Monday, February 22, 2010

Follow-up on comment on the War on Terror; February 18, 1969 railroad derailment in Crete, NE; Crete High won 1969 Boys State Basketball crown; 60,000 Officers assaulted on the job yearly; Philadelphia officer kills assailant; winter weather continues in Nebraska

I commented in my last blog about the newspapers and TV stations talking for months in advance about upcoming offensives in the War on Terror. I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter from a site called The day after I posted my comments, there was an article about news being released. The military actually feels that by releasing some information, insurgents are more likely to surrender or come over to the other side. I’m sure the brass knows a lot more than all of us old NCO’s, but it still doesn’t make any sense to me.

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I’m not sure what made me think of it, but while working the other night, it suddenly hit me that February 18th was the anniversary date of a Burlington Northern derailment and subsequent rupture of a rail car of anhydrous ammonia in my home town of Crete, Nebraska. On February 18, 1969, I was a junior in high school. Crete had, and still has, a volunteer fire department. In 1969, firemen were alerted to fire & rescue calls by the city’s fire whistle. About 6:30 that morning, the fire whistle went off, waking most of the still-sleeping residents of the town of 4,500. I remember waking up, then starting to go back to sleep when the fire whistle started going off again. It ended, then started up again. Wondering what was going on, I started to get up when Mom came to my bedroom door and said there had been a train wreck and a tank of anhydrous ammonia had ruptured. low cost car rental online

I don’t remember there being Emergency Management back then. Growing up in a farming community, I knew a little about the hazards of anhydrous ammonia, but not a lot. What I mostly knew was that people needed to stay away from it.

Dad was a Police Officer with the City of Crete at that time, as was my uncle. Dad worked the previous evening and did not end up going back to work until later that day. My uncle had also worked the night before and was waiting for a new mobile home to be delivered to a lot in Crete. The lot happened to be across the highway from the accident scene. That ended up being put on hold for several days. A Nebraska National Guard unit from Lincoln was activated for traffic and crowd control. - Printer Ink, Toner, & More!

The temperature was extremely cold that morning. The derailment happened just east of the Blue River. Officials later said that this ultimately helped dissipate the deadly fumes, but six people died as a result of breathing the deadly fumes. Three other people died as a result of illegally riding on the freight train that derailed. Fifty three people were injured as a result of being exposed to the deadly cloud of ammonia. About 500 people were evacuated from their homes, including my grandparents. Several of my classmates lived close to the accident scene. One lost his father as a result of stepping out onto the porch and being overcome by the anhydrous ammonia.

As I remember, the threat from the anhydrous ammonia was pretty much over by the end of the day. The clean-up from the derailment took longer. Two of the people that died owned a dry cleaning business just to the west of the derailment site. That business never re-opened and the building and their residence next door remained as a stark reminder of the events of the day until they were recently demolished.

I did a Google search on this disaster but was not able to find a lot on it. It was mostly government statistics and figures. Maybe because the internet is pretty new, the information on a 41-year old disaster is not available. If anybody is reading this that has any memories of this to share, please add to the comments at the end of this entry.

Another big event in Crete shortly after the derailment was the Crete Cardinals basketball team winning the State Class B Championship. I tried to find articles on the path to that championship but was not able to locate anything on that, either. All I found was a listing of state basketball championships that showed Crete beating Cozad for the title and that the Cardinals’ final record was 17-3. I remember thinking that should have been the Cardinals’ second title in as many years. During the previous season, Schuyler won the championship. During the season, the Cardinals were the only team to beat Schuyler. If I remember correctly, one of the state newspapers still rated Crete over Schuyler after the state Tournament, which the Cardinals were not able to go to due to a loss to Auburn in the district finals.

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It’s hard to believe that these things happened 41 years ago. I guess it truly means you’re getting old when you remember some things that happened years ago but can’t remember what you did with the car keys.

Every year, 60,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted on the job, resulting in about 16,000 injuries, said Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Floyd didn't have statistics on how many of those assaults and injuries involve female officers compared with males. There have been 18,661 male officers killed in the line of duty since 1792, and 237 women have been killed on the job since 1916.

On Wednesday evening, February 17th, Pittsburgh, PA Police Officer Janine Triolo was involved in a fight for her life, In this case, the good guy(girl) won the fight.

Officer Triolo was in the area of a reported armed robbery when she contacted 20-yr old Ryan Davis of Lawrenceville, the suspect in the robbery. Officer Triolo began to handcuff Davis and had a cuff on one of Davis’ wrists when he began to resist. Davis hit Officer Triolo in the face several times with his fist and shoved a gun into Officer Triolo’s armpit and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and Davis attempted to gain control of Officer Triolo’s service weapon. Officer Triolo managed to maintain control of her weapon, draw it from her holster, and fire at Davis, striking him in the chest. Davis, who was 6’1” and weighed about 200 lbs, died at the scene.

