Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pet Peeve #1 (and 1a)

Today I will be discussing Pet Peeves.

As you could probably tell from one of my previous posts, I'm a huge Champ Car fan (my sister would say obsessed, I would say passionate). And there was a race this past Sunday in Montreal which I was unable to watch when it was broadcast as I busily celebrating my b-day at Grandma's house. I set the VCR and planned on watching last night. I avoided all e-mails from my racing friends yesterday as I hate knowing the results of the race before I watch it. Now with the state of racing other than NASCAR in this country, it's actually pretty easy, generally, to avoid news of the race. Hell, I don't even know who won the Nextel Cup race Saturday night at Bristol (I'm particularly proud of being able to say that, although it's sad that I knew it was a Saturday night race and that it was at Bristol). I am a Champ Car snob, you knew that, right?

I hate it when people feel the need to tell me about the race before I've gotten to see it. Now that normally wouldn't be a problem, except that I work with a guy who also happens to be a Champ Car official. Okay, I don't actually work with him, but we work near each other and talk racing quite often. So, it turns out that I didn't get to watch the race last night after all, because Aunt Kathy called and invited me over to Grandma's for dinner. Aunt Kathy is visiting from the West Coast Portland and since she doesn't come home very often, it felt churlish to refuse the visit, especially since if it had been Aunt Carol, there wouldn't have been a question as to my attendance. So, I forewent the pleasure of race-watching for an intriguing night at Grandma's listening to Aunt Kathy talk non-stop about everything. And she was playing some boring ass piano music that she just loved and told me that the first time she heard it she just stood there listening to this man playing the piano (live) and had tears rolling down her cheeks. She bought the CD and just loves it. I thought it was shite, but then again, she probably thinks the Sex Pistols are shite and if I got to hear them live, I'd probably cry too. So, we're even. ;-)

Dinner (as I expected) didn't get on the table until after 8:00 p.m. which drives me insane! I eat lunch at 11:00 and am usually starving by the time I get home around 4:30, and I don't like eating late (i.e., right before I go to bed) as your metabolism shuts down and these days my metabolism needs all the help it can get). It was nice to see Aunt Margaret and Lu both of whom I haven't seen since Uncle Chuck's Memorial Mass, so it wasn't a completely lost night, but I was so ready to go home by the time dinner ended. Thankfully everybody knows I work at 6:00 a.m., so it's relatively easy to get out by 9:00 p.m., although I'm sure they talk behind my back. Fact is I like my sleep.

My co-worker stopped by my desk about 30 minutes ago and the second I saw him I said, I haven't seen it, so don’t say anything. I hope to watch it tonight. Well, he didn't tell me who won, but he did tell me who didn't win (the second most likely candidate for winning). I told him to go away before he told me anymore.

Years ago when I still worked at the University and before I made my four-year-foray to San Francisco, I had to miss the Phoenix race because of a family function of some sort. I taped it, of course, and was planning on watching it the second I got home Monday afternoon, never dreaming that everybody in my department had become a CART (as it was known then) fan over the weekend and they couldn't wait to discuss the race with me. I think I let it be known that I hadn't seen the race and please don't say anything. This had little to no effect, as they were all just too damn excited. Jeremy first came in and sang, "You're going to be so happy." This about put me through the roof, because there's only one driver winning back in 1993 that would make me that happy. I told him to stop it because I didn't want my suspicions confirmed before I got home and saw it for myself. And then Richard came into the office and said something (it's been 12 years, so sue me, I don't remember exactly what it was) about who won the race and that was it. I knew that Mario Andretti had won and I was so pissed. One, because I had missed my favorite driver's win (and it had been a while since he had won) and two, because I didn't WANT TO KNOW, dammit!!!! The race is a little less fun to watch when you know that the lead car isn't going to blow an engine or is. It's just not the same level of excitement. It really did take something out of my race watching that night knowing I didn't have to worry if Mario was going to hold on for the win.

It was Mario's last win in a Champ Car and it made history for a couple reasons. 1) First driver to win Champ Car races in four decades. 2) First driver to win races in five decades. So, I didn't get to see his last race win live and I didn't even get to enjoy it fully, thanks to my boneheaded friends. I know that they meant well, especially Jeremy, because he was so excited, but it still bums me out that I missed the level of enjoyment I know I would have felt.

