October 30, 2018

F1 Update: Mexico 2018

Okay, for all of you that have figured out how to be notified when I post something here at The Pond and came looking for what's in the title, I'm sorry.  It ain't here.  I did that just to bring you all here so I can do two things: explain, and apologize.


If you've read The Pond for any length of time (and if you haven't, welcome!  Can I get you something to drink?), you know my job has mandatory overtime every week.  10 hours is the norm, but it occasionally occurs that we end up with more for one reason or another.  Well, that didn't happen.  What did happen, however, is that last week I was... unwell.  Among other things, I had insomnia.  Well, no, not really... if you have insomnia, you're not sleeping at all.  Like many things of late, I half-arsed my insomnia: I was getting a couple of hours here and there.  It actually started that weekend, but I stay up pretty late on the weekends anyway.  Anyway.  Monday morning, I went to work and felt like I was a dog that had just been kicked.  At the end of the usual eight hour day, I just went home.  No whittling away at the overtime, just went home.  Tuesday, I felt like I'd been kicked by a dog that had just been kicked.  Still, overtime waits for no man is an island, so I managed to eke out an hour or so before I gave up and returned to Pond Central.  And then Wednesday morning came around.

My head hurt so badly I was actually surprised there wasn't blood fountaining out my nose.  Despite this, I still tried to go to work.  I never made it past "swinging my legs out of bed".  I crawled back under the covers, called the "call-in" number for work, and immediately fell asleep.  Let me repeat that: I FELL ASLEEP.  Let me repeat that in Xhosa: NDIYA NDALALA. When I woke up, it was close to noon, my head didn't hurt anywhere near as badly, and I dragged myself out into the living room.  So, unexpected day off.  Let's recap now, shall we?  No overtime hours put in on Monday, one hour on Tuesday, and the day off counts for two hours (10 hours divided by five days = 2 hours/day).  That means I had three hours in.  Out of 10.  With two days left to go.  I'd have to do 11.50 hours per day to reach the mandatory.

So there I was on Thursday, still a little bleary-eyed, pounding away at my computer, and my boss stops by and chats with me for a bit.  I mention that she should give me that pot pie she has in her hands, because I'm gonna be here late.  I tell her the sob story.  And she quietly says "give me what you can, and make it up next week."  So I did, and now I am.  I have to do a total of 12 hours, give or take, of overtime this week.  Except there's one little thing...

...I hadn't spent any time with my folks in over a month, and when I took that week off a little while ago, they were in Colorado.  Hard to have lunch with somebody when they're on the Durango & Silverton being chased by elk, and you're in Pond Central trying to figure out where to put your new figure of Shigure wearing coveralls and red Chucks, which is the cutest thing ever.  Anyway, every time we've tried to get together, I've had to cancel on them because of exhaustion, sickness, or both.  The company I work for believes in a work/life balance... your life is work.  See?  Balanced!  So I said "screw it" and met them for dinner at Imperialmandarinpalacegarden, our favorite Chinese place... the name comes from a long time ago, when I couldn't remember what the name of it was... I knew it was either Imperial Palace or Mandarin Garden.  So a new name was born.

Right... uhm... where was... Oh!  So I didn't do any overtime on Monday... meaning I have to do 12 hours in four days.  Four 11 hour days.  I did one of them today, and got home at 10pm.  And then I've been typing this. It's now midnight, and I really need to sleep.  So here's the dealy-o.  I don't know if I'm going to get the chance to do the Mexican GP writeup until the weekend.  Or maybe I'll just throw off a quick reaction post.  I dunno.  I'm tired and grumpy right now, not the best frame of mind to make decisions with.  So let's just say "I dunno." and leave it at that.

I'm sorry.  I know there's at least two or three of you who look forward to the F1U!s, and I've been falling down on them this season.  It'll all work out somehow.  Until then, then!