The assault left Officer Triolo with a broken eye socket, a broken nose and broken left hand a concussion and a detached retina. Officer Triolo, 28, is a 3 year veteran of the Department. "She was literally fighting for her life. The suspect had already robbed someone, and we believe he was willing to kill her if it meant he would get away," said Officer Dan O'Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1.
"She stood her ground and did her job. She is a hero."

Officer Triolo, still in an undisclosed hospital on February 20th, is on paid leave while the incident is investigated, which is normal in police-involved shootings. The Allegheny County District Attorney's office will oversee the investigation.

It’s nice to see that the bad guy will never be able to rob or assault anybody again. If Davis’ gun had not jammed, we most certainly would be adding Officer Triolo’s name to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Get well soon, Officer Triola, and job well done!

The winter weather in our area continues. It started raining about 1 AM on Friday. By 1:30 AM the rain was freezing on parked cars and the street was getting slippery. I went home shortly after 2 AM and when I got up about 9:30 AM we got about 3” or 4” of wet, heavy snow. Just about the time it looked like we were getting rid of some snow, we got more to replace it. It was snowing again Saturday morning, but not staying on the pavement. I just don’t think this winter will EVER end!

I was able to spend some time in the garage working on the race car. I’m really happy that I didn’t have to completely rebuild a car like we did last winter. Even with the wood burner going full blast in the garage, it was just about 55 degrees inside. If I ever had it to do over, I would put up a wood frame garage and insulate it conventionally as soon as possible. We put up a metal building and are now finding out that it will cost more to insulate it than the building cost! I guess we’ll just keep gathering wood and keep the fire going as well as we can.

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I gave up turning wrenches in early 1983. It was a time when manufacturers were going to a lot more electronics and mechanics were having to buy metric wrenches. Mechanics were spending a lot of money to purchase more electronic testing equipment as well as metric wrenches and sockets to supplement their SAE tools. I would be lucky today to be able to change the oil and filter on most new cars today.

Believe it or not, working on race cars is a lot easier than working on today’s passenger cars and trucks. There are very few electronics to worry about, and most everything is located in a position that is at least kind of easy to work on. Most race cars today are built from the ground up on a bare frame, and components have been located in such a way that they can be worked on.

At the Cool McCool 100 race last fall -(it seems like it was at least 2 years ago), I ran into some problems with my brakes. On Saturday evening, I found that my rear brakes were locking up. On Sunday morning, we unloaded the car in the motel parking lot and Jeremy eventually found a pinched brake line. We got that taken care of, and I thought my problems were over.

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Once the season was over and we got the car in the garage, we put it on jack stands to work on it better. I found that the front brakes had quite a drag on them, too. I tinkered on them on and off, looking for a problem. I even went so far as to replace the right front caliper and spindle, thinking that maybe the piston was froze in the caliper or the spindle was bent, causing the caliper to be cocked and applying unequal pressure to the rotor. Each time I would put it back together, the wheel would spin freely until I applied the brake, then there would be a lot of drag on the brakes.

I finally opened the reservoir on the master cylinders and found that each had some kind of small round black plastic thing in the bottom of the reservoir. These apparently fit into an orifice in the bottom of the master cylinder that allows brake fluid to enter the brake lines. Looking closer at these, I saw they had an arrow on them with the word “front” printed on it. The arrow was not pointing quite to the front. When I made sure the arrow was pointing straight to the front, the brakes began working correctly.

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In all of the other master cylinders I’ve worked with, I’ve never seen these in the bottom. These are a Willwood brand, which is commonly used in circle track racing. I’m guessing that these are an older design.

With the weather, it is now very possible that the cars in this area will be ready to race before Mother Nature is ready to race.

By: Twitter Buttons

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

War on Terror - Why do we tell the enemy our plans months in advance?? More Law Enforcement Officers hurt; Two indicted for the murder of a Phoenix area officer; Danica crashes out of the Nationwide Race; McMurray wins, Junior 2nd in the 500; Start of Nebraska racing season postponed 2 weeks

After months of planning, forces in Afghanistan are on a major offensive against the Taliban. News reports tell us that the going is rough for our troops as they encounter roadside bombs and resistance fighters. I’ve followed the war on terror with interest since my nephew is a career Marine. He is currently in the U.S. but has done tours in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. When he has been overseas and we actually know what area of the country he is in, I try to find a map in order to get a better idea of where he is and what the country is like.

