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First off- Happy Independence Day.  I am going to be exercising my independence by sleeping in!  Then I will probably spend the night watching the neighborhood kids blow off illegal fireworks (they are all illegal here– safe and sane or not) and then hide from the cops as the little old lady down the street calls them every year.  Seriously. I hope that you all have a safe 4th and I want you all to come back with all your fingers and toes ok? Don’t make me count them!

First we have Aunt Ginny’s Independence Day MI-5:

1. AAA predicts a first ever decrease in travel for this Fourth of July due to the gas/oil crisis. Do you find that you are traveling less these days in an effort to conserve? Heck yes. I have parked my car for the long weekend. Seriously. I will do whatever I can not to drive this weekend. The month before last my gas bill for the month was a $120.00. Last month? It was $262.00. Now granted last month constituted three trips that I normally wouldn’t have taken: Two to the San Fransisco Airport and one to Pleasanton.  But still that is crazy…and dips into my fun money for the month…so I am officially on fuel conservation mode. 

2. Many of the news shows have been showing pieces about backyard fireworks, and the dangers involved, in the past few weeks. Do you, or have you ever, staged your own fireworks on the Fourth of July? What did you do? Well considering all the wildfires around here I think that the few towns in our area that do sell the fireworks should discontinue that practice.  But onto the question. Honestly above sparklers I can only think of a few times and that was when I was a kid. They honestly kind of scare me…so I am not big into them…except I have always loved sparklers.

3. The vote for independence from England occurred on July 2, 1776. Do you plan to vote in the November elections? What are your thoughts on exercising your right to vote? I have voted in every election be it local or national since I turned of age.  I plan to continue that.  It is my right and I will exercise it.

4. Do you have holiday plans / traditions for the Fourth of July? Tell us about them.  Usually there is some s’mores made over a small weber pit. That’s about it. Its like the one day a year we have us some s’mores.

5. Are you attending a parade this year on the Fourth? If so, what is your favorite part of a parade? Yo ur lease favorite part? Will you be participating IN the parade? What will be your role? No. I can’t remember the last parade I went to. And I am pretty sure I have never been in a parade. My brother has been a couple times when he was a kid in the boy scouts.  Our town doesn’t do parades anymore. Nearby ones do, but frankly, they have never really appealed to me. 

And Now? The Friday Fill-in #79

1. Holidays in the summer are just as good as holidays during the rest of the year…it’s great to be off work.

2. Shrimp are my favorite things to grill (but I will pretty much eat anything grilled…ok almost anything).

3. My thoughts are sometimes clouded by snap judgements.

4. Sleep is what I’m most looking forward to this weekend!

5. My favorite book so far this summer is still waiting for me to start it…I haven’t been reading much.

6. Waking up is the best way to begin a day.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to working on a baby bunting, tomorrow my plans include watching the 400 and working on the baby bunting and Sunday, I want to sleep in and finish the baby bunting!

So for my non-nascar friends and readers…Tony Stewart’s nickname is Smoke (think “tire smoke” not cigarettes). He has his own line of “Smoke” products in addition to the usual sponsor related garb that all drivers have. Anyway many months ago I found his new line of Smoke Hats. And let me tell you…they are awesome. It took me awhile to decide which one I wanted to get but after much much deliberation (and some emailing back and forth with bfm) I decided on his “circus hat” which looks like this:

I wanted this sucker so bad I preordered it. Yes you read that correctly…I preordered a hat.

Anyway, my brother was over today and happened to be by the door when someone knocked and there was a UPS man standing there with a smallish box in hand. I was excited…it was my hat. My brother handed me the box and I started looking for my keys to cut open the box with. My brother, being the man that he is, whips out his pocket knife and carefully cuts through the tape. I opened the box a tad to peek in. I could tell what it was even though it was all covered in paper and stated “Oh cool- its my hat” and then promptly put it aside thinking it would be rude to open it while my brother was visiting. Well he was having none of that. He picked the box up and quickly started pulling the packing out of the box. He pulled off the last bit of covering and then pulled out the hat…(see above picture), gasped and said “That is a FREAKING! COOL! HAT!” ripped off the hat he was wearing and put it on his head. He laughed and said just kidding and took it back off and admired it a bit and waxed a tad about how cool the hat was. So…you see where I am going with this right? Yep. I gave it to him. He said he was kidding and that I should keep it…but I insisted.

By the way, speaking of my brother, I found out a couple of weeks ago that not only did I make him into a NASCAR fan…but he’s picked Tony as his favorite driver. So I told him “You can keep it. It’s your first Tony Stewart hat.” He wore it home (he lives just across the street) tags and all.

I love the Internet. Why? Because I most likely would have never “met” Lisa without this blog…she lives on the far opposite coast from me and we follow each other’s blogs and have actually found that we have a lot in common.  Anyway she made me something!  Lisa sent me this little homemade memory book to save all my race goodies in (and don’t think that fact that its in Tony’s colors is lost on me). I LOVE IT! Thank you soo much Lisa!! You rock! Isn’t this cool:

Isn’t it wicked cool when someone makes something for you? I love it and have been showing it to anyone who will look.

Also…I wanted to show you two more pictures of my adorable nephew:

First is his accidental mohawk…when I was handing him off to his grandma the static on my shirt caught his little hairs and made them into a little mohawk:

And finally- who doesn’t love a smiling laughing baby? Awww:

Foxsports.com reports today that Dario Franchitti’s cup team has been shut down “because of lack of sponsorship.”  I personally think that it was lack of sponsorship coupled with lack of performance, with Franchitti’s best finish being 22nd.

