Sunday, May 31, 2009

Phone it In Sunday: Affirmation Girl's Worst Break Up Ever

From Lisa Nova: "Affirmation Girl's Worst Break Up Ever"




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Saturday, May 30, 2009

National American U Sues Porn Site Naughty American U, Citing Trademark Confusion

National American University, a leader in adult education, is gearing up for a legal battle royale against Naughty American University, a leader in adult entertainment.

According to a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, National American is suing Naughty American for trademark violations and cyber piracy for using the name Naughty American University and "NAU."

Diorah, Inc., the organization that operates National American, filed the suit in federal court in Rapid City, South Dakota, where they're located. La Touraine, Inc., the defendant, is registered in Nevada, but has a San Diego business address.

Diorah wants to stop Naughty American to stop using the school's trademark, and is seeking financial damages. Or at least a date with a couple of the models.

According to the lawsuit, National American has spent millions of dollars promoting its name. But La Touraine registered its domain name and started offering its educational content.

Diorah says both names are "nearly identical in sight, sound and commercial impression" to National American University and the NAU abbreviation.

The funniest part of the whole article:
Besides making money off the names, La Touraine's use of them likely creates confusion among students, potential students, alumni and parents, and causes people not to seek the school's education services, it claims.

"These activities are likely to cause consumer confusion and harm Plaintiff's goodwill established in its National American University and NAU trademarks," it states.
Sort of makes me worried for my own alma mater, Ball State University.

While I understand Diorah's concern, I don't see how this is going to cause confusion for anyone. A general rule of thumb is if you go to your college's website, but you see a bunch of naked women doing God knows what, you're probably at the wrong website. Google the correct address and try again.

Although I'm sure a lot of prospective male students will end up spending hours supposedly trying to figure out how to download the financial aid forms.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Curling is Harder Than It Looks

Curling Is Harder Than It Looks

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to fill a years-long dream I've had: I got to go curling. I joined the Circle City Curling Club on their last practice of the season.

Regular readers may know my fascination with this winter sport, the game that involves sliding very heavy — 42 pounds — rocks down a narrow strip of ice, trying to make your rock land inside a big circle while knocking other rocks out of it.

Jeff Heck and Daniel Louks of the CCCC were kind enough to show me how the game is played, and loaned me a broom so I could try it out.

In curling, you slide your rocks down the Sheet, which is 145 feet long, so they come to rest in the House, the large target at either end. Each player slides two stones per End (round), while two others sweep the ice in front of the sliding stone, to make sure it doesn't pick up any dirt.

It's like marbles for giants.

Curling on TV looks easy. The athletes slide gracefully on one knee, delivering stones from the Hack. Sweepers scrub the ice in front of the stone, bring it to rest, with microscopic accuracy, on the very spot the Skip (captain) pointed out.

Turns out I really suck at it.

Before we started, Daniel had me try a couple practice shots. I learned the whole balancing on the ice on one foot while dragging the other is much harder than it looks. At one point I was doing five different things just for the delivery, none of which included sliding the stone.

My first stone rocketed out of my hands and came to rest 15 feet away from the House. The one I had started from.

"Push it a little harder this time," Daniel urged politely. Curling is the most polite game I have ever seen. Chess matches are violent bloodbaths compared to this sport.

For example, at the beginning of each game, everyone shakes hands and wishes each other "good curling." A member of the opposing team will retrieve their opponent's stone for them, and place it near the hack. And they congratulate each other on good deliveries. Very polite indeed.

I heaved back, did four of the five things I needed to maintain my balance, fell anyway, and delivered the stone more than two-thirds of the way down this time.

"Excellent, let's start," said Daniel.

Since we didn't have enough players for a full match, and this was just for fun, another woman and I were full-time sweepers for both teams. I slid my stones, and then took over sweeping duties. Because this was a game of politeness and fair play, we tried equally hard for both teams.

For those of you who think this is an easy game, it's not. You really get a workout doing it. Imagine being hunched over, running sideways, and furiously scrubbing a six inch strip in your garage down and back five times with a small broom. That's how far one delivery is, about 90 feet.

Now, do that four or six times. That's your workload in one End. As a full-time sweeper, I did that 14 times per End, and we played three Ends. By the time I was finished, my shoulders and back were on fire, and I hurt for two days afterward.

My sweeping was actually pretty good, but my deliveries were, well, awful. I was finally getting the distance, but my throws ended up sliding off the Sheet completely. If the goal was to deliver a stone to the House, mine were ending up in the neighbor's front yard.

On my last shot of the night, I tried something new. Since my shots were always hooking to the left, I aimed at a spot well off to the right: the House on the Sheet next to us.

The sweepers scrubbed furiously, Daniel the Skip shouting like mad — "SWEEP! SWEEEEEEEP!!" — and bam! It barely made it inside the farthest ring of the House. But it was there.

"You got it!" hollered Daniel, standing next to my 42 pounds of granite victory. I grabbed my digital camera and literally ran down the ice to take a photo of what will probably be the last stone I ever throw.

I've now achieved my latest dream. I have curled. I have thrown the Scottish stone and brought it home.

My new dream is to ride in a two-seater Indy Car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With $1,000 in my pocket.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

PETA Boycotts Canadian Maple Syrup to Protest Seal Clubbing

PETA, still unclear on the concept of, well, everything, launched a boycott of Canadian maple syrup at the Vermont Statehouse to help stop the slaughter of baby seals in Canada. They are also launching similar protests in Maine and New York.

Because as everyone knows, Canadian maple syrup is harvested by baby seals in Vermont, Maine, and New York.

According to PETA, more than 300,000 baby seals are clubbed to death for their fur and other products. They plan on continuing the "Stop the Seal Slaughter" campaign until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. . . clear on the other side of the continent and in a whole other country.

Future protests involve boycotting French truffles in the Netherlands to protest the harvesting of Norwegian herring.

According to a story in the Rutland (Vermont) Herald, a PETA member was going to whack a six-foot bottle of maple syrup with a hakapik, the weapon used to kill baby seals. The bottle would have a label with a maple leaf dripping blood, with the tagline, "Stop the Seal Slaughter."

Other demonstrators held signs that said, "Buy American: Boycott Canadian Maple Syrup."

"Canada has ignored calls from around the world to stop the seal slaughter, but we're hoping that a plunge in maple syrup sales might get the government's attention," said Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA. "We want consumers to buy only American maple syrup because there's nothing 'sweet' about a country that condones the largest annual massacre of marine mammals on the planet."

A plunge in maple syrup sales? Really, a whole plunge? Man, someone thinks pretty highly of themselves. Look, you're PETA. You're not the UAW, a Political Action Committee, or the KISS Army. The only thing you're going to plunge is a toilet.

Given PETA's past success at their attention-whorish campaigns and self-serving boycotts, I'm guessing this will be one of the Canadian maple syrup industries best years yet.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Newton Mass. Schools Suspend Cafeteria Worker for Substituting Meals

The Newton, Mass. School Committee won't back down from their position on student torture, after refusing to reconsider a policy that led to the suspension of a lunch lady who offered substitute entrees to kids who didn't like the veggie burgers they were serving.

According to a story in the Boston Globe, the board probably won't reconsider the policy, despite the uproar following Kathleen Cunningham's suspension.