Something I find unusual is this: why, when a major offensive is being planned, is the information released to the entire world? We’ve been reading for months about how the offensive is being planned, how many more troops are being deployed, etc. WHY isn’t this information classified? Are there new Rules of War out there that us “old soldiers” don’t know about? What would happen if the enemy didn’t know about our plans 6 months in advance? Maybe, just maybe, with an element of surprise, our troops would have an easier time of things. If the enemy didn’t know there was a major offensive in the works, they wouldn’t be able to take months to plant roadside bombs for our troops to be setting off. When I worked on the drug task force, we didn’t tell the newspapers and radio stations what we were doing or who our targets were. Why should fighting a war be any different? If our leaders want to bring our troops home, then they need to stop telling the world what their battle plans are for months before they carry them out!

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Another thing I have a problem with is the R.O.E. - Rules of Engagement. If an enemy fighter is shooting at you and suddenly runs out of bullets, he can put his weapon down and walk away, and our troops are not allowed to shoot at him! This guy has just tried to kill me, and he suddenly puts his gun down and walks away, so I am not allowed to shoot at him until he has a chance to go get a fresh weapon and start shooting at me again! This is war! These guys strap explosives to themselves and blow themselves up, killing scores of innocent civilians as well as our troops!

On the home front, our law enforcement officers are in a battle of their own. It is becoming increasingly more dangerous to be a law enforcement officer in Washington State. On Saturday evening, Trooper Scott Johnson, a 25-yr veteran of the Washington State Patrol, was processing the car of a suspected drunk driver in downtown Long Beaach, Washington. The wrecker driver had arrived and was also on the scene when a man approached Trooper Johnson and said something to him. Trooper Johnson replied to the man and when he turned his attention back to the car, the man pulled a small caliber handgun and fired twice at the back of Trooper Johnson’s head. One bullet grazed his ear while the other bullet lodged in the back of his head. Miraculously, Johnson was conscious and alert when he was taken to the hospital and was able to give a description of his attacker to investigators. The shooting comes amid one of the bloodiest stretches for Washington law enforcement in at least 50 years. Nine law-enforcement officers have been shot since Halloween, and six of them died. They include four Lakewood police officers — Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards — killed in the deadliest single attack on police in state history.

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At Richmond, California, near San Francisco, police were seeking a hooded gunman who horrified the congregation of a San Francisco Bay area church when he paced the aisles then pulled out a gun and shot two teenagers. The gunman, flanked by two companions in hooded sweatshirts, walked into the church, scanned the pews and fired about five shots, hitting a 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man in front of about 100 people. The 14-year-old was hit in the shoulder and the 19-year-old was struck in the leg. Both victims, whose names haven't been released, were hospitalized and were expected to survive. There were no other injuries.
In Phoenix, a grand jury has indicted two men accused in the murder of a Gilbert Police Lieutenant on January 28th. Lt Eric Schuhandler was shot and killed when he made an early morning traffic stop on a car being driven by Daimen Irizarry of Gilbert. The passenger in the car, Christopher Redondo, is accused of fatally shooting Lt Shuhandler in the head. He's charged with first-degree murder, four counts of drive-by shooting and 19 counts of aggravated assault. Irizarry is charged with four counts of drive-by shooting, nine counts of aggravated assault and unlawful flight from police. Authorities say that after a 50-mile chase, Redondo and Irizarry were wounded in a gun battle with 40 police officers from five different agencies.

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Even Daytona Beach couldn’t escape the wet winter weather. Between activities at the track it rained - and not just sprinkles. Between the rains, there was racing. The Budweiser Shootout provided a good preview of the racing to come as Kevin Harvick took home that win. The qualifiers on Thursday were both photo finishes with the top cars bumper to bumper and door handle to door handle. All of Friday’s activities were rained out, which moved the truck race to Saturday, after the Nationwide race. (On a side note, 49 of 50 U.S. States had snow on the ground on Saturday. How’s that for global warming??)

Danicamania reigned over the Saturday Nationwide race. Patrick quickly lost the draft at the beginning of the race and got a lap down. She missed an early crash that took out Chrissy Wallace. After a couple of pit stops, Patrick was the recipient of the Lucky Dog and got her lap back, restarting in 27th place. She seemed to be getting more comfortable in her car and had moved up to 21st when she got caught up in a crash that was not of her making. Her car was too damaged for repairs and was loaded into the trailer, credited with a 38th place finish. However, Danica was swamped by the news media. She has taken all of the attention in stride so far and has been well spoken.

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After Danica’s crash, attention turned to her boss, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He was in the top 10 a good portion of the race until being tapped from behind and taking a wild ride into the outside wall and going upside down. Despite this, Junior was still able to smile when he came out of this infield care center. The finish to this race proved to be exciting as Tony Stewart crossed the finish line .309 seconds ahead of Carl Edwards. Kevin Harvick, who owns the #4 car that Stewart was driving, finished third, with Justin Allgaier and Brian Vickers chasing Harvick. Stewart’s Nationwide win was his 3rd in a row at Daytona.

