June 30, 2013

F1 Update!: Great Britain 2013

We here at F1U! didn't notice the skies over Silverstone today, but it wasn't raining, that's all that's really important.  So it wasn't raining when the cars formed up on the grid behind polesitter and "hometown lad" Shiv Hamilton.  One could only assume, however, that points leader Hannibal Vettel was feeling confident and relaxed as the 22 drivers waited for the lights to go out.  But what happened after that?  That's why you're here!  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Great Britain!

*LIGHTS OUT!:  Here at F1U!, we understand that Red Bull driver Mark Webber has a problem.  We call the "Mark Webber Lousy Start©" and are just amazed every time it happens.  Other than in Australia, however, he's been pretty good this season.  Not today, though... today, he made up for lost opportunities.  When the lights went out, Shiv Hamilton made a clean getaway from pole, as did Hannibal Vettel in his Red Bull.  Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg's start wasn't quite as good as Vettel's, which dropped him into third.  And then, there was Webber.  Our first thought was that he had been balked by a slow-starting Rosberg, but replays proved us wrong: it was a classic "MWLS©," and a real doozy at that.  As they approached Turn 1, he was already down to 10th, and soon to be playing the part of pinball.  He was plonked by the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean, kicked off the track and into the runoff area of Turn 1 with quite a bit of damage to his front wing.  Dropped to 15th, it looked like he was out and gone from view.  Meanwhile, Felipe Massa apparently woke up today feeling like the man he was before the incident with The Spring.  He jumped to 5th place from 11th on the grid and was looking quite racey indeed.

*ONE TWO THREE!:  Hannibal Vettel's modus operandi when he starts a race from the pole is "get away clean, do everything possible to get one second ahead of second place by the time they turn on the DRS system, then run away and hide."  It's a good plan, and has worked very well for him.  Upon occasion, it's worked for other drivers as well.  Today, Shiv Hamilton was giving it a shot, and sure enough, everything was coming up roses for him.  He had a 1.5 second lead over Vettel when DRS was activated for the field, and was over two seconds ahead on Lap 7.  It was early, but things at least seemed like they were going well for the Mercedes driver.  Then, suddenly, everything went south.  His left-rear tire nigh-on exploded, sending pieces of rubber spraying across the racetrack and greatly reducing the amount of traction available.  He managed to limp his car around half the circuit back to the pits, but dropped from first place to last in the time it took to do so.  One could only imagine the glances down to the Pirelli office on the pit lane.  Of course, this promoted Hannibal Vettel into the lead, Nico Rosberg to second, the Force India of Adrian F'n Sutil to third, and Felipe Massa to fourth.  Until Lap 10.  It was on Lap 10 that Felipe Massa's Ferrari blew his left-rear tire in almost the same place as Hamilton.  The glances at Pirelli's office suddenly changed to stares.  Then, on Lap 15, while Jules Vergne was under attack by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, we saw our third tire failure of the day.

It goes without saying that it was a left-rear, of course.  That made three in seven laps, and four on the weekend (McLaren's Sergio Perez suffered a left-rear failure during practice).  The stares at the Pirelli offices had become glares.  Unsurprisingly, given the amount of carbon fiber and rubber debris strewn around the circuit, Race Director Charlie Whiting called out a Safety Car, only the third we've seen at Silverstone since 2006.  Whiting later admitted that he considered red-flagging the race at that point.

*HOO-BOY:  A number of drivers came in for new tires at this point.  Soon we were hearing radio calls from Ferrari and Red Bull to HWMNBN and both Hannibal Vettel and Mark Webber, saying the same thing: we see cuts on the inside of your left-rear tires, stay off the curbs.  Tire pressures were duly increased and drivers tried to be slightly less aggressive.

*YOU'RE KIDDING:  When the race resumed on Lap 21, it was very much like we've been used to at the beginning of a race: Vettel rabbitting off into the distance, Rosberg grimly keeping in touch but failing to do anything to close the gap.  For the next 15 or 16 laps, that's the way it stayed; Vettel with a two or three second lead over Rosberg, while Vergne retired his Toro Rosso.  The damage it suffered when the tire let go was too much for safety's sake.  When Vettel came in for his last tire stop and resumed in the lead, it looked like the race was won.

*AND THEN...:  On Lap 42, the partisan British crowd at Silverstone reacted before the announcers did, a huge cheer coming up from every throat on the front straight: Hannibal Vettel slowed, then stopped, just past the start/finish line.

His gearbox failure brought out the second safety car of the day, sending many of the leaders scrambling for the pit lane again for a new set of tires.  The lone exception was Kimi Raikkonen, who quickly was saying to the Lotus pit box that "they'd made a mistake."  In many ways, Nico Rosberg was the big loser from all this: while gifted first place, he also lost a thirteen second lead.  The standings were Rosberg, Raikkonen, Sutil, Ricciardo, Webber, Perez, Button and HWMNBN.

