The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crazy Daytona 500

Oh I've seen fire and I've seen rain.

After being delayed 29 Hours and 45 minutes because of rain the 2012 Daytona 500 finally got underway a little after 6pm Monday. Almost immediately the crashes began with Jimmie Johnson, Trevor Bayne and Danica Patrick among those taking significant damage during a multi-car wreck on Lap 2. Patrick would return 56 laps down and finish the race. Johnson did not.

Jeff Gordon blew his engine bringing out another caution and with 40 laps remaining Juan Pablo Montoya was hurrying to catch up to the back of the pack following the pace car when something broke on his car sending him spinning into a jet powered track blower. The blower and truck pulling it burst into flames. The jet turbine dryer carries around 200 gallons of jet fuel and the truck around 50 gallons of diesel. On track firefighters were not outfitted to battle a fuel fire of that size and intensity. It took several minutes to contain the fire and now damage to the racing surface is a huge concern.

Updates to come.

Update 1: 9:23pm The safety truck and dryer were removed from the track with 2 "Gradall" forklifts, but the dryer trailer scraped the asphault badly. That is not an area where you want a dip in the road. Safety crews have told drivers to get out of their cars. This will be a lengthy red flag.

JPM was treated and released from the Infield Care Center. The driver of the safety truck was flown to Halifax Medical Center.

Update 2: 9:57pm NASCAR says race will resume in about 30 minutes. Tide laundry detergent being used to clean the fuel off the track.

Driver of the safety truck Dwayne Barnes is under observation at Halifax Medical Center.

During the Red Flag there was another explosion. This time it was on Twitter. Brad Keselowski becomes the first driver in NASCAR history to Tweet pics during a race. Drivers huddled around Keselowski who had carried his phone with him in his pocket. It soon became evident just how fast social media works. He started the race with 65,000 followers and picked up over 100,000 new followers in one hour! His total peaked at over 200,000!

  Well, now Daytona has Juan less jet dryer...”

Update 3: 11:09pm Green Flag!

Update 4: 11:56pm Congratulations to Matt Kenseth, 2012 Daytona 500 winner!

Race recap courtesy of SportsCenter:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm Batman!

Uh, not so much. Who would have thought jumping off a cliff would be a bad idea?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Politics Invades Politician's Bedroom

This is what I get for using "Bow chica wow wow" already this week. I should have kept that one in the bag, because as Mr. Albo so eloquently demonstrates you keep the good stuff for just the right moment.
It's all about timing.

Sir Isaac Newton Wins Again

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Updated: Welcome To NASCAR, Danica Patrick.

Danica Patrick was doing a great job until the last lap of Race #1 at the Duel at Daytona when Jamie McMurray got into Aric Almirola who in turn shoved Danica to the inside wall at 193mph. It was a massive hit, but thanks to the SAFER barrier and other safety measures she walked away without a scratch.

She will start 29th.

Tony Stewart won Race #1 and Matt Kenseth won Race #2.

UPDATE: Talk about the Comeback Kid! 24 hours after the lowest point in her NASCAR career, Danica Patrick turned a fast lap of 49.250 seconds, averaging 182.741 mph to win the Pole for Saturday's Nationwide race. She's only the 2nd woman in history to win a Pole in a major NASCAR series since Shawna Robinson at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March, 10 1994.

She just added quite a bit of cred to her resume.

Here's the starting order for Sunday's Daytona 500:

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Greg Biffle
  3. Tony Stewart
  4. Matt Kenseth
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  6. Regan Smith
  7. Marcos Ambrose
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Jeff Burton
  10. Elliott Sadler
  11. Michael McDowell
  12. Joey Logano
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Kyle Busch
  15. AJ Allmendinger
  16. Jeff Gordon
  17. Robby Gordon
  18. Ryan Newman
  19. Jamie McMurray
  20. Kasey Kahne
  21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  22. Mark Martin
  23. Brad Keselowski
  24. Dave Blaney
  25. David Ragan
  26. Martin Truex Jr.
  27. Aric Almirola
  28. Kurt Busch
  29. Danica Patrick
  30. Clint Bowyer
  31. Denny Hamlin
  32. Bobby Labonte
  33. David Gilliland
  34. Joe Nemechek
  35. Juan Pablo Montoya
  36. Casey Mears
  37. Paul Menard
  38. David Reutimann
  39. Landon Cassill
  40. Trevor Bayne
  41. David Stremme
  42. Tony Raines
  43. Terry Labonte

