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It’s December 15, 2019, D-Day For Sign Up To The ACA!

Medicare-4-All is the only option

The need for Bernie Sanders Medicare-4-All is growing greater by the year, and we, as a family are not even that bad off as some, and we’ve had to make changes to be able to afford healthcare.

My wife’s policy from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas has jumped 250% from last year, her new premium is $247/month, up from $70/month. Which as I said is not terrible compared to some people out there, having to pay $1,500+/month with a $13,000 deductible for the cheapest family plan.

My health insurance through my workplace, also jumped more than 100%, from $190/month to $420/month. And this insurance is through Aetna, who continually reduce the drug coverage their policy covers, making me have to jump through a million hoops to get the drugs I need. So I have downgraded to the minimum insurance I can get, to make ends meet, so basically no healthcare for me for 2020.

My wife requires medical insurance, so I have made the decision to ignore my diabetes, to ensure that she continues to have decent insurance to cover her drug costs and emergency room visits for her Lupus and Fibromyalgia, plus spine issues, due to a car wreck about 8 years ago. I understand that I’m taking a risk with my health, but I must do what I need to do, The ACA without a public option is useless for most.

As someone who comes from a country where healthcare is a guaranteed right, the UK. I feel that the US needs to have the same, and the only plan, from all Democratic presidential candidates, is Bernie Sanders’ plan, which covers everyone, no exceptions, everyone pays into the system, everyone gets the benefit. Despite early indications, Elizabeth Warren’s plan to weak sauce compared to Sen. Sanders’ plan.

If we had to pay full price for my wife’s insurance plan, it would be a no-go, the total cost before the ACA credit is more than $1,400/month, which for a family earning $61,000/year is not affordable.

I’m hoping for a real progressive blue wave in the 2020 elections, on a state, national and presidential level, if for nothing else other than to assure healthcare for myself and my family. A system where insurance companies can override a doctor in deciding whether a drug is necessary or not is inherently broken. Let’s face it, having a profit-based system for healthcare, be it big pharma, insurance, hospitals or doctors offices will never serve the people, it serves the shareholders, and the almighty dollar is king!


Pixel 4 XL: 48 Hours On…

Pixel 4 Xl Example Photo

My initial impression of the Pixel 4 XL was that it’s smaller than I expected, it’s physically smaller than my 5.7 inch LG V20. I had to get a ruler to measure the screen size, as I thought that Google had sent me the standard Pixel 4 and not the XL model, the Pixel 4 XL has a 1/2 inch larger screen compared to the Pixel 4.

My second initial impression was how slippery the Pixel 4 is; super smooth glass on the back and front. I have been handling it with kid gloves over the past two days, while I wait for the case, which was actually shipped from Google before the phone itself, it’s due to arrive tomorrow. I bought a Tech 21 Evo Check, which is the same case I used on my V20 for the past 3 years, just in a different shape and size.

The initial setup was not as smooth an experience as I would have expected. I inserted my SIM card into the phone, powered on, connected to my Wi-Fi network, but despite being connected, I could not log into my Google account, it kept on throwing an error. After trying to log into my Google account 4 times, I skipped login, which got me into the phone. The Pixel 4 prompted me to connect my old phone and the new Pixel together using the USB-c cable, to transfer data, which sorta worked. After it said it had finished transferring data, it threw another error saying that not all data was transferred.

All data had been transferred except my lock screen wallpaper, which is a photo of my wife holding her phone, which I think is superglued to her hand, but I digress. Now, I could add my Google account, logging me in without an issue, I cannot explain why, but this was my experience of setting it up.

First negative, no fingerprint scanner, only Face Unlock, which currently is not supported by my credit union, Meritrust, Discover, American Express, or Credit Karma apps. Also, Face Unlock does not work well in dark environments, forcing me to use a pin number instead, obviously a fingerprint scanner would not have an issue with darkness. I think Google is trying to run before it can walk, fine, have Face Unlock as an available option, but also offer a fingerprint scanner until all app developers support Face Unlock. It’s quite irritating to have to type in a complex password every time I want to check my bank balance.

