November 30, 2018

So There I Was...

Man, you hear somebody say "So there I was..." and you know a good story is inbound.  So there I was, early Wednesday morning, all ready to go back to work.  And by ready, I actually mean "resigned to my fate", but what do you expect after four days away?  Yes, four, I did have to go in for five hours on Black Friday.  Still, four days plus some, means yeah, I really didn't want to go back to work.  But like any good adult, I gathered myself together and began to make my way to the Duckmobile.  As I did, I looked upon the fresh fields of snow covering the parking lot and an overwhelming urge took hold of me!  An urge... to snow angel the *hell* out of the lot!
Not quite the "snow angel" I meant.
Ignoring the stares of the neighbor or two nearby, I promptly began angeling like a little kid.  After a minute or two I realized something interesting... I was actually comfortable!  Like lying on a really soft bed, lying on the snow in Pond Central's parking lot was... well, it was a little cold, but yeah, I was comfy!  Reveling in this strange and wonderous feeling, I just continued to lie there.  I could almost doze off, I was so comfy... or hypothermia was setting in, one of the two.  Anyway, it was really nice until the snowplow came.
How could I have anticipated that showing up?  There aren't any rails in the parking lot!
I immediately found myself thrown high into the air, landing in a snowdrift and rapidly covered with more snow from the plow.  Some time later, I managed to half-dig, half-drag myself to the surface where I discovered I'd been surrounded by a bunch of Greenpeace-like people, all yelling about protecting the rare and endangered Snow Manatee.  A loud cheer was raised when they spied me struggling to gain my feet, and then they began to pelt me with more snow.
When I asked them to stop doing that, they replied that the rare and endangered Snow Manatee needed to be kept covered with snow, lest they dry up and shrivel away.  I pointed out to them that I'm not a Snow Manatee, I'm just a guy trying to get to work, they laughed and pointed out that the rare and endangered Snow Manatee was known to have a great sense of humor.  "What a kidder, Snow Manatees don't have jobs!"
And that's why I was late to work.

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November 26, 2018

Snowmageddon Came Early This Year

On Thanksgiving, I noticed that the forecast for Saturday night called for a little bit of snow, maybe as much as three inches.  By Friday, the snow had moved to Sunday afternoon/evening until Monday morning, and maybe six inches in the worst case.  "Cool," I said. "I've got Monday and Tuesday off anyway!"
What we expected.  We were fools.
By late Friday night/Saturday morning, winter weather advisories had changed to winter storm warnings, and then to blizzard warnings.  Four to eight inches were likely in Duckford, but heavier to the south.  The very worst of it was going to be in a narrow band that'd surely miss us.  Indeed, the storm coming was so narrow that people 20 miles north of the city were not expecting any snow at all, or a dusting.  They were right, that's all they got.  That's all they got. 
What actually happened.  All of these idols are now dead, buried by snowfall.
By 4pm Sunday afternoon, there was already a couple of inches on the Duckmobile, but it looked like it was only flurrying anymore.  Piece of cake!  Then the sun went down and I was unable to see what happened next... Duckford experienced snowfall rates of up to two inches/hour for a while overnight, and it never actually stopped snowing until about 6am Monday.  The official snowfall amount at Duckford International Airport was 11.7"... and that measurement was taken only a couple of miles to the west of Pond Central.  I assume the narrow bands sorta moved a bit to the north.  Oopsie!

I am fortunate.  One of my neighbors decided to take it upon himself to shovel the sidewalks clean and start removing snow from cars.  He had my car pretty much cleared off before I  even woke up today.  Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about the parking lot, which hadn't been visited by the Snowplow Fairy yet, and wouldn't be until about 2pm. 

All this caught Duckford by surprise.  It was much heavier than expected by anyone.  Anyone, that is, except for the National Weather Service, at least two different TV stations in town, and the newspaper.  I'm still not exactly sure the tertiary... quadiary?... road Pond Central is on has been plowed yet... or even if it will be at all.  But then, what do you expect when this was the heaviest snowfall ever recorded for the month of November in Duckford?  And not just by a little bit: the record was just over six inches on a day in 1996.  We nearly doubled that.

All the schools in the area were closed today.  Many businesses never opened... it looked like almost everybody who lives in Pond Central's building did not go to work today... and I have no idea if the mail was delivered or not.  And now it's snot-freezingly cold and windy outside. 

