforts to help him; after gesturing furiously, he ran to the armco and grabbed a fire extinguisher himself.  He turned around, took a couple of strides towards his car, and...

...he was run over by the medical car.  And thus, a legend was born.  Here's the video.

Today, Inoue is considered something of the Clown Prince of F1, via his twitter account.  He knows what he was, and has fully embraced it.  Good show, Mr Inoue!

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February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013


Happy loving couples make it look so easy,
happy loving couples always talk so kind.
Until the time that I can do my dancin' with a partner,
those happy couples ain't no friends of mine.

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February 12, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep05

For a second there, I thought about doing a Nutshelling for this episode, too, but I decided against it.  After all, it's the Dark Girl's introduction episode, maybe they'll tell us where to get that great scarf... and perhaps we'll learn her name, too?  Oh, wacky Wonderduck, wanting so much out of your anime.  Next you'll be asking for "plot" and "characterization", too.  Like that'll happen in Vividred Operation!  So, to quickly recap: Team Aquos has been finalized, they've defeated all the Alones that have been thrown against the Phlebotinum Engine, Akane's a redheaded freak of nature... or is she?  I am of the opinion that her superhuman skills are in fact because she's not entirely human, but part Alone.  No, I have nothing to base that on, other than her being stronger and faster than any normal person should be.  We'll find out eventually... or not.  Oh, and Gendo Plushyferret is the bad guy in all of this.  Ooh, plot twist!  Well, he is in my version of the show, and I think I've got a good track record of my alternate versions being much better than the originals, no?  But, speaking of this show right here, Ep05 has already begun!  Let's see what's going on in the City Island of Townsville Izu Oshima, shall we?

As is normal for a morning, the RHF is out delivering newspapers on her flying bicycle; as we catch up with her, she's riding along the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away, when suddenly... birds!

Well, bird.  Singular.  But there will be more, oh yes, many many more.  And early in the morning, they are very... very... hungry.  Somewhere offscreen, Alfred Hitchcock is rubbing his hands together eagerly. *ahem*  Excuse me.  Bird.  Flying near RHF.  Of course, this delights the RHF, who's probably more chipper about life than even Akari from ARIA.  But then, when you can convert to a magical girl with enough firepower to level very small countries, why shouldn't you be cheery?  And speaking of cheery...

Ohmygawd, it's Dark Girl... and she's smiling.  Yup, that seals it, she's my favorite character in this show, no matter what's going on.  She's currently being swarmed by seagulls, but that's nothing uncommon.  Anybody who's been to Seattle's waterfront and bought some french fries knows all about that.  Somewhere back at the Old Home Pond, there's a picture of me, standing outside Ivar's Acres of Clams Fish Bar ("Keep Clam!") with a french fry in my hand.  To my right, there's a gull swooping in to claim his nummy goodness from the side of the shot, while another gull is dive-bombing in from above and behind me.  And, having browsed Ivar's website, I've just discovered that you can order their clam chowder for home delivery... I think I might just have to do that, oh my heavens to betsy yes.  Many people claim that Boston clam chowder is the best, but I simply can not believe that, not after having Ivar's.  When I was out visiting friends in Seattle for a week, lo these many years ago when I had friends in Seattle, I literally had at least one bowl of Ivar's every single day... and felt bad that I couldn't have more.  When my departing flight was first delayed, then replaced after six hours on the ground (one of the friendly airline employees mentioned that an engine fell off the plane.  I assumed they were joking.), I was quite pleased... SeaTac had an Ivar's, after all!  Oh dear, I appear to have wandered off-topic once again. Let's get back to the story.  The RHF disturbs Dark Girl and her... I'm sorry, I can't not do this... her flock of seagulls, and...

...poof!  The flock of seagulls flies away, Dark Girl disappears from our view, leaving behind only one very confused RHF.  Oh, and an annoyed Wonderduck.  Really, if they wanted to rename this show Vivid Dark Girl Operations, I'd be fine with that.  If they had all the music done by '80s bands, I'd be really okay with that.  If some studio feels like doing this hypothetical series, I promise to do an episodic review.  If there's F1 cars and rubber ducks in it, I promise that the final episode's writeup would be the last thing ever posted here on The Pond.  Pinky swear.

Somewhere, a longtime reader of The Pond has just opened a kickstarter campaign to make that happen.  Hell, I'd kick in a fin or a sawbuck m'self, just because I could.  If you think about it, there's very little that would be cooler than to say "there was an anime made for the sole purpose of closing down my blog."  And by cooler, I mean "geekier".

more...

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February 11, 2013

This Is Simple!

So you wanna be a F1 driver, bunky?  You think you got the skills to take one of the 22 most technical cars in the world out onto the racetrack and go head-to-head with the likes of Seb Vettel, Mark Webber, HWMNBN, Shiv Hamilton and all the others?  Okay!  Here's your steering wheel.

