2 Takeaways from the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

It’s the last race before the summer break and it’s also my least favourite race in the F1 video game. The first four turns are fine, but then I get to the second sector and there’s too many turns and a whole lot of seconds are lost. I just can’t master it. I can’t even tolerate it. I’ve been trying for over a decade. It’s impossible. I don’t like it.

Anyway, this isn’t about me. This is about the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix.

There were 70 laps around the Hungaroring. This is what happened.

Results

1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
3. George Russell – Mercedes

4. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
5. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
6. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
7. Lando Norris – McLaren
8. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
9. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
10. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin

11. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
12. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
13. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
14. Mick Schumacher – Haas
15. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
16. Kevin Magnussen – Haas
17. Alex Albon – Williams
18. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
19. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
20. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo

Takeaways

1. Rain?

One of the biggest tropes that is developing in Formula 1 is the report of, “rain in 10 ten minutes”. Feel free to insert any other measure of time in that phrase.

We all know how much rain can impact a race, so when there is a chance that the skies may open up, everyone gets up and does a rain dance. Or something. The F1 version of a rain dance is the camera shots of the weather radar on a team’s screen.

On Lap 38, Lando Norris said the track was slippery. Slippery when wet! We’ve all seen the sign.

One camera, positioned around the track, had water droplets on the lens. WATER DROPLETS. Oh my God, okay, it’s happening!

It didn’t.

But wait! On Lap 46 there are light drizzles. DRIZZLES! LIGHT ONES!

Surely, this is the storm we have been waiting for. Tell the pit crews to get the intermediate tyres ready!

No.

But wait! On Lap 67, Fernando Alonso is told over the radio that they are expecting rain on the last lap. Come on. That’s like getting to a party three hours after it started and someone telling you, “there’s still food left.”

Yeah, there is food left. It’s the veggie tray. And by now, some carrots have fallen into the dip. It’s fine, you weren’t going to dip anyways, but it makes an already unappealing situation look that much more unappealing. You grab four chips and a cold meatball instead.

Rain on the last lap of the race is not going to do anything. There was a virtual safety car with two laps left and one of the commentators wondered if a car would come in for intermediates just in case it did rain.

They were selling false drama.

But then it did rain on the last lap. Not enough to do anything, even though they made it sound like the track was going to be submerged within five seconds. But it did rain.

Maybe we should’ve rain danced harder and it would’ve arrived during the race?

2. Ferrari Doesn’t Get It Right, Again

You know how in Home Alone 2, the power goes out overnight, causing the entire house to wake up late the day they are supposed to catch their flight? And the parents wake up and are like, “WE DID IT AGAIN, AHHHHHHH!!!”

Well, that’s Ferrari.

On Lap 31, Charles Leclerc took the lead of the race. Somehow, he coughed it up and finished all the way down in 6th.

On Lap 40, Leclerc came into the pits for his second stop and put on hard tyres. In my mind, I think Ferrari thought that with 30 laps left, Leclerc could go the rest of the way on those tyres.

FYI: He had been on the medium tyre for his first two stints and needed to go onto another compound to appease the regulations.

They were wrong. Not only were they wrong, but there was plenty of evidence from other drivers who attempted the hard tyres, that it would be best to avoid them. Ferrari thought their car could make the tyre work.

It could not.

So, then, 15 laps after putting on hard tyres, Leclerc comes back in to put on soft tyres. Does he have a frequent pit stop card? What are we doing, Ferrari?

At this point, I thought to myself, if they were going to split the last 30 laps into two 15-lap halves, why didn’t they just put soft tyres on on Lap 40, and come back in on Lap 55 and do the same thing? (Assuming they had enough sets of soft tyres).

But then I realized, THEY DID IT AGAIN.

The winning strategy in this race was to have two consecutive stints on the mediums and then one stint on softs. Ferrari didn’t do that with Leclerc because Verstappen pitted on Lap 38 and they, seemingly, got scared so they brought Leclerc in on the next lap, even though he should’ve gone another 10 laps on the medium.

Essentially, Red Bull baited Ferrari into doing something they didn’t need to do.

Sainz, Leclerc’s teammate, went 30 laps on his second stint of medium tyres. Leclerc only went 18. Leclerc’s second stop should’ve been his final stop, but there were 30 laps left and that would’ve been too long for the softs. And because they needed a different compound, they went with the hard tyre.

Get all that? It’s a lot to digest.

Point being: Ferrari messed up when it came to strategy, once again. Red Bull and Mercedes have been in the thick of strategy battles for years and it feels like they are running circles around a Ferrari team that hasn’t had to make these win-or-lose decisions in a while.

The worst thing is, Ferrari seems to be in denial about the whole thing. They think they are okay.

Sigh.

The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28.

Is it a forgone conclusion that Verstappen will be World Champion? Will Ferrari get better at their in-race strategy in the second half of the season?

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2 Takeaways from the 2022 French Grand Prix

This is a very Ferrari-centric post.

You have to hand it to Ferrari, they’ve been one of the main stories at almost every race this season. It’s good to see them back in the mix again, but they need to figure out a way to clean up the errors. At the very least, they need to find a way to get luck – and maybe the racing Gods – back on their side.

They have a fast car, but are experiencing heartbreaking results way too often.

Results

1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
3. George Russell – Mercedes

4. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
5. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
6. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
7. Lando Norris – McLaren
8. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
9. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
10. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin

11. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
12. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
13. Alex Albon – Williams
14. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
15. Mick Schumacher – Haas
16. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo

17. Nicholas Latifi – Williams (DNF)
18. Kevin Magnussen – Haas (DNF)
19. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (DNF)
20. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri (DNF)

Takeaways

1. Why, Charles, Why?

A developing theme this year is Ferrari’s propensity for going from 100 to 0 in the blink of an eye. For the third time this season, Charles Leclerc was forced to retire from a race in which he was leading.

On Lap 18, one lap after Verstappen went in the pits from P2, Leclerc spun out and ended up in the tyre barrier. If we zoom out the lens and fast-forward a few years to when Leclerc is named World Champion, we’ll look at this season as prerequisite growing pains. Verstappen went through them, too.

But in the moment, they are just devastating. The drivers’ championship would be a lot tighter if Leclerc were able to hang on in these races, but the opportunities have been thrown away.

In this situation, perhaps Leclerc was trying to push too hard, knowing he had to cover off the potential undercut that Red Bull was attempting. In doing so, he spin out.

2. The Story of Sainz

After being forced to take a grid penalty for replacing his power unit, Carlos Sainz started in P19. By the time Leclerc left the race, Sainz found himself in P7. From there, he was in the thick of things for the rest of the race.

However, Sainz was given a 5-second penalty for an unsafe release. For those who don’t know, an unsafe release is when a car makes a pit stop and is released from their pit box, back into the pit lane, while another car is “right there”.

Hence, an unsafe release. Basically, it’s like switching lanes while a car is in your blind spot. You don’t do it.

The 5-second penalty would either be added on to his overall time at the end of the race, or if he made another pit stop, his car would sit untouched for five seconds, thus serving the penalty.

With 12 laps left, Sainz was in 4th place, 0.5 seconds behind Sergio Perez. We then hear a radio message from Sainz to his team, in which he says he can’t pass him and wants to pit. That seemed like a strange suggestion.

The whole race, we’ve been reminded that a pit stop would drop you back about 33 seconds. Sainz would find himself way back in about 10th place. Sure, he’d probably get back up to 5th due to fresh tyres and having a faster car (and new power unit!), but why risk it?

The team wanted him to stay out. He stayed out.

The very next lap, Sainz is side-by-side with Perez in the third sector. But wait! The team is telling him over the radio to pit. What!? Do they not see what’s happening on the track?

