Friday, March 20, 2015

The Power of One - How I Became a Fan of NASCAR.

Once in a while someone comes along who generates enormous interest and changes the face of a sport. Ayrton Senna was such a person to Formula One.

"We are made of emotions, we are all looking for emotions, it's only a question of finding the way to experience them. There are many different ways of experience them all. Perhaps one different thing, only that, one particular thing that Formula One can provide you, is that you know we are always expose to danger, danger of getting hurt, danger of dying." - Ayrton Senna.

"I'm very privileged. I've always had a very good life. But everything that I've gotten out of life was obtained through dedication and a tremendous desire to achieve my goals... a great desire for victory, meaning victory in life, not as a driver. To all of you who have experienced this or are searching now, let me say that whoever you may be in your life, whether you're at the highest or most modest level, you must show great strength and determination and do everything with love and a deep belief in God. One day, you'll achieve your aim and you'll be successful." - Ayrton Senna. 

"Winning races", or keeping some tally-board of wins, isn't necessarily what creates spectator interest in a sport.  It's the struggle to the top that generates interest, especially when one is an "underdog", and especially of the "wrong gender".

I'm a NASCAR fan today because of Danica Patrick.

There, I said it. That doesn't mean that I've not come to appreciate NASCAR, and its famed heroes like Dale Earnhardt Snr and Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and many others. Indeed, I came to know them through through my growing interest in Danica's progress in the sport. 

Richard Petty has often made derogatory remarks about Danica, complaining that she's basically a "show pony" without real talent, and that the only way Danica would win is if
everybody else stayed home

Well, I have some news for Richard Petty: Before Danica, I would have asked "Richard who?" And I seriously mean that.The only reason I know who Richard Petty is, is because I followed Danica from IndyCar into NASCAR.Had she stayed in IndyCar, it's very unlikely I'd be a NASCAR fan today. That aside, I do find NASCAR per se to be an exciting sport.

It's not as if Danica isn't a talented and superb racing driver, being the first female to lead the Indianapolis 500 (19 laps); first female to lead the Daytona 500, and the first female to win an IndyCar Series race (Motegi 300, Japan, 2008), and a third place in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the highest placing by any female. Richard Petty apparently never raced IndyCars, which go 30 to 40 miles per hour faster than NASCAR, and experience G-forces no NASCAR driver will ever have to endure.(On oval and banked tracks, IndyCars go about 30mph faster than Formula One.)

Richard Petty was a "great", but I haven't followed him much, since he comes from a bygone era of NASCAR. All I know is that he wears a cowboy hat, and is apparently sexist. I suppose I should look into it some more, because I'm told he was "The King" of his era, which was when women were considered to be most useful being "barefoot and pregnant".

Why Danica Patrick Still Moves the Needle in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Danica Leading at Dega (Top speed: 200mph):

2005 Indianapolis 500. With 28 laps to go, rookie Danica Patrick takes the lead. Fuel conservation forced Danica to slow towards the end. Were it not for that, she would almost certainly have become the first woman to win the Indy 500.  Her talent as an IndyCar driver, and her ability to hold her own against the best drivers in the world, was never in question. It all came down to "fuel strategies". She didn't have enough fuel to go flat out to the finish, and finished fourth.

As the race commentator said, there were 300,000 seats in the arena, but all were standing and cheering Danica on to become the first female to win the Indianapolis 500.

The Motley Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago.

"I love Caribbean food. It's a great melting pot of so many cultures including the Native Americans." - Bob Greene.

 "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." (Proverb)


Trinidad and Tobago cuisine.

Is The Way To A Man's Heart Really Through His Stomach?

Caribbean Pot.

Tasting Trinidad (New York Times).

The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean.

 Trinidad Food Dictionary.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Brief Anecdotal History of "Steel Drums" in Trinidad & Tobago.

"Pan as an item was not invented by any person. It evolved and there are a number of people, including myself, who advanced it through certain stages of that evolution." (Elliott Mannette, October 25, 2000)



The Steelpan - A Short History.

Steelband - The Beginning.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Islamophobia in Wollongong - A Mix of Good and Bad News.

"Much-loved Corrimal Street restaurant, Samaras, has become a victim of anti-Islamic abuse with its Facebook page smeared with racist remarks.
Posts appeared last week urging people to ‘‘boycott Islamic businesses’’ while others criticised the popular Middle Eastern eatery for supplying halal-certified products."

Source: Restaurant victim of anti-Islamic abuse.

The Good News:

Mr Nemer individually commented on some offensive posts, offering to explain more about halal-approved foods. He reminded one commenter who told to him to  ‘‘go back to where he came from’’ that he couldn’t, he was already there, having been born and raised in the Illawarra.

Within a few hours Mr Nemer’s post had more than 1500 likes and hundreds of messages of support from the community.

The vast majority of the 130 comments defended Samaras and the Nemer family, who have owned and operated the business for seven years.

 ‘‘It is people from Samaras who add to this glorious country and we are lucky they share their wonderful and tasty heritage with us...every single time they have welcomed us like family,’’ one post said.

‘‘A great family who I’ve known for many years...let small minded idiots miss out on the best food ever...more for me!’’ another commentator wrote.
Mr Nemer said he was overwhelmed by the support.

The racial and religious bigots are everywhere, and the only way for them to become irrelevant is for good and tolerant people to speak out. 

Other Links:

Wollongong's #illeatwithyou hashtag aims to eradicate Islamophobia.

The Message is Very Clear: "Islamophobia: Not Welcome in Australia."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

QANTAS 747-400 Sighted at the Illawarra Regional Airport (Albion Park Rail).

"Oh My God!"


Landing a 747 in one of New South Wales' smallest domestic airports? No problem, according to the Qantas captain that will fly the new permanent exhibition to the Illawarra Regional Airport in Albion Park Rail.

"It will be aviation nirvana," Qantas Fleet Captain Ossie Miller says.
The Australian airline has donated one of their 747-400 fleet to the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS), the 'City of Canberra', which holds the record for the longest non-stop flight in the world, set in 1989 by flying from 18,000 kilometres from Sydney to London.
 It's a record that still stands today.
Plans have already been well underway to successfully land the 747 aircraft at the airport, with an enormous amount of research and strategy already in place.
Source:  'Aviation nirvana' : Qantas captain prepares 747 to land at Albion Park Rail

A Local Among the 747 Crew:

"The last time I landed a plane at Illawarra Regional Airport it was a single engine four seater," Second Officer Michael East says about the historic landing of the Qantas 747 City of Canberra this Sunday.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I think the next time I'd be landing there would be in a 747."
 Source: Illawarra pilot to bring 747 to new home in Albion Park Rail.

A slightly different view of the landing, on Sunday 8 February 2015, at 7.47am. 

The fate that QF 7474 avoided by being allowed to stay in Australia: The Boneyard.

"60 Minutes": Qantas Aircraft Boneyard.


Qantas VH-OJA lands in the Illawarra: readers' photos. (Illawarra Mercury, 12/3/2015)

Qantas hands over the keys to VH-OJA. (Australian Aviation, 8/3/2015)

Qantas hands over first Boeing 747-400 to aircraft museum. (Australian Business Traveller, 9/3/2015)

Qantas 747-400 readied for viewing at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. (Illawarra Mercury, 11/3/2015)

 Illawarra Regional Airport. 

Albion Park Rail, New South Wales.