Saturday evening’s Camping World Series Truck race finished with 12 trucks crossing the finish line under a blanket. With a last-lap pass of superspeedway ace Todd Bodine, Timothy Peters won Saturday night's NextEra Energy 250 Truck Series race Receiving an aero push from polesitter Jason White, Peters passed Bodine on the backstretch and won the race to the finish line. Bodine, who had won the previous two season openers at Daytona, crossed the stripe in second place but spun into the infield grass after taking the checkered flag. The Daytona win was Peters’ 2nd of his career, with the other coming at Martinsville, which is a .525 mile track.

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Sunday’s Daytona 500 was led to the green flag by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The Daytona 500 actually became three races, with a red flag coming out with 78 laps to go to fix a pothole in turn 2. Due to cold temperatures and the banking of the track where the pothole developed it became a problem to fix. After a delay of about an hour and 45 minutes, the race got back under way. Forty laps later, the hole re-appeared and there was another 40 minute delay as it was fixed. This led to a finish under the lights. Jamie McMurray, driving the Bass Pro Shops #1 for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, held off Dale Earnhardt, Jr for the exciting win.

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NASCAR announced earlier in the week that they would allow three attempts at a green-white checkers finish. If a yellow comes out before the leader has taken the white flag, the cars wil be lined back up and when the green comes out, they will once again have a green, white, checkered situation. The first time the yellow came out, Greg Biffle was out front but a bit short of taking the white flag. Earnhardt, Jr started 10th on the last last and made a charge reminiscent of his win at the July 2001 Daytona race. However, he came up just short and McMurray won in his first ride back with car owner Chip Ganassi. McMurray won in his 2nd race with Ganassi at Charlotte a few years back when he filled in for the injured Sterling Marlin.

NASCAR now takes its show west as they will be at Fontana, California this weekend and Las Vegas on the 26th, 27th & 28th. I certainly hope the weather cooperates more out there than it did in Florida. I think we made a good decision to not go to Las Vegas this year. We’ve always driven out, and with the weather being what it has, we may not have good driving conditions no matter which route we would have taken.

In a perfect world, no matter which NASCAR races I wanted to attend, the weather would allow me to ride the Gold Wing to them. In looking the Gold Wing over a little, I see that it will be due servicing before I put many miles on it. I put a new back tire on last summer and the front tire is looking pretty decent, so unless I ride 20,000 miles this summer, I shouldn’t have any worries. The tires on the trailer are in good shape, so I shouldn’t have any problems there. I’m just short of 25,000 miles on the Gold Wing, so I should look the owners manual over to see what services are required that I can’t do myself and as soon as the weather warms up, get the work scheduled. Once I finally get to start riding, I don’t want to have to stop somewhere along the road for service.

Our early season racing schedule has already changed due to the weather. It was announced yesterday that the season-opening USMTS Modified show at Junction Motor Speedway has been moved from the first weekend in March to the last weekend in March. The Stock Cars are to be the support class. Hopefully, this well provide better weather for the event. Unfortunately, that is my weekend to work, so we will not be racing that weekend. Our season will start on March 20th at the Beatrice Spring Nationals.

Speaking of Beatrice Speedway, we still don’t know any more about the RaceCeivers than when it was announced that all drivers will be required to have them for the regular season. I posted a question about whether they could be bought or rented at the track and still have not gotten an answer back. Hopefully, will have an answer soon.

By: Twitter Buttons

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nebraska helmet repeal rejected; proposal to ban texting while driving; "Make My Day" bill being looked at; drug testing for ADC recipients?; "Special privileges" for Law Enforcement and Military?; Florida racing action heating up; will it EVER warm up enough to race in Nebraska?

After hitting a snag about insurance for motorcyclists, the helmet law repeal was re-hashed again and finally defeated. It seems that, under the proposals being looked at, riders who chose to ride without a helmet would have to purchase extra insurance to cover medical bills if they have a wreck. However, it appears that kind of insurance is not available. The cost of the insurance was estimated to be from $3,000 to $4,500 a year, which would amount to $250 to $375 a MONTH!! Sounds like a lot of money to be able to ride without a helmet. There were a lot of other problems with the proposed repeal. One proposal was that not wearing a helmet would be a secondary violation, meaning that a rider could not be stopped for not wearing a helmet. The rider would have to be stopped and cited for some other violation before being written for not wearing a helmet or having the proper insurance. Another part of the bill mandated eye protection, and made helmets mandatory for riders under 21. The fallacy of this once again was the fact that if it was a secondary violation, a 16-yr old without a helmet could pull up alongside a police officer and unless the officer saw a violation, he could not stop the 16-yr old for not wearing a helmet. The proposal of a helmet law violation being a secondary offense has been brought up repeatedly the last few years. This follows the Nebraska statutes on seat belt violations, which make not wearing a seat belt a secondary violation. - Printer Ink, Toner, & More!