And I'm still on vacation.  Hee hee hee.

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November 24, 2018

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2018

Even though it rained a few days ago, it's pretty safe to say that the weather in Abu Dhabi was hot and dry... though humid and cooling off because of a fairly strong breeze.  Still, pretty decent for today's session.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.828 1:35.693 1:34.794
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:36.789 1:36.392 1:34.956
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.775 1:36.345 1:35.125
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:37.010 1:36.735 1:35.365
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:37.117 1:36.964 1:35.401
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:37.195 1:36.144 1:35.589
7 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:37.575 1:36.732 1:36.192
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:37.124 1:36.580 1:36.237
9 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:36.936 1:36.814 1:36.540
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:37.569 1:36.630 1:36.542
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:37.757 1:36.982
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:37.619 1:37.132
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:37.934 1:37.309
14 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:37.255 1:37.541
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:37.890 1:37.743
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
1:37.994

17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso
1:38.166

18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:38.577

19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:38.635

20 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:38.682


This is the first time in F1 history that a team has had five consecutive front-row lockouts at a track.  Yeah, Mercedes likes Yas Marina.  This is also Hamilton's 11th pole of the season.  11 out of 21 races... we're really watching one of the all-time greats, you know that?  Sure, the car helps, but Lewis Hamilton seriously has a chance to be the best in F1 history.  Now we just need to see if his engine holds up.  Apparently his power unit was riding the ragged edge of annihilation for much of the race in Brazil, and it definitely suffered some damage.  How much?  The team isn't sure themselves.  Either it'll hold together, or it will go kablammo and be Hamilton's first engine failure all year.

It seems very unlikely, but Haas still has a chance to finish fourth in the Constructor's Championship.  They just need to score 24 points more than Renault.  Remember, the points system is 25/18/15/12/10/8/6/4/2/1.  It's hard to imagine a realistic scenario where Haas scores 24 points, period, let alone outscore Renault by that much.  But I guess it's not impossible.

Race in the morning.  See you sometime afterwards!

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November 23, 2018

F1 on TV: Abu Dhabi 2018

And so we come to the end.  The last race of the season is upon us, and with it the ending of a legendary career.  But first, here's the track map of the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi:


No real changes to the layout, but one big change to the curbs.  In the past, Turn 20 has been infamous for the track limits being ignored.  It was common... normal... to see cars running so wide that they were practically only on the curbs, not on the asphalt.  This year, a new "sausage" curb has been installed, and mark my words, someone is going to badly damage their car on it either in quals or during the race.  It's high enough that a car will grind away most of its floor if it spends much time on it.  Indeed, DH Verstappen did exactly that in Practice 2 today, though the extend of the damage is unknown to me.

Sadly, this is the final F1 race weekend for Fernando Alonso, who is moving on to do... other racing things that aren't F1.  It's not because of the way McLaren has blown chunks the past few years and thus deprived him of any chance at all of another championship... or even of one more win... just ask him!  However, that can't be 100% true.  He's still a top-level driver, after all... anybody doubt that if he was in a Ferrari or Mercedes he'd be a championship contender?  I've gotta admit, he's rehabilitated himself in my eyes.  This is the man that for years was nicknamed HWMNBN for his $100 million backstab of McLaren a decade ago.  And yet, he's escaped that moniker.

Also, just officially announced on Thursday, Williams is bringing Robert Kubica back as a driver in 2019.  It's a great story for Formula 1.  Great young star terribly injured in a crash, works his way back to the top level of racing despite his right arm having had nearly 14000 surgeries (I exaggerate).  I'm on record stating that I think he's an idiot, and he was over four seconds slower than the fastest car today in Practice 1... allegedly they were doing setup work... and from watching the in-car cameras his right hand appears to be useless.  He's doing all the shifting, both up and down, and all the adjustments on the steering wheel, with his left hand.  His right hand is just keeping the wheel straight while he does all that.

Anyway, yeah, I mean, I hope it works out for Williams and Kubica, I really do... even if I don't think he deserves to be back in the seat, it's still a fantastic human interest story.  Who knows, perhaps he'll surprise us all.

Quals in the morning... see ya then!