Sainz says no and passes Perez at the final corner to move up to P3.

Surely, with 11 laps left, he would just stay out, right? Even if he’s not able to put a 5-second gap between himself and Perez – or if Perez passes him – a 4th place finish seems doable.

Nope.

On the next lap, Sainz comes into the pits. He served his penalty, lost a bunch of time, and came back out in P9, with medium tyres again.

Sainz worked his way back to P5, but ran out of laps to catch back up to the battle for the final podium position, which ultimately went to George Russell because Sergio Perez was caught off guard(?) when a Virtual Safety Car ended on Lap 50 of 53.

Sainz earned 11 points: 10 for finishing 5th + 1 for the fastest lap.

So, at least he took that single point away from his competitors? I feel like he left a few more points on the table, but Ferrari was worried about his tyres not lasting until the end. It’s a valid concern, especially with how hot it was and how much Sainz had to push.

I guess we’ll never know what would’ve happened if Sainz stayed out. Maybe it ends in disaster and Ferrari gets 0 points from the race.

I wonder if they let him stay out if Leclerc is still leading the race. Or maybe it’s an even easier decision to bring Sainz in.

Who knows? Well, Ferrari knows, I guess.

This team keeps things interesting, that’s for sure.

The next race is the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, July 31.

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5 Takeaways from the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix

This year, for the Austrian Grand Prix, there was qualifying on Friday, a sprint race on Saturday, and the actual race on Sunday. I was out of town for all of it and did a good job avoiding spoilers until I could get home and watch the recordings.

I’ll be honest, it was a lot of Formula 1 to catch up on all at once and I did utilize the fast-forward button more than usual.

However, I still came up with five takeaways. Lucky you.

Results

1. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
2. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

4. George Russell – Mercedes
5. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
6. Mick Schumacher – Haas
7. Lando Norris – McLaren
8. Kevin Magnussen – Haas
9. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
10. Fernando Alonso – Alpine

11. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
12. Alex Albon – Williams
13. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
14. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
15. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
16. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
17. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin

18. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari (DNF)
19. Nicholas Latifi – Williams (DNF)
20. Sergio Perez – Red Bull (DNF)

Takeaways

1. I Still Don’t Like Sprint Races

Austria hosted the second of three sprint races this year, and despite wanting the concept to grow on me, it has not. I find the current qualifying process to be entertaining enough. Moving it to Friday, though, makes it less fun.

For me, qualifying is a Saturday tradition. Putting it on Friday is inconvenient as a viewer.

The sprint race still feels like we’re watching a spoiler for the actual race, rather than watching two separate races.

Maybe it’s because I’m swimming in a water bed of negativity right now, but the medals they give out to the top three finishers in the sprint race don’t seem to fit the aura of F1. They feel like a participation ribbon you receive in elementary school.

2. Ferrari on Fire

On Lap 57 of 71, Carlos Sainz retired from the race with an engine failure. He was sitting in third place and had the fastest lap of the race. He pulled off the road and the back of his car caught fire.

As a viewer, I’m thinking to yourself, “Okay, if some marshals could show up right now with fire extinguishers, that would be great. Right now. Where are they? NOW. HURRY UP, THE CAR IS ON FIRE AND IT’S ROLLING DOWN A HILL AS SAINZ TRIES TO GET OUT.”

The TV broadcast had to cut away from the scene for a few moments because – as I just yelled in all caps – Sainz was getting out of a burning car, that was rolling down a hill, and help had not yet arrived.

It was an unfortunate result for Ferrari, as both their cars looked extremely fast.

This was Charles Leclerc’s first victory when not starting on pole position.

3. MICK SCHUMACHER

A week after scoring his first points-finish in Formula 1, Mick Schumacher was back in the points again. This time, in sixth place. I’m happy for him and the team. Sixth!

4. Orange Flares

The orange flares in the crowd, that create a giant smoke across the track, are starting to jump the shark for me. I know they are done in support of Max Verstappen, but are they necessary? Bring a sign.

Flares are banned at some tracks, but not at others, it seems.

If I were a spectator sitting in the bleachers, I wouldn’t want a bunch of flares to be the reason why I can’t see anything. There are videos that have been posted on social media of fans who can’t see the track because of the giant orange clouds surrounding them.

That’s not cool. Imagine being a child in that atmosphere. It’s bad enough when a tall person sits in front of you.

5. The Cooldown Room is Cool

When the race ends, the podium finishers head to a cooldown room, where they can sit, drink water, gather their thoughts, talk with each other, and watch highlights of the race on a TV, before heading out for the podium presentation.

It may only last about two minutes, but it’s fun to eavesdrop on the drivers as they talk to each other about the race.

And to see their reactions to the race highlights on screen? Perfect. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a professional athlete, and then go home and watch replays from the game they just played. On some level, it must feel strange, though I’m sure they get used to it.

It’s probably easier for say, baseball players, to watch highlights because they witnessed the whole game.

Formula 1 drivers, on the other hand, view the race from the cockpit of their car, with a halo restricting their vision. They don’t really know what else is going on, or what “highlights” have transpired, unless it happened in front of them.

It must feel like they’re putting a puzzle together after the race, even though they experienced it first-hand.

The next race was the French Grand Prix and it took place on Sunday, July 24. I am catching up.

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2 Takeaways from the 2022 British Grand Prix

The 2022 British Grand Prix took place on Sunday, July 3, from the legendary Silverstone Circuit. It’s a race where the broadcasters say, “Maggots and Becketts” so much, you start to think it’s a home decor store in your town, and not the names of sections of a race track.

It was an eventful race. This is what happened.

Results

1. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
2. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
4. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
5. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
6. Lando Norris – McLaren
7. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
8. Mick Schumacher – Haas
9. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
10. Kevin Magnussen – Haas

11. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin
12. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
13. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
14. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri

15. Esteban Ocon – Alpine (DNF)
16. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri (DNF)
17. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo (DNF)
18. George Russell – Mercedes (DNF)
19. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo (DNF)
20. Alex Albon – Williams (DNF)

Takeaways

1. First Corner Crash

After the last race in Canada, I mentioned how there seemed to be a lack of collisions nowadays. I wasn’t saying I wanted collisions, I was just pointing out that there weren’t many.

Well, I jinxed it.

At the first corner of this race, we witnessed one of the most frightening crashes in F1 history.

There was some jostling amongst the cars as they left the grid. Before we knew it, cars were going sideways and Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was upside down, travelling at high speed into the gravel track, where it eventually flipped over the tire barricade, and caught itself on the protective fencing just a few feet in front of spectators.

Zhou Guanyu was okay. The halo on the car protected him as the car was upside down.

It was a horrific sight. You can look up the video if you want. There are multiple angles, including ones from the bleachers where the car almost ended up.

George Russell was one of the cars affected by the crash. As soon as his Mercedes came to a stop, he jumped out and ran over to Guanyu’s car to see if he was okay. Had Russell stayed in his car, he could’ve probably limped back to the pits and gotten repairs during the Red Flag, but because he got out of the car, he wasn’t allowed to continue.

Life is more important than a race. I have so much respect for Russell for doing that.

I’m glad everyone walked away from it unharmed. Although the number of collisions seems to be lower lately, this was a reminder that when cars are travelling that fast, anything can happen.

2. Entertainment!

This was one of the best F1 races I’ve ever seen. That’s not an exaggeration. It had everything, from start to finish. Cars were passing each other! The podium positions were in doubt, up until the very end. It was wonderful.

I’m not going to try and put all the highlights of the race into nicely organized paragraphs, so here are my raw notes that I made during the race.