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October 27, 2018

F1 Quals: Mexico 2018

I bet you thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?  I just bet you did.  Nope, I didn't!  And a good thing, too... we went from the best race of the season last weekend at Austin to the best Qualifying session of the season here in Mexico City!  Here's the track map:
Two DRS zones, but only one detection zone.  I didn't notice that last year, or the year before, but it appears to have been the case.  Well, god help you if you've got a car closer than a second behind you when you hit Turn 15, because it'll be a good bit ahead of you by the time you reach Turn 04.  Cars were reaching 215mph or more down that long, long, long front straight today, and the announcers even said 230mph once, which I didn't believe.  So what was the result for Quals today?  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mexico:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:15.866 1:15.845 1:14.759
2 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:15.756 1:15.640 1:14.785
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.673 1:15.644 1:14.894
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.089 1:15.715 1:14.970
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.580 1:15.923 1:15.160
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:16.446 1:15.996 1:15.330
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:16.498 1:16.126 1:15.827
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:16.813 1:16.188 1:16.084
9 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:16.862 1:16.320 1:16.189
10 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:16.701 1:16.633 1:16.513
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:16.252 1:16.844
12 Micra Cup Alonso McLaren Renault 1:16.857 1:16.871
13 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:16.242 1:17.167
14 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:16.682 1:17.184
15 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:16.828 DNS
16 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:16.911

17 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:16.966

18 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:17.599

19 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:17.689

20 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:17.886


It was all there for him.  DH Verstappen was on pole after the first runs in Q3, and it wasn't even close.  He was all set to break Seb Vettel's record as the youngest polesitter in F1 history.  The announcers were splooging all over the place with unrestrained glee.  To be fair, Verstappen had just turned in something of a Lap For The Ages, they all had reason to be excited... maybe not THAT excited, but excited.

And then something funny happened... they ran the rest of Q3.  I know, what a stunning development, who woulda thought?  If Verstappen's lap was one for the record books, and in fact it was the fastest lap around the Mexico City circuit ever, Smiley Ricciardo's final hot lap in Q3 was something for a new record book altogether.  Somehow he managed to knock SIX TENTHS OF A SECOND off his lap time... and oh by the way, he took Verstappen's pole away in the process.  You know how the FIA producer usually gets the radio call from the pit wall to the driver telling him he had pole, and the driver would respond with usually restrained happiness?  Not this time.  We didn't even need the producer piping the sound in, I could hear Smiley's scream of joy up here in Duckford... some sort of weird acoustic trick caused by the Grand Canyon, I gather.  The tone in Verstappen's voice was chilly when David Coulthard's Chin asked him about missing out on the record when it looked so very like it would be his.

Other than all that and the Mercedes/Ferrari battle, which looked so... boring... today, qualifying was pretty much the usual sort of thing.  Oh, it's certainly surprising that neither Haas made it out of Q1, and yes, it's very surprising that Red Bull locked out Row 1, but... well.  The Red Bulls were something like 7 or 8 mph down vs the Mercs through the speed trap, but they made up the time lost and more on the twistybits.  IF the two of them can avoid killing each other off the start, there's a chance they'll be able to keep Hamilton, et al, behind them into Turn 1.  If that happens, well, who knows?  But if the faster cars get by, it'll just be another ho-hum finish for the Austrian team.  I can easily imagine seeing cars four abreast into the braking zone for Turn 1 after the start.

Hamilton doesn't need to take chances, of course.  Sure, he'd very much like to win... but to win the driver's championship, all he has to do is finish 7th or better and it won't matter what Vettel does.  In any case, Vettel needs to win out, and I just don't see that happening right now.

Race is in the afternoon sometime... I'm confused as to when, as Mexico ends Daylight Savings Time at 2am Sunday morning... check your local listing for times in your area.  And we'll see you afterwards!

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October 24, 2018

Not F1Update!: United States 2018

Remember when I said that this race deserved more than a casual couple of minutes thrown together off the cuff?  THIS is your F1 Thrown Together Off The Cuff Update for the 2018 United States Grand Prix!


*THE RACE:  The USGP had almost everything you could possibly want.  It had drama, it had redemption, it had fantastic performances, it had horrible performances at the worst possible times, it was exciting... the only thing it really lacked was a wheel-to-wheel fight for the lead.

