August 31, 2013

The Deed Is Done

It has been a long time coming.  The decision was not particularly hard to make, but it was difficult to pull the trigger on.  Then finding the time and energy to actually do it, well, that was a feat in and of itself.  But finally, finally, it was accomplished.

I have a new computer.

Unlike many, perhaps all, of you, though, I am not frantically hooking it up and getting it running.  Believe me, I understand that urge, and as recently as a year or two ago, I would have been a whirlwind of activity, cables and widgets and dongles flying everywhichway in my haste and zeal to get the new gadget rockin'.  No, I've still too much to get off Chiyo-chan and stored onto the external drive, and too many logins to recover from too many websites to hurry into this.

So tomorrow, the whirlwind will occur.  And the world will finally meet the computer that will take over for Chiyo-chan.

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August 29, 2013

Newest McLaren Tooned! 50

I wasn't wanting to post this right now, but repeated attempts to link it in comments has kinda forced my hand... wing... whatever.

Enjoy, won't you?

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August 26, 2013

This Is The One Where Wonderduck Complains

Just giving you fair warning, is all.  As far as complaining goes, it probably won't be too terrible... more like a quiet yet persistent whining sound, exactly like the one emanating from the empty apartment downstairs.  Anyway.  If you're not interested, here's a nice picture that has nothing to do with anything, and might I suggest choosing from a category on the sidebar?

Last week, as I'm sure you all realized, I broke the 60-hour mark with plenty of time to spare.  The week before, I nearly did the same thing, though that was with six days.  This week will probably be right around 60 hours... things are kinda slowing down, but there are things other than customers that take up my time, as well.  As it is, I'm coming in early and staying late just to get stuff done... stuff that by rights I should be doing during the day.

Look, here's how wiped out I was.  This past Saturday, I woke up at 645am, as usual, and by 11am, I had fallen asleep twice as I was browsing the web or reading a book.  After waking up the second time, I gave up and went back to sleep.  I woke up five hours later, watched the Quals for Belgium, did the writeup, then went back to bed.  While I was intending to wake up around 1130pm to work on the next Eva 1.11 writeup (which I haven't touched for a couple of weeks), I blew through two different alarm clocks, only to wake up at 3am Sunday.  After piddling about, I went back to bed and slept until 10am Sunday.  And I'm still tired.

What I'm saying is, all this stuff at work may keep me away from blogginating for a bit longer.  I know this is terrible news for all of you, and some may even feel depressed about it.

However, and this is big big big... a new computer will be coming into my life this week.  Y'all will be introduced as soon as I actually, y'know, get it.  Wish me luck the rest of the week.

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August 25, 2013

(Mini) F1 Update!: Belgium 2013

There were grey skies above Spa all race, but not once did it rain.  That's a shame, because a bit of rain might have turned this into something of a race.  THIS is your (Mini) F1Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Belgium!

*THE RACE: For roughly thirty seconds, it looked like we had a good race in stock.  The lights went out, polesitter Shiv Hamilton made a good start and stayed in front of hard-charging Hannibal Vettel into La Source and through Eau Rouge.  At the start of the Kemmel Straight, however, the Red Bull got a tow from the Mercedes, swept past, and never looked back.  By the end of the first lap, even though he had to pass to take the lead and thus didn't have the entire lap to work with, Vettel had a 1.5 second lead.  A few laps later, it was up to seven seconds, and it became clear that Red Bull had a ridiculously low downforce setup on the car.  That's a safe gamble at, say, Monza, where it almost never rains, but at Spa?  A single drop of rain would send the RB9 sliding into the Ardennes Forest. 

But it didn't rain, and Vettel just ran away with the race.  His tires lasted longer than anybody else, the lack of downforce didn't hurt him at all, and he had a 15 second lead at one point.  It would have been bigger, but the team told him to dial it back, and for once, he listened.  The final podium was Vettel, Ferrari's HWMNBN (who had a great race from 9th), and Hamilton.

:  Nothing good.  Red Bull's weakness in the past has been the faster tracks.  Their naturally high downforce levels have always meant they've been slower than most everybody in a straight line.  If they can run with almost no rear wing and still have enough grip to survive in the fast sweeping turns of Spa, what are they going to be able to do at the next race at Monza?

*ALL THE REST:  Kimi Raikkonen retired from the race today with brake failure.  This was his first retirement since he returned to F1, some 38 races.  It was also his first non-points-paying finish in 27 races.  This dropped him to fourth in the Driver's Championship race, from second.  He's now behind Hamilton in 3rd, and HWMNBN in 2nd.  Mind you, that's 46 points behind in 2nd.

