May 31, 2018

So, About That Doctor's Appointment...

Some good, some bad, some "eh, whatever"... about what I expected, in other words.  Unfortunately, my doctor couldn't make a judgement on my hip because he still needed to see the x-rays.  Seems the immediate care place I went to isn't part of the same medical network so I had to officially request that they be sent to his office.  He did give me more of the muscle relaxant (cyclobenzaprine, if you're wondering), so that's a plus.


In the bad news department, I probably have carpal tunnel in my right hand... and yes, it may very well have been caused (or at least hastened) by my hip injury.  See, back when my hip was really darn bad I had to lean on my cane quite a bit... and I don't mean that in the metaphoric sense, but in the "put weight on cane" sense.  This had the unexpected side-effect of causing my right palm to hurt, making me wish for a padded glove or something.  Shortly thereafter, my thumb, index and middle fingers began to give me a hard time, alternating between numbness, tingling, and extreme sensitivity (that last one is a kick... today it felt like I had sliced my finger open when I picked up a ham sandwich on generic white bread.  Who knew white bread was sharp?).  Now it's pretty much all the time.

Getting back to the hip thing, my doctor had a hip replacement a few years back, so we discussed that in detail.  For him, it was the greatest thing ever... he went from having constant, incessant, not-quite-crippling-but-awfully-awful pain to... well, nothing.  Which is a GOOD THING!  I'm not at that point yet, and he wasn't suggesting that I was, but if this continues to worsen, well... 

In point of fact, my hip basically doesn't hurt right now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly going to be a danger to Shakira any time soon, but it only hurts when I lift my leg (like when I step into the bathtub) or if I lie on it for more than a few minutes.  Oh, and getting into the car is still a nightmarish scenario that's at least as painful as it is embarrassing.  I get in back-first, squirm as far in as I can (or as far as the steering wheel lets me), get my right foot in... not so easy with size 14-EEE, it always gets caught up by either the door or the sill... pivot to face as far forward as I can, hook my cane under my left foot, then lift that into the car... remember, it hurts when I lift my leg manually, but getting it airborne with a tool doesn't as much... then either swear or groan in pain, depending on my mood.  Until I figured out how to do this, it could take me 15 minutes to get into the Duckmobile.  Nowadays, it's only a couple of minutes... still slower than your normal person, but every bit helps when it's raining.

One big surprise that I got was that I had lost something like 35 pounds in the year since I last saw the doc.  No, not surprised... stunned?  Shocked?  Completely and totally amazed?  Pick your favorite word or phrase, I was that.  Still, there had been indications... loose pants, mostly... so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but... well.

So that's it... oh, and there was blood drawn as well.  Somehow it'd been five or six years since the last blood test, which surprised me.  In any case, the results of that are of some interest as well... doc says that carpal tunnel is often found in diabetics, for example... but that's a test I'm not worried about getting the right answers for.  We shall see what we shall see.


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May 29, 2018

F1 Update!: Monaco 2018

Unlike the previous days of the race weekend, the skies above the world's second-smallest sovereign nation were kinda not great.  A small chance of rain proved to be naught but a tease... we were to be treated to a dry race.  Which should have been a good thing!  This was the first time we were to see Pirelli's new Hypersoft tires... imagine a fresh Krispy Kreme cake donut... which promised to be as close to a "qualifying tire" as we're likely to ever see.  For those unaware, back in the "old" days, qualifying used to be a one-car-one-lap affair, as opposed to the much superior knock-out qualifying we have today.  A qualifying tire was specifically designed to last one, maybe two hot laps, before completely failing.  But the grip!  They would hold the road with all the tenacity of a T-Rex locking onto the neck of a hamburgerosaurus.  Combine that with qualifying engines that would generate 1200hp or more, but would grenade themselves after only a couple of hotlaps, and qualifying was quite the spectacle.  But we digress.  The field today was led by Smiley Ricciardo, who had the 2016 Monaco grand prix victor stolen from him by a failed pit stop.  Would he cash in this time?  THIS is your F1U! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Monaco! 


