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Review: Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero

I recently built myself a new rig for work and at the heart of this new build is an Asus Republic Of Gamers Crosshair VI Hero motherboard. I went for the Crosshair VI because of Asus’ regular BIOS updates for the new Ryzen Platform and the ROG series of boards overclocking pedigree. After owning and using the ROG Crosshair board for 2 1/2 weeks, the following are my thoughts and views on the Crosshair VI Hero.

Physically, the Crosshair VI Hero is; in my opinion, the best looking AM4 motherboard on the market today with it’s black, silver and gray color scheme and RGB lighting on the VRM heatsink and chipset, making the Crosshair VI a motherboard for just about any build. I also like the I/O panel cover and backplate, which creates a very clean and polished look, aesthetics are not everything, but it doesn’t hurt.

Connectivity is second to none with eight USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0 and both Type A and Type C USB 3.1, gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 audio outputs plus digital optical out on the back panel. Internal connections include USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 headers, eight SATA III 6GBPS connectors, six total 4-pin fan headers, CPU, CPU_OPT, AIO_PUMP, CHA_FAN1, CHA_FAN2 and CHA_FAN3, plus W-PUMP header for custom loops. The final connector is a M.2 socket for M.2 Solid State Drives, which remains unutilized in my rig.

I paired a Ryzen 1800X with the Crosshair VI Hero and overclocking was a breeze, the Crosshair UEFI has an easy overclock setting for 4GHZ on all cores, however, I changed the voltage to 1.35v, auto setting was getting up there towards 1.5v, which is way to high, AMD recommends no more than 1.45v and I manually set my Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000 RAM to 2667Mhz. As of BIOS v1201, I am unable to up the RAM speed to 2966MHZ, it refuses to POST at 2966Mhz, but works absolutely fine at 2667Mhz.

I ran Prime95 for 8 hours and it remained stable running 4GHZ @ 1.35v and temperature never exceeded 68°C in Ryzen Master. The BIOS temperature reported 85°C, however, we know that AMD elected to create a +20°C offset, meaning the BIOS is reporting a 20°C higher temperature than the actual temperature, which is very annoying as my AIO fans ramp up to 2000rpm due to the temperature offset.

Back to internal connectivity, there are some annoyances, such as only a single USB 2.0 header. I have to choose between connecting my front panel USB 2.0 or Corsair Link cable from my H110i, I elected to use the header for the front panel. The second annoyance is the positioning of the USB 3.0 header at the bottom of the board. Given the nature of internal USB 3.0 cables, it comes straight out and interferes with the SSD mount in my NZXT H440. I am disappointed that Asus did not include a right side 90° connector.

The Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero supports Crossfire through the motherboard, no Crossfire/SLI bridge required on the latest AMD GPU’s. I installed an Asus ROG RX580 OC Edition in the top PCI-E slot running at 16x. If two GPU’s are used, the top PCI-E slot is slowed to 8x, that’s 8x on both PCI-E slot 1 and 2.

A little convenience that many motherboard makers omit is a front panel block. This simple block allows you to connect your front panel connectors to the block outside of the case and then install the front panel block to the motherboard. This is a massive timesaver, I always struggle to connect the front panel connectors one by one, trying to read the tiny print on the board, more manufacturers should do this.

So overall, I really like the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, it looks good, has RGB lighting, almost all the connectivity you could ever need, as long as you only need a single USB 2.0 header. The Crosshair UEFI makes overclocking super easy with presets built in, and more options than you know what to do with, unless you are an overclocking genius, which I am not in any way, shape or form.


ASUS ROG Crosshair VI, AMD Ryzen 1800X, STRIX RX580 Build

BEAST Evolved

A few weeks back, I wrote about upgrading my PC to something newer; and this is the story of my journey with this new computer build, spoiler: It was not as straight forward as I’d have thought and liked!

Let’s start with the build; due to case design restrictions, I had to make compromises and even mod my 8-pin CPU power cable to make it work. The biggest problem I had was installing the 280mm Corsair H110i due to the NZXT H440’s top radiator/fan mounts not being offset. I had to cut away the 8-pin CPU cable shrink wrap to expose the thinner cables to make it fit without interfering with the radiator fans.

The secondary issue was installing the USB 3.0 cable to the header, which I guess is as much as a problem with the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard’s placement of the USB 3.0 header. The cable, like all cases’ USB 3.0 internal cables comes straight out, no L shape connector to make life easier for builders. The issue arose due to the SSD mount directly in front of the Crosshair’s USB 3.0 header.

