DJB

Finding Adventure...

Technology and the Internet are forever intertwined

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The more gadgets can do, the more complicated they get. It's the nature of the beast. We now have iPods that can surf the internet, control your TV, get you stock quotes, make telephone calls, show you movies, play games, stream live video, and, oh, play music. Being able to do all that is great, but it also requires interfacing with a lot of other things, not all of which are Apple products. So it uses standards and custom software and voodoo. And that's where the problems usually begin.

I used to pull my hair out for hours when something like that didn't work like I wanted to. These days, however, you can usually find the source of your problem through good internet searches. Sometimes it takes more than just Google to help as oftentimes you find that forums don't allow themselves to be Google archived. But forums themselves have search functions, so often you just need to find the defacto forum for whatever device you are having trouble with and search there. Usually someone else has had the problem already and has figured out how to fix it. I usually just Google for "gadgetname forum" when Google isn't giving me the info I want and go check the forum directly.

And even if you can't fix it that way, often you can post your problem to that forum and someone will help you. For free. This is the greatest thing about the Internet, and is a main reason, IMHO, that gadgets are getting so popular that do so many things. People feel comfortable they can work through issues. Companies don't have to deal with nearly as many support inquiries on their products. It's a great symbiotic relationship when you consider how many of these devices actually USE the internet in some way, too.

As web forum software gets better, this will only become that much easier. Once we get single login setups like openid.net for most forums, it will be even nicer. Life might be complicated in some ways by all these gadgets, but they do make it better in some ways, and the complications are getting smaller and smaller. Or larger and larger with easier and easier fixes. I'm not sure which.
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Racing Schedule Update

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For those wondering where to find me on the weekend, here's a rundown of where I'll be.
That's probably it for 2008, too. Seems like a lot except for the fact that the year doesn't seem like it should be nearly over. And yes, I'm driving from Topeka to Tooele from Wednesday late afternoon to Thursday by mid-day. Ugh. That's 1000 miles. Across the rockies. In a motorcoach with a big trailer behind it. Yay!

The MX-5 Cup race will probably be televised within a week or so after it happens. The Koni Challenge races may both be televised on Speed Channel in a tape delayed (and likely edited) fashion, too. And I believe I will have both family and friends present for the MX-5 Cup race! That's pretty cool since it's a long ways away. Can't wait!
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Kid Rock is NOT COUNTRY

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He's not much of a talent at all unless he actually writes some of his own stuff (and he may), but even that is just lyric writing talent for rap music (which I do have some respect for, mind you). What really drives me nuts is he seems able to release one song every couple of years that they claim is country, really isn't, but the country world goes APE for. Like the one with Cheryl Crowe a couple years ago. I loved it when it first came out, but then the country stations played it every hour for months until I wanted to wretch.

Now we have his latest country foray, All Summer Long. The first time I heard it I went "hey, what a ripoff! That's Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon!" Go hit both on those Youtube links. Basically, All Summer Long takes the main tune from Werewolves and mixes in the guitar riffs from Sweet Home Alabama. I don't think the SWA thing is a ripoff since there's an SWA line in the song, so it's more like paying homage. But the main tune? Judge for yourself.

And then tell me what in the world makes this COUNTRY??? And, as usual, country stations are bowing to the pressure of every redneck in America requesting it OVER and OVER and OVER. Just shoot me now. I don't know who said it, but Kid Rock is living proof that "nobody ever went broke underestimating the American taste." Robert D. Raeford says that a lot on John Boy and Billy's radio show, but I'm pretty sure I've heard him say he swiped the line from someone. And yes, the picture I grabbed for this blog entry came from an actual MUG SHOT of Kid Rock. I better not hear anyone say they're surprised.
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The Snowman joins Smokey

