January 31, 2014

F1 Pr0n: Marussia MR3

Thursday was the third of four pre-season testing days at Jerez this session, and finally the good folks from Marussia were able to get their car out on track.  It was an epic struggle for that to occur, with the car not working just before they made it there, the transporter apparently breaking down on the way, so on and so forth.  But they got the new MR3 out of the garage, making it a full 10-for-10 on teams at the event (only Lotus didn't attend... and their car reportedly needs about 20 weeks before it'll be able to work, according to one wag).  So what's it look like?

Baby!  That's the epitome of F1 Pr0n, right there!  Best looking car of the season, bar none, and it's not even close.  I particularly like the air intake behind the driver's head, quite a bit different from everybody else.  The nose looks, as has become the norm, completely different from all the others.

The nosecone seems higher that I expected, but maybe that's just an optical illusion.  The proboscis has a square pyramid tip to it, another new feature.  One drawback of the black livery is that things like sidepod openings just sort of disappear, a black hole on a black background.  Still, it looks lovely.

See what I mean?  It also looks BIG, though I'm sure it's no longer or taller than the others.  Driver Max Chilton just sort of... disappears... in the cockpit, doesn't he?  Will the good looks matter?  Hell no, not unless a hot livery means you take a second off your time.  Otherwise, they'll just look really photogenic as they're lapped for the third time. 

Tonight or Saturday, I intend to do a F1 News Recap post, because there's news indeed coming out of Jerez.  See you sooner or later!

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January 29, 2014

Rush: The Review

Keeping with the general F1 theme around these here parts this week, here's my official review of Rush, the recent movie by Ron Howard about the 1976 F1 season:

See it.

Oh, you want more?


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January 28, 2014

F1 MegaPr0n: Caterham CT05, Williams FW36, Red Bull RB10, Force India VJM07, Mercedes W05

It's the first day of pre-season testing for the F1 Circus, and while it was a bust as far as on-track action went (nine cars, something around 80 laps total run), it was a huge success as far as getting cars in front of cameras!  Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS is your F1 MegaPr0n for 2014!

Lots of pictures, so click "more" to get started!


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January 27, 2014

F1 Pr0n: Toro Rosso STR9

As the temperatures here at Pond Central begin their precipitous plunge towards a predicted -21°F tonight (that's -30°C, folks!), our thoughts turn to the south of Spain.  There, nestled amongst the sherry vinyards of Andalusia, is the Circuito de Jerez, a Formula 1-level racetrack used by The Circus for pre-season testing.  It is there, under a clear sky and 60°F temperatures, that the fourth of the 2014 rollouts has occurred.  Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Toro Rosso STR9!

The problem with circuit rollouts is that you don't get glamour shots, but "real" pictures.  No straight side shots, no directly-head-on nose shots, that sort of thing.  But it's not like we can't see what's what with what we've got, heavens no!  Long sloping nose like the McLaren, I actually think it looks really good... until you to the front wing.  Hide the children, Mable, this is gonna be bad!

Oh dear god.  I hope this is all just a bad dream, that F1 is just trolling all of us.  "It's all a joke, you all fell for it, here's what the cars will really look like!"  Unfortunately, I know it isn't... the cars are going to actually look like this all season. 

One interesting feature of the STR9 Durante is that it's the first of the cars to not have a center pillar supporting the rear wing.  Instead, the endplates run all the way down to the floor and diffuser.  The sidepods don't have the complex sculpted undercutting to them that the McLaren and Ferrari have, making it all look very "big shoulder"-y.  Or at least as much as a F1 car can look brawny.

So tomorrow is going to be very busy indeed, as the first pre-season test in Jerez begins... expect there to be a LOT of new cars tomorrow!  See ya then.

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January 26, 2014

F1 Pr0n: Sauber C33

Hinwil.  Hardly a city name that inspires visions of glamour and intrigue.  Yet it is Hinwil in Switzerland, population 10602, that F1 Pr0n travels to today.  For this little town in the Swiss Confederation is the location of Sauber F1 Team, who today rolled out their car for the 2014 season, the Sauber C33!