Greenpeace protested the SHELL sponsorship of the race and tried to disrupt the podium ceremony.  They managed to trigger two small remote-control banners, one of which made it on-camera for a moment.  If you're curious, there is footage on youtube of it; we won't link to it. 

*FINALLY:  We here at F1U! appreciate our readers' patience as we go through this most busy of times at work.  We'll do better next time, two weeks from now at Monza!  See ya then!

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August 24, 2013

F1 Quals: Belgium 2013

The result is the same, but the gettin' there made it fun!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 2:00.368 1:49.067 2:01.012
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:01.863 1:48.646 2:01.200
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:01.597 1:48.641 2:01.325
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:01.099 1:48.552 2:02.251
5 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 2:02.338 1:48.925 2:02.332
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:01.301 1:48.641 2:03.075
7 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:02.476 1:48.649 2:03.081
8 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 2:01.151 1:48.296 2:03.390
9 HWMNBN Ferrari 2:00.190 1:48.309 2:03.482
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:01.462 1:49.020 2:04.059
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 2:01.712 1:49.088
12 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2:02.749 1:49.103
13 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 2:02.425 1:49.304
14 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 2:00.564 1:52.036
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 2:02.110 1:52.563
16 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 2:02.948 1:52.762
17 Sofer Maldonado Williams-Renault 2:03.072

18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 2:03.300

19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 2:03.317

20 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 2:03.432

21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2:04.324

22 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 2:07.384

Just as Q3 began, with nine cars on dry tires lined up at the Pit out light, it began to rain.  The nine cars immediately leaped onto the track and tried to get around and complete a hot lap before the track became too wet for dry tires.  They didn't succeed.  It took them until roughly halfway around the four-mile-long circuit to realize it, but there was no way a flying lap on slicks was going to work.  Quickly, the situation became one of pure survival as nine cars slipped, slid, fishtailed and twitched their way back to the pitlane.

Then there was Force India's Paul di Resta... the 10th car in Q3.  He and FI waited for everybody else to start rolling out of the pitlane before they came out... on Inters.  It was a gamble to be sure.  If the track had stayed dry-ish, everybody else would set flying laps in much better conditions than he'd ever see.  But if the rain kept coming, he'd be on Inters at the best possible time: that golden period where Inters were superior to slicks, but before the rain tires started to slow down a touch.

And that's exactly what happened.  For nine minutes and 55 seconds of the 10 minute session, Paul di Resta sat on provisional pole.  But the rain had stopped a couple of minutes earlier, and Nico Rosberg had managed somehow to pip di Resta just as time expired for the session.  Disappointing, but it would still be a front-row start for Force India, nothing to sneeze at for a midpack team.

Except both Red Bulls and Shiv Hamilton had begun hot laps just before time ran out on Q3... and the track was drier still for them.  Webber was in front of Vettel who was, in turn, in front of Hamilton on track.  First Webber beat Rosberg's time for pole, then Vettel beat Webber's time... and then Hamilton took pole from Vettel.  Suddenly, the great gamble taken by Force India and Paul di Resta, which looked like such a winner, was gone in an instant.  But for a brief shining moment, Force India controlled the Formula 1 world.

A big cheer to Marussia, who for the first time ever got both of their cars into Q2!  It was also the first time since 2010, when they were Virgin Racing, that one of their cars had made it out of the first round.

There's more rain predicted for Sunday's race, which means that anything could happen.  If you're gonna watch one race this year, make it this one.  It should be awesome... see ya then!

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August 22, 2013

And Down The Stretch They Come...

Somewhere around 10 Thursday morning, I clocked my 40th hour in the Duck U Bookstore for the week. I didn't leave today until 8pm.  You do the math.

If things break the right way, I might be able to get out on Friday in about 11 hours.  That'd be the shortest day this week!

I'm so very, very tired.

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August 20, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: Belgium 2013

In the Walloon Region of Belgium, tucked away in a valley in the corner of the Ardennes Forest, there is a small village that has lent its name to a form of beauty salon, personal care resorts, or places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.  That little town is also known for a very, very big racetrack.  Of course, I speak of Spa, home of the Grand Prix of Belgium, which also encourages renewal of the mind, body and spirit through the heavy use of high RPMs and carbon fiber.  Let's take a look at this most favorite of circuits, shall we?