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It was worth it

Several months ago I won a Surf City Garage car care kit during a call-in contest on SpeedFreaks. It's show quality wax and cleaners. I spent the last 3 days cleaning and waxing my SLK 280 just to pass the time and enjoy the sunny afternoons. I wound up putting 3 layers of wax and detailing on the Mercedes.

Tonight I got a craving for some vodka martini's but I was all out of olives, so I made a quick trip to Brookshire's. I pulled up, got out of the car and before I could shut the door a really good looking blonde about 20 years too young for me walked up and said "I really like your car".

I should have invited her to join me for a ride, but the conscience battle scene from Animal House was running thru my head. Instead I just said "Thanks" and walked away.

Needless to say, I should have listened to the guy in red. Instead, I'm drinking a couple extra martini's than I originally planned.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Well Done, Young Jedi Warrior!

From an internet forum I frequent. The kid kept his shit together when it mattered.:

I was flying to Houston to meet a friend in a rented Cessna 210 when the cockpit started filling up with smoke. I opened up all the windows and vents to get the smoke out, and then I declared an emergency and went to San Marcos (the closest airport).

 I lined up to land with the runway and tried to bring the gear down, but the gear wouldn't come down. I started pumping on the hand pump to get the gear down (which I realized was hot) and managed to get the gear down and land safety. All the firetrucks and stuff met me and I was happy to be on the ground.

I didn't realize until all the adrenaline wore off that I burned my hand trying to get the gear down because the handle was so hot. Turns out a hydraulic line busted and there was hydraulic fluid all over the place (cause of the smoke and why I couldnt get the gear down).

Really puts things into perspective when something like this happens, though. My hands are still shaking and my eyes still sting a little bit from the smoke. I had a few angels watching me tonight. 

I took a handful out of my luck bag and put it in my experience bag tonight, that is for sure .

Amazing story. You can see the streaks of hydraulic fluid down the side of the Cessna 210.
Here's a link of the condensed ATC audio for you aviation geeks.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bow chicka wow wow!

NASCAR returned with a vengeance Saturday night with the Bud Shootout. I love money races. They put it all on the line in a dash for the cash. "Checkers or Wreckers". Tonight was no exception.

While the drivers struggled with a new unstable setup on the cars, fans were treated to some exciting racing. Pack racing returned just like NASCAR wanted, but it didn't take long to find out just how unstable their new rules package was.

A slight tap to the left rear is all it takes to put somebody in the wall. Paul Menard was the first to find this out via David Ragan.

It was a lesson learned by Jeff Gordon. We'll get back to that...

The story of the night was the Kyle Busch Show. He put on the most unbelievable demonstration of driving ability I've ever seen. Not once, not twice, but 3 times he was sideways at over 195 mph and got the car back under control. He's a brat, he's arrogant, he's an attention hound. But the kid can drive a race car like nobody's business.

Love him or hate him, you have to respect Kyle Busch on the track, as Jeff Gordon would soon learn the hard way.

With 2 laps remaining Gordon tried to punt Kyle out of the way by hitting him hard in the left rear going into Turn 3. Kyle got sideways like Gordon wanted, but as El Punto Gordo tried to go around the sliding Busch he became tangled with the pack and triggered a huge wreck that would take him and most of the remaining contenders out of the race. Gordon slid sideways on the driver's side for over 1000 ft before tumbling to a stop upside down.
Karma, ain't it a Bitch? 

Kyle? He somehow, once again, got his car under control and escaped the wreck without any major damage. One of only 3 remaining cars that had not been damaged in the race.