I made it work by sacrificing cable management neatness with the cable slightly fouling the SSD caddy. You would have thought that being a premium motherboard, the ROG Crosshair VI would have had a right side 90° USB 3.0 header like the SATA connectors, which leaves me feeling cheated a little, especially when looking at B350 motherboards that are $100 cheaper having a 90° USB 3.0 header.

The third issue is that the installed rear case fan stops you from installing the H110i’s liquid tubes at the rear of the case, meaning that you have to remove the topmost 3.5-inch hard disk caddy. This, however, is not an issue as I intended to remove the 3.5-inch caddies to increase air flow from the front case fans.

Additionally, the H440’s built-in PWM fan hub does not work for the included 3-pin fans, the hub is supposed to convert PWM signals from the motherboard into voltage signals for the included 3-pin fans, however, it does not work at all. The included NZXT branded fans run at 100% consistently, if I connect a PWM fan to the 4-pin out, I can control that fan from 0 – 2000rpm, but the NZXT fans remain at 100%.

The manual states I should use the CPU or CPU_OPT headers and connect the CPU fan to the 4-pin header on the fan hub. I am not willing to do that as I like my CPU fans to be on their own header, to be notified of a failure in addition to speed control. I connected the PWM fan hub to CHA_FAN2, which provides the same signals as the CPU and CPU_OPT headers using CPU temperatures for speed control.

After the build problems, the Windows experience was also not the greatest when using AMD’s built in RAID controller for RAID 0 on my two 480GB ADATA SSD’s, which made Windows ‘pause’ for anywhere between 30 and 90 seconds before resuming as normal, which is incredibly infuriating while I work! Not to mention the extra 25 – 30 seconds that the RAID drivers add to the overall system boot time.

Just getting the RAID array recognized by the Windows installer was a real pain, I downloaded the AMD RAID drivers from the Asus Crosshair VI support page and none of those downloaded drivers worked. I ended up downloading the RAID drivers from an MSI X370 motherboard support page, which worked perfectly first time. Clearly, Asus dropped the ball on this one, guess they thought no-one would run RAID.

After a little over a week, my computer started to refuse to shut down. It would get to the point where the PC would normally turn off after shutting down Windows and nothing, nada… at least for five minutes, then it would reboot, regardless of whether I click shut down, restart or sleep. I thought it was related to the 1107 BIOS update for the motherboard, but it turned out to be unrelated, I never found the cause.

And I don’t care what the issue was as I wanted to start over with Windows on a single SSD, after living with the randomly ‘pausing’ Windows 10. I reinstalled Windows 10 after having some bizarre issues with my USB thumb drive unmounting itself half way through creating the Windows 10 USB media. And immediately, the computer booted into Windows 10 in 30 seconds including passing POST.

So, performance, it’s faster than my previous machine, which features an AMD FX8350 / 270X, which served me well for the last five years. I haven’t done any benchmarking, I have played Metro Last Light, which was pegged at 60fps as I set frame limiting in the AMD Wattman software. I have to say that for the most part, in general Windows use, the perception is that it’s no faster than the FX8350 system.

The 8 core, 16 thread CPU power comes when doing more processor intensive tasks, duh, obviously. I have noticed a significant improvement in speed while using Lightroom, specifically importing, zooming in and out, making exposure changes in the develop module and exporting. I guess I could run SETI@home and churn out 100+ units a day if I wanted to hear the H110i’s fans maxing out at 2,000rpm (very loud).

So, the bottom line, this PC (BEAST Evolved) was bought for future software releases, hopefully, the release of Ryzen will make software and game developers consider writing for more than four core CPU’s, which is the standard right now, thanks to Intel, no competition means no innovation in technology.

FINAL SPECS

NZXT H440 (Black) Case
Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Motherboard
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU (OC’ed to 4GHZ @ 1.325v)
Corsair H110i Liquid Cooler
Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000 RAM (@2666Mhz)
Asus ROG Strix RX580 OC Edition GPU (@1360Mhz)
ADATA 480GB Premier SP550 SSD (x2)
Corsair RM750X Power Supply


Allegedly, I Am “Rude”

This Friday, I received an Email accusing me of not doing the work I was requested to do by one of the company’s regional managers. The regional manager claims that I was given specific verbiage to use by the property manager she oversees. To which, I responded with evidence, i.e. the Email sent from the property manager on 5/2, which the regional manager cited in her accusation, proving she is wrong.

