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First just a reminder that tomorrow at NOON PACIFIC STANDARD TIME tomorrow November 26th, 2008 is the deadline for the date to enter the 3-Contest for your chance to win either a DVD of Dale Earnhardt’s Greatest Wins or the book St. Dale. I am going to do a quick drawing out of a hat of the names entered and then…I will notify the winners. Depending on response time from winners- prizes could be mailed out as early as Black Friday (11-28-2008).

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Now here is some great information for saving fuel in time for the Thanksgiving holiday!  Brought to us by non other than Kenny Francis- crew chief of the number 9 Budweiser Dodge of Kasey Kahne and Jason Efland, Kasey Kahne’s Allstate Agent.

(KF=Kenny Francis – No. 9 Crew Chief)
(JE= Jason Efland – Kasey Kahne’s Allstate Agent)

KF: Are there any specific car setup and driving strategies teams use to conserve fuel at the end of a race to avoid a pit stop? “The main way that a driver can conserve fuel during a race is to be smooth with the throttle when accelerating off each of the corners. Do not aggressively pump the throttle pedal. Also, lifting off the throttle early at the end of the straight will conserve a fair amount of fuel, but the lap times may be slower as a result.”

KF: How does the engineering and setup that you and your pit crew manipulate on the No. 9 Dodge have an effect on the amount of fuel used during a race? “Normally, a car that is loose will get better fuel mileage than a tight car because the driver has to be a little smoother with the throttle to keep from losing control. With a tight car, the car is harder to turn, so the driver will work the throttle more to give it the power to help turn the car which will hurt mileage.”

JF: What are some examples of safe driving techniques that motorists can use to save gas?

  • “Slow down. Aggressive driving wastes gas. Every 5 miles per hour that a person drives over 60 miles per hour is like paying an additional $0.26 per gallon for gas.” (fueleconomy.gov)
  • “Keep your car maintained and running smoothly with regular tune-ups and upkeep. Checking and replacing air filters can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, and will help protect your engine. Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent.” (fueleconomy.gov)
  • “Plan your routes. By planning your route in advance you can find the shortest distance making your commute quicker and cheaper.”
  • “Keep to the right. Often, the right-most lanes keep moving more than the left-most in areas prone to traffic-jams. This is usually due to cars exiting the highway on the right.”

KF: How many gallons of fuel does the No. 9 Dodge go through during a typical 400-mile race? “A typical Sprint Cup stock car has about 800 horsepower, weighs more than 3,000 pounds and goes from 0-60 in around three seconds, so you can imagine the fuel efficiency isn’t going to be as good as the cars you and I drive on the road. Typically, we can expect to get about four and half miles per gallon on a mile-and-a-half track, so we will use about 90 total gallons of fuel during the course of a 400-mile race.”

JF: Have you seen more of your customers turning to compact cars and hybrids that get better gas mileage? “I have seen a lot more customers looking at and purchasing compact cars over the past six months compared to years past. Hybrids are becoming popular but still seem to be more expensive compared to the same gasoline model and thus not as popular as compact cars. For 2009, automobiles that use clean-burning diesel are really taking the car market by storm. There are many cars just now arriving on lots that are getting 30-45 miles per gallon.”

JF: Have you seen a trend in people giving up traditional automobiles for motorcycles because of the rising fuel costs? “We have had a few, but most of them are buying motorcycles and scooters as secondary forms of transportation to save on fuel consumption and costs. The average motorcycle user reports fuel consumption of around 56 miles per gallon while the average automobile owner reports an average of 22 miles per gallon. This represents a lot of savings for motorcycle owners. But people still like having a car to drive when it is raining or cold outside.”

KF: Race cars don’t have fuel gauges. How do you calculate the fuel mileage for Kasey Kahne and the No. 9 Dodge during races? “Trying to calculate fuel mileage on a Sprint Cup car during a race certainly keeps our mathematical skills strong because we have to figure it out the old fashioned way. We count the number of laps we complete between pit stops and multiply by the track length. We weigh the fuel dump cans before and after a pit stop then divide that difference in weight by the fuel’s specific weight, typically 6.3 pounds per gallon. This way we know the distance and we know the amount of fuel used so we divide the distance by the gallons used to get the miles per gallon. Then we can multiply the miles per gallon by the fuel cell capacity and divide by the track length to calculate the number of laps we can run.”

JF: If a race car driver runs out of gas during a race someone can push the car to pit road to get refueled. What should a motorist do if they run out of fuel and aren’t close to a gas station? “If you run out of gas while driving, pull over to the side of the road. Make sure to turn on the car’s hazard lights to inform other motorists that you are having a problem. This is especially important if you run out of gas while driving at night. If you have access to road assistance such as Allstate Motor Club, give them a call and wait for the support car to arrive. If you do not have access to a road assistant service, call somebody you know, a friend or a family member.”