Small pet peeve: People who have no clue that their hair style is so completely wrong on so many levels it's not even funny. A guy just walked past my desk with his completely grey-white hair tied into a KNOT on the back of his head. It's just wrong. And there are two women here with their hair down to their asses done up in a French braid every day with the last foot of the braid barely a sixteenth of an inch in diameter. CUT THAT SHIT!!! You're 45 years old, get a hairstyle that doesn't make you look drawn and old and out of date! I'm tempted to print up the website of Locks for Love and put it on their desks!!!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Where did summer come from???

Well, it was a long weekend!!! Busy busy busy!! But then what else is new with my life? Somehow, without even trying, I always have something to do I am actually looking forward (a little bit, just a little bit) to winter when I hibernate and try NOT to leave the house.

Thursday I had dinner plans with a friend who left today for NYC where he's going to be doing missionary type work. I unfortunately don't have any details because he canceled on me saying he wasn't in the right frame of mind for company and that he wouldn't be a good dinner companion. He apologised profusely and I told him it was no problem. I'm lame enough to think that any time I get to stay home and knit is good time! And that's what I did. I finished the trashy book I was reading (I had finished Dan Brown's Deception Point at lunchtime and wasn't in the mood to start anything major) and then I went into the living room and plopped myself on the couch to knit (I was making an adorable pink/purple Bernat Boa poncho for a co-worker's 3-year old daughter) and then decided to watch Rabbit-Proof Fence, one of my Netflix DVDs. It's a very good movie and I recommend it. It's a tad depressing as it's a true story about three aboriginal (half-caste) girls in Australia taken from their aboriginal mother and placed in this orphanage type place and how they returned home via the "rabbit-proof fence" that ran 1500 miles. Very well done. Check it out.

Friday was errand day. Summer finally arrived in Michigan – full-force, which means the heat and the humidity were both about 85. And what a day to discover that the AC in your car isn't working. My head was sweating so badly, it was just horrible. I didn't completely all of my errands though (never did make it to the grocery store or the farm market). I went to Target for sundry things, PetSmart for litter and cat food (and to play with the sweet little orphaned cats), and then on to Jo-Ann's for more of the pink/purple Bernat Boa. I was totally late for my orthotics appointment. It was scheduled for noon, but the way the appt. reminder card was written out it looked like 2:00 p.m. I was mortified as my sister knows the orthoticist. Thankfully, the real 2:00 appointment was late, so he got me in and out quickly. I had to laugh though as he looked at my red Chucks and said, "Are those really all you ever wear?" He doesn't feel my Chucks are the right shoe, but hell, my orthotics fit in them with relative comfort, so I'm going for it. I told him that these are what I wear in the summer (other than sandals, and I wasn't going there). I think he's really looking forward to winter when I wear "better" shoes. I've seen him four times now and three of those times I was wearing Chucks (my all black ones, my green hemp ones and now the red ones) and the first day I was wearing sandals and he about had a cow. I'm thinking he must avert his eyes from people's feet when out in public because hell, some shoes that people wear make me think "What the hell were they thinking?"

Friday night I had a golf outing banquet to attend. My University has an alumni scholarship fundraiser every year which is this golf outing. It was originally scheduled for May 21, but May was a very very wet month for the Detroit area and the outing got canceled since the golf course and parking lot were flooded. Glen and Julie had very generously bought a table of 8 and asked if we wanted to attend as Doug Brown (retired from the Detroit Red Wings) was the guest speaker. I was pretty excited as I always liked Doug Brown and this is the closest I've ever been to a Red Wing. Dinner was utterly fabulous, as long as you aren't a vegetarian. Steak, chicken, vegetables cooked to mush and a baked potato. I gave Brian my chicken, while Glen got my steak, and I got Glen's veggies and baked potato. After dinner, Doug got up and spoke and took questions from the audience. One of the guys there was completely drunk and a complete freaking loser, or as Brian termed it, "a tool." He asked Doug Brown how playing at the University of Michigan prepared him for "the bigs" Yo, jackass, the bigs is a term used in baseball and did you listen to the guy who announced Doug, you know, the guy who said, "Doug graduated from Boston College?" Dipshit. Sometimes, the University of Michigan adulation by some of its graduates is just pathetic. It's like, get a freaking life, people, it was fucking college! And you graduated 30 flipping years ago!!!!!! MOVE ON!

