Sunday, October 30, 2011

Indian Gran Prix recap

Sebastian Vettel just pulls away when he gets pole and that has pretty much been the theme all year.  I have to wonder, if the plan at Red Bull is to put less fuel in the pole car in order to lower weight and achieve that early lead.  It's worked out time and again for Vettel that he can lap from the start 0.5 to 1 second a lap quicker than everyone else at the start when he is in the lead.  And, on top of that his tires seem to last through the first stint longer than what is expected.
That's a lot of "dust" in the air.
The race start was kind of interesting with Alonso not having his semi-typical rocket launch start.  He did get himself in front of 3rd position Button, but then went long into the first corner.  The two Williams' cars coming together at the corner caused a big chain reaction at the end of the grid- spinning cars and carbon fiber everywhere.  The track certainly was slick, especially off the racing line with so much dust to add to the freshness of the track.  It's a wonder whether Webber missed a shift or just suffered from tire-spin trying to defend by moving off-line when Button passed him so early on the first straight.
Kobayashi wants a refund on his blessing.
Poor Kobayashi had another disappointing race.  He and Glock really losing out the most in the race start pinball accident.  The early fight between Button and Webber was fun to watch, but the Red Bull just didn't have the straight line speed to really take advantage of the DRS zone.  The fight between the McLaren and the number 2 Red Bull sure helped Vettel increase the gap between first and second.

Schumacher made another impressive start and kept his foot on the floor through the rest of the race to move up six places.  Is the veteran driver's form finally coming back to the full?  The Mercedes car seemed to like the Indian track as Rosberg also was able to advance his position.  The long straights of the track were certainly to the advantage of the cars which have such high straight line top speed, like Mercedes and Torro Rosso.

The rookies had a mixed-bag.  Senna drove a car with unreliable KERS, but moved up two places.  Perez move 10 stops up to 10th for a point.  But di Resta lost a place and Maldonado had his transmission grenade itself just a quarter of the way through the race.

Then we get Massa and Hamilton.  For the 5th time this season the two have come together.  This time was clearly Massa's fault.  While Hamilton was not able to complete the pass into the 5th corner, Massa certainly turned into the McLaren.  You could see that Massa was checking the mirrors of his Ferrari, but none the less, he closed that door.  With the dirty line it was doubtful that Hamilton could have braked any harder into that corned to avoid the contact.  It was right that Massa got the drive-thru penalty.  And maybe Hamilton was surprised that he wasn't penalized for a change.  But in the end, Massa's Ferrari let him down even more than his temper.

Just like in practice when his right front suspension gave out after hitting the curbing in a corner, in the race, his left front suspension collapsed in the same way.  Maybe the new front wing's vibrations caused a sympathetic vibration in the suspension to weaken it.  The accident with Hamilton probably didn't help, but it just seems too coincidental to have that flapping wing shaking the entire car and then suddenly the suspension letting go.
Wishes that flapping wing would give him wings.
Just after the accident, Buemi's engine let go.  What a shame as he, like the other Torro Rosso, were having such a great weekend.

After we got through the mid-way point of the race, the top 5 spots were pretty much set and it turned into a parade.  Vettel never had any pressure from Button leading anywhere from 3.4 to 8 seconds.  Amazingly enough, even with the pit-stop dance, Vettel maintained the lead for the entire race.  And after doing fast-lap after fast-lap, he put two laps together at 59 and 60 to ensure he captured the fastest lap of the race.  This hattrick adds another record for the youngest two-time world champion.
This race needed more dance routines.
Hamilton continued to whine on international television.  Not just during the race over the radio, but also in the post-qualifying interview.  His dad was seen at his pit recently.  I wonder if they've reconciled.  Maybe Lewis's dad can get back into the picture and adjust the young racer's attitude.

Some final thoughts-  The horrible pollution is just freakishly bad, just like every time I've visited Noida.  I hope more international attention from events like this will put some more pressure on the Indian government to do something about that.

The attendance at the race was far better than Korea, although, I was worried when the stands were so bare during practice and qualifying.  Not a packed house, but still a good show and good sign for the future.

It's clear that Vettel and Red Bull are going to keep pushing through the end of the season no matter that they've clinched everything and keep tying or breaking records.

The broadcast was pretty good for a change.  We didn't miss anything overly important (except Massa's DNF) during the comercial breaks for a change.  

Did anyone get Delhi belly?

Rowan Atkinson is awesome.

Alcohol content: This is me sober.  (Scary, eh.)

All-grain Brewing in a Single Container

Damn you MoreBeer, damn you to hell.