Yup, still the same old Spa of the past years.  I could gush over the wonder that is Eau Rouge, the daring that is Blanchimont, the glory of La Source, and in my older "F1 on SPEED!" posts, I have.  Instead of regurgitating all the same things, I'm going to pause for a moment and pay tribute to the people that taught me how to be a fan of F1, then motorsports in general.

SPEED was where my adult fandom of Formula 1 began, back these... eight or nine years ago.  They showed me the nuance and detail involved in a way that only baseball before it has hooked me.  From F1, it was a small step to the two 24 Hours races they programmed, at Daytona and LeMans.  From there, I learned about the brilliant V8Supercars series with the magnificent Mt Panorama circuit.  Then onto the world of high-end car auctions, lesser Formula races, and even the NASCAR Truck Racing series, all of these were introduced to me via the Charlotte, NC-based channel.  And while they never turned me into a fan of NASCAR, they sure gave it a good try.

SPEED is gone now, turned into something called "Fox Sports 1", but for me, they'll always be a part of my motorsports fandom.  Thanks, guys.  You'll be missed.

But now, F1 is on NBCSN, so here's the broadcast schedule for Belgium:
P2: 7a - 830a
Quals: 1130a - 1p
Grand Prix of Belgium: 630a - 9a

You'll note that Quals is out of normal time; that's because NBCSN believes that something called "Premiere League Football" is more important.  I had no idea Adobe was sponsoring football teams!

At this point, I'd normally say something along the lines of "F1Update! will be all over all the coverage like a cheap suit on rice," or something like that.  Not this time.  There'll only be something for P2 if groundbreaking news occurs, like injuries to drivers or something like that.  Hopefully, there won't be.  Quals and the race should get normal coverage, though.  See ya then!!!

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August 18, 2013

Wonderduck's Weekend

I worked all day Saturday, as the new fledgelings moved into the Duck U dorms that day, then had dinner with Ph.Duck immediately afterwards.  I got home around 7pm, and by 8pm I was crawling into bed for a nap.  I set the alarm clock AND my cellphone to wake me around 1030p, and I was out cold before my head finished sinking into the pillow.

Hydraulic pressure woke me up at six in the morning on Sunday.  I had slept through two hours of Sports-Talk Radio and my cellphone's alarm (twice), which normally will kick me out of bed like a train had hit the headboard.  Groggily, I purged the hydraulic lines and debated with myself what to do: go back to bed?  Do laundry?  Sleep?  Laundry?

Laundry.  I was nice to my neighbors, however, and waited until 8am to do it.  After that was done, I had lunch while watching the NASCAR race and falling asleep.  By 2pm, I gave up and went back to sleep... and woke up at 7pm.  And I'm STILL sleepy.  Next week is the start of classes at Duck U., so there's no rest for either the weary or for the Duck U Bookstore's manager.

Thanks for your patience.

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August 15, 2013

"...Without You Suffering From Burnout."

Those were the last words my boss said to me on the phone today before I burst into a manic sort of laughter, high-pitched and brittle.  The sort of laughter that inspires ultimate confidence in the listener.

I have nothing else to say, I guess.  A couple more weeks and it'll all be over...

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August 13, 2013

The Nightmares Have Begun

The stress of work is leaking into my sleeping brain, causing nightmares beyond telling.  This one, though, is at least a little humorous.  The other night, I dreamt that I was the only person in the world who remembered a particular song from 1992, and I HAD to preserve that memory, no matter what. 

Now, the way I learned about this song in real life was interesting enough.  I was home from Grad School, and had a few bucks free to spend on stuff.  I had become the unofficial master of the mixtape for just about any party held by the theatre department, owing to my ginormous cassette collection, supplemented by a small but growing assortment of CDs.  Add in the collections of the two roomies, and I had a ridiculously eclectic range of music to play with.  There was only one problem: none of it was new.  I jumped on my folks' computer (a 386, maybe) and swear to god, connected to Prodigy.

THAT was cutting edge back then, folks.  Anyway, I headed to some of the message boards to ask for help... mostly for dance music.  I got a few good song titles back, including the track involved in my nightmare. 

Oh yeah, remember that?  The nightmare?  I woke up from it, thinking I REALLY WAS the only person in the world who remembered the song.  I stumbled into my living room and started going through my CDs, trying to find the maxi-single... and I couldn't find it.  The boxes in the closet didn't have it either.  Actually desperate now, I called up yourfaceinatube, hoping beyond hope that someone else out there knew the tune!  As it turned out, I need not have worried.

In fact, it was rather stupid of me to have been half-scared out of my wits; this was actually a Billboard Hot 100 hit, back when that meant something, and I KNEW that.  Of course people weren't going to have forgotten it.  Still, nightmares aren't supposed to make sense, are they?