It was requested that I create a link to an award the property had won, which I did, in bold text underneath the main blurb, despite their claims that I did not, of course, I have evidence to the contrary. There’s more, the regional manager didn’t like the wording I used, claiming I failed to use the wording that was provided to me by said manager. The few words that were included were also in my marketing.

My response to this was to request that the manager provides me with specific verbiage that I can copy and paste into the website in future marketing correspondence. The regional manager doubled down on her accusations, in which she cited the Email from the property manager on 5/2 and also carbon copied the company’s vice president into the Email, in what I see as a clear troublemaking attempt, this is when I replied to both regional manager and vice president with the evidence to disprove her accusations.

This Saturday morning, I receive an Email from the regional manager stating the following “You missed the mark. I’m tired of you treating people on my team so rudely”. At this point, I Emailed the two vice presidents and explained what is going on, including the full Email thread. I pride myself on being able to work with anyone, however, I will not tolerate being accused of wrongdoing when I am innocent.

I even went back to the Email that the regional manager cited and checked, I thought that maybe I was incorrect and that I had made a mistake. But, no, that was not the case, I remembered correctly and I am indeed innocent of all charges levied against me. However, I am not going to continue a tit-for-tat argument through Email, the vice presidents can deal with it, I’m too busy to deal with such childishness.

I admit that I am very direct in my communications, I am a busy person, I manage marketing for nearly 50 properties, so I don’t have time for pleasantries; if property managers are so thin skinned that they take everything as an attack, I don’t know what to tell them. Other managers, including managers that this particular regional manager oversees, have no complaints about my communication with them.

I make mistakes, I am only human and humans are fallible. There has been plenty of occasions where I either made a typo or misunderstood what was being asked of me. In those cases, I held my hands up and corrected my mistake. I have absolutely no issue with admitting I am wrong, but will not accept blame for something I did not do, I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence like anyone would.


Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix 2017

Bottas Celebrates Winning Russian GP 2017

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix brought us a new race winner, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claims his maiden win on his 81st attempt while his 3-time world champion teammate languished in 4th place. However, it was a generally dull race only spiced up by a late challenge for the win from pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren’s woes continue with Fernando Alonso not even taking the start, stopping at the entry to the pitlane at the end of the formation lap, which in turn triggered a second formation lap while Alonso’s McLaren was recovered to the pits. You can see Alonso’s disillusionment and “couldn’t give two f**ks” mood, by saying “I’ll watch the race, eat ice cream and wait for my plane” in a post-retirement interview.

Bottas made an amazing start to move past the two Ferrari’s in front of him to lead the race going into turn 2, Lewis Hamilton made a decent start to get alongside Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari but seemed to back out of the challenge as turn 2 loomed. Max Verstappen made his trademark lightning start to move up from seventh on the grid to fifth and challenged Hamilton and Raikkonen for third in the run to turn 2.

Racing was called off almost immediately because the safety car was deployed to recover the cars of Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer who collided at turn 2. Grosjean dived down the inside of Palmer going into the corner, the two made contact and as Palmer tried to recover, he appeared to lose the rear end of his car and speared into Grosjean, ending both the drivers’ races after just two corners.

Shortly after the restart, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo radioed to the pits that his right rear brake is on fire, which caused him to coast back to the pits to retire his car. This triggered the Red Bull pit wall to radio the sister car of Max Verstappen telling him to push his brake balance forward as far as he could to avoid a similar situation with rear brake failure, which worked as Verstappen finished the race in fifth place.

Then, I (figuratively) fell asleep for an hour as the racing was so dull, absolutely zero change of position outside of pitstops. Which ultimately came back to the same running order after every driver had stopped with the exception of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who stayed out on his ultra soft tires for 40 laps while running in sixth place, resulting in the German driver finishing in a solid eighth place where he started.

Things got spicier after the only round of pit stops, Vettel stayed out an extra eight laps over Bottas on his initial set of ultra soft tires, which allowed the German to close to within 0.8 seconds of the Finn, but it was to be Bottas’ day, claiming his first F1 win, putting his 3-time world champion teammate, Hamilton in the shade on this day. which is great for F1, four races in and we’ve had three different race winners.