Cunningham, a food services manager at Angier Elementary School, was suspended for giving substitution meals, because the kids refused to eat the veggie burgers, citing the the UN Convention Against Torture.

Newton officials said students couldn't change meals, because their parents had pre-ordered them. However, Cunningham said the school had received a delivery of veggie burgers, not the grilled cheese sandwiches the parents had ordered.

“It’s not a school committee policy, and it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of School Committee policy,” Laredo told the Boston Globe. “It’s a food service policy.”

“I do not expect that this particular policy is going to come before the School Committee,” Laredo added. “This is a food service procedure, period. My understanding is that the food service department provides lunches to elementary-school children based on their parents’ choices, and the school food service department respects those choices.”

If that's your understanding, you need to go back and look all the facts. It sounds like the school's food service provider screwed up, and Kathleen Cunningham was trying to keep kids fed and happy by trying to make the best of a bad situation. Instead, she was punished for showing initiative and actually trying to be helpful.

“If you start freely substituting meals at the elementary level, you may not have enough for everybody else, or you’re wasting food,” Laredo said.

Ooh, and anarchy and chaos will ensue if you just start "freely substituting" meals. You make it sound like a Bacchanalian free-for-all, when all Cunningham did was keep the kids from going hungry.

She didn't deserve to be suspended in the first place, considering 1) the school would have violated its own rules by serving food the parents didn't order, and 2) veggie burgers are heinous and nasty.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oxford Poetry Professors Resigns Poetry Chair After Smear Campaign

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I'm not a University of Oxford Professor of Poetry
And neither are you.

Ruth Padel, the University of Oxford's Professor of Poetry resigned nine days after taking the position, after emailing journalists about sexual harassment claims against Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, her competition for the post.

In other news, there are journalists who cover poetry.

Padel, 63, admitted that she had emailed the journalists about decades-old sexual harassment claims against Walcott

According to the (London) Daily Times, Padel said, "I genuinely believe that I did nothing intentional that led to Derek Walcott’s withdrawal from the election. I wish he had not pulled out."

Feminist deconstructionist poetry critics then decried her use of a male-oriented double entendre.

"I did not engage in a smear campaign against him but, as a result of student concern, I naively — and with hindsight unwisely — passed on to two journalists, whom I believed to be covering the whole election responsibly, information that was already in the public domain," Padel said, without rhyming a single word.

In other news, there are journalists who cover elections to poetry professorships.

If she was really concerned about the students, she should have made her concerns known to administrators after the election, not to journalists beforehand.

Walcott dropped out of the race after information about sexual harassment allegations made about Walcott in 1982 — 27 years ago — was mailed cowardly anonymously to more than 100 Oxford professors.

Padel denied being a part of that cowardly act, but did admit to the other cowardly act of emailing journalists about him. "Some supporters add that what he does for students can be found in a book called The Lecherous Professor, reporting one of his two recorded cases of sexual harassment and that Obama is rumoured to have turned him down for his inauguration poem because of the sexual record. But I don’t think that’s fair." said Patel's email.

Professor A.C. Grayling, a former supporter of Padel's, will make a formal complaint to Oxford administrators.

"The professorship is a very serious thing. This is dirty tricks and character assassination," he told the Times, also without rhyming. "I didn’t think Ruth would win against Walcott. When he withdrew, I thought it was absolutely wrong and there was no way that the Oxford professorship should be run on this business of sexual harassment — it should be run on the merits of the poetry."

In other news, merits of poetry now considered a viable job skill. Thousands of McDonald's cashiers rejoice.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Verizon Agrees to Help Police Save Man's Life if They Pay His Phone Bill

"Can you kill me now? Good."

The Carroll County sheriff's department was able to save the life of a 62-year-old Carrollton, Ohio man, but only after they agreed to pay his phone bill.

According to a story in the New Philadelphia (Ohio) Times-Reporter, the unidentified man was lost after fleeing the scene of a domestic disturbance and taking several bottles of pills.

Deputies were concerned the man may have tried to harm himself, so they called Verizon to see if they could locate the man through his Verizon cell phone and a nearby cell tower.

Sure thing, said Verizon Customer Service, you just need to pay his bill first.

It turns out the guy was behind on his cell phone bill, and they had shut off his phone service. The only way the Verizon operator would activate his phone, and thus possibly save his life, was if the sheriff's department agreed to pay the guy's bill.

After some haggling, Sheriff Dale Williams agreed to pay $20 on the phone bill, which would get Verizon to activate the line.

However, deputies found the victim just as Williams was preparing to make payment arrangements.

Hopefully Williams shouted "Found him. Suck on that, Verizon!" before slamming the phone down.

"I was more concerned for the person’s life," Williams told the Times-Reporter. "It would have been nice if Verizon would have turned on his phone for five or 10 minutes, just long enough to try and find the guy. But they would only turn it on if we agreed to pay $20 of the unpaid bill. Ridiculous."

Williams said he believed the man's condition was serious. Way to go, Verizon, profits before people.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reflections of a New Indianapolis 500 Blogger

It just hit me: I was a very small part of Indianapolis 500 history today. I was one of eight bloggers invited to blog about the race from the Media Center. This year was the very first year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway invited bloggers to report on the race. And it was a great honor.

Many companies and sporting events/teams still turn up their nose at bloggers, seeing us as a nuisance at best, and a bunch of autograph-seeking fan boys (and girls). But the IMS decided to give us a try, and I was one of the lucky eight. I was also the only non-racing blogger invited, which makes me very pleased to have my writing and abilities recognized. It makes the honor that much sweeter.

To say this has been a thrill is an understatement. I've always been a passing fan of the Indianapolis 500 — sort of like the guy who goes to church at Easter, but doesn't go any other time of the year — but this year has turned me into a real fan of IndyCar racing, including the Indy Lights series. I plan on watching a lot more races and/or listening to them online.

I grew up in Muncie, Indiana, just 45 minutes northeast of Indianapolis. If you grew up in the Indianapolis television market, you didn't get to see the race because of regional blackout rules. So we had to hear the race on the radio.

After listening to the 500 for 35 of my 41 years, I had created a picture in my head of what the race looked like. The course had a certain look and feel, the cars and pits looked a certain way. It was like reading a book and imagining what everyone looked like.

On race day, we would work out in the yard, getting burned to a crisp, listening to A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and, of course, Mario Andretti. Announcers like Tom Carnegie and Howdy Bell were the voices I associated with the race. Speeds were slower when I was a kid, so the race would take a good four hours.

When I was 23 and living in Illinois — I was actually at my mom's house, helping in the yard that day too — I had the chance to see the race on TV. I watched for five minutes, decided it didn't match up to the pictures in my head, and shut the race off for the next 17 years, only listening on the radio (even when I lived in Syracuse, Indiana, outside the blackout area). I finally watched my first 500 last year when I was visiting my in-laws in Syracuse. I had to reconcile my pictures with what the TV was showing, but I managed.

But because I only listened to the 500, there was so much I didn't know about racing. So when I got my invitation, I had to learn as much as I could, which meant asking a lot of stupid questions that anyone else who even lived near Indianapolis should have known the answers to.

Here are a few of the most important things I've learned:
  • First, it's the Indianapolis 500, not the Indy 500. Tim Sullivan, one of the PR staff at the Speedway, says that Mr. Hulman didn't want people calling it "Indy." Sort of like when columnist Herb Caen told San Franciscans should not call their hometown "Frisco."