After the banquet a few of us went to Glen and Julie's and just hung out and talked. It was a nice and laid-back evening and the best part? Besides spending time with friends? Glen and Julie's house is air-conditioned!!! Unlike my car or my apartment. ;-)

Overall, it was a good day, except for that whole sweating to death thing!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Road America weekend

From there we made our way to Road America and it took us FOREVER to get there!!! We got there around 2:00 p.m. just as all on-track activities were ending. That was some good planning there. It didn't stop us, of course. We went in and hung out in the paddock area and harassed our friend Rick, who runs the merchandise trailer for Speedgear. Mario Dominguez passed us in the paddock and I greeted him with a fine "Buenas tardes, Mario." He smiled and replied, "Hola, ¿qué tal?" I hadn't planned for that, I was a complete loser and stumbled over, "Bien, ¿y tú? By this time, he was completely gone in the other direction, but what the heck. He was heading off to get his rental car so that he could drive the track and set it in his head. All the drivers do this in some form, i.e., road car, bicycle, walk, golf cart, etc. before they head out for serious practice and qualifying on Friday. I'm sure I saw other drivers, but all I can remember from that day is the massive headache I got from being stupid and going out in the sun w/o a hat.

Okay, now I'm doubting myself. Did I say Good afternoon to Mario Dominguez or to Rodolfo Lavin? ARGH! After wandering around for a few hours we headed off to the hotel and the shopping mall (such as it exists around Manitowoc, WI) because we didn't have any funeral clothes with us. Thankfully, I had a nice shirt with me (unusual for a race weekend, so all I needed was the pants – same for E) and I found a decent pair of black pants at JC Penney for $20. SCORE!

Friday found us at the track bright and early so that we could enjoy all of the racing action. We normally spend Friday and Saturday driving around the fabled 4.048 mile track and watching from all of the different viewing locations. We decided to spend qualifying in the paddock and that was a jackpot, IMO, because I got to talk to Jeremy Dale once again (I had also had the chance to talk to him in Toronto) and tell him how much I had loved the results of the previous race at Vancouver where his two drivers had finished 2nd and 3rd. He's the Team President of RuSPORT and their drivers are AJ Allmendinger (3rd at Vancouver) and Michel Jourdain, Jr. (2nd at Vancouver). They are a first year team which means they have no set-ups for the race tracks from the previous years' races like most of the teams. And we won't even discuss how I feel about Michel's former team owner and how he should have given them the set-ups since he's a bloody traitor and bailed on the series and doesn't need those set-ups anyway for all the stupid ovals his drivers are running now. But like I said, I won't go there.

Anyway, Jeremy Dale used to be a sportscar driver back in the day and had an absolutely horrendous accident at Road Atlanta in 1995 and he hasn't raced since. The reason I wanted to talk to him so much back in Toronto was that although I got Jeremy Dale news every once in a while (related to his condition after the crash), I was never able to find any news about Fabrizio Barbazza, and I figured this was my chance. Jeremy was able to tell me that although Fabrizio suffered from a closed head injury that he was able to recover and lead a normal life back in Italy. I was much relieved, let me tell you.

Anyway, back to race weekend. I congratulated Jeremy on Vancouver's great results and told him how excited I had been for Carl Russo (owner of the team) who had been shown on TV jumping up and down with excitement as his cars finished 2-3. It was so cute and of course, being the incredible frickin' wuss that I am, I was crying for him.

We had run into a couple of guys on our way into the paddock that we had met at the Milwaukee race back in June and hung out with them while they got the pictures they took at Milwaukee signed by the different drivers. Patrick Carpentier was as nice as always. Last year he scolded me good-naturedly for having the cap off the Sharpie for too long while waiting for him. I protested that I had only just taken the cap off when he approached us.

After qualifying we had a couple of things we wanted to buy (E. bought a book on Bernie Ecclestone called Bernie's Game, and I had seen a new book on Senna that I had to get for Rick), but I got a little sidetracked by the sight of Tommy Kendall talking to Bob Varsha. I'm a huge TK fan and have been for many years and I had a couple of things I wanted to say to him. So, I stood there a little off to the side (close enough that he knew I wanted to talk to him, but not so close as to insinuate myself into the conversation) and waited. After about ten minutes or so, TK turned to me and I was able to tell him what I wanted to tell him.