As much as I’m against it, I think that sometime in the future, the Nebraska helmet law will be repealed. However, the Legislature needs to look at the laws of the states that currently have no helmet laws to see what provisions they have, then put together the best package possible for Nebraska motorcycle riders.

Other bills before the Nebraska Legislature are drawing attention. One concerns driving and the other concerns personal safety. LB945 would ban texting and driving . Nebraska currently has laws in place banning texting by young drivers but none for “older” drivers. If the bill is passed as written, violators would be assessed three points on their licenses and pay a $200 fine for the first offense, $300 for the second and $500 for violations after that.

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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows nearly 6,000 people died last year and more than 500,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers. The Nebraska Department of Roads has tracked crashes resulting from cell phone distractions since 2002. In 2007, it reported 121 crashes with 59 injuries and no deaths. In 2008, there were 141 crashes with 68 injuries and one death. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving for all drivers. I hope the Legislature moves forward on this and will pass it before the current session closes.

A controversial bill before the Legislature, LB889, the so-called “Make My Day” bill or the Castle Doctrine, would allow the use of deadly force if a person has reason to believe someone is going to commit felonies that include the use of force. The felonies are not clearly defined in the bill, but an NRA lobbyist pushing the proposal acknowledges they could include crimes such as burglary and stalking. A key element of the castle-doctrine laws is the new, legal presumption that a shooter needed to use deadly force. That makes it harder for prosecutors to prove that using deadly force was unjustified. The Nebraska bill would also shield shooters from civil lawsuits and clarify that when confronted with danger, one would not have to first retreat or surrender possessions to avoid using deadly force.

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Another controversial bill (LB940), would provide for drug screening of recipients of aid for dependent children (ADC), impose testing if there is "reasonable cause" and cut off benefits for a year for those who fail the test. Many Nebraskans already are required to submit to drug testing to qualify for employment in a number of jobs.

Statistics show that 25,210 people receive ADC assistance in Nebraska, including 19,000 children. So the bill could have potential impact on about 6,200 adults. James Goddard, speaking for the Nebraska Appleseed Center, said the proposal is based on and feeds "the myth, stereotype, stigmas associated with low-income families." Goddard said there is no evidence drug use is any higher among ADC families than in the general population.
Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Bishops Conference, described the proposal as "unjust and punitive." The end result of such legislation would be to "make the household poorer and the children more dependent," he said. Amy Miller, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the measure is "patently offensive to the Constitution."

How many privileges should an occupation give a person? I’ve always heard that a cop does not ticket or arrest another cop. I’ve had people on the street tell me that, insinuating that if an off-duty officer is caught breaking the law, all he has to do is show his badge and he is home free. Maybe in some circles this is true. I personally don’t believe in this philosophy. If I am going too fast, or doing something I should not be doing and I am contacted by law enforcement, the last thing I want is to have anybody know I’m a police officer. If I deserve a ticket, so be it. If, God forbid, I deserve being arrested, I most certainly am not going to tell the arresting officer I’m a police officer. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this on different law enforcement message boards and it looks like about 1/3 of the officers think they deserve a break. My feeling is that this attitude gives all of law enforcement a black eye. Comments in favor of not ticketing or arresting another officer include that if you see an officer having a problem alongside the road, you may not want to stop to help that officer if he/she has ticketed or arrested you. In my opinion, that is total B.S. and if that is your attitude, you need to find another occupation.

How about people in the military? Does being in the military mean you should have a “Get Out of Jail Free” pass? Our department has had contact with several service members, both active duty and National Guard or Reserves. I’ve had at least one, who, after getting a ticket, asked me about the court date because it was set for when they would not be able to go to court. That was the first I knew they were in the military. I
explained the waiver procedure and told them if they did not want to take care of it by waiver, to contact the prosecutor’s office.

On the other hand, I recently made a traffic stop for some traffic infractions. When I contacted the driver and asked for his driver’s license, the first thing he gave me was his military ID. As things progressed, I suspected that the guy had too much to drink to be driving. He also made a point to tell me that he’d served in Iraq and expected to be deployed to Afghanistan soon. Several times during the investigation he told me that if it weren’t for him fighting in Iraq, I would not be able to do what I’m doing. When the time came to arrest the guy, things got to the verge of being nasty. For most of the rest of my contact with him, I was told that I did not respect our service members or what they are doing these days. He jumped back and forth from that to threatening my job - “You arrested a Federal employee. I hope you have another job lined up!” Once again, if I was in his situation, I would not want anybody to know that I was in the military. How does that reflect on the rest of our military? I remember a time when I was serving that a DWI conviction would result in a bar from re-enlistment. On a footnote to this incident, I found that he did not have a valid driver’s license due to two DWI convictions in 2009. I wonder if he had the same attitude with the arresting officers in those incidents?