...and here Hamilton thought he had gotten away from Button(s).
Hey, where you going?  I thought you wanted to be a F1 driver!  You've only got to be able to negotiate tracks like Spa, Austin, Montreal and Monaco at nearly 200mph, with other cars mere inches away, while being able to operate your steering wheel, often without looking.  Here's the kicker: this is Shiv Hamilton's wheel, after he asked Mercedes to simplify it for him.

Oh, and it cost somewhere around $50000 or so.  Enjoy!

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February 10, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep03 and Ep04, Nutshelled

Okay, so this project is succeeding about as well as Ben-To!, except now I'm falling behind on a currently-airing series.  Swell.  Ep05 aired a couple of days ago, and I still haven't done Ep03 yet... not the best plan for success ever, I'll admit.  Fortunately for me, if there were two episodes I could give short shrift to, it'd be these.  Simply put, for all intense porpoises, they're repeats of Ep02, just with new girls being added to Gendo Plushyferret's combat team.  I'm going to assume that you remember what happened in Ep01 and Ep02; if you don't, feel free to go back and re-read the writeups.  I think they're pretty clever, m'self, but then I would, wouldn't I?  So go ahead and catch up, why don'tcha?  I can wait... here's some music for you while you read.

You back?  You've got the basic idea in your head again?  Okay, good.  Let's get on with Nutshelling Ep03 and Ep04!


more...

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February 08, 2013

A Surprising Manga

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm not really a manga sorta duck.  Pretty much everything I own/read is tied in some way to anime I've seen.  However, I decided to give myself a gift for surviving Spring book rush and bought some manga.  Two of them were, as mentioned, spinoffs from various anime, and were purchased more for completions' sake than any particular enjoyment of the series.  I'd been seeing another title show up in my "recommended for you" list, one I'd never heard of before.  I did some digging, and found that it had almost universal praise... which really doesn't mean anything, since most of the reviews I saw were written by people who had read scanalations and liked them.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any reviews from readers who had gone into the series blind... probably because most people aren't idiots like that.  I supposed I could have gone to one of those manga download sites, but I really don't like to do that for two reasons.  One, my monitor isn't tall enough for that; either everything is too small (fit to screen) or you have to scroll uncomfortably (full size).  Reason two is a little more serious: every single darn time I've ventured to a manga aggregator site, I've gotten multiple computer icks that have usually required a full nuking of the hard-drive and reinstall of Windows.  Every.  Single.  Time. 

Which pretty much leaves me no choice but to be one of Those Guys at Barneys and Ignobles, the ones who sit in the manga section, reading the newest volume of Naruto and blocking the walkway for the real customers, oh and leaving the entire section so completely disorganized that you couldn't find what you're looking for anyway.  Not that I'm bitter or anything.  Or go into a series cold, cross my fingers and hope for good luck.  In a medium that proves that Ted Sturgeon was an optimist, no less.  Well, it wasn't going to be terribly expensive, so I went ahead and ordered 'em up.

At this point, I'm going to point out that the manga in question has some mature themes and some flat-out NSFW imagery.  While most of my post is NOT going to be NSFW, the possibility exists that I may mention some stuff that won't be family friendly.  For those who might be offended by this, I leave you with this picture and wish you a pleasant period of time (as opposed to a "good evening" or "nice morning", because I don't know when you're reading this).

What type of flower is this, hmmmmmm?  Might there be some significance to my choice?
For everybody else, come on along in.

more...

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February 07, 2013

Really And Truly...

...I am still blogging.  I have no intention of hanging up the mantle of pixel-stained technopeasant anytime soon.  Things are still busy at work, though in a different way than hordes of customers.  I haven't been feeling the greatest this week.  Quite honestly, the thought of sitting down in front of a computer and typing after spending all day in front of a computer typing makes me feel all sorts of urpy these days.  It'll pass... don't give up hope.

After all, it's not like the Schoolgirl In Black is out for your head or anything.
I do have something in the works for Friday, a review of a manga I was surprised I liked as much as I did.  But that's tomorrow.  Today, all I have for you is... well, nothing.  And you scruffy little urchins will like it!  Thank you for your support.

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Buffalo or X-Wing?

I'm sure that by now most of my readers have seen this photoshop job at least once before:

When I saw it for the first time, I just laughed... then took a much closer look at it, and was amazed at the job the person behind the 'shop had done.  It really looks like an Incom T-65 X-Wing wound up on an escort carrier in 1942.  What never crossed my mind, however, was to try and find the original.  Well, tonight while browsing ww2db.com, I accidentally stumbled across it!

Bravo, Mr Photoshop Person, bravo. 

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February 05, 2013

F1 Mega-Pr0n: Toro Rosso STR8, Caterham CT03, Marussia MR02

The last three of the new cars that we'll be seeing for a while came out today (well, Toro Rosso came out yesterday, details details), and instead of doing an individual post for each, I'm throwing them together into a F1 Mega-Pr0n!