Unfortunately, they did it by releasing just a pair of pictures of a grey car in a grey warehouse with a grey floor.  Still, we can (barely) tell what they're doing with the nose!

It's looks like it tapers in around the "Diamond I" on the front of the car, as opposed to McLaren's proboscis and Ferrari's Gypsylips.  Until we see a front shot, however, we can't be sure just what it looks like for sure.  What I CAN say is that it's completely different than the other two we've actually seen to date.  Other than that, however?  Just not enough detail in the angles we've got to say anything intelligent about the car... which is, truly, par for the course. 

Allegedly, the Toro Rosso rollout is Monday... see ya then!

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January 25, 2014

F1 Pr0n: Ferrari F14T

Despite their recent drought as far as championships go, the big team in Formula 1 is still the band from Maranello.  Today, Ferrari debuted their car for the 2014 season, the F14T.  Interestingly, the name was picked by the rabid tifosi in an online poll.  I wonder if anybody noticed that it spells "FIAT" in l33t?  Anyway, I understand the "T" stands for "turbo", but I'm just old enough to remember when teams were able to bring a spare car to the track, aka "the T car."  Whenever I'll look at the F14T name, I'm going to inevitably think of it as the "Ferrari F14 spare."

But enough of the ruminations of an old, bitter man.  What does the thing look like anyway?

Completely different style of nose from the McLaren, but equally legal.  I suspect we'll be seeing this type of thing at each and every rollout: how will each team interpret the new rules, and which interpretation will be the best?  It's not as ugly as the McLaren, but something tells me that the Glare on Wheels might actually have the better solution.  Interestingly, the Ferrari has much smaller sidepod radiator inlets than the McLaren.  Clearly they don't think they'll have cooling difficulties.

Oh geez.  What looks acceptable from the front suddenly looks really, really ugly from the 3/4 position.  The MP4-29 has a nice clean arc from cockpit to tip.  This is like the 2012 stepped nose that everybody hated, mixed with a substantially lower termination point... yick.

I actually like this; as long as I don't have to look at the nose, the car looks good.  I even like the paintjob... the less Ferrari Red on the track, the better.  In comparison to last year's car, the back half of the F14T is bigger, so as to fit all the new engine components and such into it.  Sidepods don't seem to be as steeply undercut as they have been in past years, either.  We'll see!

Ferrari decided to give us a nice glamour shot as well... click for more, and no staples!


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January 24, 2014

F1 Pr0n: McLaren MP4-29

Every year around this time, something special occurs.  The hibernating F1 Circus begins to stir, shaking off the accumulated dust and tireclag of the offseason.  It used to be that the big Red team would be the first to stumble out of the cave, blinking and sneezing, but no longer is this the case.  This year, it's the Glare on Wheels that's made it's way into the light first... not only that, but it stopped to pose for some pictures.  So, let's kick off the new season with some true F1 Pr0n, the debut of the McLaren MP4-29!

New regulations this year require a very very low nose, with the front wing attached to it by twin pillars, and you can see that quite clearly in this shot.  What you don't see is the thinner rear-wing elements required, or the larger sidepod intakes needed to help cool all the new engine stuff required for the turbocharger and larger KERS battery pack.  No, that's all visible from the front... so let's see that sexy, sexy front view, shall we?

Off in the distance, I hear the sound of retching and wails from those weak of heart: "Dear god, what in the name of all that's holy is that?"  I'll admit, even though I knew it was coming, the new eatanter nose is... um... er... what's the term I'm looking for here?

Ah yes: Fugly.  No other word even comes close to describing the travesty foisted upon us by the FIA rulebook this year.  I mean, dear heavens, just look at that thing... who could really like that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, McLaren's biggest fan. 

However, all is not lost... the little team from Woking has one tradition that they haven't thrown away quite yet: the glamour shot!  Click "more" to see what I'm talking about... but not until you put the kids to bed.


