29 May 2010

Well, that sucked

Yesterday... kind of a bust.

The Red Bull event... kind of sucked. BELIEVE ME when I say I will give the full details on that later. For now, we got in last night at 10:00 p.m. and it's now nearly 6:30 a.m., and we need to get going.

The World of Outlaws race... kind of rained out.

Pics from Thursday are here (the motel's internet wasn't working Thursday night, so I couldn't blog, and there wasn't enough time Friday morning). Unedited, uncaptioned. Pics from NNS practice, NSCS practice, another NNS practice session, and then NSCS quals.

Pics from last night are here. They ARE edited and captioned.


26 May 2010

Shops: Day Three

Let's cut to the chase. My pics from today are here. Edited and captioned.

Today's plan: Roush, Petty, and MWR.
Today's actual route: Roush, Petty, Earnhardt Ganassi with Felix Sabates, and RaceWorld (aka: MWR or Mikey's shop).

We hit Roush first (but not without a not-minor scuffle between Mom and her GPS). I scored another Christmas present (my first Christmas present was some Kyle Busch pajama pants) in the form of a Carl Edwards Aflac jacket. After hitting the gift shop, we hit the museum and talked to some of the Roush employees. We managed to meet one from Lawrence, KS (home of KU - BOO!!!), and we asked her what was going on today. We'd noticed that people were sitting in chairs outside, which puzzled us since Roush's fan appreciation day isn't until tomorrow. It ends up that people were ALREADY lining up and preparing to camp out in the autograph line; the autographing begins at noon tomorrow, and we had arrived around 10:30 a.m. this morning. We decided we wouldn't want to sign things for the people who were sitting in the sun all day today and all morning tomorrow.

Then he hit Petty, which is directly next door to Roush - as in you don't even have to leave the driveway. Roush and Petty share a gift shop, so in the Petty building, you just browse the lobby to grab some pictures and hero cards. The End.

On to EGR, which we hadn't planned on going to (my NASCAR friends will understand why, even though they host my beloved James), but we found out that they were mere minutes from the Roush/Petty campus. On to EGR. The gift shop is... odd. You walk in and James' stuff is on the left and JPM's stuff is on the right. There's a great divide in the middle, and that's it. And, really, there isn't that much stuff. Mom and I were both pretty surprised. Even from the visitor's lookout deck, there wasn't much going on in the shop. It was... odd. And the atmosphere there was just weird. Sterile, almost.

Finally, on to the FanFest at Mikey's shop. If you ever get a chance to go to a FanFest at MWR, GO. Make plans, do not change them, do not reconsider, do not let anyone talk you out of it. Part of it was like a mini-hospitality village - SO many free give-aways. There were moon bounces and air slides for kids, there were animals from local shelters (to be adopted, but also there for kids to adore and pet), a silent auction, and OH MY GOSH - the food and the raffles. But before I get ahead of myself, I was in fact able to print out my email affirming that I won an autograph wristband, and we claimed our prize. We wandered the silent auction, and I went NUTS when I saw that one of the prizes was a guitar autographed by Michael Jackson and his band, including Slash.

I got my autograph hat autographed by Trevor Bayne, David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip, Tim Brown, Ryan Truex, Martin Truex, Jr., and Michael Waltrip. The first session was Trevor and David, and I mentioned to them that I had flown in from Philadelphia to watch them race. David asked me where their cheesesteaks were. I said, "Well, I didn't know how you'd like them. Onions, mushrooms, peppers?" Trevor said, "Onions are good," and David said, "That all sounds good to me!" and I told them that next time I came down, I'd come bearing cheesesteaks.

The food to be bought was Cold Stone Creamery ice cream; cotton candy; and some other random fairground types of food. And for supper: barbecued pork sandwiches or hot dogs that came with macaroni and cheese or coleslaw, a bag or chips, and a beverage - all for five bucks. The best part was when I asked what kind of meat the hot dogs were made of (since I don't eat pork). "I don't know. I think it's standard hot dog meat." So I just opted for mac and cheese. She gave me a HUGE serving of pasta and just charged three bucks for it.

By that time, it was time to move to the stage area for the announcement of the raffle prize winners. There had been four boxes in the RaceWorld lobby: a Race Day experience, an Aaron's prize, a TireMonkey.com prize, and a $100 gift certificate to the RaceWorld shop. Each box said you could enter only once per person and you HAD to be present to win. So Mom and I dutifully filled out four slips, put one in each box, and hoped for the best, although we had no idea what any of the prizes except the gift certificate were.

By the time we got our meals, and found a seat, they had JUST started to call out the winner's names. They started by giving out some stuffed Lucky Dog's, and I was disappointed that I had missed an opportunity to enter a drawing for a free Lucky Dog. Then they started giving out some other random prizes, and Mom and I finally figured out that we HAD entered for these prizes, and they WEREN'T just drawing one person from each of the four aforementioned boxes. So we settled in for awhile.