  • First corner crash, Zhou flips, red flag.
  • Synchronized spinning – Gasly and Tsunoda. 5 second penalty for Yuki.
  • Lap 12 – Max has puncture. Ran over a curb. Both Ferraris go past for 1-2. Was in picture-in-picture commercial.
  • Max comes back out but says “the car is 100% broken”. Something is wrong with the rear. Not critical, but car performance lost.
  • Leclerc is faster than Sainz, but Sainz is leading. Hamilton catching both of them. Charles frustrated.
  • Max came out on Hard tyres, but not happy he’s on the slow tyre with car damage. Floor damage from Lap 20.
  • Lewis leads Grand Prix, Lap 26.
  • Ferrari finally swap cars on Lap 31. Charles into P2.
  • Ocon pulls over on lap 39. Safety car coming out!
  • Sainz, Hamilton and Perez stop for softs in 2-3-4.
  • Restart on Lap 43. Sainz goes into P1. Perez goes into P3.
  • Lap 45: Leclerc and Perez fight for second, Leclerc goes wide, Hamilton passes both of them! Crowd goes wild. Start of Lap 46, they both pass Hamilton. Hamilton goes into P3, Lap 48.
  • 5 cars within 20 metres. Haven’t seen racing like this in years.
  • Sainz gets his first win in 150 races.
  • Schumacher finished 8th but almost gets 7th from Max.

What a race!

The next race was Sunday, July 10, in Austria. I will have takeaways from that up soon.

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Hotel Life

Rumour has it, eleven days ago was a Thursday. That day, I checked into a hotel in the city in which one of my best friends would be getting married, two days later. I was a groomsman in the wedding.

If you are here looking for a full play-by-play of the wedding, that is not my story to tell. Just know, it was a beautiful day, with beautiful people, and a beautiful breeze. Oh, and beautiful food, of course. I could do a full dissertation on the food, from breakfast to dinner.

This post is about my (four days and three nights) stay at the hotel, though.

But first, you should know that the groom and I met in university, while living on the same floor in residence. The third floor.

I check into the hotel and what floor do they put me on? The third floor. Of course. Without knowing it was going to happen, I knew it was going to happen. It had to be this way.

It would have been a bit creepy if they put me in the same room number as I was in all those years ago, right? Well…they were off by eight rooms. Whatever. I am not keeping track.

As soon as I checked in, it felt like I had abandoned the Gregorian Calendar and started using my own.

Behold, the Paulorian Calendar. We can work on the name.

Paultober?

It is a simple four-day calendar, with a wedding on the third day. Nothing too drastic. There is no hump day because why have unnecessary obstacles?

Thursday had become Day 1, in my head. Friday was Day 2, and so on.

I entered my room on the third floor of the hotel that shall not be named. The thermostat was set to a brisk 19 degrees Celsius, which I will come back to. There is a lot of unpacking to do with that.

Speaking of unpacking, I put my bags down and immediately felt disoriented.

There’s the bed. There’s the couch. There’s the desk. There’s the TV. There’s the fridge. There’s the washroom. There’s me. There’s the mirror. There’s me in the mirror. What do I do now?

It almost felt like I had entered an escape room. Am I supposed to look underneath the garbage can to find a key, that will let me open a drawer, and read a clue?

No! You’re supposed to settle. Sit. Go to the washroom. Look out the window. Settle. Sit. Something.

It’s been a few years since I’ve stayed at a hotel. Also, this was my first time staying at a hotel by myself. In many ways, I felt like an untrained puppy, even though I knew how to chase my tail. Know what I’m saying?

Everything in me wanted to fall right back into “residence mode” from university. Except, everything was already moved in. It’s there. You don’t have to hook up the TV, plug in the mini fridge, or put sheets on the bed.

It took me until Day 2 to finally feel less disoriented in the room. I can’t put my finger on what it was. I just felt lost in there.

You know what it might’ve been? The message on the TV that greeted me upon arrival.

The TV said: “Good afternoon, Matthews”.

That is not me. My name is Paul. It has one syllable. Feel free to clap it out. I don’t know who Matthews is, except Auston Matthews on the Toronto Maple Leafs, or Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World.

Because I was paranoid I was in someone else’s room, the front desk reassured me that I was in the right place and it was probably just the name of the guest who had my room before me.

So, there you have it. Auston Matthews had my hotel room before me.

Let’s talk temperature. The 19 degrees the hotel had set the room at was a bit frigid. Over the course of my stay, I had the room at 20 or 21.

As I went to sleep that first night, I turned off the thermostat. I thought the room would be comfortable enough. Plus, when the air conditioning was on, it made a lot of noise.

One of those noises where you yell from the bed, “Keep it down, I’m trying to sleep!”

After ten minutes of thinking I could enjoy a nice, quiet sleep, the room was warming up faster than an oven. I had no choice. I had to turn the air conditioning on. I had to set the room to 20.

That thing went on and off, every ten minutes. Make up your mind! Each time it came on it sounded louder than the last. Then I set the room to 21, thinking it would stretch out the on/off intervals long enough for me to fall asleep. It did not.

I put it back to 20. On and off all night. You know how the staircase likes to make a million loud noises when you’re trying to walk upstairs when everyone else is asleep? That was this AC system. No regard for the sleepy.

Remember when I joked that I was in an escape room? Maybe I wasn’t so far off.

All of a sudden, my room starts getting lighter. I look at the clock and it is 6AM.

Well, cock-a-doodle-doo, if it isn’t morning. At this point, I have slept for a grand total of zero minutes and zero seconds. Was I listening to music on my iPod Nano for too long? Did it keep my brain waves too active?

Or was I just really annoyed by the constant start and stop of the air conditioning?

Or, shall we look behind Door #3?

Yeah! Let’s do that, Paul! Yeah! Door #3! Door #3!

The bed.

I love me a good nap. A good sleep. A good snoozeroo under the ol’ blankeroo.

The bed was immaculate. It was a King size bed. I have never slept in a bed that big before. I could spin around like a Lazy Susan on that bed, yet no matter which way I was facing, my entire body would still be on the bed.

I felt like I was sleeping in an empty parking lot. Could’ve used a zip line to reach the side table, though.

Now, if I had a small, little, minor, teensy weensy gripe, it would be all the layers of bedding.

There was a sheet. There was a comforter. And then there was a blanket on top.

Layers are for tiramisu and lasagna, not for beds in July. (Yes, even on the 4-day Paulorian Calendar).

What are we doing here?

One thing you should know about me is that I am not a comforter person. Don’t need it. Don’t want to see it. Don’t even want to say the word, “comforter” because it’s the ultimate oxymoron.

I never sleep with a comforter.

I understand it’s a hotel and this is the bed’s official uniform. Fine. I get it. This is the way it is. I thought I would be able to tolerate it. I could not.

I was cookin’. Break an egg on my forehead and cook yourself an omelet.

The decision was made to remove the blanket and comforter from the bed. However, they were neatly tucked into this gargantuan-sized bed and I didn’t just want to rip them out and throw them on the couch.

By the way, the couch was the overnight home to three of the four pillows that were provided. I only have one head, I don’t have a use for four pillows. Was I supposed to bounce back and forth like I was playing four square? I think not! So, they slept on the couch.

I wasn’t going to give the housekeepers the task of re-tucking the comforter and blanket. So, instead of making a mess, I rolled the comforter and blanket down (while still tucked) and hung them over the couch and ottoman next to the bed.

That way, they wouldn’t be on me, and they wouldn’t be on the floor. The next morning, I would just pull them back up, no problem.

The room looked like I was creating a blanket fort paradise, but really I was just trying not to turn into a roasted chicken.

So, it was just me and a sheet. And yet, it was 6AM and I still hadn’t fallen asleep.

By the time I officially “got up” for Day 2, I think I slept for about 30 minutes.