The racing action in Florida heated up last week. On Saturday afternoon, Danica Patrick made her debut in a stock car, driving the JR Motorsports #7 to a respectable 6th place finish. She drove a good race, staying out of trouble and keeping her car in one piece. She spun near the end and restarted deep in the field. In the last few laps she got into the top 5 and at the checkers she was 6th. Her finish helped her make the decision to race in the Nationwide Series race on February 13th. In final practice on Thursday, Patrick was 5th fastest in a field of 57. Patrick will be racing against a completely different field of drivers, including her car owner, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who was 9th fastest in final practice.

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Both of the Daytona 500 qualifiers were photo finishes with Jimmie Johnson coming from last to first to win the first qualifier. Johnson crashed his primary car in practice and had to go to a backup car which he did not get any practice laps in. On the last pit stop he did not come in for tires and held off Kevin Harvick at the line. Kasey Kahne won the 2nd race driving a Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports. Tony Stewart was 2nd by inches.

With a larger restrictor plate and some of the rules on bump drafting being loosened up a bit, the Daytona 500 should be a great one. Mark Martin - my favorite to win the championship in 2010 - will start on the pole, with Earnhardt, Jr starting on the outside pole.

I remember years ago when I was helping Al Humphrey on his late model, that he was about finishing up his race car for that season about Daytona 500 time. We watched the 1976 Petty-Pearson wreck on the last lap from Al’s shop. Seeing that finish made me want to go to the Daytona 500 some time in my life. I haven’t made it there yet, but we’ve made trips to 7 Cup races at Las Vegas. This year we’re staying at home. I think that was a good decision given what the weather has been doing all across the country. Last week, it rained most of the week in Las Vegas, and several inches of snow fell a few miles up the road at Charleston.

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We had some snow this week, but the temps were close to freezing and we didn’t have much accumulation. We did have temps in the 5 degree range a couple of nights. All this makes me wonder if the weather will be good enough the first weekend in March so we can race. The last couple of days there has been a little bit of melting but not enough for it to seem much like spring. Seems like the older I get, the more I dislike winter. However, when I look at the weather from Chicago east, I’m glad I’m in Nebraska.

I finished putting the engine together for the stock car and it’s now sitting in the engine compartment where it belongs. However, before I quit for the night, I noticed that it looks like the center link is awful close to the oil pan. I turned the steering wheel and found that before going very far, the center link hit’s the oil pan. That puzzled me because there was no problem with clearance when I took the engine out. After stopping for the night, I was thinking about it and realized this is not the engine that I had in the car last fall. The configuration of the oil pan on this engine is different. I’ll have to add a spacer between the block mount and the chassis mount in order to gain the needed clearance. This being my weekend to work, I won’t be able to do anything more until Monday. I also have work to do on the trailer, but I need to get it inside where it’s a bit warmer to do anything to it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nebraska legislature debates helmet law repeal; Blue Knights International Conventions this summer and in 2011; Law Enforcement Memorial Week; Nebraska racers competing in Arizona and Florida

The Nebraska Legislature is considering the repeal of the helmet law. This is a debate that goes back to 1989 when the helmet law was passed. Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont introduced LB200, which would end Nebraska’s 21-year helmet mandate. Janssen said repealing the law is all about personal choice, freedom and tourism dollars. He contends motorcyclists going to the Sturgis rally in South Dakota do not go through Nebraska, rather detouring through states that do not require helmets to be worn.

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Apparently Senator Janssen has not traveled Highway 2 northwest out of Grand Island during the Sturgis rally. It’s been 12 years since I went, but when I did, traffic was heavy along the entire route. Maybe things have changed a lot since then?

Other states that have repealed helmet laws have experienced an increase in fatalities and serious head injuries. Insurance premiums on motorcycles also have been found to increase with the repeal of helmet laws.

A later amendment was added to the bill that would require motorcyclists to buy long-term health insurance to ensure the public doesn’t have to pay if they’re injured in an accident. However, the insurance requirement raised so many new questions that Senator Janssen said he will work to clarify or eliminate the issue. The helmet issue has now been put on hold for at least a week while the insurance requirements are being looked at.

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Discussions about helmet use have been on the Blue Knights message boards off and on for as long as I’ve been viewing them. The issue of “choice” and “personal freedoms” keep coming up. I seem to remember many years ago, when I was taking Drivers’ Education (yes, they had it waaayyy back then!!), I heard that driving is not a right, it’s a PRIVILEGE! If your driver’s license is revoked, your operating PRIVILEGES are taken away.

