Friday, June 19, 2009

F1 Please Come Back to the USA....

Those of you who know me personally, know that I'm an avid (& sometimes Rabid) fan of Formula One auto racing. To me it's the cream of the crop, tippy-top, be-all-end-all when it comes to auto racing. These cars are amazing; they're high tech, can reach speeds of 250+mph, and they race on the best road/street courses in the world. For me a close runner up is the Indy Cars (& the now defunct CART), but only when they're making right turns as well as left. For me, it's the truest proof of how good a driver is. Driving in circles it boring, but I do watch the Indy 500 & a NASCAR race from time-to-time (when I'm bored).

Throughout the modern era of Formula One (starting in 1950), there have been US races on the ciruit. The Indy 500 was an F1 points race for years; they've also raced at Phoenix & Watkins Glenn. The latest incarnation of F1 in the US was back at Indy. However, in about the only good idea Tony George ever had (imho), they designed an F1 section within the infield of the track. Then they used the famous turn 1 & straight-away with the infield to complete the course. As an extra change, they ran in the opposite direction; turn 1 became F1's last turn on the track. It was great to watch them there, but for me it was a bit too sterile. Don't get me wrong, I loved it but wished for a better test for my favorite drivers.

The now defunct CART circuit used to race on some great tracks around the US. They did race some ovals (big & small), but they also raced a number of street & permanent road courses. To me there are three of these courses that would make a great F1 race in the US. Here are my top 5 track choices for the US Grand Prix....
#5 - Road Atlanta (Atlanta, GA): To the best of my knowledge there's never been an Indy or F1 type of race there (unless there was a Skip Barber Series there). I've watched several sports car races there via TV, and the course is really good. It has the elevation changes & good turns that would be a good test of skill. However, I think this track would take way too much renovation in order to be safe enough for an F1 race. Another potential strike against might be when the race is scheduled. If a Grand Prix were scheduled in Atlanta in August, it would be as bad (if not worse) than the heat & humidity of the Malaysia race.
#4 - Watkins Glen (Watkins Glen, NY): Hey, it's an awesome track, it was on the F1 calendar before & it's currently on the NASCAR calendar. With some renovation, I think it could be made F1 ready without too much cost. Another point in this track's favor is that it's fairly close to Canada, so this race could be billed as the North American Grand Prix, thus killing two birds with one stone.
#3 - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Lexington, OH): This is a really nice track. To me, it's very similar to Watkins Glen so it could offer the same caliber of racing. However, like Atlanta, I'm afraid that it would be too expensive to get it F1 ready. It also has the heat/humidity factor depending on when it's scheduled.
#2 - Portland International Raceway (Portland, OR): This is one of my favorite CART tracks. The CART races here were always exciting & interesting. It has the elevation changes & different turn types that would be a great test for the F1 drivers. Plus, the climate is way more moderate than most others. The potential downside is that the Pacific-Northwest is prone to a lot of rain. But then again, some of the best F1 races are in the rain so that could be a plus.
#1 - Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI): For me, this is THE BEST permanent road course in the United States. Some of my favorite CART races have been held here, and I've seen some of the best passes & maneouvers on this course. To me it wouldn't take much to get this course F1 ready, and it's also close to Canada & could take care of both races.

Well, that's my opinion about the situation. Maybe I'm totally wrong & none of these track would work. But from what I've seen in racing in recent years, I think they would all give us some great races.... :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sometimes work REALLY sucks....

Well, I'm on-call (or on-pager as we say) for my job this week(end) until Tuesday. I work with computers by the way (in case you didn't know). Normally, you get calls throughout the business day & sometimes a call after-hours (some even very early in the am). However, this weekend's been the worst I've ever experienced.

It pretty much started with a network outage (unplanned) on Friday around 2pm. An e-mail was sent out that it should be fixed by 3am the next morning. I had a bad feeling about the whole situation.