  • Access is everything here. The safety and security officials — they're called Yellow Shirts — have eyes like eagles who just got lasik. Nobody gets nowhere nohow if you don't have the proper credentials. There's thousands of people wandering around with various styles of credentials, and they spot them all.

  • The PR Department at the Speedway takes care of their reporters. They gave us lunch (deli sandwiches) every day; lunch today was bacon-wrapped steak.

  • The decline of newspapers and the poor economy hurt the media coverage of the race. I saw a lot of empty seats in the Media Center, including two from a big, well-known radio station out of Cincinnati (you guys are 2 hours away, for God's sake, and you get free parking and food. You mean you can't get up a little early and drive over here to cover the biggest race in the freaking world?!) and 2 or 3 of the eight bloggers. There were more empty seats than I expected, but there were still a lot of journalists here, including some from England, Holland, and Japan (bet the Cincinnati guys feel a little stupid now).

  • Experienced race journalists like to act like they're so jaded, having seen everything, but those same journos made some of the loudest OOHs whenever there was a crash, and they raced to the window the fastest whenever they waved the green flag again.

  • Photographers' cameras are like sports cars for middle-aged yuppies. They have to see who has the biggest lenses, the best (camera) bodies, and who has the most. I've seen lenses that look like they should be shooting out clowns during the circus. And I felt like a dork carrying around my little Canon PowerShot A590, but it got the job done. My photos only had to be good enough to be used here. (I forgot my camera one day, and had to use my cell phone camera instead.) I had a good laugh with a female photographer when I was admiring her camera, pulled out my little Canon, and said, "No fair, yours is bigger than mine."

  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If bloggers want to be taken seriously as journalists, you can't act like fan boys and geek out anytime you see one of your favorite athletes. Play it cool, interview them like a pro, and just brag in an off-handed, jaded manner to your buddies afterward. All the bloggers I met here acted every bit the professional as the professional auto racing journalists.

  • Blogging like this and in my day job really teaches a person to write quickly. I wrote 14 posts today, 9 of them during the race.



Who knows whether we'll be back here or not. The other bloggers I spoke with — Michele-Marie Beer, OpenWheelWorld.net, Jeff Iannucci, My Name is IRL, and William Zahren, PressDog.com — were all very careful not to make our hosts regret inviting us. As far as we can tell, they were happy with us, and so we're hoping to be back next year.

And I know if I get the call, I'll be the first one at the gate.

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Unofficial Finish Results to Indianapolis 500


Unofficial finish results to Indianapolis 500



This assumes all the cars pass technical inspection. (That's Helio and his crew doing Indy's version of the Lambeau Leap after winning his 3rd Indianapolis 500.)

Finish..........Driver..........Laps
1..........Helio Castroneves..........200
2..........Dan Wheldon..........200
3..........Danica Patrick..........200
4..........Townsend Bell..........200
5..........Will Power..........200
6..........Scott Dixon..........200
7..........Dario Franchitti..........200
8..........Ed Carpenter..........200
9..........Paul Tracy..........200
10..........Hideki Mutoh..........200
11..........Alex Tagliani.......... 200
12..........Tomas Scheckter.......... 200
13..........Alex Lloyd.......... 200
14..........Scott Sharp.......... 200
15..........Ryan Briscoe.......... 200
16..........AJ Foyt IV.......... 200
17..........Sarah Fisher.......... 200
18..........Mike Conway.......... 200
19..........John Andretti.......... 200
20..........Milka Duno..........199
21..........Vitor Meira..........173
22..........Raphael Matos..........173
23..........Justin Wilson..........160
24..........E.J. Viso..........139
25..........Nelson Philippe..........130
26..........Oriol Servia..........98
27..........Tony Kanaan..........97
28..........Robert Doornbos..........85
29..........Davey Hamilton..........79
30..........Marco Andretti..........56
31..........Graham Rahal..........55
32..........Ryan Hunter-Reay..........19
33..........Mario Moraes..........0


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Vitor Meira, Raphael Matos Make Contact, Crash


Raphael Matos and Vitor "Dances With Fire" Meira have knocked wheels, demonstrating why open wheel racing can be quite dangerous.

The two were driving along the front straightaway, buzzed wheels, and hit the wall in Turn #1. Meira's car was actually scooting along its side, backward, with the bottom of the car scraping the wall.

This looks worse than the other crashes, as the ambulance is on the way, and Matos is not getting out of his car immediately. On the track feed, we can see Matos staggering to the ambulance, so he seems to be okay. Meira is out of the car, and the Delphi Safety Crew has him on the stretcher. He was conscious and complaining of pain.

Meria made an impressive, balls-out move early on when his car caught on fire, after a fueling error. The car caught fire, Will Power's crew put it out, and he drove off.

That's why I'm calling the guy Dances With Fire from now on. I hope it sticks.

And I hope they're both okay.

Update


(I just learned that Meira's fuel guy had some 2nd degree burns on his arms from the fire incident, and also stayed at work.)

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Justin Wilson Hits the Wall at the Indianapolis 500


British racer Justin Wilson hit the wall and knocked himself out. That was a shame, because I've gotten to be a big fan of Dale Coyne Racing, thanks to the friendliness and helpfulness of their PR guy, Michael Micheli.

I'm still a race noobie, not only to the Indianapolis 500, but auto racing in general. So Justin, being my first real Indy 500 interview, had become my race favorite. It's a real disappointment that he didn't do better, but I'm glad he's okay.

Wilson's teammate, Tomas Scheckter, is still in the show, and is currently sitting 15th.


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Update: Robert Doornbos Back in the Indianapolis 500 After Lengthy Garage Visit


UPDATE
Robert Doornbos is back on the track. He has only completed 69 laps, so he is actually behind Davey Hamilton, Tony Kanaan, and Oriol Servia, who is out after completing 98 laps, but no one around here knows why.

Doornbos needs to be commended for getting back on the pit. Most people would give up, saying "what's the point." Doornbos just said, "what's the holdup?!" and got back out. He just passed Hamilton's lap count (79), and he can catch Kanaan's 97, then Servia's 98. He's 37 laps behind the next driver, E.J. Viso.


Alex Lloyd's wife is cool


Alex Lloyd's wife, Samantha, was just interviewed on ABC. Their baby is due today, and she is having contractions 10 minutes apart. She says she's staying here until the end of the race.

Going 200 miles an hour for 500 miles takes guts. Samantha Lloyd just put all of them to shame.

Congratulations, Lloyd family.
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Race Favorite Tony Kanaan Knocks Himself Out of the 500


Indianapolis 500 favorite Tony Kanaan is now out of the race.

We were sitting here in the Media Center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, watching the ABC broadcast, and we got to see the replay from Kanaan's onboard camera. There was a loud pop, he plowed into the wall, and a aghast "OOH!" from the journalists in the room. There was a spray — fuel? brake fluid — on the onboard camera, and Tony's car was on fire.

"Oh my God, I hope he's okay," said Danica Patrick over the radio.

We all watched him walk to the ambulance, so he's at least all right enough to watch the race from the pit.

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Davey Hamilton Out of the Indianapolis 500 after 79 Laps


Davey Hamilton has left his mark on the Indianapolis 500. It's a big black skid mark on the wall coming out of Turn #4.

