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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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September 29, 2018

F1 Quals: Russia 2018

Oh look, here's a surprise, we've never seen that front row before. *eye roll*  Here's the provisonal grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mother Russia:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:32.964 1:32.744 1:31.387
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:32.410 1:32.595 1:31.532
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.476 1:33.045 1:31.943
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.341 1:33.065 1:32.237
5 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:34.078 1:33.747 1:33.181
6 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:34.290 1:33.596 1:33.413
7 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:33.924 1:33.488 1:33.419
8 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:34.084 1:33.923 1:33.563
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:34.022 1:33.517 1:33.704
10 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:34.170 1:33.995 1:35.196
11 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:33.048 No Time

12 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:33.247 No Time

13 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso
1:34.383 No Time

14 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:34.626 No Time

15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:34.655 No Time

16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:35.037

17 DTM Alonso McLaren Renault 1:35.504

18 Homeboy Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:35.612

19 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:35.977

20 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:36.437


Yeah, welcome back to Mercedes being unstoppable in Quals again.  Yes, you might be saying that the track here in Sochi is particularly well-suited to the Mercedes, and you'd be right.  I suspect, however, that's its more than that... that Mercedes has caught up to a Ferrari chassis that, to be honest, was the best in the first half of the year.  Certainly they managed to make their car and tires work today.  The Ferraris looked... clumsy... around the turns today, like more "point and squirt" than "smooth arc".  That can work at some circuits.  Not, apparently, here.

The only saving grace of Quals was that Bottas beat his teammate to pole.  The Finn apparently just loves this track, always doing well... heck, he won last year.  He's also never been outqualified by his teammate here ever.  Some drivers have tracks they love... Valterri Bottas loves Russia.

You may note a LOT of "No Time" listings there in Q2.  Renault, looking like dogmeat around here for whatever reason, decided to not waste rubber in a futile attempt to do... something.  As a bonus, they get to choose what tire they'll start with, so they've got that going for them.  Which is nice.  Both Red Bulls and Ghastly's Toro Rosso have taken new engines/power units/whatever, as since they've all gone over their season limit of three engines/power units/whatever, they all get dropped to the back of the grid.  Again, what you're seeing above is the provisional grid, the real lineup for the last 10 places will be different.

Race in the morning, F1U! sometime thereafter.  Pray for a good race.
more...

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September 28, 2018

F1 on TV: Russia 2018

Nope, didn't forget, just never got around to it!  Here's the track map for the 2018 Grand Prix of All The Russias:


The only race in which the winners get bottles of vodka and the grid girls wear track suits.  Really, this race has been cursed from the beginning. 2014 was the first race after Jules Bianchi had his wreck and nobody wanted to be there.  2015 saw a truck dump a load of diesel fuel onto the racing surface  in P1, heavy rain in P2, and Carlos Sainz going under the tecpro barriers and partially through the armco in P3.  2016 had a wacky wreckfest in Turn 2 of the first lap, which claimed Seb Vettel.  And 2017 was just bad.

So I'm not exactly expecting a great race on Sunday.  Maybe we'll get lucky!  Quals in the morning!

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September 27, 2018

In Which Wonderduck Is Furious

Something happened at work today that nearly caused a very large number of people to quit.  The gist of it was as follows:


The Good News: Permanent reduction of overtime hours to eight instead of 10.

The Bad News: We'll now have a set time to work each day, 8a - 430p (eight hours, with a half-hour lunch).  But wait, eight hours for five days is only 40 hours...

The Horrible News: We will now be working Monday thru Saturday.

But wait, there's more!  It was all a joke, just kidding. See, at the bottom of the e-mail, at the end of the usual business disclaimer text, was a little "j/k".  Eight-point font size and everything!

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

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September 25, 2018

In Which Wonderduck Complains About Audiobooks

As the three Pond Scum members remaining will recall, I work in a job that allows me... nay, friggin' requires me... to have something to distract my brain from the repetitive task I perform for 9-12 hours/day.  Music was a good way to start but even with over 500 songs on the mp3 player, you start to hear the same songs over and over again.


This is not helped when the mp3 player in question loses its place when you have it on "random" and you press pause to go use the little ducks' room.  Further, it's almost like the memory has a groove worn in it, because it seems to go back to the same songs repeatedly.  The bad thing is, it's not the same songs every time.  Today it might be this, that and the other... but tomorrow it'll be penguin, ocelot, and serval.  So I can't even count on that.  No complaints, but it does get a bit tedious.

So the next step was audiobooks.  These have proven to be a mixed bag.  On the plus side, some of them are long enough to last me a whole week of work.  On the minus, dear god have these people never performed before?  I can count on the fingers of one had just how many audiobooks I've listened to that do a good job on actually understanding what the author wrote.  Just as an example of what I'm talking about, a few months back I listened to the audiobook of Starship Troopers.

