Finding Adventure...

Olympics Wish List


Just once I'd like to be watching the Olympics and when an American wins I want them to play the Jimi Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner. Just once.
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Good Times on the Lake

So, Matt, John, Alan, and I are at the lake for the weekend having a little fun. Maybe too much fun. We hooked up the Manta-Ray behind the Waverunner and played a good bit with everyone taking turns before we got Matt on there with Alan driving. John was filming and I was driving the chase boat.

Matt got some good air before falling into the side of the Manta-Ray. Then he sort of gets stuck there and Alan wouldn't stop to let him up. Youtube isn't the greatest, but you can see his legs flailing. We've had lots of other good crashes and big air, but this is some of the better footage we got of air.

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Another movie review double feature!


I guess I watch them in pairs. Got both of these watched while traveling on airplanes this past week. Man, I love that iPod Touch!

First up is Dan in Real Life. This is sort of a combination of a chick flick and long Seinfeld episode. It has some of the most awkward moments in it you can imagine. I mean I was almost in physical pain for the guy a couple times. It was that well done. I definitely recommend this one. Funny, warm, and well written.

Next up is The Great Debaters. This is a Harpo Productions film, which means Oprah had a big part in it. It's an excellent story of civil rights in the south, and has some amazing acting in it. It's a little bit long, but don't let that scare you. Totally worth the investment. I do think some of the wardrobe and setting was a tad over the top, but all in all it was a great movie.
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Who owns your internet identity?


To answer this question, first we must define what your "internet identity" really even is. Is it your blog? Your web page? Your custom domain name? Well, technically it could be any or all of that and then some. But what I'm talking about is your email address. Seems relatively simple, doesn't it? Sure, but there are a lot of issues that people don't think about when it comes to how important their email address is.

Who owns your email address? You think you do? You might or you might not, it depends on the address. For example, everyone uses some sort of Internet Service Provider (ISP) to connect to the internet. In most cases that's your cable TV company or your telephone company via cablemodem or DSL. Many people use the email address that their ISP provides.

Many people also have internet access at work and were given an email address there so they use that for everything. And still others sign up for "free" email hosting at places like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and even AOL (most started with AOL addresses when they had that as their dialup ISP but kept the AOL address after moving to some sort of high speed internet). A few folks use hosting services to register their own domain and then use those services (or even their own server somewhere) to host their email.

But none of that answers the question I asked of who owns your email address, does it? Nope. But it should make it a little more obvious that maybe you don't. Let's start with the places you should not use for your personal email. The worst two places I can think of are your ISP and your employer. How many people have the same ISP or the same employer forever? Not many. These things change. Why tie your personal life to a company that can terminate you or that you may want to terminate for a cheaper alternative? Don't do it. There are options.

The best thing to do is have a personal account either on your own server or hosting service (complicated, but if you want to truly own it, this is the best way) or go sign up for one of the free services. Which one? The best one I know of is Gmail. Hotmail is owned by Microsoft. Enough said. AOL is a strange company with a shaky foundation. Okay, I suppose, but they often have technical issues and don't always play well with other services. Yahoo! is likely to get bought by Microsoft, and even if not, they aren't much better than AOL in the technical department. Google is behind Gmail, and seem to be the best "steward" of free email services. They play very nicely with other services.

But why does this matter? Because your email address, unfortunately, really is your internet identity. When you sign up for a web forum or online banking or buy products online, everything is tied to your email address. Even if you select an actual "user id" on the system you're signing up for, that really gets tied to your email address because that's the only way you can retrieve or reset a lost password. What happens if you forget your password on an account you've signed up for but you've switched ISPs and thus email addresses in the meantime? You might be able to have your old ISP forward email, but what about a job change for those of you who use your work email? Most companies don't forward email for you simply because they don't want something work related getting out into the wild by accident. And guess what? You no longer work there and are thus now "in the wild" yourself, as far as they are concerned.

Gmail is free. They simply use keyword target advertising to have very easy to ignore advertisements on the sidebar of the web interface. But you can still use popular clients like the Mac Mail application, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc, to access Gmail and skip the ads. Google provides client applications for Blackberrys and other smart phones, too. And you can always log in via the web from anyone's computer. Yes, you are submitting your identity to the trust of Google, but for now I feel like that's a safe thing to do. Completely safe? No. But much safer than AOL, your employer, or your ISP.