In this particular case though, that's okay.  What we did have was a bunch of teams who had no idea how their tires were going to act... it had rained during Friday Practice, Quals were run in cool and cloudy conditions, but the sun was out for the race.  Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took advantage of this and took the lead from Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race.  At the same time, Hamilton's rival for the championship Seb Vettel, starting fifth after shooting himself in the foot with an infraction on Friday, spun his Ferrari and found himself 18th... on a day where he desperately needed to beat Hamilton if he was going to have any chance, realistic or no, to win the championship.

Hamilton was never going to go wheel-to-wheel with Raikonnen, not with the championship on the line.  While it would never really happen, there must have been thoughts of Ferrari instructing Kimi to 'accidentally' punch the Mercedes off the road.  When Smiley Ricciardo saw his Red Bull just... stop working again... a virtual safety car period was called.  Mercedes told Hamilton to do the opposite of Raikkonen: pit if he stayed out, stay out if he pit.  Despite an attempt to trick Hamilton that saw Raikkonen twitch towards the pit-in, the Brit stopped for new tires.

As it turned out, this was the deciding moment in the race though nobody quite knew that yet.  Emerging on fresh, faster tires, Lewis should have been had the race in his pocket... hang back, let the Finn wear his rubber out, take the lead when he pitted, and go quickly enough to negate the time gap, thus winning the race.  Except that's not what happened.

Hamilton instead tried to attack Raikkonen.  For 12 laps, the Ferrari driver defended the lead in a crisp and fair manner.  All the while, Hamilton's efforts began killing his new tires.  By the time Kimi pitted on Lap 21, it was looking evident that Merc's call had been a good one, but Raikkonen's skills on defense had gotten the better of them.  One of the announcers later figured that Hamilton had lost some eight seconds during the laps he was stuck behind the Ferrari.  In any case, as the Finn began to close in on the grip-impaired Mercedes, the team brought Hamilton in for a second stop.

When he returned to the track, he was not only behind Raikkonen, but the other Red Bull of DH Verstappen who had begun the race in 15th place due to a suspension failure in Quals.  With Vettel seemingly stuck in fifth place, unable to get past the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas, all Hamilton had to do is get by the young Dutchman and he'd secure the driver's championship.

He couldn't.  While both cars were closing in on the Ferrari, Hamilton put everything into one solid attempt to get by the Red Bull with a couple of laps remaining.  This failed, though not for lack of trying, and in the squabble Raikkonen was able to return a second back to his lead.  That put paid to any hopes to defeat him.

When the Finn crossed the line, it was his first win since the Australian Grand Prix in March of 2013.  It was a popular result... over at Reddit, the discussion thread for the post-race became the highest up-voted thread in the Formula 1 subreddit's history, hit the top of the front page within one hour of the race ending, and the user who submitted it was given "reddit gold" some 460 times, the most ever for one post.

So now the championship fight moves to Mexico City this weekend, where unless Hamilton DNFs, he should be leaving with his fifth championship.  See ya then.

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October 22, 2018

What A Time To Be Alive!

First, TokyoPop announced they'd be bringing ARIA: The Masterpiece over to our shores.  If you're unfamiliar, it's essentially a collector's edition with a bigger format, better covers/binding, some new artwork, and improved paper quality.  The first one comes out in February, and we've finally got a chance to actually see all of the ARIA manga released over here officially.

Then a new volume, #9, of "Sunshine" Sketch came out a few weeks ago, after nearly three years of waiting.

Now a new volume of Yotsuba!! is coming out on November 13th, after two-and-a-half years of waiting.

And they've just announced that Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is going to be an anime, premiering in January.
...and there's a darn good chance that's gonna be a possible writeup candidate, too!

Really, this is the best of all possible worlds!  what a great time to be alive!

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F1U USA MIA

So I came home right after work tonight, all set to sit down and pound out the F1U for the 2018 US Grand Prix (best race of the year!), and...


...things happened.  Suddenly it's time for bed, and I didn't do nuthin' but the first sentence.

It deserves more time than a tiny bit.  I'll have it up on Tuesday, I hope.  What a race!