Dixon had completed 79 laps out of 250, which leaves him in 28th place.

Hamilton was the oldest driver in the field this year, at age 45. Hard to believe that a guy only 3 years older than me is considered the Indy 500 Grandpa.

Said he was a little bit loose. In fact, he has said "a bit loose" at least three times during his brief interview on ABC.


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Teammates Graham Rahal, Robert Doornbos out of the Indianapolis 500


Bad luck for Newman/Haas/Lanigan today. First Robert Doornbos brushes the wall and makes it to the pit, but knocked himself out of the race.

A few laps later, NHL teammate Graham Rahal whacked the wall in Turn #4 and knocked himself out too.


It's been bad luck for Newman/Haas/Lanigan. They've got a long history here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but no wins. They've even had notable drivers like Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira, and Nigel Mansell, but no notable finishes.

Graham told ABC he was trying to avoid Milka Duno, who was moving to let everyone by, but was not slowing down to do so.

In 2008, the youngest driver in the field, Graham Rahal, crashed and finished 33rd. In 2009, the second-youngest driver in the field, #5 Mario Moraes crashed and finished 33rd.
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Ryan Hunter-Reay Out of the Indy 500

Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the wall after completing 5 laps. He made contact in turn #4, skidded across the track, and came to rest right at the entrance of pit row.

He appears to be okay, as he's being interviewed on ABC right now (we get the ABC feed here in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center), and there was nothing that caused the crash. He just dinged the wall, skidded across the lane, and then hit the other wall, placing him in 31st place.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti seems to be getting his car worked on right now, and there's a possibility he could get back into the race, and at least improve his 32nd place standing. He dinged Mario Moraes halfway through lap #1, knocking them both out of the race. (At least that's what Moraes is saying; Andretti is saying he didn't do anything, and ABC said the same.)


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Mario Moraes Out of the Indy 500 On Lap 1


Mario Moraes got knocked out of the race on lap 1. Didn't even complete the first lap, and said he was bumped by Marco Andretti.

Marco said "Kid doesn't get it...he's clueless."

Then things get all "asky."

Outside, the ABC field reporter is walking quickly to keep up with Moraes, asking him what happened.

"What did Marco say?" Moraes asked.

"He said you bumped him. Where are you going?" asked the announcer.

"I'm going to ask him," said Moraes.

Big "ooohs" and cheers from the entire press room, with remembrances of Danica Patrick's stomp down a hot pit row to "ask" Ryan Briscoe about their crash that knocked her out of the race.

Moraes said later, "I know the 26 hit me, OK? I was in front. I was holding my line, and he just hit me. I don't know from where."

When Moraes crashed before completing a lap of the 2009 Indianapolis 500, it marked the third time that a car starting in the seventh position crashed before completing a lap. Tom Sneva (1986) and Scott Brayton (1988) were the other two occurrences.

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How are IndyCar Series Championship Points Figured?

One thing I've never understood about IndyCar Championship Racing are the points. Points are figured based on where you finish in the 17 races for the season.

Here's basically how it works. If you win a race, you get 50 points, 40 for 2nd place, 35 for 3rd, and so on. You get 2 bonus points for most laps led, and 1 bonus point for the pole position.

So if you sat on the pole, led the most laps and you win, you'll get 53 points for the race. And because finishes will vary wildly from race to race, it's (statistically) possible to win the Championship without winning a race.

Here are the points breakdown:

Race Finish Points
1...................50
2...................40
3...................35
4...................32
5...................30
6...................28
7...................26
8...................24
9...................22
10..................20
11..................19
12..................18
13..................17
14..................16
15..................15
16..................14
17..................13
18 - 24.............12
25 - 33.............10




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Tomas Scheckter's Dad, Jody, Launches Laverstoke Park Farm Organic Beers


Jody Scheckter, father of Tomas Scheckter, announced the launch of Laverstoke Park Farm's Organic Ale and Lager, the world's best organic beer started by a Formula 1 World Champion whose son is an IndyCar driver.

Admittedly, it's a small field, but marketing is all about finding your niche. (And I created that one in the hopes of scoring a case of said Ale or Lager.)

The barley and hops are grown at Laverstoke Park, Scheckter Senior's 2,500 acre organic/biodynamic farm in Hampshire England.

"We specialize in biodynamic and organic natural methods," said Jody Scheckter in a written statement. "We work with nature, not against it, but utilise the latest technologies available in science to try and further our understanding." (And you can tell he's in England, because he spelled utilize with an S, not a Z.)

But it looks like I won't be getting those free samples anytime soon.

"(W)e are not quite ready to be exporting yet," said Scheckter. "We are working on all the different U.S. certifications and labeling which we will hopefully have completed in August."

But keep your eyes out for it when you do. Who knows, if we buy enough of it, its success could play a part in son Tomas' racing future.

"If you enjoy the beers, hopefully next year he can be my main sponsor," said Tomas.


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Is This the Next Generation of IndyCar?


Honda has a new concept IndyCar sitting up in the Media Room, as part of the commemoration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Celebration.

This model was developed by the Honda R&D Americas Advance Design Studio in Pasadena, CA. Dave Marek, executive designer with Honda R&D.

A written statement from Honda says this model is ". . .an opportunity for Honda engineers and stylists to contribute their visions for the future of IndyCar racing."

They stress that this is only a design concept, and not necessarily what future IndyCars will look like, but it does fit within the overall length, width, suspension, and driveline layouts.

Regardless, it's a cool looking car. A lot of developments in our own cars come from the technology developed for auto racing, so it's not out of the question that ideas from this car could be making it's way to the 500 in years to come.







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Race Morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Finally Here

"I'm going to leave the house at 5 Sunday morning, so I can get in right when the gates open at 6," said my friend, Ken Severson. "The media center opens at 7, and I'll just sleep in my car for an hour beforehand."

Ken's a former auto racing PR guy and is writing for the Johnson County Daily Journal in Greenwood.

Sound advice from the voice of reason. I leave the house at 5:15, figuring the ride will take 30 minutes, and I'll have a short wait before I can get inside, "short" being the relevant word.

The Jurassic period was only slightly longer, but we had fewer dinosaurs. More drunk people puking and crawling up a hill — dude, seriously? It's 7:15, and you're puking drunk? — but fewer dinosaurs.

The line just sat still for an hour before we finally started moving. I caught up on some podcasts before we started creeping along. Caught up on 3 hours worth of podcasts.

Unfortunately, I forgot my cell phone, so I couldn't find out what was going on, my laptop battery was running low since I didn't recharge last night, and we would occasionally move just enough to keep me from catching a few winks while Ken was tucked safely away in the infield parking, waiting for the media center to open.

I finally got here after 9:00, bump into Margaret from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway PR department, who tells me I should have come in off 25th Street. That's where all the media comes in.

I find my friend Ken, and give him an appropriately hard time.

"You didn't tell me there was a media entrance, you bastard."

"What are you talking about? I just sat out on 16th Street for 3 hours. I just got here 5 minutes ago."

"Oh," I said, deflated. "Apparently there's a media entrance."

"Huh. Oh well, we'll get it next year."

I look around the Media Center, and see a few of my fellow bloggers here. I meet Jeff Ianucci of MyNameIsIRL.com and William Zahren of Pressdog.com.

