Monday, May 31, 2010

High school graduation PLUS 40 YEARS!! ; Memorial Day

I had the opportunity to attend my nephew’s Crete High graduation on May 15th. As we drove up the hill to Fuhrer Fieldhouse located on the Doane College campus, it really struck home that my own high school graduation had taken place at this very location - 39 YEARS and 50 WEEKS AGO!! That day seems so far removed, yet it’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. Our graduating class was either the first of second to graduate from the fieldhouse. As I drove to the south looking for a parking place, I found that a NEW field house is being built! I always thought the old one was big, as indoor track meets were held there. The new one appears to be HUGE!!

The graduating class was decidedly smaller than the Class of 1970. I’m not sure how that happens since Crete’s population has increased by approximately 2,000 since we graduated. Another thing I noticed was that there were not a lot of last names I recognized as the graduates were called to receive their diplomas. However, a lot of the same concerns still exist. In 1970, the U.S. was in the middle of Viet Nam, and today our military is in Iraq and Afghanistan. I noticed there were several of the graduates who will be serving in the military.

From our seats in the bleachers, we had a good view of the crowd on the floor. I was disappointed when the Star Spangled Banner was played, as I saw about half the crowd just standing. I was taught to place my right hand over my heart. Is that no longer the case??

While growing up, my heroes were Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Marshall Matt Dillon, Cheyenne Bodie, John Wayne, Audie Murphy and Randolph Scott. I still watch their old movies every chance I get. They were my role models right behind my parents. If they were to attend an event today where the Star Spangled Banner was played, they would stand straight and place their hand over their heart. That’s just the way it is.

With Memorial Day just a couple of days away, I think back to when Memorial Day was celebrated while I was growing up. There was a ceremony at the city park, then a parade that ended at the cemetery, then another ceremony at the cemetery. That is something that I will always remember. I wonder how many of today’s youth have had the opportunity to attend such an important ceremony and to appreciate what it stands for.

Memorial Day is for remembering those who served our country and lost their lives preserving our way of life. It is also a time to tell our surviving veterans “Thank you for your service!” Attend a Memorial Day service to honor ALL veterans! When the Star Spangled Banner is played, stop what you are doing, remove your hat, and place your hand over your heart. Listen to the words and what they mean and be thankful that you live in the United States of America!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Racing season is finally started; put a few miles on the Gold Wing; Nebraska legislature; immigration

It’s been way too long since I’ve written. I’ve had too many irons in the fire the last 3 months or so, and then there are times I seem to have a mental block. There are a lot of things I have an opinion about and could write about, but some of them may get me in trouble.

Where to start? The weather has been so fickle this spring. By now we should be getting warm, sunny days. It seems like we do get a couple of days of nice weather, then Mother Nature rears her nasty head and strikes at us.

Beatrice Speedway got two practice sessions and one race night in of a scheduled 4 nights of racing at the beginning of the season The 2nd night of Spring Nationals was weathered out, and with threatening weather, it was not postponed to Sunday. The scheduled April 16th start was cancelled by rain, pushing the start back to April 23. Over an inch of rain on the 22nd cancelled the races on April 23rd. There are no races scheduled for April 30th at Beatrice Speedway due to the Gage County Relay for Life taking place that night.

We were able to get our car on track for both practice sessions. We had a couple of issues during the first session before the Spring Nationals and got that taken care of. The test & tune session on April 10th went well, but I did have a heating problem. Last fall there was no problem, so once I got the car back in the shop, I made some changes to the shroud. I still had an oil leak, part of which I traced to a pinhole leak in the bottom of the pan. I also found the radiator was about a gallon short on water. Since the first scheduled night of racing was April 16th, I made an engine change before the season even started. However, Mother Nature kept having other ideas, cancelling the April 16th opening night as well as the April 23rd program. With no racing on April 30th due to the Relay for Life, it would be May 7th before the season got started at Beatrice.

Wanting to actually RACE, I made the long haul to U.S. Speedway at Columbus, Nebraska on Thursday evening, May 6th. The weather took its toll on the track over the winter and early spring, as it was smooth about ¾ of the way around. However, turns 1 & 2 were like a plowed cornfield. Then, as the evening wore on, weather started to move in and with 6 laps down in the IMCA modified A Feature, the program was called. That postponed our A Feature to May 13th, which got weathered out. May 20th also got weathered out, which further moved our A Feature to June 6th.