*GO GO GO OH NO NOT AGAIN: The safety car came in on Lap 45, giving us a seven-lap sprint to the finish.  Mark Webber, he of the Lousy Start back at the beginning of the race, began to gun down those ahead of him: first Ricciardo, then Sutil, putting him in third and hunting himself some Finnish Lotus driver.  And then, on Lap 46, Sergio Perez suffered a failure of his left-rear tire.  Again.  The fourth tire failure of the race didn't bring out a safety car, but the glares at the Pirelli offices had become daggers. 

*THE END:  Webber fought his way past a recalcitrant Raikkonen (and if that looks hard to type, you're right) to take second on Lap 48, and he began to track down Nico Rosberg, a mere 1.37 seconds ahead.  Meanwhile, the Finn's old tires proved to be too much for him to overcome.  First HWMNBN, then Shiv Hamilton, got past him, dropping him to fifth.  Back up at the front, Webber cut the lead to Rosberg down to 0.765 seconds, but could get no closer as the race ended.  HWMNBN finished third, with a charging Hamilton 0.632 seconds behind him.  Both the Aussie and the Brit had to be ruing what had happened at the beginning of the race.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Boy, is this one hard to call.  Webber started 4th, dropped to 15th, and finished 2nd.  HWMNBN started 10th, dropped to 11th, and finished 3rd.  But Mercedes' Shiv  Hamilton started on pole, suffered the first tire failure, dropped to dead last, then worked his way back to fourth place.  That's a pretty decent performance, all told.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Mercedes.  1st - 4th is a pretty good way to finish, particularly given all that went down with Hamilton during the day.  Honorable mention goes to Force India for finishing 7th and 9th, with Sutil holding a podium position for a good chunk of the race.

:  On Lap 49, Shiv Hamilton was behind Adrian F'n Sutil's Force India, and looking to get past in a hurry.  When he made his move, it looked like there was no way he could make it work... he was so far back.  Sutil braked, Hamilton didn't, and he still made it look like the car was on rails as he zipped up the inside and blew the doors off the Force India.  Just an astonishing pass on TV.  After watching it frame-by-frame on my computer, it wasn't as impressive, sure... but at the time, we here at F1U! Central dropped our forks into our deep-dish pizza in amazement.

:  On Lap 31, HWMNBN had come in for new tires.  The 2.8 second stop seemed quite impressive, and the Ferrari lollypop man released him to rejoin the race... right into the path of the incoming Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean.

How he avoided the Lotus, the McLaren pit crew, the Lotus lollypop man, and an unsafe release penalty is entirely beyond me.  Here's to Ferrari's pit lane crew, and here's your Mooooo!



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June 29, 2013

F1 Quals: Great Britain 2013

British weather didn't happen all over Silverstone today!  It was hardly a beautiful summer day, unless you think gray and cloudy and meh is beautiful, but it wasn't raining.  So what effect did having acceptable climactic conditions have on the F1 Circus?  Here's your provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Great Britain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.995 1:31.224 1:29.607
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:31.355 1:31.028 1:30.059
3 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.559 1:30.990 1:30.211
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:31.605 1:31.002 1:30.220
5 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.062 1:31.291 1:30.736
6 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:32.097 1:31.182 1:30.757
7 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.002 1:31.097 1:30.908
8 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:31.466 1:31.530 1:30.955
9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:31.400 1:31.592 1:30.962
10 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:32.266 1:31.387 1:30.979
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.979 1:31.649
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:32.241 1:31.779
13 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:32.105 1:31.785
14 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.953 1:32.082
15 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.168 1:32.211
16 Bishop Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:32.512 1:32.359
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:32.664

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.666

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:33.866

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:34.108

21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:35.481

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:35.858

Q1 107% Time

Every fiber of my being wants to say that Force India has a chance at a podium tomorrow.  Paul di Resta is driving like the reincarnation of Jackie Stewart (who isn't dead, details details), Adrian F'n Sutil is driving like Adrian F'n Sutil, and the car is proving to be pretty good.  I want it to happen.  I want it to happen so badly I can practically taste it (though I think that's just the chicken tandoori I had for dinner last night). 

I just don't think it'll happen.  I can imagine a lot of scenarios where it DOES occur, but they're all kinda far-fetched: the Red Bull drivers collide with each other, Hamilton runs his tires bald then skids into the kittylitter trying to get to the pits, Raikkonen flatspots a tire and the vibration shatters his suspension, that sort of thing.  No, I just don't think FI is ready as a team to have a serious podium chance.  Soon... very soon, perhaps... but not yet.

I also don't expect to see the Mercedes teammates on the podium, either.  One of them, perhaps... Hamilton seems particularly driven this weekend, and his pole position breaks Rosberg's streak of four in a row.  I expect that the Red Bull Whaaaaaaaaambulance is warming up as we speak, getting ready to complain about how the Silver Arrows gained an unfair advantage with that tire test and the punishment didn't fit the crime and so on and so forth.  I've actually lost a lot of respect for the team recently; they really used to be a model team showing how to do it right.  Then they started to dork over Webber, now they've whined about this Mercedes/Pirelli thing so much that it has become embarrassing.  In the immortal words of just about every fan ever, "shut up and drive."