Financially challenged Force India are definitely “punching above their weight” finishing the race with both cars well up in the points in sixth and seventh, Sergio Perez winning the inter-team battle with Esteban Ocon. Williams’ Felipe Massa ended up finishing down three places from where he started in ninth place, while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz claimed the final points paying position of the race.

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix will not be a race we’ll remember for anything other than Bottas’ first race win in F1. The race was incredibly processional with, well, I don’t remember a single successful on track overtake outside of the few overtakes from the start to turn 2. The race was a damp squib as cars had a hard time following another due to overheating because of the dirty air coming from the leading car.


Review: NZXT H440 New Edition (2015)

NZXT H440 New Edition (2015)

The NZXT H440 New Edition, released in 2015 as the name suggests is an evolved version of the original H440 and retains the power supply cover and drive back cover to hide your cables with the bonus of an 8-way PWM fan hub attached to the back panel, it’s a nice addition, however, it does have it’s problems.

The exterior of the case I purchased is matt black and feels very high-quality, other color combinations are available if you don’t like the all black stealth look. I chose the acrylic window option of the case to show off my new hardware, laden with RGB lighting. Every panel can be pulled off and has sound deadening foam padding on the inside which does somewhat limit cable space behind the motherboard tray.

Exterior connectivity includes microphone and headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 connectors on the top panel with white illuminated power button and recessed reset switch. On the back of the case, there is a switch to toggle the rear I/O LEDs and illuminated NZXT logo on the power supply shroud.

Inside the case is space for mini-ITX, micro-ATX and ATX motherboards with grommeted pass through to the back of the motherboard tray and an un-grommeted pass through to the power supply basement. There are two 2.5 inch SSD sleds that mount to the top of the power supply cover and secure using thumbscrews plus five 3.5 in mechanical drives sleds at the front of the case behind the vertical shroud.

Cooling is provided by four pre-installed fans, 3 x NZXT branded 120mm fans at the front and a single 140mm NZXT branded fan at the rear. To my ear, they are near silent in operation when the panels are installed. You’d think airflow would be restricted given the solid front, top and side panels, but the case is designed to channel air through the right side of the front panel and out the left side of the top panel.

There is support for a 120, 140, 240, 280 and 360mm radiator with a single set of fans at the top or a 120, 140, 240, 280 or 360mm radiator in the front with push/pull fans after removing the 3.5-inch drive sleds. I have a Corsair H110i mounted in the top, however, mounting with the water tubes towards the front of the case means that you have to remove the top sled and only 4 of the 6 screws can be used. It’s not possible to install the H110i with the tubes at the rear of the case because of the rear 140mm case fan.

There is an additional problem with top mounting 280mm radiators as the mounting holes are centered and not offset to the left a little. If you have a sleeved 8-pin power connector, it’s likely to interfere with the radiator fans. I had to cut away the shrink wrap from my Corsair RM750X 8-pin connector to expose an extra inch of thinner cables inside to install the radiator so the 8-pin cable did not foul the fans.

The included PWM fan control hub is from my perspective of very limited use. Even connected to a 4-pin chassis fan header, I have no control of the fan speed and get no speed readout from the fans themselves as they are 3-pin fans. The manual suggests that I connect everything including my radiator fans to the hub and plug the PWM cable from the hub into my CPU fan header. This is not something I like to do, I prefer to have my CPU fans plugged into the CPU and CPU_OPT fan headers for independent control.

Another odd thing in the year 2015 when this case was released is that the fan hub is powered by a 4-pin Molex connector. Luckily the Corsair RM750X power supply I purchased has a modular cable for Molex included, not all power supplies include Molex power. Frankly, it’s another cable inside the case that I could have done without as there are half dozen spare SATA power connectors already in the case.

Overall, I like the case, from above, you can see there are some issues, however, there are workarounds to these issues. I would recommend this case to anyone wanting to build a system and be able to hide all those messy cables behind shrouded panels. Apart from the minor quibbles listed above, I love this case, it feels very tactile and solid and looks good to boot. What more could you ask for, some people might say 5.25 inch drive bay for a BluRay/DVD drive? but optical drives are really a thing of the past in 2017.


PC Upgrade Time

Asus Upgrades

My current computer build is starting to not meet my professional needs anymore, so I have bought a whole new computer system with a view to recycling this current computer as a dedicated PLEX media server. It’s still a good machine overall, AMD FX8350, 32GB DDR3 1866, but the newer versions of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are chugging with 24-megapixel RAW images off my DSLR camera.