Ever since I started brewing, I had thought, "if this turns out to be fun and I'm good at brewing, someday I'll move up to all-grain."  But the space required for the extra equipment along with the greater complication had pretty much scared me off.  It's been easy enough to keep learning and tweaking the recipes as that's been a lot of fun and the results have certainly been appreciated by my friends.  Then I saw this:
Damn you, MoreBeer.
A single-container, all-grain, automated, all-electric, brewing system.  No extra hot liquor tank, no extra lauter tun, and the heating element, pumps, temperature probes, and control system are all in one self-contained unit.  It's from Germany, nifty.

A 20L (5.28gal) costs $1950 with free shipping is a price that's nothing to sneeze at.  But compared to other turn-key sculptures, it's pretty cheap.  Mind you, a full sized brew sculpture gives you a bit more flexibility in what you can brew.  With a limit due to size on the grain bill you can use, the theoretical highest starting gravity limit is 1.057.

I bet some ingenious soul could get something higher than that, but that's not a huge limitation.

Oh, I'm saved... at least for now.  It requires a 220V plug and altering the outlet to take the Euro plug.  Not a huge impediment, but enough to hold me off for now.  Still, this looks pretty darned nifty.

Alcohol content: take beer to make beer (2 pints in)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Indian Grand Prix preview

We are now getting our first broadcast pictures from Thursday preparations and Friday practice and the Uttar Pradesh state is present the type of air quality that I would expect.  From my first visit to Delhi and Noida onwards the air has always been in the range of chunky to extra chunky.  My coworkers would tell me that their children draw the sky as grey, but it seems so much more brown to me.  They'd also like to point out with pride that their air is clearer than Beijing.  I'm not sure if that's true or if that is much of an improvement.
A ride through that fresh morning air.
 This chunky air is euphemistically referred to as fog.  It does get that thick, but it's really a huge amount of particulate matter from dust, burning trash, and the auto-rickshaws.  In some of the shots from Friday practice you could not see the end of the straight.  There certainly are days when you can't see further than a block down a street.  Hopefully the race will shed a spotlight on how horrid the environment is in that area.
Kinda like the 'roos jumping on the track during Aussie Super V8 races.
Practice 1 was red flagged for the fellow above who wanted to mark the track as his own.  During that session Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez both earned themselves 3 grid position penalties in the race for speeding during a double-yellow flag.  It's Hamilton's sixth penalty this year, which he whined, "Is that all? It feels like a lot more than that."

New Company Car.
One last thing about the auto-rickshaws and pollution.  The Indian government at least tries to clean things up.  In 2000 and 2001 they had all the buses and auto-rickshaws converted from diesel and gas to CNG.  CNG is great on the diesel conversion front and the buses are way way cleaner.  Sadly, the results are not the same for the auto-rickshaws.  The vehicles are still two-stroke and still require mixing oil with the burned fuel in order to lubricate the moving parts.  Sadly, it was realized in 2010 that this combination of lubricating oil and CNG actually produces are far more polluting engine than oil+gas.  And to make matters worse, the greatest increase is in particulate released in running the engine. 

Alcohol content: It's Friday! (Devil's Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale)
Images and such from GPNow and Formula 1 OnLive.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Jersey and a second Indian GP?

The buzz this weekend as we wait for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in Noida is that Weehawken, New Jersey will get a race in 2013.  Color me surprised, as I thought this was just smoke and mirrors.  The claim is that an official announcement will come Tuesday.  Maybe Governor Chris Christie could be a grid girl.  That would be far preferable than any cast member of a reality show from the Garden State or other related orange wannabes.  WTF is a Snookie anyway?

Before Austin got the nod for 2012, a New York City area event was thrown around as an option.  With Bahrain getting canceled for 2011 and uncertainty for 2012, it makes some sense that Bernie Ecclestone would want to hedge his bets and get more tracks available outside of Europe.  The United State is pretty 3rd World when it comes to Formula 1 (and a whole lot of other things), but the island of Manhattan and its surrounds are a large draw for serious money.

It would've been nice to have Watkins Glen considered.  The venerable track has a storied F1 history that could have been revived.  But, as with so much in racing, it's about the money.  And a New Jersey (Exit 16E) should be able to get the hedge fund and glitterati crowds to cross the Hudson and spend some of their dirty lucre.
Lincoln Tunnel, baby.
Being on the left coast of the Untied States, I'd really like to see F1 come to Laguna Seca.  The elevation changes and the corkscrew with F1 cars would be insane.  But it'll never happen.  Instead, I can just hope that we can limit the orange oompa loompa quotient. 