Which I expect Vettel will do.  Particularly with his chief competitor HWMNBN qualifying in 10th place, the World Champ has a golden opportunity to put the 2013 championship out of reach this weekend.

As an aside, I'm no longer surprised by McLaren's performance.  They just done goofed this year, and I'm assuming they've written off they year and are working towards 2014 and the new rules and engine.  As an another aside, Tooned is coming back this weekend, so we've got that to look forward to.  As an another aside altogether, the race will be shown LIVE on CNBC at 630am on Sunday.  Tune in, and we'll see you then!

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June 28, 2013

F1 Practice: Great Britain 2013

We had lovely British weather today at Silverstone, so you can guess what that means:

Yup!  Rain, and lots of it!  First practice was practically wiped out.  P2 saw teams out and about, but the track was just wet enough that there was something of a feeling of restraint the entire session.  Even that wasn't enough to save Felipe Massa from wrecking again.  Twice at Monaco, once in Canada, now at Silverstone... dude has something against his Ferrari mechanics, I think.  While the teams did try to get some new parts tested on their cars, they probably didn't get accomplished.  So let's skip over practice and talk about the really big news of the day.

Mark Webber announced his retirement from Formula 1, effective at the end of the season.  He's not retiring from racing; he'll be joining Porsche's newly reborn LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship series, which includes, of course, the 24 Hours of LeMans.  Arguably, this is a step up for the Aussie, as he'll be heading what should be a serious contender right away.  It's also a return to endurance racing for him, as he first came to the attention of the racing world via the long races.

Unfortunately, the loss of Mark Webber means that the man called "The Conscience of Formula 1" will no longer be speaking truth to power.  He's always been outspoken... he stepped out against racing at Bahrain, quite loudly in fact... and he certainly stood his ground against his teammate.  Red Bull's support of Hannibal Vettel has often come at the expense of Webber (consider Helmut Marko's attempt to blame the 2010 incident at Turkey on the Aussie), and at this year's Malaysian Grand Prix, Vettel ignored team orders, took the win from Webber, then got no penalty from the team in return... well.  It was pretty clear at that point that Webber had had enough.

We here at F1U! don't have a favorite driver at the moment... but if we did, we could be convinced that Webber would be worth supporting.  He'll be missed from F1, and I suspect from Red Bull as well... but at least we'll see him during LeMans.

Quals sometime tomorrow!

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June 27, 2013

F1 Swag... From A Small French Fishing Village

Back in May, during the Duck U Bookstore's spring buyback, one of my temp employees announced that she and her husband were to be going on a cruise at the beginning of June.  A pleasant hour was spent looking at the cruise line's history (good), the cost per person (they got a deal), whether a balcony room on the ship would be worth it (it was), and their itinerary.  "Oh, the cruise is going to Rome, Florence, Marseilles, Monaco, then we're also going to spend a week in London, too!"


Yesterday, my temp came back into the store carrying little bags for me and my assistant manager.  The contents of mine were surprising to say the least:

She purchased both the keychain and the rubber duck in a shop in Monaco.  Who would have thought that rubber ducks, even racing rubber ducks, would be for sale in Monaco?  I actually have a remarkably similar duck in The Flock already, but there are differences: the older one has a weighted base and is somewhat smaller, for example.  I've got a Monegasque duckie!

The keychain is quite heavy... too heavy for me to use casually, as a matter of fact.  One gets the feeling you could cause harm to someone with it.  The car is painted in the colors of Monaco, of course, never mind the resemblance to Ferrari.  Body shape is similar to the cars of the '90s... which is good, I prefer those to what's on track today.

My collection of F1 swag is growing.

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June 24, 2013

Commit To The Indian II

The Chicago Blackhawks have won Lord Stanley's Cup for the second time since 2010.

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F1 On NBCSN: Great Britain 2013

I say "...on NBCSN" with the utmost nervousness and caution, as I'm unable to find anything remotely resembling a schedule that I believe for this race.  It's all because of that darn Tour de Pharmacopeia that NBCSN is also covering.  Things are moved all willy-nilly and higglety-pigglety, so much so that I just threw my hands up in the air and went "you're on your own this race."  Having said all that, let's look at the trackmap for this, the grandpappy of all F1 races: the Grand Prix of Great Britain!

Silverstone is not the fastest circuit, nor the slowest, nor the hilliest or the most narrow.  It IS, however, the birthplace of Formula 1 and the home of my favorite complex of turns.  Maggots-Becketts-Chapel isn't really a chicane, and it isn't really a "turn" the way we think of them.  It's more of a series of lateral suggestions that become more and more emphatic the farther into them you go.  I've always said that I'd love to be positioned on the inside of Turn 13, looking towards Maggots, for a race.  Seeing the cars slalom like so many life-sized slotcars would be amazing.