Beatrice Speedway got their opener in on May 7th. Being my night to work, Jeremy was “the nut behind the wheel” that night. On the 2nd lap of the 1st heat race of the season, a car in front of him lost control and Jeremy got collected, taking out the nosepiece, radiator and water pump and ending his night prematurely. Back in the shop on Monday, I was able to cut all the ruined pipe out and replace it, then mount a new radiator and water pump. Jeremy and David came over in the evening and before they left, all that was left to do was mount the nosepiece. That got finished up the next night.

Even though the area had a lot of rain the week of May 13th, we were able to race. We are now using RaceCeivers, which are scanners the drivers wear so the officials can tell them where to line up, etc. I had a hard time getting my earpieces to stay in my ears, thus not hearing anything except engine noise. I’ve made some modifications to my earpieces and hope that will solve the problem. The night of racing was actually pretty good for me, even though the track was to the liking of the “big” horsepower engines. The track was sloppy in the heat race, but better in the Feature. I started in 11th and as I finally took the checkers, I glanced up at the scoreboard and found myself in 5th. Not pretty, but 5th neverless, and we never touched another car all night.

I have had a chance to ride the Gold Wing a little, putting about 800 miles on it since the snow finally all melted. I’d had an issue with it seemingly having a dead battery occasionally, but after getting underneath the bike and trying to move some wires, it would start. I was finally able to get it back to the dealer where they found a loose wire on the starter solenoid. Beings the battery was almost 4 yrs old, it also got replaced with one that I got a lifetime warranty on.

The weekend of April 29- May 1 was Blue Knights Nebraska I’s Paxton Run weekend. I was planning to attend for the first time in several years as I attended the State FOP Conference in Kearney in the same time frame. However, Dad’s cousin and family from Texas were in Crete for the weekend and we got together with them. I had a great ride to Kearney and back, leaving on Thursday afternoon in a strong wind. However, I seemed to ride out of the wind before going very far. I stayed on 2-lane highways so I didn’t have to fight the wind from the trucks on the interstate. It was a great trip overall, with sunny skies both ways. I even got my first “red stripes” of the year. That’s what I call the small area on my arms between my gloves and shirt sleeves.

Nebraska’s Legislature passed bills on a couple of controversial issues before they adjourned. The first issue was that of text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. The original bill was to completely ban texting. By the time the issue was passed, it became a secondary violation. That means a driver can’t be issued a citation for texting unless they’re stopped and cited for another violation first. This follows the seat belt law and Provisional Operator’s Permit, which can’t be enforced unless a driver is stopped and cited for another violation. Thankfully, the proposed repeal of the helmet law did not happen this year, but we can expect more debate on it next session.

The Nebraska Legislature has also passed a law which will allow bars to stay open until 2 AM. However, individual cities and villages will have to put a vote before their governing bodies to allow their bars to stay open until 2 AM. The city council has to vote on it and there needs to be a clear-cut majority in order for the bars to stay open until 2 AM. I don’t feel like the argument that the extra hour will give people an extra hour to sober up before they leave to go home holds water. In my opinion, the last hour will give people that much more time to get that much more intoxicated. Complaints of loud after hours parties at houses and apartments will come at 3 AM to 4 AM instead of 2 AM to 3 AM.

On the national scene, the immigration reform issue has come to a head in Arizona. Gov Jan Brewer put her signature on a bill that makes it against the law to be in Arizona illegally. Law Enforcement officers will have the authority to ask for proof that somebody is not an illegal alien. The law was immediately decried by many activists, and the “Reverend” Al sharp ton called for a boycott against Arizona. Personally, if he wanted to boycott Nebraska, I would be thrilled! The immigration issue will not die any time soon as the war on the southern border heats up. Murders in Mexico related to the drug cartels are at an all-time high, and U.S. towns along the border seem to be like a war zone at times. However this ends will shape the future of the U.S. for years to come.

Personally, I wish the United States would have the same immigration laws as Mexico. I guess with our current liberal administration, that will not happen.