Some really cool, kick-ass prizes went by, and Mom and I figured it was okay since we'd been pretty lucky so far. I'd won the Driver Intro passes (although we didn't use them), I'd won the autograph passes to Mikey's FanFest tonight, and really - how greedy can one family get? Then they called Mom's name (or some mangled variation of it) for a $100 gift certificate to Mikey's gift shop. It was the last of five such certificates they were giving away; I yelled at Mom, "THAT'S YOU!" (you know, just in case she had forgotten her name). After that, I settled back in because I figured after THAT kick-ass prize, really - just how greedy can one family get? I mean, seriously??? And then they announced the biggest prize of the night: a Race Day experience. Tickets to a future race, a meet-and-greet with Martin Truex, Jr., and some other race day perks that I don't remember (it's kind of a blur). And THEN. THEY. ANNOUNCED. MY. NAME.

I'll admit it. I screamed. And ran like hell to the stage. I got a card from the Director of Fan Relations with instructions to email him, and he'll email me back with a list of the 8-10 races from which I can choose to go to and claim my prize. In that email, he'll also outline all of the perks of the prize. I am SO psyched!!!!!

Then we went to the gift shop because we found out that Mom had to redeem her gift certificate tonight. So... shopping spree time! Here's the haul (the Trevor Bayne shirt was a gift for me; he's the newest member of my Harem):

25 May 2010

More Shop-ping

The plan today was to hit Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Mary Jo's Fabric store, a Charlotte LYS, and a Secret Mission. Well, four outta five ain't bad.

Since we spent nearly two hours at JGR, and Mom's GPS idea of routing us from JGR to Mary Jo's was to do that via taking us RIGHT BY our motel room ("Anyone need anything from the room?" Mom quipped as we drove by), then Mom's GPS decided to swing us in yet another huge circle as we went on the Secret Mission. Then nearly two hours at Mary Jo's. After that, we realised we wouldn't have time for Roush, so we headed to the LYS... only to find out that it was closed (apparently it's closing for good next week and is only open the latter half of the week. So we then headed to another LYS (which is really the LYS I wanted to go to anyway and was outvoted by my mom... who was, after all, the one driving).

When you drive into Joe Gibbs, there's a sign that directs visitors straight ahead. The problem is that once you enter the driveway, you can either turn left and right; you can't go straight... unless you want to drive over their flower garden. I told Mom, "No wonder Kyle and Denny run into each other if this is as good as the Gibbs spotters are. Maybe I've been blaming Joey for being a bad driver when I should blame Gibbs for having crappy spotters." I couldn't resist; I HAD to take a picture of that.

As soon as you walk in, there's one Kyle car, one Denny car, and one Joey car. There are display cases with memorabilia of various JGR members, including Tony and Joe Gibbs himself. You then go through a hallway to a lookout over the shop. Behind the lookout area is another display case. These cases are more of a past-to-the-present glimpse of JGR. Please check out my pics from today for the highlights (well, highlights considering my drivers and who I had in mind when I was snapping the pics). Also, today the pics are actually edited and captioned!!! Bonus!

Then Mom and I went HOG WILD in the gift shop. As I mentioned in my Twitters today (btw, for anyone who doesn't know, I'm letos_refuge on Twitter; come on over), I like Kyle and Denny, and Mom likes Joey and Denny, so yeah... it took awhile. Also, they not only had a clearance rack, but a clearance TABLE. Oooh, aaaah.... And while we were in the gift shop, who should walk in but our Stalker from yesterday! We talked to her and found out that her name is Kathy and that she would be going on to other shops that we were not hitting, and vice versa. So, sadly, it seems that she would not be stalking us anymore.

Anyway, tomorrow: Roush Fenway (attempt two), Petty Motorsports, and back to RaceWorld for Mikey's event.

Thursday is back to the track for practice and quals. Friday is... well, you know by know what Friday is. Saturday is the NNS race. Sunday is the Coca-Cola 600.

I fly back to Philly on Wednesday. I can't believe the time has gone by so quickly.

A Two-For-One Special

Sunday, Mom and Dale went to visit Dale's sister-in-law who usually lives in the KCMO area near Mom and Dale but is currently staying with her son in the Charlotte area due to health issues of both her and her husband (it's a long, convoluted story). So while they went there, I went and spent time with my friend Cristi (you can catch a quick glimpse of part of my visit to her house here.) She treated me to brunch at a wonderful place called "The Flying Biscuit." Although no biscuits actually flew, I did get to eat some of the best grits ever, and I got to try some fried green tomatoes. I also got to play Doodle Jump on her iPhone, which one of my NASCAR drivers is obsessed with, so that was exciting.

From there, we went to her place for my first sock lesson. For those who have been paying attention, you know that I've taken sock classes. And if you've been paying attention for a VERY long time, you know that I've made toe hats, I've made sock cuffs, and I've even turned heels - I've just never managed to do them all in the same project. And Cristi is determined that I knit socks. Actually, so is Brook. And Hunter. And I think a few other people wouldn't mind, either.