*ZZZZZZZZZZZZ: Monaco is always a spectacle.  Fast cars whizzing down narrow city streets at ridiculous speeds while spectators hang out on patios drinking glamourous beverages, there's seriously nothing like it in the world.  Watching the Thundering Herd charging down to Ste Devote in one massive pack is one of the great moments in a Formula 1 season.  Unfortunately, it was probably the highlight of this year's race too.  Ricciardo kept the lead through the first turn, opened up a 1.2 second lead over Ferrari's Seb Vettel with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton behind him.  It became apparent quite quickly that the Red Bull was the chassis of choice for the tight confines of Monaco, as once we reached the first pitstops there had been no challenge posed to him.

*ACTION!  DRAMA!  SUSPENSE!  TIRES!!!:  All of the top runners had qualified on the hypersoft tires.  When the pitstops were over, everybody save for Merc's Valterri Bottas had gone onto the ultrasoft.  Bottas went onto the supersoft rubber... which actually turned out to be the better choice for the day.  The ultrasofts turned out to be stupid-sensitive, graining at the drop of a hat, so the first four runners (Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen) went into tire management mode.  Gone were the thrilling high-speed dives and dashes and swerves around the narrow racetrack, replaced by what appeared to be elderly ladies terrified by the gas pedal.  The only drama now was to see who could keep their ultrasofts alive until the end of the race, or was Bottas going to win when the tires fell off the other four?

*ALMOST DRAMATIC:  Around one-third of the way through the race, Ricciardo reported a drop in power.  A few minutes later, the pit wall got back to him, saying in effect that they knew what the problem was.  "Is it going to get better" asked the driver.  "...no." came the response.  It turned out the MGU-K in his engine had failed... that's the part that harvests energy from braking and channels it into the batteries worth about 125hp.  In other words, he was going to be down about 1/4th his power for the rest of the race.  Sounds bad... and it would be at any other circuit but Monaco.  Here, though, it's already the slowest track and the most difficult to pass on.  If you're going to lose power, this is the place to do it.

*NOPE:  Vettel kept pressure on the Red Bull all day, but couldn't come anywhere near close enough to make a move.  And everybody's tires held together for the 60 laps since the pit stops... because nobody was pushing.  The result?  A dull processional that saw the top six qualifiers finish in exactly the same position they started.  Yeesh.  Even the devoted F1U! crew couldn't stay awake for the whole thing.

At least the next race should be a little more interesting as we head to Canada!  See ya then!

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Deja Vu!

Okay, we all know the song from Initial D, right?

Right.  And we know it's spawned a gazillion memes, with the best known being Multi-Track Drifting...
...though I've become fond of Initial Duck...
...but just a few minutes ago, I stumbled upon one that I've never seen before, one that made me laugh out loud until there were tears coming from my eyes (as opposed to my fingernails maybe?).  What is this paragon of memedom?  Why, this:

Well, it worked for me.

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May 28, 2018

So, About That F1U!...

After watching Monaco yesterday, I flipped over and watched the last half of the Indy 500.  I then puttered about until around about 6pm, when I decided to take a nap.  I figured I'd just do the F1U! after I woke up, no problem.


I didn't get out of bed until Noon on Monday.  

F1U! is now on "sooner or later" mode, probably tonight but maybe Tuesday evening.

