Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2 Months

It's a day late, but I just had too many other things on my mind yesterday.

Yesterday marked two months since Amanda's death. I spent a lot of time thinking about her this past weekend, and Alastair has begun to express sadness that she's gone.

Driving down to the track, I was reminded of our trip to Greensboro, NC for Thanksgiving in 2006. On the way back, we needed to stop to feed Alastair. We pulled off the highway and hunted for a remote parking lot where he could nurse, and found one at a local community college. I walked around the car, keeping an eye out for potential ne'er-do-wells, only to find out that we were the ones causing a stir. I couldn't remember if the security guy actually came and talked to me or not, and I really wanted to ask Amanda. But I can't.

I also found myself really wanting to call her and tell her all about the fun I was having, like I used to do at night.

Even last night, when I finished watching the Tivo'ed Indy 500, I really was excited to tell her that Helio had won (she was a big fan since his DWTS win in 2007), but I had to figure that even in the Great Beyond, that race is still a big deal, so she probably already knew.

I'm still wearing my ring, but I did finally empty her last drawer from the dresser.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

PCA Day 3

Porsches need to get the hell out of my way.

I mean, seriously: for an event supposedly dedicated to Porsches driving fast, I've never seen so many rolling chicanes! Most of the guys were nice enough, and I met a bunch of really stand-out folks, but some of them were either clueless, stupid, or just angry to see an orange Mazda in their mirrors.

Fortunately, I was not alone in this opinion, as another Porsche guy in the paddock was griping about the same cars.

Today was out of control! I only ran 3 sessions, beating the weather and getting to see my boy. But what a group of sessions!

First off, I had met up with a guy who flies F-18's for the Navy yesterday, and he and I decided to go play in our first session. We did a little trade-off lead/follow session, experimenting with different lines and braking points, but basically staying together.

We started to do the same in the second session, but then I found a boatload of extra confidence and started REALLY probing the limits. He receded into the background, and I started logging 2:29 laps. That's pretty darned fast, in a Miata.

In the 3rd session, I had agreed to get some from-behind footage of my paddock-mate's yellow Boxster. I followed him for a couple of laps, then took off. Then things turned ugly. I caught a Carrera that simply would not let me pass. He was fast as stink in the straights (and even pointed me by at one point, but without lifting), but I caught him every single time in the turns. I wound up having to get on the brakes coming out of Oak Tree for 3 straight laps before he gave me the pass. Unfortunately, there were only two more laps, and the group of cars I'd wanted to catch up to and play with all session were just pitting in when I got up to them.

I got a little angrier than I needed to, but the session was still killer, with more consistent 2:29 laps, consistent 87 - 90mph apexes through South Bend (even caught it going away from me at one point), and braking for Turn 1 at the 3 marker.

Session stats for today included 1.2G in the turns and 0.99G braking.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

PCA Spring DE @ VIR - Day Two

I'm tired. Really really tired. But there's always tomorrow.

This morning I had to have an obligatory check-ride with my instructor. I had some morning jitters that translated into strange turn-in points, weak braking, and some generally sloppy driving. Undeterred, he maintained that I am ready for solo driving.

My next 3 sessions almost all seemed to involve picking one car with similar lap times and duking it out, lap after lap. In one, I kept a C5 Z06 Corvette behind me all session, despite pointing him by on the back straight (he didn't want it...said I was going too fast through the turns and he didn't want to hold me up!).

In another, I got hooked up with a VW GTI VR6 driven by an F-18 pilot. He could make that car scoot! I gave him the point-by, then caught him and got past him, but then blew a crucial shift in Turn 4 and gave up the battle. A couple laps later, slower traffic in front pushed us back together, and we spent the last few laps playing follow-the-leader.

When we got back to the pits, the he and I chatted for a bit, and we're going to look for each other out there again tomorrow and play.

So far it seems the slowest drivers out here are all driving Porsches. We have a bunch of smokin' fast BMW's in my group, a couple of Corvettes, a few other assorted oddballs, and a bunch of P-cars. There are a few that are consistent, and a couple that are fast, but some are just taking parade laps, and making for some very dangerous situations.