A little background here: TK was last in a Trans-Am car back in 1997 when he won the championship and won 11 straight races (losing only the last race of the season). During his 1997 run, Paul Gentilozzi, a fellow driver, accused Tommy in every racing publications' Letters to the Editor of cheating by single-handedly switching out the legal sized gas tank with a bigger one. He specifically stated in the letter that he knew Jack Roush (owner of TK's car) and that Jack Roush would never cheat and obviously his crew wouldn't do so either. A couple of weeks later, those same magazines all ran a rebuttal from Tommy's father essentially poking fun at PG's letter by describing a scenario of Tommy breaking into Roush Racing after hours and changing the gas tank himself. So, I've pretty much not had a lot of love for Paul Gentilozzi over the years. Prepare yourself for irony now. TK gets a call during the off-season from PG asking him to drive for him in the Trans-Am series in a new four-stroke Jaguar, and when I saw TK in Milwaukee I asked him what the hell he was thinking driving for the man who accused him of cheating. He played dumb and asked what I was talking about, so I "refreshed" his memory. You could tell by the look on his face when he asked the question though that he knew exactly what I was talking about. He laughed and said that his father asked him the same thing.

So, back to Road America, I say to Tommy, "I have a conspiracy theory for you. I think Paul Gentilozzi offered you that ride (now mind you, up until Road America, TK's four-stroke Jaguar had broken down in every single race, except Portland where he did NOT win) just to say he beat Tommy Kendall, which would complete his resume." PG rarely, if ever, beat Tommy back in the early to mid-90s when they were racing each other. The 1998 season started w/o all the biggest names of Trans-Am: Dorsey Schroeder, Ron Fellows, Tommy Kendall, etc. And PG was the only one left with any real money. The rest of the field was full of privateers, although the official history of the Trans-Am series doesn't like to mention that.

Tommy looks at me and says, "My father said the same thing. When I told him that Paul called up and offered me a ride, he asked 'Are you sure he's not just setting you up?'" I laughed and said, "I've always liked your father." Anyway, we chatted for a little while and he told me that he was glad I had his back and high-fived me. LOL! He also said and Bob Varsha agreed that all those people who wanted Tommy to lose a race in 1997 were now rooting for him to win a race. And I piped up that I had never wanted Tommy to lose a race. If a driver I don't like wins every race, I hate it, but I love it when it's my driver. LOL! Anyway, the next day, TK went out and made his way through the field decisively (I forget why he was so far back) and ended up winning the race which made me very happy.

The actual Champ Car race on Sunday was interesting. The track announcer was just about worthless. We were sitting in Hurry Downs and basically had no clue what was happening because even though the announcer had the benefit of the TV coverage, he was unable to keep us abreast of what was going on. We were going insane trying to figure out what was going on! It's hard when you can't see pit lane. At the end, Alex Tagliani got his first ever Champ Car win and Rodolfo Lavin got his best-ever finish in 2nd. The good news for me was that Oriol Servia had a great race in the Dale Coyne car, even if he got caught out of the pit stop strategy with the yellow flags. Great showing, Oriol!!! It's so good to see a Dale Coyne car running well. He's a good and loyal Champ Car owner and for that I could just kiss him!

And that was my weekend at Road America earlier this month! I love my Champ Cars!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

36 Hours is significantly less time than a week

I'm not doing very well on the diary updating thing, am I? Not that it matters since I'm positive nobody is reading it. The last few weeks have just been a complete blur! My friend of whom I wrote in my very first entry died that Thursday morning. E. and I were literally ten minutes from his house and were supposed to visit with him and P before we headed to Wisconsin and a weekend of racing action. Instead I got a call from Paula in NC telling me to call her immediately (she had gotten voicemail as I was in the shower). I call Paula knowing it can't be good news, but still not believing it. She told me that dear J died that morning around 7:00 a.m. – just two hours before we were supposed to see him. I completely lost it and said, "What happened to the week we were supposed to have?" knowing full well that the doctors can't promise that week and that J was ready to go. It was a clear indication of how sick he really was. His wife (I refuse to call her his widow) was doing so well that morning. She said it helped knowing that he's now no longer suffering and at peace. She was the only one who knew how sick he was, so I guess she had more time to come to terms with the actuality. E. and I hugged her and stayed for a few minutes, but then the visiting nurse came and was going to get his body ready to be removed to the funeral home and we bailed. P's parents and sister were with her, so we didn't feel like we were abandoning her.