I want a high-end photo editing/video creation system for my work plus some occasional gaming, and right now the best bang for your buck CPU wise is the AMD RYZEN 1800X, 8-core, 16 thread monster, which should handle my high-resolution photography workload with ease. According to reviews, the 1800X is equal to Intel’s $1,000+ i7 6900K for just $469.99 on Newegg at the time of purchase.

On previous builds, I always skimped on motherboards, but not this time, I invested in an Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero, which is considered to be the best overclocking board for Ryzen, which is great as I intend to overclock the 1800X to 4GHz on all cores, never mind the stock single core boost to 4Ghz.

To keep the Ryzen 1800X chilled, I have bought a Corsair H110i 280mm AIO, this is my first foray into water cooling. I’m not ready to jump into custom loop water cooling at this time, so the Corsair closed loop cooler is my preference as it is the only AIO that is compatible with AM4 sockets out of the box.

Video card duty will be handled by the Asus ROG Strix RX-580 8GB Gaming OC Edition, which is a middle of the road GPU, which suits me perfectly as I am a middle of the road gamer. I could have spent much more and bought a Nvidia GTX 1080ti, however, that would be a waste of an amazing GPU, I play mostly older games on a semi-frequent basis, this build is aimed squarely at productivity work, not gaming.

I am sticking with 32GB of RAM, this time it will be the Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 3000Mhz in two 16GB sticks, which will allow me to upgrade to 64GB at a later date should the need arise. I have also decided on all solid state storage in this build, ordering 2 x 480GB ADATA Premier SP550 SSD’s, which should be enough storage for my needs right now, I might even RAID 0 the drives for extra speed.

Finally, the build will all be contained within the NZXT H440 Mid Tower Case with side-window in matt black with a Corsair RM750X 80 plus gold certified power supply keeping the system juiced up, I can’t see me needing more than 750w as I don’t intend to crossfire GPU’s even if the motherboard is capable.

I could have saved $10 and bought the H440 with a solid side panel, however, given that the AIO water cooler, graphics card and motherboard all have RGB LED’s all over them, it would be nice to see those. However, I am not going crazy and installing case LED strips to illuminate the inside of the case as it will be sat a small platform on the floor so I won’t really see it, but… once I see it, I might change my mind!

This build came to a total of $1,894.77 including delivery, which is by far the most expensive build I have ever created (and actually bought), but with all SSD storage, 8 core, 16 thread CPU and 32GB of DDR4 3000 Mhz RAM, this should be a beast of a computer to see me through the next 4 – 5 years.


Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2017

Sebastian Vettel Wins Bahrain GP 2017

The Bahrain Grand Prix gave us the best race of the season so far, without the need for a damp track to spice things up. Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel claimed their second win of the season, some may say due to safety cars and penalties for their rivals, but I think that Ferrari had it under control on this day.

Vettel was immediately on the attack, driving around the outside of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to move up to 2nd place while Valtteri Bottas led into the first corner. Max Verstappen made his customary launch to move up two places to 4th place, leapfrogging Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.

Nothing much happened for the next 11 laps until Ferrari pitted Vettel for fresh rubber on lap 11, which triggered Red Bull to pit Verstappen. Unfortunately for young Max, he had a brake failure on his out lap and ended up in the kitty litter. Meanwhile, Toro Rosso’ Carlos Sainz and Williams’ Lance Stroll had a catastrophic crash, Stroll turned in the turn 1 as Sainz was exiting the pits, which triggered a safety car.

Both Mercedes drivers stopped for tires under the safety car as did Ricciardo. Mercedes needed to stack their drivers given as they were running 1 – 2 on track, Hamilton attempted to slow Ricciardo on pit entry to create a gap to Bottas and paid the price, later receiving a 5-second penalty for unnecessarily slowing in the pitlane, which I believe to be justified, I’m sure the hoards of LH fans will vehemently disagree.

It all kicked off on the lap 17 restart; Hamilton immediately pounced on Ricciardo for 3rd place into turn 1 while Vettel moved into the lead at turn 4, displacing Bottas. Red Bull’s Ricciardo slipped back to 6th place, losing out to Massa and Raikkonen due to not being able to warm his tires behind the safety car.