A lesson I’ve learned in life is nothing ever goes the way you expect. This whole time, leading up to my stay at the hotel, I was worried I’d fall asleep for 14 hours and not wake up because it’s a King size bed and I’d just be too comfortable.

My mind was so far down the path of, “You’re not going to hear the alarm, knocks at the door, or calls to your phone. The bed will just be too good to wake up from.”

Well, you don’t have to wake up if you never fall asleep, I guess.

I will say that the night before the wedding, I logged a solid seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was great. As for my final night, I slept for about four hours.

If you’re keeping score at home, I slept for 11.5 hours over the course of three nights. That still doesn’t change my opinion on the bed, however. It was great. Comfortable. Spacious. A zip line ride away from the nearest side table. The extra layers were dealt with.

No complaints. I just couldn’t sleep.

I mentioned the couch and ottoman earlier.

Okay, I wish I could’ve taken both of them home. They were the type of couch and ottoman set you see on The Price is Right, but would actually want. I only had the chance to really enjoy sitting on them for the first night, as I tried to watch the NHL Draft.

That’s my one regret – that I didn’t have more quality sitting time with them.

I should mention that there was a pre-existing stain on the ottoman, which I’ve tried very hard not to think about.

Oh, there was also a nice, little, side table next to the couch. It could hold a water bottle, cellphone, or footlong sub (I assume).

The view outside my window was none other than that of a car dealership. Specifically, the part where they wash the cars. I woke up one morning, looked out the window, saw a car exit the car wash, and life was good.

You can keep your chirping birds and pretty sunrises. Give me glistening cars squinting at the sun at 7:43AM.

What else, what else.

Okay, let’s get to the washroom.

I couldn’t get over the fact that the bar of soap looked like someone had chopped a piece of mozzarella cheese off of a big block. It had the knife grooves in it and everything.

They mysteriously took the soap away on Day 3. Perhaps, they realized I had brought my own, or they knew I saw it as a piece of mozzarella cheese and took it away because you shouldn’t leave cheese out that long.

Imagine. The housekeeper and I are both in on this mozzarella cheese/soap bar gag that only exists inside our minds. The telepathy required to pull that off…woof.

But the thing that really stood out from the washroom was the Kleenex box.

It took me until Day 4 to realize that the black “dispenser” with tissues coming out of it, was not actually attached to the counter. It could move. Not only that, but the hard black shell could be lifted away, revealing a Kleenex box underneath.

It was like every Santa Claus reveal in every Christmas movie. Oh, that’s not Santa? It’s Tim Allen? What!?

I was hoodwinked.

The whole time, I thought that dispenser was attached to the counter and tissues were fed to it from a vault underneath the sink, even though if you looked under the sink, there was nothing there. That didn’t squash my theory, though.

Pirates hide their treasures in plain sight all the time. Have you even watched Outer Banks? Maybe this was the same thing. A state-of-the-art hotel illusion.

Nope. It was all a lie. It was just a Kleenex box in sheep’s clothing.

Am I the only forward-thinker here? It’s time for a vault of tissues beneath the sink that feed out of a dispenser. It’s 2022. If not now, when? If not hotels, who?

All jokes aside, I very much enjoyed my stay at this hotel that shall not be named.

I did find a thick layer of dust on the lightbulbs in the lamps next to the bed, though. I cleaned them because I don’t need to start a fire because a lightbulb overheats. The hotel owes me on that one.

I can see it now: “Thank you, Fire Marshal Matthews”.

I had fun. It was a good weekend. It was good to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. It felt like a mini vacation for me.

You should know that since returning home, I have gone back to the Gregorian Calendar. I have also recouped all the sleep I didn’t get while laying in a very comfortable King size bed.

I realize I probably don’t need to capitalize the “K” in King size bed, but I think it deserves it.

As for mozzarella cheese, I keep thinking of it as a bar of soap. Ask me again in a few weeks.

Thank you for reading about my hotel experience. Hopefully, you enjoyed it!

Sleep tight…in loose-fitted clothing and ditch the layers.

Goodnight.

Have any questions about my hotel stay? Do you have any hotel stories of your own to share? Do you sleep with a comforter? Let me know.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

After The NBA Draft

The NBA Draft is one of my favourite events on the sporting calendar. I always get excited to scour the mock drafts during the season and watch highlight videos of players on YouTube to make my own assessment.

I normally ramp up my “research” in the weeks before the draft and decide on a crop of players I think the Toronto Raptors will/should pick.

Last year, before the draft lottery, I had my eyes on Scottie Barnes in the 5-8 range of the draft for the Raptors.

After they jumped into the top four at the draft lottery, I wrote this in a blog post: “I was a bit disappointed the Raptors moved up in the draft because it meant they probably wouldn’t draft Barnes.”

Because at the time, there was (allegedly) a consensus top four of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs. The Raptors would probably end up with Suggs – a point guard they didn’t really need, if the keys were being handed over to Fred VanVleet.

I remember watching videos of Scottie Barnes on YouTube and thinking he would be a great fit with the Raptors. I also remember watching videos of Jalen Suggs and feeling a bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, he was good, but Barnes stood out more.

That’s when I started to doubt myself. Because experts made it sound silly that anyone else could break into the top four.

And then the Raptors drafted Scottie Barnes and most of the fanbase was shocked, confused, and a bit mad.

Rule #1: Never doubt Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, and the Raptors front office. Ever. EVER.

Rule #2: Read Rule #1 again.

Most fans didn’t do “research”, they just heard there was a consensus top four and deduced that the Raptors would get whoever was left.

But they took Barnes – a name people weren’t prepared for. I was thrilled because I knew what he could do. That’s when I felt validated and realized I may actually know what I’m talking about, based off of watching highlights.

It’s not just highlights, though. I’m looking at body language, confidence levels, and how they talk to the media. I’m looking at statistics and how they progressed, year over year and game to game. I do my homework.

No one cares that I do it, but I enjoy it.

Oh yeah, Scottie Barnes went on to be the Rookie of the Year. He’ll be a top ten player in the NBA before you know it, too. Just watch.

So, let’s get to the 2022 NBA Draft.

The Raptors held only one pick – 33rd overall. No problem. This team digs up talent no matter where they are in the draft.

Going into the draft, we really needed a Centre. If we get a shooter – fine. But we have enough 6’9 wings and are running out of places to put them (more on that later), so maybe let’s get a Centre if a good one is available, okay?

About two months before the draft, I came across a name – Christian Koloko.

Koloko is a 7’1 Centre from Douala, Cameroon (the same hometown as Pascal Siakam), who played his college ball at Arizona. He is athletic, energetic, and a menace on the defensive end. He can run the floor, dunk, and then get back on defence and do it all over again.

The Raptors have a “type” when it comes to Centres. Look at our 2019 Championship team. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are the blueprint for what we look for in a big man.

They rebound, defend, block shots, knock down free throws, and shoot the three. The Raptors want their Centres to be an Everything Bagel, basically.

Since they left, the team has been looking to replace them. It feels like they’ve taken the approach of, “If the player is athletic and can play defence, then we’ll teach them how to shoot.” Look no further than Precious Achiuwa, who came over from Miami in the Kyle Lowry trade.

Early in the season, you didn’t want him handling the ball or shooting anything but layups. By the end of the season, he was making multiple three-pointers in each game, and making good decision with the basketball.

It was a dramatic improvement. I can’t wait to see him play next season.

Within a few minutes of watching Koloko’s highlights, I decided right then and there that if he were available at 33, the Raptors were going to take him. There was no doubt in my mind. He was their “type”.

He doesn’t really shoot the ball, but he’ll still be effective in the NBA. That being said, I fully expect the Raptors to work with him and develop his shot. At the very least, they’ll make sure he’s a dependable free throw shooter.