Second negative, the default camera app has zero manual exposure functionality. Yes, you can adjust the shadows and highlights and add fake bokeh, but I cannot choose ISO or shutter speed. From the few test shots I took, the Pixel camera app would shoot at slower shutter speeds, < 1/30 of a second, for example with an ISO of 64. Which does reduce noise, but trying to shoot a moving subject, like at a live show is impossible at 1/30 of a second, creating images with significant motion blur. Another oddity is that there is no option to shoot in 3:2 aspect ratio, which is standard in photography, only 4:3 and 16:9 is available.

So, I will be searching for a good manual camera app to use with the Pixel. I’m old school, I’d rather have control over my exposure than having clever software to fake it, often missing the target.

Honestly, I was expecting better, I had never owned a previous Pixel, I kept on hearing how amazing the Pixel is for photography, so I feel somewhat disappointed with the Pixel 4. It’s fine in normal lighting conditions, the fake bokeh is passable, although it does get it horribly wrong at times. Maybe I’m being too hard on the Pixel 4, maybe it’s a limitation of sensor size and I’m expecting too much from the phone?

Moving onto the positive, the phone’s small footprint is actually a positive, the Pixel 4 XL fits in your pocket like older 5.7 inch smartphones, with the tiniest of bezels on the sides and bottom. The top bezel is thicker to house the various sensors, which I personally like, a much better solution than a notch.

Audio quality, whether through the built-in speakers, headphones (via USB-c to 3.5mm converter) or via Bluetooth in my car is excellent, great clarity, good bass response, although it could be a little deeper, and good body in the middle of the frequency range. I would have liked a dedicated 3.5mm jack, so I can charge the phone while listening to music at the same time without buying a wireless charging pad.

Finally, battery life, which, the Pixel 4 has been much maligned, seems fine to me, I took it off charge at 7:30am this morning and at 1:07am, battery is showing as 62% remaining after 2 hours and 41 minutes of screen on time, and one hour of streaming Spotify to my car via Bluetooth, taking about 30 photos and general checking of Email, text messages and looking up information, etc. According to the battery stats in settings, it’s claiming that the battery will last until 8:15pm at the same usage level as today, which is damn close to 37 hours of usage before a recharge is necessary, obviously, your mileage will vary.

So initial impressions are a mixed bag, I like some things, other things I do not like. No 3.5mm headphone jack, no fingerprint scanner are two of the biggest things, but I also knew these things, before purchasing the Pixel 4 XL. I really like the audio, and the battery life for my use case.

Update [Dec, 8 2019, 14:40]: The battery did last a full 48 hours for me, at 8:30 this morning, it still had 4% battery remaining. 2 full days seems pretty good to me for a modern smartphone. I never got a full 2 days of usage on a single charge on any previous smartphone I have owned in the last 10 years. In that timeframe, I’ve owned a Samsung Exhibit 4G, Galaxy S4, LG V10, V20 and now, Pixel 4 XL.


Why I’m ditching my LG V20 for a Pixel 4 XL

Pixel 4 XL

After 3 years of ownership, I am switching from my LG V20 to the brand new Pixel 4 XL, which I bought for $200 off in Google’s Black Friday sale. I generally like the V20, I like the replaceable battery, I like the fingerprint sensor, I like the external SD card storage, but over the past year, it’s performance has diminished massively, so it’s time to upgrade to something better, especially in the camera department, where the LG V20 is severely lacking, even in well-lit conditions, since the last firmware update.

I was not going to buy a Pixel 4 because it does not have a removable battery, but most new phones no longer have removable batteries, so that point is moot, no SD card expansion, again, something most phones omit in 2019, or no fingerprint reader, a feature I like, but I’ll see how I get on with Face unlock.