It was down to a Green/White/Checker finish with Kyle Busch pushing Tony Stewart as they exited Turn 4 on the final lap. With less than 100 feet to go, Busch pulled out from behind Stewart with the legendary slingshot move and beat the defending Sprint Cup Champion to the finish line by 1/100th of a second.

What. A. Race.

Like I said... All he does is WIN!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

The wait is almost over. NASCAR returns to the track this weekend with the Bud Shootout at Daytona, a non-points exhibition warm-up for the Daytona 500. The drawing party is tonight on SPEED, if you're NASCAR starved. For the full dish on this weekend's NASCAR TV content, check out The Daly Planet.

Here's the 2012 Bud Shootout Entry List:

AJ Allmendinger
Marcos Ambrose
Greg Biffle
Clint Bowyer
Jeff Burton
Kurt Busch
Kyle Busch
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Carl Edwards
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Kevin Harvick
Jimmie Johnson
Kasey Kahne
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
Joey Logano
Jamie McMurray
Paul Menard
Juan Pablo Montoya
Ryan Newman
David Ragan
Tony Stewart
Martin Truex Jr.
Michael Waltrip

Honestly, this is anybody's race. It's non-points and there's nothing to lose except pride and money, just like the All Star Race in Charlotte. Here's my prediction of the Top 5 cars to watch, in no particular order:

Jimmie Johnson - Always a threat. He didn't win 5 championships by sheer luck.

Kurt Busch - He's landed a sweet ride with Phoenix Racing and has developmental equipment from Hendrick Racing. He posted smoking fast times during testing last month. He's also got something to prove to himself and his critics. Now's a great time to do it.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr - Jr. Nation fans might just get something to cheer about Saturday night. Unquestionably one of the best restrictor plate drivers in NASCAR, Jr. has a way of winning non-points races and he's due.

Tony Stewart - Smoke was on a hot streak to win The Chase. He has a history of hot streaks. Let's see if this one continues with a new Crew Chief.

Kyle Busch - All he does is win (when he's not screwing up). Honestly, nobody races harder than Kyle Busch. Sometimes, his ego writes checks his driving can't cash, but not often. Love him or hate him, ya gotta respect him on the track.

UPDATE: 3 of my Top 5 wrecked during practice. Kurt Busch got turned around by Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch got collected in the resulting "Big One".

Jimmie Johnson's Daytona 500 car failed Tech Inspection and NASCAR seized illegal body parts. The car is being rebuilt at the track, but expect a heavy fine for the 48 team.

Truman Sparks Lives!!!

The aren't releasing the name of the pilot, but it HAS to be Truman...

F-16 fighters intercept private plane carrying marijuana after it got too close to the helicopter taking the president from Orange County to LAX.

A small private plane carrying a load of marijuana strayed into President Obama's no-fly zone over Los Angeles on Thursday and was forced to land at Long Beach Airport after being intercepted by U.S. Air Force jet fighters, authorities said.

The four-seat Cessna entered the restricted airspace about 11 a.m. as the president was flying from Orange County to Los Angeles aboard Marine One, a military helicopter provided for his use. Federal officials said the aircraft was never close enough to endanger Obama.

Air traffic controllers tried repeatedly to contact the single-engine Cessna, authorities said, but the pilot did not respond. The plane was quickly intercepted by two F-16 fighters from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, they said.

After the Cessna touched down, federal agents and Long Beach police detained the pilot for questioning and found what law enforcement officials described as a large amount of marijuana on board the aircraft.

The pilot was taken into custody by Long Beach police, but his identity and other details were not released because of the continuing drug investigation.

Aircraft are typically prohibited from flying within 10 miles of any plane or helicopter carrying the president.

Brian Leary, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, which provides protection for the president, said the plane violated temporary restrictions that had been imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration for Obama's visit.

Pilots who violate airspace restricted for security reasons can face revocation of their flying certificates, FAA officials said. If illegal drugs are found onboard, the aircraft can be confiscated by law enforcement agencies.