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October 20, 2018

F1 Quals: United States 2018

The skies above Austin were leaden and grey, and a gusty wind blew cold across the Texas landscape.  It wasn't raining, but it had been doing so off-and-on all day.  The track still had some pavement that was the darker shade such things get when it had been wet but wasn't really anymore.  Any glance at the heavens, though, would be enough to convince a racegoer that it was only a matter of time....  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 United States Grand Prix:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250
9 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420
10 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:34.891 1:34.566
12 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.972 1:34.732
13 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso
1:34.850 DNS
14 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:35.206 DNS
15 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:34.766 No Time

16 ETRA Alonso McLaren Renault 1:35.294

17 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:35.362

18 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:35.480

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:35.536

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:35.735


A reminder that Vettel has received a three-grid-place penalty and will be starting fifth... which is just about as good as he could have hoped, really.  At least his teammate will be taking his place on the grid; for a while there, one could have been forgiven for thinking that Kimi Raikkonen was an actual threat for pole today.  He wasn't though... nobody was, because the Circuit of the Americas may as well be Silverstone West to Lewis Hamilton.  It's his third consecutive pole position in Austin, and at least in my eyes there was really never any doubt that he'd get it.  Oh sure, he was third in Q2, but only by a half-second or so... for a driver of his ability that's nothing.  And so it proved.  No real drama in Q3, either.

The only surprise on the day wasn't even a surprise, not in the way you think of one.  DH Verstappen broke his right-rear suspension going over a sleeping policeman in Q1... while he was fast enough to carry on into Q2, the team was unable to repair the damage in time for him to continue... which leads one to think that the damage is more than just the suspension.  A suspension change is hardly an easy task, but Red Bull had about 20 minutes to work with... an eternity in F1 terms.  No, you've got to believe that there's more damage involved, like to the gearbox or driveshaft.  I'm not going to cry any great amount of tears... particularly since, in a way, the curbs he hit were put there because of his abuse of track limits in 2017.

So, there you have it.  The race is on ABC tomorrow, keep watching the skies!

Oh, and just FYI?  It did begin to rain just after Qualifying ended.  Not heavily, not that the TV audience saw, but there were spots showing up on various cameras around the circuit as Hamilton et al. took their victory laps.  There's no rain forecast for tomorrow, but...

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October 19, 2018

F1 on TV: UNITED STATES RED WHITE AND BLUE HOT DOGS APPLE PIE AND HAAS F1!!!

*ahem*


Sorry, my patriotism is showing.  Heh.  So the Circus is in Austin Texas this week, Lewis Hamilton has a chance to clinch the driver's championship, and it's raining.  That might prove an interesting combination come Sunday.  Here's the track map:

Hasn't changed since the first time they raced here, though they did add a new DRS detection zone since then.  The unofficially-named-but-it-should-totally-be-called Phil Hill up to Turn 01 is still the dominant feature of the circuit, but what I'm considering nicknaming The Wobbles (Turns 03 - 09) is a signature as well.  No, literally, that's how Hermann Tilke signs his name.

Since this is the United States Grand Prix, we'll be getting coverage on The Big Network this time around... the race will be on ABC!  P3 and Quals are on ESPNews, though.  Check your locals for time in your place of abode.  Here at Pond Central, the race is at 1pm.

It's starting to look a lot more like Vettel's done for this weekend.  He's been handed a three-spot grid penalty for not slowing down enough during a red flag in practice today.  This is consistent with other such penalties, it's just awful timing for the German who's been making quite a few mistakes of late..  Throw in expected rain during Quals, Lewis Hamilton's all-encompassing superiority in the rain, and his utter domination of the Circuit of the Americas, and... well.

Quals is in the late afternoon, report afters, see ya then!  Byeeeeeeeee!

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October 16, 2018

One Day More...

As I was writing my diatribe against multiplayer video games below, I received a text message from my Boss, asking if I was okay?  Well, sure... is there some reason I wouldn't be?  "Well, you're not here and you didn't call in."  Oh?

