Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Motegi and the Puple Ottoman in JP's Family Room

So I started getting these tweets last week about the logistical nightmare of packing up an IRL team and prepping it to ship to Japan for this week’s race. If I were to believe these tweets, posts and releases it would have me believe that this was an organizational task of herculean proportions.

Hogwash. You want a difficult logistical and technical challenge? This week JP is bridging the technological chasm that created itself two weeks ago when Directv dropped Versus. I figured that this would eventually compel the league to arrange for a video stream of the race which was fortunately announced this week.

SO the plan – stream on the computer and watch on the 42” plasma. We’d get the logistics done over the weekend and be ready to go Friday night. Sounds pretty simple, but the problems start early. The internet service for the house is not actually in the house. Since I work remotely out of a home office, the internet is located with the office, which is in a finished part of a barn on the back of the property. Being surrounded by cornfields, there’s no cable or DSL which leads me back into the evil clutches of satellite based media providers. SO given the limits of satelite based internet providers, I have just barely enough bandwidth to stream. I also have a wireless modem, in the office, which is again in the barn whose signal I can pick up in the back half of the house. Unfortunately the 42" plasma is in the front half of the house.

The first unplanned purchase, an $89 wireless AP, to sit in the back of the house getting the signal from the barn and amplifying it so that internet service is now available in the front of the house and for about 150 feet out into the cornfield across the street. Mrs JP works in IT so I leave setting up this sort of thing up to her. Apparently, we didn’t purchase the most user friendly of $89 AP units. After an hour on hold and another hour of Mrs JP speaking very loudly and slowly into the phone with a slight Bengali accent the $89 AP unit was working. Mrs JP was grouchy and MR JP, yours truly, spent the night sleeping on the couch. On to day 2.

On day two we went to hook the laptop up to the plasma and yet another problem presented itself. Our home laptop didn’t have a svideo or hdmi jack, only a vga jack. The 42" plasma has a multitude of electronic orifices, including all three of the previously mentioned ones. All my prior computers were macs so I had no vga cables handy to pull out of a box and use. Mrs JP, Being a PC, said she had hundreds of various cables that plug into any number of electronic orifices, but of course, they are all in storage. When Mrs JP became Mrs JP she moved in but most of her stuff moved to a storage facility.

So off to the storage facility we drove. Once at the storage facility, not only did we find a vga cable but we found a bunch of other vestiges of Mrs JP’s bachelorette pad that now became the solutions to missing links in our current home furnishing portfolio. Which is where JP made the mistake of opening his mouth using the forbidden words “Garage Sale”. Another night on the couch for yours truly. This time JP had the extra benefit of pondering the day's follies while staring at a newly relocated purple ottoman.

On day three we hook up the vga cable to the 42" plasma and begin to stream through the new $89 AP that relayed the internet signal from the office in the barn that has internet from the evil satellite media provider. We flip the screen from the laptop monitor to the 42" plasma and success!! Video!! Yes Video pulsating through 42 stunning inches of visual electronic nectar enclosed in a high grade translucent material. Yes stunning video in Millions of shades and tones of color. Yes Video, Video, WOW, Video.

Note I did not mention sound. Primarily because there was no sound, just the sound of slience. Where the people stared confused by the plasma god on mute.

Unlike the other electronic orifices, vga only relays video. SO we try turning up the sound on the laptop speakers, which worked as long as you were within the 3 ft of the orifice challenged computer and 42" plasma. Go sit on the couch next to the newly rescued purple ottoman and it was like listening to that guy. You know the guy, wearing a KORN goth outfit jamming to Cyndi Lauper on his iPod three seats away on the NYC subway. That wasn’t going to do. This time Mrs JP was eager to come to rescue. “I have a set of headphone jack speakers we can plug into the laptop and listen to those”. She said. I asked “Great, where are they?” A devious smile bloomed over Mrs JP’s face as she said. “At the storage Facility”, now otherwise known as the land of previously forgotten home furnishings.

So on Friday night, as those of you with actual cable television that still carries Versus sit down to watch the race live in peace and quiet. Remember JP, his 42” plasma TV, the vga cable, the orifice challenged laptop, the $89 AP device, the people at the suport call center who best understand English when spoken with a slight Bengali accent, the wireless router in the office in the barn where the evil satellite connection is and of course the newly relocated purple ottoman. And as you are remembering JP, please say a prayer. A prayer for clear skies on that particular evening. Because did I mention that the evil satellite internet service loses contact with the satellite when there is so much as a sprinkle falling from the sky…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dear Danica, Just Go.

Dear Danica, I hear you have met someone new, someone with more money, someone more trendy to be seen with. I hear you will be the belle of the ball and as much as I have appreciated our time together, Just Go.