The biggest reason I’m upgrading is for the photography capabilities, despite LG claiming the V20 was a photographers phone, it’s never lived up to that claim, it was fine initially in daylight, but over time, it has gotten ‘foggy’, even when the phone is focused, the resulting picture is soft at best and blurry at worse. While low light photography is horrendous, so much noise that it obliterates the subject of the photo.

I’m not a big user of smartphones, I don’t often have the phone in my hands, while at home, I prefer to use a computer. I don’t play games on my phone, so the latest CPU or GPU is not important to me. I use the phone to look up something, or check my Email, while out and about, but, my main use is photography at live music gigs or family events, as I don’t want to have to carry my Sony RX100V, as well as a phone, something I had to do with the V20, as the low light performance is so terribly bad.

The thing that has tipped me into buying a Pixel 4 is battery life. Yes, I know that I can buy a new battery, but all the other things that I am dissatisfied with on the V20 means that an upgrade is the only option. The battery on some days will last less than four hours, with little to no usage, and when I plug it in to charge after the phone had turned off, it claims that it has 40 – 67% remaining, but it won’t turn back on.

The Pixel 4 XL will arrive by Wednesday, and I am looking forward to giving it a test run, especially the camera, I’m really hoping it lives up to the hype that Google is generating with their newest Pixel phone.


OK, Mr Hacker, release the video of me satisfying myself!

Your account has been hacked! You need to unlock it

About an hour ago, I received an Email on a work Email address, that I only use for domain name registrations, so the hacker must have trawled the WHOIS. The Email claims that I have been hacked and that the hacker has access to my computer, including my microphone and webcam, and had recorded a video of me satisfying myself while visiting an adult site. Threatening to release the video to social media, if I do not send $500 in bitcoins to the hacker’s Bitcoin wallet. The Email reads as follows;

Hello!

I am a hacker who has access to your operating system.
I also have full access to your account.

I’ve been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this,
transfer the amount of $500 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is:  17nhAbZGm4UmSVj5Zx8amwAbjVXcxGtEAz

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 50 hours (more than 2 days) to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.

Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.

Best regards!

Clearly, I don’t believe this is a genuine threat, it’s trying to scare me into paying up. I have shared this message with the whole world, so dear Mr. Hacker, please feel free to distribute the video of me enjoying a five knuckle shuffle. If anyone else gets one of these Emails, please ignore it, they don’t have anything on you, it’s classic scare tactics, where they hope you feel they might have something on you and pay up.


Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix 2019

We come to the penultimate race of the 2019 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, which, in my opinion, should be the final race, not Abu Dhabi, but I digress. Anyway, Brazil never fails to entertain with a safety car interrupted race and plenty of on-track action, overtakes, crashes and drama.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen avenged his demotion from the Mexican Grand Prix pole, a few weeks back, for not slowing enough under waved yellow flags in qualifying after Bottas crashed, by claiming pole for the Brazilian Grand Prix, making great use of starting at the front, to be clear into the Senna S, while world champion elect Lewis Hamilton found Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel driving around the outside of him through turn 1 into turn 2, demoting the Briton to third, meanwhile Charles Leclerc steadily made his way through the grid from 14th, after an engine change penalty, to run in 10th place by the start of lap 3.

Other than Leclerc making more progress through the field, moving into 6th place by lap 11, where his progress stalled as all he had in front were Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, nothing much happened during the rest of the first third of the race, barring a coming together between Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen, for which Ricciardo was deemed to be at fault and was penalized with a +5 second penalty.

Hamilton pitted for a second set of soft tires on lap 21, in response, Red Bull pitted Verstappen the next lap, also opting to stay on the soft tire, but Verstappen was balked by the unsafe release of Williams’ Robert Kubica as he was about to exit the pitlane, causing the Dutchman to take avoiding action, costing him a place to Hamilton on track. Being balked seemed to fire up Verstappen more, chasing down and passing Hamilton into turn 1 on lap 23, after both drivers dispatched Leclerc who was yet to pit.