This franchise has one of, if not the best development staff in the league, so he is in good hands.

I’ll be honest, I barely did any research before the draft. It’s very unlike me. I guess I was just too busy to sit down and go through a bunch of possible players who could be available for the Raptors.

But deep down, I knew Koloko was the pick. It was very obvious to me. So, on a subconscious level, maybe I felt like I’d be wasting my time researching other players.

The second round of the draft begins and…

The first two players taken are both Canadian. Andrew Nembhard and Caleb Houstan. The Raptors had only posted a handful (maybe three or four?) of pre-draft workout interviews online. Those two players each had a video posted. Maybe because they were Canadian? I’m not sure.

Nevertheless, I have no doubt they were both on the Raptors’ radar and may have been selected had they fallen to 33. They didn’t.

You know who was still there at 33? Christian Koloko.

And don’t you know it, they drafted him. I knew it two months ago. I’m sure other fans came to the same conclusion, as well.

It’s a very good pick, a very good fit, and I’m excited to see what he can do, starting with Summer League next week.

The moral of the story here is: an NBA team should hire me as a scout because I think I’m pretty intuitive.

Other Draft Thoughts

Bennedict Mathurin might have been my favourite player in the draft. I remember seeing him in the NCAA tournament and he had a huge dunk right in the face of the defender. I saw that and was sold, instantly. He seems to be a very well-rounded player whose game will transfer over to the NBA.

Jaden Ivey really won me over on draft night. If I had done my usual research, I would’ve known more about him ahead of time, but I didn’t. Every time an analyst mentioned him, they mentioned Ja Morant. Watching his highlights, it’s easy to see why.

I love that he went to the Pistons with the fifth pick. I’m happy for their Coach Dwane Casey. It’s been a rough few years, but the storm is starting to subside. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is a backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey giving the Raptors fits for the foreseeable future.

I like Chet Holmgren’s confidence and if he’s the real deal, then the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be a real problem in the next few years. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are going to be in All-Star Games very soon.

Not to toot my own horn, but Giddey was another one of my picks for the Raptors last year if they were in the 5-8 range. Most mock drafts didn’t have Giddey that high, but I thought he was really good. The Thunder took him 6th overall. Okay, I’m done bragging.

The New York Knicks traded away the 11th pick, for three future first round picks. They used one of those future picks to send to Detroit along with Kemba Walker. And from what I understood, the two future first round picks they kept are heavily protected, so they don’t even know what year they will receive them.

But they don’t care, they just want to clear cap space so they can pay Jalen Brunson ALL THE MONEY in free agency.

Reportedly, they plan on offering him a four-year contract worth around $110 million. Look, I like Jalen Brunson a lot and think he could be a starting point guard in the NBA, easily. I don’t like him on the Knicks. I don’t like how they’re treating him as a big coup, who will be the saviour of the franchise.

Dallas fans are worried about him leaving in free agency because they are still traumatized from Steve Nash leaving for Phoenix and becoming a two-time NBA MVP. I don’t think Brunson has the same upside, though I’d be happy to be wrong.

I just think New York, and their fans, are romanticizing this whole thing a bit too much. We get it, you’re desperate for a point guard, and he just so happens to be the son of your new Assistant Coach.

I don’t know if I’d throw all of that money at him just yet. If you can get him for less, do it. You still have other holes to fill.

There were many rumours floating around that the Portland Trailblazers were offering the 7th overall pick to Toronto for OG Anunoby.

First of all, the Raptors are not going to be swindled in any trade they make. This would have been a swindling. Second, the Raptors are not the type of team to trade away one of their big pieces during the draft.

That is a trade they make when only people like me are on Twitter at 2AM.

There has been talk that Anunoby is unhappy with his role in Toronto and I don’t know if I completely believe that. The Raptors don’t leak any information. Look at the Twitter accounts of the NBA insiders, who spoiled every pick in the draft before it was announced. They didn’t spoil the Raptors’ pick. They didn’t know it.

I think other teams are trying to pry Anunoby free, but it’s not going to work. The Raptors are still in a “hold and grow” position. This is not the summer to make a big move. Next summer is that time.

Anuonby is going to be 25 when next season begins. He is an elite defender, who can guard every position. It wasn’t until this past season that he looked comfortable dribbling through traffic. He took a big leap on the offensive side of his game, but still has so much more room to grow.

You don’t trade players like that.

Trading him now makes no sense. His value is going to be so much higher one year from now. Even then, I don’t know if you trade him. Although, I think someone will have to go eventually.

As far as him being unhappy with his role, if that is true, then I kind of don’t understand it. He averaged 36 minutes per game. If he feels like he has a secondary role behind Barnes, Siakam, and VanVleet, then I don’t know what to say. Those three are superior ball-handlers and the playmakers on the team. Of course they are going to have the ball more.

They also have a more assertive personality than Anunoby, who is a bit more reserved. And that’s fine! OG is great at being OG. I was caught off-guard by the “unhappy with his role” report.

For what it’s worth, Anuonby, Siakam, and Barnes were on the practice floor together in Toronto last week. So, that’s good.

Rapid Fire

The Raptors signed undrafted free agent, Ron Harper Jr., to a two-way contract. He will fit right in with the team. I’m not sure how no one picked him.

Shaedon Sharpe may end up being the best player in this draft.

I just hope the Sacramento Kings got it right this year with Keegan Murray. I like that they traded for Domantas Sabonis last season, but hated that it cost them Tyrese Haliburton. He’s going to be a star; already is.

I thought Malika Andrews, Kendrick Perkins, and Jay Bilas were a great panel. Andrews should have that hosting role for the next 30 years, as far as I’m concerned. She was brilliant.

The draft felt a lot more lively when it was held at Madison Square Garden. The Brooklyn crowd hasn’t done it for me.

I see the Spurs and Raptors as two of the smartest, and gutsiest, organizations in the league. They will take the player they want, regardless of where the experts rank them.

I mentioned it earlier, but the Thunder are going to be really good, very soon. The Pistons aren’t far behind.

That’s all I have. It was a lot, I know. I may come back with another post about free agency, but we’ll see.

What were your thoughts after the NBA Draft? Are you happy with who your team selected?

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4 Takeaways from the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix

Being in the Eastern Time Zone, most Formula 1 races take place in the morning here. I am used to it. In fact, I prefer it. There is nothing better than waking up on the weekend and immediately having a sport to watch on TV.

So, when the North American races roll around, like the Canadian Grand Prix, I’m almost perturbed that I have to wait until the afternoon to watch. It does not align with my body clock. It’s like waking up at 4AM and eating roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s weird.

Oh well. What can you do?

Results

1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

4. George Russell – Mercedes
5. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
6. Esteban Ocon – Alpine
7. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
8. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo
9. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
10. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin

11. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
12. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
13. Alexander Albon – Williams
14. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
15. Lando Norris – McLaren
16. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
17. Kevin Magnussen – Haas)
18. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri (DNF)
19.
Mick Schumacher – Haas (DNF)
20.
Sergio Perez – Red Bull (DNF)

Takeaways

1. Have Red Bull Become Mercedes?

Eleven years ago, CM Punk and John Cena had a confrontation in a WWE ring where CM Punk uttered, “You are no longer the underdog. You’re a dynasty. You are what you hate. You have become the New York Yankees.” And then Cena punched him in the face.

That is what I think of when I see Red Bull’s dominance this season. They have won six races in a row, and seven of nine races overall. For many years, it was Mercedes running away with victories, collecting trophies, and spraying champagne in the air like they just don’t care.

And now, it’s Red Bull. They are no longer the underdog. They are what they hated. They have become the New York Mercedes.