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The world lost a great entertainer today, Jerry Reed. I think he's best known as "Snowman" in Smokey and the Bandit (I may have mentioned that's the greatest movie ever made once or twice), but he was much more than just that. A great songwriter, singer, stage performer, and actor. I actually saw him in concert when I was a kid in Charlotte. Another one that will be missed. Godspeed, Jerry.
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Lohan gets political on blog

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So 22 year old in-and-out of trouble Lindsay Lohan is getting political on her blog. Apparently some journalist thought that was newsworthy, but I think it's just funny. There are a few outspoken and enlightened people in Hollywood (even though I disagree with most of them, I'll give the ones who deserve it some respect), but poor Lohan is merely outspoken. I doubt you could find many people who actually care what she has to say past what soap-opera crap is going on in her life today (or tonight, which is usually the case).
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Who's on first?

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Here's the "official" write-up on that race I "lost" by .061 seconds. Rossini (the guy who built my motor!) ends up elevated from third to first thanks to the pit stop miscues by me and Bertok. Had I not been just a hair too fast, I would have been first. I'll take it!

SM... Who's on first, What's on second!

What an exciting SM race and O-what a last lap! But wait, paper is flying! Here's the situation--- He can't finish first because of a short pit penalty, but they can't finish first because they short pitted too. So let's put... no, no, you can't do that! That team was DQed because of (you guessed it) an illegal pit stop. Anyway, back to the race. We will sort all of this out in a minute.

On the green, Henry VanVurst found himself with an ill cam sensor and had to roll into the pit for a quick repair. Back on track, Cliff Brown led the first 16 laps of the highly competitive SM field, before making his mandatory 2 minute pit stop, while Ron Munnerlyn/Jerry Munnerlyn, Steve Bertok, Donnie Barnes, Ess White, and Michael Rossini all took a turn at 2nd place. Michael Rossini led the pack for laps 17 and 18 before coming in for his late race pit strategy. VanVurst had finally made it back to the front after his 1st lap stop, and led the last 4 laps of the SM field back to the finish line. Brown was running a close 2nd...that is until the last turn of the last lap. With the checker flying for the OA win, Brown found himself tangling with some other competitors and spun off course, while the SM entries of Bertok, Barnes, Rossini and White freight trained past. Brown was able to recover, and just barely nicked Jerry Malsam back to the line. And so it is, that is the way they finished on track.

Post race T&S results unfortunately showed that there were some short pit stops and one illegal stop. After much debate and several days of pouring over the situations and comparing them to the Official 2008 CCPS Rules, here is the way it officially ended up:

1st Michael Rossini
2nd Steve Bertok (Panic Motorsports)
3rd Donnie Barnes/Reid Allred (Tarheel Motorsports)
4th Estus White IV (E-4 Racing)
5th Cliff Brown (USMC)
6th Jerry Malsam (Dread Nought Racing)
7th Jerry Munnerlyn/Ron Munnerlyn (Jerry Munnerlyn)
8th Carl Cason Jr (Cason)
9th Mark Senior
10th Bill Cullen (Bill Cullen)
DNF Steve Fricker (St. Andrews Express Body Shop)
DQ Henry VanVurst (Rossini Racing Products)
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Katrina versus Gustav TV coverage

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Well, obviously Katrina "wins" the biggest storm award. But now that we have coverage of Gustav and the damage, TV outlets are mixing in pictures of Katrina damage. And they're often doing it badly, so it's hard to tell if they're showing you pictures of now or then. Note to TV production people: A little icon in the corner of footage of damage telling you which hurricane it is would be helpful. Thanks.
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How to start a Stihl

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Stihl makes some of the best two stroke small engine machines in the world. Everything from leaf blowers to chainsaws to string trimmers. The best tip I ever got to nirvana when it comes to getting those small machines started is really simple.

Close the choke. Turn on switch. Do not touch throttle. Pull start cord. Should only take once or twice before it "hits." By that I mean it almost fires but doesn't. Open choke. Pull cord and it should start on the first or second try. Works for me EVERY SINGLE TIME. If you leave the choke closed, you will flood the carb and it won't start until you let it sit for a while. But follow those steps exactly and you'll be in two stroke nirvana, too. Probably works for other brands, but why would you buy another brand?!?

Many engines require the choke to be closed until it's completely started and warms up some. Not so with the Stihl. Just use it to get fuel to the carb, then open it up and it'll fire with no choke. And they just run forever if you keep a proper fuel mix in them.

This post is dedicated to Alisa, leaf blower lover.
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My trip to the Emergency Room

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Well, as some may know, a couple days ago we got six inches of rain in one day. That caused some random flooding around the ranch, but nothing terrible. The Haw River did come up over the banks, but we've seen much worse than this episode.

Apparently, however, a good long day of rain like that can make the bees somewhat energetic after it stops. And I'm allergic to bee stings. Not a good combination. I went down to our pond by the house to check on the damage done to our pier by the flooding. The pier was still wet and now sitting at about a 20 degree angle from horizontal. I had my cellphone in one hand and a cup of water in the other. I don't remember bumping anything as I went, but I must have bumped the post for our bell we have near the shore as I walked by it. I had just stepped onto the pier when I realized I was being stung on my leg and as I went to slap the bee I saw plenty more looking pretty excited around me. I have no idea what happened to the cup of water, but I slapped with both hands at bees and in the process slung my phone (a Blackberry 8830 World Phone) out of my hand. Fortunately I had a protective plastic case on it and fortunately it went toward shore and not toward water. I really didn't care much about it at the time, but as I tried to take off from the dock (and needed to turn around in the process while slapping bees), I busted my butt on the wet dock. At that point my phone was right beside my hand as I wen to get up, so I grabbed it and took off.

I ran into the house and immediately called Alisa at the barn to head to the house (Ashley was gone to town). I then found my venom suck kit and looked quickly for my epi-pen, which I didn't immediately find. Didn't need it yet, so I didn't worry about it. Also grabbed my bottle of Benadryl. Got the suck kit on one of the stings before Alisa got there, then got her help with the rest. I had one on each leg, one on my back near my arm pit, and I thought one on my head near my temple but actually inside the hair line. We got it on all of those for 30 seconds each.

I also just sat down and breathed deeply to get my heart rate back down. Very important step. Keeps things from getting circulated in the system so fast. Then once we had all the venom out we were gonna get, I quickly mis-read the dosage on the Benadryl bottle and took 75mg instead of 50mg. Probably not a bad thing. Then I found the epi-pen and sat down for a bit. Alisa was about to call my doctor to see what we should do when I started feeling pretty strange. I said skip it, let's just head to the ER. Off we go, with Alisa passing people on double yellow lines and me not really caring much. She did great, though I would have preferred she looked more at the road than at me. I didn't feel like talking, but it helped keep her eyes on the road, so I tried to anyway. I could feel my eyes getting a bit puffy and could actually feel what felt like some swelling inside my neck and chest, though it was REALLY minor and nothing that was affecting my breathing. So I just kept the epi-pen ready.

We got to the ER and they walked me back to the urgent care. Then the nurse looked at me again (and I seriously just mean she LOOKED at me) and said "uh, we should probably take you on over to the "main" room" or something like that. Okay, off we went. They were pretty quick to attend to me, but in the end all that happened was they hooked me up to some monitors, put an IV in me that they never connected to anything, drew some blood they never sent to a lab, and gave me some prednisone orally and just watched me. While the benadryl had me pretty lethargic, I pretty much just closed my eyes and zoned (I don't think I ever slept). Then they let me go home, where I pretty much just vegged the rest of the day in the theater. Went to bed at 11pm after watching NCSU take a beating in football (shocking!) and promptly woke up at 3:30am. Now it's almost 5:30am and I took some more benadryl before I wrote this. Time for more sleep finally, I think.

Oh, last thing. I don't mean to scare anyone, but apparently these stupid bee sting reactions get worse the more often you get stung. So now I have two epi-pens and may get more. And I already have venom suck kits tucked all over the place. If you know anyone with a bad hay allergy but hasn't been stung (or not since a kid...I was stung as a kid and this wasn't an issue), they should probably look into keeping a suck kit around, liquid benadryl on hand, and study the issue. They probably don't need an epi-pen yet, but they should take any sting seriously and be ready to head to the ER at the FIRST sign of breathing problems. Heck, I'd go if you just start breaking out anywhere NOT near the actual sting. That's a sign that breathing problems could be on the way (though they may not...I had a sting when I was 15 that broke me out all over, but some benadryl took care of that one). And if you use an epi-pen, GO TO THE ER ANYWAY. Those can fix the sting problem, but may cause other minor problems. And they'll probably want you on prednisone, too. (Hay allergies don't mean you are definitely allergic to bee stings, but they are strongly linked from what I've heard. Research!)
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Missed first by .061 seconds!

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I had an interesting weekend this past weekend. You might want to get a snack and perhaps a drink for this one. Oh, maybe hit the bathroom, too. We might be here a while.

It all started Thursday. Reid and Jeff loaded up a race car and I packed my stuff into my motorcoach and we headed to lovely Kershaw, SC. Nestled amidst the pulp wood farms is Carolina Motorsports Park, a road racing course. It took us over four hours to get there thanks to a killer traffic jam on I-85. But we got there around dark and got a good bit of stuff unloaded. CMP doesn't have any RV connections, but my coach is pretty self sufficient if you start with enough fuel and water (which we did).

Around midnight we were pretty much ready to hit the sack when I found the water pressure dwindling. Ugh. Turns out the water pump wasn't working. So basically I had a couple hundred gallons of water that I had no way to use. I poked and prodded at things for an hour in the dark before giving up for the night and finally getting in bed after 1am. Didn't sleep much that night and got up at 6:30am.

A daylight inspection of the water pump situation allowed me to find what I needed to get it working again. Good way to start the day. Then I went and found Tom Fowler of OPM Autosports who was delivering my new Spec Miata to me that they built. It's a '99, which seems likely to be the car to have at most tracks in Spec Miata racing.

Reid got there and we got the cars ready. Brian Smith rented my 1.6L Miata for the National race and so he did a couple sessions in it to get the feel of the car. I took my new car out with him to do some lead follow stuff and learn a little. I did four sessions total in the car and was about a second back from Brian, which is pretty good since he lives at CMP for the most part and is an incredibly talented driver and coach.

Then I took a shower in the coach and loaded up in my truck to head to Katie's wedding in Warrenton, NC. That's 250 miles away from Kershaw. Ugh. Got there near 10pm to find that the room we had to sleep in was about 80F. I don't sleep well when it's warm, so that was quite annoying. I tossed and turned but got enough sleep to be serviceable the next day, which was good since I was an usher in the 10am wedding.

The wedding went off without any serious hitches and was quite fun. They had a HUGE rope swing that we all had fun on, but we had the most fun seeing how high we could swing Kevin. Oh, and when I say huge, I really mean the size of the rope itself was huge. Like 4 inches in diameter. If anyone knows how to find rope that big, email me or post a comment. I need large rope. Bad.

Welcome to the family, Sean!

I left there about 1:30pm to head back to Kershaw and got there right at 5:30. Came in to find the AC and generator situation on the coach wasn't really quite right. Took a quick stab at that situation and then left with Jeff, Kate, and Jim to go eat supper. We had an all-too-slow meal at the Bantam Chef in Kershaw. NOT RECOMMENDED. Just do the Bojangles or Subway across the street when in Kershaw and requiring food. Better is to bring your own food or do the 20 miles to Camden (which has a Zaxby's...yum...like Alisa said, any place with Texas Toast by default can't be bad).

Got back to the coach to find things were still wonky. Got on the phone with Featherlite's customer support folks and after an hour of digging found the source of the problem. Got it somewhat worked around enough to get it cool enough to sleep and got into bed. Got decent sleep before having to get up again at 6:30am. Had to make it to registration at 7am and then be ready to get on track at 7:45 for my first qualifying session. This one was for the Carolina Cup Pro Series enduro. Went out and did a 1:53.0, which I felt pretty good about. That ended up being good enough for fourth in the race. That was in the 1.6L car.

Then came back in and went out to qualify for the National. Trying to hang with Brian some and did some lead-follow with him able to talk to me on the radio. I got a 1:53.1 in that session, which wasn't great, but decent. Again, fourth in class. Brian was second in class by just a couple tenths that he probably could have gotten out of the 1.6L (I was in the 1.8L).

We ran the National race right after lunch. This is a 20 lap race. I got a pretty good start and got by the third place qualifier. He dogged me for a while, but eventually made some mistakes and I finished the race third in fairly boring fashion. The first two cars checked out and so I just ran consistent laps and kept it clean for my first road racing podium finish by myself (I drove on the winning 13 Hour enduro team at VIR in 2005, but that was four of us).

Then we had an hour break before the CCPS race. That's a 45 minute race with a mandatory two minute pit stop. You can do this race with a partner and change drivers during that pit stop, but few people bother. Most people just stop, hang out for a while, then go back on track. The key here is that they don't actually time your pit stop as they don't have the staff to do it for everyone. So they figure it like this...they figure eleven seconds for your pit road transfer speed (it takes that long to go from one end to the other at 40MPH, the max allowed speed) and add two minutes to that and then add your fastest race lap time. Then they look at the lap chart after the race and find your pit stop lap time. It must be greater than that total. If not, you get penalized.

Why does all this matter? I'm getting there. The guy who won the National was the pole sitter in the race. His car developed a problem on the "out lap" of the race (the lap you take before you take the green flag to start the race). So he did his pit stop on the first lap and had his son fix it while he did his two minutes. Apparently it was something dumb like a plug that came undone or whatever, so it was an easy and complete fix. He went back out and finished first. Unfortunately for him, however, you are not allowed to make your mandatory stop on the first lap (there's a good reason, but it's a long explanation I won't bore you with). He didn't know that, and that caused him to get disqualified.

On that race start, however, I screwed up big time. I was looking at the bumpers of the cars in front of me for a hole to dive into and forgot about the "kink" on the front straight. I was way on the outside and by the time I realized I needed to turn I was out on the "marbles" (the dirt and rubber that accumulates just off the racing line) and just about couldn't get the car turned. I slid it sideways before slowing some and collecting it. Didn't go off or hit anything, but I lost enough speed that a BUNCH of cars went by me. Ugh.

So I put my nose down and started passing people. Took me a while, but eventually I was in fourth on track with a couple laps to go and closed in on second and third. They were racing hard and second place (Cliff Brown) went off and that was the last we saw of him. I lost some ground on the new second place guy (Steve Bertok), but still had some time. I was within a second of him but couldn't get any closer as we got the checkered flag.

We went to impound where the guy who finished first learned of his error. He took it well and understood the rationale behind the rule. Then myself and the new winner got called to timing and scoring to learn our pit stops were "too" fast. His was by 2.5 seconds, which is pretty big. Mine was a whopping .061 seconds! UGH! The standard penalty for anyone three seconds or less too fast is loss of one finish position. so he got second and me third (which is ironic since that's how we finished on track anyway). I'm not even sure who ended up with the actual win.

But I got my first two solo podium finishes, and if I had sat on pit road an extra TENTH of a second -or- if my fastest race lap had been a tenth slower, I would have been the winner. Oh well, such is life. There was probably a hundred bucks in prize money I lost or something, but that's it. I'll take it and be pretty happy with the weekend.

You are now free to move about the cabin.
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