Great Grandpa Whisnant

Thanks to Shelley's blog entry, I couldn't help but remember my great grandpa Whisnant. I was fairly young when he died, but I have incredibly fond memories of him. Shelley's story of remembering something like her grandpa washing his feet every day reminded me of how amazed I was as a young child to learn that my great grandpa Whisnant woke up in the middle of the night almost every night and got up and had a snack (usually cheese and crackers). I begged him to wake me up so I could join him and he always said he might, but he never did it. I suppose the thought of waking up such a young kid in the middle of the night only to get stuck sitting up with him when he wouldn't go back to sleep frightened him...and with good reason! But one night I did wake up and did join him for that snack, and for that I'm truly grateful. There were no great life lessons shared or anything like that, just some good cheese and some good crackers and some damned fine company.
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Movie Review Double Feature

Alisa turned me on to a film I really liked, Stranger than Fiction. It's a Will Ferrell movie, but most assuredly not your typical Will Ferrell slapstick kind of thing. In fact, there's none of that. I won't spoil anything here, but it's a very good drama with some interesting twists. It's incredibly well acted and directed. Fans of Maggie Gyllenhaal will really like her in this, too. I'll warn you that she does have some large tattoos! It also has Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in it. All in all I think it's a very good movie.

The second half of today's double feature is Disturbia. It was decent, but not great. If you're into murder mysteries, this one is okay. It did leave me wondering why Carrie-Anne Moss hasn't done much since The Matrix, that's for sure. She seems like a talented actress who is really attractive. Anyway, I caught this one on a movie channel, and it was worth watching there. I wouldn't buy it, though.

Day two at Miller Motorsports Park

So today we did the west course. I won't bore you with too many details other than to say that this day was a lot more seat time and a lot less classroom. Having to endure 20 minutes of what the various racing flags mean was kind of annoying, but stuff like that was to be expected. Even with stuff like that we still got more seat time than I wanted, so life was good.

I did continue to cook brakes, but it taught me some patience and different ways to be easier on them, which are valuable things in endurance racing. There were only two of us in the "school" cars today and four people in "challenge" cars. The challenge cars have much better tires, are 400 pounds lighter, and are geared differently. Oh, and they have a front splitter and big rear wing. I'm happy to say I was still faster than everyone driving those cars, too. So I suppose I did pretty well.

Most importantly, I've now seen pretty much every corner on the track I need for my upcoming race there in September. That was what this was all about, and I learned a few things more than that along the way. Money and time well spent! I do want to also add that the staff of the school were all really great. Nice people and talented racers and teachers.

My day at Miller Motorsports Park

So today I did the first day of the Miller Motorsports Park Driving School. Yes, day one schools like this are typically for beginners. Some of you know I'm not a beginner while some would argue that perhaps my skills still warrant beginner status, but be that as it may, it was easy to say I was the fastest person in the school today.

It started with hours of classroom stuff followed by some fairly elementary drills in the cars and in a skid car. For those not familiar, a "skid car" is a car that has special outriggers on it with their own wheels on hydraulic jacks operated from within the car. It can be used to simulate different handling characteristics at very low speeds. I mean you can spin out under 10MPH (again, some who know me probably think I can do that without special gizmos). It's a great tool for beginners, but I really didn't get much out of it. Neat to be able to say I've done it, I guess.

Another drill was heel-toe downshifting. Any road racer with a couple years experience can do this with ease, so again, this was annoying. But when they found out I already knew how to do it, my instructors let me demo for everyone else and then let me opt out of this exercise. I used that time to make calls on my cellphone while literally standing on the track (watching the other students). You don't get to do that every day. And no, I wasn't acting at all like a primadonna. They offered, I accepted.

Then we got on track for some basic lead-follow. That was fine since I didn't really know the track and is a really good way to learn it. Then in open sessions I got to have some real fun. There were only ten of us, so you could get plenty of room on even what amounts to a relatively "short" course. We did the East Course today, which is 2.24 miles in length.

The school car is the Ford Mustang GT with a few bolt on modifications and a full roll cage. I was actually quite impressed with the car, even on street tires. That was, until I cooked the brakes. Yeah, it took just two relatively short lapping sessions before the brakes went from normal to nothing in about four corners. Fortunately I noticed the signs quickly and backed out of it and babied it back to the garage area. We were only ten minutes from being done at that point, so I called it a day.