The funny thing is, before Mercedes started their 8-year run of dominance as constructors’ champions in 2014, it was Red Bull who had dominated F1 for the four years prior.

So, basically, the roles have reversed once again and we’re all left to wonder, will any other team step up and stop them any time soon?

Like WWE, why can’t Formula 1 build new stars (i.e. new teams to compete)?

What about Ferrari?

Well…

2. Have Ferrari Become Red Bull?

Hear me out. In the years where Max Verstappen and Red Bull tried so hard to be pesky bees in Mercedes’ bonnet, they did succeed at winning some races and making it seem like the Driver’s Championship would be a competitive battle.

But then we got a few months into the season and Red Bull would have reliability issues, or their car would only be superior on street circuits, or they just weren’t fast enough, and it became clear that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton were once again going to run away with everything.

This season, Charles Leclerc started the season with three podiums in the first three races – two of which were wins. We were all thinking, “Wow, Ferrari might be the best team this year.”

In the six races since, Leclerc has finished on the podium once – a 2nd place finish in Miami. Sure, he has started on pole in six of the nine races, but he’s not converting them into wins.

To me, Ferrari feels like Red Bull of 2019 – probably even a bit better. But it’s the same feeling of, “So close, but still so far.”

Leclerc finds himself 49 points back of Verstappen in the Driver’s Championship, while Ferrari is 76 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship. The battle isn’t over, by any means, but it kind of feels like it is.

Because we’ve seen this story before. We know how it turns out. The underdog gets the early upper hand. The champion feels threatened. The champion proceeds to crush the underdog.

I do hope I’m wrong. Come on Ferrari, get with it!

For now, though, Leclerc has become Verstappen and Ferrari have become Red Bull.

While we’re at it, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez could be like the 2016 battle between Mercedes teammates, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, where Rosberg won the driver’s championship at the last race.

I have too many comparisons, but they are all fairly accurate.

3. The Fans

One of these days, I’ll attend the Canadian Grand Prix in person, but until then, I’ll watch on TV.

They announced that 338,000 people was the combined attendance from Friday to Sunday. That’s incredible. On TV, the average audience was 1.26 million, which is up over 37% from 2019. (Thanks to @AHBSeaborn on Twitter for that number).

Meanwhile, in the United States, it was the fourth-highest viewership ever for an F1 race.

The sport is growing, and growing, and growing. I love to see it.

It can be an expensive experience if you’re looking to go to a race weekend, but people like to go to where the party is. Look at all these music festivals. People will stand miles away from the stage, while tucking their chin firmly into a stranger’s armpit, and call it a great time.

Formula 1, especially in North America, is tapping into that “go to where the party is” mentality right now. And they should. Because as I’ve been saying previously, when the new fans realize that many races can be of the “follow the leader” variety, then they’ll have to decide if they really care to still “go to where the party is”.

The hope is they will because they’ve developed an attachment to the sport – brand loyalty, if you will. The fear is they will find something new – the next trendy thing.

That day of reckoning – a referendum – will come, even if it takes a few years.

4. Where Art Thou Collisions?

Do not misconstrue that heading for me wanting violent crashes on the race track. That is not it, at all.

This is merely an observation. Perhaps, it is a wrong observation, but I’ll state it, anyway.

It feels like cars don’t crash into each other as much anymore. When there is a crash, it is one car that has gone into a wall, or barricade. Just one. The other cars drive over the debris, but don’t seem to get punctures.

As a kid, it felt like the first corner of the race would lead to a crash more often than not. One car would be late on the braking and go right into the rear wing of the car in front, who would then knick the front tyre of the car in front of it, who was trying to turn. And then that car is facing the wrong way.

Utter chaos, ten seconds into the race.

We don’t seem to get that anymore. I don’t know if the cars have gotten more controllable, or if the drivers have gotten better in a crowd, or if they’re just not going for gaps because the cars have gotten too wide to fit.

If I were a driver, I’d hate to show up on Sunday and see my race end at the first corner because of a crash. After all the travel and preparations, I want to be doing the thing I love for longer than that. Maybe I’d be overly cautious.

I don’t think F1 drivers think like that. They are too competitive. They’ll say, “I’ll go for the gap, and I’ll come out in one piece.”

Can we get a reporter to sit down with the older drivers – Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Ricciardo – and ask them about crashes and why multi-car pile ups don’t happen as much as they used to?

Again, I am not saying, “Bring back the violent crashes!”

I am just asking, why do these big cars not run into each other as often as they used to?

The next race is the British Grand Prix on July 3.

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Nine Years of Blogging

When I started this blog in 2013, I didn’t think about how long it would last. The idea of a blog anniversary was the furthest thing from my mind. I’m not even sure I knew it was a thing that people celebrated.

I remember the night I put this blog together. It was easy, but overwhelming.

The thought of writing an About Me page was petrifying. It still is, if I’m being honest. There’s so much pressure to be entertaining, cool, and likeable, all within a few short sentences.

You have to sound like someone others would want to be friends with, or else they aren’t going to stick around. And if people don’t stick around, then who is going to read my stuff?

That’s what I thought, at least. Turns out, none of that is true. Even if you are likeable, people won’t stick around. It is an internet myth.

And then came my very first post. I second guessed every sentence I wrote because I told myself someone would pick apart my writing in the comments section. I imagined critiques of my sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation.

In reality, no one cares about that. It is another internet myth.

When I think about what I have done here on The Captain’s Speech, I am so proud. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about this blog and things I could write about. That may be hard for you to believe, since I seem to come and go every few weeks without putting up a, “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign. Just know, it’s always on my mind.

I didn’t think that writing words and posting them on the internet would be fun, but it is. I love it. This feels like my own sectioned off play area, where I can just be myself. This blog challenges me and allows me to be creative.

One day, it’ll be fun to go back and read my old posts and see what I was thinking at a younger age. At least, I hope it’ll be fun. I may just avoid it altogether, actually. I don’t need the embarrassment.

By the way, my blog anniversaries feel like they are getting closer and closer together. Are we sure that full years have passed? I swear, the last anniversary I remember was at four years.

What is time and how do we stop it? It’s been rolling downhill an awful lot lately.

Anyway, I just want to thank all of you for reading my blog, embracing me, and not critiquing my sentence structure.

Honestly, what is there to critique anyway?

I’m normally able to ramble on and on and on, but I’ll cut this post short. Why? Well, I tried to write it last night, but couldn’t get anywhere, so now I’m rushing.

Oh, I must mention that June 23 isn’t only the anniversary of this blog. It is also the 17-year anniversary of my Grade 8 graduation. On top of that, it is the 5-year anniversary of the time a pizza place messed up my order and gave me an extra pizza for free.

This day is truly blessed.

Thank you for being along for the ride for the last nine years, or whenever you jumped aboard. I really appreciate it.

I’ll try and make my 10th anniversary post a lot more special. Key word is “try”. Don’t hold me to it.

Anyway, I’m off to have pizza now. I suggest you do the same.

Bon appétit.

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

4 Takeaways from the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Take me down to the Baku City (Circuit), where the Aston Martin is green, and the sight lines are pretty. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has quickly become my favourite race on the calendar because it is a blank canvas for drama out on the track.

However, I’m sorry to report that this race didn’t live up to the hype. It was just okay.

Nevertheless, I have some takeaways!

Results

1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
2. Sergio Perez – Red Bull
3. George Russell – Mercedes

4. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
5. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
6. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
7. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
8. Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren
9. Lando Norris – McLaren
10. Esteban Ocon – Alpine

11. Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
12. Alex Albon – Williams
13. Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri
14. Mick Schumacher – Haas
15. Nicholas Latifi – Williams
16. Lance Stroll – Aston Martin (DNF)
17. Kevin Magnussen – Haas (DNF)
18. Zhou Guanyu – Alfa Romeo (DNF)
19. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (DNF)
20. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari (DNF)

Takeaways

1. What’s up with Ricciardo?

For only the second time in eight races, Daniel Ricciardo finished in a points scoring position. Whereas his teammate, Lando Norris, has six finishes in the top ten.