Now, this is my favorite Heinlein novel, which means it's on the very short list of my favorite books.  I cannot say how many times I've read it over the past 40 years... if you told me 100, I wouldn't be surprised.  I know this book inside and out, is what I'm trying to tell you.  It is at least theoretically possible that the man who did the audio reading had read the book before.  I wouldn't put any money on it, but it's possible.  Anybody who can read the line "C'mon you apes, do you want to live forever?" and make it sound like an actual question simply doesn't have a grasp on the subject material.  And speaking of grasping, what they did to The Mote In God's Eye and the sequel, The Gripping Hand, is simply criminal.  The reader does do a good job of differentiating voices, so points for that.  Unfortunately, his interpretation makes it sound like everybody in the cast hates everybody else.  Captain Roderick Blaine's relationship with his navigator, Kevin Renner, is completely and totally antagonistic, full of snarling and gnashing of teeth.  Which is weird, because when I read it Renner was a much more lighthearted rogue trader, and Blaine the Navy captain/aristocrat that puts up with him.  I'm fairly sure the reader took his cue from one line: "Blaine decided that he didn't like his navigator."  If true, he blew it completely.

It's amazing just how common this is.  Almost completely forgot the most egregious example: Robert Asprin's Phule's Company!  If you've read it, you know it's a comedy novel.  It's supposed to be funny.  Somehow, the reader turned Willard Phule, aka Captain Jester, into a typical military man.  Sorta puts a damper on the whole rest of the novel, y'know?

That's not to say they're all bad.  I had cause recently to hear The Rise And Fall Of  D.O.D.O., by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland, and it's a terrific listen.  There's at least six different people doing different voices, which is pretty much a requirement for the book... in print form, it's made up of journal entries, computer logs, audio transcripts, etc etc etc, all of which look different from each other.  So, in audiobook form, different voices for each character's individual entries.  To be sure, if Tristan (our hero) shows up in Melisande's (our heroine/main character) entry, the woman who reads Melisande's stuff will differentiate for Tristan, it's not the person who reads Tristan's entries.  Still, it works, and it's a hoot.  Ditto for Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens.  

But the best audiobook I've yet listened to is the classic With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.  Unlike, I think, most other audiobooks, this one is actually read by someone who did research and knew the book inside and out.  Which makes sense since Joe Mazzello, the man who played Sledge in the amazing HBO miniseries The Pacific, is the reader.  It's a gruesome book, but that's good; it was originally written just for Sledge's family, so they knew what grandpa did in the War.  It pulls no punches, and Mazzello brings it to life in a way no other audiobook I've listened to has managed.  

More like that, please and thank you Audiobook companies.  Get people who know the books to read 'em, huh?

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September 22, 2018

Figure Foto Fun Four: All Right Mr DeMille, I'm Ready For My Close-Up

A little while ago I picked up a set of extension tubes for my camera lens... basically they turn it into a macro lens for closeups.  I mean, it's not like it was terrible at them before, but now it's a whole different portrait level.  For example:


The lighting on this one is... pretty okay.  But I got better.

Just a tiny bit of color editing, and voila, Haruhi's happy.

One of these days I'll take a good picture of this figure and I'll be so surprised I'd probably drop dead.  Something about it defies good photography, and by "good", I really mean "whatever I'm able to produce."

Still, once in a while I get lucky.

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September 18, 2018

Hey Everybody It's Music Time!

Nope, nothing deep today!  Just a couple of AMVs I've stumbled across in the past few weeks that I want to share with y'all.  C'mon, it's fun!


Pillow Warfare
Because who doesn't like a good pillow fight scene in an anime?

Lucky Ben-To!
There just aren't enough good Ben-To! AMVs out there.  Then again, it's not like it was the most popular series ever to air in Japan... or over here, for that matter.  I loved it, but it's not like I have a surfeit of taste, y'know?

Saturday Anime Night
So I watched this for the first time, and as it was playing I kept thinking to myself, "gee, I wish they had used a different version of the song, one that doesn't sound so... sparse."  A minute or two later?  Heh.  Keep watching.

She Loves That Rock And Roll
Some time ago (jeez, it's been FIVE YEARS), I put up a post that included an AMV called "We Dream We Can".  I've always thought of that as being the best K-On! music video I've seen.  A challenger appears!  Bonus points for using ELO.

One day, I'll have to do a post, one amv for each series I've done a writeup for.  Because it would amuse me, that's why.

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September 17, 2018

F1 Update: Singapore 2018

It was night, it was hot and humid, and it even rained a little bit.  But how did the race turn out?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Singapore!