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May 26, 2018

F1 Quals: Monaco 2018

Another beautiful day in the Principality, all sun and blue skies and yachts in the harbor.  And a bunch of loud F1 cars driving through the streets.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:12.013 1:11.278 1:10.810
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.415 1:11.518 1:11.039
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.460 1:11.584 1:11.232
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:12.639 1:11.391 1:11.266
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:12.434 1:12.002 1:11.441
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:13.028 1:12.188 1:12.061
7 LeMans Alonso McLaren Renault 1:12.657 1:12.269 1:12.110
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:12.950 1:12.286 1:12.130
9 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:12.848 1:12.194 1:12.154
10 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:12.941 1:12.313 1:12.221
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:13.065 1:12.411
12 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:12.463 1:12.440
13 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:12.706 1:12.521
14 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:12.829 1:12.714
15 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:12.930 1:12.728
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:13.179

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:13.265

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:13.323

19 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:13.393


You may notice that there's only 19 cars shown, instead of 20.  DH Verstappen did it again, wrecking in Practice 3, breaking his front suspension and damaging his gearbox in the process.  Red Bull could not get his car repaired in time for Quals, and so he'll start at the Steward's discretion.

Which has got to be a blow to the team, because his partner in crime, Smiley Ricciardo, turned in the fastest lap ever around Monaco to take pole.  I'd like to point out that ten years ago Felipe Massa's pole speed was 1:15.787.  Even the slowest qualifier this year was almost 2.5 seconds faster than that.  Anyway, Red Bull had owned the race weekend, finishing 1-2 in every session thus far, and were expected to do so in quals.  No such luck.  I'm beginning to wonder if what we're seeing nowadays is what DH Verstappen is... crash-happy and quick to blame others.

Much can happen between now and the end of the race, but it sure is lookin' good for Ricciardo.  F1U! will follow along sometime afterwards... got the Indy 500 to look at too!  See ya.

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May 23, 2018

F1 on The ESPNs: Monaco 2018

Monaco.


To your common American, the word conjures up images of impeccably tailored men gambling away fortunes in the Casino while impossibly beautiful women try to catch their eye.  International spies lurk in every corner, camouflaged by supercars idling in the French Riviera night.  

To your common Formula 1 fan, it means "oh god I hope it rains."  There would be no way the sport would be racing on the streets of Monaco if the race was proposed today.  Too narrow, too unsafe, too small.  But yet, every year, here we are:

And we as fans love it.  It's the counter-American type of racing.  Here, we go for monster high-banked ovals or 500 mile long races.  Last year, the two worlds came together when Fernando Alonso and McLaren took a run at the Indianapolis 500, and former F1 driver Takuma Sato won the race.

No such luck this year... Alonso will be driving at LeMans, for example... but it really is the greatest day for auto racing in the year, Sunday is.  Monaco, Indy, then Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.  But it all starts at the tiny little constitutional monarchy with a nice harbor.

ESPN has done us good this time 'round... here's the schedule
Thursday
Practice 1: 4a - 530a, live on ESPN2
Practice 2: 8a - 930a, live on ESPN2
Friday
...is traditionally an off day so the rich people can get out of town before the noise arrives.
Saturday
Practice 3: 5a - 630a, live  on ESPNews (be careful here... there are conflicting reports)
Quals: 8a - 930a, live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Monaco: 8a - 11a, live on ESPN, the real deal.  There's also a replay on ABC in the afternoon.

So there's your weekend!  Get comfy, order a deep-dish pizza, and enjoy the racing!  F1Update! will be along afterwards... I promise.

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May 19, 2018

Idol Threats

One thing I've been able to do while I've been... um... hobbled, is watch anime.  Take the laptop into the bedroom, set up a book holder on the bedside printer stand (what, you don't have a bedside printer stand?), open the laptop, put it on the holder, and voila!  Anime viewing station, perfectly angled for me to see the screen while in bed (I have a low bed).


What I've mainly been watching is Love Live Sunshine!!, the second installment of the Love Live idol-fantasy franchise.  I've gotta admit: I'm enjoying the hell out of it.  Well, duh, it's Cute Girls Doing Cute Things In Cute Ways While Wearing Cute Costumes (CGDCTICWWWCC?), of course I'd like it!