I was awakened at 3:30am yesterday with a page, and on average, I got paged about every hour after that. I finally finished working around 8:30pm last night & was in bed asleep within an hour after that.

This morning, another page at 3:30am. It seems that even though the network outage was fixed, apparently some addresses were changed & not corrected on our mid-range computer. This meant we had similar issues as the night before.

The frustration in this for me is that I'm getting paged for things over which I have no control. I'm basically a code-monkey (or software-simian for you Dilbert fans), with means I have no problem writing a program. However, I'm not very well versed in how systems operate, and these issues relate directly to system issues. Bad for me.

I've already been involved in one conference call about this, and I have another scheduled for 4pm. Plus, I've already been 'volunteered' to wake up at 2am tomorrow morning to check some jobs. arrggghhh!

As you can guess, for me, Tuesday can't arrive fast enough.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gay Marriage & Judicial Rulings....

A lot has been going on recently on the subject of gay marriage. Some say that it shouldn't be allowed because it demeans marriage for non-gays. Others think it's okay as long as it's not called marriage; they prefer the term "Civil Union." Still others don't believe it should be allowed in any way, shape, or form. Some states have enacted actual gay marriages, and some have allowed it under the term of "Civil Union." There are court cases pending on the issue throughout the country. It seems like a lot of ado about something that's (in my mind) very simple. If two consenting adults truly love each other and want to make a life-long commitment of living together & sharing their lives, I think they should be allowed to do so. I don't think it demeans anyone else's commitment, and I think there is precedence for my view.

When I was very young, there were a number of states that made it illegal for people of two different races to marry. This was in the mid-1960s & the years before. Now it's kind of hard to believe that if I, a Caucasian male, wanted to marry (let's say) an African-American female, it wouldn't be allowed in some states. My home state, Alabama, was one of them. The thing that's so astounding, to me, is that people used to use religious texts (the Bible mainly) to justify this. It's the same thing that's used to justify being against gay marriage. It wasn't true about marriage between races, and I don't think it's true about gay marriage.

The other aspect of this is when some folks claim that allowing gay marriage will make a mockery of "traditional" marriage. This is a totally laughable claim for me. I have to ask how letting two people of the same gender marry can make a mockery of marriage? No one's been able to give me a plausible answer to this question. This is especially true when I bring up people like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cher, Mickey Rooney, Britney Spears, & other celebrities who marry & divorce as the winds or seasons change. Why aren't they pointed out as making a mockery of "traditional" marriage? Some have answered me that, "at least they were marrying someone of a different gender." "So what?" I retort. It's more a mockery, to me, when people use marriage as a convenience that can be discarded when it's inconvenient.

During the last election in November of 2008, there was an initiative on the ballot in the state of California. Known as Proposition 8, it was set up to establish, in the California Constitution, that marriage meant a union between a man & a woman. With a lot of lobbying & support by the Mormon church (formally know as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; LDS for short) it passed. The passing means that the Constitution of California was changed, and gay marriage is now illegal. I think it sucks. However, I don't now, and haven't ever lived in California. So it really & ultimately doesn't effect me. But I still don't like it.

Recently, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, and a lot of people are upset about that. However, I actually have to applaud the Court's decision even if I don't like it. As stated before, Proposition 8 amended the Constitution of California. The Court's job is to determine if a law is unconstitutional, and in this case, it's not; it's part of the Constitution. It's not the Court's job to disallow an amendment to the Constitution. So, though I don't like it that the amendment was passed, I do like that the California Court did it's job. What needs to be done is to re-amend the constitution to repeal Proposition 8. This was done when Prohibition was enacted; an amendment was passed the allowed the sale of alcohol. That's what needs to be done in this case. However, its up to the people of California to do this, not me in Washington, & not Pat Robertson in Virginia. This is an issue for Californians & only them. Until a federal law or amendment is passed, everyone else needs to stay out of it.

To sum-up, two people who love each other & want to share their lives together should be allowed to marry. It's no one else's business. That's my two cents anyway.... :)