It's 9:54, and the stands are pretty empty right now, although the infield is filled with tailgaters. People are starting to straggle in, ready to sit through a 3-hour ass-numbing marathon before the race actually begins. The marching bands are doing their thing along the front straightaway, and Purdue University's world's biggest bass drum made an appearance. And I'm right in front of Justin Wilson and Tomas Scheckter's pits. Since I had a chance to actually interview these two (Wilson's interview is here, Scheckter's is here), they're my emotional favorites to win.

It's 3 hours before the flag drops, 6 hours before the traditional milk chug, and I'm going to wander the hospitality tents with Ken. Even though his pre-race directions leave something to be desired, the guy still knows where all the action is.

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Phone It In Sunday: Font Fight! Arial vs. Helvetica

More from those wacky kids at CollegeHumor.com. This is a follow-up to their Font Conference video from last year.




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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Marion, Iowa High School Pulls "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Graduation

This just in: people in Marion, Iowa are overly sensitive to 1970s rock-and-roll.

According to a story in the Des Moines Register, Marion High School principal, Dr. Greg Thomas, removed Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" from their graduation ceremony after townspeople whined that it wasn't appropriate, because it makes references to murder and suicide.

Really? The high school whose mascot is the Indian is worried about a song about murder and suicide? Really. Given the controversy that has raged over the same mascot at other high schools and colleges, I would think a 34-year-old song wouldn't rank very high on the list of Important Things We Need To Be Concerned With.

It also has that line "Beelzebub dada dada dada dah for me, for me, for MEEEEEEEE!," but no one seemed to complain about that.


(UC Men's Octet)

However, the choir will still perform John Lennon's "Imagine," a song about atheism and socialism.

Rock on, Indians.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Quotes from the Firestone Freedom 100

Courtesy of the PR department at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pippa Mann of Panther Racing was doing very well, but had a bit of bad luck when her teammate, Martin Plowman, made contact with her in Turn 1:

"I was just running in a little hole of air. The car was really, really good. I was just cruising around, taking care of my tires. I wasn't racing anybody too hard, minding my own business. My teammate (Martin Plowman) had a slightly less good car and just tried to pinch down going into Turn 1. Unfortunately, he just lost control and spun. I had to avoid him and yet got caught up in his accident. It's a real shame. Nothing to do with me, but I'm the one sitting out. It's a really big shame because we had a great race car."

Martin Plowman wasn't sure how it all happened though.

"On the first few laps, we were just hanging in there," said Plowman. "I dropped a few places at the start. Just as things were starting to balance out and I was starting to get control of the car and I was making up ground, making runs on people. I was loose at the start on my own, especially in traffic. I tried to dial it in, dial it out for a few laps, and it seemed to get to a point where it was reasonable. I think (Mario) Romancini pinched me on the inside down into Turn 4, and he made a run, following me into Turn 1. I’m not quite sure what happened then. Going into (Turn) 1, I got a face full of clean air, and it just snapped around on me. Didn’t give me any warning."

Wade Cunningham was matter-of-fact about his win, and graceful in victory.
"The whole race was to and fro," said Cunningham. "I got to the front early and knew I couldn’t lead all 40 laps, so I fell back because I didn’t want to be leading at the end. I knew I had a fast car, and it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time."

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Summary of Firestone Freedom 100


Summary and results of the Firestone Freedom 100, compliments of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Thanks, guys. Wish I could have been there.

The Firestone Indy Lights series is a developmental driving league for the Indy Car Series. Think Triple A Minor League ball teams for Major League Baseball.

I was personally cheering for England's Pippa Mann (who lives here in Indianapolis). She finished 21st, after making contact seven laps into the race. Hard luck, Pippa. Better luck next time.

Wade Cunningham won, J.R. Hildebrand came in second. You can see the rest of the results here.

FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 RACE RUNNING


Lap 1: GREEN. #11 Cunningham leads the field into Turn 1. #20 Beatriz passes #26 Hildebrand for third in Turn 1. #11 Cunningham leads #27 Saavedra by .2027 of a second.

Lap 2: #20 Beatriz and #26 Hildebrand side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2. #26 Hildebrand goes underneath #20 Beatriz for third in Turn 3. #27 Saavedra passes #11 Cunningham for the lead on the front stretch. #27 Saavedra leads #11 Cunningham by .0538 of a second.

Lap 3: #11 Cunningham passes #27 Saavedra for the lead entering Turn 3. #11 Cunningham leads #27 Saavedra by .2087 of a second.

Lap 4: #26 Hildebrand passes #27 Saavedra for second. #11 Cunningham leads #26 Hildebrand by .0447 of a second. #7 Hinchcliffe to pit lane.

Lap 5: #26 Hildebrand passes #11 Cunningham for the lead in Turn 3. #27 Saavedra passes #11 Cunningham for second on the front stretch. #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .5065 of a second.

Lap 6: #11 Cunningham passes #26 Hildebrand for the lead on the front stretch. #11 Cunningham leads #26 Hildebrand by .0283 of a second.

Lap 7: YELLOW. #15 Plowman does a quarter-spin to the left entering Turn 1 and makes heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier with the rear of the car. The car also clips #16 Mann who brushes the SAFER Barrier with the right side of the car at the exit of Turn 1. #16 Mann has flat right side tires and continues to pit lane. #9 Summerton to pit lane. #15 Plowman climbs from the car without assistance from the Delphi Safety Team. Leaders under caution are: #11 Cunningham, #26 Hildebrand, #27 Saavedra, #20 Beatriz and #37 Howard.

Lap 12: GREEN. #27 Saavedra passes #26 Hildebrand for second in Turn 4. #11 Cunningham leads #27 Saavedra by .6441 of a second at the line.

Lap 13: #27 Saavedra passes #11 Cunningham for the lead on the front stretch. #27 Saavedra leads #11 Cunningham by .0074 of a second.

Lap 14: #11 Cunningham underneath #27 Saavedra for the lead in Turn 3. #11 Cunningham leads #27 Saavedra by .0398 of a second.

Lap 15: #11 Cunningham leads #27 Saavedra by .0396 of a second.

Lap 16: #27 Saavedra and #26 Hildebrand underneath #11 Cunningham for the lead entering Turn 1.

Lap 17: #26 Hildebrand passes #27 Saavedra for the lead entering Turn 1. YELLOW. #20 Beatriz and #44 Yacaman touch wheels in Turn 1. The right front of #20 Beatriz touches the left rear of #44 Yacaman. #20 Beatriz does a quarter-spin to the left and makes heavy contact with the inside wall with the front of the car. #44 Yacaman makes light contact with the SAFER Barrier with the right rear and then does a full spin across the track, coming to rest in Turn 2. #20 Beatriz is assisted from the car by the Delphi Safety Team. #44 Yacaman climbs from the car without assistance from the Delphi Safety Team. Leaders under caution are: #26 Hildebrand, #27 Saavedra, #11 Cunningham, #5 Romancini and #37 Howard.

Lap 24: GREEN. #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .0023 of a second at the line.

Lap 25: #5 Romancini passes #11 Cunningham for third entering Turn 1. #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .1400 of a second.

Lap 26: #11 Cunningham passes #5 Romancini for third. #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .0170 of a second.