Do any of my readers know what slotcars are?  I wonder.  One of the few good memories I have of the paternal side of my childhood was going to Slot & Wing in Rantoul, a hobby shop that had a couple of  1/24-scale, eight-lane tracks, and running wild on the high-bank.  But I digress.

Tires should either be completely worthless or too good here.  Nobody knows, and Red Bull will be happy to complain about it to anybody who cares to listen.  Speaking of tires, remember how we talked briefly about the "Tiregate" scandal of a few weeks ago?  Pirelli held a tire test and asked Mercedes to run 1000km... which is against F1's in-season testing rules.  The FIA's High Court ruling came down a couple of days ago... and Mercedes is doomed.  DOOMED, I tell you.

They've been banned from the upcoming "young driver test."

Yup, that's it.  That's all.  Oh, and they got a reprimand as well.  Much like the UN's "strongly worded letter," a FIA reprimand has not a lot of teeth behind it.  Any team will tell you that they'd rather test with their REAL drivers than with their up-and-comers, which really does give Mercedes an advantage.  I'm unsure of how they got away with it, but they did.

So that's where we stand going into Friday's practice sessions, Saturday's Quals, and the race on Sunday.  Again, for this one you're on your own as far as when the sessions are televised.  Sorry, but once out of six or seven seasons?  I can be excused.  Of course, F1Update! will be all over this one like white on lice.  See ya then!

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June 23, 2013

A Duck Attends Conference!

Every few years, the company I work for throws a big event.  Every store manager, all 930-plus of us, and a couple hundred home office personnel, in one place for four days, learning about the strategic plans for the company, undergo training, and network network network!  This year's event was in Orlando, FL, which meant one thing: Wanderduck was comin' with!  Wanderduck, as longtime readers may remember, is the rubber duckie that comes on trips with me.  He's a traditional yellow duckie, small enough to be easily portable, but still large enough to show up nicely on a photograph.  So Wednesday morning rolled around, and off we went!

The first leg of the journey was from Duckford to Chicago O'Hare International Airport.  While easily drivable, being only about 70 miles or so, I surely didn't want to leave my car in long-term parking there... it'd cost something like $80!  Instead, we piled onto a bus and off we went!  As a note, people complain that airline seats are uncomfortable?  By comparison, they're sheer luxury in comparison to bus seats.  Plus, those aisles are about 18" wide.  Ugh.  After a 90 minute trip (lots of roadwork)...

It's O'Hare!  If you want a better look at the control towers, click for a bigger version.  Once off the bus, we dropped off our bag and headed through security.  I'm fairly sure I've seen more people in line for, say, concerts, but on the whole I'd rather not do that very often.  It took nigh on a half-hour to get through.  However, I had plenty of time to make it to my gate... or so I thought.  The problem is that the airline I was flying had their own terminal building.  I was in the right place, exactly where I should be, but had to trek underneath the airport to get there.

Artistically, I love this walkway.  Neon tubes and art-deco glass brick wallpieces with lights behind them... it's gorgeous.  AND it's all undergrond.  Physically?  Not a fan.  It's a couple hundred yards long, it's not overly well air conditioned, but it looks nice.  By the time I made it to the other end, I was NOT in a good mood... the slidewalks weren't working.  Oh, and my gate was at one of the ends of the terminal building.  But eventually I made there with five minutes to spare.


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June 22, 2013

Duck Home!

I have returned from my business trip.  Orlando looks very much like the inside of a huge convention center.  I'm exhausted.  I've turned on the 24 Hours of LeMans, and I am probably going to collapse before I have an idea of what's going on.

Stay tuned: on Sunday, there will be a special post on the trip!

UPDATE:  Oh no... a LeMans driver, Allan Simonsen, was killed early after only about 10 minutes had passed.  He was driving an Aston-Martin V8 Vantage, #95, it looked like he got a tire just off the track.  The car snapped left at the fast Tetre Rouge corner, went hard into the barriers, and while medics were on scene almost instantly, he passed away from his injuries.

It was his seventh 24 Hours of LeMans, and his third with Aston Martin Racing.  At the specific request of his family, the team is still competing in the race.  He was the first driver to die during a LeMans race since 1986. 

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June 19, 2013

I Can Feel It Coming In The Air... um... Today?

After waking up at four in the morning to catch a 6am bus for a 90 minute trip to O'Hare International Airport, a ridiculously long wait through security (only two metal detectors?  Really?), and then being stuffed into a pressurized metal tube, I found myself, once again, experiencing the miracle of flight in a manner not intended by either duck nor god (but I repeat myself).  As I experienced all the burbles and bobbles of imbalanced air over a major city in a big metal French bird, I glanced out my window... and frantically grabbed for my camera.  What disaster caused this reaction?  Did the Airbus begin to shed pieces of wing and engine?  Did it begin to flooble and flounce through the air as if a software problem caused the flight controls to do bad things for reasons unknowable?  Nah, something cooler than that:

Clicky-poppy for biggy making
Allow me to introduce to you the Belt Railway of Chicago's Clearing Yard.  250 miles of track in a five mile area, it's one of the largest such places in the world.  I didn't see anything moving, but I also have no idea how high we were at the time, either.  Couldn't have been very high, though... it's on the flightpath out of O'Hare after all, and not all that far, either. 