So she VERY graciously and generously gave me some yarn from her stash. I am now the very proud and grateful owner of some black and grey sock yarn, and a variegated skein of reds, pinks, purples, and blues. VERY pretty. She measured my foot, and pretty soon, I was casting on for my first whole sock! (And Cristi found out that when I say I'm a tight knitter, I mean it. "Boy, you ARE a tight knitter!" Then, later... "I'd like to fire a bullet through that fabric and see if it makes a dent.") She printed me out a copy of her Candi Wrappers pattern (which I'll just be doing in stockinette stitch for my first sock, but I'm using the pattern for the construction), and gave me some stitch markers (that woman's generosity is never ending).

And, of course, I got to pet Ripple and she held Calvin for a few seconds so I give him a quick skritch. We also watched a fascinating (and quite good) documentary on the Miss Gay America pageant - an annual pageant for gay female impersonators (Cristi: are there any STRAIGHT female impersonators?). After, we looked up whether any of the contestants we'd followed through the movie had won in the subsequent years, and happily one had! And, he's from KCMO! Yay!

Yesterday, we spent the day in Mooresville touring the team shops. Our first stop was RaceWorld USA (aka: home of Michael Waltrip Racing). You might remember me blogging (albeit very briefly) about my trip there last December. I got a t-shirt there, and Mom scored a t-shirt and a magnet. Next up was Red Bull Racing Team. Because they had a clearance rack, I scored three shirts (one was a shirt I already have and paid full-price for last year, but I LOVE it and it was on sale for ten bucks so I got another one). Note, if you ever to Red Bull's facility, the receptionist on the left is rude. A woman came in after us (we'll call her "The Stalker" - you'll see why later), and asked if Scott was in today. Reception on the left said, "Well, you know, since he DOES have a LIFE, he isn't always in here and he's out enjoying himself today." Um, you know, a simple "No, he isn't in the shop today" would have sufficed.

However, Mom did (very nicely, since she has no interest in this AT ALL) inquire about where the Epicentre is in Uptown Charlotte and if it was feasible to get from there Friday afternoon to the World of Outlaws race Friday evening (are y'all tired of hearing of Friday's logistics yet?). One of the shop guys told us it should be doable unless traffic was unusually heavy. And if we thought we could pull it off, we should, because it would DEFINITELY be worth it. Oh, and by the way, if you like Red Bull and you're ever in the Mooresville area, stop by the shop. They have a fridge and you get to help yourself to complimentary Red Bulls. I can't have them because they have caffeine (not as much as I thought, though - only about the equivalent of a cup of coffee). But the fridge is too cute!

Then we headed to Germain Racing to see Todd Bodine. They don't have much going on there. Some pics and trophies in the lobby, and you can see into the shop. But it's kind of uncomfortable because their actual offices are right off the lobby. So as you're trying to take pictures, people are having meetings in their offices or are on phone calls. Plus, Mom hates Todd Bodine and who knows what could come out of her mouth at any given time. :P Next stop, TRG to get some pics for Ria's daughter. It may not look like many pics, but they're as many pics as were available in the tiny lobby.

Then we hit Penske. One of the first guys we saw when we looked through the shop windows was Steve Addington, crew chief for Blue Deuce (aka: Kurt Busch). A guy near me had a picture and a miniature helmet of Addington he wanted autographed, so the cashier asked the security guard to take both out to the shop to him. He signed the picture but wouldn't sign the helmet (and we aren't sure why). I thought about sending my autograph hat out there, but I decided not to because most of the fun of collecting the autographs on my hat is getting to meet the people at the time. And sending a guy out there in my stead would be cheating. So I settled for some blurry pictures instead.

After the Addington angst, we turned around to start shopping, and who do run into but... The Stalker. So I pointed her out to Mom and Mom laughed and said, "Where are you going next, so we can meet you there?" Then some jokes about who was following whom, and we decided that we had made it to both Red Bull and Penske before she did, so she was, indeed, stalking us. Mom and I each decided on a t-shirt (I got a Kurt shirt after FINALLY finding one that didn't have "Miller Lite" on it; she got a Brad one - blech. I didn't let her share bags in case I'd get Brad cooties). Then we went up to the "Fan Walk" of Penske where you can look out over the shop and watch them work on the cars. Behind the Fan Walk area is where they have the banners from each race win.

On our way to supper, I checked my Blackberry to find out that I was one of the winners of Mikey's contest. I won an autograph wristband for his Fan Appreciation Day on Wednesday! His event is open to everyone, but the autograph event is limited to a certain number of people. Anyone can come through the line, but only those with wristbands can get autographs and you can only get two autographs. And I won a wristband! But, as with the driver into fiasco, there's a catch. Oy. It says we have to bring a hard copy print out of the email stating I won to Race World. Um, yeah... we're travelling from out-of-state, I don't happen to have my printer with me, and we don't know anyone in the area to drop by and go "Hey, can you print this for us?" So we're going to hope that me showing up with my BlackBerry and waving the email in their face is good enough. Otherwise, Mikey is gonna have to deal with Mom and I and our un-autographed Mikey memorabilia. Mikey, consider yourself warned.