Lap 27: YELLOW. Debris on the front stretch. Leaders under caution are: #26 Hildebrand, #27 Saavedra, #11 Cunningham, #5 Romancini and #37 Howard.

Lap 29: GREEN. #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .2825 of a second at the line.

Lap 30: #5 Romancini passes #11 Cunningham and #27 Saavedra for second on the outside entering Turn 1. #26 Hildebrand leads #5 Romancini by .1171 of a second.

Lap 31: YELLOW. The right front of #35 Kimball makes contact with the left rear of #24 Potekhen. #24 Potekhen does a quarter-spin to the right and back to the left and continues to pit lane. #35 Kimball continues to pit lane. Leaders under caution are: #26 Hildebrand, #5 Romancini, #11 Cunningham, #27 Saavedra and #37 Howard.

Lap 34: GREEN. #26 Hildebrand leads #5 Romancini by .1412 of a second.

Lap 35: #11 Cunningham looks inside #5 Romancini for second entering Turn 1 but can't make the pass. #26 Hildebrand leads #5 Romancini by .0665 of a second.

Lap 36: #26 Hildebrand leads #27 Saavedra by .1208 of a second. #11 Cunningham is third. #5 Romancini is fourth.

Lap 37: #26 Hildebrand leads #5 Romancini by .0794 of a second. #11 Cunningham is third. #27 Saavedra is fourth.

Lap 38: #26 Hildebrand leads #11 Cunningham by .0670 of a second. #5 Romancini is third. #27 Saavedra is fourth.

Lap 39: #27 Saavedra white walls in Turn 1. #11 Cunningham underneath #26 Hildebrand for the lead entering Turn 3. WHITE. #11 Cunningham leads #26 Hildebrand by .2115 of a second.

Lap 40: #27 Saavedra brushes the wall exiting Turn 2. CHECKERED. #11 Cunningham wins the Firestone Freedom 100 by .1046 of a second over #26 Hildebrand.

***

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:

  • Wade Cunningham is the first two-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100. He also won the event from the pole in 2006.

  • This is Cunningham's sixth career victory and his first since Watkins Glen 1 in 2007.

  • Cunningham made his fifth start in the Firestone Freedom 100, most of any driver.

  • This is the third Firestone Freedom 100 victory for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The team also won in 2004 with Thiago Medeiros and 2005 with Jaime Camara.

  • The margin of victory of .1046 of a second is the closest in Firestone Freedom 100 history. The previous closest was .1319 of a second in 2005 when Jaime Camara defeated Wade Cunningham. It is the 21st-closest margin of victory in series history.

  • There were nine lead changes, most in race history. The previous high was seven in 2005.

  • Cunningham is the fourth different race winner in five Firestone Indy Lights races this season.

  • J.R. Hildebrand finished second, his best finish of the season. His previous best was third at St. Petersburg 2 and Long Beach.

  • Mario Romancini finished third for the second consecutive race (Kansas).

  • Jay Howard finished a season-best fourth. He has finished fourth and second (2006) in two starts in the Firestone Freedom 100.

  • Sebastian Saavedra finished fifth, his third top-five of the season.


  • ***

    Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #15 Martin Plowman and #44 Gustavo Yacaman have been checked and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. Both are cleared to drive. #20 Ana Beatriz is being treated for a small laceration on her chin and will have X-rays taken of her left elbow and right knee.

    Photo: cmakin - taken at 2008 Indy Lights race in Speedway, IN

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    The Adventures of Vacation Dad

    The Adventures of Vacation Dad

    Erik Deckers
    Laughing Stalk Syndicate
    Copyright 2009

    I took my family on vacation this week for the first time in a long time, and I was struck by a frightening thought: I've turned into Vacation Dad.

    You've seen Vacation Dad. You've probably traveled with him. My own father wasn't Vacation Dad too often. He was generally happy to be on vacation, except when I did stupid stuff like purposely spilling juice on the hood of the car, bugging my little sister in the back seat.

    Vacation Dad loves two things. He loves driving fast, and he loves being angry at other drivers. Vacation Moms (actually all moms) thinks Vacation Dad isn't enjoying himself when he does this.

    "Relax," she says soothingly, as he hollers at yet another jerkwad who's going 10 miles UNDER THE FREAKING SPEED LIMIT! "You just need to relax and enjoy the drive."

    Vacation Mom doesn't realize that he IS enjoying the drive. This is how Vacation Dad unwinds. Half the fun of a vacation is getting there as fast as we can. If we get there sooner, we have more time to enjoy ourselves.

    For Vacation Dad, having a good time sometimes means focusing more on "time" than "good," which gets us the best of both worlds. If we get there faster than everyone else (time), we win (good).

    Getting there fast means leaving early. Leaving for vacation before everyone else leaves. Leaving before rush hour traffic chews up valuable driving time. Leaving — when things are really clicking in place — before the sun peeks over the horizon.

    And this is why Vacation Dad can never, EVER leave soon enough to be truly happy. If we agree to leave at 8:00 a.m., we really wanted to leave at 7:00 a.m. If we agreed to noon, we really wanted to leave at, well, 7:00 a.m. And if you somehow agreed to leave at 7:00 a.m., we were hoping you meant 7:00 the previous night.

    We create a tight Schedule with prime driving times, optimal bathroom breaks, and best arrival time. The Schedule — we capitalize it because it's very important; it's the foundation of the entire trip — is based on highway conditions, maximum allowable speed, and even wind velocity. We plan it down to the very minute, and nothing can make us change The Schedule.

    Except for Vacation Moms and Vacation Kids.

    They have found many ways to ruin The Schedule, the worst of which is Failure to Depart On Time (F-DOT). This drives Vacation Dads nuts.

    F-DOT happens because things aren't packed, the kids still haven't gone to the bathroom, and the dog still isn't at the kennel 20 minutes before scheduled departure time.

    Veteran Vacation Dads plan for this, and set Zero Hour two hours earlier than he really wants to leave. Did Vacation Dad tell you he wanted to leave at 5:00 a.m.? He really wants to leave at 7:00. He just told you 5:00, because he knows you don't respect The Schedule.

    Unplanned Breaks (UBs) and Too-Long Breaks (TLBs) are other Schedule killers. UBs happen because one or more family members didn't visit the bathroom on that last stop, throwing everyone's bladder out of sync.

    (Why is it that Vacation Dads are the only ones who understand the importance of synchronizing bladders? We can't stick to The Schedule if you don't all go to the bathroom when we stop.)

    TLBs happen when the caravan makes an unauthorized stop (because someone "didn't have to go" at the last stop, 15 minutes ago) and it turns out to be someplace mildly interesting. The family will ooh and aah over the variety of tchotchkes and general crap, and spend more than the generous seven-and-a-half minutes Vacation Dad has planned for just this contingency.

    By now, some wives are convinced that I'm just making this up. They swear up and down their husband is nothing like this.

    "My husband is calm, relaxed, and would never freak out on a vacation about some silly schedule," they say.

    First, let me say congratulations on your first year of marriage. You have a lot to learn about husbands.

    To the ones who recognized their own husbands, please be patient with us. This behavior has been bred into us ever since the first Vacation Dad hollered, "I swear, if you don't shut up back there, I'm turning this mammoth around, and we're going back to the cave."

    If you really want to make our vacation enjoyable, just respect The Schedule. And help us tell the other drivers why they shouldn't be on the road.



