Tag Archives: postaday2012

Denny Hamlin Wins Kansas

Changing track conditions at Kansas pushed Denny Hamlin to the lead for his first victory at Kansas Speedway.


Article first published as Hamlin Enjoys the Sunshine at Kansas on Technorati.[/box]

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Denny Hamlin drove to victory in Sunday’s STP 400 holding off Martin Truex Jr. the final 30 laps. The win is Hamlin’s second of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile Kansas track, and the 19th of his career.

Denny Hamlin

Jimmie Johnson took third, followed closely by Roush Fenway Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Truex moved into second place in the Sprint Cup Series standings behind Biffle, who leads by 15 points.

A late cycle of green-flag pit stops put all the contenders on the same sequence. Then, for the first time all day, the sun broke through, changing the track dynamics and the whole complexion of the race.

Before the sun came out, Truex had dominated the race, leading 173 laps. The shifting track conditions altered the handling on Truex’s Toyota to “wrecking loose.” Hamlin got past Truex for the lead on Lap 237 and began to drive away with Jimmie Johnson pursuing from the third position.

To Hamlin, the sunlight was a welcome game-changer.

“We just needed some kind of change — weather or adjustments or something to get where he was at — and we kind of got both of them. In overcast conditions, the cars run a little bit tighter, the grip level’s higher in the race car, and it’s more of a track-position type race. When the sun’s out, the drivers, in my opinion, are more prominent,” Hamlin said.

“You move around, find the grip, do things in the car to make up for what you don’t have. The slicker the conditions are, the better it tends to be for our race team. Luckily, we had that run in sunshine.”

When clouds returned to cover the track again, Truex found handling and began to close on Hamlin. Truex tried racing beneath Hamlin in Turn 3 twice in the final three laps but couldn’t get the job done.

“Desperation,” Truex exclaimed. “I was a little bit faster than Denny at the end, but he was running against the wall right where I needed to be, and I was just trying to gain a little bit of ground.

“It was desperation — last-ditch effort — just trying something. There was no chance to make it work.”

In spite of the varying track conditions, Truex pointed to a bad set of tires for the final run as root cause.

“I’m just not really sure what to think of that last set of tires,” Truex said. “The car had been really good all day, we put the last set on, and I was just wrecking loose for the first 20 laps of that last run.

“Denny was able to get by me, and once he did, the race was over. The car got better longer in the run, and I was able to get back to him, but I’d get three or four car-lengths from him and pick up the aero push …

“I guess if we can be this disappointed with second, it kind of shows how far we’ve come as a race team.”

denny hamlinNext race:
Richmond 3/4 Mile Speedway

Saturday, April 28
7:00 p.m. EST on Fox

I Don’t Know Jack

Jack NicholsonBut I do know it’s his birthday.

Happy 75, Jack Nicholson!

Dig your movies and your court side seats.

I’ve like seen almost every movie Jack has made, including all the bad ones and frankly — he’s made some real stinkers along the way.

We’re not going to talk about those.

Here’s my top ten favorite Jack movies:

Jack NicholsonEasy Rider

The Last Detail


Five Easy Pieces

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Jack NicholsonThe Shining


A Few Good Men

About Schmidt

The Departed

It’s hard to pick a favorite. At least four of these on any given day could be a favorite for different reasons. Jack has a knack for playing the flawed and complicated character — Batman’s Joker, Fonda’s sidekick George Hansen in Easy rider, R.P. McMurphy in the Cuckoo’s nest, or the L.A. PI, Jake Gittes, in Chinatown.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit, Jack is a Hollywood icon.

What about your top-ten Jack list? Let me know below.

Levon Helm

Rock and Roll SatLevon Helm lost his battle with cancer on Thursday past. He was a unique player on the rock, country, and folk landscape.  Helm achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band. His soulful voice was cultivated in the cotton fields of Arkansas, a stones throw from the Mississippi River.

Helm played with many of the rock and roll, and country greats throughout the years but he is most noted for his vocals on many of the Band’s recordings, such as “The Weight“, “Up on Cripple Creek“, “Ophelia” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“.