Hamilton chased down and passed team-mate Bottas within 10 laps to begin chasing down Vettel in earnest. After the second pitstop shake up, Hamilton found himself back behind Bottas again due to his 5-second time penalty which he served in his stop. Vettel also found himself behind his team-mate after his stop, however, both Vettel and Hamilton passed their respective team-mates within half dozen laps.

Hamilton closed the gap to Vettel by 1 – 1.5 seconds a lap but ran out of puff in the closing few laps allowing Vettel to extend the gap a little to take the chequered flag 6.6 seconds ahead of the Briton.

I have to admit that after qualifying I was not hopeful of a real race with Mercedes being almost 1/2 second faster in qualifying trim. Thankfully, Ferrari had much better race pace to take the challenge to Mercedes and in this case, beat the silver arrows. We can only hope that this continues throughout the season, I’d love to see Red Bull interject themselves into the mix as well, Daniel and Max are good enough drivers to challenge for victories if their machinery is a match for Ferrari and Mercedes.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:33:53.373
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +6.660
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +20.397
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +22.475
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +39.346
6. Felipe Massa (Williams) +54.326
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +62.606
8. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +74.865
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +80.188
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +95.711

Stuck On A Roundabout With No Exits?

F Grade

Middle school has been a nightmare for my family and me with my son consistently failing to complete school assignments resulting in consistent F grades in two subjects, social studies and language arts.

My son is almost 13 years old and needs to take responsibility for his actions. He refuses all help from us and his teachers, so we assume that he is able to do the work. However, we look at his grades and 80% of his assignments are late, he just started a new semester and he has two F grades two weeks in.

My wife has been somewhat soft allowing him to play video games with his little sister, incidentally, he is not interested in playing with her unless it’s video games, anyway, I allowed him to play video games with his sister for a week to see if it would improve his school performance. It did not, his grades have not improved whatsoever, so he is back on bread and water punishment. No video games, no television, and no overnight stays at his grandmother’s house until he can change those F grades into C or better grades.

He claims we put too much pressure on him, which we do not, we expect C grades, not straight A grades. He changes his story from one minute to the next, if we are not buying his current excuse, he changes tack, which just compounds the original lie. It’s always someone else’s fault, not his, he refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. He will not get a free ride from me, I expect him to fulfill his obligations, not just to us, but to himself as well, he promises he will do better, but it’s nothing more than lip-service.

This has been the situation for two school years and it feels like we are traveling on a roundabout where all exits are closed. Right now, he is in his room crying because I informed him that there would be no games, television or overnight stays with his grandmother. I tell him to change his behavior, video games, television, and visits to his grandmother’s house are privileges, not a right, he has to earn those privileges.

In addition to not pulling his weight in school, he is in trouble at home for going on the laptop despite not being allowed Internet access due to his poor grades. He has been downloading wholly inappropriate game stream audio onto his mp3 player, 93 files in total. And according to the file creation date and time, they were all when he was home alone while we bought groceries or took his sister to gymnastics class.

He didn’t realize that his mother was home last Thursday while I was out at gymnastics and he got caught red handed. This resulted in me taking his mp3 player and I immediately heard a whole bunch of inappropriate language in these downloaded game streams. The net result is that he now has to come with me whenever I leave the house, that privilege of being able to stay home alone has been rescinded.

Thankfully, his seven-year-old sister has much better behaved, she has been on the honor roll every semester since she started school and although her general behavior has not been perfect, it’s infinitely better than my son and she is just seven years old, my son is almost 13, he knows better than that.


Justice Gorsuch Appointed To SCOTUS After GOP Go Nuclear!

United States Supreme Court

I truly fear for the United States after corporate friendly Justice Neil Gorsuch was sworn into the US Supreme Court this morning. However, this is not the reason for this write-up specifically, the reason for this write-up is the way that the Republicans changed the rules to force Gorsuch through the senate.

I am not an American citizen, however, I live in the USA and these political decisions affect me just as much as citizens, so I feel I have a right to express my views. The question I ask is; how can we call it democracy when the majority party, in this case, Republicans can take the “nuclear option” and change the requirements from needing 60 votes to 51 to push through their choice of Supreme Court justice?

I find it incredibly infuriating that Republicans used the nuclear option to circumvent the need for a super majority of 60 votes to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court. It has taken away the ability to filibuster the vote, with most Democrats refusing to vote YES to Gorsuch. This really pisses me off after the Republicans refused for almost a whole year to vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

I find it astonishing that a “nuclear” option was even available, what’s the point of house and senate rules if the majority party can use an option to bypass the rule(s)? Thinking about it makes my head hurt! Of course, the GOP were against using the nuclear option when the Democrats were in the majority, the level of hypocrisy is off the scale, however, this is far from unexpected from such a corrupt congress.