KF: On a mile-and-a-half track how many laps can Kasey Kahne get out of a full tank of gas during a green flag run? “Usually, the four and half miles per gallon give us about a 55-lap range with our 18.5 gallon fuel cell capacity. But obviously there are a lot of factors that can impact this, such as caution laps and whether the car is running in the middle of the pack in traffic or out in front in clean air.”

JE: Do you think people are driving less because of fuel costs? “Yes, I do. People are now starting to plan their trips and everyday errands more wisely. With fuel costs so low in the past we have not had to really think about where we drive each day, but now it makes a difference how many stops we make or if we want to go to a store on the other side of town versus a similar one nearby”

KF: How do the aerodynamics of a race car impact its fuel mileage? What specific features of the COT are designed to improve fuel mileage and how do these aerodynamic features differ from a regular passenger car? “A car with less aerodynamic drag will get better fuel mileage, but the aerodynamic drag on Sprint Cup cars is not adjustable so we really don’t consider it much with respect to fuel mileage. There are no specific features of the Car of Tomorrow that are designed to improve fuel mileage. The fuel cell is stronger, and has a slightly smaller capacity than the cars we were using before.”

JE: Which types of cars get the best gas mileage and what physical factors of a vehicle contribute to its ability to achieve more miles per gallon?

  • “Compact, mid-sized cars and station wagons are rated as the top fuel efficient vehicles by www.fueleconomy.gov.”
  • “When looking for new tires, look for tires that are designated to have Low Rolling Resistance. According to fuelly.com, these tires can help improve fuel economy by up to 2-4 percent.”
  • “Watch your RPMs. The gearing of your transmission determines how fast you travel at a certain RPM. So if you keep the RPMs low then you will use less fuel.” (www.fuelly.com)

KF: What are the worst mistakes a race car driver can make on the track to negatively impact fuel mileage? What’s the best thing a driver can do? “The worst thing a driver can do for fuel mileage is consistently pump the throttle. When this happens, unneeded fuel is sprayed into the engine with each pump of the accelerator. If the driver is smooth and gets the throttle down with a single motion only the fuel that is needed will be pumped into the engine and the car will get better fuel mileage.”

JE: What are examples of driving practices that drivers may not be aware of that can negatively impact the fuel mileage of their car?

  • “Revving the engine, accelerating quickly, traveling at high speeds”‘
  • “Stop-and-go traffic, crowded roads and looking for a parking space all burn fuel as well.”
  • “Stream line your car. Don’t fly flags and remove ski or bike racks after use. These items cause additional drag on your car.”
  • “Park in the shade. Gasoline evaporates out of your tank faster if you’re parked directly in the sun. If there is no shade available, park so your tank is facing away from direct sunlight.”
  • “Lighten up your load. Remove unnecessary items from the trunk of the car and don’t fill up the gas tank all the way. Depending on your tank size, your car will have 50-100 pounds less to haul all the time, which will equate to less gas used.”

So yesterday I went with my Dad to Best Buy to help him pick out a digital camera for my grandma for Christmas. Ok- so yeah I admit it, the main reason I agreed to go along was that I am a total geek and went to Best Buy yesterday with the sole intent of purchasing up the new Guns N Roses album (I also bought Call Of Duty: World At War for the Nintendo DS! Can you believe they make a DS version of that game? I was stoked!) Chinese Democracy.

Anyway- back in the day I was a big Guns N Roses fan.  I use to have to drag my mom to the record store so that she could by the album for me (they were real picky about the parental advisory warning labels back then) when ever a new album came out.

However, as I mentioned in the comments over at a post at Chris Cactus’ place, while yes I was planning on going out and buying Chinese Democracy on Sunday,  I was already prepared to be disappointed in it.  I mean that is a hell of a buildup for an album…what’s it been like over 10 years right?  So I have one listen down of the entire album and I am pleased to say that I am not totally completely disappointed. Now keep in mind that I have only listened to the entire album once.  There are some songs that stick out for me more than others…currently THE standout song on the first listen for me is Street of Dreams. However, There Was A Time also sounds really good to me. I don’t know what it is about those songs that stand out most to me- maybe its because they sound more like vintage GnR. Maybe I was just in a good mood when they happened to come on. I have no explanation for it.

You probably won’t like this album if you are expecting Appetite For DestructionChinese Democracy is more along the lines of the Use Your Illusion albums if you are trying to compare it to the exisiting discography…however I feel that is like comparing apples to oranges. This album is definitely going to be different and have a different feel, not only because it took so blasted long to come out, but because the only exisiting original member of the band is Axl.

I bet the more I listen to it- the more the album will stand out to me- because it always seems to take me three to five listens before I have something concrete to say about the album.