Leaders, Hamilton and Verstappen stopped for a second time on lap 44 and lap 45 respectively, this time, Verstappen got a clean stop, no issues, and just 1.9-seconds stationery, to come back out ahead of Hamilton to retain the effective lead with both drivers now running the medium tire.

Now comes the masterstroke from Red Bull, who pulled Verstappen in for a third pitstop, to switch back to the soft tire on lap 55 after the race director elected to put out the safety car to recover Valtteri Bottas’ stricken car from the side of the road after a seeming engine issue. This stop obviously put Verstappen back behind Hamilton on track, albeit on newer, faster tires, while Hamilton stayed out on track.

Ferrari also elected to pit Leclerc during this safety car period, moving the Monegasque driver off the hard tire and onto the faster soft tire, slotting back into 5th place after Bottas’ retirement. Much to Vettel’s chagrin, Ferrari did not pit the German, keeping him out on five lap older soft tires, which directly led to Ferrari’s race unraveling on lap 66. Leclerc passed Vettel into turn 1 for 4th place, only for Vettel to battle back in the run down to turn 4, going wheel to wheel, when the German jinked left a little, and the slightest of contact caused a suspension failure for Leclerc and a puncture, causing major floor damage for Vettel, which in my opinion was 100% Vettel’s fault, he moved left, while Leclerc held his line.

Going back six laps to the restart, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to stop Verstappen from using his newer tires in the run down to turn 1, the Dutch driver was having none of it, driving around the outside of the Briton to retake the lead. While Verstappen’s Red Bull stablemate, Alex Albon passed Vettel for 3rd place at the same corner. Mercedes did pit Hamilton during the second safety car period to clear the debris from the Ferrari’s coming together, which promoted Albon into 2nd for a Red Bull 1-2, and Gasly to 3rd.

This seemed like an odd decision by Mercedes with just four laps remaining, giving away a sure-fire second place, with no guarantee that the safety car would come in before the chequered flag was waved. However, the safety car did come in with 2 laps remaining, and Hamilton did dispatch Gasly into turn 1 to move back onto the podium, and later tried a clumsy move up the inside of turn 9, tipping Albon into a spin, dropping the Thai-British driver to the back of the field, while Hamilton continued in 3rd place, after being passed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. Hamilton tried to pass Gasly on the final lap, but the Frenchman managed to hold off the Briton by a car length to hold onto second place.

Although Hamilton did cross the line in 3rd place and stood on the podium, he was later handed a five-second time penalty, which because of the late safety car, dropped the 2019 world champion down to 7th place. This means that McLaren and Carlos Sainz were promoted up onto the podium, their first podium since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Yes, I know that it’s a net 7th place, after Hamilton’s penalty, the Ferrari’s coming together and Bottas’ engine expiring, but it’s sure good to see McLaren back on the podium, after five years in the wilderness, it’s just a shame that Carlos didn’t get to stand on the podium.

It was a great day for Alfa Romeo, finishing in a season-best 4th and 5th, followed by Daniel Ricciardo in 6th place, despite his coming together with K-Mag, a 5-second time penalty and dropping to the back of the field due to a front wing replacement early on. The rest of the top 10 are the usual suspects, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, and Danill Kvyat round out the top 10 behind Hamilton in 7th place.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:33:14.678
2. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +6.077s
3. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +8.896s
4. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) +9.452s
5. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +10.201s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +10.541s
7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +11.139s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +11.204s
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +11.529s
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +11.931s

A Mixed Bag Life Update IV

Life Update

It’s been 9 months since my last mixed bag life update, so I guess it’s time for the fourth installment. Sit back while I enthrall you all with the story of my life over the past few months… STAY AWAKE AT THE BACK!