I didn't know I had to call in when I'm taking an approved vacation day, boss.  "You're not on my schedule for having the day off, Wonderduck."  You okayed it on Friday morning, I've got the e-mails.  I even double-checked the request program.  "...oh dear, my fault. So you're off supposed to be off Monday through Wednesday, right?
You have no idea how badly I wanted to say why yes, yes I am.  Instead, I was a good little employee: "No, only through Tuesday, though if you said I could take another day off I certainly wouldn't say no."  "Okay, considering all the stress I just put you through, I can approve that.  See you Thursday."

Being on good terms with the boss is never a bad thing.

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Boston Dynamics Mean To Another Bot

If you read The Pond, you're probably familiar with those cruel people over at Boston Dynamics.  Y'know, the people who appear to make robots just so they can be mean to them:

(edit: if the playback isn't working, try going here)

Well, they've done it again... except this time, they're not just being mean to one, they're torturing the poor thing!
Making it dance to a knockoff version of Uptown Funk for our entertainment... if that isn't a human rights violation, I don't know what is.  Synth rights (Fallout 4, salute!) maybe?  Wait, I'm confused now.

Oh, Fallout 4... how I want to love you!  But relationships require work from both sides, and you're not putting in the effort.  As much as I love wandering around the scorched earth that is the Commonwealth, I'd like there to be a compelling story and Preston Gravy ain't doin' it for me.  I mean, I can see how crafting a settlement or two would be fun for some players.  I can, really!  But y'know the term "social gamer"?  Well, I'm nothing if not an ASOCIAL gamer.  I'll play multiplayer games like World of Warships or War Thunder because of the tie to my MilHist background, but the fact is that there are a LOT of unappealing jackweasels out there.  I mean, the last time I played WoW, some naval geenyus started berating me for firing HE shells from my battleship. 

At practically unarmored light cruisers.

At Tier III.

And I was sailing an Orion, the first RN battleship in the game... which with flags has something like a 50% chance of setting fires with its HE rounds.

Yeah.  I love being yelled at for doing the right thing.

So, "asocial gamer."  On the whole, I like a good single-player game... Skyrim and Fallout 3 both have something like 400-500 hours on them.  But having to build settlements and cater to the whims of Preston Gravy and settlers that are the least grateful NPCs I've ever made bedding for?  Yeah, that's waaaaay too much like being screamed at by some wanna-be Panzer Oberst-Gruppenfuhrer because he didn't like the "68" I had on the side of my StuG III.

So love me, Fallout 4, love me!

Okay, enough of that.  I'm going to write a sternly-worded letter to Boston Dynamics now.

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October 15, 2018

Four Days Off! A Clarification

This was not supposed to happen.  I wasn't scheduled to have Monday and Tuesday off.  In fact, I couldn't have had those days off, as October was closed for vacation requests back in August.  But then, a funny thing happened...


...almost everybody in my office called in sick a couple Fridays ago.  I was one of the few who showed up, and there was only one other person in my aisle, when normally there'd be 11 of us.  Why that happened I leave open as an exercise for the observer... I'm sure I have no idea.  The reaction from The Powers That Be was... confusing.  Instead of grumbling about all the outages, they decided to reopen October for vacation requests.
No, I don't claim to understand it.  I will, however, claim that I took advantage of it.  About an hour after the announcement was made, I had my request in... and it was approved late last week.  I don't have to be back in-office until Wednesday!  I really need it, too... I took a nap this afternoon/evening, around 530pm.  Jokingly, I set my alarm for 10pm, thinking there's no way I'd sleep for that long.

If you've ever read The Pond before, you know what this means... I slept until 11pm.  There was a chance everything was going to go as planned, as at about 9pm I woke briefly.  Then I reset my alarm for midnight and went back to sleep.  Instead of cursing myself when I have to get up for work the next day, I just grinned when I finally did rise from my slumber.  Two more days!  It's like I've been set free.  I'm trying to ignore the whole "going back to work" thing.

I don't have to worry about that for a couple of days yet.

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October 13, 2018

Four Days Off!

Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off! 
Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off!
Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off!

Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off! 
Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off!
Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off! Four Days Off!Four Days Off!