The one complaint I have, however, is that almost all the songs being sung by our heroes sound alike.  It's always the same themes: "shining", togetherness, happy, etc etc... very Up With People, if you're old enough to get that reference.  I mean, sure, that's all fine and dandy, and the music is done well, but it got dull.  That is, until Ep08 of the first season.  That's when these two show up:

I freely admit to groaning when we first meet them... it was obvious as hell that the Production Staff intended them to be The Great Nemesis, the "final boss" our heroes would have to defeat to win the competition and save their school.  I didn't want that... the series was perfectly fine without an ArchEnemy to worry about.  And then...
...I didn't care anymore, if it meant we'd get more music like "Self Control." I'm very near the end of the series... I just finished the 20th episode last night... and their first performance is still the best "in concert" in the show.   It goes without saying that the song is in heavy rotation on my mp3 player.  Calling it a huge (but pleasant) surprise goes without saying, but a greatly welcome one.

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May 15, 2018

Until Further Notice

Due to ongoing joint problems vis a vis my hip, I'm really unable to spend enough time in front of my computer at home to do writeups.  I'm working on that, of course, but right now it just hurts too much to spend the two hours or so it takes.


A doctor's appointment is a week from friday... it would have been sooner, but he's on vacation... so hopefully that'll shake something loose.

Of course, if something big occurs, I'll show up to pontificate... I'm still a fan, after all.  Oh, and Spain was a Lewis Hamilton Special... he ran away and hid for the entire race.  Never any doubt in my mind, that's for sure.

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Figure Foto Test Thwee

Sometimes, simple is best.

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May 12, 2018

F1 Quals: Spain 2018

A threat of rain hung over the circuit as the clock began its countdown on "GoFast Day" at Barcalounger.  It never came, but the qualifying result was interesting nevertheless... here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Spain:


Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.633 1:17.166 1:16.173
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.674 1:17.111 1:16.213
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.031 1:16.802 1:16.305
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.483 1:17.071 1:16.612
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:17.411 1:17.266 1:16.816
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:17.623 1:17.638 1:16.818
7 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:18.169 1:17.618 1:17.676
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:18.276 1:18.100 1:17.721
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:18.480 1:17.803 1:17.790
10 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:18.305 1:17.699 1:17.835
11 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:18.885 1:18.323
12 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso Honda 1:18.550 1:18.463
13 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:18.813 1:18.696
14 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:18.661 1:18.910
15 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:18.740 1:19.098
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:18.923

17 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:19.493

18 Sergey,  Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:19.695

19 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:20.225


You'll note only 19 cars listed.  The 20th, Brendan Hartley's Toro Rosso, had a unfortunate vehicle/barrier interface right at the end of Practice 3 and the team could not get the car back together in time for Quals.

To be fair, the rear of the car was still attached until the workers picked it up.  THEN it fell off.

I'm not entirely sure how the two Mercs ended up on the front row, since at no time during the practice sessions or the other two Qualy periods did they look faster than the Ferraris.  Well, that and my DVR timed out with two minutes left in the session.  Apparently ESPN does not designate Formula 1 as "sports", thus not activating the automatic "extra hour" mode on my DVR.  Anyway, I've not seen the final runs of Q3 because of that.  I'm not gonna go out of my way to find 'em, either.  I'm grumpy that way.

So, an interesting grid for Sunday's race... let's see how it goes!

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May 11, 2018

F1 on ESPN2: Spain 2018

Finally, the Thundering Herd makes its way back to Europe and the real start of the F1 season.  This is when the teams begin to debut new parts, new wings, etc etc etc, so in theory we could have completely different results from the flyaway races.


Don't count on it, though.  Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of Spain.

That's just the way it is, somethings will never change.  Spain. Spain never changes.  Though they did resurface the track since last year so grip issues will be a possibility.  Or not.  It's hard to tell with these new cars.

We'll find out though... starting Saturday!
Saturday
Practice 3:  5a - 630a  live on ESPN2
Quals: 8a - 930a  live on ESPN2
Sunday
2018 Grand Prix of Spain: 730a - 10a  live on ESPN 2

Hopefully I'll have coverage afterwards.  See ya then!