A few weeks ago, the wife and I went to see an investment advisor about building a portfolio of investments for our retirement, which, assuming we retire at age 65, is just 22 years away. At this point, I believe we are not in a position to make any investments, and our adviser, John confirmed this, stating we need to look at our outgoings, make changes and clear our debts, before looking into investments.

Speaking of debt, at the time of writing, we have a total debt of $21,571.74, which is costing us an average of $187.84 in interest charges every month, which over the course of a year is over $2,250. The biggest single debt is my personal loan, which currently has a balance of $11,077.38. This was meant to be a consolidation loan for our credit cards, mainly my wife’s Discover, which was costing us $138 per month in interest charges, with less than $20 going to the principle on a balance of over $6,500.

Since I took out this consolidation loan, five months ago, our credit card balances have ballooned again to $6,613.68. Although $2,297.49 of that is structured and interest-free on my Best Buy store card, and we are on target to pay that off before any interest charges apply, this kind of balance I like, as it’s structured.

The wife and I took a much needed 3-day vacation to Colorado in August, which added about $550 to my American Express credit card balance, which totals $765.44 at this time, which is not terrible, then we have our Meritrust VISA credit card, which has a balance of $654.77, which is also not terrible. The wife also has a Torrid store card, with an existing balance of $443.82, which again is reasonable, although she does want to buy some winter clothes, which will surely add another $200-300 to that balance.

Finally, we come to my Discover credit card, which has a balance of $2,452.16, mainly thanks to having to pay a $1,806.14 bill to fix my wife’s car after she somehow managed to hit one of those hoops protecting gas pumps, breaking the rear driver side knuckle, stabilizer arm, and stabilizer bar control link, which after being replaced, required a four-wheel alignment. Shout out to Myers Automotive for getting it fixed promptly and also being nice guys, giving us $100 off the total bill, which lessened the pain a little.

Additionally, what is screwing us financially is school meals and general school fees, which come to a total of $125 per month. Last school year, we qualified for reduced rate school meals, which dropped the cost to less than $30 per month for both of my kids. However, due to a modest 3% pay rise, we no longer qualify for reduced rate school meals, and it’s killing us financially, adding that cost to my Discover card.

Onto something I feel kinda bad about, my wife wanted to restart her real estate career, where she would be the sole realtor for a brokerage run by a family member. But, I had to stop that immediately as my wife had tried this with two brokerages before with a negative return. The cost to renew her real estate license and complete her required training would be more than $700, plus recurring fees. I cannot justify that cost without a guaranteed ROI, we’ve already sunk $7,000 into this with less than a 35% return.

While talking about real estate; I have given up on pursuing real estate photography, as the stock response from realtors is; “that’s a bit pricey”, when I tell them I charge $70 for a single unit. I am on the cheaper side in reality, and $70 is as cheap as I can go, as built into that price is my travel costs, the cost of equipment and my time, I usually spend about 3 hours in total, which breaks down to about $23/hr.

Finally, we are still having issues with our son’s grades in high school. Although he is sitting at an average of 77%, he has two Ds and one F included in that. The issue we are having is that he refuses any and all help. For example, he has an F in photography, yet, he refuses to ask us, his parents, who happen to be photographers for help. In fact, he gets quite angry with us for asking him if he would like some help.

We are getting increasingly concerned by his lack of effort in trying to correct these grades, he has an IEP, which allows him an extra day to get work handed in, yet, he refuses to bring the work home to complete it, to hand it in the next day. He hands in work, weeks late and he wonders why he scored a zero. He’s halfway through his sophomore year and he seems unconcerned with his grades, he’ll be a junior next year, and going into that year with a barely passing grade does not tally with his college aspirations.

It makes me wonder about his thought process, what is he expecting from college? if he thinks high school is hard, he is in for a shock in college, it’s more of the same, just much more intense, with the added stress of supporting himself as he wants to go out of state for college, to escape his ‘mean’ parents.