But I'm still having a blast. I've managed to keep the car together, learn a ton, and keep my head straight. Do I have to come home? Do I?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Porsche Club of America Spring DE at VIR - Day One

Today began beautifully, with ambient temps around 58F. Drivers' meeting was quick, classroom session even quicker, and, since I was a good boy and set up my paddock space very carefully the night before, we were out onto the track in no time.

My instructor, Ken Wilkinson, was the first instructor I've ever had who actually drives a Miata. The tips he gave were invaluable, and by the end of the second session, he was ready to sign me off for solo driving.

We rode together one final time, with him quizzing me on what I was looking at at any given moment, what the corner workers were doing (while I'm going 100mph and steering), and generally keeping me on my toes.

Then, for the last session of the day, I was all by my lonesome. We had a bit of a problem with one white Porsche GT3, who apparently was overwhelmed. In the very first turn of the very first lap, he/she began Turn 1 (a right), and just turned left. Into the dirt. When they rejoined, they were unwilling to give faster cars the point-by, resulting in a 70mph train of race cars in the climbing esses. Boo.

Anyway, after about 3 laps of this, things cleared out, and I picked up an E36 M3 to duke it out with for a few laps. I let him by me on the back straight on one lap, and should never have seen him again, but since he didn't seem to be moving away from me, I figured I'd see if I could run him down. Testing the absolute limits of adhesion (and common sense), I caught up to him and passed him within 2 laps. In a Miata! With a restrictor plate!!

But it's clear that this has as much to do with the car's prep this year as with my own personal prep. The new exhaust is forcing me to use 5th gear on both long straights, and I could probably justify using it in the climbing esses. I keep running out of 3rd gear in the "slower" parts of the track, too. Rock on!

Random data points:

Fastest observed speed: 112mph
Highest measured lateral G's: 1.05
Highest measured braking G's: 0.93

Both of those G readings should be higher. I have some experimenting to do tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meat, meat, & more meat

Churrascaria yummy. Belly not so good. Ugh...

I've eaten at Texas de Brazil 4 times now, and I can never seem to figure out when to stop eating. And then, in spite of the 1/2 lb of salt and 2.3 lbs of meat consumed, I ordered dessert. Damn the torpedoes (and distended bellies)!

I've been waddling around today like a 8.5-month pregnant woman. And then I was treated to lunch at P.F. Chang's! Now I'm well over-due, and my doctor is threatening to induce me.

I did, however, have a great time celebrating with Jeff & Evelyn. The food was freakin' awesome, the wine (a Malbec) was quite tasty, and the evening ended early enough to sit down and watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I think Amanda would have approved.

Tonight I'll spend most of my evening getting ready for a 3-day track event. Woohoo! Hopefully I'll keep my wits about me enough to get some good video of the orange ahamosRACING monster in action.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today would have been my 9th anniversary.

I'm looking forward to dinner in a couple of hours with Jeff & Evelyn, who celebrate their anniversary tomorrow, and who were introduced by Amanda and me. It's like the love phoenix.

I am sad today, but not nearly as forlorn as I would have expected. For some reason, if I expect to be sad, I'm generally not. It's those random moments when you realize your happiness that it's taken from you.

So lift a glass to Amanda tonight. I will.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I thought I closed that door

Shortly after putting Alastair to bed, I went out the front door to strap the Miata to the trailer (going to VIR on Thursday!). After 3 minutes, I heard wailing and pounding. I turned around to see my son at the front door, crying and pounding on the storm door. I rushed to him and asked him what was wrong, why he was out of bed.

He replied that he couldn't see me from his room, that he'd been looking out the window watching the cars when he heard me open the storm door, and that he had gotten scared. I told him all was well, tucked him back into bed, told him that I'd be outside for a couple of minutes, and left him.

This time I went out the back door. He can't hear the back door, and I figured I'd be safe.