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November 20, 2018

Of Turkey And Overtime

Remember that six-day weekend I mentioned a while ago?  Well, throw a half-day of work in there on Friday.  See, the Powers That Be, in all their wisdom and glory, decided that we needed to work eight hours of OT this week.  "Well hey," I hear you say, and that's impressive because I'm listening to some electroswing at very high volumes at the moment, "that's less than the usual 10, that's great!"  Sure, if we were doing it in the normal five days.  This week we're technically only open three: "...but you're welcome to work on Thursday or Friday if you'd like."


However, instead of doing 32 hours in three days and killing myself in the process, I've decided that I'm going to work a half-day on Friday and curse my employers the whole time.  Who needs holidays?  There's claims to push!  I'm not the only one somewhat discomfited by this, it needs be said.
Who knew PSB could do "angry"?  Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing.  A hurricane hasn't blown my house away, a forest fire hasn't burned down a quarter of my city, this is just griping about having a job.  Yes, I know how whiny that all sounds.  Tough.  I want my holiday time, dagnabbit.  

Big plans, anybody?

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November 18, 2018

F1 Backdate: Mexico 2018

Hello, and welcome to the first ever F1 Backdate!  When I'm running stupidly late on coverage of a F1 race, this is going to be the result:  a look back at the most important aspects of the race with benefit of a week's worth of analysis.  Let's get back(date) to it!


*WHAT HAPPENED:  DH Verstappen and False Esteban! had a coming-together on Lap 44.  FE! was in 16th and a lap down on the Dutchman, who was legitimately leading the race and appeared to be cruising to a victory.  However, the Force India driver had only recently emerged from the pits with a brand-new set of tires, while Verstappen was on fairly used rubber.  Thus, False Esteban! was substantially quicker than the Red Bull as they came down the pit straight.  He managed to get alongside the outside of Red Bull, and held that position through Turn 1.  This put him on the inside for Turn 2, and stayed very close to the curb as the two entered the turn.  Verstappen, on the other hand held the normal line.  The result was predictable:
click for larger
Not only did Lewis Hamilton, who was trailing Verstappen by a few seconds, take the lead but Verstappen suffered enough damage that he had no chance at all of catching the Mercedes driver.  He still finished second, but his profanity-laced radio calls showed the level of agitation he was suffering.  On the podium, he looked angry enough to spit teeth.  In the interview room, he called the Force India driver "a p*ssy", while Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen had to restrain themselves from laughing out loud.  Verstappen would later get into an altercation with False Esteban! that involved shoving and vituperation.  He would be assigned two days of "public service" by the FIA for that.

*ANALYSIS OR SOMETHING LIKE IT:  So who's to blame for this incident that probably cost Verstappen the victory?  False Esteban! was given a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, very nearly the stiffest the stewards could hand out, just short of an exclusion.  So no matter what the rules say, the Force India driver was at fault.  That being said, the actual sporting regulations are... contradictory... on this matter.

On one hand, a backmarker is 100% allowed to unlap himself from the leader during a race.  Also, in any passing situation the driver in front must leave at least a one-car gap; clearly Verstappen did not do this, closing down on False Esteban! in Turn 2.  By those rules Verstappen was the cause of the collision.  The rules also say that any pass must be accomplished in a safe and controlled manner, and thus False Esteban! should have backed off and waited, probably making the pass down the back straight with DRS assistance.

But there's also the rules of common sense.  Common sense says that False Esteban! was an idiot to challenge the race leader at that time and place... he was in 16th, for heaven's sake.  What was the point?  He was faster, on fresh tires, and could have waited a couple of turns without costing himself anything... and it's not like the Red Bull wouldn't be passing him again once the Force India's tires wet off.  Common sense also says that DH Verstappen shouldn't have put himself into that position.  He had nothing to gain and everything to lose by futzing about with the backmarker, and should have given him plenty of room.  Think of it like False Esteban! was a drunk fratboy staggering around a party throwing punches.  Anybody with a lick of common sense would move back and avoid the punches.  Verstappen just walked into a punch he could have easily avoided.