After his morning fundraisers, Obama departed from Los Angeles International Airport about 2:45 p.m. and flew to San Francisco, White House officials said. They declined to comment on the airspace violation.

It was not clear who was piloting the Cessna, which according to federal records was manufactured in 1961. The plane's FAA registration lists the owner as David W. Major, 52, of Grover Beach, a town south of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

Major holds a student pilot certificate issued in 2008, according to the FAA. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Because regular Tazer Ball is just dull...

He's No Dancin' Fool...

According to his handlers, he's got no rhythm...

A spokeswoman for Herman Cain confirmed this morning that the former GOP presidential candidate was approached by ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to appear on this season’s competition
But Cain nixed the idea. “He can’t dance in an eight-count. He can only dance in a nine-count,” said Lisa Reichert, Cain’s executive assistant.
Nine-count. Get it? 9-9-9.
“Dancing with the Stars” has learned the advantages of mixing the quick-step with politics. Its 2010 season featured Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, and former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
But wait, there’s more. USA Today reports that show producers were also eyeing Michele Bachmann.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cloud Tsunami Strikes Florida

South 40 TV On Location: The Belize Files

A quick synopsis of my vacation in Maya Beach, Belize on the Placencia peninsula.

OK, Anthony Bourdain I ain't. But, I thought the pics turned out well. I should have taken a couple thousand more while I was there...

My first attempt at movie making using Picasa. The audio went fubar when I uploaded. I've tried to get that fixed without success. But for now you can mute the sound and enjoy the pics.

I spared you the 2 days of sunburned legs pics.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I've Got A Great Idea

I'm going to document the Canada to Gulf Highway. That's US 287 to the uninformed. We really take the road for granted around here as a way to get from Decatur to Fort Worth, but it is so much more than that. It's the northwest trail.

I've driven most of the portions of it at some point in time over the years, but never end to end. The highway runs 5 miles from the Sabine River in Port Arthur, Texas to 100 miles South of the Canadian border in Choteau, Montana. 1,791 miles of the most diverse and beautiful landscape and people you could ever imagine.

Maybe I could do a travelogue column for The Blog Deity's new online paper?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good Eats: Toscana

I ate dinner last night with a friend at a little out of the way place in Benbrook. I did some online research and picked Toscana Italian Restaurant on 377, hidden in the Brookshire's shopping center. You really have to hunt this place down, but it's worth the effort. Luckily, it was just a few blocks from where I had to be.

We arrived around 7pm and the dining room only had 2 other tables filled. The table next to us were obvious friends of the owners. You couldn't help but overhear the conversation between the table and staff. Not that that was a problem.

The waitstaff was attentive without being pushy, altho it was quickly apparent that English was not their 1st language. With my hearing loss, it was even worse. My date ordered the Chicken Picatta with pasta and I ordered the Chicken Toscana, a house specialty with white wine and cheese sauce served with penne pasta. It was excellent!

Our total bill was under $30. You'd easily pay twice as much for a similar dinner at a more well known chain Italian "Garden" restaurant and it would be 1/2 as good.

The dining room has seen better days and really needs an overhaul, but the quaint atmosphere, quality food and reasonable prices more than make up for it. If you're looking for a great dinner at an out of the way location with a more than reasonable price tag, give Toscana in Benbrook a shot. You won't be sorry.

Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen.

Oh Hell YEAH!!

This guy reminds me of my Dad. There is no question about getting his point across.

After seeing the poverty some kids have to endure, this just hit the nail on the head for me. Send her to Central America for 6 months and let her see what some kids have to struggle against just to get to school, nevermind the chores they have to do every single day just to survive.

X-Box? Laptop? Try X-Bucket. That's 2 - 5 gallon buckets with fresh water you have to tote 3/4 of a mile everyday.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On The Radar: Encore Westerns

If you're a fan of old TV westerns like I am you need to get Encore Westerns (part of the Starz package). Besides tons of classic western movies they have a great afternoon lineup featuring classic TV shows like Have Gun, Will Travel , Lawman, Wagon Train, Rawhide and one of my personal favorites... Laredo.

