The Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 will be run tomorrow Sunday, May 27th., just as it has most Memorial Day weekends since the first race on May 30, 1911. Winning this race is an accomplishment for a driver and team not on par with any other.

I haven’t had the pleasure of attending this particular race, or even visiting the Indiana track on an off weekend. However, I did have the pleasure of going to the Las Vegas Speedway and the last race of the 2011 Indy season in October, and meeting last years Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon. Dan was actually a two time winner of the Indianapolis 500, in 2005 and 2011. He was the nicest person we met the entire week we were there! He was infectiously bubbly, upbeat, positive and confident. In his trailer before the race he proudly showed us Susies’ initals he had tattooed on his wrist, saying it was a spur of the minute thing they just decided to do to mark the love they had for one another.

But then there was the ultimate tragegy in lap 11. I was standing behind Dan’s pit when the accident happened across the track. I couldn’t see anything but flying debis, fire and smoke. I found myself screaming, where are the fire crews? Why aren’t they out there? What’s taking them so long? And I watched as Susie screamed, took off her headset and ran crying to the waiting cart.

The only Indy car race that I ever attended ended in tragedy and was cut short, having only run 11 laps. But that doesn’t mean the race wasn’t extreme in both excitement, and in speed. The Indy cars go so very fast (over 200 MPH), you cannot actually see them go by ~ whish, whoosh and gone. I certainly would have preferred any other outcome but the one that day. Tomorrow as I celebrate my 40th. Wedding Anniversary, I am doubly saddened by the thought of Dan’s family without him.

Some of the biggest names in autosports have run and won this race, names like Bobby and Al Unser, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti. And although some of the drivers of the Indy cars have moved to other racing circuts, for example Tony Stewart, Scott Speed, Juan Pablo Montoya and most recently Danica Patrick, there is still nothing like the Indianaplis 500! So if you want to see some exciting racing start to finish, from the comfort of your living room without all the extreme noise that goes with actually being at Indy – watch the race tomorrow at 11:00AM EST.

National Missing Children’s Day

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the day Etan Patz, a New York City 6 years old disappeared. He was on his way to his school bus stop – the first time he was allowed to go alone. He never returned home.

That day changed how we looked at things, caused us sadness for his family, and fear for our own children. Brought to national attention by the media and his picture being posted on milk cartons, all parents now had to worry, would my child be next?

I lived in a city close to NYC as a child. I can tell you in 1959, it wasn’t like that. Our parents didn’t show any sign of worry as they pushed us out of the apartment in the morning and off to school. I was 4 years old and walked ten city blocks to Catholic school. And yet, I don’t remember ever being afraid.

I know Etan wasn’t the first child to ever go missing, and I know he won’t be the last. Today is the anniversary of the day that changed the way we view other adults. It turned any interaction by another adult with our child from “innocent” to potential “suspicious behavior.” Somehow the realization that Etan (or any child) could be snatched on his way to the bus and never returned shakes any parent to this day. It’s the day that started us watching, waiting and doing all we can to avoid the unthinkable – losing our child to some stranger. It made us hold them close and not let them be a free to be children as they once were.

Is it good, or is it bad? I think it’s a little of both. I am happy to see that parents care enough about their children to take them to the bus stop and wait for the bus to arrive. I am happy to see them paying attention and holding onto them in the stores and around town. I am happy they installed GPS to the school buses – but down deep and overall I am sorry it’s all necessary. And despite all of our efforts, kids still go missing.

Riding Bikes to School

Earlier today while reading the news – this item caught my eye. I wonder today where common sense comes in when dealing with issues such as this.

Sixty-four (64) High School Students were suspended for the day because they rode bikes to school! Ok, they called it a senior prank, but wasn’t it harmless? Would the principal rather they did something bolder, irrational, or down right scary? If you read the story (and the link to the original article is below) they had the mayor, a police escort and even parents lining the streets and cheering them on. But then the principal had to have the last word and suspended all of them…..why? In fact, if she would have known about it in advance (and we sure don’t know if she did from the article), I think she should have rode with them to show her support to the graduating class. Where has all the fun parts of life  gone?Kids On Bikes

So again here is another story that gets you thinking — what’s missing from this story? In my opinion, this is a fun way to do something that marks your senior year, something you can remember at subsequent reunions, tell your kids, and hurts no-one. Can’t you see them borrowing their sisters, cousins or neighbors bikes to ride so they can all participate — I’ll bet the parents were very supportive of this — we know the police and mayor were.  So, in my opinion ~ what I think happened is that the principal said, if you can pull this off, and all ride bikes to school, I’ll give every one of you the day off. The only way I can do that officially is to call a suspension day, but teens the day will be yours! Enjoy it and stay safe.