I'm inclined to declare this a 'racing incident' and let it go.  False Esteban! was an idiot for trying that move when he did and thus costing the Red Bull driver the win.  DH Verstappen was an idiot for not giving the Force India the room it needed, and thus costing himself the win.  I really want to point at Verstappen and say "you're a fool."  The thing is, could he have really expected the Force India driver to be where he was?  A backmarker isn't supposed to push like that... and that's a failing of the "Blue Flag Mentality" that Formula 1 has.  Slower cars are supposed to get out of the way of the leaders after all.  I don't have an answer for any of that. I'm not sure there is an answer without rewriting the rules.  Both drivers legitimately had a right to be where they were when the accident occurred.

The stewards thought Ocon caused an accident, thus was at fault.  I guess that's the answer we have to go with, but it doesn't overly sit well with me.

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November 15, 2018

A Late-Discovered Icon Passes

Roy Clark died today at the age of 85.


Growing up, I was too cool for Roy Clark.  Why, he was on Hee-Haw, that hick show for hick people!  Overall wearin', dirt-farmer soundin' redneck... 

Then one day, something strange happened.  I was walking around my favorite music store, Appletree, and I stumbled over a new album by Mark Knopfler.  Great!  I'm a huge Dire Straits fan, Money for Nothin', Sultans of Swing, y'know right?  But who's this Chet Atkins guy?
Wait.  Wait.  Waitwaitwait.  That's... oh my god, I bought a COUNTRY album???  But... but... this guy Atkins?  He's pretty good!  Maybe there's more to this than I thought...

I'm not a country music fan.  Most "modern country" is really just pop/rock music with a twang in it occasionally.  And most Country & Western music is really still kinda cringeworthy to me.  But I can tell talent when I hear it, and there's a LOT of skilled musicians in countrymusicland.

One of them, maybe one of the best, was Roy Clark.
Sure, he's kinda muggin' for the camera there, but there's no denying that being that good on three distinctly different instruments means somebody's got talent in spades.  
That he can stand next to Glen Campbell on guitar and not come off looking like a stooge is a pretty good indication that he's got chops... and not just on the side of his face.
This has got to be one of my favorite clips from Hee-Haw that I've ever seen.  That's bluesman Clarence Gatemouth Brown he's playing with.  Gatemouth wins, but it's not a runaway.  I'm more impressed that Hee-Haw put him on, actually.  But in my mind, Roy Clark was and always will be a banjo player.
What it really comes down to isn't that I was too cool for Roy Clark... he was too cool for me.  My loss.

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November 14, 2018

I Have Been Lax

Apparently the combination of "being quite sick" and "muscle relaxer" and "total silence for two days" is enough in this day and age to make people who read The Pond somewhat... jumpy.  I'm not sure why.


I'm okay.  I'm back on overtime... apparently my being bad was a one-week aberration.  Or since we're approaching end-of-month, they want to shove as many claims out the door as possible and recognize that I manage to at least do that much.  One of the two.

Thanksgiving is coming, and it'll be a six-day holiday for me.  Yeah, I hit the jackpot on the lottery at work.  Literally.  To prevent EVERYBODY asking for Christmas Eve off (for example), time around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is blocked out so you literally can't request it.  Then everybody who wants to take some time off has to submit an e-mail to the boss, stating what your Top Three Picks for time off would be.  I actually requested some this year, mostly because Christmas and New Year's Day are on Tuesdays this time around.  I requested Dec 21 and 24, because five-day weekends are good, Nov 26 and 27, because six-day weekends are even better, and  Dec 31 and Jan 2, because hey, why not.

I got TWO of my choices, Thanksgiving and New Years.  I'll take it!  I dunno how many people got two selections, probably not many... I guess being a lil' angel at work pays off.  Which doesn't explain why I got in the greatest sick burn dude on my Big Boss today.  Big Boss?  Yeah, my original boss got promoted to overseer of the entire building, so she's now Big Boss, and her replacement is now my boss.  ANYway.  Big Boss and I have always gotten along well... Cubs fans, y'know?  When they won the World Series (did I mention that the Cubs won the World Series?) she texted me to celebrate because she knew I'd still be awake... we've gotten along well.  She was at the office late tonight, didn't leave until nearly 9pm, or a half-hour before I left.  While she was waiting for the multifunction photocopier (which is next to my cube) to spit out something or other, we were bantering away, blah blah blah Spartan pig Saracen dog blah blah blah, when she said "I used to be a good time once."  It was totally in context with our conversation, really.  Without even stopping to think, I come out with... "That's what all the writing on the bathroom walls said, yeah."