Admittedly, I don’t know if it’s the car, or if it’s Ricciardo, or if it’s other factors. I do know that McLaren came out very slow in the season opener in Bahrain. Norris seems to have recovered, but Ricciardo has not.

As a team, McLaren is exactly where you’d expect them to be. They are fourth in the constructor’s championship, but a long way back from the top three. I’m not saying I thought they’d be challenging for race wins on a consistent basis, but I thought they would’ve closed the gap a bit more. They haven’t.

So, is it the car? Is it Ricciardo? I don’t know. McLaren seems to be having a lot less fun these days than they have in the past.

Ricciardo is adamant that he has another year left on his contract, while there have been rumblings that there are ways for McLaren to get out of the contract early.

We’ll see how things turn out.

2. Where Art Thou Haas?

Remember after the first race, we thought Haas was going to be good this year? Well, as a team, they have combined for three top ten finishes in eight races. All of them came within the first four races.

Maybe it’s just a case of everyone else improving their car with upgrades?

But hey, they already have more constructor’s points this season than in the last two combined. In the world of Formula 1, where it takes years for teams to rise through the ranks, this is good progress.

At the same time, I’m like that girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “I want it now!”

I want Haas to be good now.

From Mick Schumacher, to Netflix star, Guenther Steiner, there is a lot to like about Haas. I just hope they eventually get to a place where they are a consistent contender for points. Once they get there, then the fun will truly begin with this team.

3. Guy with the Wine

One of the features of the Baku City Circuit is how close the fans can get to the action, if they live in the apartment buildings around the track.

A couple of fans were watching from their balcony, holding glasses of wine. All they would’ve had to do was tip their glasses over and there would be wine on the track. I’d like to think fans wouldn’t do that, especially with cameras everywhere.

However, all it takes is one person to ruin it for everyone. If someone feels like being a clown and wants to throw something on the track, or at one of the cars whizzing by, nothing is physically there to stop them.

There are sections of the Monaco track where fans could also easily throw things on the track.

I wonder if they have to sign a waiver before the race.

Maybe I’m overthinking this and not putting enough faith in humanity, but you never know.

4. Black and Orange Flag

Before the season started, I made a list of random predictions. One of which was that a driver would receive a black flag – a disqualification from a race. It doesn’t really happen in real life – the last one coming in 2007 at the Canadian Grand Prix – as much as it does in video games, which is why I made the prediction.

In this race, there was a black and orange flag for Yuki Tsunoda on Lap 38. A black and orange flag means a car is damaged and is being forced back to the pits for repairs.

Tsunoda’s rear wing split in half, so what did the team do to fix it? Duct tape. Around and around they went, like your father does with broken up boxes in the basement.

And back onto the track he went.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix on June 19. Yes, it already happened, but let’s pretend like it didn’t. I’m a bit behind.

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16,731 Steps

On Saturday, I attended my friend’s bachelor party. It consisted of a Blue Jays game, dinner, and various stops at different establishments in between. A lot of fun was had by all in attendance and it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Now that you know that, I can start talking about why the title of this post is, “16,731 Steps”.

To get downtown for the baseball game, I take the subway. It’s a nice 40-minute ride underground, with over 15 stops. I’ve done it so many times in my life, I know what to expect with each station.

This one will smell like Cinnabon. This one will have a mob of people waiting to come on. This one will be outside and there will be eight people or less. This one has a Starbucks across the street. This one has images of the Montreal Canadiens on the wall.

The plan was to meet everyone else downtown at 2:00PM for the baseball game that starts at 3:07PM. I get on the subway just before 1:20PM; I’ll be right on time, if not a few minutes early.

This was my first time on the subway since about two weeks before the world shut down in 2020. And on that ride, I remember seeing one person wearing a mask and thinking it was strange. Was that really necessary?

Turns out, they were ahead of the curve.

So, I’m on the subway, looking around as all passengers tend to do. I have a drawstring backpack with me, to hold a water bottle, glasses cases, a jacket for later, and other things.

The guy sitting across from me has ear buds in and a large note pad of paper, on which he is writing furiously. Is he writing a book? An essay? A very detailed grocery list?

I wanted to know.

Then it made me think that if someone ever wanted to write a TV show, where riding the subway was a prominent activity, then maybe they’d spend their days riding the subway, just so they’re right in the thick of it.

Maybe passengers would recognize them every day and learn why they’re always there.

“Oh, just writing a television show.”

“Oh yeah? Maybe I’ll watch it sometime. Hehehe (exit on the left).”

The whole story would make for great late night talk show banter, if the show ever got popular.

“So, I hear you wrote every episode while riding the subway all day, every day. Is that true?”

“Well, Jimmy…”

That’s what was running through my head.

Until, the reckoning.

After six stops, a voice comes over the speaker.

“Due to a fire investigation between (Station A) and (Station B), this train will be out of service after (the stop two stations away).”

I put up my hands in front of me, as if to say, “now what am I supposed to do”, but not directed at anyone. It was just instinct.

The guy sitting across from me pulls out his ear buds and asks the man next to him, “Did you hear that?” The man relays the message. They commiserate.

At the next station – the penultimate stop – a girl gets on and stands by the door. I thought to myself, “in about 30 seconds, she’s going to find out this train only has one more stop.”

The doors close, the train pulls away from the station, and it happens.

The voice comes over the speaker once again and tells all of us that the next station would be the terminal station.

The girl squints her eyes as if she couldn’t believe what she just heard. She turns to look at the map and realizes the little red lights have been turned off for all future stations.

We get to the final stop and it’s everybody off.

I’ve been in situations like this before, except the closures have been pre-planned, so there are shuttle busses waiting outside. I knew that wouldn’t be the case this time because they didn’t have enough time to rally the busses over to where we were.

I imagined bus drivers getting phone calls, while they were out soaking their toes in their backyard pool. Reinforcements were not coming any time soon, if at all.

In this moment, you could either be a follower or a guinea pig. I decided to be a guinea pig.

It’s a station I’ve never been to before, but for some reason I decided I wasn’t going to hold back and follow where everyone else went. I was going to be the one to forge the path, find my way out of there, and beat the rush.

We all get to the “stairs or escalator” portion of the station and I take the stairs. Yes, I am the only one taking the stairs. I get to the top before almost everyone.

Guinea pig gonna guinea.

I am about 10 subway stops away from where I need to be. I need to make my next decision quickly because it’s just after 1:30PM and I’m supposed to be downtown in half an hour.

Needless to say, I am (barely) halfway there, livin’ on a prayer.

What would you do in this situation?

Call an Uber? That’s not really in my playbook.

Take the bus? Sure, maybe.

Walk? Would you walk? I walked.

I WALKED.

Initially, I wasn’t sure which way to go, all I knew was if I walked straight long enough, I would eventually get to where I needed to be.

Based on a gut instinct, I hung a left outside the subway station and started walking. I figured I’d find a map on my phone as I went. You know, just pick out landmarks, or side streets that I could keep an eye out for as I was walking, so I knew it was the right way.

I took the old-school, trial-and-error approach to navigation, basically.

Besides, I knew the CN Tower would probably reveal itself to me at some point, and that would be my North Star.

If I saw it, I’d know I’d be going the right way. If I didn’t, it would be six more weeks of walking. No wait, that’s Groundhog Day. My bad.

If you’re ever in Toronto and want to know how to get downtown, just look for the tower. It’s becoming harder to find these days because of all the tall buildings, but it’s there.