The Toro Rosso STR8 is probably going to be very very fast, but unable to turn worth a darn.  Last year's STR7 had seriously undercut sidepods; though it's hard to see here, the new chassis has done away with that.  This is going to allow the weight of the radiators to be set lower down, which should balance the added drag of the larger pod, which has a new triangular front opening.  As with all the other designs, the rear of the sidepods taper down quite steeply (aka "The Red Bull Style").  The team also redid the rear suspension design, allegedly allowing for more choices during setup.  I find the clear plastic vanes on the top of the sidepods to be endless fascinating... I can only assume that's being done to allow the sponsor's name to be read more easily.  All in all, a fairly conventional update over last year's design.

Unlike the STR8, the new Caterham CT03 DOES have majorly undercut sidepods, the Red Bull Style, and dear god in heaven they're not using the modesty panel.  Bless their hearts.  The big news here is that the bodywork at the back half of the car has been greatly redone, and apparently drew quite a bit of attention from the other teams in testing today... to the point where the tech regs are being hauled out to discover if it's all legal.  A nice metallic green paint tops off a great paint-job... shame the rest of the car is so ugly!  Put a panel over that thing, please!

When Marussia was known as Virgin Racing, their first car was designed and tested entirely in computers, no wind-tunnel testing or anything like that.  The car tanked.  Last year, the MR01 managed to beat HRT while also being totally designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics.  Yay.  Now here, the MR02 comes out and good merciful heavens, it's gorgeous.  Perhaps not so coincidentally, it's spent significant time in the wind tunnel.  It's also the first design this season to have a nicely curved airbox; everybody else has straight lines and sharp angles.  Lotus and McLaren have a rounded-ish airbox cover, but nothing like this.  It's a beautiful car... mainly because there are practically no sponsor stickers on it.  That's a bad sign,but we can appreciate the look until they go broke.  If they do.  The main change to this car is the addition of KERS, which of course isn't going to be externally visible.  See, Caterham, it's not that hard to make the car look good!

So there we go!  The only car left to debut is the Williams, scheduled for February 19th at the second test session.  We'll keep an eye on testing in case anything interesting happens... F1 is right around the corner, folks!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 04, 2013

F1 Pr0n: Mercedes W04

If Force India isn't the most disappointing team in Formula 1, Mercedes is.  Taking over BrawnGP after that team's one and only season, in which they won both Championships, Mercedes then brought Slappy Schumacher out of retirement to lead their team.  They promptly peed the first two seasons down the leg of their firesuits.  Last year, they got their first win behind Nico Rosberg, sent Slappy back to retirement, and threw their wallets at Shiv Hamilton to lure him away from McLaren.  I've heard this described as a mere marketing ploy, and there certainly is some of that involved, but it will prove important in other ways.  For one, Shiv is a much better driver than Slappy, which should show on-track.  For another, Hamilton can actually spend time in the simulator without getting sick all over everything, unlike Schumacher.  Back in his old Ferrari days, when teams had unlimited testing, Slappy was a legend, pounding out lap after lap after endless lap, and giving back immense amounts of technical feedback for the engineers to work with.  Now that teams can't do that, they rely on simulators... and Slappy gets sim-sick.  So now they'll get better simulator results from two good drivers.  But will the car underneath Rosberg and Hamilton be any good?  Here's our first look at the Mercedes F1 W04...

It's already being called the "ducknose."  While it IS an improvement, cosmetically, over the W03, that's not exactly saying a whole lot as that chassis was monumentally ugly, even in a season where most of the cars were homely.  There's a bunch of little changes from last year's car visible in this shot.  For example, the outside edge of the sidepods are now turned up, better to shovel air towards the rear of the car.  The airbox over the driver's head is now just a single piece, instead of having a main intake and then a smaller one behind it.  The radiator inlets are smaller and mounted higher in the sidepod.  There's even new mirrors.

As with most everybody else, Mercedes seems to be copying the Red Bull style of sidepods/exhaust on the W04.  Again, if you're gonna steal, may as well be from the best.  The nose has the modesty panel in place, and it still looks hideous from this angle.

However, if it wins races, it'll be beautiful in no time.  I think part of the cosmetic problem is that it's a rounded nosecone joining to an essentially square fuselage.  Just by definition, that's gonna be awkward.  The technical websites out there are all saying that the W04 is a step back from the overly complex W03 (that ate tires like ducks eat bread) to something more aerodynamically clean.  The front wing is the same one that was run at the end of 2012, so expect something new there. 

Okay, it's hideous.  Will the addition of Hamilton make it pretty?  We'll see soon enough!

Toro Rosso rolled out today as well; I'm moving them to a F1 MegaPr0n tomorrow along with Caterham and Marussia.  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:24 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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February 03, 2013

Deep Breath...

Okay.  Duck U's Spring semester textbook rush is over, more or less, so things will be slowing down there.  That means I won't be coming home from the Bookstore completely worn out and exhaustipated.  That means I should be able to actually blog on subjects that aren't fed to me on a platter (i.e., F1 Pr0n), subjects that require me to use my brain.

If we're lucky.

If "lucky" is the word for it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:14 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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