After a weekend of racing, we made our way back to IL and went to the funeral and visiting hour. It was good to see J's sisters, Char and Mere, and Char's husband Rich, although it wasn't the circumstances we preferred, obviously. Char was taking it very hard and I felt so horrible for her. When I first got there and she saw me, she came over to me and hugged me and just cried. I hugged her back and cried right along with her. J was Char's younger brother so it's that much harder because it just seems wrong when the younger person goes first.

The funeral wasn't too bad, considering. Thankfully it wasn't a Catholic Mass (because everybody picks the same songs and then I just cry throughout the whole damn thing) and I only knew one song which was, unfortunately, one we sang at my Uncle's funeral just a few months before, so I had a little trouble. We didn't end up going to the cemetery for two reasons: 1) E. hates cemeteries, and 2) we really had to get on the road. It's a good 5 hours to my house from P's and E's an additional 3 (the way she drives, it takes me a little longer) w/o traffic! And if someone knows how to get east of Chicago while heading into Michigan w/o encountering construction traffic or even regular 2:00 p.m. Chicago traffic, please let me know. God, I hate Chicago traffic. Thankfully I wasn't driving as I already had the headache from hell which was not letting go – no matter how much ibuprofen or Aleve I took. At one point, I said to E, "I just hope my head doesn't hurt when I wake up tomorrow morning." She just looked at me and said, "I'd be hoping it would go away before that." True, but I could tell that it was going nowhere. The funeral was at 1:00 p.m. CDT, so we were on the road around 2:30 CDT. E. dropped me at the curb with all of my weekend worth of crap and headed toward Canada around 8:30/9:00 EDT (if I remember correctly). I got all of my stuff into the house in only three trips and then collapsed onto my beloved comfy pillow-top bed.

I think it would be an interesting sociological study to see how people treat a subject, i.e., death and funeral of a dear friend, from the perspective of time, meaning I wonder how emotional this entry would have been if I had written it the day after I had gotten back, instead of three weeks later. It's pretty cut and dry, this entry…and that's not how I felt toward J at all. He was a good friend and he loved P (his wife), his sisters, Harry his dog who died last year, all of his friends, Champ Car racing, cigars, anything and everything Disney, and once a year he could combine most of those things into one weekend, when we would all gather in Cleveland for the race. This year was the first year since 1996 that J wasn't with us and there was a definite lack. We all knew he was sick, but we never had a clue that he'd be gone so quickly. P did tell me at the funeral that she was already planning on returning to Cleveland next year, so that's good news. It'll be hard, but she'll have all of us there, as well as our beloved Champ Cars at our favorite racing weekend.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the actual weekend at Road America. That'll be a much more enjoyable entry, I hope.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A Survey

The \\
Last Cigarette:1984? I was drunk and thought I could figure out why people smoke.
Last Alcoholic Drink:Bass Pale Ale last night - last beer in the fridge. ;-(
Last Car Ride:The whole weekend was a big car ride - Detroit to DeKalb, IL; DeKalb, IL to Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI, back and forth from Manitowoc, WI to Elkhart Lake for three days and then back to DeKalb, IL then home to Detroit - all in the space of five exhausting days.
Last Kiss:Um, that's a really good question.
Last Good Cry:I cried yesterday at the funeral, but it wasn't a good cry, it was a hold it back and try not to sob hysterically cry.
Last Library Book:I don't even begin to know.
Last book bought:Cause Celeb for a buck at the dollar store - hardcover!
Last Book Read:Just finished R is for Ricochet, before that Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich.
Last Movie Seen in Theatres:Shrek 2
Last Movie Rented:Touching the Void (Netflix)
Last Cuss Word Uttered:Probably "fucking" used as an adjective
Last Beverage Drank:water
Last Food Consumed:onion bagel
Last Crush:I gave up on crushes
Last Phone Call:work-related crap
Last TV Show Watched:Probably something on CNN yesterday morning.
Last Time Showered:This morning - 5:20 a.m.
Last Shoes Worn:Wearing my all black hi-top Chuck Taylors as I type
Last CD Played:Dvorak, New World Symphony
Last Item Bought:Champ Car license plate holder
Last Download:
Last Annoyance:Chicago Traffic - it was 2:00 p.m., WTF! Go to work, people!
Last Disappointment:
Last Soda Drank:Faygo Orange Pop - about a month ago
Last Thing Written:e-mail to my brother
Last Key Used:Apt. Key as I left this morning
Last Words Spoken:Drive safely.
Last Sleep:Last night
Last Ice Cream Eaten:Culver's Frozen Custard - yummy
Last Chair Sat In:my fancy desk chair here at the office - people covet it until I tell them that they only need to have neck surgery to get one.
Last Webpage Visited:http://walkenaround.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Life Can Really Suck