Instead, we can look forward to whether Mumbai will actually build a track.  Yes, before Delhi (technically, Noida, but it's all sprawl, so how could you tell?) even gets the engines started, rumors are that a plan and money are set to build another track.  Mumbai makes about as much sense as Delhi for an F1 track, though.  From a pure sporting aspect, Chennai (Madras) would make far more sense.  Both Karthikeyan and Chandhok originate from there and that is the heart of Indian motorsport. 

[Update:] Well, it's confirmed with a 10 year contract.  And as I wondered previously after the Korean GP, it could be that Korea gets dropped from the schedule as early as 2013 after hosting on 3 F1 events.  But considering how the local organizers in Korea have no use for the track between F1 GP events and the place just gets put in shrink-wrap as soon as the last car leaves, it's no wonder that there is no excitement for racing in Korea.
Alcohol content: not high enough (no comment)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Korean Grand Prix

I wonder how long Korea will remain on the calendar.  All weekend the stands were far from full and that's kind of sad.  At least this year was mostly dry come quali and race day, but it's obvious this track gets zero use outside of the F1 weekend.  That's a sad thing, but at least not a sad race.

Hamilton... hrmmm, wow, he didn't crash into Massa, or anyone else for that matter.  He pulled off an amazing qualifying run to pole, blowing past his teammate Jenson Button by nearly seven tenths and the pole-meister Vettel by a scratch more than two tenths.  After Suzuka where Vettel beat Button for pole by 0.009seconds, the differences at Korea were gargantuan.  And yet after a season where no one who wasn't driving a Red Bull had scored pole, Hamilton couldn't be happy. 

Can you spot the douche?
Bob Varsha and the gang all thought it had to do with Lewis not meshing with the team and kept rambling on about it all race.  Hell, if I were part of his crew, I might be sticking gum in his brake vents just to give him a reason to whine.  Hamilton probably still had his panties in a bunch after Suzuka, especially since it seems that someone gave him a lecture about his sunglasses from that qualifying session.  Those sunglasses were uncalled for, even if someone made an error a let him out too late to have another lap in Q3.  Even if, in Hamilton's mind it was everyone else's fault, that he couldn't make another lap, there is no excuse.  Me, though, I happily noticed that we hadn't seen the Pussycat Doll in a few races and ventured that maybe they were on the outs.  If I paid attention to regular TV, I might've known she was on some "reality" show.  But thankfully, the Daily Mail has the dirt and claims that the couple are on the rocks and BBC now confirms it officially.  I think that means I win.

After Vettel clinched the world title at Suzuka a lot of folks wondered aloud whether Seb and the team would cruise for the rest of the season.  I guess that idea seems reasonable in light of a only placing 3rd in the race instead of his normal first and sometimes second.  But by making the pass on Hamilton at the fourth corner of the first lap and then pulling away, it should be obvious that Vettel will not stop pushing to dominate formula 1.

Mark Webber, finally, had a decent start and didn't lose a position.  In fact, as Massa (who out qualified Alonso) attacked Button, Webber was able to take advantage of their fight to get by them both and take 3rd early in the race.

Paul di Resta out qualified his teammate, Sutil, and finished ahead of him.  But they both lost a position in the race with the rookie di Resta only holding on to 10th and getting one point.  The Force India cars are nipping at the heels of Renault and di Resta is certainly a fun young driver to watch... or maybe it's just the combination of Italian heritage with a Scottish brogue that makes him so alluring.  I hope they can get more consistent results next season.

This makes two races in a row that the Schumi crashed out.  This time wasn't his fault as Petrov and he came together in somewhat dramatic fashion bringing out the safety car.  After the incident which spun the Mercedes around and nearly removed its rear wing, Schumacher had this to say, "Another unfortunate end to a race which could have been encouraging today.  It's a big pity as the car was again very good in race trim and I had already gained some positions.  It would have been interesting to see what was possible, and I think we could certainly have taken some points.  As for the incident, I didn't see Vitaly coming; I was just suddenly spun into a direction I had not intended to go, and then I saw my rear wing hanging off.  It was unfortunate but these things happen when you fight hard - that's racing."

Are you taking notes, Hamilton?  That's a professional speaking.  And Petrov, also a professional, took all the blame for the accident citing the dirty line he was on while trying to pass Fernando Alonso and very late braking.  Both Fernando and Petrov tried to brake late into that corner and ended up overshooting it.  Alonso was just lucky to run wide of the corner and just miss being part of the accident.
That's going to leave a mark.

Petrov is getting a five spot penalty for the next race.  I'm not sure it's warranted, but was probably given because he and Schumacher have come together three times so far this season and always in dramatic fashion.