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Among the goals of the Blue Knights are promoting and advancing the sport and safety of motorcycling and to promote by example and any other acceptable means, the safe use, operation and enjoyment of motorcycles. Blue Knights rules require us to wear helmets on all organized Blue Knights rides whether we are in a helmet law state or not.

Now that I’ve stirred up some hate and discontent, I’ll move on.

Even while I’m in the planning stage of the trip to Billings for the 2010 Blue Knights International Convention, I’m already looking ahead to 2011 when the International Convention will be held at Chesapeake, Virginia. We’ve talked for several years about taking a motorcycle trip to the east, and this is a chance to fulfill that dream. I was stationed at Ft Lee, Virginia in 1971 and was able to get to Virginia Beach twice. I spent several weekends sightseeing in Washington, D.C. and toured the Petersburg battlefield. One stop we definitely want to make, whether on the way there or coming home, is at Nashville and we also want to stop at Memphis. As soon as the ride to Billings and home is over, I’ll be planning the ride to Chesapeake!

Actually, there is another ride I want to make. Every year in May, the National Police Week Ceremony is held in Washington, D.C. A good portion of this week is geared toward the survivors of those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) have a picnic at the end of the week and members of the Blue Knights COPSRUN attend and give motorcycle rides to the children and family members of the fallen officers. A K.C. Metro Blue Knight, the late Steve Weinberg and his wife, Rose, were huge supporters of the Law Enforcement Memorial Week and attended yearly. I always enjoyed hearing his first-hand experiences and have always wanted to go to D.C. for it. I want to be able to go before I’m too old to go.

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We had a good portion of our snow melt, only to be replaced by some more snow. Actually, our area in Nebraska was fortunate as we only got an inch or so of the white wet stuff. Other parts of the state got more. While I was working on Thursday night, I heard radio traffic from other agencies that were working a lot of fender benders. It sounded like there were plenty of accidents on the interstate.

Gage County recorded a fatality a few miles east of Beatrice on the highway when a driver lost control of his vehicle and slid into the path of an oncoming vehicle. PLEASE, not matter where you are, BE CAREFUL DRIVING IN WINTER WEATHER!!

Speaking of winter weather, the Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia areas are getting hammered with 2 FEET of snow! I guess there won’t be any global warming summits this week!

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I know there are some areas of the country where it’s nice enough to ride and there are races going on, too. Nebraska IMCA Modified driver Dylan Smith, who won the National Points battle in 2009, won the A Feature last Sunday afternoon at Canyon Speedway Park at Peoria, AZ. He is competing in the Winter Challenge Series. Dylan came through the B Feature for a starting spot in the A Feature. He took the lead in the A Feature just before taking the white flag.

Kyle Berck of Marquette, Nebraska has been racing his late model in the Lucas Oil Series at East Bay Raceway in Florida the last week. He is racing against the likes of Billy Moyer, Scott Bloomquist, Shannon Babb, Jimmy Mars and Earl Pearson. The series wraps up with a $12,000 to win show on Saturday February 6th.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Motorcycle tour of Nebraska; Are "New" tires safe?; Danica Patrick announces 2010 NASCAR Nationwide series schedule; RaceCeivers required at Eagle Raceway, Butler County Speedway and Beatrice Speedway in 2010

While browsing through a motorcycle forum, I came across a thread from a rider overseas who was planning to take a trip to the United States and asked about taking a tour with somebody giving guided tours. There are several such companies in the Southwest and West. I haven’t had a chance to look yet, but I’m wondering if there is any place in the Midwest that does something like this.

It would be interesting to plan tours from Beatrice or Lincoln. I’d need to either have an agreement with a dealer to rent motorcycles for the tours or have my own motorcycles to either rent or include the price of in the tour. The problem with either is that the weather in the Midwest can be so much different from one year to the next. It’s hard to plan any kind of road trips before, say, May 1st, and by the time you get toward the end of September the weather can once again come into play.

Would a trip out of Beatrice be more local or a few days to a few weeks? Something I’ve thought about doing myself but never have is to take a trip around the “edge” of Nebraska. If you look at a map. Nebraska has 6 “corners.” I’ve thought about leaving Beatrice westbound on Hwy 136. At Jansen, I’d go south on the State Spur to the Rock Creek Station. This was originally a supply center and resting spot for the many travelers headed westward on the Oregon and California Trails in the 19th century. From the Rock Creek Station, a short ride south would take me to Hwy 8. From there, it’s about 5 miles into Fairbury. Continuing west on Hwy 8, I’d cross Hwy 81 and stay on Hwy 8 until it ends in Superior, Nebraska.

From Superior, I’d take Hwy 14 north to Hwy 136. Hwy 136 will take me to Red Cloud, which the birthplace and site of the Willa Cather State Historic Site. Another 32 miles west on Hwy 136 brings me to Republican City, which is the location of the Harlan County Dam. Another 8 miles and I’d be in Alma.