Growing Growing Growing.

Posted by Amy in General - (Comments Off)

My nephew is growing by leaps and bounds. He turns 8 months old on Monday. He is in 12 month clothing…because he is LONG. The 6-9 month stuff fits him around the middle but he’s far too long for them. He can sit up totally unaided and loves to play with his toys. He is also especially fond of taking each block out of the bag- sucking on it for a minute and then going for the next block in the bag until he has emptied the whole back. He also does he same thing with his toys in the toy basket.

He had learned to wave and kinda tries to blow kisses (which mostly means he puts the back of his hand in his mouth and waves the fingers). He loves to put anything and everything straight into his mouth. He rolls all over the place…and kinda crawls somewhat…but if he wants something fast…he’ll roll at it. He is still fascinated with faces. And still LOVES to pull auntie’s hair…especially if its wet. He can feed himself his bottles. He can drink from a cup if you hold it for him. He likes most of his foods he has tried so far…even the garden vegetables and whole wheat pasta I fed him yesterday that smelled really REALLY nasty. Speaking of yesterday- it was also the first day I got a big smile out of him by playing peekaboo.

Most notably though- he has learned the art of the temper tantrum. Take away a toy he was playing with for whatever reason and first he makes a little grunting noise and then flails his arms out and grabs with his hands – which is his own babysign language for GIVE THAT BACK TO ME NOW YOU MEANY!!! Then comes the kicking of the legs and crying. Its quite the show. If you hide something he wants behind your back or next to you or where ever you put it. He is tenacious in looking for it. If its something he wants (he LOVES the DIRECTv remotes because of the colored buttons and also is fascinated by cell phones) he will continue to wiggle about and tip this way and that looking for it.

It’s hard to believe cuz it seems like just yesterday he was willing to just lay in my arms and let me feed him and burp him. And now he wants to feed himself and wiggles around to get down and into things when I am trying to get the burps out!

My Main Work Area

My Main Work Area taken from the rear of my office. Notice the empty shelves. There are three rows of shelves. I can't even reach the top ones.

Main workarea from the door.

Main workarea from the door.

Secondary Work Area

Secondary Work Area

First up is Fill-In #99

1. The last band I saw live was Slaughter (in October when I went to Vegas).
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is Sweet Potatoes. (if you don’t celebrate thanksgiving, insert your favorite holiday)
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is just beginning.
4. Thoughts of lemonade summers fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear earrings without getting a reaction.
6. Bagpipes are hauntingly beautiful.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to going home and pouting, tomorrow my plans include cleaning and Sunday, I want to finish up my nephew’s blanket if I have time!

And the MI-5. Jim sez: It is amazing how sometimes minor decisions put us in the situations that end up being life changing.

Question 1.  Tell us of a time when a small decision had a major positive impact on your life.  I decided to babysit for a friend of my mom’s.  It had a positive impact because one job turned into two and eventually I was babysitting for her on a very regular basis (as in three to four times a week). I was part of their family and I loved it. Its how I paid for school.

Question 2.  Tell us of a time when a a small decision had a negative impact. I really can’t think of one. I am sure there is at least ONE but I can’t think of it.  Well maybe when I traded in my Chevy Lumina for the Rav4 in 2000. Only because apparently my dad wanted to buy the lumina back…but I swear I don’t remember that. So when I came home with my brand new Rav4 he wasn’t too pleased. I mean he got over it pretty quickly…but still.  That’s all I can really think of.

Question 3.  Do you have a mental process such as a test that major or minor decisions must pass? Well I want to make sure that any decision I make is best for me and my future without hurting anyone elses.

Question 4.  Outside of deciding to marry or asking your spouse to marry you (where that applies) what do you think is the best decision you have ever made in your life and why?  Leaving the teaching credential program. I was not cut out to be a teacher- I would have been miserable and the kids wouldn’t have gotten the education that they needed.

Question 5.  What made you decide to be an MI-5 participant? Bill asked me…I thought it looked and sounded like fun.  And you know what? It is!

Have you started Christmas Shopping yet?  I have. I know its going to sound weird but I like to get my Christmas shopping out of the way as early into the season as possible. I started last Saturday and already have my nephew done.  One person down a bunch to go for me.

I know that a lot of people like to give memorial gifts to charity during the season and I think that is a great idea!  If you have a NASCAR fan that you are shopping for this season- you may want to consider giving a donation to that driver’s foundation or favorite charity as a gift to your NASCAR fan who has everything. Several drivers have their very own charitable foundations and you will see a wide variety of causes supported from chronically ill children, injured motorsports drivers, spay/neuter programs or very specific causes such as Autism and cystic fibrosis.  Here is a short list of some of the more popular driver foundations:

The Tony Stewart Foundation- The mission of the Tony Stewart Foundation is to raise and donate funds to help care for chronically ill children, drivers injured in motorsports activities and to support other charitable organizations in the protection of various animal species.