Shop pics are here. And, no, I do NOT like Brad, but I took those pics for Jen.

23 May 2010

CMS Day Three: The All-Star Race

As I Twittered, Mom and I decided not to go to the track for the driver introductions. When we read the instructions for the "Mosh Pit," it said to be sure to bring your Sprint FanView to the driver intro because you would be watching the Showdown from the Nationwide garages. So we went back to the Sprint Experience to ask them for more information. We would have to meet at the Sprint Experience before the Showdown started, be held in the NNS garages during the Showdown, brought on to the track for the All-Star driver intros, the taken off after the intros and around to the grandstands after, and we might miss the very beginning of the All-Star Show.

We were also concerned that there would be a mad mob rush to the stage (I mean, it was called "Mosh Pit" for a reason). And with Mom's Sjogren's Syndrome and my torn hip cartilage, we were worried about our ability to beat a crowd. And if we couldn't beat a crowd, we'd be sunk. Because I'm 4'6" and Mom is 5'4". And if we were mired in the back of the crowd, we might as well be in out seats, which were actually pretty decent. Why miss the Showdown and the first part of the All-Star race to get pics of the backs of people's heads?

The most amazing part of the night was that weather.com had us at a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. and it NEVER RAINED.

Okay, now let me back up. We started the day getting Robby Gordon's autograph. When Mom stepped up to his souvenir hauler, the step-stool was a few inches away from the hauler, and she managed to somehow get her foot in those few inches and stumbled. Robby said, "Are you gonna fall into me, here?" When Mom said that she fell because of the step-stool, Robby immediately asked the two men in line behind me please move the steps as soon as Mom got off of them. I heart Robby.

Speaking of the two men behind us in line... I've always tried to impress on people who aren't NASCAR fans that NASCAR events aren't just sports events - they're social events. You people watch, you meet people, you socialise with people who like your drivers, you trash-talk with people who like drivers who are rivals with your drivers... even though you know you will never meet them again. It's just one big party, which happens to have a race at the end. Anyway, these guys in line behind us at Robby's autograph line were IN. THE. KNOW. about various fan appreciation events going on this week. In fact, they are responsible for one of the most agonising decisions I have ever had to make.

I've been campaigning all week to go to the Red Bull Racing Team Fan Appreciation event this Friday from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., which Mom keeps telling me might be difficult since we have the World of Outlaws race Friday at 6:00 p.m. But the two men in line told us about the Kyle Busch fan appreciation event. You have to get there at 11:00 a.m. to get a wristband to be eligible to get an autograph. But he won't be signing until 1:00 p.m. Which means that getting to the Red Bull event will be difficult. Blech.

The thing is, Scott appears pretty much every race weekend at every track. But Kyle is really hard to get to. But they're expecting a LOT of people, so to be GUARANTEED a wristband, we'd have to get there REALLY early. And then stay until at least 1:00 p.m. But if we get Scott, it might be tight getting to the World of Outlaws race. Blech again.

My pics from last night are here. Again, massive spoilers if you haven't seen last night's race yet. Again, unedited and uncaptioned. And in case you missed the memo on who my favourite drivers are, just check out the pics.

22 May 2010

The Truck Race (mostly)

We left the motel at 8:30 a.m. and headed for the track. We got back at 2:00 a.m. So if I blogged about the entire day, it'd be an even longer post than usual. So I'll TRY to stick to the highlights (I said TRY).

First, the most pressing question on everyone's mind seems to be, "What did the designer mean by SSK?" It is, "Slip one stitch to the right needle as if to knit. Slip that stitch back to the left needle. Knit the next two stitches through the back loop." That'll teach me not to read directions first, assumptions being what they are.

So, the highlights of the day. Well, if you know anything about my mom and I and I our track record at NASCAR (no pun intended - really), you KNEW it was going to rain. And, boy, did it ever. We managed to see the trucks final practice, the practice for the showdown cars, then left for the All-Stars practice, but came back in time for the showdown qualifying. Until the rain started. First it was a light sprinkle. Then a drizzle. Then a steady rain. Then a DELUGE. Then Mom and I regaled the folks around us with the tales of last year and her tales of the tornado and the hail that she's experienced at recent truck races. Then we wondered why no one wanted to sit with us. Which is when we got bored and started taking pics like this:

Another highlight, as a Sprint customer, I always make sure to visit "The Sprint Experience" to get my "free" goodies. I put free in quotation marks since I pay every month for my goodies. But boy did my loyalty pay off this year! I won two passes to Driver Intros at the All-Star race tonight!!!!! I had a choice between garage passes, driver intro passes, or victory lane passes, and I could take one guest (sorry, Dale). I didn't know what to do so I decided to consult with my guest, and then panicked when I couldn't find her. Found her, and then we decided. AND we found out that my prize also came with Sprint FanView for the entire weekend (okay, that part only makes sense to people who have been to the track before; sorry - and the alarm for Mom and Dale is going off as I type which means we're leaving soon so I don't time to explain).