Railfanning from a jet plane... welcome to the 21st Century!

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June 18, 2013

Doesn't THAT Just Take The Biscuit?

I actually had something I wanted to post tonight.  It was going to be clever, thought-provoking, funny, and accessible to all my readers.  And then, while I was at work, I completely forgot what it was.  I have no idea anymore.  You could hold a gun to my forehead and I couldn't come up with it.  So instead, here's a bit of news I dug up a few days ago...

There's a new Sunshine Sketch book coming out September 24th, 2013.  This pleases me... and saddens me, because it might very well be the final one.  Still, we should get one more HidaSketch anime, which is great.

Next post will be from the Land of the Mouse.

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June 15, 2013

An Explanation

Over at Steven's place, he apologizes for not providing his usual bountiful amounts of free ice cream.  I, on the other hand, am not going to apologize for not give you much in the way of deep meaningful free ice cream as of late, because I'm actually doing you a favor by not writing.

Cute duckling picture counteracts the darkness
Collectively I hear your eyes roll like so many 14-pound balls down a well-waxed bowling alley.  "Oh look, Wonderduck is going to whine about how bad he is at writing again."  Nope, I'm not.  What I am, however, is in a rather hideous mood.  It was only brought to my attention recently, but enough people confirmed it so it must be true. 

See?  Cute duckling versus evil Wonderduck = cute duckling flawless victory!
In some of my various notes and such, I can see that these people are correct.  I do appear to be in something of a snit (or is that a bolotomus?), and I fear that it has leeched into my scribblings.  Or will, if I let it... and I would.  This is not a good thing, even on an Episodic Writeup, and don't think I don't remember that I'm supposed to be working on the Eva movies.

Duckling gotz the moovz.
I'll be in Florida for half of next week... big company shindig.  I'll take Wanderduck with me, probably get some "rubber duck at 30000 feet" pictures.  Unfortunately, I won't be back until Saturday evening, meaning I'll be missing a good portion of the 24 Hours of LeMans.  Drat, etc.  So that's the story from my end.  It's for your own good.  Remember that.

Duckling happily contemplating how to kill everybody.

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June 13, 2013

Random Anime Picture #79: Jack, You're DEAD.

-OreImo S2, Ep02

The last thing you'll ever see before she rips your throat out and punches out your blood.  All of it.

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June 12, 2013

A Pleasant Afternoon

It's a little after four in the afternoon.  I'm sitting in my office at the Duck U Bookstore, having just gotten off a conference call with twenty-some-odd other managers.  It's warm and kinda humid, but I've got a fan close at hand to keep me from boiling away like liquid nitrogen in a fireplace.  And then my Assistant Manager comes in, saying "the tornado sirens just went off.  Everybody's heading to the basement."

You might see the white cross next to the word "Rockford" up there... that's roughly where Duck U is located... and that big red splotch directly on top of it is roughly where the multiple funnel clouds were seen.  No reports of damage other than branches and flooding yet, but it did get somewhat tense.  Okay, a lot tense.  "Hand me my brown trousers" tense.  We sat in the basement for about a half-hour or so, half the people staring at their smartphones, the other half staring at the people staring at their smartphones.  Some gallows humor floated about: "we're all down here so it'll be easier to find the bodies when the building collapses," that sort of thing.

Obviously, we survived.  There's more storms coming through... in fact, there's a tornado on the ground as I type this, near Sterling (headed south-east, though)... but the bad stuff is supposedly over for the night.  We can only hope.

UPDATE: There was, apparently, another tornado in the same place later.  We're not talking Oklahoma-scale things here, mind you, but the National Weather Service is sending out investigators in the morning.  Looks like worst is over, but if you're in the way of this storm line, hunker down!

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June 11, 2013

Ships, Nothing But Ships

So I've been spending time looking at warship photos as of late, and I've come up with a bunch of good ones for display over at Reddit's r/warshipporn subsite.  I don't think I'm tooting my own horn when I say I'm the most clever as far as picture titles go, but this post isn't about that... no, it's about my favorite pictures that I've put up.  To start with, I was using my "mystery ship" competition shots, but I've spread out since then.  Like this one:

Right in the ol' spud locker!  I'm pretty sure that the Hellcat just rolled off the end of the USS Charger's flight deck, but that's not what it looks like!

Want more?  Well, click the word!


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June 09, 2013

F1 Update!: Canada 2013

Despite prayers from the Williams pitbox and rain dances from Ferrari-hired Mi'kmaq DJs, the skies were sunny and clear when the F1 Circus pulled onto the grid for a race that would be unlike any since 2001.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Canada.