All opinions are mine, including the made up portions and new ending to this story.  I just can’t help myself from doing this, otherwise it just doesn’t make sense!
Credit for the original report to Kyle Olson,  Original story here:


In the News Today – Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

I am going to start a new column where I comment or give you my opinion on things that are actually in the news.   The local, national or the world news is all fair game.  The subjects will run the gambit from just plain mundane to the weird and unusual.   Most of them will make both of us wonder where this world is headed.

Remember these will all be my personal opinions – I have no inside data, or sometimes even a solid reason for having these particular opinions.  These will all be based on what I read in the news — and quite honestly we all know that from one paper to the next the stories are slanted to the left or the right of center.

Starting off  I also want to say that sometimes the news just doesn’t add up.  Take the Trayvon Martin case as an example.  They spell his name different in several different accounts – aren’t newspapers supposed to check that before they publish?  News agencies and even some of the more involved parties have already said they lied, hid data, twisted the information a bit, and did other things that compromised the real story for the sake of sensationalism.

In this particular case, his death is a tragedy.  I am sorry it happened. I wish it could have been avoided.  However, being a gun owner, and having been trained and schooled in its appropriate and inappropriate use, I do not for one minute believe that George Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder.  I think the officers and original decision to let him use the Florida Stand Your Ground defense was the correct and adequate decision.  Why? Because I cannot believe that he would have ever shot Trayvon if there hadn’t been a darn good reason to do so.  No person trained to use a firearm and who understands the protocol of appropriate use, would do that.  It’s a last resort choice, not a first resort.

Here in Virginia, we were trained that no matter whom we shoot for whatever reason, we will be charged with second degree murder until all the facts are weighed.  We were told to expect to pay $250,000 in lawyer fees to defend yourself against a rightful shooting.  George is from Virginia – and I am sure he didn’t just pick up a gun one day at a gun show and not learn why, how and when it would be appropriate to use it.

Maybe I am naive in this thinking, maybe there are people out there just waiting for a reason to shoot and to kill a teenager?  But I’d like to think I’m not.  In closing, I like to say a word to Trayvon’s mother and father – making this a media circus and trying to make money off of your son’s death is disgraceful.


Dreams & Shooting

Two nights ago was only the second time I had to shoot someone. Dreams can be good or bad, the bad ones are called nightmares.

I grew up around guns. To say I was afraid of them would be putting it mildly. Maybe because I was a girl I had no interest in them and had no desire to even see or touch one. My father kept his guns handy and knew how to shoot. He was a pistol champion. As a child I always saw dad cleaning his pistols. He also used to mimic shooting the bad guys on the black and white TV set we had in our living room. There wasn’t much room in the four room apartment that held the seven of us, and there wasn’t really any place to go to not be around the guns.

At some point in time, I started dreaming about being shot every night. No one ever made a move to actually shoot me, or even threatened to do so in real life but the dreams became more regular and came more often. I was sure that one of these days after dreaming this night after night that it would come true. It made me want to avoid any and all firearms. It almost made me want to avoid sleep. It certainly could be called a reoccurring nightmare. Until one day they stopped, after I was married, out of my parents house and maybe because of the distance from the actual guns?

Fast Forward … 2004
Ever catch someone trying to break into your home? How about a second attempt? The first time we experienced this and tried to catch the intruder — we didn’t succeed. The second time, we were able to get a license plate number. With the help of several friends and a series of coincidences, which I prefer to think was divine intervention, we found out what was going on. A neighbor rallied the neighborhood to file a lawsuit against us, making up charges and opening a dummy corporation “representing” the homeowners association. The reason was one particular man who wanted us “out of his neighborhood”. Nothing more, and nothing less would satisfy him. He was wealthy and thought he could control everyone and everything. He made up lies about our family and spread them as gospel truth to the other homeowners. He even had another man strong arm the neighbors into signing – mostly by lies and intimidation. They hired private investigators to follow, track, record, film and to break into our home.

Because we were not guilty of any of the dozen charges he made up, we did what we felt was right. We stood our ground. This was the last thing he expected. Surely the power of a seriously wealthy man would intimidate most, but not us. We have no “dirt” to dig up, no skeletons in our closet we haven’t dealt with, no secrets to hide. I believe he found and used things like that against others in our neighborhood but with us there was nothing to find, so he resorted to making them up.

When someone is “out to get you” and makes it pubic knowledge that they are, the options are almost always either fight or flight. Since flight wasn’t going to be our choice, we decided to get our concealed carry gun licenses.  We wanted to be prepared should he decide to escalate his efforts.  Here in Virginia, you don’t actually have to have a concealed carry license to have or wear a gun on your side. Virginia is an open carry state. As long as the gun can be seen, and not carried into prohibited places (schools, etc) – you can holster your gun and wear it while you go about your day.  The requirements for concealed carry (where your gun is hidden from view) in our area of Virginia, is to take an 8 hour class, then pass a written and a shooting test.  After that, a judge has to sign off on your request to carry a firearm and your concealed carry license is issued.

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