Levon HelmIn the late 90s, Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer causing severe hoarseness and was advised to undergo a laryngectomy. Instead, Helm opted for a tedious regimen of radiation treatments at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The tumor was successfully removed but Helm’s vocal cords were damaged. His powerful tenor voice was replaced by a quiet rasp.

Helm’s 2007 comeback album Dirt Farmer earned the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in February 2008, and in November of that year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #91 in the list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2010, Electric Dirt, his 2009 follow-up to Dirt Farmer, won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, an inaugural category in 2010. In 2011, his live album Ramble at the Ryman was nominated for the Grammy in the same category and won.

Besides being a notable singer and drummer, Helm found his way to Hollywood and was cast in many standout feature films.

Levon Helm Movies

1. Coal Miner’s Daughter – Ted Webb, Loretta Lynn’s father

2. The Right Stuff – Jack Ridley, Chuck Yeagar’s friend and Flight engineer.

3. The Fire Down Below – Reverend Bob Goodall (w/Steven Seagal)

4. In the Electric Mist – General John Bell Hood (in dream sequence)

Helm’s narration and performance in The Right Stuff.

On April 17, 2012, his wife and daughter announced on Helm’s website that he was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer” and thanked fans while requesting prayers. Two days later, Helm died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.


Friday Films

The Life of a Guide Dog

As a Labrador puppy, Quill is sent to live with a couple, Isamu and Mitsuko Nii, who train guide dogs (seeing eye dogs).

When he grows to an adult dog, Quill is taken to a guide dog school, by a friendly, yet firm trainer Satoru Tawada.

Although Quill is a little slower than the other dogs at the school, he seems to have an unusual ’empathy’ and remarkable patience with his trainers. Tawade decides that Quill would be the ideal guide dog for Mitsuru Watanabe. A lonely and ill-tempered middle aged man, Watanbe isn’t as enthusiastic – he would “would rather sleep than be dragged around by a dog.”

From here, the story is narrated by Wanatabe’s daughter, Mitsuko, and slowly, Wantanbe is rehabilitated, venturing into the outside world, and learning, not only to trust other humans, but the animal at his side.

Oklahoma City

Field of ChairsOklahoma City, April 19, 1995.

In a matter of seconds, hundreds of families around Oklahoma were racked with tragedy and horror, all in the name of unspeakable vengeance by a madman. Timmothy McVeigh, seeking revenge on the Government and FBI for the Waco Seige and the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident, parked a Ryder rental truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The cargo area held three- 55 gal drums of an explosive mixture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel.

McVeigh walked away and at 9:02 am the bomb detonated on the north side of the nine story building devastating the whole facade in a mass of collapsed metal, concrete and steel.

In the wake of the bombing 168 were confirmed dead including 19 children from the America’s Kid’s Day Care Center.

It was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The first time I visited the OKC Memorial was on Sunday, September 16, 2001. I had been on the west coast during the Word Trade Center attack and drove back east because of the airplane grounding.

The fenced area on the west side of the memorial was adorned with hundreds of 9-11 messages in rememberance of the attack. It is one of the most touching places I have ever visited.

The photo above is an image of The Field of Empty Chairs.


Field of Empty Chairs:

168 empty chairs hand-crafted from glass, bronze, and stone represent those who lost their lives, with a name etched in the glass base of each. They sit on the site where the Murrah Building once stood. The chairs represent the empty chairs at the dinner tables of the victims’ families. The chairs are arranged in nine rows to symbolize the nine floors of the building; each person’s chair is on the row (or the floor) on which the person worked or was located when the bomb went off. The chairs are also grouped according to the blast pattern, with the most chairs nearest the most heavily damaged portion of the building. The westernmost column of five chairs represents the five people who died but were not in the Murrah Building (two in the Water Resources Board building, one in the Athenian Building, one outside near the building, and one rescuer). The 19 smaller chairs represent the children killed in the bombing. Three unborn children died along with their mothers, and they are listed on their mothers’ chairs beneath their mothers’ names.