*THE BEGINNING: The lights went out, and polesitter Hannibal Vettel did what he always does: ran away and hid.  By the end of the first lap, he had a two second lead.  By the end of Lap 3, when they activated the DRS system, the lead was up to 4.5 seconds and getting larger.  Mercedes driver Shiv Hamilton could do nothing to keep in touch with the Red Bull.  Sadly and as expected, Williams driver Valtterri Bottas dropped like a stone from his third place starting position, ending up in sixth after the first lap and going backwards the whole race. 

*THE BAD OLD DAYS:  By the time the first pitstops came around, it was clear that the race was Vettel's to lose.  When he stopped for the first time on Lap 16, he handed the lead to Hamilton, and immediately began tracking him down again.  Three laps later, Hamilton pitted, relinquishing the lead back to the Red Bull driver.  Those three laps were the only ones Vettel didn't lead all day.  Vettel wouldn't stop again until Lap 50.

*WHAT'S THE POINT?:  When Vettel came in for his second stop, his lead was large enough that he could pit for new tires, get out, use the loo, have some poutine and Tim Hortons, and still rejoin in third.  Instead, he just stopped for tires and came back onto the circuit with 15 seconds still in hand.  He'd go on to cruise to a 14 second victory.

*SECOND PLACE:  Around the same time that Vettel was enjoying a Molsons, Ferrari driver HWMNBN had reached a point where he could legitimately begin to threated Hamilton's second place position.  It took 12 laps of the Mercedes driver making his car quite wide, but the Spaniard finally managed to get past with eight laps remaining.  Unfortunately, the gap to Vettel was 20 seconds.  That it dropped to 14 was simply a case of the three-time World Champion dialing it back a bit to protect the engine.

*AND THEN... TRAGEDY:  On Lap 66, Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez made a late pit stop, exited, and for whatever reason went straight into the wall at the outside of Turn 2.  He hopped out unhurt, and the mobile crane came out to pick up the car.  As the crane brought the car back to the pit lane after the race, escorted by four track marshals.  One of the men apparently dropped his portable radio, bent down to pick it up, lost his balance and fell... directly into the path of the crane.

The man was swiftly attended by F1 medical personnel and taken to the trauma department at Montreal's Sacre-Coeur Hospital, where he tragically passed away a couple of hours later.  The marshal, who's name has yet to be released, is the first death at a F1 event since 2001.  Track workers are the unsung heroes of any race weekend.  Without them, the events we watch with such passion could not take place.  The job is thankless, pressure-filled, dirty, sweaty, and often dangerous... as any job that takes place in the vicinity of high-powered equipment of any sort can be.  Almost all of them are volunteers and fans, wanting to be part of the race.  They are almost always invisible, the backstage workers that let the young men and women in their carbon fiber darts, their steel sleds, their fiberglass missiles, entertain us and thrill us with their speed and skill.  That one of them should die is terrible, and we here at F1Update! bow our heads and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Paul di Resta started the race 17th on the grid.  He didn't make his first and only pit stop until Lap 56, and the tires that came off his Force India looked like they still had a few more laps left in 'em.  Even with the late-race stop, he still managed to come home in 7th place, a ten grid-spot pickup from the beginning.  Just astounding.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  HWMNBN ended up in second, but Felipe Massa, who started in 16th, ended up in 8th to minimize any point damage they could have suffered at the hands of Red Bull.  Nice job to a team we rarely have anything good to say about.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  By default, this one goes to HWMNBN for his late pass on Shiv Hamilton for 2nd place.  There were few passes to choose from, to be honest.  While the Ferrari's pass was DRS-aided, that he did it on the short, short front straight DRS zone, just past the final chicane, came as something of a surprise, if not just to the F1U! crew perhaps to Hamilton as well.  There have been dozens of better passes this season, however.

*MOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  We're giving this one to Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber.  When he exited the pits late in the race, he apparently hit a bump going into Turn 2, locked up the outside tire, and just floated himself right into the barrier.  Just a clumsy, clumsy maneuver, one well worth the MoooootR.  (Please note: that a worker died during the clearing of the car has nothing to do with the award.  Gutierrez had nothing to do with that.  The crash really was one that falls into the "what in the world?" category)



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June 08, 2013

F1 Quals: Canada 2013 (UPDATED)

Rain.  Rain changes everything.  One moment of distraction, one millisecond of hesitation, and the lap, the race, the car is lost.  Just because the pavement is so slightly damp that a Ford Mustang wouldn't notice it.  That was what the drivers faced when Q1 began this afternoon at the Ile Notre Dame.  Who got bit?  Qui a vaincu la pluie?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Canada:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:22.318 1:28.166 1:25.425
2 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:23.801 1:27.649 1:25.512
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:23.446 1:28.419 1:25.897
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.840 1:28.420 1:26.008
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.247 1:28.145 1:26.208
6 HWSNBN Ferrari 1:23.224 1:28.788 1:26.504
7 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:24.159 1:28.527 1:26.543
8 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:24.551 1:28.799 1:27.348
9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:24.451 1:28.667 1:27.432
10 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:24.770 1:29.359 1:27.946
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.899 1:29.435
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.176 1:29.761
13 Universalist Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:24.776 1:29.917
14 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.021 1:30.068
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.408 1:30.315
16 Crashy Massa Ferrari 1:23.735 1:30.354
17 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:24.908