It was surprising that Button didn't do a better job during the race.  He lost a position to Webber pretty early and and never really got close enough to take the fight back to him.  In fact it was Webber who was taking the fight to Hamilton.  And in typical SpeedTV fashion, we were in commercial when Webber did make his pass on Hamilton and the McLaren driver took it back.  They were both good passes and we only got to see them in replay.  Kind of a shame, really.  But that's the ongoing theme with SpeedTV coverage of the race- always cutting to commercial at the wrong time.  It's hard enough that the world-feed sometimes decides to ignore multiple pit-stops or mid-pack passing, but then we get that added insult.  At least we don't have to listen to someone say boogity-boogity-boogity.

With Red Bull now clinching the constructor's title as well, is there any more reason to race?  Hell, yeah.  Who is going to take second?  Which of the rookies will come out ahead in the points?  Will Kobayshi get out of his funk and make the daring passes we enjoy him attempting?  Can Vettel reach Mansell's pole record or Schumacher's single season win record?  Actually, watching the mid-pack has been pretty entertaining all year and I hope that doesn't stop.

GT5 on the PS3 got a version update recently.  And huge 1.1GB download.  I think it was worth it.  The menu system seems more responsive and some of the loading is hidden better so at least it seems like the races load faster.  DLC could be huge.  I haven't broken down and downloaded SPA, but having that track will be nice.  Also nice, Red Bull giving everyone a new car in game.  Yup, the "aliens-have-landed" Red Bull X2010 S. Vettel was given to everyone to celebrate Sebastian Vettel's second world championship.

yup.  definitely aliens.
As far as I can tell, this maybe the fastest thing in the game.  I topped out at around 282mph on Mulsanne straight, lapped the Daytona triple oval in 32seconds, and even with multiple offs and crashes lapped the Green Hell in just over 5 minutes. 

Alcohol content: low (post written during conference call)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Japanese Grand Prix

I am so happy that Hamilton didn't podium.  Anything to keep that punk-assed whiny bitch off camera.  Every race weekend it's a non-stop litany of "it's everyone else's fault but mine" excuses.  And again, AGAIN! he makes contact with Massa.  There are folks who think that the back-marker teams are a safety issue in F1.  Yeah, they add a bit of randomness to the field, but Hamilton is a consistent hazard with mass destruction of carbon fiber and debris fields in his wake.  There was a theory floated by Matchett or Varsha that the Hamilton tire puncture was caused by tire wear.  It'd be interesting to find out if that was really the case.  The wife says that Hamilton keeps running into other cars because his mirrors are aimed so he can look at himself and check out his yellow diamond earrings (douche).  She maybe more correct than we imagined: Sorry Hamilton admits mirror visibility problem.  Although, he claims that the mirrors are vibrating too much for him to be able to see.  I kinda find that fallacious since we see from the onboard the mirrors and the reflect seems surprisingly clear to me.  I'm guessing he's just got the full gangsta lean going on with his seat and can't see over the side bolsters.
so low, can't see over the steering wheel
Webber didn't qualify as well, but for the first time in too many races he didn't lose any positions at the start.  That dishonor went to the hometown hero, Kobayashi.  After such a stunning qualifying run it was sad to have him relegated to barely an afterthought.  He seemed to nearly stall off the start and also later in trying to leave the pit.  Maybe the gearbox or clutch were reaching EOL, or just anti-stall software glitching.  Maybe he needed some rain.  The crowds stood and shouted every time he sped passed the stands.  And our mid-pack rookie excitement was also muted this weekend.  Maybe we give some of them a pass as it seems that di Resta and Perez were both experiencing flu-like symptoms all weekend.  I can hardly navigate stairs when I have the flu and these guys were navigating Suzuka in an F1 car at an average speed of over 140mph.

I think there were two factors that made this race kinda dull:
  1. Fuji TV really fell down as the provider of the world feed.  Some of the worst camera work and directing we've seen all season.  We missed so many pit stops and there were at least a couple close calls with release errors leading to near misses.  E.g. Button was released at the first pit cycle almost in Webber as Webber was coming in, but the shot was clipped so it's difficult to be sure.  We saw 1 pass made by Rosberg as he moved up the field.  WTF!  He finished in the points after starting 23rd.
  2. After Vettel's first pit stops took 4.6s and then 3.9s (still slow for Red Bull) leading to Button leap frogging him, I think there was a concerted effort put on by the entire team to make sure that Vettel finished.  Then again, he just didn't seem to be able to pull away like he has done time and again this season.  So maybe they were nursing the car (as much as Vettel will nurse a car).  Regardless, getting "stuck" mid-pack after his third pit at least meant that we saw some nice driving as he made some very smooth passes.
Back to not being able to pull away for Vettel... maybe the McLaren of Button was lighter.  I mean, even with the safety car he nearly ran out of fuel so he didn't do a cool-down lap.  Without the SC, what's the probability that he would've run dry before the end of the race?