I signed up with Diaryland back in December but never really thought about starting my own diary, but today is such an incredibly sucky day that I felt the need to write about it. And since I was already sitting at my computer it was easier than finding my old paper and pen journal.

Why does life suck so badly? A dear friend of mine has been unwell for a while and even though I've known that and he's been in the hospital for the past month (essentially) and felt that time was limited, it really sucks to find out that he's been given a week to live.

We have a hardcore group (shit, I need to let the less hardcore people know) of friends who stick by each other even though we're scattered all over the country. And Paula got a call today from my friend's wife and she was crying. Unfortunately, Paula was away from her desk at the time and only got P. crying and saying she had bad news. Paula called me to get P's cellphone #, as I am the keeper of the addresses and phone numbers for the group, and she tells me what the message said. I start crying at work because I'm already fearing the worse - a trait I get from my mother whom I did call to let her know as she knows my friends and loves J. as much as the rest of us.

Paula sends out an e-mail to the group and there's an immediate response and feeling of love. I do have the most amazing friends in the world. Paula wonders if we can figure out what hospital J is in as she's not getting a response from P's cellphone. I eventually (after three attempts - not bad) find the right hospital and P answers the phone when the receptionist rings J's room. She tells me that they're going home today and that J is going off dialysis permanently. My heart stops and even though I know what this means, I need to have it verified before I lose it (which I was trying desperately not to do to poor P). She says, "it means what you think it means." Bloody hell. She tells me more details and I ask, "So, how long do we have?" "About a week." Blood fucking hell. I'm not ready for that.

I send out an e-mail to the group and we decide to repair to the chat to formulate a gameplan - how can we help P&J? And that's the quintessential question, isn't it? Is there anything at all that we can do to help?

As I walked home from work (I looked fabulous at work as nearly complete strangers asked if I were okay), I thought how I had only known J for 9 years and how we had a big reunion planned for next year. Prepare for major geekdom here: We all met in 1995 in the espn.com Auto Racing Chat and we were hoping to have a big reunion next year to mark our tenth anniversary of being friends. These people are truly my friends and I love them unconditionally.

We've had our share of tragedies over the years. My dear adopted Dad, Griz, succumbed to his second bout of cancer back when I was living in SF (1997). God, that sucked. Griz's wife called me one Saturday to let me know that he was given mere days. I had to call everybody (and there was a bigger crowd still together back then) and then one week later I called them all back to let them know that the big C had gotten Griz this time. While making the phone calls about Griz, I called TTO and got his wife who informed me that he had had an accident while racing that summer and suffered from a closed head injury. I think she resented me calling even though she said I could call for updates, because one time she put him on the phone even though he had no idea who I was. I think I still resent that. I took it as a hint not to call anymore and it makes me sad not to know how he's doing. He was a dear soul. And now this...

Right now, we are all worried about P and how is she going to handle it when J is gone. And what should we do about it. I'm definitely planning on driving down for the funeral whenever it is. P&J are too important to me to miss. And I live close enough (5-6 hours) that it's no big deal.

But right now I need another beer. I was going to go and vote, but who the fuck cares who is on the Dearborn School Board - Okay, I might if I had kids, but I don't and I'm going to be selfish and drown my sorrows here at home.