And now, just in case something really DOES happen and everybody else forgets "Love U More" by Sunscreem, it'll be here.

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August 12, 2013


The replacement graphics card came in today.  As soon as I got home, I put it in. 

And it didn't work.  Of course.  Of course.

I just realized that I can't return it to Amazon now, either, because I sent the original to EVGA.

I am now taking suggestions on new desktop computers.



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August 11, 2013

They Also Serve...

...who only stand and tug.

The USS Woban, YTB 138.  No real reason for me posting this picture, except it's a great picture of a tugboat.  Sure, it's not the most glamourous vessel ever, but without it (and ships like it) navies the world over would be in serious sheepdip.

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August 10, 2013

More Half-Frames!

-Megane na Kanojo, OVA #4

I wrote about this "series" a few years ago.  At the time, I reviewed just the first two installments, as that was all that was available.  The remaining two were released shortly thereafter, and held up nicely to the standards set by the the earlier OVAs.  For whatever reason, this evening I decided to rewatch the series, and lo and behold, there's a set of red half-frames in it.  More for Steven!

Y'know what?  MnK might be one of the nicest shows I've seen recently.  It's not great by any stretch of the imagination.  There's dozens of better series out there.  But you watch it with a half-smile on your face for the entire time, and when it's over, there's this little sigh of contentment that you'll inevitably emit.

It's very much focused on a certain fetish... glasses are hot!... and if you're one of those people who don't "get it," you'll probably have a substantially different reaction, but for those that fall into the correct niche?  It'll be half-smile and sigh time.

They don't all have to be high art, folks.  In fact, it's probably better that they aren't.

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August 08, 2013

An Origins Tale

No, not that Origins, as we were more of a Gen-Con group growing up... naturally enough, since it was (metaphorically) just up the road in Kenosha.  THIS origins tale will be something a little more prosaic.  Those few of you who didn't sear the post out of your memory will recall a little passage in the latest Eva 1.11 post, about how longtime friend Vaucaunson's Duck ran me down with his bicycle and ground my youthful face into the brick street.  Ah, those wacky hijinks!

As with most good fiction, some bad fiction, and the occasional bit of writing you'll see here on The Pond, there is a germ of truth behind the story.  In this case, while Vauc didn't actually run me over, he did have a bicycle, like many kids our age, and by "our age," I mean 12, which would be approximately three years after we first met.  I was already infamous at Q.S. Trotter Grade School for having been the first student demoted from third grade to second in the middle of a school year.  Of course, this naturally meant that I was as dumb as a box of hair, when the truth was somewhat more... strange.

See, my education up until my family migrated to Duckford was... um... well, I was part of an alternative schooling program known as the "Free School Movement."  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the short version is that, instead of having a schedule of classes that I had to take, I learned what I felt like learning.  I believe I attended the Free School for three years, from the ages of 5 through 8, until the Great Migration in '76.  Now, I want you to imagine being five years old, and you're being told that you can learn whatever you feel like learning, and you don't have to learn what you don't want to.  EVER.  As it worked out, I was reading at a high school level when we moved to Duckford and I began attending QS Trotter... but I couldn't math my way out of a paper bag.  The thing is, nobody had any idea where to put me when I got to conventional school.  So I was placed into third grade... and within a month or so, everybody discovered that I didn't have a single freakin' idea of how to school, either.  I never turned in a piece of homework, ever.  Don't get me wrong, I did it all... but I just left it in my desk.  That's what I did before, after all, how was I supposed to know any different?

In a lot of ways, the whole Free School thing was both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, I still love to read, and writing?  Well, there's eight years of crap here at The Pond to look back on.  On the other hand, though, I still can't math worth a damn and I have no interest in learning to.  So that's how I came to be infamous at QS Trotter...

...anyway.  Met Vauc sometime afterwards, became friends, and somewhere along the way, he had a 10-speed bicycle; guess that would have been around 1980.  I, on the other hand, had a somewhat clunky three-speed bike, painted a truly lovely shade of brown, and by "lovely," I mean something completely not lovely at all.  I do mean "brown," however.  I'm not denying that brown can be an appealing color, though it makes me look like a pile of dog poo with a pile of red hair on top, I'm just saying that my bicycle was nothing special to look at.  Or ride, come to think of it.