Highlight #2 (for the Idol Knitters): We're sitting in the parking lot eating lunch (between practice and quals). I tell Mom (in no uncertain terms): I AM NOT ROOTING FOR BRETT BUTLER TONIGHT.

Mom: But I thought you decided three weeks ago he was your new favourite truck driver?
Me: I AM NOT ROOTING FOR HIM. You can't make me.
Mom: OH. Because every time you root for someone, they wreck out?
Me: That's right. So I'm NOT rooting for him.
Dale: Well, he'd probably say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
Mom: What the hell are you talking about?
Dale: Because Rhett Butler was the main guy in "Gone With the Wind."
Mom: We're talking about the TRUCK DRIVER BRETT Butler.
Dale: Oh.
Mom: God, we're dysfunctional.
Me: And you people wonder why I blog you.

Highlight #3: Meeting these guys: This is Scott (on the left) and his friend Rick. They're from Hendersonville, NC (and I do believe I've heard of that place!). They sat right in front of us the entire day. Scott is a Kasey Kahne fan, and Rick is a Tony Stewart fan. I'm not sure if yesterday was Rick's 54th birthday or if this was just his birthday week, but he was celebrating his birthday with his friends Scott and Jeff (not pictured because Jeff is not talkative). Scott, Rick, and Jeff all hate Kyle Busch. Rick likes Ron Hornaday but also likes Todd Bodine. So we had a LOT of good-natured trash talking going on all evening long. It was SO much fun, especially at the end with Hornaday, Bodine, and Busch all doing well. I won't spoil since the race ended in the wee hours and you may not have seen it yet, but we were all screaming and yelling. My voice is still froggy, and I don't regret a minute of it.

Highlight #4: During a particularly long caution: The announcer starts talking about the track walk to benefit charity on Friday morning. After the walk, you can get free hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on a quarter mile-long grill (yes, you read that correctly). I start telling Scott and Rick all about how Mom was SWEARING the night before that she'd read about it somewhere and we thought she was nuts. So I turn to her and ask if she wants to do it, but she says it will make for a long day since we have the World of Outlaws race Friday night. "And," I point out, "We have Scott Speed Fan Appreciation Day Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m."

Mom: I NEVER said we would definitely go to that. I said we MIGHT.
Me: YOU SAID WE WOULD. I got the flyer for it! You put it in your bag!
Mom: Putting it in my bag does not mean I'm going!
Me: We're going to Scott Speed Appreciation Day!!! We appreciate Scott Speed!!
Mom: No. YOU appreciate Scott Speed. And if you make me go to that, then YOU have to go roller skating with Joey Logano. [Note: That's Joey's fan appreciation event - roller skating.]
Me: I am NOT roller skating with that man.
Mom: That's because you forgot how to roller skate!
Me: No, I didn't! Besides, I would PAY to see YOU roller skate!

At this point, I lean up to Rick. "Enjoying your birthday?" "Oh hell yeah! I love me a good family fight!" I told him, "I told her that when you pick a 10-year-old kid as your favourite driver, OF COURSE you have to go to roller skating rinks to see them."

And just for good measure, a pic of my mom gazing adoringly at Joey:

If you want to see all of my pics from yesterday, they are here. But be warned: they are not edited, they are not captioned, they may not make sense to you, and there ARE spoilers (of various kinds) from last night's/this morning's race.

21 May 2010

CMS Take Two: Day One

Posting this a day late (as many of my posts probably will be) because when one gets up at 4:30 a.m. to catch an airplane and one is not accustomed to doing so, things get messy and who knows what this post may have looked like last night. Actually, that might have been more fun.

If you read my Twitter, you know that when I got to the Philadelphia airport at 6:00 a.m. (compliments of the Lady Liberty shuttle - on-time and economical at ten bucks!), it was the MOST crowded I have EVER seen the airport, including during the holidays. They weren't even letting people cut the line in their flight time was approaching because that was, uh... EVERYONE. It was CRAZY.

Then, in Detroit (yes, you read that correctly, Delta routed me from Philly to Charlotte, NC, via Detroit), I got locked in the jetway. I was talking to a flight attendant about something a former friend of mine (a former flight attendant herself) had said to me once about not bringing overhead carry-ons because attendants are not obligated to help me with it. She told me this was FALSE, and gave me options for how to deal with this, since I can't reach the overhead compartments. Thus, I was, by far, the last one off the airplane. When I got to the top of the jetway, the door was closed, but as it was one of those doors with the bar across it, I assumed I'd hit the bar and keep on going. Instead, I hit the bar and smacked into the door. I knocked on the door. I banged on the door. I banged harder. I saw a button next to the door marked "EMERGENCY." I thought "No way. Not in an airport." I banged again. Someone banged back. Huh???? I banged back, back. She opened the door. It was ghost town on that side of the door. Apparently, no one was getting ready to board my plane after we de-planed. I'm glad she happened by, or I'd have missed my connection.