She couldn't stop laughing for at least five minutes.  So I entirely expect to go to work tomorrow, clock in, and be totally fired.  Like, epically, get police to escort him off the premises fired.  I mean, c'mon, the 13th Amendment makes it illegal to own people like that, I wouldn't blame her in the least.

But man, it was sweet.

Speaking of going to work tomorrow, I've got to. So I'm going to bed tonight. Good night!

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November 12, 2018

That Was... Unpleasant

Early Saturday afternoon, I started to feel... not so swell.  I think I had a low fever, but by the evening I developed... not chills, exactly, but sort of an intermediary state between chills and non-chills.  My left side, from the back of my head all the way down my back, would feel shivery, while the rest of me felt fine.  This is nothing out of the ordinary, I've had that exact feeling since I was a kid.  Everybody is different, y'know?


Sunday I definitely had a fever, but watching first the F1 race, then the Bears game, in real-time with friend Ben from Midnite Tease who is in Illinois for some training thing, distracted me enough that I kinda didn't notice until later.  Around 5pm I took a nap... if you can call a sleeping period that lasted six hours a nap... woke up feeling not terrible, then went to bed a couple of hours later (stopping to post the PSB thing below, of course).

That was a mistake.  I woke up this morning with a brainsplitter of a headache, definite fever, chills, the works.  I called in after trying to convince myself for a while that I was fine.  Failing in that, I took a shower and realized I just felt worse.  That's when I called in.  Like any good patient, I decided to do very little for a few hours, then go back to sleep.

Why I wound up watching two-hour long replays of 24 hour livestream events by a person who appears to be the go-to guy for GTAV racing mods.  There's apparently a huge community of GTAV players who don't actually play the game, but have modded it into a racing "sim".  Then I wound up watching a LIVE livestream event by my favorite racing sim driver... he takes it seriously, but not TOO seriously.  Oh, and along the way he's been noticed by actual broadcasters and provides commentary for one simracing championship or another.  He recently was in Japan for a stop on the tour there, and got to tell a great story where it turns out he was invited to Macau to do some of the coverage there.  His response was "I'd love to, but I'll be in Monaco then."  Just once, I'd love to be able to say that and mean it.  "Gosh, I appreciate the offer to work at Bathurst, but I'll be doing the 24 Hours of LeMans that weekend."

*ahem*

Eventually I did go lie down for a nap, around 430pm or so.  Nothing.  For five hours I laid in bed, remarkably vivid thoughts of being a sim driver in GTAV and just sucking at it running through my head.  And oh my stars and garters was I hot.  I don't know if I was hot because I was running a fever, or if it was because the heater was turned up and all the windows closed, or what, but it was horrible.  I've had this happen before, and I never can tell what the reason is.

Which brings us to now.  I'm going to take a muscle relaxer before I go to bed, that should let me sleep... and hope in the morning I feel better.  Fingers crossed.

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November 11, 2018

NEW PSB EP!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, Public Service Broadcasting has released a new EP.


White Star Liner is the story of the Titanic, from her construction to her sinking.  The band got to debut the songs in June, as it turns out, during the BBC's "Big Weekend" concert in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.  The stage was placed on the graving yards that the great ship was actually built upon, and if that isn't cool, what is?

Here's the first song:
White Star Liner is available wheresoever you choose to get your music thang on.  It was $4.00 on Amazon, for reference's sake.  Now if only they'd come to the Chicago area...

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November 10, 2018

F1 Quals: Brazil '66 in 2018

I don't understand Formula 1 anymore.  First it rained but nobody seemed to care.  Then drivers forgot how to drive, but nobody was penalized.  Then a driver decided to break everything in a fit of pique, and he didn't get a grid penalty.  Then it didn't rain but everybody freaked out anyway.  And then the announcers thought one of the lakes was rain.  Brazil: if you're not confused, you're not in Brazil!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2018 Grand Prix of Brazil '66:

Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:08.464 1:07.795 1:07.281
2 DA Vettel Ferrari 1:08.452 1:07.776 1:07.374
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:08.492 1:07.727 1:07.441
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:08.452 1:08.028 1:07.456
5 DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:08.205 1:08.017 1:07.778
6 Frowny Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:08.544 1:08.055 1:07.780
7 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:08.754 1:08.579 1:08.296
8 Charles AMX-30 Sauber Ferrari 1:08.667 1:08.335 1:08.492
9 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:08.735 1:08.239 1:08.517
10 Pierre Ghastly Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:09.046 1:08.616 1:09.029
11 DP Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:08.474 1:08.659
12 Lawsuit Perez Force India Mercedes 1:09.217 1:08.741
13 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:09.264 1:08.770
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:09.009 1:08.834
15 Sergey Sir Otkin Williams Mercedes 1:09.259 1:10.381
16 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:09.269

17 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:09.280

18 V8S Alonso McLaren Renault 1:09.402

19 Veruca Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:09.441

20 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Renault 1:09.601


I said that I didn't understand F1 anymore, and this Quals session just made that totally clear in that I couldn't follow what was actually going on.  Nothing seemed to be happening the way I'm used to and I can't quite put my finger on why.  The only thing I got out of it is that Ferrari got sneaky, managed to qualify on the hardest rubber compound in Q2, while everybody else was on either the softest or the medium.  So not only will Ferrari be fast, and at the top of the grid, but they'll be able to go longer than anybody else in the Top 10, too.

Fortunately for DA Vettel, he's not going to get penalized for his little contretemps in Q2.  See, cars are randomly selected during Quals to be weighed during the sessions, just to make sure everybody is conforming to standards... and since it's random, you can't cheat without risking getting ejected.  Vettel was selected as he was coming in for new tires, which caused a little problem.  See, it was looking like rain, so you really wanted to get laps done before the moisture made the track undriveable.  So Vettel hurried over to the weighbridge, which was blocked by an orange cone... don't move in until the cone is removed... and promptly kicked the cone into another city.  Then he drove onto the scale pads and did NOT turn off his engine, which is required.  He then started waving his hands in the air like he was trying to land a Dauntless on a carrier.  Eventually he got settled, the car was weighed, and he drove off to his pits, screaming a blue streak as he went.  Except those scale pads?  They're NOT designed to be used as takeoff points, so his rear wheels basically kicked them in the opposite direction from the one the cone went.  This destroys the weighbridge.  For a while, it looked like DA Vettel was going to be kicked out of Quals.  Then there was thought he'd get a grid penalty.  As it turned out, he was hit with a €25000 fine and a non-driving reprimand, which means he was taken to the principals office and hit on the hands with a ruler.  Oh, why "DA"?  It stands for "dumb@ss," which he's proven to be this season.  Wear it with pride, DA.

Race in the noonish on ESPN2, I think.  See ya then and there.

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November 09, 2018

F1 on TV: Brazil '66... 2018

Yep, Brazil.  Home of Interlagos, "Between The Lakes."  Also one of only two places that drivers have been attacked via attempted hijacking recently... and the other one was in the middle of a revolution at the time, so take from that what you will.  Here's the track map.


Apparently the start/finish line has been moved.  Or more correctly, I saw video footage of the start/finish line being waterblasted off the track surface, I only assume they put down a new one.  I hope they did... an infinitely long Brazillian Grand Prix would drive me to drink... poison.

In other less-than-important news, it appears that Williams may or may not have offered Robert Kubica a race seat next year.  There's been so many differnet headlines, tweets, and other posts popping up that I don't think anybody is really sure what's what.  As much as I liked Koobs back in the day... the only Pole in F1... I am currently of the opinion that he's a f*cking moron who doesn't deserve to be offered a drive in a taxi, let alone in F1.  This is a driver who was anointed as The Golden Child.  He had a win at the 2008 Canadian GP a year after having that amazing wreck there.  He was actually tabbed as being the best pure driver in F1 in 2011... better than Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, all of 'em.  He had Formula 1 in the palm of his hand.  It was only a matter of time before he won a championship.  Kinda like DH Verstappen, just with a bigger nose and lips smaller than his entire head.

And then he threw it all away in a stupid piss-ant rally race in Italy.  He was there because "racers gotta race," and he wanted to go racing.  And then he managed to impale his car on the end of a metal highway barrier which ripped up his leg and nearly amputated his hand and his arm.  Surgery saved them, and they function.. but only a little bit.  Go ahead, guess which arm was damaged.  So instead of becoming the King of F1, he became the King of Arm Surgeries, having something like 17 in total.  And now he might be back.  Dumb*ss threw away what could have been a special career just because he wanted to go hooning a Skoda around the Italian countryside.  Moron.