(From OKC Memorial Wiki)[/box]

Polar Sea – Polar Star

Polar SeaThe USCG Polar Sea (WAGB 11) calls its homeport Seattle, Washington. She was commissioned in 1977 and has been operating in Arctic waters since 1979.

In another career a lifetime ago I traveled out to Seattle to commission systems being installed on both the Polar Sea and the Polar Star. Those were fun times working on the Coast Guard icebreakers.

I was a young engineer fresh out of college working for an international company based in Raleigh, N.C.  While there they sent me all over the world doing all kinds of neat stuff.

So I thought I would take the time, every now and then, to show you some of the places I’ve worked along the way.

I actually spent a lot of time in Seattle back in the 1985-1986 time frame. Besides the Coast Guard work we did a few things with Boeing in Renton and Everette.

One story I’ll share with you involves a project we were doing for Boeing Renton. There were 5-6 of us out there on a big presentation, engineering mockup thing. Because I was junior on the team, I ended up getting a passenger van to shuttle everyone around. We had guys coming in and out of Sea-Tac all the time.

When the work was over and everyone was ready to go back to Raleigh, I was asked to go up to Port Angeles to do a survey with a new customer. I didn’t want to drive the van up the coast so I went to the car rental place and traded the van for a new Pontiac Firebird. I took the ferry over to Breerton and drove up the coast to see the client. Had a great day and took a roundabout route back to Seattle.

The next day I flew back to Raleigh and the following day I went to the Pontiac place and bought a new Firebird.

As I said…. Those were the days.




I suspect I know what the root of it is, which I don’t see the benefit of going through here, but here lately I’ve doing doing a lot of reflecting.

GatesWhere I’ve been…

Where I’m goin’…

The folks I’ve met along the way.

The people who’ve made a difference…

And the people who loved me.

The people I’ve loved and stopped loving.

I’m sure it all had meaning whether I’ve seen it or not.

I’ve been blessed to see a lot of this world from Amsterdam to Cairo, Manila to Minneapolis, Atlantic Seaboard to the Pacific Coast Highway.  I’ve seen a lot and done a lot. I’ve been bad, I’ve been good and all points in between. And in the words of Jimmy Buffet, I’ve made enough money to buy Miami but I pissed it away so fast. Never meant to last.

I don’t know if I had a good childhood but it certainly has been a long one.

It is the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.

~Marlene Dietrich


A Night to Remember


“We have stuck iceburg sinking fast
come to our assistance”

Distress call from RMS TITANIC 11:55 PM Position Lat. 41.46 N Long. 50.14 W
At 2:20 a.m, April 15, 1912, RMS Titanic sank in the frigid Atlantic
waters off Nova Scotia – 1,517 people lost their lives that
early morning in the worst maritime disaster ever.
May we never forget the lessons of the past and the hope of tomorrow.


Deep Purple

Rock and Roll SatOne of the British bands to hit the scene in the late 60s was Deep Purple. For some reason they always seemed to be a tier below their British contemporaries.

First off I want to wish Ritchie Blackmore, one of the earliest members of Deep Purple, a very Happy Birthday. He turns 67 today.

Richie’s guitar mastery is second to few and in the days since Purple, he has stayed very active in the business.

The early lineups of Deep Purple:

Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar

Ian Paice – Drums

Jon Lord – Hammond B-3 Organ

Rod Evans (1968-69), Ian Gillian (1969 – 1973) – Vocals

Nick Simper (1968-69), Roger Glover (1969-1973) – Bass

Deep PurpleDeep Purple enjoyed immediate success when their cover of Joe South‘s, Hush reached #4 on the Billboard Top 100 in the US and #2 on the Canadian charts.

In October of ’68, Deep Purple opened for Cream on their Goodbye tour.

In 1971 the band released their most commercially successful album, Machine Head. The album included the song Smoke on the Water, which included the lyrics, “Frank Zappa and the Mothers, were at the best place around. But some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground.