18 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:25.626

19 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:25.716

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:26.508

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.062

22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:27.110

Q1 107% Time 1:28.080

About five minutes before Q1 began, rain started to fall lightly amongst the trees and marmots of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, prompting the first major decision of the day: do we go out on dry tires and hope to get a good lap in before it gets too wet, or do we go right for the intermediates?  Most of the teams gave the dry tires a go, with a very few staying in the garage.  Those that didn't try the dry rubber made the right call; the first couple of minutes of the session were spent watching multi-million dollar, high-tech, space-age, hand-crafted equipment spin and pirouette like they were driving on ice.  Once everybody got back to the pits and put on drizzleshoes, things began to settle down a tad.  It wasn't until Q2 that things began to get weird.  In the second session, the rain began to fall a little bit harder... nearly enough to switch to full wets, but not quite.  I'm betting Felipe Massa wishes he had changed, as he wound up slamming his Ferrari sideways into a tire barrier, for the fourth time in two races.  As this occurred very near an important piece of run-off area, a red flag was thrown... with two minutes left in the session, and some very unlikely people on the verge of elimination: Raikkonen, Button, Sutil.  When the notification came that the track was about to reopen, we got this scene at the pit-out:

As long as you start your timed lap with one second left on the clock, the lap will count.  So there was time... just... to get out of the pits, get around the circuit, and cross the start/finish line for one last chance at moving on to Q3.  See Kimi and Daniel Ricciardo there on the far right?  They and three others have been summoned to the steward's office for not lining up correctly to re-enter the track.  There could be penalties, but I'd not hold my breath.  The light went green, the Benny Hill Theme began playing, and everybody managed to make it around without doing grave bodily harm to themselves or others.  Some succeeded in their quests to make it to Q3, but Jenson Button couldn't.

In Q3, we had the never-before-seen sight of Valtterri Bottas placing his Williams third on the grid in wet-but-not-as-wet-as-Q2 conditions.  Rain is the great equalizer.  Always has been, always will be.  Vettel, of course, is on pole, while Mr Every-Other-Year-In-Canada, Shiv Hamilton, is next to him.  He's won here three times, every other year.  In the years he hasn't won?  DNF.  He won last last year...

All I'm saying is don't put any money on Shiv.

Race tomorrow afternoon... the F1U! crew is praying for rain.

UPDATE: Kimi and Ricciardo were penalized two grid spots for jumping the line.  The other three got away as they received no benefit.

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June 07, 2013

F1 Practice: Montreal 2013

If we learned anything during today's two practice sessions at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, it is these items:

1) Force India might have actually turned the corner.  I hate to predict results from practice sessions... in fact, I regularly say to avoid doing precisely that.  But the consistent movement of the team up the charts has made it unavoidable.  Paul di Resta headed the timesheet in P1 this morning, albeit on a wet-but-drying track, and Adrian Sutil spent a lot of time in the stratified reaches of the top 10 during P2 on a dry track.  Are they going to be on the podium this weekend?  No, probably not, but I don't believe it would cause any great reaction shot memes to be created if it happened, either.

No, I didn't write that entire paragraph just to post this picture.  Nice one, though.
2)  The FIA's weather forecasters are blind, clueless or incompetent.  Why would I suggest such a thing?  They're claiming that there's no chance of rain on race day... when there's a tropical storm heading up the east coast of the US that's supposed to be in the vicinity of Montreal on Sunday, though heading away.  How can ANYBODY forecast race day to be dry in those circumstances?  Plus, it's Montreal: it may as well be named Spa-Francorchamps West.  Having said that, they are predicting rain during Quals, so they're not totally insane.

3)  This tire thingy isn't going away.  To bring everybody up to speed, immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, Pirelli ran a tire test with Mercedes.  Normally, this isn't a big deal... there was a test with Ferrari, for example, that nobody is complaining about.  There was one big difference between the two, however: Ferrari used their 2011 car, while Mercedes used their current chassis.  The team got to run 1000km on Pirelli test tires fitted to the same car they used in Monaco... which race, it might be pointed out, they won.  More important than the tire runs, though, data from which will benefit all the teams eventually, was that Mercedes got 600 miles of running where they could bolt on any upgrades they wanted to try.  In-season testing is expressly forbidden by the Sporting Regulations.  So why did Mercedes do it?  Because they were asked to by Pirelli, who can run tests during the season.  Confused yet? 