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Just A Note

Yes, I know F1 cars are debuting today.  I'm at work, I'll do it when I get home.

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January 22, 2014

The Evangelion Movies: 2.22 You Can (not) Advance, pt 1

Some months ago, I decided that I was going to do writeups for each of the new Evangelion movies, collectively called "The Rebuild of Evangelion".  This had the horrible timing of being at a time when my life suddenly got ridiculously busy, to the point where it took over seven months to complete the first movie's writeups.  At the end of the last writeup, I even expressed some doubt over whether or not I'd even attempt the second movie.

I have only abandoned one writeup series.  This will not become the second.  It's too ripe for my kind of writeup, I just can't let it pass unhindered.  So I promise to do this movie, and faster than seven months.  Deal?  Deal.  So let's get right to it!  The first movie was pretty much a shot-for-shot retelling of the first six or so episodes from the original TV show, though with a graphics upgrade and slightly less whiny Shinji... will the second film follow the same pattern?

That would be a big "nope."  Right off the bat, we're dropped into a scene that didn't exist in the show, with a new, unnamed pilot.  Stranger, much of it is in English, though stiff and stilted.  Eh, must be British.  Weird to see Japanese subtitles in an anime... anyway, this is the "troublemaker" pilot of Eva-05, which appears to be some sort of test unit.  There's an Angel attack under way, and this is, apparently, the first run of the unit.  Clearly, this will go nothing but well.

Oh, him we've seen before, though.  His name is Kaji, and he's some sort of double-triple agent spy for one faction or other... SEELE, NERV, S.H.I.E.L.D., ASPCA, whatever.  He showed up in the TV series to give Misato someone to sleep with, and who was then promptly shot.  Here, though, he appears to be present in some sort of advisory position to the... Russian?... Eva base.  As it turns out, the attacking Angel isn't a real Angel, it's the animated bones of the dead Third Angel, the one that caused the Second Impact fifteen years ago, and we're in Antarctica, where the Second Impact occurred.  None of this is explained, nor even inferred by the movie... I had to look it up.  Good storytelling, Evangelion!.  Kaji bugs out, and we return to...

It appears the Third Angel was a duck.  Well, yeah.  We still haven't had a clear look at the new Eva unit, though it appears to have wheels instead of legs.  A short fight ensues, the Duck Angel nearly defeats Eva-05, but at the last moment the Angel is defeated as the Eva self-destructs.

So that's it for the new Eva, the new pilot, and it all goes boom in a pink cloud.  Seems like something of a waste, don'tcha think?  All that excitement over a new character, and she's gone *boop* just like that!

Or, y'know, not.  Here she is, glasses and everything.  It's not like Gainax isn't trying to hit all the fetishes the TV show missed or anything.  Still don't know her name, though... or even that we'll see her again.  She IS floating in an ejected entry plug in a sea of Angel blood near what was Antarctica, after all.  Oh, and the nearest base was just wiped out, too.  Yup, gonna be a long time until she sees rescue.

Time to pause and refresh before we get into the real film!  Go ahead, I'll still be here.  I don't mind. 


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January 20, 2014

Here We Go Again... Again.

Tuesday is the first day of Spring classes at Duck U, which means the Duck U Bookstore is going to be crazy-go-nuts for the next few days.  Pity us, we few, for we will suffer the deluge.

Or something like that, at least.

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January 19, 2014

It Comes...


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January 15, 2014




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January 12, 2014

A Bridge Too... High?

Some many, many years ago, I spent a few days in Stillwater, MN.  Ph.Duck's older brother and his family lived there, and I was a guest in their home while Ph.Duck and Momzerduck did... something I don't remember now, perhaps attend a wedding.  Something like that.  Anyway, being a college kid, I didn't want to just hang out at their (really nice!) house, I wanted to find something fun to do.  Hard to do without a car in Stillwater, but not impossible. 