And should he make it to an out of state college, he is not even remotely prepared for life on his own. We have been trying to teach him life skills, but everything goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes we wonder if what he hears when we talk is the teacher from Charlie Brown, as he does not ever heed our advice, and change the way he does stuff. At 15, he should be far more independent than he is; I understand his Aspergers diagnosis adds challenges, but it’s more than that, he seems to want everyone to do things for him, like a spoiled entitled brat. This is definitely not the way we raised him to be.

We keep on hoping he’ll snap out of it and join us in the real world, but we’ve been hoping this for the last six years. We feel he needs additional therapy, but unfortunately, we fall between making too much money for assistance, but not enough money to pay for the therapy he needs out of pocket, which gets expensive real quick. This is an example of the corrupt US system failing us and others in need.

Additional, something happy, recently my good Icelandic friend, now living in Norway, Tomas (@Redaxe) and I have set up a regular twice-monthly time to chat on Skype, in addition to my regular weekly chat with James (CopperIce), which eases the pain of living in the United States of America, just a little.


Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix 2019

F1 Mexican Grand Prix 2019

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix, 2019, but did not clinch the World drivers title, falling just four points short after title ‘rival’, Valtteri Bottas, I use rival lightly as Bottas has not been close to Hamilton since the first few races of the season, finished on the third step of the podium.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified on pole position, but later was stripped of that pole because he was deemed to not have slowed under yellow flag conditions, after Bottas put his Mercedes in the wall. The young Dutchman started from fourth place after being demoted three places for his qualifying infraction.

Moving onto the start of the race, Charles Leclerc, who inherited pole after Verstappen’s penalty, got a solid start in the long run down to turn 1 to be clear of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had Hamilton for company. The German, in my opinion, clearly ran the Briton off the road, but escaped a penalty, despite not leaving a car’s width. Because Hamilton had to get out of the throttle, this allowed Verstappen to get a run on Hamilton into turn 1, where the pair banged wheels, going off track, dropping Hamilton back to fifth place and Verstappen eighth, while Alex Albon slotted into third place, as a result of the incident.

Verstappen was in the thick of it again on lap 4 at the stadium hairpin, banging wheels with the second Mercedes of Bottas, which resulted in a right rear puncture, which became apparent after he passed the pits, meaning the Dutchman had a complete a lap before replacing his tires, dropping him back to last.

McLaren ruined what could have been a solid result for Lando Norris with his pit crew failing to secure all four wheels during his first pit stop on lap 13. The call to stop came soon enough for him to stop before the pitlane exit line, but by the time his car was wheeled back to his pit box and the wheel secured, the Briton was a lap down, eventually retiring from the race on lap 48, to save engine mileage. McLaren stablemate Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag in 13th place due to a lack of pace on the hard tire.

On lap 45, while Leclerc pitted for a second time, his stop was delayed by an issue with his right rear wheel, losing about four seconds, which put him behind Bottas who had stopped a lap earlier. Time for me to put on my tin-foil conspiracy theory hat, ever since Leclerc had his two wins in Spa and Monza, Leclerc has had ‘issues’ that benefited teammate Vettel. Did the German throw a tantrum because his young teammate was putting him in the shade? regular hat on, I hope it’s just bad luck and not sabotage.

Max Verstappen did recover to sixth place, managing to avoid any further wheel banging incidents. A solid overall drive from the Dutchman, running 66 laps on a set of hard tires, which he installed on lap 5, inheriting sixth place after Ricciardo pitted on lap 51 for his mandatory tire compound change.

Other than Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo last stint battle with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez for seventh place, which Perez won despite Ricciardo’s best efforts, and Danill Kvyat tipping Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault into a spin and into the wall, in a clumsy overtake attempt in the battle for ninth place on the final lap. There was nothing more of interest in the battle for the podium places. Vettel could make no impact on Hamilton, likewise, Bottas could make no impact on Vettel, and same goes for Leclerc in fourth place.