Just to let those of you know who might have missed it when it was on PPV, The Prelude to The Dream- the dirt track charity race that attracts racers from all genres of racing will be airing on SpeedTV July 5th, 2008 at 1:00 pm eastern time. Racers from Cup to NHRA and everything inbetween show up to Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg Ohio are drawn to play in the dirt and to compete for nothing more than bragging rights and a big trophy. Proceeds from the Prelude benefit Victory Junction Gang Camp II (to be located outside of Kansas City). It was a fun race to watch and its worth DVRing just to see Kyle Petty kiss the winner. Seriously. He kissed the winner.

You can read my first thoughts on the Prelude here. SpeedTV also has a great online photo gallery if you are interested.

You can also find information about The Victory Junction Gang Camp and The Tony Stewart Foundation by clicking on the respective links.

Ok…you all know I love Tony Stewart…he’s my favorite driver. Last season there was the whole hair debacle. Some people liked his long hair, some people didn’t like his long hair. Some people (like me) honestly didn’t really care one way or the other.

Anyway long story short (no pun intended)…I was browsing the tonystewartstore.com website looking for baby socks for my nephew.  And then some how I came across the 2008 Tony Stewart Lifesize Standup (and I will openly admit that I kinda want one…I want to stand up in the corner of my office but that’s a different story all together).  Here is the image of the standup as taken from the tonystewartstore.com website:

I saw this and I thought to myself…there is something slightly odd about this picture. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…and then it dawned on me…I had seen this picture before only Tony had longer hair.  Someone felt the need to retouch Tony’s hair from when he was wearing it longer to a shorter style.  Unfortunately they didn’t photoshop the front of his hair so it looks slighty odd since its long in the front. So then I had to search the internet over to find the original…which I finally found on ciastockphotos.com

It just seems kinda silly that someone took the time to photoshop his long tufts of hair off the photo. I don’t know why it strikes me as odd but it does.  Were that many people really that upset that Tony let his hair grow out a little? I know that you could argue he is a public figure but in all actuality that argument doesn’t even fly with me so don’t try it.  I don’t even know why I felt the need to point this out….but I did.   I also noticed that his hair has been photoshopped shorter on the joegibbsracing.com front page (it actually looks like the same picture of his head to me only reversed)…but not on his actual page. Weirdness.

As always click on the picture to go to the original flickr entry to see the photos and their attributions.

(I really can’t explain why but the lyrics “And now its startin’ to rain/on my parade” have been going through my head all afternoon. ALL AFTERNOON and EVENING. It’s actually kind of annoying. 50 billion brownie points if you know the song they come from. No fair googling!).

First off I want to start this off by saying I am not a big fan of the Louden race. It seems like to me weather is almost always an issue. Of course this whole weekend was nothing different. Qualifying took nearly three hours because of rain delays. The Nationwide race ended under yellow because of rain (and YEY Tony for your fifth Nationwide win of the season)! And the cup race? Well it was called with 17 laps to go because (you guessed it) of rain.

Team Home Depot had another strong performance. Yet again, the finish (13th) is not indicative of the race that was ran. Luckily Tony was a HotPass driver this week and I listened to the team audio channel on my hotpass for the entire race. The team communication was excellent and everyone seemed to be working together flawlessly. The twenty car had moved up fairly quickly through the field even before the first round of pit stops. It was exciting to see the pit crew work flawlessly and to watch the twenty car move up through the field by good hard racing…it was truly a stellar performance considering that the car wasn’t exactly perfect judging by the adjustments called for but the crew worked to make the car better and Tony worked to drive what he had when he had it. The Home Depot car was soon in the top five and stayed there for a good portion of the race, including a nice stint of leading the field, being chased down hard by Jimmie Johnson. Overall- there was a lot of good clean hard racing (even when we had to remind David Blaney that he was not racing for position and was holding us up a tad).

Unfortunately Mother Nature was a mean lady…and decided to rain while we were under a caution. Team Home Depot had taken their final pitstop and even though team home depot only took two tires and some gas (and some more tweaking) We ended up shuffled back to thirteenth in the field when that final caution came out. Then the rain moved in. And NASCAR decided to call the race a race***, thus handing a very lucky Kurt Busch his first victory of the 2008 season. (Does anyone else remember when we were in Kurt Busch’s position last year during Kansas…and the race was on rain delay for over two hours? Yet they finished? Who makes these decisions?). I can only imagine the disappointment team home depot felt at the end of that race, having run so solidly to come in 13th.

To be noted about Louden:

- I was very impressed that Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears all seemed to have fairly good cars this weekend. They all raced really hard, but too were caught off guard by the early ending of the race. Their places are also not indicative of the race they ran (Mears ended up 7th, Jimmie Johnson 9th and Jeff Gordon 11th).

- Also, color me impressed with pole-sitter Patrick Carpentier’s comments before the race, about how he was hoping to lead the first lap for the points and then planned to just fall back into a rhythm since he didn’t have any real experience at this track. He said he hoped for a top 15 finish…which unfortunately he did not get, ending up 31st in the standings.

- It should also be noted that Bobby Labonte finished 10th after starting second. He too ran a good hard clean race.

Next weekend…Daytona under the lights!

_________

***My reaction when the race was called due to rain? Was to throw my yarn ball (I was crocheting another baby bunting while watching the race…what? I have to have TWO made by the end of July!) at the TV. Luckily it was a yarn ball and not…you know like a brick or something.