*OH GOD MAKE IT STOP:  Look, we'll be honest here.  We here at F1U!, we're Formula 1 fans.  We love watching the races, it's a good way to spend two hours when all around is work.  We look forward to these things.

But good lord, did this race suck.  How badly?  The first six positions on the grid were Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Ricciardo.  When the race ended roughly two hours after the lights went out, the finishing order was Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Ricciardo.  Yes that's right, they finished in the same order they started.  The only time these six were NOT in that order on track was during the pit rotation.

Indeed, if it wasn't for backmarker traffic, there wouldn't have been ANY excitement up at the front after the first few laps.  Late in the race, Verstappen was trailing Hamilton when the leader got caught up in some squabbling backmarkers that didn't immediately react to the blue flags.  This balked the Mercedes driver, allowing Verstappen to close right up behind and even give a vague little thought towards trying a pass for the lead.  But then the leaders got by, and the moment was over.

*WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN US?:  This was all down to the track itself.  Much like Monaco, there are very, very few places to attempt a pass at Singapore.  It's very unlikely it'll ever get better, since as a street circuit, there's a limit to how much they can modify the track.  As a spectacle, Singapore is top of the page.  The cars look amazing under the nearly 2000 light projectors used to illuminate the circuit, the surrounding cityscape is awesome at night, and the Singapore Flyer is a remarkable landmark for the cameras to linger over.  But damn-all if the racing is mostly subpar.   We here at F1U! would still rather watch a race here than Hungary, but our mind is beginning to change on that.

*SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?:  Hamilton's win, mixed with Vettel's third, means that with six races remaining the Ferrari driver could win every race, and if the Brit finishes second, he'd still win by a point or two.  The championship isn't over... a few reliability problems or random Red Bull-induced crashes could change things overnight... but Vettel is running out of time very very quickly.  We here at F1U! haven't looked recently, because we do not partake in gambling, but we'd be surprised if the British oddsmakers haven't taken the championship off the board yet.

The next race is at Sochi, Russia.  We tremble with fear at another miserable race at that less-than-exciting circuit.  See you then!

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September 15, 2018

F1 Quals: Singapore 2018

As usual, the night was warm and humid at the Singapore street circuit.  Despite it being 9pm, it was still in the mid-80s with high humidity.  Not for nothing do they say that this is the hardest race physically for the drivers.  So who faced down this sweaty monster?  Who conquered its 23 turns?  Here's the provisional grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Singapore:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.403 1:37.344 1:36.015
2 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:38.751 1:37.214 1:36.334
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:38.218 1:37.876 1:36.628
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:39.291 1:37.254 1:36.702
5 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.534 1:37.194 1:36.794
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:38.153 1:37.406 1:36.996
7 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:38.814 1:38.342 1:37.985
8 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:38.685 1:38.367 1:38.320
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:38.912 1:38.534 1:38.365
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:38.932 1:38.450 1:38.588
11 I Dunno Alonso McLaren Renault 1:39.022 1:38.641
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:39.103 1:38.716
13 CharlesAMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:39.206 1:38.747
14 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:39.366 1:39.453
15 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:39.614 1:39.691
16 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:39.644

17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:39.809

18 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:39.864

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:41.263

20 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:41.334


On a night where the preferred tires were taking two laps to warm up, and where the fastest tires would die if you pushed them hard for an entire lap, Ferrari spit the bit.  Going in, there was no reason to think that at least Vettel would be on the front row.  Instead, Red Bull discovered that if you press the right-hand pedal, the car goes faster.

And then, there was Lewis.  After nearly failing to making it out of Q1 due to a Mercedes tactical error, he turned in a Lap For The Ages.  Where it came from is unknown... even the team was baffled.  "Magic," said Lewis.  "Sprinkled with stardust" was team principal Toto Wolff's description.  "F*ck off and die," was Seb Vettel's take.  And it came on his first hot lap, too.  It was just left there, waiting for someone to knock it off.  Nobody did.  Nobody could

How astonishing was this lap?  Of course it's a new lap record, that's been happening all season.  But it was better than THREE SECONDS faster than last year's pole time.  All this in a car that, frankly, had looked a little dog-like this weekend. 

The grid does look awfully entertaining however... and look who's sitting in the second spot: DH Verstappen.  Last year his presence led to both Ferraris crashing out, essentially on the first turn.  And here we see an increasingly desperate appearing Seb Vettel in third, knowing that with seven races left he needs very badly to outrace Hamilton if he wants a chance to win the championship.  I'm almost expecting a lot of red and pewter carbon fiber to be spewed in the first corner.

Race is in the morning, see ya afterwards!

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