Then I RUN to make my connection. Man, I had NO idea just how MASSIVE the Detroit airport is. I need to go again when I have more time. They have a TRAM! Oh wait, I DO again in two weeks. And I have a three-hour layover. Yay me! (Btw, ever try to run with a heavy carryon with you have a hip with a torn cartilage?)

I get to Charlotte (sitting by the CUTEST. GUY. EVER) with no problems (except discovering that the pattern I've been working on was using "SSK" but not to mean "slip slip knit." Grr. Twenty minutes in the car with Mom and Dale, and they have a car fight. So that was exciting. Apparently, he has yet to master the art of shutting up with the GPS talks. In fact, he takes her speaking as his cue to START speaking.

We finally get to the motel to discover... we have no reservation. Despite Mom pulling out the information/rates the woman wrote down for us when we were here for us in December (that's my mom, ladies and gentlemen), despite my Mom having called last week to confirm, despite my Mom giving them alternate spellings of her last name - nope, no reservation. Cue flashbacks to last year's Race That Never Was with the endless rain and the lost keys and crying for weeks about the botched "I'm going to give my mom a Mother's Day vacation" treat..... Min mini-meltdown.

Finally, Mom keeps insisting, "Sir, this IS our confirmation number. PLEASE, just try again. PLEASE. I KNOW we have a room." And we do. It's just that we arrive tomorrow (now today). So Mom asks if we can arrive today. And we can. We each take as much as we can from the van to the room... to find that the card keys don't work. So we're assigned another room.

We go eat, we ask locals for the back route to the track (which takes about 15 minutes from our motel on a non-race day), we do a test run. While we're at the track, I say, "Hey, let's go to Hendrick while we're here!" So we do. Mom has a GREAT time going, "There's Chad" every five minutes (for those who don't know, he's a crew chief I LOVE and I refer to Jimmie Johnson as "The Guy Who Drives Chad's Car"). And Dale (who HATES Jack Roush) would say, "There's a Roush spy" every time he say someone driving a Ford.

We come back to discover I've left my camera battery charger at home. Cue Min mini-meltdown #2. (Note, this isn't helped by the whole getting-up-at-4:30 a.m.-and-travelling-on-five-hours-of-sleep thing.) After several calls, we find a Best Buy who has the Sony charger I need. We trek out to get it.

Finally, around 10:00 p.m., I climb into bed... to find that my sheets are stained with blood. It was one stain that started at the blanket and went right through to the flat sheet and the fitted sheet. Mom (bless her) changes back into clothes, goes to the front desk, and about ten minutes later, comes back with the clerk, who was PISSED (not at us, at the staff). We have a new room. So we move everything, which is a considerable amount of things - three people taking over a room for two weeks. I finally got to sleep around 11:30 p.m.

Today, we're off to the truck practices, the showdown practice, the All-Star practice, quals, and the truck race is tonight!

14 May 2010

General Update

Got calls from two doctors yesterday: Oscar and Felix's doctor, and my hip doctor.

My hip doctor said that he had "the best doctor in this field in the country" read my MRI (the head of musculoskeletal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital), and it ends up that I have a labral tear in my hip. This means that I have a tear in a cartilage of the part of the hip that holds my hip in the socket. He said this accounts for all of my pain and the loss of range of motion. His plan of action is physical therapy. If that doesn't work, then steroid injections. If that doesn't work, "we'll discuss it further at that time."

Oscar and Felix's doctor called after that. She asked how things were going, and I said, "Well... they're interesting." She laughed, and said, "I don't know if I like that answer. (pause) Do I?" I told her that I'd put Feliway in the bedroom (since the directions had said to put it in the room where the troublemaker spends the most time). But on Day One, he had NEVER left the room. Except to eat and drink. Other than that, Ocs and I NEVER saw him. Which, on one hand, means we weren't being attacked, but on the other hand, it kind of isn't the point that we become two separate households.

Day Two saw Felix venturing out a bit more, but when he was in the living room with Ocs and me, he did try to nip me when I touched his leg. So, that was awesome. But, of course, being the highly-skilled (ha ha) epidemiologist that I am, I know that a two-day observation is not really conclusive of anything. So, we'll see. Dr. Kurpel assured me that she is still more than willing to put him on kitty Prozac, especially since Fe has always been highly anxious and skittish, even before this aggression started.

As for Oscar, he's on the high end of normal, so we're adjusting his meds again, and I'm continuing to monitor his symptoms at home. Watch his stools, his rate of puking, his energy level, his socialisation, etc.

My next week will be spent packing (I leave on Thursday, but my Mom and Dale are leaving on Sunday since they are driving to North Carolina - they had planned on stopping by Nashville, but are now coming up with Plan B), cleaning house (I LOVE coming home to a clean house), and generally making sure everything is in order for being away for two weeks (bills are paid, etc.).