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May 09, 2018

Still With Us

I'm still alive, still kicking.  Compy chair is still killing me, despite memory foam pillow and another pad to boot.  It's taking a toll on me, though.  Broke down twice at work yesterday... went on my lunch break intending to take a nap, and just couldn't get comfortable no matter what I did.


Hope to get the broadcast schedule up tonight.

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May 06, 2018

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

It was May 6th, 1998, and a younger Wonderduck is running a RadioShanty somewhere in Duckford.  This particular store had a DirectTV dish on the roof for demo purposes, and while it usually had the "attraction channel" running, it could also pick up WGN out of Chicago.  So, at 1pm I clicked over to watch the Cubs take on the Houston Astros, the team leading the National League in hitting/offense.  The Cubbies had a rookie taking the mound in only his fifth major-league start... some kid named Kerry Wood.


His first pitch was a rising fastball that clonked off the umpire's mask... maybe not the most auspicious way to begin a game.  And then...?
The 20 strikeouts tied the major league record for a 9 inning game.  By Bill James' game score metric, this was the best pitched game ever.

And it wasn't even close.  Wood had a near-100mph fastball, but it was his curveball that was his out pitch.  Watch the last pitch he throws, to then batting average leader Derek Bell. It would have broken the shin of anybody in the left-handed batter's box... but it starts out belt-high, center of the plate.  Bell couldn't not swing at it, but he also couldn't not miss it.

20 years.  

Edit: Shortly after I posted this, the weekly baseball show "Hit and Run" on the sports-talk station I listen to devoted most of their four hours to The Game.  Along the way, they mentioned a story I'd never heard before.

Astros second baseman and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was one of two men to reach base in the game, getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning.  Once he trotted down to first, he said to Cubs first baseman Mark Grace while gesturing towards Wood "Thank him for me."

This is a guy who hit .325 that season, with 210 hits, 51 doubles, 20 homers, and 50 stolen bases... and he knew that he couldn't touch Kerry Wood that day.

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May 02, 2018

Mmmm... DRUGS!

So I was given two different drugs to help deal with my hip: a painkiller and a muscle relaxant.  The painkiller isn't so much of a much, to be honest.


But oh my giddy aunt is the muscle relaxant the greatest thing ever!  Took a half-pill at 11pm, and slept until 530a.  Only hydraulic pressure got me out of that bed, and I immediately returned to it ASAP.  My alarm went off a couple of hours later and I kept resetting it.  

Finally, I just gave up and texted my boss: "I'm calling in... this muscle relaxer is GREAT."  Her reply was "LOL see you thursday."

It may not be the greatest job ever, but my boss is pretty cool.

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May 01, 2018

Hip To Be Square

Monday morning dawned bright and new, a beautiful way to start a week!  I had spent as much time as possible either in bed or in my "comfy" chair, attempting to take it easy on my hip.  It seemed to have an effect too, as moving around Pond Central caused no problems, no flareups, nothing like that.  I had no way of knowing that five hours later, I'd be sobbing in the break room at work, the pain having become too unbearable for anything else.


This morning I hauled myself out to the car and right to the nearby immediate care facility.  Once the doc came in and palpitated my thigh and hip, looking for sore spots... prod prod prod YEOWTCH prod prod prod... she put me in the hands of the x-ray techs, Torquemada and Vlad Tepes.   

The angles they wanted me to put my hip into were... hell, I might not have been able to do them even when my hip DIDN'T hurt.  And all of it on a hard, flat table that made my back scream.  I don't think they were enjoying themselves, but I can't be sure.

Finally, the doc came in with the results: the x-rays were all consistent for arthritis and small bone spurs.  Which was about the worst answer they could have given, because that doesn't go away.  So I'm stuck with this for now.  Whee.

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