When I came back in, all was quiet, but for some reason the front door was open. I was sure I'd closed it, but there it was: plain as day. Propped open with our door-stop and everything. Oh, well. I closed it and went on with my business.

Then I heard him rummaging around again, so I went to check on him. Turns out when I went back outside, he snuck downstairs to look for me, and having not found me in the house, proceeded to unlock, open, and prop the front door.

What a nut! Thank goodness I noticed (there have been times...). I told him that he can't do that, because that's how bad people get into the house.

Sheesh. Toddlers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Socks

So I'm gonna just run with this from my perspective, which probably has no bearing on truth or reality, except that perspective defines reality from a given position.


Yesterday I went up to Fredericksburg and bought a new car. I was giggling like a little girl all afternoon, and looking for any excuse to not stay home last night. So I called my buddy Daniel, and he passed along an invitation to a 70's party. I jumped at the chance to 1) drive my new car and 2) meet new people 3) especially the, uh, female kind. Cause you know what? I'm alone. Not quite single, but not married, either (I still wear my ring, and I miss Amanda tremendously, but there's a reality to this shit, too, that exceeds the romantic).

So I got there and within minutes met a stunning young lady. We were yukking it up in no time, and before I knew what was what, I was getting an offhanded invitation to come visit her at her house at some indefinite point. To share her hookah. Word, yo! Conversation with her and Daniel ventured to relative age, and he said that I was the oldest at the party. She didn't believe me, and asked how old I am. I made her guess.

She came back with 22. Holy somethingorother! Are you serious? I'm a 33-year-old widower who's just been told I look 22 AND been invited back to her house. Good, no?


Apparently she hadn't yet seen my socks. Or my belt-clip cell-phone holder. One look near my feet and she starts laughing and pointing. I wear short socks, but I wear socks. Evidently that's not done any more, 'cause then she blurts out, "If I'd seen the socks first, I would have said 30." Thank God I left my walker and golf pants in the car.

However, the moment is salvaged by some quick mental footwork and banter.

An hour LATER, after much alcohol, chitchat, flirtation, and heart palpitations, she says, "My husband should be here soon." Come again? Your what? [sing-song] AWKWARD.

Yep. So anyway, today I went and bought new socks. Really short ones that kind of hide in the shoe. Heaven forbid I should actually look my age. (Watch, these kids probably have some litmus test whereby they examine your footwear specifically for the kind of socks I'm trying to get away with. Bastards. Get off my lawn!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Star Trek

So I saw the movie last night. I gotta say the last several installments were so poorly received that I felt a little embarrassed asking for a ticket. Weird, huh?

Anyway, as everybody in the whole world already knows, this one is much better than what we've seen in a long time. Better caliber of actors, better script, better effects, better director, better, better, better.

And do you want to know what my favorite bit was? Of course you do! I think J. J. Abrams is a Star Wars fan. Like a big one. I nearly peed my pants when the cadets were being loaded into shuttles. Looked for all the world like the scene on the third moon of Yavin when the rebels are getting ready to attack the Death Star. And I doubt very strongly that it was coincidental. And the giant random space monsters on the ice planet had exactly the sort of "there's always a bigger fish" look like under the oceans of Naboo. Spock's ice cave? Yup, we got some cross-over! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Oh, wait, did I completely fail to notice the DEATH STAR? Ok, yeah: so it was a "drill" with "red matter", but come on. It poked a hole in the planet with a giant energy beam. Death Star. And in case you missed it, there was totally that same vibe as in Return of the Jedi, where they had to destroy the shield station: can't transport or communicate until the drill / antenna is gone.

So I completely loved it.* Sure, it was cheese-ball, and let the trekkIES whine all they want about canon. I'm starting to think reboots are ok. But I am not on board with a Cliffhanger reboot.

Many thanks to Mr. G for joining me last night.

(And how freakin' cool was it that, for once, Spock got the girl!)