These words are in reference to their recording plans for Machine Head. The band was originally booked to record at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. The Casino always closed in the winter months for refurbishment and Purple arrived on December 3, 1971.

Smoke on the WaterThe final Casino concert of the season was the following night when Frank Zappa took the stage. Sometime during the concert a member of the audience fired a flare into the building’s roof. Although there were no fatalities, the resultant fire ruined Deep Purple’s plans. The band retreated to a nearby theatre called the Pavilion, where they recorded a riff by Ritchie Blackmore provisionally named “Title No. 1.” It became one of the most recognizable riffs in rock.

Bass player Roger Glover named it “Smoke on the Water”, in reference to the band’s experience watching the burning down of Montreux Casino. A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino would ultimately be included in the gatefold of Machine Head’s album cover.

Machine Head would be the groups only #1 album. (#1 in UK – #7 US)

In December of 72, DP released Made in Japan, a double album live set.

Deep Purple was at the height of its powers. That double album was the epitome of what we stood for in those days. It wasn’t meant to be released outside of Japan. The Japanese said, ‘Will you please make a live album?’ We said, ‘We don’t make live albums; we don’t believe in them.’ We finally said okay, but said we wanted the rights to the tapes because we didn’t want the album to be released outside of Japan. That album only cost about $3,000 to make. It sounded pretty good, so we said to Warner Bros., ‘Do you want this?’ They said, ‘No, live albums don’t happen.’ They wound up putting it out anyway and it went platinum in about two weeks.

Jon Lord interview at www.thehighwaystar.com[/box]

Despite getting to platinum in two weeks, Made in Japan topped out at #6 in the US and #16 in the UK.

This period also marked the beginning of the band’s decline. Roger Glover took an exit shortly after Made in Japan and was replaced by Glenn Hughes. Vocalist Ian Gillian was replace by David Coverdale about this same time.

Blackmore abandoned the band in mid 1975 to be replaced by Tommy Bolin.

Within a few months Deep Purple imploded on the wieght of Bolin’s drug use and Coverdale’s resignation. The breakup was publicized in July of 76. Guitarist Tommy Bolin died of a drug overdose the following December.

In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the “classic” early 1970s line-up of Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the US, and Polydor Records in the UK and other countries. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in Vermont and released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well (reaching #5 in the UK and #17 on the Billboard 200 in the US.)

The guys clicked along with miner skirmishes flaring up between Blackmore and Gillian over the years. Then in November of ’93, Blackmore walked off, guitar in hand, never to return.

Joe Satriani was drafted to complete tour dates in December and stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994. He was asked to join permanently, but Satriani’s other contract commitments prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore’s permanent successor.

Morse’s arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles, though it never made chart success on Billboard 200 in the US.

Don Airey joined the group in 2001 to prepare for Jon Lord’s looming retierment from Deep Purple. Through the years there have been many shifts in the lineup but the 2012 Deep Purple looks like this.

Deep Purple

Men in Black 3

Friday FilmsIt was only a matter of time, relatively speaking. What would a world full of aliens do without the likes of Agent J and Agent K to watch their scaly backs? Get ready for Men In Black 3.

The Men in Black franchise of Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones is back in business, May 25, 2012. It’s been ten years since the dynamic duo strapped on their out-of-this-world weaponry and battled the so-called intelligent life-form Serleena (Lara Flynn-Boyle) hot black leather and all.  (Serleena, not Tommy Leee Jones)

In this reboot of the MIB team, Veteran MIB field agent Agent J learns that Agent K’s life and the fate of Earth are at stake. He must time-travel to 1969 to stop an alien criminal named Boris from assassinating K and changing the history of the planet, travelling back from the future to 1969 to team up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop the alien, while apparently also facing a twenty four hour time limit before he will be trapped in the past forever.

I see Murphy’s Law all over this one.

All I can say is I am ready to see the Men in Suits hit the Big Apple and save the world from a life without Agent K.

Josh Brolin absolutely nails Agent K.