In any case, I don't remember which of us came up with the nickname "Tenspeed and Brown Bike."  Probably Vauc.  Maybe you, earnestly bored reader, remember the short-lived Steven J Cannell show, "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe," starring Ben Vereen and Jeff Goldblum?  I will admit to not remembering it at all, save for that it gave us the nickname that I remember so clearly, despite it being 33 years old... and judging from the response to a text I sent a few hours ago, Vauc remembers not at all.

Well, that's the way these things go.  What my brain remembers as important are not the same as Vauc's, surely.  I'm sure he has vivid memories of... I dunno, playing MAATAC in the Game Room, for example, that I don't have any recollection of. 

In any case, that's the long-form explanation of the "bicycle over the face" gag.  Pointless, wasn't it?

(I still remember modifying the rules to MAATAC to allow OGREs... good times, good times...)

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August 07, 2013

Random Anime Picture #81: PIKA!!!

-YuruYuri Ep09
...and then the Science Lab blew up.  Again.

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August 06, 2013

Look, Here's The Story.

Over at the Duck U Bookstore, the Run To Rush has truly begun in earnest.  While classes actually begin on August 21st, next week is when, historically, we take the next step in sales traffic.  Right now, we're doing... oh, let's call it X in sales per day.  Next week, we'll be doing 2X, maybe 3X.  Rush Week itself, though, will see us doing 6X for a couple of days, 5X the rest.  That's busy enough when you've got a full staff, but I don't.

My boss was in the store on Monday, and as always, he asked "what can I do for you?"  My reply was simple: give me an experienced employee for a couple of weeks.  Doesn't even have to be a new assistant manager, just someone I can have cover the sales floor while I do admin stuff.  Unfortunately, pretty much every other store in our region starts classes within a week of me, meaning they'll be at least as busy as me, and loathe to release a trained staffer as well. 

Which leaves me doing two jobs, though as the manager, it's all really my job.  Anyway, I've got to cover the floor, unpack boxes, put incoming stock on the shelves, customer service, all that sort of thing... which I love, don't get me wrong.  But at the same time, I've got to do paperwork, reorders, receiving, keeping the Home Office happy and the vendors paid... and only so much of it can be done after the store is closed.

As I'm hopping around like a frog with its head cut off all day, by the time I get home, a lot of what I want to do doesn't involve the computer.  It does involve having a meal, watching the TV, and sleeping... and if I ever get that stupid graphics card back from EVGA, playing video games.  ANYTHING to keep my mind off work.

So what I'm saying is that I'm going to be a little quiet here for a while.  I'll probably post a random anime picture every day, or every other day, or something, so there'll still be content (or content-like substance), it just won't be the deep, probing, intelligent, thoughtful, erudite material you've grown used to from The Pond.

Like that.

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August 03, 2013

The Evangelion Movies: 1.11 You Are (not) Alone, pt 3

A couple of weeks back, we discovered that the giant robot designed to save the world, Unit-01, didn't actually need Our Hero, Shinji, to be able to defeat the attacking bad things, The Angels.  In fact, considering his performance up until that point, he probably just hindered matters.  Oh, and we also met Pen-Pen, the rare Hot Springs Penguin who is also God.  That last sentence isn't written very well, is it?  What I meant to say is that Pen-Pen is a rare Hot Springs Penguin.  Pen-Pen is also God.  As opposed to being the very uncommon Hot Springs Penguin that is God, which makes it sound more like a reoccurring thing, or that with enough Hot Springs Penguins you could have two that are God.  Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Uh... right, no, sorry, not a hoot.  Before He gets all pissy, let's move onto the real story... Shinji gets beaten up again!

I do find it somewhat amusing that the writers of Eva seem to hate Our Hero as much as we do.  Let's get him beaten up whenever possible, by whomever possible.  I'm surprised Pen-Pen didn't take a swing at him.  In this case, it's a classmate who's little sister was injured in the fight we saw last time.  Presumably when Unit-01 bled on her or something.

Pow, right in the kisser.  Shinji goes down like the sack of tomatoes he is, and his two new friends leave him there, bleeding into the dust.  That's often how I realized I had made a new friend.  I still remember when I first met Vaucaunson's Duck, how he ran me over with his bicycle, taking extra-special care to grind my young face into the brick street outside his house.  Nowadays we look back at it and laugh, but even then it was a special moment in my life.

Finally, someone at NERV has a bright idea!


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P34 @ Monaco

I hope to have the third installment of Eva 1.11 tonight, but while you're waiting, here's this:

A lap of Monaco in the legendary Tyrrell P34 with most of the bodywork taken off.  Helluva thing, those four front wheels.  And here's what it looks like with the bodywork ON:

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