*I think it's safe to say that even Amanda, who just barely didn't hate all things Star Trek (excepting the 3 minutes of Star Trek VI with Christian Slater), would have enjoyed this movie.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Sadness to Report

Not mine this time, but a friend miscarried. I can't imagine the emotions that go with that. Please lift her up in your prayers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Recent Stuff

I've been bad about posting. Once again I've slipped into the easy immediacy of Facebook tweets, although most have ventured into 4 and 5 lines. Poor form on both accounts.

Anyway, last week was very tough--I was in a blue funk from one Saturday to the next. I think it might have had something to do with autocross results from April 26. I won that event. It was my first overall win, and the one person with whom I'd have liked to share that was Amanda. It took a week for the funk to set in because it took a week for results to get posted.

But it really knocked the wind out of me. I spent the whole week awash in sorrow. I just couldn't get myself to concentrate on or care about anything. I only shaved once, and the house devolved to squalor. It was bad. Alastair suffered, too: on Wednesday he hit his babysitter.

Several times throughout the week he asked me if I was going to cry, and usually the answer was "yes".

It probably didn't help that it rained almost constantly for 6 days.

But then we had a little bit of a turnaround with the purchase of a new t-ball setup. Alastair is really good at batting the ball off the tee, and we ran all around the yard being baseball men yesterday.

And I had another autocross yesterday, this time not doing nearly so well (11th place, out of 51), which meant I wasn't excited enough about my finish to want to call anybody.

So apparently playtime with Alastair and mediocrity are a recipe for happiness. It didn't hurt that we put a couple of pretty gals (race floozies) in the passenger seat of the Miata, either.

Note to future passengers: sun-dresses are lovely, but are not compatible with 6-point harnesses.

Anyway, there's a bunch of stuff on my immediate horizon, with two upcoming track events in the next month, a couple of autocrosses, the eventual sale of the MINI, Alastair's weekly class at The Little Gym (he's loving' it!), and a company picnic.

Should be enough to distract me from what would have been our 9th anniversary.

And then there's my investments in retail therapy. I've spent a considerable amount recently on revamping our digital entertainment options, mostly so that I can play racing sims late into the night.

But I bought the PS3 that Amanda had wanted to get for me, bought a racing seat for the den to attach my fancy Logitech G25 racing wheel, wired in a component video switch, the PS2, Amanda's old computer as a media-center PC, and used her monitor in the computer room to give myself a ridiculously over-developed PC for word-processing.

And I think I'll be calling to have the house trim & paneling replaced very soon. It's a project Amanda really wanted to tackle, since it looks old & worn, and the paint is peeling away from the gutters.

It's overhaul time.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A little bit of my childhood just died

Jerry Bruckheimer
Nicolas Cage
The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Which of these things is not like the other? Well, duh: Mickey and the dancing broomsticks.

Now I hope you're sitting down and have some anti-nausea medicine near at hand, because here it comes:

Disney has hired Jerry Bruckheimer to produce a LIVE-ACTION remake of The Sorcerer's Apprentice starring Nic Cage. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Seriously, why? Was Mickey not getting it done any more? And why, for the love of God, did Disney actively seek out two of the least talented guys in Hollywood to attach to the project? Iger: "Ooh, I know: let's hire a couple of no-talent hacks to butcher one of the most iconic golden gems of our entire back catalog!"

I mean, really: has Nic Cage ever done anything where he didn't look like your slightly retarded uncle? There have been 4 or 5 movies that would have been pretty good except for him, and at least 2 that would have been freakin' awesome, but the guy couldn't even pull off a role where his CG head was on fire.

And Bruckheimer, the Michael Bay's co-purveyor of high-gloss saccharine cocksweat? Maybe he can work in a number of explosions with Nic Cage walking calmly away with slo-mo helicopters in the background while scantily-clad ladies fawn over exotic cars.

To make matters worse (as if!), the whole hack-up is being directed by a guy whose greatest claim is the 1993 Cool Runnings (unless you count 1992's 3 Ninjas).

And now the whole torturous mess is taking out bystanders in New York. Which brings up an interesting question: where was the car-chase scene in Mickey's version? I don't remember that part.

I am so sad. Please, Disney. Please stop.