At Alma, I’d go north on Hwy 136/183 for a couple of miles, then west on Hwy 136 until it meets Hwy 89. I would then follow Hwy 89 west to Hwy 83, then north to McCook. From McCook, I’d go west on Hwy 6/34 to Hwy 61 at Benkelman. From Benkelman, I’d go north on Hwy 61 to Ogallala and the home of “Boot Hill.“ Staying on Hwy 61 will take me to Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy. I would then return to Ogallala and head west on Hwy 30 to Kimball. logo

From Kimball, I’d go north on Hwy 71 to the Gering-Scottsbluff area. From there I’d take Hwy 26 to Hwy 29 and head north to Harrison. At Harrison, I’ll go east on Hwy 20 to Crawford. I’ll stay on Hwy 20 from Crawford to Chadron. Continuing east on Hwy 20 to Valentine, then Hwy 12 all the way to Sioux City. From Sioux City, take Hwy 75/77 south to Winnebago, then stay on Hwy 75. This will take me to Omaha, then Nebraska City. I’ll stay on Hwy 75 into Richardson County, where I’d go east on Hwy 73 into Falls City. At Falls City, I’ll go west on Hwy 8 to Hwy 77, then north back to Beatrice.

I haven’t figured out the mileage for this trip, but depending on how much sightseeing would take place along the way, this could be a 3 or 4 day trip. I’m thinking about other trips out of Beatrice, and I’ll talk about them in posts down the road.

I had our car serviced and while it was up in the air, the tech looked the tires over. They all had about 4/32” of tread left, which is pretty close to the tread wear indicators. Before we do much more traveling in the car, the tires will have to be replaced. We knew we were getting close, and had talked about it this winter. Since we’re not going to Vegas this winter for the NASCAR weekend, we can put it off just a little longer. Ironically, about the same time, a fellow Blue Knight sent me a link to an ABC News Special Report on tires. The news report brought up something that people in the automotive industry have known for years. When you go to a tire store to have tires put on your car, there’s a good chance that even though they have never been mounted on a rim, the tires you buy could be several years old. As a matter of fact, they claimed that a customer could buy a set of tires that have been on the shelf for as long as 10 years. Here’s the link to that report: You can copy and paste this link into your browser if it doesn’t appear as a link in this article. I will point out, though, that some parts of this are a bit slanted. They show tire tread along the road that is from truck tires, and some of it appears to be from retreads. Anyway, we’ll be doing some looking around and try to get the best value for our dollar.

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In NASCAR news of the last few days, Danika Patrick has announced her 2010 NASCAR Nationwide series schedule. She will be competing in an ARCA stock car race at Daytona on February 6th. Her comfort level in the car will help her determine if she is ready to race in the Nationwide race at Daytona the following Saturday. If she does not compete in the Daytona Nationwide race, she will debut at Fontana, California on February 20th. She will follow that up with Las Vegas the next week, February 27th.

Patrick will not compete in Nationwide again until June 26th at Loudon. She will then race at Chicago on July 9th, Michigan on August 14th, and Dover on September 25th. She will be back at Fontana on October 9th, Charlotte on October 15th, Gateway on October 23rd, Texas on November 6th and Homestead on November 20th.
Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard and Carl Edwards will be competing in the full Nationwide schedule in 2010. Other Cup drivers competing in the Nationwide series part time will be Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, Reed Sorenson, and David Reutimann.

On the local scene, Eagle Raceway At Eagle, Nebraska, Butler County Speedway at Rising City, Nebraska and Beatrice Speedway have all announced that they will be requiring all drivers to use RaceCeivers. Eagle says they will rent them for $20 a night and at the end of the night will refund $5 when they are turned in. They can be purchased outright in the $100 to $150 range. In looking at IMCA rules, I found the rule that says “No unapproved cameras, transmitting or listening devices.” The rule does not specify what is “Approved.” Beatrice has not given any more specifics and has said registration information will be sent out to drivers in the next couple of weeks.

RaceCeivers are a one-way radio that each driver has in his car.  The driver listens to the radio through ear buds and can hear the track officials.  If there is an accident on the track, the driver will know before he/she is caught up in the accident.  During restarts, the driver is told by track officials where they should line up.  Dawson County Speedway at Lexington, Nebraska and McCook Speedway at McCook, Nebraska used them in the past and the drivers liked them.  It's my understanding that Minneapolis Speedway in Minneapolis, Kansas also used them with success in 2009.

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Eagle has said they will rent the RaceCeivers for $20 a night, and when they are returned they will refund $5.  I haven't heard what Beatrice is planning.

I had a chance to look at the RaceCeiver website and found that larger orders may be able to get a bit of a discount. If a bunch of us order maybe we can get a better price.