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October 10, 2018

F1 Update: Japan 2018, The "I've Got To Put Something Up" Edition

Okay, we're sorry to be both late and short with this F1U!.  Recent bouts of unhealthiness and long hours at work have conspired against Japan getting the coverage it deserves.  But we'll give it a try anyway: THIS is your F1Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Japan!


*SUMMARY:  Once again, a race is heavily influenced by DH Verstappen getting into predicaments with Ferraris.  Very early in the race, he got into a tete-a-tete for Kimi Raikkonen, earning himself a five-second time penalty and letting Seb Vettel past his teammate without needing team orders... see how it's done, Mercedes?  Now Vettel could have waited for Verstappen to serve his penalty and get into third free-and-clear,  But with Lewis Hamilton leading the race and his teammate Valterri Bottas beginning to pull away, Vettel really couldn't wait.  So he tried to get by the young Dutchman, and after a coming together that was declared a "racing incident", Vettel was suddenly last.  And just like that, Ferrari threw in the towel on Vettel ever catching Hamilton for the World Championship.  At the end of the race, Vettel had managed to claw his way back up to sixth and was nearing his teammate, who was having problems with grip on worn tires.  Ferrari could have commanded Raikkonen to let him by and give him two extra championship points... and didn't.

In any case, Hamilton now has a nigh-on insurmountable lead, and can actually win the championship at the next race, the US Grand Prix.  And thus a season that started with such promise ends just like last year. 

As we said, sorry this is short... hope to do better come Austin time!

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October 09, 2018

Wellness Status Update

I think it's the weather.  It's pretty warm for October, mid-80s today, and humid as all get-out.  Tomorrow it's supposed to get down to the high-30s.  That whipsawing has been going on for a couple-three weeks, which is bad enough.  But that humidity is what's really killing me.  It feels like my face is actually a couple of inches away from my skull, and faces aren't supposed to feel that way (newsflash, I know).


I almost called in, but somehow managed to drag myself to work.  I'm so adult and stuff.  Let's hope for a recovery tomorrow, after the rainy season is done.  I'd really like that.

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October 08, 2018

I Am... Unwell.

I thought the day started fairly well, but somewhere along the way I began to feel very cruddy.  Bad enough that after eight hours on the clock, I just came right home instead of doing some of my overtime.  It'll make the rest of the week suck, but I'm pretty sure I don't care about that right now.  I'm going to try this whole "life" thing again tomorrow... hopefully there'll be better results.  Maybe some sleep is just what this little ol' duckie needs.


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October 06, 2018

F1 Quals: Japan 2018

Rain.  Rain is the great equalizer in Formula 1.  Rain can take a bad car and make it... not as bad.  Rain can take a good car and make it into tiny pieces of carbon fiber.  It makes heroes out of drivers that may not have gotten attention before, and it can take luster away from otherwise well-appreciated ones.  Rain simply adds another level of difficulty to an already hard sport.

It rained today at Suzuka.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Japan:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.702 1:28.017 1:27.760
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.297 1:27.987 1:28.059
3 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:29.480 1:28.849 1:29.057
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:29.631 1:28.595 1:29.521
5 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:29.724 1:29.678 1:29.761
6 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:30.248 1:29.848 1:30.023
7 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:30.137 1:29.810 1:30.093
8 False Esteban! Force India
1:29.899 1:29.538 1:30.126
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.049 1:28.279 1:32.192
10 Lawsuit Perez Force India
1:30.247 1:29.567 1:37.229
11 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:29.706 1:29.864
12 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.219 1:30.226
13 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:30.236 1:30.490
14 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:30.317 1:30.714
15 Screamy Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:29.806 No Time

16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.361

17 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:30.372

18 BTCC Alonso McLaren Renault 1:30.573

19 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:31.041

20 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:31.213


Q1 was mostly dry...ish.  It rained before the session had begun and the track was decidedly greasy... for example, Seb Vettel actually spun in the Hairpin, a very low-speed place indeed.  He was simply trundling along when the rear of his car slowly and gracefully attempted to become the front of the car.  He was going 60kph at the time.  "Greasy" is the appellation most feared in F1... neither truly dry nor truly wet, it is too slippery for slicks, yet it chews up intermediate rain tires like someone is applying pumice to them.  Sony Ericsson was caught by The Greasy and sent off into a wall, which brought out a red flag as the workers recovered his Sauber from the kittylitter.  A round of applause is due the Renault mechanics who managed to slap Nico Hulkenberg's car back together after he did a rather comprehensive job of disassembling it right at the end of Practice 3... meaning they only had a couple of hours to do their work.