As you can imagine, the other teams are going slightly apecrap over this.  Not because Mercedes got to run on the new Pirelli tires, no, but because they got to do 1000km of live running with their 2013 car while slapping on whatever upgrades they wanted to test... and the other teams didn't.  Even if they didn't put upgrades on the car, another 600 miles of running with Nico Rosberg and Shiv Hamilton behind the wheel would give the team a LOT of input that the others didn't get the chance to get.  According to Legendary Announce Team member Steve Matchett, everybody up and down the pit lane tends to get somewhat heated when this is mentioned.  Red Bull Tire Guy Jon Gates had a tweet that seems to get right to the heart of the matter: "Last flight in has landed in Montreal, good to see our mates from other teams have arrived safe and sound. Mercedes and Pirelli also here."  Mercedes and Pirelli are being hauled in front of the FIA's International Tribunal on June 20th, the results of which could be staggeringly severe.  I don't think we'll see a repeat of Stepneygate's $100million fine (90% of which was because then-McLaren head honcho Ron Dennis was something of a prat).  But Mercedes excluded from the championship?  Possible.  Their points for Monaco taken away?  Likely.  We'll see, of course.  Just another bump in the road for the team from Germany.

A three-inch speed bump, to be exact.
So that's about it for Friday from Montreal.  Quals in the afternoon... nice to be able to say that for once... with writeup sometime thereafter.  See ya then!

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June 05, 2013

Ducks In Anime Can't Be This Cute

-Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2, Ep01

I find OreImo, as this ridiculously long-titled series is called by anybody who has had to type it more than once, to be something of a mixed bag.  On one hand, I rather enjoy it.  On the other hand, there's Kirino, perhaps the most annoying, spiteful, hateful and nasty teenager ever.  Unfortunately, she's something of a major character.  As in, "the show doesn't occur without her."  

So, yeah, I have some problems with it.  I did finish the first series, though.  And now I've completed Ep01 of Season 2... this screencap is from about 15 seconds into it.  First Duck In Anime since January!

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June 04, 2013

The Books of Midway

71 years ago the US Navy won the greatest victory at sea, perhaps ever.  It will come as no surprise to most of my readers that I've been fascinated by the Battle of Midway for years.  Last night, I realized that I had no plans for the annual June 4th post, so my eyes headed to The Shelf.  Perhaps one of the books there could give me an idea... and then I realized that the idea was staring me in the face.

Click to embiggify.
Not all of these books are excellent, of course.  There's really two categories of Midway books: those heavily influenced by Mitsuo Fuchida's Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan, and those that aren't.  It's that second group where you get the real meat.  All four of the books on the top row fall into that rarefied strata... which is not to say that the above picture has the books in any sort of order!  They're just positioned to fit in the picture.

Even the books from the first category, such as Gordon Prange's Miracle at Midway, have substantial value.  Ironically, the weakest book of the bunch is the very first: Fuchida's.  It has been made clear through ongoing research, both here and in Japan, that he played fast and loose with the truth.  Well, that's unfortunate, but the truth appears to have come out. 

I haven't completed Dallas Isom's book, so I can't say what I think of it yet.  What I've read has managed to furrow my brow a few times... not always in a good way, it must be said.  It's certainly been worth the $4.95 I spent on it, though. 

Of course, I forgot to put my newest addition in the picture... it's sitting on my dining room table.  I haven't read it yet; it's going to be my business trip reading in a couple of weeks.

I wonder if any other single battle has generated as many books as Midway has?  D-Day, probably, but that isn't really a single battle, is it?  The Battle of Britain, likely... except that was less a battle and more of a campaign.  Maybe Stalingrad... but probably not.

And that's how it should be.

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June 03, 2013

F1 On The NBC Networks: Montreal 2013

After the slow crawl through the narrow streets of a tiny French fishing village, the F1 Circus makes its way across the pond (as opposed to crossing The Pond, which you do at your peril) to Montreal.  Here's a look at the track map for Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of the 2013 Grand Prix of Canada:

Oddly, there are many similarities between Montreal and Monaco.  Both speak French, for example, but I was more interested in the tracks.  Both are hard on the brakes; Montreal is the only place I've ever seen a brake disc explode, for example.  Both are relatively narrow with close walls, though Canada has more run-off room in general.  It's still no Abu Dhabi, though, and is quite unforgiving.  Both tracks will have the super-soft tires on hand, though Canada will also have the mediums available (Monaco had softs).

There are plenty of differences, of course.  Where Monaco is a high-downforce circuit, Montreal is just the opposite.  Lots of fast bits broken up by slow, slow turns categorize Canada, which is why the brakes get such a workout here.  You're just stomping on the clampers here.  Also, in Montreal they've got better beer and worse food than in Monaco, unless you like donuts. 

Which is to say, Canada is a fun track, arguably the best in F1 (though I wouldn't vote for it).  There's always safety cars here, the weather often plays a part (2011: two hour rain delay!), and good races are common.  And the Legendary Announce Team will be bringing it to us with their usual je ne sais quoi.  Here's the broadcast schedule:

1p - 230p:  Practice 2 live NBCSN
12noon - 130p:  Quals live NBCSN
1p - 330p: 2013 Grand Prix of Canada, live on NBC

Whaddya know, a race you don't have to get up at 530am for!  Yay us!  Of course, F1Update! will be all over the race, or something like that, so don't move a muscle.  Ever.

See you then.

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