Race is on Sunday, Quals are tomorrow.  More then!

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November 08, 2018

Space Doggity

I can't believe I forgot this.  This past Saturday, 11/3, was the anniversary of the first Earth-born living creature going into space.

One must also remember that it was the anniversary of the first Earth-born living creature dying in space, too.  

Good doggie... go fetch!

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November 05, 2018

F1 Update: Mexico 2018, The Eight Days After Edition

I think doing an actual writeup for the 2018 Grand Prix of Mexico would be somewhat pointless now, so instead let's take a look at the fallout from it, shall we?


*DISPARITY:  For whatever reason, the Mexico track this time around just highlighted the gulf that exists between the Haves and the Have Nots.  Only four cars were on the lead lap at the end: Verstappen, Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton, aka Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.  Fifth place was Bottas in the other Mercedes, a lap down.  Then came pretty much everybody else two laps down.  It's been a long time since we've seen that sort of split.  Because it's been such a long time, I'm inclined to not worry too much... things happen like that sometimes.  If it happens again though...

*(THROWS ENERGY DRINK AGAINST WALL):  You'll note that the only driver of the Big Three missing was Smiley Ricciardo.  That's because he DNF'd... again, his eighth of the season, and fourth in the last seven races.  When a clutch problem that began on Lap 5 finally became terminal with 10 laps to go, the Aussie was in second place and under no threat at all from Seb Vettel.  Amusingly, as he walked away from the car, he flipped it off.  It then burst into flames.  Suprisingly, team principal Christian Horner did not burst into flames when Ricciardo later said in an interview that he doesn't "see the point of coming any more, of doing the last two races.  Let Ghastly drive it, I'm done with it."  Of course, he is leaving for Renault next year, and Pierre Ghastly is moving in.  I feel for him, I really do... and also suggest that if Red Bull can get the young Frenchman out of Toro Rosso in time for the next race, they should.  It just seems wrong to have someone that doesn't want to drive in the cockpit... particularly as it won't make any difference: Red Bull is locked into third in the constructor's championship, they cannot gain or lose places.  Neither of their drivers are in any sort of driver's championship points battle, so you may as well put the new kid in the car, get him some practice with the big team.  We love Smiley Ric, but it'd be for the best.

*VERGOIN':  With his win, DH Verstappen became the driver with the most race victories in F1 history never to have gotten a pole position.  He now has five, including Mexico back-to-back years.  I find him to be a sulky brat with a tendency towards self-destruction on the track occasionally, but he's also a talented driver.  And it's not like F1 hasn't seen drivers behaving like children before.  Of course, DH still IS a child, so...

*FIVE: Of course, some guy named Hamilton won his fifth world title with his fourth place finish, joining some fairly exclusive company... St Fangio the Quick and Slappy.  If you're curious, here's the song used in that video.  I don't really have that much to say about Hamilton's championship; he's pretty clearly the best driver in F1 today, he's almost certainly got the best team behind him, and while the car may not be the best on the track anymore, it's not very far behind.  Anybody believe that he couldn't end up with eight Driver's Championships if he feels motivated enough?  It'd be hard to bet against him right now.

*NEXT!:  So what do we have to look forward to in the next two races?  A lot of battles lower down the championship tables, mostly.  Haas shot their chances at being fourth in the constructor's championship in the foot with dual DNFs in Mexico.  They're 30 points behind Renault, while McLaren is 22 points behind them in sixth.  Even if they've only got a third as many points as third place, finishing fourth in the constructor's race in their third year of existence would be quite the thing.  The American team has finished eighth the previous two years.

Brazil is the next race, coming up this weekend... and we all know how much I dearly love Interlagos.  See you soon!

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November 04, 2018

You Are Young And Life Is Long And There Is Time To Kill Today...

Or, at least, it seems like there is.


Did you remember to turn your clocks back?  Or do you only use your phone/computer/device anymore? 

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...

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November 01, 2018

Movement!

Beginning next week, I'm off overtime for a while!


Because once again I'm too slow.

The fun never ends!

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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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