After descending the Thousand Stairs Of Doom, I found myself in the Historic Downtown District.  To my left was quaint shops, some attractive looking bar & grills, that sort of thing.  To my right was the riverside area.  I headed to one of the bars... it was a sunny early afternoon and warm, so the dark and air conditioning was welcome.  The place, and I will never forget this as long as I live, was called "Cat Ballou's" and had what looked like a life-sized wood-carved statue of Jane Fonda from the movie of the same name near the door.  I was pretty much the only person in the place that early in the day... I remember the cheeseburger and fries being tasty, and the beer quite pleasant indeed. 

After a couple of hours working on my version of The Great American Novel, I headed back out to the riverside area.  Yup, it's a river.  Oh look, boats.  Pretty girl in a sundress.  More boats.  Still a river.  What the hell is that?

At the time, I had no idea there was such a thing as a lift bridge.  Drawbridge, sure.  Truss bridge, uh-huh.  Suspension, cable-stay, arch and cantilever bridges, you bet.  But a lift bridge?!?!  What sort of magic is this?  I was fascinated!  As it turns out, it was stuck in the up position at the time, due to all the equipment being original to when it was built and it sometimes does that, but I didn't care at all.  How lovely it was to see such a thing.

I'm sure the traffic that had to detour some ridiculous distance to get across the St Croix river disagreed with my assessment, but that's beside the point.  It was the neatest thing I saw during that visit to Minnesota.  It's still there, though you have to make an appointment with the State to open it for your boat, but it's still there.

Then came the climb back up the Thousand Stairs of Doom.  The climb up was a lot worse than going down, and I changed my plans for the next day so to avoid them.  I haven't seen the bridge since.

I still think it's magic, and I can't honestly see a reason to build one over a drawbridge, but it's still awfully cool.

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I appear to have lost the ability to make something that can go to space.  I can't understand why.  Even the successful Mun Launcher I fails to reach orbit.  I'm surely just doing something wrong, but I'll be darned if I can figure out what it is.

It's frustrating, but also exciting... once I figure out my problem, it'll be all "clear skies and hot jets!"

Or maybe I should say "if".  If I figure out my problem.

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January 10, 2014

I've Finally Seen "Rush"

Holy crepe, that's a good film.

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January 08, 2014

To The Mun IIIa: The Search For Something That Flies

After the failure of Mun Rescuer I, it was time to go back to the design phase to come up with something less likely to turn itself into a brightly glowing ball of incandescent gas.  An hour or so of tinkering brought forth the cleverly named Mun Rescuer II: This Time It's Personal

This time with more lights!  No, they do nothing for purposes of getting to the Mun, but it does make it look purty-ish!  The media beast must be fed, don'tchaknow?  It heads into space on the immense power of four Mainsail liquid fueled engines.

See?  It leaps off the pad with the greatest of ease, and practically wants to scream into space at a speed guaranteed to rend it into component atoms before the gravity turn.  It wasn't until Mun Rescuer II: This Time It's Personal dropped the Orange Cans of Fuel that I realized that there was a problem.  Namely, this beast was horrendously underpowered to go to the Mun.  The stage that I had intended to use for Translunar Injection was swallowed just getting into a stable orbit.

Worse still, the lander-and-go-home stage clearly didn't have enough gas get to the Mun on it's own.  Chalking it down as a good test flight, I deorbited, hoping the PPD-12 Cupola could handle the re-entry stress.  Really, the whole endeavor would come down to that... it's pointless if we pick up Bill Kerbin from the Mun, only to fricassee him a few kilometers from home.

Much to my surprise, it didn't turn into something resembling a melted marshmallow... the Cupola really isn't meant for that sort of thing.  Even better, the capsule didn't pull apart from the lifeboat when the parachutes opened up.  Huzzah!  Feh.

So!  A spectacularly frustrating first flight.  Everything worked perfectly... except for the whole reason this thing exists: getting to the Mun and back.  That part?  Not so much.  But at least Bill Kerman is having fun on the Mun.

Morale is still high, despite all reason.

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January 06, 2014

Too Cold To Complain About How Cold It Is

Here, inside, at Pond Central, it's a comfortable 70 degrees.  Outside the confines of Pond Central, however, it is -18°F, with a windchill of -45°F!  There is a 115 degree difference between inside and outside right the heck now... and it's just short of noon.