I loved Laredo when I was a kid. Channel 11 broadcast reruns every Saturday night after country music shows and before wrestling. It was a lighthearted western with a great cast featuring Neville Brand. In real life Neville was a WWII vet with a serious drinking problem (and possibly overblown service record) that eventually sunk the series. But on screen he was the gruff, cantankerous Texas Ranger with a heart of gold backed by sidekicks/co-stars Peter Brown and William Smith.

For you soap fans, you will notice Philip Carey (One Life To Live's Asa Buchanan) as Capt. Parmalee. Everytime I saw him on OLTL, all I could see was Capt. Parmalee....

Catch this while you can. Laredo only lasted 3 seasons in the mid 60's on NBC (due to Brand's alcohol problems), but it was 3 fantastic seasons. The popularity was so high that there was a theatrical release (a/k/a Drive-In Movie) titled "Three Guns For Texas" comprised of cutting several episodes together. Laredo will never knock Gunsmoke or The Wild Bunch off the pedestal, but it's definitely entertaining, family friendly and finding it on air is rare.

Do yourself a favor and set the DVR for Laredo, part of Encore Westerns afternoon lineup.

On The Radar: Decision Before Dawn

One of my favorite WWII movies is on Turner Classic Movies tonight as part of their 31 Days of Oscar. Decision Before Dawn features Richard Basehart as an American officer in charge of a group of German prisoner counter spies. It follows one spy in particular on a vital behind the lines mission. GREAT film! It's in my Top 5 all-time war movies.

7pm tonight on TCM. Uncut and commercial free.

A Third World Problem

Chupacabra got me to thinking about the little village I visited in Belize. 
I can only imagine the poverty he's seen.
 We are fat and lazy Americans. We have First World Problems.

Speed bump indeed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

And You Thought Fiji Water Was Expensive

MOSCOW — A Russian team has succeeded in drilling through four kilometres (2.5 miles) of ice to the surface of a mythical subglacial Antarctic lake which could hold as yet unknown life forms, reports said Monday.
Lake Vostok is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica and scientists want to study its eco-system which has been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years under the ice in the hope of finding previously unknown microbiological life forms.
"Our scientists completed drilling at a depth of 3,768 metres and reached the surface of the subglacial lake," an unnamed source told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
Sergei Lesenkov, spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute, told AFP in Moscow that there was the possibility of a "fundamental scientific development".
Lesenkov said that analysis of the composition of gas bubbles discovered in the ice above the lake could help climate change research.
"Because the lower layer was formed 400,000 years ago, from the composition of the gas it is possible to judge the gas composition in the atmosphere 400,000 years ago and during the time that has passed since the formation of the lake," he said.
Exploring environments such as Lake Vostok would allow scientists to discover what life forms can exist in the most extreme conditions and thus whether life could exist on some other bodies in the solar system.

The Russian researchers intend to start drilling again and obtain water samples from the lake for analysis in December after a ten-month break due to harsh weather conditions.
The hidden lakes of the Antarctic are seen as one of the final frontiers in exploring the Earth and several teams from other nations are also engaged in similar projects.
There is still controversy over the methods used by Russia, with Western scientists expressing concern that the kerosene that has been used to prevent freezing ice from closing the borehole risks contaminating samples.
Siegert will lead a mission next year to drill into another subglacial lake in west Antarctica called Lake Ellsworth, using a different technique called hot-water drilling.

In related news, Ozarka is still using the pristine Fort Worth municipal water supply.

Did You See Will Ferrell's Super Bowl Commercial?

You must not have been watching in North Platte, Nebraska.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bud Lightspeed

My Name is Earl

Aaaaand karma turns around and kicks me in the nuts...

Friday, February 3, 2012

People Called Me Crazy

When I started telling people about ammonia in their hamburgers, they looked at me like I was saying the moon was made of cheese. I'm not much on conspiracy theories, especially when I've seen it with my own eyes. It's basically potted meat mixed with ammonia and blended into hamburger to stretch the profits. But some people just don't want to know the truth...