Speaking of passes, Webber's made two very cool passes in high speed corners this season.  His pass on the outside of the 130R corner against Sutil was almost as sweet as his pass of Alonso at Eau Rouge at Spa.  No wonder he's 0.5-0.8s slower than Vettel since he's carrying some extra weight with those brass balls.

Someone needs to remind Vettel not to make that dick-move at the start.  He did it a bunch of times last season and not only is the move stupid and possibly dangerous, but most of the time it leads to a slower start.  Last year there were a few times he lost positions from pole because of that dick move.
Don't be a dick, Vettel.
Speaking of dicks.  What was up with Hobbs being a Hamilton sympathizer during the race?  He kept making excuses for the douche.  That might have been just annoying, except he then made the crazy assertion that Alonso's DRS wing opened illegally because he missed the back-marker HRT that Alonso was behind at the activation zone.  Considering the jerky move/pass that Alonso made in order to get around the HRT you would've thought they would've seen that the first time around (or at least noticed the HRT in the background when they did the freeze frame of the open wing).  Instead they had to yap about it for 3 or 4 laps before someone found a replay of the detection zone for the old coot.  This was one of the first non-Fox broadcasts that I can think of where I found it necessary to mute the F1 commentary from the Speed boys.

At least the next time we mentioned a back-marker there was some fist-waving and heart stopping because Vettel nearly rear-ended the Virgin of d'Ambrosio.  That was fun.  Or Button almost ramming an HRT on the last lap.  Or the Lotus-Renaults not getting lapped for the first time all season.  I like the back-markers.  I almost wish they were required to remain on the racing line instead of having to go off-line to allow getting passed.
Using backmarkers for passing.
It will be very interesting to see what the strategy is for Vettel for the rest of the season.  Will he push harder?  Maybe we'll get a blown engine.  I can't imagine he'd hold back and just cruise.  That doesn't seem to be in his nature.  In spite of Vettel's dominance this season and his regular long leads during race day, most of the races have been entertaining.  We just have to focus on the rest of the pack.
Vettel, donuts, Suzuka...awesome!

Alcohol content: medium (drinking homebrew)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Partial-mash versus all-grain brewing

For about four years now I've been doing a partial-mash one kettle setup on the stove.  That's where you use malt-extract (liquid in my case) for most of the sugars and use specialty grains in a mesh bag to soak as the water heats up for added color and flavor.  You get some sugars from the specialty grains, but it's far less involved that going for an all-grain production.  This is a really good place to start learning the brewing arts and you can make some really great beers this way.

In many respects, there is no reason a homebrewer would even have to change their process to all-grain.  Partial-mash requires less equipment, less expense, less prep, and less time in general than all-grain.  It is also significantly less complex a procedure and easier to get right the first time around.  The beer you make with a partial-mash can be just as awesome and varied as anything else out there.  There's no discernible difference in the end products that each process makes.  But doing a partial-mash is just that, a partial process.

With all-grain brewing, you are controlling precisely the entire grain bill and in control (in theory) of how to convert those grains into the various sugars which will then get fermented (or not) into tasty, tasty beer.  By altering the way the starches in the grains break down into different kinds of sugar chains, you determine the mix of sugars in the mash.  Some sugars the yeast can eat and make into alcohol (and CO2), while others will remain as unfermentable sugars giving a sweetness and fuller body to the finished product. 

So it's a question of control... and toys.
All-grain sure has a lot of the cool toys going for it.  And sure that takes up more space and it takes more time and a potential boat-load of money (if you are not plumbing/welding inclined), but it's multiple kettles and computer controls and an opportunity to get even more anal-retentive with your brew recipes.  <twitch>

Yup, after four years of partial-mash brewing I keep thinking to myself, "If you ever want to make the jump from amateur to pro, you'd better learn to go all-grain."  Would I ever make that jump?  It could happen.  I could also win the lottery (which would absolutely facilitate that day-dream).

Are there all-grain brewing methods that can be accomplished in the home with little or no extra equipment over the big kettle partial-mash?   I think I'll have to poke around and find out.

Alcohol content: Enough that I wrote this.  (A few micro-brews down, so many more to go)