13 May 2010

Cat Update

Ocs went for his follow-up appointment on Tuesday. Nothing new, just bloodwork to make sure things with his thyroid are moving in the right direction.

But I did have to talk to Dr. Kurpel about Felix. Ah, Felix. Felix continues to be an aggressive little bugger. On Sunday, while I was TRYING to wish my mom a happy happy Mother's Day, Fe decided to attack me. He was on the counter and I deigned to walked by him, and he decided it would be a great idea to "scratch" my eye. Now, I put that in quotation marks because he doesn't actually have his claws. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but on Sunday I was actually really happy about it because despite not having claws he still managed to hurt my eye. So I swatted him, he hissed, bared his teeth, used both paws to grab my arm and tried to bite me. So now I'm on the phone with Mom and I start crying - more out of shock and being startled/scared than anything else.

About ten minutes later, I'm still on the phone with her, and Ocs is sitting in the kitchen and Fe walks right by Ocs and just smacks the ever-loving crap out of poor Oscar! I was watching the whole thing - Oscar was literally just sitting there looking into the living room and Fe walked by, hissed, reared back, and walloped him.

Mom told me to put Fe in jail, so I did, and I decided that when I took Oscar in to see Dr. Kurpel, I would talk to her about Fe's aggressive behaviour not getting any better and, in fact, getting a bit worse. Mom thinks this is because I have befriended a cat who is up for adoption at Baltimore Pet Shoppe (local friends in need of a cat - adopt Speedy!).

I talked to Dr. Kurpel, and she recommended that I try Feliway, a cat pheromone diffuser since I'm going away next week for two weeks. Although Felix knows (quite well) the two people who will be cat-sitting, it will still be a change in the schedule, and if the Feliway is going to work, we want it to start working now. If it doesn't work, she wants to do a blood panel on him just to make sure that he doesn't have some underlying kidney, liver, etc., issue that's causing him physical discomfort that makes him act out aggressively. If it isn't physical, then we're going to put him on Prozac. This will mean checking his liver enzymes every once in awhile (blood work on both cats - yay!), but at least I won't have a cat who is attacking my other cat.

My main concern was that Fe happy and not attacking Ocs and that I not be scared to have friends touch Felix, and Dr. Kurpel's concern was that I be happy cat owner. By the time I got home, she had emailed some links with information on cat behaviour, and some information on cat behavioural specialists at Penn Vet (yeah, cause that sounds affordable), but said she would be happy to work with me if that didn't seem like something I wanted to do (whew).

I got the Feliway yesterday, along with a new cat toy for Felix (and I MAY have played with Speedy for awhile while I was at the Pet Shoppe anyway).

Wish us luck!

12 May 2010

My Evening with Brad

Two days ago, Kirsten and I trekked out to the wilds of West Chester to visit the Chester County Bookstore so I could (at long last) meet my favourite author. For those of you who might have missed this post or this post or my numerous Twitters or Google Reader posts about it, Brad Meltzer not only released his newest book, Heroes for my Son, yesterday, but he kicked off his book tour in Philadelphia (well, the Philly area) on Monday.

And, although all of his book tours have included Philly, I've never been inclined to go all the way out to West Chester to go see him. First, it really isn't that close. Second, it's not that fun to go to something like that alone (at least, to me). Third, it's kind of daunting to meet someone who you've come to like, admire, adore, etc., THIS MUCH.

I mean, this is a guy who, when his mother died, his wife sent all his all of us the eulogy he gave at the funeral. Because he considers his fans not fans, but extended family. This is a guy who lets us vote on his book titles because after writing all of that, he just can't decide. This is one of VERY few authors whose books I make sure to grab in hardcover. This is a guy, who, when I recommend him, I don't loan my books out, I will just buy you his damned book and tell you to read it. Because I believe THAT MUCH that you will love it (also, if you lost it - or dropped it in the toilet and gave it back to me (yes, that really happened to me once, and no, that person and I are no longer friends) I'd have to poke you with dpns). And as I'm doing my book purge, he was the VERY first one that I made sure went in the "DO NOT SELL" bookshelf.

In short, if he turned out to be a douchebag in person, I would be shattered. Utterly gutted.

We enjoyed supper at the Magnolia Grill, the full-service restaurant located within the bookstore. The food was VERY good, and we both took home PLENTY of leftovers, but it probably would have been better had I not been busy worrying that Meltzer might not live up to my expectations. See, this is the problem with meeting your idols. It's just nerve-wracking. And stomach-wrenching.

Finally, the time for the reading came and we sat down (a bit early, but I reminded Kirsten that those of us who are only 4'6" get a bit antsy about getting good seats near the front. Btw, Kirsten, thanks for enduring the blinding sun!). Brad arrived and the good times began. He was funny and smart and engaging and witty and... *sigh* All of my fears and worries were for naught.