Dear Danica, I am not mad, I am not angry or Jealous. You’ve shown that your heart is elsewhere and I don’t want to be strung along. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I know you haven’t accomplished everything you have wanted to, but if you can’t focus all your attention on those goals, they won’t happen anyway. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I’m sorry that Chip wouldn’t let you date around, Sometimes you have to pick a team and be dedicated. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I am worried about how some of my friends will treat you. You remember Mid Ohio, some cheered but others boo’ed, loudly. I hear the rumblings, you’ve become a villain. They will all boo you next year. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I remember when you were first in the spotlight and people talked about you simply for what you might mean one day. As so much of that has not happened, to keep yourself in the spotlight, you have had to shed more clothes with each successive photo shoot. I fear that if you stay here, two years from now results won’t be any different and you’ll have to film a soft porn video to keep the public’s fleeting attention. If the spotlight is so important, Just Go.

Dear Danica, The years ahead will have more twists and turns, I know you like to keep focused on what’s around the next left hand turn. I fear you will struggle and fall behind. Just Go.

Dear Danica, There’s some one new for me also. Her name is Simona. She isn’t from around here. She’s not as pretty as you and not as famous, but wow can she turn right. She’s young but she’s done things now that you never did when you were her age. I am just worried what people will think about you when she hops into Dale's extra car and they see her hit the road and take to the streets. Just Go.

Dear Danica, There’s always the class reunion in May. Just Go.

Dear Danica, about those man boob commercials, they left me feeling cheap and tacky. Just Go.

Dear Danica, You will struggle where you are going. Other’s that have gone before have had their troubles. Even though things are apples and oranges, if you linger and find modest success here, your struggles there will only cheapen what others think of me. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I worry about the people you have been listening to these days. I know they don’t think much of me, but I worry they are thinking as much about themselves and their pocketbook as much as you. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I enjoyed those times I got to bask in your glow and meet new sexy people, but when I see Sarah, She takes me back to my roots, the people I can’t forget and the people that will pick me up and see me through. Just Go.

Dear Danica, You are not my savior. I was a mess five years ago and I am a mess now. I don’t know what I have gotten out of our relationship, but I know you've benefitted more. I now know that some one else isn’t going to make me better – I have to do that myself. Just Go.

Dear Danica, I know people are worried about me, But I will be ok. I have indomitable spirit and belief in my purpose. I will find my way. Just Go.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Early to Rise and Early to Bed, Scheduling the IndyCar Series to Avoid America’s Real National Pastime

Racing is racing and as much as we enjoy it, that is all it will ever be. Football is football and in America football is king. In this day and age, it is America’s true national pastime. One of the perils or running a racing series into the fall are the unavoidable conflicts between a race broadcast and any number of televised football games on a given weekend. nascar’s answer to this a few years ago, while ratings were still in the ascent, was to throw a competition yellow and bunch the championship race back up with “The Chase for the cup”. The thought was that the extra drama from a tightened points race would finally give nascar the final umph to go after the king of all sports media properties the NFL. For what it was originally was intended to do, it failed. Now other secondary “successes” such as attention for sponsors whose drivers are on the chase bubble are now widely reported to justify it’s initial creation.

IndyCar realistically has no such grand plans to take on football, nor should it. But here we are with a meaningful points race for the championship heading into a disjointed close to the season that may confuse and lose the casual fan. George at Oilpressure has commented on the
current season ending with a wimper so I won’t spend too much time hashing over what might be wrong with the current system. George suggests the season should end on Labor day to avoid the football season.

Building on this, I had a thought, not an original one, and not one that I am completely sold on, but an Idea I certainly would welcome your opinions on (sorry about that run-on sentence Mrs Choate, I tried to use some big words to make up for it...). What if IndyCar began its season on the weekend between the conference championship games and the super bowl, a week before the festivities at Daytona. Then wrapped the whole deal up at a big labor day party? It would, by design, miss the entire football season. Yet it would still allow for a racing schedule to potentially expand from its current 17 race format to a 24 race format once adequate funding was infused into the series.

Scheduling might be a bit of an adventure – getting enough warm weather venues early in the season. It would undoubtedly require a couple events recently shifted to the end of the season to be switched back earlier. The season could conceivably revive a season opening race at the Disney Mickyard , then avoiding the superbowl and Daytona festivities head a couple weeks later to Homestead. A swing south of the equator to Brazil then Mexico City would flesh out the beginning of March which could be finished up with a trip to Charlotte. The schedule would then carry on as it currently does with the need to find a spot for Motegi back in late April which probably could be paired with the rumored and postulated event in China. The 500 would move to nearly the middle of the season which would progress through the meat of the schedule as is then end with back to back action filled D shaped mile and a half events at Chicago and Kentucky.

If the league was concerned about going completely dark during the end of sponsorship silly season, it might think about holding a non points paying “all star” weekend sometime in September at Las Vegas. This weekend could feature the season ending awards banquet, and a race where say the top 15 finishers in the IRL raced side by side with the top 5 finishers from the lights series. The twist? Two races – the first in Lights Cars and the second in the ICS cars where drivers and teams would be matched via random draw. Prospective sponsors could be brought in for the festivities and introduced to drivers (at both levels) and teams making a final pitch for sponsorship in the coming year.

Anyway, Just an unfiltered random thought. We have plenty of time on our hands as we wait for Motegi. This post is meant to initiate an open discussion so feel free to comment.

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