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    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    British Town Hall Puts Safety Over Patriotism, Won't Fly Flag


    My friend, Lorraine Ball, asked me recently why I had a spate of articles making fun of the British nanny state (like this one, this one, and this one. And this one too.)

    "They just make it so easy," I said.

    And they're doing it again.

    A Bourne, England city council said they are no longer going to fly the British flag — the Union Jack — over their town hall, because they are concerned about the safety of the 8-foot-ladder they're using to raise the flag. (Oh, and I did one on British firefighters and ladders.)

    According to a story from United Press International, the South Kesteven District Council will no longer fly the flag on special flag-flying days, like Armed Forces Day or the Queen's birthday.

    Brian Fines, a council member and former lieutenant colonel said the decision is an insult to all veterans and members of the military.

    (I also did a British police post with this one.)

    "What a sad and sick society we're becoming," Fines told the Daily Sun. "This despotic government's health and safety laws have prevented the council flying a flag from the building that's the hub of our town. We're told they're not allowed to use a ladder to access the mast, which is ridiculous. It's annoying and upsetting a lot of people."


    Photo: a.drian

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    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Aussie Train Station Has Wheelchair-Accessible Phone at top of Stairs

    The Macdonaldtown train station in Sydney, Australia is proud of the wheelchair-accessible phone and ramps for wheelchair users to get on and off the trains. They even boast about it on their website.

    The problem is the phone and the ramps are at the top of a set of stairs, and no way for wheelchair-using passengers to access either of them. No ramp, no elevator, not even a couple of brawny men to carry the passengers.

    A RailCorp spokesman told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that the phone was installed as part of the Disability Discrimination Act.
    Never mind that in order for a wheelchair user to use that phone, they have to take the train to the station, get off, make the call, and then hop back on.

    "Recent developments would indicate that the NSW Government has no overall plan to provide accessible public transport," Spinal Cord Injury Australia president David Brice told the Daily Telegraph.

    Expect RailCorp to host a telephone conference call to the Australian Society of Deaf Journalists to explain the problem.


    Photo: Puddles
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    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Woman May Lose License Over 25 Year Old Ticket

    Connie Van Houter of Colonie, NY is about to lose her driver's license because she ran a red light.

    Twenty-five years ago.

    According to a story in the Albany (New York) Times-Union, Van Houter received a notice that her license would be suspended for failing to show up for a court date back in 1984, over a ticket she received in February 27 of that year.

    "I'm retired, been retired for five years," she told the Times-Union. "I've had a heart attack and three strokes. I'm supposed to remember a ticket?"

    Van Houter will plead not guilty.

    Apparently staff at the Colonie Town Court have been going through old files and sending open cases to the state DMV. . . Van Houter's old employer.

    Ken Brown, a spokesman for the state DMV, said there is no statute of limitations for failing to show up for court.

    "If we're notified by a jurisdiction that they have an outstanding summons, we put it on the record," Brown said. Brown said that it's "pretty uncommon" to suspend licenses for 25-year-old offenses.

    But Colonie Town Attorney Michael Maggiuli said he has never heard of a case like this. He believes a driver cannot be cited if two years have gone by, even for failing to appear in court.

    If I were Van Houter, I would ask for the original photo and ticket for evidence. And when they can't produce it, there's no proof, therefore no crime.

    And if she doesn't win, she said she would be happy to pay the fine.

    Her check will probably clear in 2034.

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    Monday, May 18, 2009

    FDA Calls Cheerios a Drug. Same FDA That Allowed Death-Causing Pharmaceuticals on the Market

    From the "Unclear on the Concept" file:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now classifying Cheerios —— those little round O's made of oats that have been around since 1941 —— as a drug, and sent a letter to General Mills saying as much.

    They even put the letter on their website: "Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug."

    Uhh, do you realize that this is a breakfast cereal made out of oats and modified corn starch? People eat it with milk, as a part of a balanced breakfast. My kids used to eat them by the fistful when they were babies.

    Keep in mind this is the same FDA that has allowed a number of big pharma drugs onto the market, only to recall them because "painful, needless death" was a common side effect for some of them. The same FDA that Congress wants to investigate their medical device review process, because they have "corrupted and interfered with the scientific review of medical devices."

    So does this mean that General Mills have been poisoning the entire world for the last 68 years, or is the FDA doing their usual bang-up job?

    The FDA's biggest complaint, not including the one that no one takes them seriously anymore, is that General Mills claims that Cheerios can help lower bad cholesterol.

    According to an article on Canada.com, the FDA says these claimes show that Cheerios are ". . .intended to be used to lower cholesterol and prevent, lessen or treat the disease hypercholesterolemia, and to treat and prevent coronary heart disease."

    Which means the FDA assumes the product is a drug. Which means General Mills cannot market Cheerios as they are, unless they apply for approval for a new drug, or changes the way it labels it.

    Look for the FDA to begin regulating exercise tapes and programs, gym memberships, and for the Drug Enforcement Agency to begin cracking down on Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops. Cap'n Crunch will be taken into custody, and the Trix Rabbit will be gunned down in a drive-by, with no clue to the shooter, other than a handful or orange stars, green clovers, and blue diamonds.


    Photo: Culpfiction
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    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Preview of Sunday's Bump Day Qualifications

    Here are the 5 fastest times of Sunday's Bump Day practice session.

    Pos. Car Name Time Speed

    1. 23........Milka Duno........40.6163........221.586
    2. 13........E.J. Viso.........40.7508........220.855
    3. 00........Nelson Philippe...40.7804........220.694
    4. 36........Bruno Junqueira...40.8769........220.173
    5. 91........Buddy Lazier......40.9526........219.766

    Rookie Stanton Barrett, Buddy Lazier, and Bruno Junqueria are all looking to get in the show. Andretti, Duno, and Philippe are practicing, because they know they'll have to take a crack at qualifying again. And if I were Mike Conway, EJ Viso, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, I would keep the keys in the ignition, just in case.

    All in all, three people will be watching the race from the stands next week. I expect Junqueira to be one of them, since he was just named the Conquest Racing driver this weekend, which means he's missed 2 weeks of all-important practice, and they haven't had a great chance to shake down the car to his liking.


    Here's how Bump Day qualifying works:


    Bump Day Qualifying consists of one warm-up lap followed by a four-lap qualifying attempt. Any qualifying attempt that is faster than a qualified entrant in the 33 positions in the starting field will bump the slowest qualifier from the field, regardless of the day of qualification. The "bumped" entrant will be removed from the field of 33, and the remaining field will move ahead one position in the starting field as the newly qualified entrant will take the 33rd position, or a higher position if faster than the other fourth day qualifiers.

  • Each car is allowed three attempts per day. An attempt is considered by taking the green flag after the warm-up lap.


  • A designated team representative must be at the north end of pit lane to show a green flag the second time by for the driver to receive a green flag from the starter. If the representative does not show a flag or displays a yellow flag, it will not be considered a qualifying attempt.


  • An attempt can be waved off by the representative displaying a yellow flag or by the car returning to pit lane.


  • Cars that complete qualifying attempts before 4:45 p.m. may go to either voluntary or mandatory impound. Cars that go to voluntary impound at Pit 17 forego the mandatory impound and post-qualifying photo. Teams may get the car back only if it is bumped, withdrawn or goes to mandatory impound.