The Kyle Busch Foundation- The Kyle Busch Foundation is dedicated to providing essential tools for less fortunate children throughout the country. KBF will concentrate its efforts on assisting organizations in fostering a safe environment for children to live, learn and challenge themselves as well as seeing that day to day needs are met

The Ryan Newman Foundation- To educate and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters; to educate children and adults about the importance of conservation so the beauty of the great outdoors can be appreciated by future generations; and to provide college scholarship funding through the Rich Vogler Scholarship program to students interested in auto racing careers.

The Hermie and Elliot Sadler Foundation- The Hermie and Elliott Sadler Charitable Foundation is dedicated to raising autism awareness and promoting research for a cure while also supporting initiatives that improve educational opportunities for children and their families. The Foundation provides support to projects that share the ideals and concerns of the Sadler family.

The Denny Hamlin Foundation-The Denny Hamlin Foundation was founded by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin. Denny’s resolve to win on the track is second only to his dedication to support children and youth suffering from debilitating childhood illnesses, including cystic fibrosis and pediatric cancer.

The Jeff Gordon Foundation- The Jeff Gordon Foundation is privileged to be associated with six designated organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children, by providing for their physical and emotional health and well-being.  We are proud of our ongoing partnership with these organizations and what we have been able to accomplish together.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation- The Jimmie Johnson Foundation is dedicated to assisting children, families and communities in need throughout the United States. The foundation strives to help everyone, particularly children, pursue their dreams.

Remember this is not an all inclusive list- just a bunch that I was able to pull off the web! You can always check for a driver’s foundation on their website.

If you are looking for a non-driver specific foundation you can always donate to one of these organizations as well:

The Victory Junction Gang Camp- Victory Junction Gang enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment.

The Nascar Foundation- It was created to harness the power of the NASCAR Family and help a wide range of causes closest to our hearts. As fans. As friends. As family.

Henrick Marrow Program- Since 1997, the Hendrick Marrow Program has raised more than $7 million to recruit donors and help patients pay for transplant-related costs.

It’s dawned on me- that you know your a NASCAR fan when someone you love- in my case my mother…starts a sentence like this about an hour after the last race of the season: “Now that NASCAR is over I am hoping you…”

So yesterday…I missed nearly all of the NASCAR Countdown and Prerace stuff.  Besides being the season closer- yesterday was also my mom’s birthday and my father does not like to shop and does not like to shop alone.  So after we took my mom to breakfast, he asked me to go with him to get my mom’s birthday stuff taken care of.  I walked into the house right as they started invocation. I missed the prerace countdown, the interviews before the race and Race Day.  Luckily I had a feeling this would happen and I dvr’d it all. I have yet to watch any of it though.

I didn’t take notes during the race because I was busy crocheting something that I am trying to get done (the blanket for my nephew. I would tell you it was almost done- except when Tony took the lead towards the end of the race I got excited and messed up so I have to take out a bunch to fix it because its a major booboo.  Anyway…Team Home Depot as I know and love it…had an awesome weekend all around. Tony qualified well (13th). He was in the top 10 most of the race and the top 5 for a good portion as well.  When he was second and reeling in Kenseth he said “Here kitty kitty kitty” which always cracks me up.  Of course I had to explain to my mom that meant Tony was pretty damn confident he would catch Matt and pass him. Unfortunately a lack of gas would necessitate a late pit stop.  Stewart was able to again charge through the field to make it into the top 10 before the end of the race, finishing 9th.

It was a good race overall. I was pretty confident that Jimmie would leave with the championship and I am glad he did.I was also glad that Tony and Team Home Depot were able to move up in points enough with their 9th place finish to be able to go to the ceremony in New York.

On to next year! I am excited to see what Tony will do with Stewart Haas Racing.

Today is just a short sweet CONGRATULATIONS to Jimmie Johnson for winning the NASCAR SPRINT CUP! This is his third CUP title in a row. He has tied Cale Yarborough’s record.  Also a big CONGRATULATIONS to Jimmie’s crew chief Chad Knaus for being the only crew chief to win three straight cup titles.  It was awesome to watch Jimmie tie the record…and Chad make a new crew chief record.

That’s all I am going to say today. Frankly I probably would have just left my last entry up at the top if I hadn’t pledged to do NABLOPOMO (a post every single day in the month of November).  I am having a bit of a melancholy about it being Tony’s last race with Team Home Depot. (And BTW- CONGRATS to Tony and Team Home Depot for making an awesome charge at the end of the race for a top ten finish…they will be going to New York).