It's not the coldest I've experienced, as I lived in Minnesota for two years, but this is easily the coldest I've seen here in Duckford.  A couple of hours ago, I stepped outside just for a few seconds.  That was a terrible mistake.  Fortunately, Duck U is closed for the day, and even better, they announced it early Sunday afternoon!

Holy crepe, it's cold.

UPDATE: It's cold enough that Duck U has shut down for another day already!  We're closed on Tuesday... just what this lil' duck needed!

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January 05, 2014

The Magic Of Memory

So there I was, working on the design of Mun Rescuer II, listening to the playoff game between the Chargers and the Bengals on the radio.  They're in a time-out, and Ian Eagle and Trent Green, one of the better NFL pairings on "network" radio, are talking about what had just occurred on the field.  In the background, the Bengals stadium entertainment system is playing some music that... I've heard before.  It's a simple guitar four-chord progression with a bit of fuzz overtop.  It stops before anything more than that plays, practically nothing to identify it with, but I know this song. 

Except I don't.  You could hold a gun to my head and say you're going to pull the trigger and scatter my brains over a 1" x 1" area if I don't tell you the title right now, and you'd best have a kleenex handy to wipe up the mess.  I've heard it before.  I know I like the tune.  I just can't place it, nor where I know it from.  I begin to fret over the name... or even just how the song goes... or even where I've heard it fore.  ANYTHING I can use to place it.  TEN FRIGGIN' MINUTES later, I shut down Kerbal Space Program, throw on some warm clothes, and head out to the gas station for a bottle of grape juice and a 12-pack of Sprite before the arctic vortex hits and the temperature get flushed down the sewer.  Of course, the entire way there, I'm trying to figure out the tune.  It isn't until I'm back in the car after obtaining my liquid bounty that something dredges out of my memory: "the rock."  Then the certain knowledge that it was used in an AMV from years ago.  Suddenly, the mile-long drive home from the gas station feels like a hundred miles... I need to search for this!

I hop onto yootoob, punch in "the rock AMV", and start scrolling through the list... and there it was.  Sure as heck, that's it... it's a lousy copy, so I search for a better one, but that's the song!  I'm practically dancing in my chair in celebration as I load it up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the song that I heard about five seconds of: Apollo Four Forty's "Stop The Rock"!

Now, back to rescue missions!

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January 04, 2014

To The Mun III: Rescue Bill Kerman!

After the truly Kerbal Space Program-level success of my Mun landing, it was time to go rescue the first Kerbal on the Mun.  Which meant, of course, designing a new Mun-ship!

Presenting the cleverly-named "Mun Rescuer I".  It didn't take very long to come up with the design, since it's simply Mun Launcher I with a PPD-1 Hitchhiker Storage Container ("The HSC was an invention of necessity - how do we store 4 Kerbals on-orbit without any real provisions for return? Who needed this remains a mystery, as do his motives.") stuck under the Mk1 capsule, more fuel cans and six landing struts.  No way this baby's gonna break off the nuclear rocket, nuh-uh!

In retrospect, I probably should have spent a little more time on the design phase.


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January 01, 2014

To The Mun! II: Electric Munaloo!

After hours upon hours of poorly thought out mission parameters, unsuccessful orbital routines and rapid unplanned disassemblies...

...I have finally figured out how to to routinely make it into orbit.  As Robert Heinlein pointed out, "once you're in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere."  So, like any good Kerbalnaut, I set my sights on My First Mun Landing®.  How hard could it be?

Here is the trusty steed, the cleverly named "Mun Launcher I", in the middle of the gravity turn for orbit, a short time before dropping the heavy boosters.  Players of the game might recognize that I'm actually heading towards a retrograde orbit... what can I say?  I'm an iconoclast!  I've also had four consecutive successful Munar orbit launches this way, and zero successful Munar orbit launches going the normal way.  It's probably just me.


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