Mexican Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:36:48.904
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +1.766s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +3.553s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +6.368s
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +21.399s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +68.807s
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +73.819s
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +74.924s
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
10. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

Really F1TV Pro? spitting in the face of subscribers!

F1TV Pro 401 Error

A couple of things about F1TV Pro, first, the powers that be at Liberty Media elected to offer the Mexican Grand Prix for free on Twitch, which I believe is spitting in the face of the people who paid good money for the substandard F1TV Pro service, still experiencing issues after more than 18 months.

It’s amazing to me that Liberty Media, a digital media company, has failed to create a fully functional product, which launched two months late due to technical issues, and even 18 months into the service, are still experiencing issues, such as not having the full qualifying replay available until almost a day after it happened, only showing 10 minute highlights and general issues with broadcasts, suddenly stopping.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d make the suggestion that the delayed publication of the Mexican GP qualifying replay is related to the FREE broadcast on Twitch, either deliberately, screwing subscribers, or through incompetence, again, 18 months in, and Liberty Media still haven’t got their shit together.

Additionally, last night, I could not get any videos to load on the F1TV website, and the F1TV app was showing a 401 error, and checking now, the error on the F1TV Pro Android app is still showing the same error message. Plus, given that Liberty is so desperate to break the US market, I’m amazed that they don’t have any intention of creating a ROKU app, meaning I have to hook up my laptop to my TV to watch F1.

OK, I’m off to attempt to watch the Mexican GP…


TRUMP! Exploiting Parents Grief For A Photo Op

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn

It’s been a while since I wrote about President Donald J. Trump, but his latest disgraceful action is a new low which has inspired me to write about his administration’s exploitation of a British family’s grief.

Harry Dunn, aged 19, was killed while riding his motorcycle near Croughton, Northamptonshire, UK, when he collided with a Volvo XC90, driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, on the wrong side of the road, on the evening of August 27, 2019. Sacoolas, quickly fled the country after the incident, to return to the US, claiming diplomatic immunity as the spouse of a US government employee.

Since then, the Trump administration has refused to compel Mrs. Sacoolas to return to the UK to be questioned by British police and stand trial, upholding her claim that she has diplomatic immunity.

Harry Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn have been doing everything they can to get Mrs. Sacoolas extradited to face justice, have been in the USA seeking justice for their 19-year-old son.

Yesterday, national security adviser Robert O’Brien invited Charlotte and Tim to the White House to meet President Trump. Which, of course, would be in front of a gaggle of photographers, as is par for the course for the reality TV president. What the Dunn family was not told is that Anne Sacoolas was in an adjoining room, ready to enter, ambushing the Dunn’s in front of the waiting photographers.

Harry Dunn’s parents rejected the meeting with Mrs. Sacoolas after being blindsided by the President, not giving Trump the photo op he desired. The Trump administration doesn’t give a fuck about anything other than spin and photo ops, inviting the grieving family of a teenager who was killed by a US citizen, driving on the wrong side of the road, to face their son’s killer at a moments notice.

A quote from Trump; and I shit you not, “and, the woman was driving on the wrong side of the road, and it can happen, you know, those are the opposite roads, it happens.” I call bullshit, if you are too fucking stupid to understand that the flow of traffic is switched, you should not be driving. I was used to driving on the left in the UK, then I came to the US, and not once have I driven on the wrong side of the road.

As Mrs. Sacoolas fled the UK, returning to her native USA, her diplomatic immunity is no longer in effect and can be extradited to the UK. The only question is, will the Trump administration abide by the US-UK extradition treaty? This is Trump we are talking about, so we can assume that he will ignore the treaty, refusing to extradite Mrs. Sacoolas, based on the numerous times he has personally flouted the law.


Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2019

F1 Japanese Grand Prix 2019

Mercedes took victory once again at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, but it was Valtteri Bottas who took the chequered flag as the winner, his first victory since Azerbaijan back in April 2019. This victory combined with Lewis Hamilton taking third place, secured Mercedes’ sixth successive constructors World Championship title, which shows their dominance since the introduction of the V6 turbo hybrid era of F1.

Qualifying was canceled on Saturday due to Typhoon Hagibis, pushing qualifying to just four hours before the start of the race on Sunday, which was gusty, but bright and sunny after the Typhoon had passed through the area. The result of the delayed qualifying was a front-row lockout for Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel outpacing his young teammate Charles Leclerc, then the two Mercedes, Bottas in third, Hamilton fourth, followed by Max Verstappen and Alex Albon of Red Bull in fifth and sixth respectively.

It immediately unraveled for Ferrari with Vettel clearly jumping the start, however, the German avoided a penalty, as he was again stationary when the five lights went out, and suffered a terrible start, losing the lead to Bottas, dropping back to second, having to defend from teammate, Leclerc, Hamilton, and Max Verstappen. The other Ferrari of Leclerc drifted wide into Verstappen on the outside of turn 2, causing significant damage to his Red Bull, tipping the Dutchman into a spin. The Red Bull driver eventually retired from the race on lap 15, suffering a distinct lack of pace, and to save the power unit miles.

Leclerc and Ferrari elected to continue on instead of pitting to replace his damaged front wing, ignoring the requests of the FIA. Which came back to bite Ferrari on the ass with a 10 second time penalty for Leclerc and a €25,000 fine for Ferrari. Initially, the stewards came back with ‘no further action necessary’, before Leclerc and Ferrari ignored the stewards instruction. Leclerc got an additional five-second time penalty for his part in the lap 1, turn 2 incident with Verstappen, dropping him back behind the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo, who charged through the pack, from 16th to finish 7th on the road.

If Ferrari had followed instructions to pit Leclerc for repairs at the end of lap 1, it’s likely that no penalties would have been applied. It was clearly dangerous, with the Ferrari’s front wing endplate flying off and hitting Hamilton’s car, breaking the Mercedes right-wing mirror clean off. In my opinion, Ferrari was lucky to get off so lightly, Leclerc could have been disqualified, and/or Ferrari a much more significant fine.

Honestly, after the first couple of laps, it was static for the podium places, pit stops happened, no overtakes on and off track. Hamilton did get close to Vettel for second place, but could not pass despite having fresher softer tires fitted on his Mercedes towards the conclusion of the race.

Outside of the top 3 runners, Leclerc was carving his way through the field, making several passes into the Spoon Curve, to fight back from last place to sixth place on the track. Daniel Ricciardo, who started on the yellow marked medium tire, stayed out for 31 laps, making it up to sixth place, before pitting and changing to the red marked soft tires and dropping back to 11th place. From where the Aussie battled back to seventh place on the track, later being promoted to 6th place because of Leclerc’s time penalties.

Special mentions for Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz in the Red Bull and McLaren for finishing in fourth and fifth places respectively, kinda a quiet race from both drivers, but very solid results. It’s nice to see McLaren challenging for more than minor points, it’s a shame that Lando Norris was taken out of the equation on lap 4 when he and Albon tangled, costing the British driver dear, finishing in 13th place.

Finally, there was the FIA screwup with the showing of the chequered flag on the digital boards around the track. Which meant, due to rigid rules, the race result was rolled back one lap, meaning that Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who crashed out on the final lap, ended up being classified in 9th place. Clearly, it was an error by someone behind the scenes, and all drivers continued on like it hadn’t happened, so the FIA need to ignore it and classify the race on lap 53 as scheduled. What if Hamilton had passed Vettel on the final lap? that would have surely caused a massive stink, causing F1 even more embarrassment.

Japanese Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:21:46.755
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +13.343s
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +13.858s
4. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +59.537s
5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +69.101s
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1 LAP
7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +1 LAP
8. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
9. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1 LAP
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 LAP