Tomorrow is supposed to be much more track time, but this time on the West Course, which is 2.2 miles and should be easier on the car. It's awful hot out here, but I'm still looking forward to it. In September I'll be running the Koni Challenge race on the Full Course, but this was the only way for me to get any useful seat time on most of the corners. Should be close enough.

Yeah, I did it.


I had a weak moment and gave in to the "social networking" craze and joined Facebook. And you know what? I'm glad I did. It's actually pretty cool. I think MySpace is probably a bit of a cess pool (okay, I know it is), but I think Facebook is much better. And in just two days I've found 32 friends on it. Amazing.

It's sooooo hot...

Let me start by saying this could be one of the most revealing blog entries I've ever made. That probably isn't saying much in the midst of such wonders as I Hate Exercise and movie reviews, so don't get too terribly hyped up.

Anyway, I feel like a large part of my life has been spent listening to the radio antics of John Boy & Billy, a couple of deejays who have now made it pretty big. They got started together in Charlotte, NC, way back when I was a young kid and I've been listening to them on and off ever since. Some of the more memorable moments in my life have come while listening to them, in fact. Nothing terribly earth shattering or huge, mind you, but things that just stick with you. Like when Davey Allison died, for instance. JB&B were getting pretty big into NASCAR at the time and I think were actually good friends with Davey, so the morning after his helicopter crash was a pretty tough morning for them. I truly felt their pain. The odd part is these guys are comedians, and you don't tune in to them if you want something serious. Yet that day was all serious, all pain, and I couldn't imagine listening to anything else.

What I'm really here to blog about is much less serious, though. Another one of those experiences I shared with them was an actual experience I had being on the air as a contest caller. On Friday's they've often abandoned their usual contests for interesting twists on the normal stuff or even just one-off random contests. One such Friday happened to land during the summer when I was working in Charlotte and living with my parents during college. My morning routine was to get up, turn on the radio to JB&B, and get in the shower. While I was finishing up in the shower they announced that thanks to the amazing heat wave we had been experiencing, this day they would let callers air their best original "it's so hot" joke and pick the best one to give a prize to. Hmmph. I didn't have an original "it's so hot" joke, but one occurred to me. That's like .0001% of the battle, though, because only like a bajillion rednecks call in to JB&B for every single contest. But I called anyway.

And the phone started ringing! Oh. My. God. It was really ringing. I can't say for sure, but that may have been the first time I ever got through to a radio contest. Might have been the only time, too, for that matter. I had the radio on, but had my finger on the volume knob at the ready so that if they answered I could turn it down immediately so as not to be one of those idiots that causes the big echo and they have to yell at to "turn down your radio!" So they come back from the commercial break and take a caller. I don't recall the joke, but it was really lame. They chuckle politely and take the next caller. Again, another really lame joke. Then my phone picks up and they are talking to me! I hit the volume on my radio perfectly and they ask who I am and where I'm from. Then they ask for my joke. So without further ado...

It's so hot, I saw a dog lift his leg and steam came out.

For that I got a very good chuckle from the guys. Not to toot my own horn, but it was much better than the first two callers. They almost awarded me the prize but decided to take one more caller. I still felt pretty good about my chances, until...

They asked the caller what his name was and what he did. I don't remember the name, but I do recall what he did. He was and employee of one of the big NASCAR race shops near town. "Oh, are you back at the shop", they asked. They asked this because it was a race weekend, so by Friday morning the teams are all typically off at the track. "Yeah, I don't get to travel with the team...I have to stay behind and work here." "Awwwwww." Yeah, that's right, he played the sympathy card! So then they bantered a little about his team and driver and finally asked for his joke. And what they got was:

I saw a dog chasing a cat and they was both walkin'.

When I heard that, I knew I was golden. In his defense, this guy's joke was better than the first two they took. Yeah, those were THAT bad. But I really didn't think he held a candle to me. I was still on hold, and they put him on hold. Then they bantered about should it go to "steam dog" or "dog chasing a cat." Ultimately they felt sorry for the poor sap "stuck back at the shop" and gave it to him. As disappointed as I was, I never held a grudge. I mean NASCAR fans were and still are their bread and butter, and I almost felt bad for the guy, too. But I still say my joke was way better!

Oh, and if you see Goober, tell him I said "duh-huh." He'll know what you mean.

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