Ammoniated Beef Whistleblower Vindicated by Fast-Food Industry's Move
by Food Integrity Campaign on January 10, 2012
Decision by McDonald's, Burger King & Taco Bell May Prompt Others to Follow Suit
Whistleblower Questioned Practices by Beef Products, Inc. Years Ago

In the waning days of 2011, fast-food giants McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell announced they will no longer use a controversial beef product produced by food behemoth Beef Products Inc. (BPI). At one time, the ammoniated beef product – beef trimmings known in the industry as 'pink slime' – could be found in approximately 80 percent of the hamburgers consumed in the United States, including those served at fast-food restaurants and through the national school lunch program. While some media outlets raised public awareness regarding potential dangers associated with the product, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) also recognizes the role of the BPI whistleblower who reported the company's practices.

Kit Foshee is a former Corporate Quality Assurance Manager at BPI, the nation's leading producer of "lean boneless beef." He says he was terminated for refusing to participate in his company's alleged knowing misrepresentation of microbial data to the USDA and alleged false claims made to customers about the product's safety.

Stated Foshee, "I'm pleased that these companies have taken steps to discontinue the use of this product. However, I believe that more can and should be done to provide better oversight and regulation in the industry, especially in the use of ammonia and the claims such as those made by BPI regarding the safety of this product."

After Foshee contacted GAP, Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) Director Amanda Hitt authored a widely publicized op-ed criticizing BPI's inflated claims that its process of "ammoniating" beef effectively removed all dangerous pathogens from hamburgers. Hitt's article also explained the failings of the still-current USDA/FDA labeling guidelines.

If you really want to hear the truth about what you are eating, watch Food, Inc.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wasn't this a Kate Beckinsale movie?

Whiteout - Trailer by dreadcentral

A group of Russian scientists plumbing the frozen Antarctic in search of a lake buried in ice for tens of millions of years have failed to respond to increasingly anxious U.S. colleagues -- and as the days creep by, the fate of the team remains unknown.
"No word from the ice for 5 days," Dr. John Priscu professor of Ecology at Montana State University, told via email.

The team from Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) have been drilling for weeks in an effort to reach isolated Lake Vostok, a vast, dark body of water hidden 13,000 ft.  below the ice sheet's surface. The lake hasn't been exposed to air in more than 20 million years.
Priscu said there was no way to get in touch with the team -- and the already cold weather is set to plunge, as Antarctica's summer season ends and winter sets in.
"Temps are dropping below -40 Celsius [-40 degrees Fahrenheit] and they have only a week or so left before they have to winterize the station," he said. "I can only imagine what things must be like at Vostok Station this week."
The team's disappearance could not come at a worse time: They are about 40 feet from their goal of reaching the body of water, Priscu explained, a goal that the team was unable to meet as they raced the coming winter exactly one year ago.
When the winter arrives in the next few weeks, the temperature can get twice as freezing. Vostok Station boasts the lowest recorded temperature on Earth: -89.4 degrees Celsius (-129 degrees Fahrenheit).

Read more:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm Baaaaaack!

What a day it's been. Spent Tuesday morning cleaning up the bungalow and cramming everything in to my carryon suitcase. I took way too many clothes this trip and didn't have much room left for the inevitable stuff I was going to bring back. But where there's a will, there's a way.

I caught a ride with Bill & Scurvy to the Placencia airstrip for my 2 o'clock flight to Belize City via Dangriga. Then a 2 hour layover for the flight to Houston with another 2 hour layover to DFW and the drive home listening to Arnie Spanier on The Fan whine and cry about doing overnights in Dallas when he should be doing drivetime in New York or LA. He should be doing overnights in San Miguel...

I came rolling up South40 Blvd a little after midnight.

It was a long day with a little over 2000 miles covered. The good news is I'm back home safe and sound. The bad news? I'm not on the beach at Barnacle Bill's.