He spoke, then did a reading from his book. He opened it up for the Q&A, and when a 9-year-old asked which one of the heroes in the book was his favourite, Brad had the kid come up and read the passage to the room. He welcomed questions about any of his books, his graphic novels (he writes The Justice League graphic novels for DC Comics, as well as Buffy comics for Joss Whedon), and his television show (he created/wrote the now-cancelled "Jack & Bobby" for the now defunct WB and has a new series coming out on The History Channel called "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" - and he's promised secret decoder rings!!!!).

After, he did the signings. I had brought my camera, as well as my hardcover of "The Tenth Justice," which was his first novel. I brought that book because it was by his first publisher who is no longer in business, and I wanted him to see that I really had been a fan of his from the very beginning (I'd told him that in my first email to him, and his reply was "a fan since The Tenth Justice in hardback? That makes you family!"). I was hoping that he would be willing to sign that as well as signing "Heroes for my Son." He was:

And I hoped maybe, just possibly, he would pose for a picture, too (not only did he pose for the pic, when Kirsten snapped it, and she said, "Oh, it's blurry," he said, "Oh, we can't have blurry!" and he patiently waited while she took another one. Then he used HIS camera to take a pic of Kirsten and me for his records!).

So, remember when I said the readers vote on his book titles? He mentioned that his wife had voted for "50 Heroes for my Son" and I shouted out "SO DID I!" and he pointed to me and said, "So did she, so she lost, too." And he said for anyone who wanted, he would add "50" to the title of the book. (For the record, I've lost in the last TWO book title votes now. Yay me.) He kept his word:

05 May 2010

Just another day in the city

I had my therapy appointment today. Not many people know (in fact, I think a grand total of one person knows because I told Ella today), but I'm back down to weekly therapy appointments because I'm dealing with some Stuff. Although I'm generally pretty open about my Stuff (y'all know I've talk about my rape/incest, my bisexuality, my various activist issues and why they're important to me), but this one is tricky only because I'M still sorting it out. So trying to explain it would be muddled, plus... well, to be honest, I'm not sure how much support I would receive or from whom, which means I've been playing this one really close to the vest.

So after therapy these days, I tend to take it easy. So, today I ran a couple of errands (shopped for a case for my new BlackBerry Curve 8350), went to the post office to mail a package (an untangle job for someone on the Knot a Problem board on Ravelry), and stopped in at a shop I've never been in but have ALWAYS admired their window displays.

It's called "Open House" and it's on 13th Street between Walnut and Chestnut Streets in Centre City. First, I was amazed by the size of the place when I walked in! I had no idea from the outside that the place was so big! They had some ADORABLE onesies (organic onesies, whatever that means), but they were too expensive for my tastes. But I was really tempted by the "Poops! I did it again!" one and the "My Dad is a Geek" one (ahem, you know who you are). Some of their stuff was kind of pricey, but some of it was quite reasonable. I was especially attracted to a set of dishes that's fashioned to look EXACTLY like paper plates and plastic cups; it was uncanny.

I got a notepad of "Worduko" puzzles - like Sudoku, but with letters instead of numbers. And I got a little gift for Cristi, who I will see again when I'm Charlotte later this month. When I stepped into the store, I actually thought, "AHA! THIS is where I will find the perfect gift for her!" After making two passes through the store (one has to just to take everything in!), I finally asked one of the worker bees for assistance. I described my criteria, and she immediately walked over, picked IT up, showed IT to me, and I exclaimed, "PERFECT! I'll take it!"

03 May 2010

Heroes for My Son: Hero #1

So, I blogged about Brad Meltzer a couple of weeks ago. Had I realised that I would be doing it again so soon... well, let's not kid ourselves, I'd still have done it.

This time, it's because I signed up to be a member of Brad's Invisible Army. Oooh, aaaah, intrigue.

And my first mission is to help spread the word about his book "Heroes for My Son." (Btw, in typical Brad style, there was a fan vote on the book title. I lost. Again. Second book title vote in a row that I've lost. I even campaigned that since I lost last time, my vote should count double this time, but... well... yeah. Fortunately, another Brad fan pointed out that this is nothing a Sharpie won't fix as the losing title was "50 Heroes for My Son.")

So, make with the clicky and view this video about one of the many heroes included in the book Brad wrote for his son. It's Brad's first non-fiction endeavour, but it's one he's been working on for awhile. He even took hero suggestions and nominees from the fans.

Warning: have some tissues ready before you click.

Oh, and go buy Brad's book. And if you're in the Philly area, he'll be at Chester County Books this Monday, 10 May 2010 at 6:30 p.m. doing a reading/signing. I'll see you there.

If you aren't in the Philly area, here's his tour schedule. He usually does a more extensive tour, but as he Twittered the other day, "To all those upset about the book tour schedule: I'm also bummed that Chicago, LA, Boston and some of my other favorite cities got scratched from the tour, but I feel like I can't do a book called Heroes For My Son, then take off and leave my kids for a month. Can't wait to see everyone else."