  • Cars that complete qualifying attempts after 4:45 p.m must go to mandatory impound. The only way teams may get the car back is if is bumped or withdrawn.


  • If a yellow flag comes out during a qualifying run, the car on track will go back to the front of the qualifying line. Teams may put on new tires but are not permitted to make any other adjustments.


  • A car that leaves pit lane before the gun sounds at 6 p.m. will be permitted to finish its qualifying attempt.


  • At noon, the ambient temperature was 67 degrees with a relative humidity of 32 percent and winds from the north-northeast at 14 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Skies were partly cloudy. The track temperature was 87 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.


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    Phone It In Sunday: I Go To 11 Too

    If you've never understood where the phrase, "These go to 11" comes from, now you do.



    If you want to see the entire movie, I highly recommend that you run out and rent/buy/borrow This is Spinal Tap. Possibly one of the funniest movies of all time. (The beauty part of it is that when the movie first came out, a lot of people didn't realize it was fake, so they went to the record stores, looking for Spinal Tap albums.)


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    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    Two National Park Employees Caught Peeing In Old Faithful


    From the "Think Before You Speak, Chuckie" files:

    Found this story on the WMAR/ABC2 (Baltimore) website. While the story is pretty funny, the final line in the news report was priceless.

    It seems two Yellowstone National Park employees figured that if the Old Faithful geyser was going to pee on the park, they'd get their revenge by peeing on Old Faithful. A webcam caught them doing it.

    One employee was fined and banned from the park for two years (which will make doing his job rather difficult), but there has been no decision about what will happen to the other man. (Same crime, same penalty, I would hope.)

    According to Wikipedia:

    (Old Faithful) eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 U.S. gallons (14–32.000 litre) of boiling water to a height of 106–185 feet (30–56 m) lasting from 1.5 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet (44 m).

    But it was ABC2's last line that made the article so funny, and not for the reasons they thought.

    Luckily for both of them, the geyser was not erupting at the time.

    Think these things through before you actually write them down.

    Photo: CircumcerroStock
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    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Other Bloggers Here at the Indianapolis 500

    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway made a bold move this year in allowing bloggers to attend the race as official media. We're allowed in the media center and the garage. We can meet with drivers, sponsors, race officials, etc. And there are several of us. I can't thank Tim Sullivan, a member of the PR staff, and the rest of the folks at the Speedway for giving us this chance.

    If you don't count the podcast/Internet radio shows like Larry Henry's Pit Pass USA (Larry used to work for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network) or Don Kay at AutoSportRadio.com — and you'd be making a big mistake to overlook them — there are eight of us bloggers here.

    We're all sitting on Row 3, and I'm on the outside, closest to the window. If the media center were the starting lineup for the race, I would be Tony Kanaan. (This photo is a view from my seat. I can actually see the flag stand at the finish line.)



    Here are the other 7 bloggers here at the track this month. Be sure to check them out.

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    30 Seconds with Ryan Hunter-Reay at the Indianapolis 500


    I was wandering around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage this morning, caught up with Ryan Hunter-Reay this morning, who drives the #21 for Vision Racing. They've been focused on getting every ounce of speed out of the cars that they can.

    "We're just trying to find answers to getting the cars to match in speed," said Hunter-Reay.

    The guy's been absolutely focused on getting ready for the race, so much so that he doesn't even leave the Speedway.

    "I just hang out in the motor home, do some bicycling," said Hunter-Reay. "I haven't had much time off."

    Huter-Reay is spending his free time with his fiancée, who he said loves racing. If only I could get my wife to love my job as much as I do. Of course, there's not as much excitement in watching one's spouse write all day long.


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    Thomas Scheckter is Ready to Roll for His First Day of Practice


    At 9:30 this morning, Thomas Scheckter's care didn't look like a car. It didn't look like much of anything.

    In my earlier post when I said Scheckter was joining Justin Wilson at Dale Coyne Racing, I mentioned that his crew would have the car up and running in a few hours.

    I passed by the garage less than 2 hours later, and it was gone, heading out to the track for a practice run. What'd I tell you about his guys being pros. I can't even get my oil changed in 30 minutes, and these guys got an entire freaking race car ready for the track in just a couple hours.

    Now that's impressive.

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    Indy 500 Update: Tomas Scheckter to Join Justin Wilson at Dale Coyne Racing


    Dale Coyne Racing just announced that South African driver Tomas Scheckter will drive the #19 car, with new teammate Justin Wilson.

    I had a chance to visit the Dale Coyne garage and catch a few minutes with Scheckter.

    "I'm just excited to be on the team," he said. "Today, I'm getting comfortable in the car, trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible."

    The team's focus today is just getting Scheckter in the show, and then worry about race day later. That's the way it is in Indy Car, just a series of small steps: get up to speed, get in the field, and then race.

    "We're still just getting the car together," said Scheckter, referring to the #19 Monavie car he'll be driving. While I was there, there were at least eight guys swarming around the chassis like horny bees on a drunk flower. Given the condition of the car, you would think there wouldn't be any way this thing is going to be ready to go in three days, but these guys are pros. They'll have it done in a couple hours.

    Scheckter joined the Indy Racing League in 2002, driving for Eddie Cheever's Red Bull Cheever Racing, racking up some big wins and accomplishments.
    • Winner of the Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, 2005

    • Winner of the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, 2002

    • Winner of the MBNA Pole Award at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Nashville Super Speedway, 2005

    • Winner of the MBNA Pole Award at Kansas Motor Speedway, 2002

    • Winner of the MBNA Pole Award at Michigan International Speedway, 2002, 2003

    • Winner of the MBNA Pole Award at Texas Motor Speedway, 2002, 2003, 2005

    • Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the year, 2002
    *Source: TomasScheckter.com

    Before he joined the Indy Racing League, Scheckter won the Formula Opel Euroseries championship in 1999, with eight victories and eight poles. He then drove in the Formula 3 Series in 2000, and was runner-up in the British Formula 3 Championship with two wins and two poles.

    You can follow Scheckter at Twitter.com/tomasscheckter.
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    Friday Morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway


    Morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is so quiet, it belies the massive assaults on your eardrums that will start up in about three hours.

    My friend, Theresia Whitfield, a rabid NASCAR fan and journalist, warned me via Twitter to take hearing protection.

    "Is it that bad?" I asked.

    "I have hearing loss in my left ear because of it."

    She wasn't kidding. The cars are extremely loud out here. But apparently they were much louder last year.

    "How can you be sure it's not you?" I asked the woman who told me. "Has everything seemed quieter since last year?"

    "No," she said, "they have a new muffler system on the cars which have cut the decibels."

    It's still pretty damn loud. When you're standing outside, you can hear a single car on a qualifying run the entire way around the track. The cars are so loud, when they're coming down the straightaway, the Doppler effect lasts until the following Tuesday.

    Luckily I'm either in the media center, which is sound shielded against the worst of the noise (you can actually have a normal conversation here), or in the garage area, which is still loud enough you have to speak loudly to be heard. Either that, or most of the people I talk to have been out here too long without hearing protection.

    I'm at the Speedway on Friday, practice day, the day before round 3 of qualifications. This is the quietest I've ever heard the place. No crowd noises, no track announcer, and no cars. My ears are already aching in anticipation.


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