One must feel for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who through no fault of his own has now missed out on Q3 approximately 3200 times this year.  Today it was a broken accelerator cable, apparently, that prevented him from doing anything in Q2, and sent him to the motorhome screaming with rage inside his helmet... completely out of character for the lovable Aussie.  His nickname is "The Honey Badger", but it really should be "The Quokka".

But the best/worst of Qualifying came in Q3.  It had become more greasy towards the end of Q2, and in the few minutes between sessions the teams had to make a decision on what tires to send their cars out on.  Mercedes made the last-second decision to put their drivers on slicks.  Ferrari went out on intermediates.  It was quickly discovered that Merc had made the correct choice; they were loads faster than the red cars.  The Italian team brought their men back in for slicks at the end of what should have been their warm-up lap.  While their rivals were in the pits, the silver cars went out and set fairly reasonable times.  Ferrari went back out, got through their warmup lap, and began their first hot lap of the session...

...and then it began to drizzle.  Not badly, but enough that Vettel made a rain-induced error during his hot lap.  The track became too wet for slicks, and nobody was going to improve their times on rain tires.  Mercedes' gamble had paid off in the biggest way possible, and you could hear the door slamming on Vettel's title hopes after the session ended.

The Race is just after midnight... F1U! sometime Sunday.  See ya then.

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October 04, 2018

F1 on TV: Japan 2018

How out of it have I been lately?  I forgot that Japan is 14 hours ahead of Pond Central Time, and thus all broadcasts are a LOT earlier than normal.  Since I've been up until at least 3am all week for reasons that defy explanation, I need to crash and crash fast.  So without further ado, here's the trackmap:


I am of the opinion that if there was no Suzuka, we would have to invent it.  In all the years I've been watching F1, I've never heard a driver hate on the track... the weather, yes, but not the track itself.  Heck, usually the weather is a good thing, giving us such classic moments as the great Suzuka Boat Races.  And one really really awful moment.

Maybe we don't want rain.  Let's not have rain, okay?  Let's just skip that part.

Quals are late friday night/early saturday morning... I'll have something up sometime thereafter.  The race is late saturday/early sunday.  I have no idea when I'm going to watch it.  Live?  Later Sunday?  I literally don't know.  We'll have a voyage of discovery together!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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October 03, 2018

This Afternoon At Work...

So, like, y'know, test of the cellphone alarm system this afternoon?  I actually didn't know about it, but no biggie for me.  However, the same can not be said for everybody.


There I am, grinding away at the claims, feeling like a total idiot for being there, when at 118pm Pond Central Time, the test message is sent.  That EAS alarm... siren... thing... then rockets through the aether to cellphones all over the country.  In her office, my boss's smartphone goes off, screaming at the top of its little silicon lungs.  In the office of the MiniBoss, her smartphone warbles like all the demons of hell are chasing after Garfield Goose.

And on the production floor, four other phones begin to sing us the song of their people.  Which is kinda bad, because the production floor is supposed to be a smartphone/camera-enabled device-free area.  You can have a phone, but it has to be shut off and stored in your filing cabinet.

Gotta say though... it was amusing as hell to see the frantic scrabbling and clawing at things that weren't supposed to be there as the owners (busted!) tried to shut them off.

Yes, I'm petty.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:29 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 02, 2018

F1 Update: Russia 2018

The weather was fine, the track was fresh, the cars were ready, the drivers were prepared.  And it was DH Verstappen's 21st birthday.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Russia!