It’s clear that Justice Gorsuch is terrible news for everyday Americans. Citizen’s United is here to stay, corporations are people and money is speech, I doubt that Gorsuch will vote to repeal Citizens United given his track record of ruling on the side of big corporations. This includes ruling against a TransAm Trucking driver who lost his job for leaving his load on the side of the road in Illinois, after his trailer brakes froze in extremely cold weather while he stopped to check where he could refuel his rig.

The driver, Alphonse Maddin chose to ignore company instructions and uncoupled his trailer to go get fuel as he was about to run out, and would have been stuck in his freezing cab for an unknown period of time, no fuel, no heat, risking hypothermia. Gorsuch was the only justice to rule in favor of TransAm.

In my opinion, our politicians should not be allowed to play politics with the Supreme Court. The better solution would be to put it to a public vote, the president can nominate as normal and the people of America decide if they are the best Justice for America. This will also stop either party from blocking a vote, like the Republicans did during 2016, refusing to vote on Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland.


Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix 2017

Max Verstappen Takes The Chequered Flag At The Chinese GP 2017

The Chinese Grand Prix provided a much better race than Australia, partially thanks to the damp conditions, the brilliance of Max Verstappen and the VSC and safety car periods during the opening laps.

Lewis Hamilton got off the line well to lead into turn 1, while Valteri Bottas challenged Sebastian Vettel for second place and Daniel Ricciardo challenged Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place, however, neither challenger managed to make the move stick and the top five remained unchanged. Max Verstappen made up half dozen places by turn 1, weaving through the grid like everyone else was standings still.

The real shake up happened during a period of virtual safety car and real safety car between laps 2 and 7. The VSC was activated to recover the beached car of Lance Stroll who was tagged by Sergio Perez, all drivers except Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Verstappen stopped to change onto dry tires.

The safety car was deployed after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed seconds after the VSC ended. The five drivers that didn’t stop under the VSC used the safety car period to make their stops, which shuffled Vettel back to sixth. Verstappen had benefited and found himself in fourth place behind Raikkonen and Bottas was red-faced after spinning all on his own while following the safety car, dropping back to 12th place.

Verstappen made short work of Raikkonen to move up a spot to third, then two laps later overtake his team-mate, Ricciardo for second place. Raikkonen complained about ‘no torque’ but was still managing to hold off Vettel and maintaining the gap to Ricciardo. Vettel finally dove down the inside at turn 6 to move past Raikkonen on lap 20 and chased down and overtook Ricciardo for third place 2 laps later.

Ricciardo dropped back into the clutches of Raikkonen, however, the Finn could not make up enough ground on the long straight using DRS to make an overtake attempt on the Australian. In the meantime, Vettel was closing the gap on Verstappen by 0.5 to 1.1 seconds per lap and made the pass after Verstappen locked up and went wide allowing the Ferrari driver to slip down the inside for second place.

After the second round of stops, Vettel closed the gap to Hamilton to eight seconds, however, the Briton put the hammer down to maintain the gap, clearly, the Mercedes had performance in hand over the Ferrari. This was the end of the race for the win, however, Ricciardo chased down teammate Verstappen and made a last ditch overtaking attempt on the final lap, however, Verstappen moved in the braking zone to block Ricciardo, something I believe to be a breach of the rules unless that has changed in 2017?

The race winners teammate, Bottas recovered to sixth after his mistake behind the safety car on lap 7. To Bottas’ credit, after the race he put his hands up and took the blame, apologizing to his Mercedes team for the points dropped, a Mercedes 1 – 2 could have been possible if it wasn’t for his safety car spin.

Although I believe the Chinese GP to be a better race than the season opener, I do worry that Mercedes still have the advantage after Hamilton could immediately respond to Vettel closing the gap, Mercedes definitely have performance in hand over Ferrari based on today’s evidence. I sincerely hope I am wrong and Ferrari can truly take the race to Mercedes and challenge for the drivers and constructors titles.

Chinese Grand Prix 2017 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37:36.160
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +6.250
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +45.192
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +46.035
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +48.076
6. Valteri Bottas (Mercedes) +48.808
7. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +72.893
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1 LAP
9. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP