Thursday, July 31, 2008

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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.

Monday, July 28, 2008

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.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Hate Exercise

I hate exercise. Okay, so that's not totally true. What I really hate is doing some exercise that I don't find fun just for the sake of exercise. Like running. I only run on the odd occasion that there doesn't seem like a good option otherwise or someone I know is running and I get some strange urge to join them. The last time I ran was not long ago on our beach trip with my friend, Alan. He's a pretty dang good triathlete, so he runs and bikes and swims a lot. He's also a really talented athlete in general, excelling in not only triathlons but in basketball, softball, and probably other sports I haven't seen him do.

Alan and I ran four miles, only stopping a couple times to walk (which was for my sake, not his). That's because I felt the urge to run a pretty decent pace, even though Alan would have probably run any pace I wanted. Alan's a good exercise partner that way. But here's the thing...other than some good conversation and some small amount of getting to address my curiosity on how I might stack up against Alan on a four mile run (like I didn't already know!), I pretty much hated it.

Other than to get some general exercise and to not embarrass myself, I had no real goal. I wasn't training for any sport that required me to be able to run far. I'm not particularly dying to lose weight, though I certainly could stand to (particularly when I didn't do much else in the way of cardio for those three weeks at the beach, and I did have a lot of, err, sweet drinks). So all I could think about is "why am I doing this?"

When I lift weights, I do it with a trainer and have a higher purpose. That is to be a better general athlete. Huh? Yeah, I know, that's not a very specific goal and doesn't seem to better address my hatred of exercise without a goal any better than running with a friend. But somehow it does to me...I honestly believe that I'll be a better basketball player, softball player, mountain biker, etc, if I lift weights with a trainer who is good at what he does (and he is!). And I'll be able to do it LONGER, which is very important to me since I have two young boys growing up fast that I want to be able to beat at sports for as long as I can (won't be much longer, though!).

What the heck inspired all this rambling? Alisa's blog about exercise and her hatred of some forms of it. I think we all need a goal for it that we really want to accomplish to be able to plug through an exercise that we don't really like. Like, I really think that if I found myself really wanting to do a triathlon (hah!), I could actually get into running again. But until then, I have no need for being able to run really far without stopping and I don't enjoy it, so I'm not going to do it. What I am going to do is keep lifting weights. I don't hate it, but I don't enjoy it, that's for sure. (The weightlifting itself, I mean. I do sort of enjoy hanging out where I work out and talking to my trainer, but that by itself probably wouldn't be enough to keep me doing it if I didn't have a higher goal.)

I do love to mountain bike. I don't care for it just as exercise so much, but I love the challenge of conquering the technical aspects of it. I never minded taking a break so that I was "fresh" for the next set of obstacles, though. But lately I've been biking with a group that is in a lot better biking shape than me and they don't need or care to take breaks. So I've had to suck it up and work harder than I'd like, which sometimes means I don't enjoy my rides as much as I would at my own pace. So why do I continue to do it? Well, because I like those guys and I enjoy riding with those guys, and I know there's no reason why I can't be in that kind of shape to keep up with them other than getting it done. So I decided to work harder and get better. It's happening slowly, and I'm glad they've been patient enough to hang back for me when I've been the "anchor." The key, though, is that I still have the "fun" goal out there. I do enjoy even the hard rides, and I know that once I get over the "in shape" hump that I'll enjoy them even more.

So fun can be really helpful in encouraging continued exercise. That means the key for anyone wanting to exercise more but finding it difficult to get motivated is to find things that are both fun and get you the exercise you need. Like Alisa with the swimming thing. Like me with the biking and weightlifting and basketball thing (I play organized basketball whenever I can as that's the most fun exercise to me, but that can be harder to find sometimes).

One of Nike's biggest ad campaigns was "Just Do It." It's simple, but not entirely effective. I like "Make it fun." Nike probably wouldn't find that nearly as cool, though.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

I don't know how long it's been that way, but I just noticed it yesterday. Gotta love the state.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Update!

Found out that was available the other day, so I snagged it and now publish my blog to this address. The old one will still work! But when you visit via the old address you're still going to see the new one at the top, and any new bookmarks will go to the new one.

So don't fear, you don't have to make any change. I just thought I'd let people know what's going on. And I liked this warning sign for some reason.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Did you know?

A fun fact that few people seem to know...bamboo is really a grass. A fast growing and awfully tall grass, but a grass just the same.

Need a gift idea?

I'll share a couple recent gifts our family got that I really liked. The first is actually a healthy food gift, and it's a fruit basket from Edible Arrangements. They're very pretty, but they're also very tasty. They are definitely made with very high quality fruit. You will enjoy.

The second is less healthy, but still very good. It's popcorn from Dale and Thomas. We got some Chocolate Chunk N' Caramel, which I really like. Highly recommended!

And thanks to those who gave us the gifts. You know who you are.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Kayak Outtakes...

You know you wanted the outtakes. Well, you got em.

More kayak...

Okay, the sound sucks and it's just two waves, but here's what it looks like from the bow of the boat back at me. I'm going to try to do a little crash montage next, but for now check these rides out.

Happy 4th of July!

Today is the day to show the pride we have in our great country. Fly your flag proudly and be thankful for those who shaped this great land. What could be more American than Converse Chuck Taylor shoes?

I didn't agree with a lot of his positions, but today we lost a great American, Jesse Helms. Here is the former senator with Bono of U2, which most would agree is a strange grouping. Bono is a fairly outspoken liberal, but the two were friends and worked to help fight AIDS in Africa.

And finally, a quick shout out for another beloved American. We lost Charles Kuralt eleven years ago today, and he's another great American that died on a very fitting day. There's a great quote from Charles Kuralt in the sidebar on this page.

He is dearly missed.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sea Kayaking is fun...

My video quality is not so hot as I have no great way to mount the stupid camera, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Alice the Camel

In breaking my "never blog while drunk" rule, I bring you Alice the Camel. This could be the cutest thing you ever did saw.