*START:  Up at the front, Seb Vettel put in a run at the two Mercedes drivers when the lights went out, but a clever bit of team driving prevented him from succeeding.  Vettel had a better start than either polesitter Valterri Bottas or championship leader Lewis Hamilton, but Hamilton slotted in directly behind the Finnish driver.  You don't expect to see drafting on the run to the first turn on any track, but that's what we got here.  Not only did this prevent Vettel from getting between the two silver cars, it kept him from making any attempt to improve position.  We here at F1U! were duly impressed by this example of teamwork.  Down at the end of the field, DH Verstappen had started 19th due to penalties for engine/gearbox/hamster changes.  By the end of Lap 1, he was 13th.  By the end of Lap 8, he was fifth.  You read that correctly: fifth.

*NEXT:  At that point, the race settled down a bit. But we here at F1U! couldn't help but notice that Verstappen was on the hardest-compound tire, yet still putting up a good rate of knots.  Meanwhile, the cars in front of him were on much softer tires... tires that were rapidly beginning to die.  The leader pitted first, looking to perform an "overcut" on Vettel, Hamilton, et al. and thus stay ahead after the rotation.  The logical move would have been to bring in Hamilton the next lap... and Mercedes goofed.  They left him out, Vettel immediately stopped.  Hamilton stopped the next lap, but the damage had been done: the Ferrari drove by the Merc as Hamilton left the pit lane.  That state of affairs lasted for about a lap-and-a-half.

*ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL:  Vettel locked up, allowing the Brit to close up quickly.  One questionable blocking maneuver from Vettel later, Hamilton got past and trundled off into the distance.  But all was not well on his silver arrow: his activities with Vettel had caused a blister to form on one tire.  Short term, not a problem.  Long term though?  If it got worse, it could compromise the tire.  The Ferrari and Mercedes were close enough, capability-wise, to make this a matter of concern.  Certainly they weren't going to pit him again.  So what could they do?  Soon the Mercedes radio freqs crackled to life: "Valterri, we need you to let Lewis pass you."  This, the Finn did, like a good soldier.  Now, we here at F1U! know that Team Orders are a thing in F1, have been pretty much since day 1, and letting Hamilton drive without having to defend his position was far and away the most likely to bring home a 1-2 finish for the team.  Bottas could drive defensively, keeping Vettel at bay and Hamilton would pull away.  We get all that.  It just leaves a bad taste in our collective mouths.

*DISBELIEF:  Meanwhile, Verstappen had taken over the lead.  Furthermore, he wasn't going to be threatened for quite a while.  Red Bull left him out on track for nearly 50 laps, hoping for a safety car.  If they had gotten one, there's every chance in the world that the birthday boy would get a podium, and even maybe a win.  It didn't happen.  He would end up leading the most laps for the race.  Even when his tires had turned to rags, he still had a chance to podium.  The team put him onto the ultrasoft tires during his late stop, but for whatever reason the Red Bull didn't cotton to the speedy rubber.  He would rejoin the race in 5th place, but couldn't close back up to the leaders.  Still, fifth place when you start 19th is a pretty okay birthday gift.

*ENDING:  Once Verstappen pitted, Hamilton was promoted to the lead, over 10 seconds ahead of Vettel in third.  That's how it would end up, Merc-Merc-Ferrari-Ferrari.  With just a couple of laps left, Bottas subtly expressed his displeasure with having to give the race win to his teammate.  "How are we finishing?" was his radio call to the pits.  "No change, Valterri" was the response.  The team could have switched Bottas back to the lead if it really was all about the team.  It wasn't.

This was not a good race.  The only interest came from Verstappen's charge through the field and the Mercedes drama.  We're almost sure all the passing came from the Red Bulls and Team Orders.

Japan this weekend, and early weather forecasts calls for rain during that race.  One can only hope, we need something interesting.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 01, 2018

Distracted

So I seem to be completely unable to actually, y'know, concentrate on writing the F1U! for Russia tonight.  I've started it, but I keep getting distracted by bright, shiny objects.  So why I get a grip upon... something... here, have this:


...or this...
You can thank me later.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:04 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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