After five minutes, I spotted the CN Tower. It was FAR. It was almost like a blurry image in the distance.

CN Tower: Far

I’m going the right way and I’m booking it. I am speed-walking, as if I’m an Olympian who knows there’s a refreshments table just up ahead.

At some point, I switch from my glasses to sunglasses, at which time I drop the microfibre cloth, that permanently resides in my glasses case, on the sidewalk. It’s dead to me at that point. Five second rule be damned.

I throw it back in my bag and mutter words of negativity to myself.

Update: the microfibre cloth was washed (resurrected) when I got home and has returned to its regular duties.

Around 1:37PM, I receive a message that my friends missed their train and will arrive a half hour later. I was almost relieved to hear that because if we were still meeting at 2PM, I would’ve been so late I would’ve been free.

Yes, that’s a “30 minutes or it’s free” pizza joke.

So, that gave me time to walk.

There I am, walking down the sidewalk in a hat, sunglasses, and a mask (out of an abundance of caution). I am fogging up every 25 seconds and taking my sunglasses off to recover some vision.

I remember getting to certain streets and thinking, “I’m only HERE.”

About half an hour into my jaunt, I realized I was an idiot. I was walking on the sunny side of the road. The sidewalk on the other side was in the shade, so I crossed over.

As I passed by the subway stops that I should’ve been at a long time ago, I thought about going in and seeing if the subway was back up and running again. How long could a “fire investigation” take?

And why did it shut down five stops? Maybe that’s just protocol? Maybe it has something to do with the tracks and multiple lines converging at the same spot? Maybe the trains that were now out of service needed somewhere to go?

I’m not a train conductor, I just pretending I was one when I had Thomas the Tank Engine toys as a kid. Actually, no. I pretended the trains were a baseball team. That’s a story for another blog post.

Regardless, I figured that the risk of popping in to the subway stations, and finding out it was still closed, wasn’t worth the time I would waste.

I needed to get moving because I was still only…HERE?

By the time I eclipsed the stations where the closures were, I knew there were only about four stops left before I’d be where I needed to be. And I knew from experience, that the travel time between those stops was always a short one.

I didn’t really feel like paying another subway fare, just to ride the shortest stretch of stations. At this point, I had too much pride in what I was doing. Getting a ride would be admitting defeat. So, I kept walking.

Over the course of my walk, I was stopped by two strangers, at separate times.

Insert the “strangers always talk to me” blog post here. I actually wrote one, once. I just don’t feel like linking it.

Anyway, the first person to stop me was a man who asked, “Are the Blue Jays going to win today?” I told him, “I think so” and even added a thumbs up because visual aids always help, right?

He said, “It better not turn out like last night.” I agreed and kept going.

Spoiler: The Blue Jays lost 4-0.

The next person to stop me was a lady. She said, “Hi sir, excuse me, sorry to bother you, do you have a toonie or any change you can give me?”

A toonie is a two dollar coin, by the way.

No matter how old I get, being called “sir” will never feel normal.

I’m not sure what she needed the money for, but she seemed to be in a bit of a panic. I told her I didn’t have any change on me, which was a lie, and I still feel bad about it because Canadian Guilt is real.

However, I stand by my decision to lie just because you don’t know who’s around. You don’t know if this is an elaborate plot, orchestrated by multiple people, to have me pull out my wallet and help someone, only for someone else to swoop in and nab it out of my hand.

I had no reason to think she would do anything dastardly. She genuinely looked like she needed help and I was a friendly face…that was covered in a hat, glasses, and mask.

I’ve interacted with strangers before. I’ve given directions. I’ve taken their pamphlets and listened to their cause. I’ve chatted for 20 minutes. I’ve formed alliances with people in line. I’ve linked arms with an elderly lady to help her across the street.

People come up to me and I can’t help but help. Also, I’ve never been able to figure out where the, “Come talk to me” sign is hiding on my body. What is it about me?

All that being said, I’m not about to abruptly pull out my wallet on a busy sidewalk at the behest of anyone but myself. If I had a toonie loose in my pocket, I probably would’ve given it to her.

I didn’t. So, I’m sorry.

I get to a point in my walk where I’ve found a good rhythm. Stopping at crosswalks, waiting for the light to change, provides me with a chance to be still and just breathe. And as soon as it’s time to walk, I’m the first one in the group to the other side of the road.

I figure I’m about 15 minutes away, when my friends let me know they’re about 10 minutes away. Good, we’re going to arrive around the same time.

Finally, for the first time since the only time I saw the CN Tower, I can see it once again.

CN Tower: Closer

At this point, I’m about two minutes away from our meeting spot. I get there and within 20 seconds, my friends appear. Perfect timing. And now we can all walk to the stadium together.

My legs were burning, okay.

I looked at my watch and realized I walked for 1 hour and 5 minutes. When I got home, I looked up what the Google Maps walking distance was, to see if I was faster or slowly than their estimate.

The Google Maps estimate was 1 hour and 14 minutes. So, I crushed it. I’d probably be under an hour, if I didn’t have to stop at so many intersections.

CN Tower: Closest

After getting to the stadium and traversing the ramps to the upper deck, we got to our seats one minute before the first pitch. Just in time.

This was new for me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved being in my seat as soon as possible. I enjoy being in an empty stadium and slowly watching the seats fill up.

I enjoy watching the grounds crew put down the lines of chalk, manicure the mound, and water the infield. It’s all a part of the experience.

However, after the travel hassles we all faced, I didn’t even care that I missed the pre-game activities. I was just glad I had somewhere to sit and a baseball game was happening in front of me.

CN Tower: Always Lurking

I don’t care if you don’t care about hearing how many steps people take in a day, but I’m going to tell you anyway. By the time I sat in my seat, I was about 100 steps shy of 10,000.

And not to toot my own horn, but that was a fast 10,000. I wasn’t lollygagging down the street, taking my dear sweet time to smell all the scents Toronto has to offer.

By the end of the day, I was at 16,731 steps. Some of you may look at that number and say, “I’ve done more than that.” Honestly, I don’t really care. For me, that’s a lot of walking in one day. That’s a lot of walking for two days.

Sunday came, and so did the pain.

You know why they call it the “Gluteus Maximus”? It’s because your Gluteus will feel Maximus a day after you push your muscles to their limit.

By Sunday night, I was like a wobbly chair trying to stand up. I was like one of those creepy dolls that hangs from a mobile and has strings attached to its limbs. It can’t stand on its own without its legs flopping around.

By Monday night, the pain had extended down to my shins and feet. If I were a character in a wrestling video game, my body damage icon would be red from the waste down. Don’t bother putting me in another leg lock, the body damage icon cannot get any more red. Pin me now.

I’ll be fine. I am fine. Truthfully, I enjoyed all the walking. It was a curveball in my travel plans, sure, but my main concern was getting to my friends, and getting to the game, on time. I didn’t have time to be mad about the situation. I had to go.

I had so much fun that day. I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. It was sorely needed.

If you were wondering, I didn’t see a single bus over the course of my 1 hour and 5 minute walk. Then again, I wasn’t really looking for one.

My mindset was all about, who’s ahead of me on the sidewalk and how can I get by them. The entire walk was a long straightaway, so my DRS was open the whole time. I was on a mission.

DRS is a Formula 1 joke.

As I conclude this dramatic story, I must add one more piece of information.

After I met up with my friends, I finally got the idea to look up subway alerts on Twitter.

Get ready, you’re going to laugh.

The delay for the “fire investigation” lasted 15 minutes, before trains were back up and running as usual.

One. Five.

Fifteen minutes.

Oops.

Have you ever been inconvenienced and had to walk somewhere you normally wouldn’t?

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